RCN Advent Reflection #31

Advent Reflection #31
John 1:1-5

This passage illustrates just how profound the Incarnation is. According to John, Jesus is God and it is through Him that all things came into existence. Everything, therefore, owes its existence to Jesus. Moreover, Jesus is said to be THE unconquerable light. That is power. And yet this magnificent power was born in a manger, composed of the frailty and weakness that characterizes flesh and blood.

Jesus is THE WORD.

Jesus is THE LIGHT.

Jesus is LORD.

We can never reflect too much upon the significance of the fact that the one who created all things, who is pure, unbridled light, came and lived among us. He did so because he loves us. He did so in order to save us. He did so, because this is who God is – Emmanuel – God with us.

We praise you Lord, for the mysterious beauty of your Incarnation.

RCN Advent Reflection #30

Advent Reflection #30
Luke 2:36-40

Anna was an old widow that had devoted her life to God. According to Luke, she never left the temple, worshipping there both day and night. When the young boy Jesus was within sight she immediately recognized him and began to praise God. She was ready, in other words. She was so devoted to God that she recognized the strange and beautiful answer to Israel’s prayers and immediately praised God.

What might you learn from Anna? How might you worship God both day and night? While worshipping at a church 24 hours a day may not be necessary, there’s something to be said of the immediacy of Anna’s recognition of Jesus. Anna was truly ready. As the Advent season draws to a close, do not let the emphasis on being prepared and awake for Jesus die. God is still moving, Jesus will return – but we must be ready, and attuned to God’s Spirit, in order to recognize what God is doing in the world around us.

Come Lord Jesus.

RCN Advent Reflection #29

Advent Reflection #29
Luke 2:25-32

Simeon had waited a long time to meet the Messiah. He trusted in God’s promise to him that he would not die before meeting the Messiah. Simeon, in many ways, is a microcosm of Israel, except that as long as he waited, Israel waited far longer.

When the baby Jesus did come near, Simeon wasted no time. He held Jesus in his arms and praised God. He knew that his life was coming near an end, as was Israel’s wait. More than that, Simeon recognized what many in Israel did not. The Messiah would be hope and deliverance for all people, even Gentiles. Read again Simeon’s words of praise.

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people.”

Hope is hear. Love is hear. Salvation is here. For all people. Praise be to God. Today try to receive the baby Jesus in the same way that Simeon did.

Thank you Lord, for bringing salvation unto your people.

RCN Advent Reflection #28

Advent Reflection #28
Luke 2:41-52

The adolescent Jesus is hard to comprehend. Was he clumsy and emotional? Did he have his heart broken? Did he quarrel with his parents? We don’t really know the answer to these and other questions except to say that Jesus was a normal adolescent boy. He grew, matured, and made mistakes. What we do know, is that even as a young boy, Jesus was drawn to the temple – to his Father’s house. Even Jesus desired to learn from the teachers there, and to grow in his knowledge and faith. In his Father’s house, Jesus lost track of time and his earthly family. This is clearly meant to foreshadow the life that he would go on to lead.

Today is a day of corporate worship. Will you go? Will you sit with the teachers? Will you ask questions? Will you get lost in the experience rather than seeking move on to your next activity?

Jesus later tells us that if we have seen him, we have seen the Father. He also tells us that in him, we can be adopted into the household of God as well. We can be God’s children. Thus, the Church (building and body) is our Father’s house too. Go and experience that today as the Church continues to celebrate the Christmas season.

Father God, may your house be our house too.

RCN Advent Reflection #27

Advent Reflection #27
John 20:1-8

Mary exclaims to Peter and the mysterious beloved disciple in John’s Gospel account, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Where is Jesus, in other words? Where is God?

Like the Shepherds and the wise kings 33 years previous, the remaining disciples and Mary run to the tomb to visit Jesus. But he is no longer there.

The Ark of the Covenant is empty, the manger is empty, the cross is empty, the grave is empty, and the temple would soon be destroyed. So then, where is God?

God cannot be put in a box. Reading the narratives regarding the Ark of the Covenant, one gets the distinct impression that God allows the Ark merely as a vessel of instruction, a way for God’s people to come to know God better. God was, by no means, though, contained within that glorious box. God wasn’t limited to the Holiest of the Holies in the Temple, either. In Jesus, though, we know the fullness of God came to dwell in flesh. He was/is fully divine, and yet there is more to the Triune God than the Son. Indeed, Jesus constantly refers to his Father, and promises that he will send the Holy Spirit to guide and even dwell inside believers. Thus Jesus fully reveals God to us, but that revelation is of the Triune God, eternally dwelling in relationship with one another.

So where is God? He is here. In all the places listed where God is not, we find that God is here. God is not in need of a container or a vessel to fill up. What need there was of that, was for our sake, and it was fulfilled in the Incarnation of our Lord. God the Father Is. God the Son is the fullness of God in flesh who reigns eternally with the Father, for whose we await. God the Spirit has been poured out into our hearts. The Spirit is with us, indeed in us. The Spirit is at work in the world around, working good in all things, actively attempting to redeem our rebellious broken hearts and lives.

God was in all of those things. God still is in all of those things. But in Christ Jesus the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit, God is here – God is with us – God will ALWAYS be with us. God is not hidden away from us – God is fully revealed, present, and at work in our lives and our world.

This, Church, is the Good News.

Lord Jesus live in our hearts and lives. Amen.

RCN Advent Reflection #26

Advent Reflection #26
Luke 7:54-59

With just a few days left in Advent, today’s passage changes the mood a bit. We have received the birth of the infant Jesus; remember that we also anticipate the return of Christ our King.

Stephen was the first of the early Christians martyrs – of whose number was many. He was obedient to Jesus, despite knowing what it would cost him. With his death immanent, Luke tells us that Stephen gazed into the heavens, “and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of the God!'” For Stephen this gives him great joy and hope. Those around him, though, covered their ears, and attacked him. This brazen proclamation of Jesus’s lordship and divinity, was too much. Soon Stephen would be dead.

In dying, though, Stephen concurred all. He died in Christ, and was delivered into his arms. The surety of his conviction, emboldened others to stand with equal courage in the face of persecution. The faith in this Jesus, as the promised Messiah would only spread. Truly, His Kingdom would have no end.

Do not forget where Jesus’s strange and simple birth lead. Our journey to the stable, beckons us onward – even unto this cross. This is the costly journey of discipleship.

Will you walk it? Jesus beckons.

Praise you Lord Jesus.

RCN Advent Reflection #25

Advent Reflection #25
Luke 2:1-14

Take time this morning to read this passage as a family – maybe even before unwrapping your gifts! As you read, hear the Good News of great joy that is proclaimed by the Angels. Where do you see that Good News around you, even now?

Isaac Watts put words to that great joy, and intended for his song of praise to be sung on Christmas Day. Read the words, sing them – praise Him.

“Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let all their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.”

Receive this Good News today, for unto us a child is born!