Showing posts from December, 2012

Christmas Day Reflections

Brendan and Rachel made it in time to start the ten o'clock Christmas Eve service by lighting the Christ Candle with Amy and me.  Brendan has been in other night-before-Christmas services as a child in the pageant and as a worship band leader. But this time he was my son, reading John 1 with a deep man's voice reading with his wife. I'm proud, grateful, happy and honored to introduce my family and share this service with them, as we did with Connor and Sherianne last year. 

Christmas Eve is an odd night for pastors. We lead others in worship, singing familiar carols, listening to God's word, bringing a new twist to an old story, being a part of the church-family on this special night before they spend time with their families opening gifts and sharing a meal. Five services in the afternoon and evening don't allow for much my-family time on Christmas Eve.

Don't get me wrong; there's no place I'd rather be this night. I'm filled with awe and jo…

Last Advent Reflection: Peace

Peace is not always the absence of conflict, but calm in the center of the storm. Peace is something Jesus promised and gave to his disciples in the midst of their fear, and in future conflict and persecution they would face (my peace I give you...) and Jesus was called to peace.These are the prophetic words of Zechariah, John the Baptist's father, speaking of Jesus' calling.

To shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. (Luke 1:76–79)

Jesus is also our peace. Because of Jesus' death on the cross he obliterated the wall that separates us from God, and the wall that separates us from one another. 

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household… (Ephesians 2:14,19)

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He brings peace to…

Advent Reflection: 1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

I think I've read, studied, preached, and memorizedthis scripture more than any other because of weddings, premarital counseling and preaching. Its original intent was not really meant to be a "wedding passage" in a similar way that Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd...) was not meant to be a "memorial service passage."

It's a passage about love demonstrated within a church that was competitive, argumentative, arrogant, and struggling to distinguish Christian love from any other kind of love being talked about or experienced in first century Corinth. In chapter 12 Paul writes to the church about spiritual gifts and the conce…

Advent Reflection: Psalm 107

I spoke to a woman this week who was surprised at the reaction of her neighbors, whom she described as a grumbling and isolated, when she invited them to a Christmas celebration of the Hispanic tutoring program at our church. Families made tamales and a local service club served the meal. There were children, parents, tutors and community members all together celebrating. The neighbors were surprised, actually shocked to see so much energy, smiles, love in one room among people of different languages, ages, wealth and background at a church.

She smiled as she told me the story because she connected her story with the story I preached last Sunday. As the rich young ruler spoke with Jesus scripture tells us Jesus "looked at him and loved him." Jesus invested something in this man that gave him every reason to follow him. The word for "look" literally means "gaze" or "consider." Jesus used this word in Matthew 6: "consider the lillies of the fi…

Advent Reflection: Light from Genesis to Revelation

From beginning to end the theme of light in scripture tells us of God's love and blessing, guidance and hope. In the darkness of winter the light of Christmas shines. What do these scriptures tell you about God? Jesus' birth? Us?

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. ... And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:3-18) For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. (Psalm 36:9)

The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom sh…