Every parent knows the frustration of buying Christmas gifts that sit unused while the empty boxes become the child’s source of joy. That expensive gift you put a lot of thought into for your loved one is now set aside and forgotten. The toy that your child yearned for over the months is suddenly left sitting in the corner unused. What is the most incredible thank you the giver can receive? It is seeing the gift becomes a regular part of the recipient’s life. As Christians, during Christmas, we know we celebrate the gift of Jesus coming into the world. And we realize that the most significant way we can show our thanks is by availing ourselves of that gift. How might God’s gift to us affect our daily lives?
On this first Sunday in Advent, we focus on Mary’s Magnificat. It is a beautiful song that is confrontational. There is nothing meek or mild about Mary’s song. At times governments have prohibited the out-loud reading of this song by Mary. How might it direct our living today?
Jesus said, “I am the gate.” Some of his listeners understood part of what he meant but there is a deeper meaning. A meaning they had difficulty comprehending. When we go through the gate, Jesus talks about we discover new possibilities and leave our past behind. Going through the gate promises a new life.
Maybe you can’t imagine forgiving certain people in your life. Yet Jesus says that before we can fully worship God we are to be reconciled with our brother or sister. We know that forgiveness is one response to hurt and separation that we can choose but how do we work through the feelings and resistance we may have to forgive those who have hurt us deeply.
While Jesus is at a dinner with Pharisees a prostitute crashes the party. She walks into Simon’s house. He may have let out a gasp. She has perfumed ointment in her hand. Why does she come to find Jesus? Why does she bring such expensive oil? Why does she crash the party?
Why did a woman with a bad reputation bring expensive perfume and anoint Jesus’ feet with it? There is a back story that Luke is not telling us. What happened earlier in the day? What encounter did Jesus have with this woman? As Pastor Fred explores this story we may find it has transformative effects in our life.
Jesus often went to great lengths to meet outcasts. He broke social, racial, religious and cultural taboos to offer them a relationship with him through living water. Jesus’ grace surprised an outcast woman of Samaria so much that she went and told everybody about the Messiah. How might that living water speak to us?
Have you ever met a mean Christian? I bet you have. Shouldn’t a mean Christian be an oxymoron? The problem is misplaced priorities. Jesus knew this as he tried to redirect our attention away from rules and regulations to more important matters.
We have a tendency to forget. We forget to buy a birthday card for someone we love or we fail to show up for a very important meeting. Sometimes we even forget God. We fail to remember what God has done for us. So God has devised ways to help us remember because we need reminders.
A diverse group of people were drawn to Jesus. Tax Collectors, Sinners, Pharisees and Teachers of the Law were all interested in Jesus. Some thought they were unworthy of God’s love and some thought they had earned their way into God’s love. Both these assumptions turned out to be wrong. Those who knew they were lost were on the right track and those who thought they weren’t part of the lost group were in jeopardy of being lost. In the lost and found chapter of the Bible, Jesus reaches out to both types of people.
God loves you and there is nothing you can do that will make Him love you any less.