Why Not Shepherds?

screenshot-2016-12-11-at-7-49-28-amToday is the third Sunday of Advent. Many of us will light the shepherds candle and sing Joy to the World. We’ll read Luke 2:8-20 and talk about how joy was for all people, even lowly shepherds. That first Christmas night was celebrated by a carpenter, an unwed mother, and a few dirty, smelly shepherds from a nearby field. There is certainly a message of hope in the clear demonstration that Christ had come for all…

But why not shepherds? Continue reading

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Advent Joy

advent candlesAnd in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

   “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

The angel brought good news of great joy. Good news is the Gospel, but today let’s focus on joy. Miriam-Webster.com defines joy three ways:

Continue reading

Here with Us

If you want to know how much God loves us, look in the manger. If you want to see how much God hates sin, look at the cross. 

Joy Williams is a celebrated Christian singer/songwriter. She released Here with Us in 2005. Some how, some way, I had never heard it until last year. The video above combines her song with images from The Nativity and the mini-series Jesus of Nazareth. Christ coming into the world is cause for celebration, but don’t loose sight of the fact that… he came to die. Continue reading

Social Media Christmas

Happy Monday was long enough already and I didn’t want to just stick this in at the bottom. Here is an imaginative take on what the incarnation might have looked like on the pages of social media (i.e. Facebook). Props to the brilliant folks at Igniter Media.

Advent, Second Sunday

advent-wreathOne of my favorite texts during the Advent season is the Magnificat, and you will see it below. The Second Sunday of Advent is Faith, and lighting the Bethlehem Candle reminds us of the faith required of Joseph and Mary to make the journey. Matthew 1 describes Joesph’s encounter with an angel of the Lord, Luke 1 the same for Mary. In faith they acted according the to the angel’s words and so fulfilled many prophesies.

The first chapter of Luke also records Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, who is carrying the child we will come to know as John the Baptist. The Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth as Mary enters the house, and she declares Mary blessed above all women. Mary’s response is now well known as the Magnificat: Continue reading

For Jews and Gentiles

JehoshuaA couple of weeks ago, our Sunday School lesson focused on how the first Christmas was for a Jewish audience.  Joseph and Mary, the inhabitants of Bethlehem, and the shepherds who visited on the night of Jesus’ birth were all Jews.  Jesus came first to his own people, knowing he would be rejected, all to fulfill God’s plan.

This week we looked at Christ’s birth for Gentiles.  Consider these words of Simeon, who met Jesus at his dedication at the Jerusalem temple:

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
(Luke 2:29-32 ESV)

It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Christ in his lifetime.  Notice that when Jesus was only weeks old, Simeon recognized he was both light for the Gentiles and the glory of Israel.  Sometimes we get this funny idea, even if we don’t put it into words, that throughout the Bible God sort of rolls with the punches.  Sometimes we make it up as we go along, but that doesn’t mean God does the same.  He didn’t come up with the plan of salvation after Israel failed to keep the Law.  And offering salvation to the Gentiles was not some sort of plan B when the Jews rejected Jesus.

God knew all along, and the birth, life and death of Jesus were all part of his great plan.  The birth of the Christ is good news for all mankind.

Advent: Week Two

Reposted from December 5, 2011.

 

The Second Sunday of Advent is about Faith, and we light the Bethlehem candle.  Matthew 1 describes the encounter Joseph had with the angel Gabrielle, who told him that Mary’s child was of God.  In faith Joseph took Mary as his wife.  Luke 1 tells how the same angel spoke to Mary, explaining that the Holy Spirit would come up on her and that the child she would carry would be the Son of God.  In faith Joseph and Mary make the journey to Bethlehem, believing God and waiting for the Promise. Continue reading