Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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In the Times and Places

The Gospel of John opens so beautifully.  The words evoke past through future.  “In the beginning” takes us all the way back to Genesis and reminds us that Christ was there too.  John also provides the feel of the eternal in his vision of Christ’s glory “at His father’s side”.

Yet this morning the present tense is what resounds within me.  John writes that He came in the flesh and dwelt among us.  As much as we are still present in this world, so too is Jesus.  Christ, the light, came and lived amongst the darkness.  He stepped into the pain, injustice, suffering and brought light, hope, healing, love.  Jesus continues to be present in this world, still full of grace and mercy.  He comes each time a Christian acts on His behalf.

Today’s Upper Room had a touching story about a woman who brushed away a man out collecting for a mission on a rainy day.  She was too busy with her knitting.  But her nine-year-old daughter innocently asked the question that needed asked: “Why? Why did we give nothing?”  The mother had no good answer, only a lifelong reminder from the faith of a child.  Jesus came and loved.  This day may we offer all the love we can in the times and places that He calls us to today.

Scripture reference: John 1: 1-18

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Lost in Him

If one were to pick up the newspaper or turn on the TV or surf the internet, one would maybe think that Christmas is just around the corner.  It may be that there is more on sale after Christmas than there was before Christmas.  Even for those who had a blessed and wonderful Christmas and thought they were satisfied on December 25, all of the advertising draws one to ponder what else one might need.

I wrote ‘need’ but really should have used ‘want’ instead.  When we are stuck on focusing on what we want too much then contentment becomes elusive.  Yes, it is difficult to be still and quiet amidst all the noise, yet God is still very present and is still seeking our presence.

The psalmist reminds us to sing out to God our thanksgiving, to see Him at work in the rising of the sun and the falling of the rain.  God delights in those whose hope is in Him.  Today may we get so lost in singing our praises to God that we become lost in Him, so that the noise of this world fades away and He is all we have left.

Psalm 147: 7-14

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Calling All

God desires to unite all people in faith.  His desire is not just for those already with faith but for all people to come to know Him.  In Jeremiah 31, he writes of God reuniting a people long in exile.  Jeremiah includes all of the exiles – the lame, the pregnant, the elderly, the marginalized.  He tells us that God will make the path straight so that all can come home.

As we fast-forward to Jesus’ time on earth, we hear the same basic message.  He came to save the lost, to eat with sinners, to bring healing and wholeness to all.  For Jesus, those in exile were not just the Jews, but were all who were separated from the love of God.  Jesus sought to gather all of the lost sheep to the Good Shepherd.

Fast forward another 2,000 years.  The call coming from God and God in Jesus is still the same: all who are weary and burdened, come and find rest.  All who suffer, come and find healing.  All who are broken, come and be renewed.  All who have sinned, come and be cleansed.  He calls all of us.  His call will continue on and on and on because His love never ends.  Thanks be to God.

Scripture reference: Jeremiah 31: 7-14

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Into Holy Relationship

Christ becoming flesh, the incarnation, changed everything.  His birth altered the order forever.  Christ came so that God could draw everyone into relationship with himself.  The barriers of who was in and who was out were shattered – all were now welcome in.

Psalm 148 speaks beautifully of how all of creation is woven together.  From the angels and heavenly hosts to the sun, moon, and stars to the creatures of land and sea to the snow and winds to mankind – all are bound together as God’s creation.  The psalm resonates with power, strength, and majesty.   It brings hope and optimism for our future and for our world.

The hope and optimism lies in God’s desire to be in relationship with all of creation.  He constantly seeks to enter into renewed relationships to restore all of the brokenness to wholeness.  We, as His children, are part of this seeking.  He longs to continue to guide us to be good stewards both to the earth and to each other.  As we live into this holy relationship that God constantly calls us to, may we also seek to include all of our fellow man in this relationship as well, so that they too may find healing, hope, and, most of all, God’s love.

Scripture reference: Psalm 148

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God with Us

In the Christmas season we gain the sense that Christ is always with us.  To celebrate His birth reminds us that He is born anew in us again and again.  His eternity also assures us that this earth is not all that there is.  Our true hope lies eternal in the heavenly realms.

Yet we cannot live in the Christmasy, eternal realm.  In this season we may be blessed to be in that realm for moments here and there, but we now inhabit this earth.  We live day by day here preparing for our eternal life with God.  As we live toward that we are also called to bring the good news to those bound to this earthly realm.  We are called to share the Christ who redeems and who heals all that is broken in our world and in our fellow men.

We are blessed by that sense of “God with us” at Christmas so that we can go forth to share that with our world.  We are called to go forth and share that little slice of heaven that draws people toward God and a relationship with Jesus Christ.  May we help people to meet our hope and redeemer each and every day.

Scripture reference: Isaiah 52: 7-10

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Do you see and know?

Do you think the Christmas season starts too soon?  Or that it goes too long?  I imagine the first question prompted thoughts of stores selling Christmas long before Thanksgiving.  And for some the second question prompts thoughts of taking down the tree today!  Yet the Christmas spirit doesn’t and shouldn’t fit inside a nice neat timeframe.  Shouldn’t the love, hope, peace, joy, and giving that typifies this season be happening all year long?

Simeon and Anna were two people who waited  a long time.  They were steadfast and focused on waiting.  Their whole being revolved around being ready for seeing the Messiah.  Both were so prepared that they recognized Jesus without being introduced or anything.  They simply knew in their hearts that this one baby – one of many being brought to the temple that day tobe presented to God – was the one whom they had waited so long for. And then they both broke forth in praise and thanksgiving.

How could we prepare ourselves so that we are ready to offer love, hope, peace, and joy to all we meet?  How would we prepare ourselves so that we see Jesus in each person we meet today and every day?  Jesus comes to us in many ways.  May our eyes be open and our hearts willing to see and know the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives.  May our lives reflect this to all we meet.

Scripture reference: Luke 2: 22-40

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The Word Became Flesh

“In the beginning” is how John begins his gospel. He draws us back to the beginning because Christ was there too.  In this connection back to Genesis we also get the start of Christ’s story.  Until God spoke, our ‘world’ was only chaos and darkness.  Until God spoke.  He spoke the world into being.

Last night we celebrated another creation that God spoke into being.  He said to Mary, “you shall bear a son” and it was.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  Through His life Jesus brought us life and light, grace and mercy.  For a second time God spoke and the darkness fled.

When we see Christ as both ancient and also as new, we catch a peak into the holy mystery.  It is that beautiful place where heaven and earth meet.  In this place the light again conquered the darkness.  The darkness shall never overcome the Light.  Here Christ’s glory is revealed.  As the Word becomes flesh and dwells within us, heaven and earth again meet.  From within this imperfect vessel that is each of us, may Christ’s light shine forth this day and every day.  Merry Christmas!!

Scripture reference: John 1: 1-14

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True Light, Eternal Freedom

In Isaiah 9 we find a passage that bridges the time in which he was writing with the time when Jesus lived with our time today.It speaks of what was, what is, and what will be.  By virtue of its timelessness, it is perfect for today.

Throughout time people have craved for light to shine in the darkness, for evil to be overcome.  Isaiah’s words, “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light”, bring hope.  He writes about breaking the yoke of oppression, of ending the foreign dominance.  In Jesus’ day it was the Romans on one level and the religious leaders on another level.  Today the things that oppress us vary greatly – from the self-imposed to things out of our control.  Forever and always we will long for freedom.

Into the midst of the oppression and the longing for freedom from all that burdens us steps the Christ child.  Tonight we celebrate Jesus’ birth – the entrance of the True Light, the arrival of eternal freedom.  Embrace these truths as we gather tonight to welcome Him into the world and into our lives.

Isaiah 9: 2-7

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Be Still and Know

There are moments and places where we feel noticeably closer to God.  This can be caused by the physical location.  For example, I have heard many people mention they felt power when they stood at certain places in the Holy Land.  It can also be caused by an experience – such as the birth of a child.  Celtic tradition calls this phenomena “think places.”

Mary experiences a ‘thin place’ just after Jesus is born when the shepherds visit.  They tell her of the angel’s visit and of the multitude of angels singing praise to God as they announce the Savior’s birth.  She treasures and ponders all of these things in her heart.  Once again Mary is draw a little closed to Go din these moments.

According to tradition, a thin place is not where God draws closer to us – for He is always omnipresent.  It is a place where we allow ourselves to drop the veil we hold up and we draw closer to God.  We allow God’s mystery and incarnation to surround us.  In this holy season, quiet yourself and allow Christ to be born anew within you.  Be still and know that He is God.

Scripture reference: Luke 2: 1-20

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These Last Days

Paul proposes the idea that our waiting during Advent is not passive.  Often we speak of “expectant waiting” – waiting with the idea that Jesu Christ is always near and to be on the lookout to share Him with those we meet.  Paul calls us to live our days using what we have learned from Jesus and to be “zealous for good deeds.”

But we must also be careful to avoid too much of the activity and busyness that can typify this season of the year.  If we do not take this care then we can end up tired and grumpy by the time we arrive at Christmas Eve.  We must be vigilant to ask ourselves if we are spending time each day of Advent first seeking to draw closer to Jesus.  If not, we still have time to focus in on Jesus these last days.

In these last days of Advent, may we live as Paul suggests: working and resting in Christ – demonstrating for all just who this Messiah is that we are expectantly waiting for.

Scripture reference: Titus 2: 11-14