Time

We don’t need to write to you about the timing and dates, brothers and sisters. You know very well that the day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. When they are saying, “There is peace and security,” at that time sudden destruction will attack them, like labor pains start with a pregnant woman, and they definitely won’t escape. But you aren’t in darkness, brothers and sisters, so the day won’t catch you by surprise like a thief. All of you are children of light and children of the day. We don’t belong to night or darkness. So then, let’s not sleep like the others, but let’s stay awake and stay sober. People who sleep sleep at night, and people who get drunk get drunk at night. Since we belong to the day, let’s stay sober, wearing faithfulness and love as a piece of armor that protects our body and the hope of salvation as a helmet. God didn’t intend for us to suffer his wrath but rather to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 Jesus died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with him. 11 So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, CEB)

Like a thief in the night. If you knew when the thief was coming you would not have let them break-in.

We are so worried about the timing of when Christ will return, but it really isn’t for us to know.

We just need to be the light for the world. Sharing the mercy and grace we have received and helping all to know God loves them.

It will all happen in the time it should, and that is something we need to worry about.

12/25/2020

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. 10 The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. 11 The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. 12 But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, 13 born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14, CEB)

Here in this translation it says, “The Word became flesh and made his hime among us.” Other versions say the Word dwelt among us. The word here literally means tabernacled, or tented, Jesus came and pitched a tent to be with us. Jesus is always going to be with us because his home is mobile.

God came to be with us to help us see how to live and love those around us.

So how do we love the world, on this day when love came to stay with us?

How do you love the world?

God came to be with us, and died to set us free from our own crap.

How do you love the world?

12/24/2020

In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant.While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom. Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people.11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” 15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told. (Luke 2:1-20, CEB)

Shepherds of that day were the poor, despised, and often criminal outcasts of society, and yet they are the first in the Biblical account to hear of the birth of Jesus. This is in stark contrast to the wisdom and wealth of the Magi who travel later to worship Jesus. God’s incarnation of love is for everyone: no one is outside of the margins of God’s unconditional love.

The angels announce the message: Fear not! During this Advent season, may our fears subside, and may we feel the presence of God who came to Earth for each one of us.

12/23/2020

11 As you do all this, you know what time it is. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your sleep. Now our salvation is nearer than when we first had faith.12 The night is almost over, and the day is near. So let’s get rid of the actions that belong to the darkness and put on the weapons of light. 13 Let’s behave appropriately as people who live in the day, not in partying and getting drunk, not in sleeping around and obscene behavior, not in fighting and obsession. 14 Instead, dress yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t plan to indulge your selfish desires. (Romans 13:11-14, CEB)

Reading this reminding me that whenever we not as close to God as we were before we need to “wake up” because our salvation is nearer then we first believed. As Christians we realize that as each day passes the return of Jesus is drawing near. As this day draws near we need to cast away the things that are not pleasing to God and get ourselves ready for His return. Instead of partaking in these things, we need to dress ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. When we do this we are preparing for his return and setting an example for other Christians as well. 

12/22/2020

Moses writes about the righteousness that comes from the Law: The person who does these things will live by them. But the righteousness that comes from faith talks like this: Don’t say in your heart, “Who will go up into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “Who will go down into the region below?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the message of faith that we preach). Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation. 11 The scripture says, All who have faith in him won’t be put to shame12 There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, who gives richly to all who call on him. 13 All who call on the Lord’s name will be saved. (Romans 10:5-13, CEB)

Growing up in the church, listening to the stories, and attending every church service I could. When I opened my bible today, I flipped to Romans 10:5-13. In a previous time I had highlighted only certain parts of this passage. The one thing that stuck out to me today is verse 11. “As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” I kept repeating it in my head, until it made sense. In a previous time, that verse was skipped over and verse 13 was highlighted “for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Growing up I did not take the time to realize in verses 11 & 13 that was for me. I had been put to shame for different reasons throughout my life that involved members of the church. In verse 13 for Everyone, meant me as well. This also means you. For Everyone. No matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, nationality, disability, or religion. 

12/21/2020

So then the first covenant had regulations for the priests’ service and the holy place on earth. They pitched the first tent called the holy place. It contained the lampstand, the table, and the loaves of bread presented to God. There was a tent behind the second curtain called the holy of holies. It had the gold altar for incense and the chest containing the covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. In the chest there was a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the chest there were magnificent winged creatures[a]casting their shadow over the seat of the chest, where sin is taken care of. Right now we can’t talk about these things in detail. When these things have been prepared in this way, priests enter the first tent all the time as they perform their service. But only the high priest enters the second tent once a year. He never does this without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins the people committed in ignorance. With this, the Holy Spirit is showing that the way into the holy place hadn’t been revealed yet while the first tent was standing. This is a symbol for the present time. It shows that the gifts and sacrifices that are being offered can’t perfect the conscience of the one who is serving. 10 These are superficial regulations that are only about food, drink, and various ritual ways to wash with water. They are regulations that have been imposed until the time of the new order. 11 But Christ has appeared as the high priest of the good things that have happened. He passed through the greater and more perfect meeting tent, which isn’t made by human hands (that is, it’s not a part of this world).12 He entered the holy of holies once for all by his own blood, not by the blood of goats or calves, securing our deliverance for all time. 13 If the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of cows made spiritually contaminated people holy and clean, 14 how much more will the blood of Jesus wash our consciences clean from dead works in order to serve the living God? He offered himself to God through the eternal Spirit as a sacrifice without any flaw. (Hebrews 9:1-14, CEB)

In the chest was a golden jar of manna, Aaron’s rod which had budded and the tablets.

These are signs of God’s love for the people. The manna was God feeding the people as the wandered, the budded rod was God’s choice of priest, and the tablets were an understanding of how to love God and neighbor.

We all have these three things in our lives, God provides for us, and has chosen us to be God’s child and we have a guide for our relationship with God and others. 

If we will hold these in our inter sanctuary and use them in our lives, imagine the world. If we all did what the coming baby came to show us, to love God and neighbor, and share that love with everyone…

Imagine!

Hold the items in your personal Chest of the covenant close and use them in your daily life to put fear at bay and live in the hope and love of Christ.

12/20/2020

26 When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, 27 to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” 29 She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. 31 Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. 33 He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.” 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?” 35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. 36 Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. 37 Nothing is impossible for God.” 38 Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:26-38, CEB)

We often praise Mary for her tremendous faith and trust in God, but I like that she has a question here. “How?” seems like a pretty fair question, too. The response from the angel is not a practical one, and to us it can sound almost cliche, but it is in many ways the heart of the gospel itself: “Nothing is impossible for God.”

God’s hope for humanity always feels impossible. Our imaginations always fall a little short, so we always wonder “how.” But God is always unfazed. God makes a way out of no way, the possible out of the impossible. May we, like Mary, be content to be part of God’s dream for the world, even if we don’t quite understand the whole picture yet.

12/19/2020

40 When some in the crowd heard these words, they said, “This man is truly the prophet.” 41 Others said, “He’s the Christ.” But others said, “The Christ can’t come from Galilee, can he? 42 Didn’t the scripture say that the Christ comes from David’s family and from Bethlehem, David’s village?” 43 So the crowd was divided over Jesus. 44 Some wanted to arrest him, but no one grabbed him. 45 The guards returned to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked, “Why didn’t you bring him?” 46 The guards answered, “No one has ever spoken the way he does.” 47 The Pharisees replied, “Have you too been deceived? 48 Have any of the leaders believed in him? Has any Pharisee? 49 No, only this crowd, which doesn’t know the Law. And they are under God’s curse!” 50 Nicodemus, who was one of them and had come to Jesus earlier, said, 51 “Our Law doesn’t judge someone without first hearing him and learning what he is doing, does it?” 52 They answered him, “You are not from Galilee too, are you? Look it up and you will see that the prophet doesn’t come from Galilee.” (John 7:40-52, CEB)

Fear is the ruler of our lives when we fight against something that we do not understand or will not understand because it will change our way of life.

I have a postcard for a seminar on my bulletin board that I have moved with me through the past 2 calls. It says, “Change isn’t just something you get from a vending machine.” If you are not changing, you are dying.

And in this reading we see the person who could be a model for change in a disciple of Jesus, Nicodemus. Nic comes to Jesus for the first time in John 3, where he comes at night so not to be seen, and he questions Jesus, and here is Nic’s second appearance in John, out in public at the high council defending Jesus. His final appearance is when he helps remove Jesus from the cross. He went from sneaking around to see Jesus to semi public defense, to open adoration. The fear in Nic has been knocked away by the love of God.

I think we should all live like Nic. Let love rule in your life so that the fear will be held at bay.

12/18/2020

After all, when did God ever say to any of the angels: You are my Son. Today I have become your Father? Or, even, I will be his Father, and he will be my Son? But then, when he brought his firstborn into the world, he said, All of God’s angels must worship him. He talks about the angels: He’s the one who uses the spirits for his messengers and who uses flames of fire as ministers. But he says to his Son, God, your throne is forever and your kingdom’s scepter is a rod of justice. You loved righteousness and hated lawless behavior. That is why God, your God, has anointed you more than your companions with the oil of joy. 10 And he says, You, Lord, laid the earth’s foundations in the beginning, and the heavens are made by your hands. 11 They will pass away, but you remain. They will all wear out like old clothes. 12 You will fold them up like a coat. They will be changed like a person changes clothes, but you stay the same, and the years of your life won’t come to an end 13 When has he ever said to any of the angels, Sit at my right side until I put your enemies under your feet like a footstool? 14 Aren’t all the angels ministering spirits who are sent to serve those who are going to inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:5-14, CEB)

The son of God is not another angel, not just one of the heavenly beings. 

Jesus is God, and when Jesus came to tent among us, God came and dwelt among us.

Know that God loves you so much that God stepped off the throne and became a baby born in a manger and lived in this world that God created to show us the love God has for creation.

Never doubt the love. Even in all of the evil of this world, God is always with you, and the love God has given you, is a hope for a better world.

12/17/2020

In the past, God spoke through the prophets to our ancestors in many times and many ways. In these final days, though, he spoke to us through a Son. God made his Son the heir of everything and created the world through him. The Son is the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being. He maintains everything with his powerful message. After he carried out the cleansing of people from their sins, he sat down at the right side of the highest majesty. And the Son became so much greater than the other messengers, such as angels, that he received a more important title than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4, CEB)

“In the past, God spoke through the prophets to our ancestors in many times and many ways.”

This is how the entire book of Hebrews starts. God talks to people through people. The passage goes on to say that God sent his son, Jesus, to carry out his message and show everyone the true power and goodness of God. Jesus healed the sick, put people of authority in their place, and gave everyone hope for a better life. We all know that he is a really great dude.

However, I’d like to focus on this first sentence about God talking through prophets to the people. If you look around today, most theology is based on what is in the Bible or supplementary texts written by people two thousand years ago. But why does everyone just stop there? God used ordinary people to convey his message before Jesus came. Why can’t he do so after? The best way I see God in my life is through the people that I encounter in my day-to-day life. Ordinary people just like the ones that God used hundreds of years before the arrival of Jesus. I encourage each of you to spend some time today to really listen to what God has to tell you through those around you instead of always relying on what he has said through other people in the past.