Our Father in heaven wants us all home one day, any good parent would. But it may be tough for us, especially at the holidays when a loved one or friend goes home to the Lord at this time. Still God wants us all there someday and God covers all the costs of our going.
If you’ve been feeling blue this Christmas & Thanksgiving, then Donna and I invite you to our Blue Christmas Worship on December 22nd, at 7:00 p.m. A service of hope and comfort.
Comfort, oh comfort my people says our God. Jesus comes to both challenge and comfort, it is said of Jesus, he comforts the afflicted and afflicts the overly comfortable. I think we all fall into both categories at times.
Mark’s Gospel doesn’t begin with the birth of Jesus, that’s left to Matthew and Luke. For Mark the beginning of the Good News is John the Baptist and Jesus both preaching baptism and repentance to the overly comfortable but also teaching and healing those who are afflicted or feeling so.
Preaching, teaching and healing have come down over two thousand years as the key functions of pastors, sub-shepherds, when we are at our best we are following in the steps of the Good Shepherd.
Isaiah predicted that the Lord would come like a shepherd leading us his flock, gathering us in like lambs in his arms, carrying us in his own bosom, and gently leading the mother sheep. I can only imagine the one who made the beautiful stained-glass window here at Trinity of Jesus carrying a lamb and leading the sheep, that this artist knew the Good Shepherd well indeed.
So we have these texts today, on the one hand challenging us all to repent in any of the things that would offend our God and on the other hand the image of the gentle shepherd leading us from out front.
So, let’s consider how to put the two images together. God sent his only Son to shepherd, to be out front showing us the perfect example. Often we are not so great at the following part. So our repent might be that we at times fail to live holy lives, and at times we fail to live godly lives of service the way Jesus said to serve the least and the lost. We also have failed to concentrate on growing in our own discipleship and in helping God in making disciples of those whom God has placed near us.
I contend the answer to our repent is to begin by growing closer to God, to seek a deeper and deeper relationship with God through the Christ who is about to be born and who will one day return and ask how we did at living lives that honor him.
If you want to find help, give someone some help. One way I believe I can help is to pray for my relatives and friends who have died not knowing Christ Jesus. Since the day Moses appealed to God when God said he was going to kill all the Israelites for making the Golden Calf, Moses contended with God over this- appealing to God’s mercy and Scripture records that God changed God’s mind.
Likewise Jesus tells of an unjust judge who neither fears God nor is a respecter of people but because a widow comes everyday asking the judge to change his verdict the judge does.
God lives outside of time, so I ask God regularly, God please go back to their living days and ask someone there and then to tell them one more time about Jesus and his love.
I’m not asking God to change each one needing to personally accept his Son, I’m asking God to help them have one more chance to make the choice. I see a similarity to Jesus descending to Hell to give those there one more chance to hear his share the Good News.
So, if I am going to pray that prayer, I need to be ready to help those living in this day. I need to offer them, what I pray others will offer to the ones I pray for.
Jesus said of God and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God is not God of the dead, God is God to the living and all are living to God.
On Sunday January 28th following the worship service we will hold a church wide luncheon. We will begin anew by speaking about “Why” Jesus would commission us to go and make disciples, “Why” are we ourselves disciples, and we will look at some plans to be better for the Christ Child and for the world and yes, for ourselves and those we love.
I invite us all to mark our calendars, come and have some good food for the stomach and the soul. We have all at one time or another been hungry in our stomach or in our Spirit, so have the people around us. If we recommit to helping first ourselves and then going out to helping others, well we will find the Great Shepherd will have some very fine things to say to us one day, right after he says, welcome, good and faithful servant. Welcome come into your reward, and please meet some of those you helped to live more abundant lives on earth and to now live eternal lives with us.
Our children’s, children’s, children will thank us one day for having that lunch together.
Isaiah 40:1-11, Mark 1:1-8
Coming Home For Christmas and Bringing a Friend…