Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Advent Reflections: Christmas Eve



Love

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

John 1:14



Reflection
 
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Take a few seconds and enjoy the silence of this moment. Christmas Eve is finally here. Take a deep breath and rest in the truth of these words of John 1:14. Imagine the essential meaning and implications of this verse. The God of the universe and all that exists came to earth; not by obligation, not by universal mandate, but because of the depth of his eternal love for us. So much so that he was willing to leave the perfection of heaven, and in divine condescension, became man in order to live among us. The God of all created things, cloaked in the vessel of an infant child, all the while never losing His divinity, came to us. The perfect, living among the imperfect. God and man. Complete in both substance and essence. 

 I've always thought that Christmas Eve just seems to have a magical feel to it. Almost a “real time” sense, as if the events that transpired are about to happen for the first time; and in a sense perhaps they are. In Christ, all things are made new each day, as well as each year. The reality of the incarnation is just as true today as it was over 2000 years ago. And as our time together comes to a close, let us carry that with us beyond the Christmas Season. As we reflect over the last month of Advent, let us not think of Christmas Eve as the end of our journey, but the beginning. Hope. Peace. Joy. Love. All things new. Beginnings.

Emmanuel, God with us! He was with us. He is with us. He will be with us. Christ has come. Advent.

Prayer

Lord, today we celebrate the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ. As we come to the ending of our Advent journey, we do so with hearts filled with hope, peace, joy and love. To you we give you all praise and worship. Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. 

Amen

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Advent Reflections - December 23



Love

“The angel answered,“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."

 Luke 1:35




Reflection

As we read these words, it’s easy to imagine some of the thoughts that must have been racing through Mary's young mind. “Why me?”, “There’s nothing special about me!”, “I’m not good enough.”, “I’m too young.”, “I’m not ready for this!”, “This isn’t what I had planned!” But yet here she was, facing a choice that was actually not really a choice at all when you think about it. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” God chose Mary. An ordinary woman, with human faults like anyone else, recognized that the love of God was about to overwhelm humanity and that she would be used as its vessel. 

How often do we question ourselves when God wants to use us? Instead of recognizing the awesome fact that the God of all creation chooses to use flawed human beings, we resist thinking that we know better than God. Mary wasn’t perfect. She was afraid, confused and maybe even doubted herself a bit, yet God still chose her. With all her fears, imperfections and questions, she heard the call of God, chose not to hesitate and acknowledged that his plan was obviously much bigger than hers. In love, God chose her and in obedience, she was willing to say, “I am the Lord’s servant.”

  As the season of Advent comes to a close, may we set aside our plans, hesitations and fears of imperfection. May we trust in a God that chooses to use us, not because he has to, not because we are perfect, but because he loves us, and nothing more. 
 

Prayer

Lord God, it is in this quiet moment that we acknowledge your presence and perfect love for us. We know that we are far from perfect, and we know that our imperfections sometimes hold us back. But as we meditate on your perfection, help us to trust in you and that your decisions are always right. Give us the strength to step forward when you call, knowing that it is because of your love that you chose us. Let it be only in love that we serve you.

Amen 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Advent Reflections - December 22



Love
 
"and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote,
“His name is John.”
… And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 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

Reflection

There are not many things closer to a miracle than the birth of a child. With each and every life that comes into the world, also comes a very specific purpose. Each life is uniquely created by God and every parent has high aspirations for their children. When a mother or father looks into their baby’s eyes for the first time, there is no limit to the dreams that they imagine. The love that is created in that moment knows no end and has no limit. Love is such a powerful emotion and encompasses the theme of our verse for today.

These words that we read from the Gospel According to Luke are just a portion of what is often referred to as Zechariah’s Song. Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist, who upon his birth prophetically declared that his son would go before Jesus to prepare the way for his ministry. In that moment, he not only declared his love, hopes and dreams for his son, but the hopes and dreams of the entire world as well.

Zechariah knew that his son was chosen by God to prepare the way for Christ. And although his love for his son outweighed anything that he ever imagined, he knew that his purpose was much more than just carrying on a family name. For in the moment that he gave the name John to his son, he acknowledged that he was destined for something much greater. Zechariah acknowledged that God would eventually use his son, to reveal his love to the world, manifested in the one that John would go before: Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Lord, it’s hard for us to imagine a love deeper than that between father and son. As we read these words of Zechariah, let us remember the deep love that you have for each of us. A love so deep that you sent your only Son to one day die for the same world into which he was humbly born.

    Amen    

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Advent Reflections - December 21



Love

“For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life..”

John 3:16





Reflection

Today we continue our journey into the forth and final week of Advent. We look back on the Hope that we have in Christ, his Peace that transcends our circumstances and the Joy that comes from a God that loves each of us despite our success or failure. We now reflect on that everlasting Love that God has for each and every one of us. The words of John 3:16 call to us from the prophecies of the Old Testament, are fulfilled in the birth of Christ and come to completion in his eventual death and resurrection. This common thread of God’s love stretches through the entire message of the Bible and reaches out to us in the most essential and holistic attribute of who God is. God is love. And His love is revealed in its purity through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Love is an all encompassing emotion; bringing both the greatest of joy and the deepest of pain. It’s no wonder that God uses love to illustrate who he is and what his kingdom is all about. In divine dichotomy, Jesus’ life on earth represented both the pinnacle of pain and suffering, and the deepest illustrations of love possible.  

As we celebrate this last Sunday of Advent, in the quiet of this moment, let us reflect not on the sufferings of life, but on the inexpressible joy in the birth of Christ. Reflect on the moment when God broke through this earthly realm, descended from his heavenly dwelling and made himself one of us. In the first breath that he drew, the love of God was revealed in a humble infant. The essence of love was revealed and became an earthly reality. Immanuel, God with us!                 

Prayer

Most Gracious and Loving God, as we celebrate this last Sunday of Advent, we remember the deep love that you have for us. In the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ, we truly see how much you love the world. Let us remember that single truth regardless of our circumstances, regardless of who we are, what we’ve done or will do. Your love is eternal.  Your love is true. Your love is real. Your love is You. You are love.

   Amen