Monday, December 17, 2007

A Longing for God

I put up a tree Saturday. I love the fresh smell of semi live trees. I usually cut my own but due to time constraints I picked one up from the Lions Club lot. It is already dropping needles at a rapid rate. Anyway, I am excited to celebrate Christmas at home this year with all four of my kids. You never know when the next Christmas will find us all together.
I got thinking about what HOME means for people. The secular Christmas songs all talk about being "home for Christmas." They talk of a longing for a time when you were comfortable and safe "at Home." Usually the longing is filled with nostalgia , which Spaulding Gray calls "a time in the past that never was." The Advent song we sing at 8:30Am goes "We have a Longing in our heart, O Lord..for comfort, for healing, for wholeness--hear our pray."This is a longing for a home with God.
Whoever said "you can't go home again" is on target. We cannot go back home because we have changed and our relationship to the past can never be replicated. Christams tugs at us because it has always symbolized familiar gatherings and full sanctuary's and familiar music and timeless tales. Since all these things get repeated every year--and everyone participates in the rituals-- the message of nostaliga and homecoming evolks an idealistic image of how our family connectedness should be like.
The question of the week is What is home for you?

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Medium and the Message

Americans are so accustomed to carefully packaged announcements. We expect political leaders to spin the news to fit their agenda. Corporate leaders get out in front of the news in order to make even disappointing business results sound positive. Did you hear the President of Freddie Mac justify the revelation that his company, which was established to provide mortage loan liquidity to American homeowners by maintaining strict loan standards, had engaged in 100% financing (previous policy was 20% down)? He said, "if we didn't go along with the flow we would have lost market share." In other words, everyone else was doing it and we would be losing out of business if we didn't throw our values and government charter out the window?

Even churches have carefully packaged approaches to reaching new people. Some market a hot product "presenting God's uncompromising truth in an uncompromsing manner." Others attempt to lure non believers with "gospel lite." As I read the Christmas season texts you find many difference types of messages and a diverse number of messangers. We have celestial angels and lowly shepherds, fiery preachers (John the Baptist) and quiet and a patient and faithful father (Joseph). Each gives testimony to what god is doing in sending Jesus into the world. Each is amazed that god would do such a thing and shocked how god would do it.

This weeks message is from Matthew 11. John the Baptist is in jail. He is facing certain execution for his condemnations of the Emperors marital infidelities and rapacious policies. He has heard from his supporters that the man he baptized and prophecized about (Jesus) is doing amazing things. He asks the question everyone wants to know the answer to: Are you (Jesus) the one who was promised or should we wait for another?"

It is interesting that Jesus never testifies to his special place in God's revelation. He never says i am the one. He lets his works testify to his Messiahship. "The Lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the blind see, the dead are raised."
As contemporary believers look at Jesus in our own faith journey we must answer the same question. Is Jesus the one? Those that have come to believe and trust in Jesus have another responsiblity: to show with our lives that he is the Lord.