Walking with Jesus #99

 

Walking With Jesus 

45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:45-46.

“Come and See.”  That is what Philip told Nathaniel after he himself had been called to be a follower of Jesus.  He had discovered something in this man Jesus that he had to share with Nathaniel.  Nathaniel was a bit skeptical and said that he rather doubted anything good could come out of that little town of Nazareth.  It was not a lengthy invitation.  It was simply three non-threatening words to a skeptic, but it whetted Nathaniel’s interest just enough.

It is a well-known fact that many Christians find it difficult to share their faith with others.  We tend to keep our faith beliefs to ourselves and consider that religious beliefs are private matters.  We don’t want to offend others, and sometimes we think that if we invite someone to come and visit our worship services we might offend them in some way.  Likewise, religion is one of those topics that gets put off-limits in conversations.  The fact remains that if we often keep silent about the most important thing in our lives, the thing that defines or helps guide who and what we are and what we are becoming,  So we are trying to live two different lives.

Think, for a moment, about the effect those words might have on you if you were to hear them in another context about anything else.  They would likely generate a sense of wonder, curiosity, and perhaps excitement about whatever you were being invited to come and see.   You might even be grateful that your friend thought to ask you to check it out.

Those words are simple and warm and non-threatening.  They are a simple invitation to check out something and to join a community that your friend is part of.  Your friend wants you to come along and be part of something that they have found to be special, but it is totally up to you to see what it is all about.

 

Come and see are very easy, warm, and hospitable words. They are simple words of invitation to allow the person, to whom we address them, to look in on something that they might find to be interesting and important.  We are not called to cram our faith down another person’s throat or question their eternal destiny or threaten them with hellfire and brimstone.  Instead, we are called to simply offer an invitation to come and see what God is still doing in and through Jesus and the community of disciples who have chosen to follow him.

 

Questions:

  1. How often do you invite someone to worship with you or to come to Via de Cristo?
  2. Do you believe that the same Spirit who descended on Jesus at Baptism is still working in you?
  3. Do you believe that the same Spirit that inspired Philip to reach out to Nathaniel is still offering all kinds of people all over the world an invitation to “come and see”?

 

 

 

Walking with Jesus #98

Walking With Jesus
10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:10-11
As we remember and celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ it is important that we remember and renew the vows once spoken at our baptisms, either by our parents or by us — that time when we were washed of our sins and received the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Since many of us were baptized as infants it is important for us to remember what God did for us in our baptism, to renounce our sinful life and once again embrace the godly life of a Spirit-filled Christian. Even though we may have done this many times it is important to renew those vows again.
During the season of Epiphany, we will review not only the Baptism of Jesus and renew our Baptismal Vows, we will follow Jesus in his preparation for his earthly ministry and the calling of his disciples. It is a wonderful time for us to review our calling by God and renew our vows of answering God’s call to discipleship.
Divine light shines forth from this Child Jesus, which is the transparency of God in the world. The divine light that shines in the Child is not a foreign light to the earth. It is the Light at the heart of all life. It is the Light from which all things come. If this Light were extracted from the universe, everything would cease to exist. So this is a story about the Light of God which is at the heart of everything, the Light at the heart of you and me. This Light is Jesus, and we begin to see that light more clearly through our human eyes during this season of Epiphany as we follow Jesus from his Baptism in the Jordan into the wilderness to be tested and into his ministry.
Up until this moment, Jesus has been indistinguishable from the rest of the mass of humanity. Now Epiphany reveals the meaning of his life and mission. He is the light that comes directly from heaven. The Spirit, in the form of the dove, descends and rests on him as people watch. But only Jesus apparently hears the Voice – or at least, it is directed only to him: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased!” His baptism is his commitment to live out the reality of the Kingdom of God in the world in all of his daily life. It is a commitment to another way – to God’s Way. And God is well pleased! That is what our baptisms also mean for us. We are to live out the reality of the Kingdom of God in our daily lives.
Our own baptism into Christ is the means by which we, too, die and rise again to new life. The old order is renounced and dies. It is a statement of our repentance. The old order of our lives dies. Yet we are not lost in death, because God is the God of resurrection. So we rise to a new life and a new order. Nothing – not even death – can defeat God’s purposes.
Questions:
  1. Have you claimed your new life in Christ through your baptism?
  2. Are you discovering God’s purposes for you?
  3. Can you write down what your baptism means to you, for your life and others?

Walking with Jesus #97

Walking With Jesus

5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:5

Have you ever been camping and need to make a trip to the latrine in the woods in the middle of the night to relieve a physical need and you discover that the batteries are down in your flashlight?  You hate like everything to wake up your friend or loved one who is camping with you to borrow their flashlight.  Well, John is saying that the light that Jesus brings into the world does not run on batteries that deplete in power.  This light is the perpetual God light, His Son, Jesus Christ, who was born in a manger in Bethlehem.  And John says that the light of Christ will always overcome the darkness of our lives and our world.

Today as I write this on Dec. 26, I passed by our neighbor’s house and he was dismantling all of his outdoor Christmas lights.  I felt sad for him and all of the people in our neighborhood that had enjoyed the manger scene in his yard. It made me wish that Christmas would last longer, but for that household, Christmas is over.  When I think about the church year, Lent lasts six weeks, Easter seven weeks, Pentecost at least three times that, and yet, we have only two weeks for Christmas.  Really, our society only considers that it is important enough for two or three days because everyone has to get ready to celebrate New Year’s Eve.  I think it is important for us to be reminded that this light of God that has come into the world that God created and loves, lights our darkness and sees us through all of the darkest and most terrible moments of our lives.

The light of Christ says to me that our lives matter to God.  We matter so much that God made the decision to become human, like us, and share our mortal life and death, and defeat death with resurrection so that we might enjoy God’s eternal life, and learn how to love as God loves the world.

As we think about the difficult year of 2020, this coronavirus pandemic we have experienced and still live with, it matters so much to me that our welfare is of tremendous importance to God.  There is no worry or fear too small or, no challenge too great that God will not share our worries and our challenges.  God is so eager to equip and empower us, to share our worries and our challenges, as well as our joys and hopes with each other.  Because God has reached out to us as a human, and because he has reached out to all of humanity in love, God has empowered us to extend God’s light of Christ to all those around us.  So perhaps we need to think of Christmas all year long instead of a mere two weeks or twelve days.  We have been empowered to grab hold of the opportunity God has given us to share His love with others all year long every year of our earthbound lives.  That would mean that God’s love batteries would keep His light shining in us eternally and the darkness of our world will never overcome it.  I pray for you happy and brilliant shining with the love of Christ in the year of our Lord 2021.

Questions:

  1. What would it mean for you to keep Christmas all year long?
  2. In what ways do we rush through Christmas in the days following Christmas Day?
  3. How can you keep Christmas in your mind and heart all year long?
  4. Can you stop and think of some of the ways that the light of Christ shines through you?