Christmas Day

Scripture: Isaiah 62:6-12, St Luke 2:1-7
The mighty words of the prophet Isaiah proclaim, “We see your salvation comes.” At Christmas we rejoice that our salvation is in the birth of a Savior who looks like an average human baby boy, but is promised to be so much more. Our reading for today shows a glimpse of how this salvation comes, what it looks like and how we can know it is real. We must examine them in light of our contemporary contexts for receiving the gift of salvation.

The psalmist tells us our salvation comes as light and joy, while Luke’s detailed account of the birth story proclaims that salvation comes not through fear, (although there was a little of that), but through the shining glory of a lord and great joy of the good news. Lest we forget from where this salvation comes, in the letter of Titus, we are reminded that it comes not through our own merit, but according to His mercy through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Yes, today is a celebration not merely of a baby, although that gives us much to celebrate, but a celebration of our salvation! Throughout scriptures this salvation has been anticipated and proclaimed. How will it be proclaimed in our communities and among the people of faith today?

Consider what words we might use in our context to describe the arrival of our salvation on this Christmas day and everyday of our lives. How do we know it is real? How will people experience the light, joy, mercy and rebirth that are the salvation of our world?

Each time we tell the Christmas story we are obligated to repeat the stories of Christ’s birth everywhere and in any way we can possibly share it. The gift of Christmas is our calling as disciples of the living Christ in our lives. Thank you Holy Father, Son and Holy Spirit that we are worthy to share the reality of your precious gift of salvation through the example of your son, Jesus Christ.


Least in His Kingdom

4th Sunday of Advent
Scripture: St Matthew 11:18-25
Our text for today shows us how little we know about Jesus. It shows us and we must remember that in the gospels we have only a basic knowledge of Jesus’ work on earth and the things we do not know about Jesus far out number the things we do know.

We must be careful to catch the tone in His voice as he says many things. “Woe onto thee” is far more expressive of sorrowful pity as much as it is of anger. It is not the acceptance of one who is in a large temperament because his self esteem has been torched, nor one who is blazingly angry because his has been insulted , nor one in a passion of hatred at his people on earth at his time of his ministry among us.

For like our Lord, we can not and must not answer someone in anger who has misunderstood us. It was and is the sin of people who forget the responsibility of privilege that we have as a child of the living God. For unto the city of Galilee and even here today, there has been given privilege, a chance and an opportunity which comes to us through our lord and Savior.

We dare not condemn a man or woman gone astray, through ignorance or never having the chance to know any better. And we must never, condemn a child for that which we might condemn an adult. We can not expect to have someone who has never heard about Jesus to respond in the same way as a person who has grown up within the family of the church. We have a great Christian responsibility to respond with Christian ethics as we are members of the community of Christ.

Years ago, while serving in Richmond, IN community, I heard a radio preacher say he had never sinned since he became a pastor. By his own actions, in fact, he may have condemned himself.
Jesus tells us, from his own life experiences, he has been insulted and misunderstood by the religious community of His time. Paraphrasing Jesus words, the Rabbis and the wise men rejected Him while the simple people accepted and flocked to Him. When I left to study for the ministry, many in my small home church were extremely happy, while at the same time saying “don’t let your education destroy your faith in the Lord and your commitment to Him.”

I found this little saying sometime ago, and it comes to mind once again:

“Still to the lonely soul
He doth himself impart
And for his dwelling and his throne
Chooses only the pure at heart”

May we each strive, with the Lord’s help, to seek a pure heart.

Let us pray.

The Greatest Question!

3rd Sunday of Advent
Scripture: St. Matthew 11:2-11
Jesus response to John’s question, don’t ask for confirmation of who I am, “I am.” You can see who I am by my actions. Jesus repeated this 3 times. He further says that God’s people have to seek for who I am.
What John was seeking was much more than a bargain, for John was much more than a prophet. John had been arrested, and was in a cold dungeon. It was a very narrow space, just enough space to lie down. The light came in from a small opening at the top of the cell. One might be able to see out by standing on their toes, but you could hear voices, even if you could not see anyone. This was very hard on John for his life had been an open space in the wilderness. As a child of the desert, John’s life was under the canopy of the sky. Fresh air blew in his face. And most important, he was free to move around.
Hearing the voices, John asked his disciples to go and seek Jesus and ask him, “Are you the one or must we look for another?” Jesus told John’s disciples to tell John this:
  • The blind are receiving their sight.
  • The lame are walking and running about.
  • The lepers are cleansed.
  • The poor are receiving the good news.
  • Blessed is the man who does not take offense of me.
As a dying man, John can not afford to have any doubts about Jesus the Messiah, sent from God.
The supreme argument for the church today is not intellect or debate. It must be the experience of a change in ones life in allowing the power of god to control one’s life and lifestyle. Is the Lord’s changing power a major force in your life?
I ask you once again, why did the masses go out to the wilderness? Did they go out to see a reed shaken by the wind? What they discovered was not an ordinary man. They saw and felt something extra ordinary in John’s life. No one would go out into the wilderness to see an ordinary man!
Truly, John was more than a prophet. He had a special message to convey making us aware of great spiritual awakening. It had been told for centuries that Elijah would return to herald the coming of the Messiah. To this day, when the Jews celebrate the Passover feast, a vacant chair is left for Elijah’s arrival.
A prophet of today is a man or woman with god’s wisdom in their minds,God’s truth on their lips, and God’s courage in their heart, body and soul. Certainly, John had all three of these spiritual gifts. While John’s message was not a gospel of good news, it was basically and fundamentally a warning of the destruction to come.
It took Jesus and his death on the cross to show all mankind the
  • Length
  • Breath
  • Depth
  • Heights
...of the love of God!

The great question still exists today. Will each of us spend ourselves physically is need be for the hop and eternal life of god’s kingdom, even if we loose this life for the goal of his eternal love in the heavenly kingdom?

Let us pray.

Prepare the Way!


2nd Sunday of Advent
Scripture: Matthew 3:1-12


Who invited John the Baptist to the Christmas Party? He was wearing clothes made of camel skin, had an odd diet and was sharing an intrusive message! Or was the message not for one Sunday each year but for daily use in our lives, to shake us up and point us toward the reign of God. A dynamic message that is quite different than what most of our churches share week after week. His message of repentance is not a message of threat, but a promise for a new and better lifestyle.

It is both often and at the same time for us to focus much on the path, a path not looking to the future. For starters, perhaps we don’t have to spend money that we don’t have that our family members and friends don’t really need. What we need most is our attention and presence focusing on the Lord. Perhaps preachers should offer guidance for persons to refocus on what they really need and what is important.

John arrived on the scene preaching in the wilderness of Judea, crying out “repent for the kingdom of god is at hand”. As a prophet of god he said, “Make ready the way (road), by which the Lord is making, He is near. Make ready the road that the Lord may enter your life in a new and exciting way. He fearlessly denounced evil wherever he saw it. When Herod the King, was in a sinful marriage, he rebuked him. If the ordinary people were living a life of sin, unaware of God’s presence in his life, wherever he saw sin in the state or the church he loudly rebuked it.

If John were alive today, what would he rebuke in the church today that would awaken us to what the church is really about? Lord, we need a resurrected John the Baptist to emerge and awaken all the churches today. Our beloved UMC and countless other churches in rural America need a great spiritual awakening.

It appears today that the mega church is the new style. Huge church buildings, large membership, multi-paid staff are missing the target of the down and out in smaller churches that need the Lord also.

Our main reason for being a Church community is not to just add more on the rolls, but to make disciples for the Lord. We don’t need to keep up with the large churches across town, but we need to offer the in-churched a new and fresh life with the Lord Jesus as their guide and example.

A cousin of mine had a grandchild who recently took his own life. He was 18 years old with a small infant son. A young man, who could have been reached to know the Lord and be a disciple, is gone.

What are we doing to make new disciples? Where are we going as a church to reach out to those struggling with life?

With the drug culture in our community, just imagine just what any one church can do to save the youth and others. When I was young we heard of drugs in places like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Today it exists in our own back yards. What a wonderful Christmas we might have next year if we spent as much money on reaching others as we spend on maintaining our air-conditioned, sanctuaries.

John was not afraid to rebuke even a king of his sinful lifestyle. Oh yes, it cost him his head but it gave him eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. May we aid in the fight to reclaim our society for the Lord Jesus Christ!

Let us Pray.