Tag Archives: God with Us

Sharing God’s Love

December 2, 2015

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:68-79

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
   for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
   by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
   the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ –Luke 1:76-79

Our scripture today is the reported words of a late-life parent welcoming his first child. The priest Zechariah is cherishing his son whom we know now as John the Baptist. Zechariah knew all too well the lessons of waiting. He not only waited for years to hold that first born son but he had waited his whole life long for the promised Deliverer of his people. He celebrates his son’s leading the way for the coming One.

Somehow, as it often is within a materialistic world, the prospect of waiting at this time of year has morphed from awaiting a Savior to awaiting jolly old St. Nicholas to awaiting Santa Claus. Somehow we humans have turned the precious gift of God’s love into an economic necessity for prosperity and a source of feeding the greed that is epidemic in our land. In the past I have wished we could somehow separate the Santa Claus event from the birth of Christ. Actually the Santa Claus event can be a fun time for family gatherings and gift exchanges. It does not have to be weighted down with over extended expenditures and accumulations of stuff we do not need. But it really has nothing to do with the coming of Immanuel, God with Us. The church needs to take back and own the recognition of the coming of the Christ now and in the future and not try to make businesses enforce it in their quest toward their bottom lines.

We who do look forward to the rule of love on this earth have the responsibility to share the love of God with those who do not know it. The celebration of the birth of the Christ Child is one that most can comprehend and appreciate. Let us invite the world to our table.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.* Amen.

*Last verse of O Come O Come Emmanuel words by John M. Neale. See at http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/c/ocomocom.htm

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 

The Gift of the Spirit

Pentecost 2015Pentecost
May 24, 2015

Scripture Reading: John 16:4b-15

‘I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgments, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. –John 16:4b-11

The Spirit of God, this Advocate, is described here as having three primary functions and we are the functionaries:

  1. To prove the world wrong about sin because the world does not believe in Jesus who taught that sin is living without relationship with God rather than simply a failure to address moral issues;
  2. To prove the world wrong about righteousness, because while Jesus’ death on the cross to the world was proof of his unrighteousness, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead nullified that proof;
  3. To prove the world wrong about judgement, because the ruler of this world has been condemned and rendered powerless through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Do we live as citizens of the Kingdom of God in this “world” in synch with God as servants of a risen Savior who has overcome evil in the world?

At Christmas we welcome Emmanuel, God with us. At Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior who overcame the “world”. At Pentecost God calls us to move out into this “world” and demonstrate the love of God illustrated through this wondrous gift of God’s son. We are to do this through our words and deeds with a courage we can only draw from God who continues to rain strength on us through God’s Spirit.

In the church year Pentecost is the celebration on the liturgical calendar that leads into what is called ordinary time. While that term has rich meaning in that it says living as God’s functionary needs to become our normal way of being, I like to call it “Living in the Spirit” because I need to be reminded routinely that with God love is the norm.

Prayer: Thank you for sending Jesus to living among us; thank you for overcoming evil through his life, death, and resurrection; and thank you for the gift of your Spirit whose courage, guidance, and constant presence we need to continue your work today. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


God with UsChristmas
December 25, 2014

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:22-40

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. — Luke 2:39-40

Of course, as with all births, Jesus’ birth was a beginning. It was the start of God come to earth. We struggle for words to describe this event and all that followed. We assign descriptive names to the baby attempting to understand the wonder of it all—Son of God, Prince of Peace, God with Us. And then we return to our regular routines of life just as Mary and Joseph did changed in ways we do not fully understand. Somehow we have been saved to make a difference. In my feeble attempt to grasp this reality, I distill this process of God with Us as striving for Wholeness, Oneness, and Justice. At least that is the perception I have of what Jesus did in his earthly ministry and what he calls those who chose to follow him to continue to do today and into the future. It is a circular process not linear. Wholeness leads to Oneness and Oneness leads to Justice and Justice in turn leads to Wholeness.

I have been struck throughout these days leading up to Christmas by the ads for a few movies being released here at the end of the year that speak to wholeness, oneness, and justice that may be worth our watching. I have not seen any of them, yet, but I hope to see them and thought you might want to also.

Unbroken is the true story of a young athlete, Louis Zamperini, who excelled in the 1936 Olympics. By the time the 1940 Olympics should have been held, the world was too caught up in war in which Zamperini served as a pilot, went down in the ocean, survived several days afloat in the ocean, and finally was taken prisoner where for two years he withstood the torture of being a prisoner of war. He survived, returned home, and was able to forgive his tormentors. It is a story of Wholeness.

Selma is the story of the civil rights marches in 1965 in the USA that were the catalyst for the Voting Rights Act passed that same year. It tells of the commitment of primarily people of faith to end by non-violent means the racially driven oppressive laws limiting voting in some parts of the country. These events resonate with the power of Oneness when the children of God come together for the right reasons. Particularly for those of us called to be the Body of Christ following Jesus’ resurrection, Oneness is pivotal.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the third and last movie depicting J.R. R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit. The book illustrates well the struggles between good and evil. Although it is fantasy; it is violent and of necessity requires us to wrestle with the place of war in our world, if there is a place for war. It is about Justice.

We as followers of Christ have choices to make about how we go about bringing Wholeness, Oneness, and Justice to fruition, although we cannot question that Wholeness, Oneness, and Justice are our legacy.

Holy Spirit, truth divine,
 Dawn upon this soul of mine;
 Word of God and inward light
 Wake my spirit, clear my sight. 

Holy Spirit, love divine,
 Glow within this heart of mine;
 Kindle every high desire;
 Perish self in Thy pure fire. 

Holy Spirit, power divine
 Fill and nerve this will of mine;
 Grant that I may strongly live,
 Bravely bear, and nobly strive. 

Holy Spirit, peace divine,
 Still this restless heart of mine;
 Speak to calm this tossing sea,
 Stayed in Thy tranquility.* Amen.

*Words by Samuel Longfellow

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.