Monday Meditation – Taking It For Granted

Taking it for granted

Second Sunday in Advent

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8 NIV

What was the last thing you anticipated?

The birth of a child or grandchild?

Going to church?

Going back home during the holidays?

A vacation?

Nowadays anticipation is not a feeling we normally experience in our day-to-day living.  Perhaps you anticipate going to church every Sunday. Too often, though, many think of church not as something new and exciting but mundane and obligatory.  We no longer anticipate the weekends because we have to accomplish all the things we put off during the week.

Christmas can become boring or obligatory too.  Buying gifts and celebrations, may all seem the thing to do, a necessity of living in a nation that celebrates the holidays.

Yet we cannot forget that the incarnation of our God in human form is a highly anticipatory event in history.  We must not take it for granted despite its annual commemoration and all the perfunctory circumstances that seem to come with it.

Let’s refresh our minds and understand anew the grandness of the event.  The awesomeness of our God being born into our world to live among us and love in a way that is almost incomprehensible.  When we give ourselves over to this awesome love, it invades our very being with a light so bright and warm it can chill the coldest heart or soul.

How awesome is our God?!

Dear God, help us to feel again the anticipation of your coming to Creation.  Let us bask in your light of love and goodness.  You are our Savior!  Amen.

Meditation Monday: Dream Big

Dream Big

When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:

Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,

And they will call him, Emmanuel. (Emmanuel means “God with us.”)

When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he didn’t have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25 (CEB)

Dream Big

As a great miracle approaches for Christians during this Advent season, let us not forget that our God is still in the miracle making business. Let us dream big then…knowing our God can deliver on God’s promises.

Joseph had a dream that showed him how big God’s dreams for him were. Being stepfather to the Messiah was not something Joseph had entertained before. Indeed, it was probably beyond his sense of what his life could be. To think that he would be involved in the raising of a Messiah was the furthest thought from his mind.

Yet God had heard the people’s pleas and answered with a miracle child who would grow up one day to be Savior of the World. God gave Joseph a big dream to bring to life and Joseph did. He chose to do God’s will and became stepfather to a Messiah.

What dream has God given to you? Does it seem impossible? Does it seem too big for you to handle? Then maybe it’s time to let God show you how it’s done?

Dear God, help our unbelief. So much of our failures are failures of vision. We do not allow our faith to expand to the impossible. Yet you are an awesome God, doing both little and big things in the world. Help us to have your vision for our world and the faith to carry it out. Amen.

Advent Week 3: Seeing the Fruit

Advent

Now when John heard in prison about the things the Christ was doing, he sent word by his disciples to Jesus, asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”

Jesus responded, “Go, report to John what you hear and see. Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled are walking. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. The poor have good news proclaimed to them.” Matthew 11:2-5 CEB

Advent week 3

A child is born unto us. He will be the Messiah. But how do we know that he is the Messiah? For that we must cast our gaze beyond the nativity to see the “fruits” of the Messiah. We answer John the Baptist’s question, “Are you the one?”

Tell him what you see, Jesus answers. The blind can see. The crippled can walk. The sick are healed. The deaf can hear. The dead have been raised. The “good news” is being proclaimed. Is that not what the Messiah would do?

During Advent, while we celebrate the birth of our Messiah, let us hold on to see what is coming. We see a messiah coming for all time and not just one time. We see a Messiah whose command is beyond leading an army to disrupt one king’s rule. We have a Messiah breaking the powers and principalities of all time.

The Advent story is but the beginning of the story of resurrection! If we have eyes then let us see!

Lord God, fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we might produce “good fruit.” The hungry are fed, the thirsty have water. The imprisoned are visited. The naked clothed. The good news of Jesus is proclaimed. Amen.

Advent Week One: The Fig Tree

Advent week one

1st Week of Advent

During this advent season, we watch for the coming birth of our Savior. In Mark 13:28-30 Jesus, himself, speaks of watching for him to return with signs in the heavens. Just as a fig tree signals the beginning of the summer season so too will the coming of Christ have signs preceding it.

Yet in Mark 11:12-14, 20-21, Jesus curses the fig tree for not bearing fruit even though it is out of season for figs. The tree withers and dies.

Often the success of the Israelites is portrayed as a fig tree in the Old Testament. And most central to its success is the Temple, the religious and political hub of the nation. The Temple was the storehouse of tithes, alms and offerings.

Fig Tree

So when the fig tree is bursting forth with life, Jesus tells us we can watch for him to come back. But when it does not supply what is needed to the hungry, it will be cursed and wither from the root.

Why is Jesus so disgusted with the fig tree even though he knows it isn’t the time for the harvesting of figs?

While we may watch for signs of Jesus’ coming, just as every year we look with anticipation for the coming nativity, need still remains in the land. And as long as this want continues, the people of God should share the fruits of the Temple to alleviate that hunger, no matter what the season. When that happens perhaps the fig tree will finally be in bloom and Christ will come again.

“Learn this parable from the fig tree. After its branch becomes tender and it sprouts new leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that he’s near, at the door. I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.” Mark 13:29-31 CEB

Dear Lord, help us as we wait for your return. Help us to be the blooming leaves of the fig tree, feeding those in need, whether spiritually or physically, so that your light would return to this world permanently. We need you more every morning. Help us to watch for your coming. Amen.