Wednesday, 18 December 2019

“Baby.. lying in a manger” Luke 2:1-20

“Baby.. lying in a manger” Luke 2:1-20   

                One week today, the world will stop at least parts of the world will stop; maybe a portion of some countries, maybe some people in your city will stop and just be with family and friends for one of the most cherished and celebrated days of the year.. Christmas. Blessings to you as you prepare to celebrate this day with family and friends and reach out to those who may not be able to celebrate in the same way as you will this year. And may God be with those who our grieving and mourning those as their loved ones are spending their first Christmas with Jesus in heaven.
                But what does this all mean for us in 2019? For centuries this date has been set aside to make it special, to exchange gifts to enjoy the company of family and friends not seen in weeks, months or years. It is a time to share traditions passed along from one country to another, from one generation to another and a time to establish new traditions as families begin to grow older with specific wants and needs.
                Maybe your tradition includes the reading of the Christmas story from Luke 2. Or maybe the beloved poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” adds to your family time. For many people, it is the evening before Christ’s birthday that calls them back to the church where they went as children, or where they have never been before. Maybe it is the Spirit of Christ that is warming the hearts of people to look to what was done in the past and move to something new—because there is a yearning for a simpler life because something or Someone is missing.
                This Someone is God’s gift of love wrapped in a manger. It is the baby who lies in a feed trough, trying to rest as his parents keep him warm and clean in a barn crowded with transport animals. It is the baby who sleeps, cries, eats and does what babies do opens the hearts of all who show love. And those who shared their love when this Baby Jesus was born were not family members but strangers sent by angels to go and see, worship and tell. They left their sheep in the field and saw the new parents resting with the baby. There they witnessed God’s Gift to the world just as the angels had told them. They also left rejoicing and filled with God’s Spirit so much that their joy overflowed.
                What about you? When you hear the angels’ words” Glory be to God in the highest and on earth peace.” How will you respond? These shepherds were not only the first ones to hear, they were the first messengers of the story. They knelt before Jesus and then stood before others and proclaimed Christ’s glory. What an amazing perspective the shepherds told to passersby! What an experience we still hear about over 2000 years ago!
                May the peace, joy, hope, love of the Baby in the Manger lead you to worship with those who believe in his coming to earth as a baby, who believe Jesus to be the Christ of the cross and the Saviour of the world.  Worship and tell others this good news in Jesus name and to His glory!

A reminder: Glenwood United Church, 1825 Grand Marais Road West, Windsor, ON will share in worship of Christ’s birth on Christmas Eve, Dec 24 at 7 p.m. Come and worship, be moved by God’s Spirit!
[Inspired by Bill Crowder, “Windows on Christmas: Biblical Perspectives on the Birth of Jesus” Our Daily Bred Ministries, 2019]
[NEXT REFLECTION Wednesday January 8, 2020]

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

The Third Appearance by the Angel Gabriel

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

                The Angel Gabriel appeared a third time to people. But this time, it was not to Zechariah or Elizabeth, or Mary and Joseph- expectant parents-to-be. It was nine months later when Gabriel returned to earth with a very important announcement.
                It was a cold damp night in Bethlehem and shepherds were out tending their sheep. Suddenly there was a bright heavenly light which frightened the shepherds. The angel spoke to the shepherds by first trying to calm them down. Don’t be afraid!  How else were the shepherds to respond? Seeing an angel in bright lights was not a common occurrence so when they saw the angel, they were in shock and fearful of what was to occur. The angel spoke to these shepherds and the moment had come. 
                “There was Good News—for everyone: Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. You shall find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” What had the shepherds heard that night? What did it mean? What was the message that was so important that angels delivered it?
                The message was that God’s promise of a Saviour had been fulfilled with the birth of a baby in a barn. This baby represented all that is good in the world- hope, peace, joy and love. And through this baby born to lead His people, the reconciliation between God and all people is given. This Prince of Peace in swaddling clothes would bring peace, and shalom, but people needed to learn about him and his purpose.
                The angels’ response after telling this important message to the shepherds was powerful and filled with energy of thousands of voices: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:13-14) But how did the shepherds respond? They became the first messengers of Jesus’ story. They went to see for themselves what the angels told them.
                As we draw closer to Christmas, we will hear again the songs from the ages sung in many different ways- but the message remains—Come faithful people, come and worship Christ the Newborn King” How will you worship Jesus? Do you wish to move your heart and open it further to receive the Christ? This is what the angels sang about to the shepherds and they went in person and worshiped Jesus. We are called to worship together. Are we willing to sing the angels’ song and give glory to God in the highest for the sake of peace in our world?
Gracious and giving God we praise you because you gave to us Jesus as an infant who was born in a stable. Yet he is the One you promised would redeem us from sin and enable us to be reconciled with you. Thank you for the song of the angels as they woke the shepherds to go and see. Wake us and call us to see Jesus for who he is and can be for us today. Amen.
Inspired by Bill Crowder, “Windows on Christmas: Biblical Perspectives on the Birth of Jesus” Our Daily Bred Ministries, 2019

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Gabriel’s Second Appearance

The Angels of Jesus’ Birth

                The angel Gabriel’s second appearance takes place This time the angel goes to the village of Nazareth to share God’s message to a young woman named Mary. Mary was chosen to be the one who would give birth to the promised Messiah. She was both confused and yet submissive. She was ready to do what God asked, but questioned how it was going to take place. She was betrothed to Joseph and did not want to break her promises. The angel assured Mary that the child would be the result of the miraculous intervention of the Spirit. The angel also told her that the baby was to be named “Jesus” meaning “the Lord is salvation” which defined both His character as the Son of God and His mission as Redeemer. Mary said yes. But this was not all Gabriel had to do. The angel then went to Joseph and shared the same message. The child she was to carry would be from God and so Joseph could take her to be his wife in full confidence of her promises.
six months after he spoke with Elizabeth and Zechariah.
                Why are these announcements from the angel Gabriel so important to the story of Christ’s birth? Mary and Joseph received the news that they would be the ones who would parent the Son of God. Mary’s connection with their son would be very closely regarded and for Joseph, to have the Son of God raised in his home was a privilege. They had such strong faith. But they also knew that his life’s purpose was not in the carpentry shop, but doing the working of God and saving others. The Messiah would be living with them in his formative years and so they needed to do their best as they faithfully serve God.
                The angel told Mary and Joseph separately what God’s plan and how it involved them directly. What if Mary said no? Joseph would not have been knowing. But she said yes and so began the waiting time for the baby. Like expectant parents they wanted certain things for him but they did not know that they needed to travel north at this point.  They were getting used to each other and now with the baby, Mary and Joseph were needing to learn great skills very quickly.
                The angel’s messages to Mary and Joseph were filled with joy and wonder and they were afraid of what was to come but because God had sent the angel they knew that tbey were supported by God in more than one way.  How often do we receive signs and messages of God’s love and support for us?
                As we anticipate Christmas are we looking for the signs and messages of God’s love? Are we stuck on social media and wondering where God is? God has never left us but we must acknowledge this. Mary and Joseph were supported and cared for throughout Mary’s pregnancy and when it came time to deliver it was no surprise that the baby was born in a humble setting. When rushing around and preparing for Christmas celebrations take the time to remember Gabriel’s message “Fear not, you have found favour with God.”
                Because of their faith, God called Mary and Joseph to a special task. Be strong in your faith- God still calls people—and you have nothing to fear!
God we thank you for calling Mary and Joseph to take on the special task of bearing and raising Jesus. Out of love we too are prepared to serve you in many ways. Enable this to occur as we wait with expectant harts, the coming of Jesus. Bless us we pray. Amen.
Inspired by Bill Crowder, “Windows on Christmas: Biblical Perspectives on the Birth of Jesus” Our Daily Bred Ministries, 2019