Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Word at Christmas

Most of us have heard the Christmas story from Luke many times. I know I have--one of my favorite Christmas memories from all through the years is our family setting up the Nativity while Pop read the story of Jesus's birth from Luke. If you haven't read it in a while, I suggest you take a look at Luke 2:1-20 for a reminder.

In John, though, we get a little different view. John doesn't tell us about the manger, the star, the shepherds, the angels, or the wisemen. Here's what he says:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

"There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

"He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God--children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:1-14

The Word (Logos), present at the beginning of time and through whom the universe itself was created, became a lowly, insignificant. feeble human and made His home here among us.

How unimaginable is that?

At the same time, though, His creation didn't know Him. He came as the Light, but His creation chose to turn from the light and live in darkness.

How unimaginable is that?

 May you recognize the Word and know Him for who He is this Christmas...
 
Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine :0)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

where else would we go?

This morning at church, I was reminded just how big a fan I am of Peter.

Pastor Don was talking about how we have two natures, the physical and the spiritual, and how mixed up it is that we spend the majority of our time and attention focusing on the physical nature.

In Genesis we are told that God formed man from the dust of the ground (our physical side) and then breathed into him the breath of life (our spiritual side). Our physical side is temporary--we came from the dirt and one day we will all return to it.

Our spiritual side, though, is eternal. God's breathed His Spirit into each of us at birth, and that spirit is the part of us that cannot be destroyed. How mixed up are we that we spend our time, energy, and money trying to satisfy the desires of our physical nature, so often at the expense of our spiritual nature?

In John, Jesus is preaching to a huge crowd of approximately 5,000 men. That's not even starting to take into consideration all the women and kids that were there, so it's probably safe to say we can double that number. This is the story lots of people refer to as the story of the first boyscout, the little boy who gave Jesus his lunch of 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish. Jesus went on to bless the boy's lunch and then used it to feed the entire crowd--and there were even leftovers!

We're told that the next day the people went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. When they found Him, Jesus told them basically that they were searching for Him because they had had their bellies filled.

He then went on to talk about one of those weird sticking points for some people: He told the people that they were worrying about the wrong food, and that they wouldn't be satisfied until they realized that He is the bread of life. He even went so far as to say, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:53 & 54)

Needless to say, this idea was a bit hard to swallow for some of Jesus's followers (see what I did there--"hard to swallow"? Okay, maybe I'm a bit cheesy...or just easily amused) and they started grumbling.

Verse 66 says that many of His followers turned away then.
I mean, come on--here's this guy who's telling them they need to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Wouldn't that have creeped you out a little bit?

Other people were abandoning Him, so Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked them, basically, "Don't you all want to run away, too?"

So, here's where my first statement comes into the story: I'm a big fan of Peter. In Matthew we get to see him jump out of the boat and walk on the water to Jesus...and then we see him start sinking when he takes his eyes off Jesus. He comes across as fiercely loyal, stubborn, brash, outspoken, quick-tempered...and here in John he is the one who speaks up to answer Jesus and say what everyone else was probably thinking but didn't want to say:

"Where would we go?"

Peter doesn't say he's not thinking what everybody else is thinking. He simply says, "You may be a bit out there, but You tell the truth. Where else would we go?"

Sometimes, I have no idea what God is wanting me to do. He confuses me and He doesn't give me the nice, neat, straight answers I so often want.

The thing is, though, like Peter I know that He is Truth.
Where else would I go?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I have no words...

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6, (F)
  • Daniel Barden, 7, (M)
  • Rachel Davino, 29, (F)
  • Olivia Engel , 6, (F)
  • Josephine Gay, 7, (F)
  • Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6 (F) 
  • Dylan Hockley, 6 (M)
  • Dawn Hochsprung, 47 (F)
  • Madeleine F. Hsu, 6, (F) 
  • Catherine V. Hubbard , 6, (F) 
  • Chase Kowalski, 7, (M)
  • Jesse Lewis, 6,  (M)
  • James Mattioli, 6, (M)
  • Grace McDonnell, 7, (F) 
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52 (F) 
  • Emilie Parker, 6 (F)
  • Jack Pinto, 6, (M)
  • Noah Pozner, 6, (M)
  • Caroline Previdi, 6, (F)
  • Jessica Rekos, 6, (F)
  • Avielle Richman, 6 (F) 
  • Lauren Rousseau, 30, (F)
  • Mary Sherlach, 56, (F) 
  • Victoria Soto, 27 (F)
  • Benjamin Wheeler, 6, (M)
  • Allison N. Wyatt , 6 (F)

    ...there are no words.

    "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." ~Romans 8:26

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

the beauty of now

I'm a music fanatic--through the good and bad times in my life, it seems there has always been a song that just somehow fits.

For a little background (and to make an incredibly long story short), I'm in one of those places right now where I'm not really sure what's going on. I'm in grad school and looking at the fact that if I'm going to make it through this program I'm going to have to shift my priorities. I've been wondering if this is what I need to do and praying for clarity and peace about whether or not I've made the right decision in being here. I look back and keep saying, "What if I had..."

Well, on my drive to class this morning I was listening to an old cd I found in the glove box yesterday. It was SheDaisy, and the song, "Now" came on. The first verse says,

If I could be 13 again
To live with no regret
I could still be president
And I could feel my 
dad as he's holding me
In his arms not in my dreams
And I could not wait to
Be something at 23...

Man, I can't tell you how easy it is to look back to that time when I could look forward and see my future all laid out before me. As a teenager, there was no limit to what I thought I would be able to accomplish. My plans were all made, and when people asked where I would be in 10 years I knew exactly what my life would look like...

Funny thing is, my life today looks nothing like what I thought it would when I was giving that description 10 years ago... or even 5 years ago, for that matter.

The chorus of that song goes on to say,

But now I've got the sun
To clear away the clouds
So why look back when there's a
Stunning
Blazing
So Amazing now!

When I listened to that this morning, something clicked for me. It doesn't matter what might have been. I have an incredibly challenging but amazing life right now, so why do I keep looking back and wondering where I would be today if I had made different decisions?

I can honestly say that I can't think of a single big decision in my life that I haven't consulted God about, then made my choice based on where I thought He was leading me. I have, in good faith, followed wherever that path has led.

I'm in no way saying I know where I'm going now, or exactly why I'm here in grad school. The obvious answer would be to say that I'm here to get a PhD in Medical Physics, but I've learned through the years that the obvious answer isn't always God's answer (in my life, actually, it has seldom been the case).

I have to confess that I haven't been talking to God or listening to God nearly as much as I should have been lately, which most likely explains why all these doubts and fears have taken such a hold on me. That being the case, when I wanted to go to the Scriptures this morning to get some perspective I didn't have a daily reading plan that I've been following. In the back of my Bible, though, there's a plan for reading through the Bible in a year, so I looked up the passage for today.

It's funny how God works things out for us sometimes. The passage I read this morning was Philippians 3:7-14. I won't write it all out here because it is pretty lengthy and would add to this already too long post, but here's the gist of it:

As a Jew, Paul had every credential imaginable. He could essentially be held up as the good Hebrew poster child. When he encountered Christ, though, his life was turned on its head and he realized that all that stuff didn't matter. What mattered was Jesus Christ, and Paul realized that he would give everything he ever had as a credit to his name if he could just become more like Christ. He, like all of us, had been called to chase after Christ, to do everything in his power to become like Him.

He summed everything up with a phrase that I'm going to borrow from the Message paraphrase: "I'm off and running and I'm not turning back."

This may seem like an odd connection to some of you, but that passage made one thing clear to me--now isn't the time to look back and try to figure out what might have been. Now is beautiful, or as SheDaisy said, "stunning, blazing, so amazing"! Now is the time for me to forget about the past and just work on following Christ in this moment, and for me right now that means working my hardest to juggle all the amazing opportunities in my life at the moment: a husband, kids, grad school, writing, calligraphy, crochet... all the good stuff, and the crazy hard stuff, too!

What makes your now "stunning, blazing, so amazing"?