Monday, 21 December 2015

The Baby in the Manger

The Baby in the Manger
Luke 2:1-20
                Not too often do we turn on the television or radio or connect with the internet to find out what is happening in the world that we hear something good. Tragedies around the world in various forms are calls us to gather to listen and to hear the news of the suffering of people, natural disasters or scandals involving leadership. Yet in recent years television newscasters are now ending their broadcast with something lighter, a feel good story or even people who share good news.
                Good news for all people is what the angels told the shepherds. Good news- the promised One has been born. The one we have been waiting for to redeem us his born. He is on earth and just starting out his life on earth.  But why did the angels tell this great news to shepherds- because they were the ones most open to receive it as all they had were the sheep they were tending in the middle of the night. Yes, they risked their livelihood walking away when they walked to see ’this thing which has happened.” They risked the lives of the sheep from enemies while they went into Bethlehem and found Jesus, the infant king in a manger.  There they saw his parents and the baby. They gave no explanation as to why they were there. They were overcome with joy and they worshiped Jesus as the One who would be king of their hearts and saviour.
                We do not hear about these shepherds again but hopefully they were not fired from being shepherds. But t=if they were- what an opportunity they have in now spread the good news of Jesus.

                As we draw closer to celebrating the birth of Jesus- do we look to His birth as Good News? Or are we caught up in the stuff of Christmas preparations that we cannot look in the manger and see the Promised Infant Kind, the Son of God?  What meaning does this Good News mean to you? Jesus was born for what purpose? Was it merely a promise set before us to deal with now being fulfilled? What did God have in mind for us when he made that promise, hundreds of ears before?
                What do you see as you look in the manger? A baby, a promise, a future hope all wrapped up in cloths and waiting for visitors? Waiting for people to come to him. Jesus waited a long time for people to follow him and to hear what he had to say. But how he was to save the people would not happen until he was 30.  So people continued to wait, to watch and listen to him. And when it was time to put into his purpose of life, death and resurrection, he did with the strength and voe of God the Father.
                As we anticipate celebrating Jesus’ birth- let us look at him in wonder but remember him in faith as the one who suffered, died and rose again. This is the story of our Christmas- the baby who brings good news.
                May God bless you as you share time with friends and family this Christmas.!

BLOGS- we will write again on January 6—Epiphany—a day of gifts and celebration.

Friday, 4 December 2015

HEAVEN Part 3 : The Home of Blessedness—No More

Part 3 :  The Home of Blessedness—No More
God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.  Revelation 21: 4

Heaven is filled with “no mores”—no tears, death, sorrow, crying, pain, night, defilement curse- And for us who live in earth, living without these is difficult to understand. Our world is filled with distress for we know that there are so many people facing many kinds of problems. Starvation, homelessness, war, abuse, crime all seem to be increasing. Yet what is our future? When we think about what is come are we fully understanding what a new heaven and new earth include? It is in Revelation 21-22 that we read of John’s vision of our eternal home. It will be radiant with God’s glory and this new city of Jerusalem will be the eternal dwelling place of all who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. All who have been saved will walk the streets of gold in transformed glorified bodies. And there will be many ‘no mores’.  But will we miss these?
No Tears- Because our days on earth are filled with tragedy, suffering, disappointment and evil many people cry many tears. People cry out of loneliness, buried secrets, tragedies, pain, rejection and loss. Yet God promises that there will be no more tears; he will wipe them away. It is our comforting and loving God who will take away the hurts of this world.
No Death- We have often heard people remark, “Death is a part of life.” Death enters every happy family circle eventually. Sooner or later someone dies and no one can escape this passing and reality that our life on earth is brief. There will not be a need for vigils at bedside or the need to see loved ones slowly decline; there will be no need for funerals for life will be eternal
No Sorrow or Crying- We will not need to grieve or mourn or to have sorrow. There are many occasions for sorrow- own sins and shortcomings, personal misfortunes, disappointments in others and distressing national concerns. In the new Jerusalem we will never mourn. We will be sin-free and experience no adversity or discouragement and never have occasion to be concerned over the world’s conditions. There will be no crying due to shock of pain and hurt. No heartbreak in heaven..
(This No More listing will be a part of next week’s reflections.)

REFLECTION: Can you imagine no more crying, tears, death? I find it difficult to do as I witness even the toughest men and women cry as the death of loved ones. Men who are tough as nails to the outside world melt at seeing their mother or father’s bodies in caskets. Or women who are overcome at the death of children and infants. The pain, the sorrow the grief is ingrained in them and only prayer, comfort and support enable them to function. I can only imagine a little bit about what not experiencing this would be like. Heaven is an amazing place. But are you going there? How do you know?
God we thank you for the promise of a new heaven and a new earth where there is no tears, death, crying or sorrow. We can only understand this a little bit because we have experienced many reasons to cry and mourn.  Enable those who are remembering loved ones this day to be encouraged and reminded that they are not alone. Enable us to reach out to others as they are in need. Bring comfort as only you can. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

RESOURCE:  Richard DeHaan. Heaven: An Eternal Place of Hope, blessing and encouragement. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers