Friday, December 28, 2007

Lost Love

I've fallen short once again on my advent posts. For the last two years, I've tried to post once for each of the four Sunday's of Advent. Three out of four's not bad. The last Sunday just comes so close to Christmas eve and Christmas that the thought of opening the computer and writing just seems wrong. Anyway, we missed the Sunday of Love, but be sure that it was here. Merry Christmas to all (yes it is still Christmas on the 27th) and a very Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Expecting Joy

Where is the Joy? In the gospels, two disciples go up to the mountain with Christ and witness his transfiguration. One of them wants to stay and live in this moment, but Jesus makes it clear that there is work to do and staying on the mountain is not an option, but perhaps a bigger change was in the two who had seen the glory of Christ and knew what was to come. In the text for this Sunday, we find John the Baptist in jail, sending his disciples to ask Jesus “are you the one, or should we expect someone else.” I think the first truth here is the understanding that we are not enough. Regardless of Jesus role as “the One”, “One” was and is needed. We can’t do it on our own. But second, John knew that if Jesus response was positive, then it had all been worth it. He had spent his life proclaiming Christ and was in jail because of it. Was it worth it? “Are you the one?” The answer to this question would validate his life, a life that had no meaning apart from Christ. I believe the response would restore John’s joy and the same understanding in our life is where Joy is found. We are nothing apart from Christ, and that he is the one which we have expected is the Joy of the advent season.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Peace Happens

The second week of advent is upon us and we look to the concept of Peace as we prepare for Christ's arrival. Many churches looked upon the text of Luke 3 in which John the Baptist "prepares the way for the Lord, making straight paths for him" as was prophesied by Isaiah. I find it odd that one would be sent before the Lord to make the paths straight for Him. We often think of our God in omnipotent terms and wonder why so much discord is allowed if God is in control. In doing so, we seem to secretly long for a loss of the free will and personal choice required to truly accept His grace on our own volition. If we overlook this idea of freedom, then we are left to wonder why such a powerful God would need one to set the paths straight so that he could arrive. My belief is that these straight paths aren't for the benefit of our savior, to allow Him to find us, rather, for the benefit of us to prepare us to be able to let Him find us. How does John propose that we do this- "Repent." As we search for peace, we must be reminded again that we may only find it by setting ourselves straight and preparing the way for our Lord, not by continuing in our own ways and wondering why things never seem to work out. May you find this straight path and ready your heart for our Lord this advent season and receive the peace of Christ.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Lost Hope

In one of Tony Campolo’s books, he tells a story of a very dull village that got really excited about the news of a race. They came to the race very excited and prepared to run. The starter pistol sounded, they bounded off of the starting line, and took several strides then stopped to celebrate. Think about that for a while and you should get the connection to the life of a Christian. For this week of Advent, we celebrate Hope. The following passage from Romans is one of the texts for this week from the lectionary:
11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Romans 13
As Christians, we see ourselves as “saved” and speak of salvation as the past tense. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the peace of Christ that comes to a believer, but if we get stuck in this past tense, I don’t know that we can fully experience it. Paul is talking about the future in this verse. God has given us salvation- a concept that is past, present and future, but hope resides in a confidence in the future. Another lectionary text this week speaks of two men walking in a field, one will be taken and one left behind. This imagery is quite fearful.

But compare fear for a moment. When we sit alone in a house, paranoid of the noises outside, we fear. It is not a pleasant fear because hope is absent. We’re not confident of what is coming next. On the contrary, when sit perched atop the biggest hill on the thrill ride at the amusement park, or harnessed in for a bungee jump that same fear is exhilaration because even though the danger is real, we can be pretty confident in the eminent safety of our two feet firmly planted on solid ground once it’s over. Without a confidence in the future, without hope, we can’t experience joy, peace, or even true love. We get locked up in desperation and self-preservation. Look to the words of Paul this week from Romans as a source of Hope for the future. Work out your faith in fear and trembling, but know that God is God and our home is with him. May you have a week filled with Hope as we prepare for the arrival of the Christ.