Tag Archives: Word

The Real “Never Ending Story”

READ
Matthew 28:16-20

REFLECT
The story of Christ is a hard one to tell chronologically when you try to fit it in the church year. It would be nice if we had a way to fit Jesus and the Gospel into the traditional form of a story: beginning, middle, and end. But when we hear of Jesus throughout the year it just doesn’t work that way. It’s all jumbled up.

The year begins with Advent – great. We are awaiting the birth of the King, the Messiah, Jesus. But we are also looking toward the return of Jesus – the second coming of the King. We also have John the Baptist proclaiming the Messiah – so Jesus is already born and an adult. The timeline is all out of whack here. Okay, let’s start at Christmas. We go along good for a bit: baby in the manger, but closely linked to his is the story of the Magi at Epiphany – which is really three years or so after Jesus is born.

This could be very frustrating if we are hoping to see the Gospel as a story, like some novel, but it is not. It doesn’t begin at Christmas and end at Easter. Jesus does not “ride off into the sunset” so to speak. It doesn’t end at the Ascension, because Pentecost comes and Jesus – though his earthly ministry is finish – remains with us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Be God’s grace he comes to us physically in the Lord’s Supper.

The story never ends. It is ongoing AND IT IS ONGOING IN OUR LIVES. The “book” is never closed and put back on the shelf, and we are not simply readers but participants. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 and Jesus admonition to “Go, Make, Baptize, and Teach” calls us into the story with Jesus. We are in this together.

PRAY
Lord God, by the power of your Holy Spirit help me to always remember that I am part of the Gospel story and that the Gospel is really not a story at all. It has no beginning, middle, or end – it is eternal, just as you are eternal. Help me to participate fully with Jesus in making the world know your grace and mercy. AMEN.

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What They Received, so Have You.

READ
John 20:19-23

REFLECT
Breath: without it we die. One of the life-saving measures we learned in the military was restoration of breathing. If a person could not breath it was of paramount importance to get air into their lungs less they suffer brain damage and ultimately death. It was as equally as important as stopping bleeding, covering wounds and treating for shock.

When babies are born, medical techs clean out their airways – not sure if they give them a slap on the backside – so important is it to get them breathing.

Breath is life. God breathed life and all Creation into existence.

By breathing up His Disciples – His Church – Jesus gave a different kind of life. He gave eternal life. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we have faith, and by faith we are saved.

PRAY
Lord, breathe anew your Holy Spirit into my life daily, no hourly. Not hourly, but constantly. Give my your life-saving breath so as to keep me in the true faith, with you, your Father, and the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

The Church Wins!

READ
John 17:1-11

REFLECT
The church has seen a lot of dark days over the past 2,000 years, in the form of persecution. We have all heard the stories of Christians being burned alive as “Nero’s Torches,” illuminating the City of Rome. We have heard (and seen in movies, at least) Christians being thrown to the lions in the Great Coliseum. Today, – though mostly ignored by the Mainstream Media and the “mainline Protestant” denominations, the most vile and violent persecution of Christians is taking place in the Middle East at the hands of the Mohammedan – nothing short of genocide. Europe has been purged ideologically of Christianity and the United States is feeling the same evil wind blowing our way as the faith is publicly mocked and marginalized and in some cases attacked in court.

It all looks rather bleak for the faith…but it is not. The one things the Mohammedan, the secularist, the Cultural Marxist, and others have forgotten, as they gloat like ravenous jackels over wounded prey, is we are not alone in the fight, and ultimately the victory belongs to God and HIS people. The individual Christian might well perish – and as a martyr enter into glory – but the church, which is the body of Christ, is eternal and under God’s protection.

This protection is a certain and sure one because it is asked for by none other than Jesus.

“Holy Father, protect them in your name, that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

The individual might die but the church lives on and ultimately the church on earth will be triumphant. The church will be vindicated and avenged, when Christ returns in his glory, his enemies are destroyed and the nations made his footstool.

In the words of Martin Luther, “Were they take our house, goods, honor, child, or spouse, though life be wrenched away, they cannot win the day. The kingdom’s ours forever.”

Do not be discouraged. Pray and be of good cheer.

PRAY
Lord Jesus Christ, we trust in you to protect your Church. Helps us, your people, to remain faithful and joyful in the face of marginalization and persecution. Help us who can speak and act on behalf of our oppressed brothers and sisters to do so. By the power of your Holy Spirit, sustain and strengthen those who suffer for the faith.  AMEN.

Proclaim Salvation!

READ
Luke 2:15-21, Luke 22:22-32

REFLECT
It is funny how people like to use words to obfuscate, to skirt around things they not like. Take this upcoming Sunday – what some like to call the “Naming of Jesus.” Pretty bland is it not? It says really little about Jesus we do not already know.

We already know he is “Emmanuel – God with Us” and Jesus or Joshua in the Hebrew means, “He saves.” Both of these names tell us who Jesus is and what he will do: God will be with us and will redeem us through His Son.

This coming Sunday was traditionally known as the “The Feast of the Circumcision of Christ.” It is a shame we downplay this in favor of the naming. Perhaps for certain segments of the church Jesus’ circumcision is “too male” and  an uncomfortable reaffirmation of Jesus masculinity.

Focusing on the circumcision has significance: it is the first instance of Jesus’ precious blood being shed. The shedding of this blood tells us two things – firstly, Jesus is fully human – affirming that Jesus is “with us” in all aspects. He fully shares our humanity. Secondly, he is (at this point through the faithfulness of his parents) obedient to the Law and the will of God.

Of equal significance and something left out of the lectionary reading for this Sunday is the witness of Simeon and his subsequent song:

“Lord, now you are letting your servant[a] depart in peace,
    according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
    that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

Simeon affirms the salvific mission of Jesus and his messianic personage. Additionally, his proclamation does not limit the redemption Jesus will bring, for he is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” The knowledge of God and salvation are available to all and through this salvation God will be glorified.

PRAY
Gracious and Merciful God, we give you thanks for the salvation you have brought to the whole world through your Son Jesus. We know that some will reject this gift, yet we also know we are to extend this gift to all. Help us to be givers of your Word and help us to be like Simeon so that we might boldly proclaim salvation in Jesus name – AMEN.

Give the Gift of God’s Word

READ
John 1:1-14, Isaiah 52:7-10

REFLECT
What is Christmas all about? I am not going to get down on the whole secular Christmas deal. I love trees, lights and jingle bells as much as the next guy – so I am not going there. So the question I ask what is Christmas about? It’s Jesus birthday comes to mind. It is a time of peace. Christmas is about giving, about family. There are probably a lot we can say Christmas is about.

Ultimately Christmas is about the Word of God. That is what Jesus is: the Word of God incarnate – that is “in-the-flesh.” The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” John says.

Okay. Fine, well, and good. But what then. Well, we know that God sent his son to save us from sin, death, and the devil by His precious blood upon the cross, but what then? What do we do with the Word – not just this Word made flesh, but subsequently the written Word of God – Holy Scripture.

Isaiah tells give us an answer.

“How beautiful upon the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
    who announces salvation,
    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

We often think about what we can get or what we got because of Christmas. We think of salvation (or maybe some choice Christmas presents). Isaiah refocuses us to what we are to do and not what we get. Isaiah tells us that the righteous, the blessed, the ones pleasing to God are those who bring His Good News. Jesus is the Good News and we are called to announce Him and His peace, His Good News and His Salvation, which is for us.

So this Christmas give the gift of God’s Word and continue to do this throughout the year.

PRAY
Heavenly Father help us to bring the message of peace, Good News, and salvation to all those with whom we come in contact, the same we you brought us the these things in the person of Your Son. This we pray in Jesus name. AMEN.