Hebrews 11:1-3 (NRSV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.
We will soon turn another year over with the coming of 2016. We began our liturgical “New Year” back in November with Advent. During Advent, we patiently waited and watched for the Christ Child to come. Then came Christmas and we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Soon it will be Epiphany. Then we will rejoice and become more aware of God in our lives and in the world by looking at what Jesus did in his life. Jesus’ example and a new calendar might move us to reevaluate our choices for the next year.
And so we will make resolutions to live this next year differently. I suggest we resolve to remember that God loves us at all times. Resolve to remember that in Jesus we are enough. Jesus in us leads us to do far more than we could ever imagine. Let us resolve together to live our lives in the light of Christ and in the hope the kingdom promises. Happy New Year to you all!
Grace and peace,
Isaiah 9.6 (NRSV) For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
As I write this article, Christmas Day is just a few days away. I tend to get nostalgic about past Christmases mixed with an expectation for a world where hope, joy, peace, and love of Christmas becomes more abundant.
We know that this year has been particularly troubling. Hospitality has been hard to show, because fear has made it difficult to trust our earthly neighbors. There have been many mass shootings and people killed. Social unrest has been a persistent part of our dialogue. It seems that we have built more barriers than bridges this year for our shared humanity.
I am reminded that there is something miraculous in the birth of Jesus Christ into the world filled with war, separation, and domination. I am also reminded that in utter vulnerability, Jesus came naked and dependent on Mary and Joseph for sustenance and security.
Vulnerability is part of our faith and in it we realize that the kingdom comes when we recognize our need for one another and God. I am drawn to the image of Jesus as a baby because he shows me that we come from the same place, trusting that each will do their part and that in doing so, the world will be ushered to a new place, where all that is fractured is whole, rehabilitated through God’s mighty acts and our faithful service.
Grace and peace,
Romans 14.7-9 (CEB) We don't live for ourselves and we don't die for ourselves. If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to God. This is why Christ died and lived: so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
With Christmas right around the corner, imagination always gets the better of me. As I reflect on all the Christmases past, I begin to create a rather idyllic scene complete with snow (a rarity around here), family, gifts, food, and Christmas Eve services with candlelight being passed from neighbor to neighbor, lighting up the entire room with soft light as we gently sing “Silent Night.” Coming together is hallmark of this season.
It is in these moments that I am reminded that being together with friends, family, and neighbor highlights how we belong to one another. This connected-ness reminds we are never alone. And even more, when we come together, we embody the Christ that brings light and love to the world and to our lives.
Sunday we look again to the prophets reminding us that God stands with us, leads us, hopes for us, and entrusts us with the will and desire to see the kingdom become a reality, even if it is in small sips in the this season of waiting and anticipating the birth of the Christ Child again into our hearts and lives!
Grace and peace,
Luke 1:45 (CEB)
Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her."
Advent has us moving from images of darkness to light and refining to joy. Every day, as we get closer to Christmas, we transition as well. To symbolize this, we light the Advent Wreath and this Sunday we light the 3rd Candle, the pink one. Physically, we are adding more light; spiritually moving from soul-searching to gladness.
Why? Because soon the life changing, world rattling birth of Jesus is getting really close. Jesus was to be born in flesh and bone, blood and sweat and would bring radical change to the world. Jesus in words and actions would tip the world on its ear offering hope, equality, dignity, and honor to all people. And with all of these comes our joy.
Like Mary, as she carried the yet to be born Jesus, LPCC is faithfully waiting for the incarnation of God into the world. Also like Mary (and all those that have gone before us), we are to bear witness to God’s continued in-breaking into the world. Thirdly, like Mary, we carry this same joy with us today as we await Jesus Christ’s appearance into our own world again. And we, finally like Mary, can’t wait to tell the world!!
Grace and peace,
Isaiah 40.3 (CEB) A voice is crying out :“Clear the Lord’s way in the desert! Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!
This Advent season began with a bang, as the youth led us in worship in a special “Hanging of the Greens” this past Sunday (it truly was something very special). Advent is about waiting and watching for the Incarnation, the birth of the Son of God into our lives, a season that is full of hope, joy, peace, and love.
And while that all sounds great, we know that it’s not easy to wait patiently or experience hope, joy, peace, and love all the time. It takes work and from time to time taking stock by refining our thoughts, habits, and patterns of living. Refining is part of our continual deepening of our relationship with God, trusting Him to work gently in our hearts, minds, souls, and strength , but never pushing us around. Instead, we trust that God is more like air filling us with goodness, love, and blessings as we inhale exhaling all that seeks to diminish life.
This Sunday we look at refining, recognize that in us lie two seemingly competing realities. We are both sinner and saint. As the Apostle Paul rightly puts it, “I don't know what I'm doing, because I don't do what I want to do. Instead, I do the thing that I hate” (Romans 7.15 CEB).
Grace and peace,
Husband, father, minister, child of God, follower of Jesus Christ writing in the context of La Porte Community Church