Monday, December 22, 2014

Wednesday December 24th, 2014----Our Light is Here

Christmas Eve is upon us, and I cannot wait to celebrate the birth of our Savior with you all.

The Scriptures for the service are

Isaiah 52:7-10 
Psalm 98 
Hebrews 1:1-4 
John 1:1-14

These Scriptures announce the coming of Jesus as he brings salvation to us all, as the son of God, as the light of the world.

It is right to celebrate Jesus' birth, as Isaiah exclaims: "Break forth together into singing," and as the psalm encourages us to "Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises." Hebrews tells us that "long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son," who "sustains all things" by his powerful word. This true light, as said in the gospel of John, "enlightens everyone."

These Scriptures guide us, and lead us toward a complete understanding of what God has done in sending us Jesus. God has gathered God's people (you and me), bid them to celebrate the coming of the Son (Jesus), and has promised to be with us always. 

So we come to celebrate all that God has done by sending the Son, light, and Savior to us and for us. And as we celebrate, we are filled with God's presence with us in the world, in our lives, and in every face we see. Jesus is truly "God with us" or "Emmanuel." He has come to us!

See you on Wednesday!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sunday, December 21st, 2014----Advent: Prepare the Way

On this 4th Sunday of Advent, the time is approaching quickly where we celebrate God's giving of his Son, Jesus, and the baby Christ being born into the world.

But....we are still preparing the way for Jesus as this day approaches. We remember Mary and her incredible faith, and are invited to embrace the way she prepared the way for Jesus.

Luke 1: 26-38 tells the story of Mary being approached by the angel Gabriel, and 47-55 is Mary's song.

Mary is assured that the Holy Spirit will be with her, and that nothing is impossible for God. Truth be told, I take this divine truth for granted. I take this story, in which Mary was prepared for what she would do through God's power, for granted each and every Christmas. NOTHING is impossible for God. Not taking this miracle of a story for granted means looking at it, embracing, and taking it in as something that ACTUALLY happened. Friends, a girl named Mary who was not worth anything was told she would have a baby named Jesus that would be the Son of the Most High. This happened; by the power of the Holy Spirit, God made this happen.

And when God makes things happen, God is always there.

Mary, with all of her confusion and doubts and fears, finally says "I am the Lord's servant."

And then Mary praised God: 

 Mary said,
“With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
     In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
    Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
Holy is his name.
     He shows mercy to everyone,
        from one generation to the next,
        who honors him as God.
 He has shown strength with his arm.
    He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
     He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
        and lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away empty-handed.
 He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
        remembering his mercy,
     just as he promised to our ancestors,
        to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”

May we prepare the way for Jesus like Mary did, remembering that she finally came to faith and praise about this miraculously thing that was going to happen through her.

See you Sunday!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sunday, December 14th, 2014---Advent: Prepare the Way

What a wonderful service led by the Covenant Players on Sunday! I especially enjoyed how thought-provoking their dramas were. I'm still thinking about their closing "Galaxy" piece, which provided me some perspective that I do not naturally embrace all too often.

This week we turn to the gospel of John; the message will center around John 1: 6-8, 19-28.

Verse 8 says "He (John) himself wasn't the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light."

This reminds me that this Advent season, this impending Christmas season, isn't about us, but about who's coming: the son of God, Jesus Christ. All of the decorating, partying, eating, gifting, doing...points to the coming of Jesus. We wait, we celebrate, we anticipate, we do everything in this season because of him, not because of us....

BUT, we have the privilege to "testify concerning the light." The world knows who Jesus is because of us. Our community around us may know what Advent is, what Christmas is, because of us.

We need to do this because the world does not know Jesus like we do (vs.9-11)

In this passage, John continually points to Jesus, the light, the Lord, the someone greater. Can we be like him, and be the "voice crying out in the wilderness, make the Lord's path straight"? That is our task this season, and live and testify to a world that so desperately needs the loving and graceful presence of Jesus Christ.

See you Sunday!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sunday, December 7th, 2014----Advent: Prepare the Way

This Sunday, the Covenant Players will be leading us in worship. I will not be preaching, but we still have an opportunity to reflect on this week's lectionary text: Mark 1:1-8. This will be the text that is read when the 2nd Advent candle is lit, the candle of peace.

Mark 1:3 quotes the prophet Isaiah in saying:

Look, I am sending my messenger before you.
He will prepare your way,
a voice shouting in the wilderness:
        Prepare the way for the Lord;
        make his paths straight.”

Similar words are used by the prophets Malachi and Moses (Exodus).

So, preparing the way for the Lord has been a prophetic call throughout history. We relive that calling today, in this Advent season.

This Sunday represents peace. In a world where peace is hard to come by, the Lord brings peace by offering Christ for us, to us, and among us.

And preparing the way for Christ, who renews us by offering us the power of the Holy Spirit, brings us peace.