We sometimes mistakenly think that before Jesus no one in Israel saw God as merciful and forgiving. No-even Jonah had a surface awareness of that. Jonah ran away from God’s command, not because he feared the Ninevites, but because he feared God’s mercy. This Sunday we will hear again about our merciful and compassionate God and celebrate Communion together.
I am lost. I am finished. My life is over. My luck has finally run out. I knew what the law was, I broke the law, and now I must pay. There are no more chances for me. I am out of appeals. There will be no last-minute legal maneuvering. There is no possibility of rescue or a miracle. This is the end. These thoughts may have gone through the mind of one of the criminals who was crucified with Jesus. But something caused the man to make an unreasonable request of Jesus. “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus’ response to this request was startling.
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.
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?
This message will help you locate yourself in the account of the 10 lepers and hear it in a fresh way, building one’s commitment to prayer and trust.
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.