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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Easter People

St. Augustine once said, “We are Easter people and alleluia is our song!”

A few weeks after the Boston bombing, the Texas explosion, the horrific Gosnell trial, and whatever else has tried us in the last few days, it becomes easy to forget about Easter that we celebrated a few weeks ago. When tragedy strikes, we often watch the news anxiously for the next detail to come to light: who was it? why did they do it? are they going to catch them?  As we continue to watch the coverage, we begin to despair over the condition of our world. We believe that things are falling apart, that the end may be near.

Things may be falling apart, and the end could be near. Or it could be another 10,000 years.  Either way, our job as Christians  live everyday in light of the Resurrection. To live as though Jesus really did rise from the dead. Our God has brought Jesus through the worst pain that the world has to offer, through death, and then to new life again.

We don’t stick our heads in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong. Nor do we throw our hands in air, giving in to the world’s message of gloom and despair. No, we must call to mind once again, that Christ has risen from the dead, and we are raised with him. And as people of the new creation, God has place us here to live out the resurrection life.

God has not given us the Spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.  Often what is reported in the media doesn’t affect us directly, and we cannot change what happens in the world around us. But we can change how we interact with the people we come in contact with. We can help our neighbors. We can encourage our families. We can teach our children the gospel, and the Jesus inspired morality the springs from it, including the sanctity of every human life.  We can live new life through power of the resurrection.

This is the Easter season, and we are the Easter people! Alleluia is our Song!

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At our church, we are going through The Story, which provides a overview of the biblical narrative by using actual scripture portions from the NIV.  This past week we came to chapter 17, which told of the failures of the wicked Kings and the eventual fall  and destruction of Jerusalem.  Israel had fallen because it had failed to live up to its God given task of being a light unto the world. God had chosen the offspring of Abraham to be a blessing to the surrounding nations. Instead, Israel became like its neighbors, returned to idolatry, and eventually was destroyed.   Israel had misrepresented God, and God had enough.  The city of Jerusalem was crushed, the temple burnt, the people sent into exile.

Jeremiah laments the situation: “How lonely sits the city that was full of people…Judah has gone into exile because of affliction and hard servitude…All who pass along the way clap their hands at you; they hiss and away their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem; Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?”  The light had been snuff out with nothing remaining except a smoldering wick.

Though Jeremiah was the weeping prophet, he found reason for hope:  “The steadfast lover of the Lord never cease; his mercies never come to an end: they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Jeremiah was confident that God would once again prove his faithfulness. And God did. Centuries later God sent the true faithful Israelite to be a blessing to all the earth, to be a light unto the world. Jesus said that now, he himself, was the light of the world, and that whoever followed him would not walk in darkness.  The light of Israel had been restored in a brighter way than ever imagined. Now, through the Messiah, God has ensured that light would no longer be trapped under that basket of self preservation that leads only to smoldering wicks.   Instead, God has determined Jesus followers would be the  light on display for all the world to see, so that he may receive glory from all the nations.    As we continue in the Epiphany season, lets remember that our task is to carry forth the light of Christ to the world around us.

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Pietro Perugino - The Adoration of the Magi (E...

Pietro Perugino – The Adoration of the Magi (Epiphany) – WGA17259 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this week following the Epiphany of our Lord, we remember the revealing of Christ to the gentiles.  It is truly good news that the Jewish Messiah would come not just for Israel, but for all nations. We are all recipients of this grace.

Those wise men who came from the east were the first non-Jews to see the Christ.  The folks in Israel had not really paid much attention to this baby who was destined to be King of the Jews. However the Magi from a far away pagan land traveled hundreds of miles under the guidance of a star to see this child.  They were so excited to see this child that Matthew records that they “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy”  when they got close to Jesus. When they came into his presence they fell down and worshiped him.

When King Herod, King of Judea,  did find out about this child, he was not happy to hear about one who had “been born King of the Jews.”  He did not worship him; he declared war on him. Attempting to eliminate any threat to his throne, he had the infant boys of Bethlehem murdered.

As the gospel of John says, “he came unto his own, and his own did not receive him.” Many in Israel did not recognize the majesty of Jesus, while many pagans from around the world came to believe in him as their Lord.  This is not to pick on the first century Jews; we too fail to see the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

Far too often, we pay little attention to the King in our own midst. We strive for control of our own lives, and often buck against any perceived threats that would undermine our own little kingdom. When we are confronted with the news that the true King is here, we must be careful not to rebel against him as Herod did. Of course, we wouldn’t go to the extremes that Herod did in trying to eliminate the threat to his position. However, even our simple ignoring of his presence is really the same as rebellion against him.  He is a kind and gentle king, but he is still King.

Rather, God wants us to gladly bring him our worship and treasure as the Magi did.  This requires time and effort –  just like the Magi’s long and hard trip across the hot desert. However, the payoff will be worth it, as Hebrews says, “he rewards those who seek him.”

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12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though December 25 is past, Christmastide is just getting started. This season of the church year is also known as the Twelve Days of Christmas (yes, it appears there actually was some reason to have a song called “The 12 Days of Christmas”).  These Twelve Feast Days run from Christmas to Epiphany on January 6. For more on the Twelve Days see the Wikipedia  article.

It seems as though the Twelve Days have been largely forgotten by many, including myself. At any rate, there does seem to be value in observing all twelve days of Christmas.  As I mentioned in this post, the Christian season Advent is ignored by many, and is swallowed up by Christmas of commerce.  On Christmas day we celebrate, and then its over. As Christians, we want to keep Christ in Christmas, but if we’re honest, most of us will probably admit that the events of December 25 often draw our minds to many things beside the Incarnation.  It might be helpful if we used the slower pace that usually comes after Christmas Day for continued celebration and reflection on the coming of our God in the person of Jesus Christ.

For the advertisers Christmas is over. They now begin a new marketing strategy to keep us in their stores through the cold and dark months of January and February. For the Church, Christmas is not over – its just getting started. We take this time to rejoice in the God of our salvation and to shine as lights in witness to the Joy he has brought to the World!

 

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The Road to Emmaus appearance, based on Luke 2...

The Road to Emmaus appearance, based on Luke 24:13-32, painted by Joseph von Führich, 1830. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On this the first week of Advent, the purple candle of Hope is lit. In this season of anticipation, we recall the ancient Jewish promise of a future king who would redeem Israel. They were hoping for the day when “the Lord will be king over all the earth” as the prophet Zechariah put it. This is what Jesus’ friends were hoping for. On the Road to Emmaus, the followers of Jesus lamented the fact that their Messiah had been condemned to death and crucified as they said, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”  Their hopes and dreams had been crushed in his execution.  And now they were quite perplexed as they now had heard rumors that maybe Jesus was alive after all.

On the road to Emmaus, the disciple’s Hope was walking right along with them. However, they did not recognize this man that was talking to them. Only when the risen Lord open their eyes in “the breaking of the bread” did they recognize that their lost Hope was not lost after all. In fact, their hopes had been realized in ways they never dreamed. The Hope of Israel had actually come through the path of suffering. The crucifixion that they saw as hope destroying was actually life giving, and now with the Lord risen from the dead, hope itself had been resurrected!

In the days, years, and centuries afterward, Jesus has brought hope to the entire world. This is not a cheap hope that has come without cost. The message of the resurrection comes through people who have walked the road of suffering and death. But as we continue in our journey we must reject the temptation to give up hope and to despair. The world is dark and doubtful, but our job is to bring light and hope to a gloomy world with the good news that Jesus is king over all the earth.  One day this will be completely fulfilled,  the world will recognize its rightful King, and doubt will be no more. Until that day, when you get discouraged  because you see no way forward, remember that Hope is there, walking right beside you.

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