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Life, Liberty and…..?

February 16, 2018 - 9:27pm

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness— words deeply embedded into our Australian ethos which is also embedded into the North American ethos. Maybe we Australians are emulating the North Americans when we follow this ethos. Yet, like them we hold doggedly to the notion that we have certain inalienable rights endowed by God (although we don’t want any mention of God, a higher power or being), including freedom and the opportunity to pursue prosperity.
Some believe these ideals have been adopted as Christian values. If so, then today’s passages may threaten our culture-laden view of Christianity. In Mark 1, Jesus submits to baptism by John the Baptiser. This was a baptism of repentance. Jesus, being sinless by followers of Christ, had no need to repent, but he submitted as an act of obedience that demonstrated the path humanity needed to take. After Jesus came up from the water, the same Spirit that descended upon him drove Jesus into the wilderness to be tested.

What? That’s not what we would expect to happen. God’s Spirit sent Jesus to be tested by Evil? And to many that seems so unfair. Does the fact that God set up this severe time of testing stand at odds with our pursuit of happiness? If, in the quest for success, God’s Spirit sent you into a difficult place that prevented you from obtaining “achievable prosperity,” would you resist the Spirit’s leading?
Ancient Jewish belief held that a righteous person prospered, and a sinful person suffered— it was simple cause-and-effect thinking. Do we presume the same? In 1 Peter, Christ volunteers to suffer unjustly for sinful humanity. Again, this seems contrary to the agenda of Western ideals. Which of us, in pursuing happiness, would voluntarily abandon that quest to endure suffering to benefit others, who may despise us? How many would question God for expecting selflessness?
The message of the two passages from this week’s readings disturbs the peace: God’s Spirit may drive us into difficult situations to test our character, and imitating Jesus may require voluntary suffering. What holds more sway over your life, the quest for personal achievement or imitation of Christ? So, what did Jesus find out on his walkabout in the desert?
I know how my mind works when I am away from home and disconnected: • I wonder what they’re doing right now. • I wonder what the weather is like. • I wonder what they’re having for dinner. (Maybe this one especially.)

The questions get more serious when we use the time away to contemplate the future, as Jesus must have done on his rather extreme retreat. Driven into the wilderness by the Spirit, Jesus stayed until the time was right to come out and begin declaring the kingdom of God to be at hand. To get from baptism to revolution— what desert path did he walk? Hungry, thirsty, thrown back on whatever he could remember.
Perhaps he whispered this week’s psalm 25: Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
Well for me after Jesus’ walkabout ended; he emerged, declaring God’s kingdom at hand. The big question is, are we ready for that? Or do you still crave what our society sees as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

The Faith Story Mantle.

February 9, 2018 - 8:35pm

We’ve all been there ... the mountaintop where, for the briefest of moments, all seems right with the world. We have “arrived,” and we want to rest. We want to set up camp and stay there forever. So, we can certainly sympathise with Peter when, having arrived at this critical moment with Jesus (found in Mark 9:2-9), he wants to put some stakes in the ground. He asks to build three dwellings—one for Jesus, one for Moses, one for Elijah—so that they can all stay there, happily ensconced on that mountain, forever. “Nope,” says Jesus. “We still go on.”
As is typical in Mark’s Gospel, there is always some next thing to be getting on with. What Peter has been able to glimpse here is some fullness of time; some thin and holy scenario where these three critical moments in the Hebraic narrative are drawn into a single place in time. Perhaps he also glimpsed there the way that Jesus would soon join the company of these other two prophets, gone on to God and present only in memory. The power of that must have been as heartbreaking as it was dazzling.

Of course, he wanted to stay there forever and keep Jesus in the safety of some mountaintop haven. But, of course, they couldn’t stay. No perfect moment can stay. Maybe to help us get to grips with this reading we can all explore a few of our own mountaintop moments. Maybe, the last night of a church camp, the answered prayer, the return from some long wilderness, the healing of some broken connection ... In those places we are able to glimpse some holy fulfillment of all God’s promises, all of our hopes, and all the mystery of creation. It is natural to want to put up a flag and stay there forever.
But since we can’t—what truth can we take from the mountaintop that will sustain us for the journey ahead? From our Hebrew Scriptures Text this week, 2 Kings 2:1-12, “Elisha went over.” So much narrative potential in those three little words. In addition to setting the stage as a prequel to the transfiguration story, this episode could stand all on its own. The mountain top talks to us about transitions, or maybe it could be about leadership and legacy.
If the transfiguration leads us to examine what we take with us from the mountaintop, then perhaps this reading about Elisha from 2 Kings might engage us in questions about what we leave for those who come after? In what ways do we equip the next generation of leaders to “carry the mantle” of our faith story? How do we help people in their ever day life to understand the good news of Jesus? I would like to turn to things Harry Potter even though I have only watched parts of the movies and not read the books. The readings for this Sunday make it a great time to talk about Dumbledore.
All those times when he gave Harry some small glimpse of truth—without giving away the punchline—that would sustain him for the journey ahead. In other words, Dumbledore did not get to destroy all the Horcruxes in his lifetime; but he made sure Harry had the tools, and all the pieces of the story, to accomplish the thing on his own. Are we giving our children the right tools? And the right pieces of the story? It challenges me not only as a Christian but as a person as to what I am doing about passing on the right tools and the pieces of the story of my life that may support others on their life’s journey.

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

In the Stillness

February 2, 2018 - 8:46pm

If this week’s passage from Mark 1:29-39 was played out on the big screen, it would be a montage: a series of brief images, in rapid succession, that imply the passage of time and the progress of the narrative. After healing Simon’s mother-in-law, Jesus heals people in a large gathering from a wide range of maladies. Although these other people may not have names and faces, it would seem that the sheer volume of those healed in quick succession bears the far-reaching implications of Jesus’s ministry.
In the fast-paced rhythm of Mark’s Gospel, we are led to assume that what happened here, happened in many places. Thus, the montage effect. In the span of thirty seconds, we glimpse the bigger picture of what life was about in those days. Notice, then, the importance of the “quiet place,” where Jesus takes himself to pray. That Sabbath moment appears as a stark contrast in what is otherwise a flurry of activity. The eye at the heart of a frenzied storm. And, of course, they come looking for him. “Everyone is searching for you.” Well, wouldn’t they be?
After they’ve seen what can be done in his presence? Renewed in prayer, Jesus gets up and goes to the next place. There will be more teaching, more preaching, more healing of the masses. Perhaps he is ready—renewed in the spirit by his brief time of silence. While here we are certainly focusing on the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law—and the way in which she went about her work after being made well—this could also be a valuable opportunity for us especially in the church to examine our focus and practices – our mission if you like.

It’s something to reflect on for all people in their daily lives. Are we rushing through a packed program year, trying to be all things to all people, engaging in a flurry of high-energy activity, without pausing to fully renew ourselves – and as Christians this would be in worship, prayer, meditation, contemplation or at a retreat.  If we are rushing then, how can we realign and re-imagine our shared lives – to focus on the meaning of life – as Christians to look at ministry in ways that more faithfully mirror the Jesus kind of rhythm—seeking a stillness in the heart of all the movement, where we can be made new for the journey ahead.
Turn on the news and see if you can find an up-to-the minute story of peaceful protest: people showing up for racial justice, an end to hunger, or a ceasefire. Any place where people are standing still and silent in the midst of chaos. What can we learn from those modern-day images, and similar figures throughout history, about how to be a prayerful presence in the midst of great movement and change?
And, we don’t need one of the writers of Isaiah (also part of this week’s readings), acting like a prophet-in-residence, to remind us that “the grass withers, and the flower fades ...” The Israelites and us have lived with withering and fading for years! Climate Change is certainly making that real for us. We know, in our weary bones, that even a return from wilderness does not mean immortality. But that communal awareness of finitude renders the poetry of this writer in Isaiah all the more powerful: all is not lost. God still holds power over all the oppressive powers of earth, and even transcends the body’s weakness in age.

Even the oldest and most frail among them will be given flight. This passage from Isaiah, has the potential for us to be reminded that in our human smallness, the grandeur of God is made known. If we need to see how this works in real time, maybe a field trip to a national park is in order. Or at the very least a guided meditation. Again, that thought of having time for prayerful presence, a time for mindfulness.
For me the I see in my mind the refreshing waters cascading down mountains into green bush areas in the Southern Alps of NZ or in the Deserts of Australia or even in some small chasm of Zion, as places where we glimpse that thin place where we end, and the next holy thing begins. So, as you read this I hope that God may come to you and be known to you in the stillness and that we all may find the holy in our smallness and be made known to us in our ordinary rhythms of life through love and grace.

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

“Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”

January 26, 2018 - 9:58pm

We are in the year of Mark’s Gospel in the three-year lectionary and Mark is not known for wordiness or narrative excess. Mark’s is the Twitter Gospel of his day and no I am not likening the writer of Mark to a certain President. The story told by Mark is done so in as few characters as possible, with little embellishment. The result is an abiding sense of urgency: Let’s go. We’ve got work to do. I’ll explain later. Which is how Jesus, seeks to engage with the unclean spirit in this week episode of Sundays readings. Succinctly, authoritatively, and with zero drama. “Be gone with you,” he says, as one who has the authority to command such things.
Which, of course, he does. He does not have time to mess around, over-explaining his every move. Follow him now and figure out the details later. Even the spirits obey him ... This notion of “possession” is so foreign to our contemporary context that many preachers are tempted to substitute the unclean spirit with a modern-day mental illness. A cautionary word in that regard: exploring mental illness as a sort of otherworldly influence can be dangerous territory. Even with the best of intentions, such interpretation can be fraught with all sorts of unintended implications for the hearer. And this I warn from observing an experience while an Ordinand.
A better approach—and a more textually accurate one—would be to explore modern-day understandings of authority. What people or institutions influence our daily decisions, for better or worse? Where do we get our news? What sources do we trust, and why? Whose opinions matter to us? And what impact do all of these voices have on our faith life?
Let’s look at Mark as Jesus enters into that crowded circle of influence. What does he have to say in the daily barrage of messages that we and the people of Israel back then encounter? How might Jesus’ words transform the other voices we have to process, and what “unclean spirits” might we need to exorcise in order to fully embody his spirit of love and mercy?
Take for example a text about food law that is not really about food law. Or rather, does not have to be about food law, for the contemporary audience. The gist is that the community of faith is no longer bound by some of the ancient code that distinguished them as God’s people. God has deemed “clean” for them much of what was forbidden. 
However, it does raise the question of what do we follow and why? The question provides an opportunity for the modern-day faith community to explore its own messaging: What signs, symbols, or verbal cues do we employ, and what message do they convey to the community around us? In what ways do we hold on to ancient laws that no longer serve us? What do we follow and why?
The challenge is to explore deeply what we value and why. This challenge is something many Christians seem to struggle with. Many want to believe what they are told and stubbornly adhere to that although it may be of the mark. Whereas we are called and challenged to explore deeply the values Jesus taught and the context in which he applied them. Today a picture in a magazine will tell you that your look is not right—try this new wardrobe, or this new hair product. A radio ad will tell you that you need a new car. A TV commercial will insist that you must have a new cell phone.
The Open House sign on your corner might beckon, “This way to your dream home.” Reminiscent of the Rolling Stones song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” You will hear hundreds of these messages today. And every day. They are all invitations to spend yourself. Not just your money, but your very self, in the pursuit of things that will not give you the life you seek. The invitation to constant, unfettered acquisition is an “unclean spirit” in the life of our faith and culture. Those messages keep us isolated and anxious and fill us with a constant sense of inadequacy.

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Meeting People Where They Are.

January 19, 2018 - 9:02pm
As many of you will know, I love to tell stories and the following story talks about our faith and the way we treat people by meeting them where they are.  It also reminds me of the way I have always wanted to practice ministry albeit I won’t be riding a Harley. There was a bloke called Tom who had been in ordained ministry for more than forty years and served as a small church Minister in a smallish town. Tom had heaps of experience in ministry, but he was not a traditional minister. Tom was a tall, lean man with a weathered face and hands that have known hard work.
Tom was more at home in a pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt than in a three-piece suit. He almost always wore a pair of scuffed cowboy boots, and in cold weather, wore a leather jacket. He drove a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and had an infectious laugh. Tom loved a good story or a joke better than just about anyone. He is not what most would think of when they think of a Protestant minister of his age and experience. The most wonderful thing about Tommy though, and what made him such a wonderful preacher, was his love of people.
Tom never met a stranger. Many wondered at Tom’s ability to get to know people he encountered. It doesn't matter where you went in town—a restaurant, the dry cleaners, or Coles or Woolworths—Tom could greet almost everyone by name. At some point in the past he had introduced himself, asked their names, and often learned a little bit of their stories. Tom recognised that all people’s stories were important and took the time to get to know each person he encountered.
He met people wherever he found them, and he offered them friendship. Tom was seen spending time with truckers, nurses, cashiers, and young mothers. He was heard laughing with them and was seen crying with them. He had prayed with them. These people hear about Jesus, and most important, they see Jesus, although many of them have never attended the church where Tom had been a minister. He meets all of them where they are in life. 
Tom's ministry reminds me of Jesus' ministry. This week’s Gospel account from Mark 1 about Jesus’ calling of his first disciples is striking in its simplicity. Mark tells the story very briefly. There aren't many details about the conversation between Jesus and these potential disciples. Jesus simply gives an invitation to follow and they respond. We don't learn much information about their backgrounds, their motivations, or any questions they might have had for this itinerant preacher. Jesus speaks, and they follow. We can speculate all we want to about how Simon, Andrew, James, and John came to be disciples, but the one thing we know for certain is that Jesus met them where they were that first day.
Jesus met the people he called where they were in life, and he made them an offer. "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." What a wonderful connection Jesus made. He didn't ask or expect them to be anything other than they were when he met them. They were simple fishermen, but Jesus invited them to join him in work that would change their lives forever. Jesus' ministry is filled with stories of people he encountered along the way.
Jesus didn't seek out important people who held positions of power but spent most of his time with ordinary people. He didn't wait in the temple or synagogue for the people to come and hear him speak of God's kingdom. He walked among them, and told stories about sowers and seeds, things lost, and things found. He ate with prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, the lame, and the blind. Jesus' entire ministry was centred on meeting people where they were in life. He went to find them, not the other way around.
Jesus shared God's love with all those he encountered. When I think about my hope for the church, I think about how wonderful it would be if we embraced Jesus' model of ministry. All of us encounter people in the course of a day who are hurting, alone, lost, and discouraged. They need someone to be the presence of Christ in their midst. People need someone to share the gospel of hope with them.

People need someone to talk to them using their own language. They need someone to engage them in conversation about ultimate things. Many of these people may never darken the doors of a church or a house of worship. I confess that as a Minister, far too often, the temptation is to stay within the walls of the church, waiting for people to come and see me. All Christians not just myself need to be more like Tom, taking the church into my community. I hope we all seek not to miss the opportunity to be like Jesus, to meet people where they are in life.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Turning Over a New Leaf: Beginning Anew

January 12, 2018 - 9:44pm
As we head into the New Year I am reminded of the following story. There was a little boy with an ice-cream cone gets on a lift with his older sister. The ice cream begins to melt faster than he can eat it, and it's making a sticky mess down the side of the cone. The Lift stops, and an elegantly dressed lady in a full-length fur coat gets on. She turns and faces the door with the children standing behind her. The little bloke is now struggling to keep up with the melting ice cream. He looks at the back of the woman's beautiful coat and gently begins to wipe the ice cream off his hands and onto her coat. "Be careful, Billy," says his sister. "You will get fur in your ice cream."
This story illustrates for me the power of perspective and context. Sometimes how we see something depends upon where we stand. As we begin this New Year I’d like us to seek to live from the perspective of God's rich grace shown us in Jesus Christ.  Although we are at the second Sunday of the season of Epiphany and even though the set reading is telling us of Jesus call to Philip and Nathanael I would like to look at the exchange between a man named Nicodemus and Jesus over religious matters.

In the conversation Jesus says something that has guided our faith ever since. "I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above," Jesus says (John 3:3). Nicodemus is confused and questions what Jesus means. It is a fair question. Just what does it mean to be "born from above," or to use the more familiar rendering, to be "born again"? In a word, it means to live with a new perspective.
Nicodemus had a problem, but it was not that he did not have religion. After all, he was a Pharisee, the most religious group in Jesus' world. The Pharisees knew all about religion and could recite the law. Their lives were dedicated to following the proscriptions of the Hebrew faith. Nicodemus' problem was not that he did not try to be good or religious or righteous. It was something else. To this religious man, Jesus says, "be born from above." Poor Nicodemus does not have a clue as to what Jesus means.
Sometimes we don't either. Jesus is inviting Nicodemus to live from the perspective of grace. Jesus' invitation is to discover a faith that carries you rather than a faith you have to carry. Jesus is talking about the amazing grace of God that, when we see it and experience it, makes all the difference in our lives. Do we see life as a prize that has to be won or as a gift to be received? Are our days spent trying to acquire more stuff or becoming aware that all we need has already been given to us by the gracious hand of a loving God? Into a world caught up in keeping the rules, Jesus invited people to embrace the lessons of grace.

When we become aware that life is a gift to be received rather than a prize to be won, we become freed to live by cooperation rather than competition. In this New Year this is the perspective I would like us all to embrace. What if we lived as though everything we need has already been provided for us? There is enough air, water, and food for all God's children. There is enough shelter, and Jesus tells us to not worry about your life.  
In other words, God loves you and is looking out for your well-being. What a difference it makes to live from this idea with clothing, and money for all to live in comfort on this earth. We are challenged to live as if we are rich beyond measure, because we are held every moment in the hands of a love that will never let us go. Has there ever been better news than that?

There is enough, and we don't need to hoard or be fearful. We can share; we can give. There is enough. That is the perspective of grace. There is enough. We are invited to let that perspective birth us into a new way of living in this New Year. Be born again, and again, and again until grace fills every moment, every breath of your life, so you might show the world a new way of living.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Not Fake News.

January 5, 2018 - 11:48pm
Fear . . . joy— two fairly strongly contrasting emotions that dwell together in the readings from scripture for the Feast of Epiphany. Herod is “frightened” by the news of the magi who come in search of a king. By all accounts, he was a nervous fellow when it came to threats to his sovereignty. He “axed” several of his own family members when he thought they might be after his seat of power. He later orders the “Slaughter of the Innocents” in order to root out what was, in his mind, a pretender to his throne.
Okay, so much for fear; now we know why not only Herod but also “everyone in Jerusalem” was frightened. The “wise men” from the East, despite Herod’s best efforts, do find their way to the child, Jesus, and discover great joy. They discover overwhelming joy, in fact. That’s an interesting sensation to think about— when are the times you can remember being so happy that you were nearly overcome by it?

These wise blokes aren’t Jewish . . . and they probably don’t fit anyone’s definition of a Christian, either, at least not at this point in the story. We can’t make them people of faith. But their response is instructive. They came a very long way to find this child, and when they met him, they knelt and offered him gifts.
Have you ever noted “Bumper Sticker Theology?” People who have pithy sayings about religious topics on their car bumpers— most of which are pretty bad (think of the slogans you see on most church signs or on Facebook. Ouch!). Occasionally, one will hit the mark. There was once one sticker that said, “Wise Men Still Seek Him!” Inclusive language issues aside, not a bad thought.
In Latin America, things are done a little bit different and January 6th or Epiphany marks the celebration of Three King’s Day. On that day, children collect grass and water in a shoebox, which they leave under their beds. During the night the magi visit, taking the gathered supplies for their camels and leaving a present in their place. This celebration or Holy Day, of course, relies on the story of the astrologers from the East who chase a mobile star in the heavens that leads to the doorstep of a toddler Jesus.
There are at least two critical facets to this narrative. First, that the magi follow this star for some incredible distance is a sign of the expansive import of Jesus’ birth; this was worldwide, breaking news – not fake news. The indefatigability of the magi in chasing this star is an example of deep faithfulness as well as openness to see the signs of the time and follow them wherever they may lead.

Second, this is also a frightening story. Herod’s interest in this child is not the same as that of the magi. They come to worship a child in the shadow of his startled parents. They come to adorn him with extravagant gifts. Herod, however, sees in this child, and in the many others that populate his kingdom, a threat. Power is an addictive drug Herod is unwilling to relinquish.

From the very first, therefore, Jesus’ life is threatened by the political forces of his time. He represents a threat to their unchallenged reign and promises a world turned upside down. At the same time, there are many who will see what Jesus’ very presence means, even if it requires pursuing a star across the skies day after day. This is the very essence of faith on Epiphany.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Prosperity or Blessing?

December 29, 2017 - 10:18pm
When Jesus was only forty days old, his family, like all observant Jewish families of the day, presented themselves at the temple for purification, and they offered a sacrifice of two turtledoves. I read this story in Luke 2:22-40 and wonder if the two turtledoves in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” come from this passage. Surely, they have to be the same or is it dreaming on my part. However, Luke’s original audience would have wondered something else. “Turtle doves? Why didn’t they sacrifice a lamb?”
Here are the directions in Leviticus: When the days of her purification are completed, … she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. He shall offer it before the LORD, and make atonement on her behalf … If she cannot afford a sheep, she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering ….” So, without saying, “Mary and Joseph were very poor,” Luke lets the reader know that Mary and Joseph were very poor.

There are preachers who will tell you that if you have faith, you will be financially prosperous. They have found a few verses in Scripture that support this “prosperity gospel” and it appears to be making these preachers prosperous, at least. Our culture wants this prosperity gospel to be true, because the dream that many in the Western world have adopted from America is not built on finding the blessings in poverty.
But if Joseph and Mary had faith enough to listen to the angel, to bring God’s own son into the world, and to be obedient enough to take him to the temple to obey the Laws of Moses, then they should have been prosperous beyond measure. Yet this couple couldn’t even afford to buy a lamb for the sacrifice. If God’s own family was struggling to get by, then we need to reconsider the connection between being blessed and being prosperous.

Simeon, about whom we know only what Luke tells us, was led by the Spirit to the temple. He has been waiting for the “consolation of Israel.” When Mary and Joseph walk in the doors of the temple, temple, the Spirit helps Simeon know he has found the right family, and Simeon takes the baby Jesus and blesses him. But here’s what I want to know. What did Simeon do after he spoke the blessing? After he realized that the family of God’s own son was in financial need.
Did he do something more for the family than speak a blessing? Did he do anything to be a blessing for them? Did he take them to a Subway restaurant to make sure they had dinner before they headed back to Nazareth? I trust that anyone who was led by the Spirit as Simeon was would have done something to alleviate their immediate hardship. But Luke doesn’t give us those details. So, we have to figure out how to be blessings on our own.

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

New Life – God with Us.

December 24, 2017 - 11:40am
I have never had to try and breathe life into another human being. A person does not get to choose if that time comes or it doesn't. There is a story of Horace who was lying without life and people were trying to give life back to him. They were doing all the right CPR things, pushing on his chest and forcing air into his lungs just like we are taught in first aid and practice in St John Ambulance for when someone collapses. They were doing all that they could as they waited for the ambulance to come.
Horace had given his last breath. He had watched the children sing and had been in the place he loved the best. Horace had been in church. Horace had then got up, walked out of church to his care, closed his eyes and collapsed. All the efforts of the people and the quick attention of skilled people could not open his eyes again. His last vison was of smiling friends and singing children.
The priest left the hospital breathing in the cold night air; the same air that they had tried to breathe into Horace to give him life. Life is so fragile. Each of us is only one or two breathes away from a life beyond any of our efforts. To the life after death.
As the priest returned to the church, the light shining on the manger seemed to dance in the gently falling rain. Mary and Joseph smiled, though the air was heavy because of the loss of Horace that night. They knew.........they knew. Christmas means a child has come who can do what those people that night could not do. This child who was born on a still clear night of long ago breathes life into those who receive. This child is our joyous assurance of that new life. It is one of the gifts of Christmas: the promise of new life given in the middle of efforts that seem to fail. It is the season of hope given to us by the child of Bethlehem - Jesus.
How can we celebrate God with us as a human being? God with us bringing new life. Well there is an answer in the message that God gave the shepherds that first Christmas night. Christmas is not our reaching out or up to God. Christmas is God's hand stretching out to us offering us new life and joy. God makes the first move and calls on us to respond. How we respond to God's precious gift of new life is found in our faith. A faith which does believe that God loves us and the power of that love can conquer all.But most important this gift of new life is something we need to accept. The greatest gift of love ever given. God with us is made real again and again as we Christians share that gospel of love - that new life we have received with others. Love is the great power that symbolises Christmas. A love that is shown when God came to be with us in the form of Jesus Christ.
In our search for this new life that God offers to us, we are sometimes drawn to the past, looking for what might have been. Sometimes our search can lead us to be distracted by the future. But we do not find God in our desire for the past or in the anxiety of the future. We find God as did the wise men - in the eternal now - in the present, right here. Christmas is about a God who is right with us now, today and every day offering us that new life. Let us continue to give thanks for that gift, that gift for all time - new life. A gift that God freely offered for all humankind.

We thank our creator God, for the loveliness of the Christmas story: the child of the manger, the song of the angels, the homage of the shepherds, the tender love of Mary. But most of all we thank our God for the meaning of the Christmas story: that God loved the world so much that God gave his only Son that all might have new life and live through him. So at this time of year we Christians and others join with us in giving all praise and thanks to our God, for so great a love, so great a gift, so great a saviour in the person of Jesus Christ. 
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

In Awe of Mary.

December 22, 2017 - 12:25pm
You know, many of us Protestants avoid speaking about Mary or exploring her significance in Gods coming into this world. So today I am going to stick my neck out with some reflections on the birth stories in the Luke’s gospel in our scriptures. The first birth Luke recounts is the birth of John the Baptist from the viewpoint of John’s father.
JJohn’s father, Zechariah was a married man, “too old” for sex, and his wife was barren. Zechariah was a member of the religious establishment in the holy city of Jerusalem, a priest of the professional class. His vision of the angel Gabriel foretold the birth of his son, John. Zechariah responded in disbelief and consequently was struck silent so that he could not speak. 

The birth narrative of Jesus is told from the viewpoint of his mother. Mary was a single, teenage girl, “too young” for sex. Given the strongly patriarchal nature of society in her time and place, Joseph, to whom she was betrothed, is notable for his invisibility in this story. Mary was a peasant girl from a working-class neighbourhood of carpenters in Nazareth, a village so insignificant that it is not mentioned in the Old Testament, in the historian Josephus, or in the Jewish Talmud.
Her encounter took place in an unknown, ordinary house. When the angel Gabriel foretold the birth of her son, Jesus, Mary responded in words of faith that have echoed through the centuries: “I am the Lord’s servant . . . may it be to me as you have said.” Her bold belief startled her pregnant cousin Elizabeth, who “in a loud voice . . . exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! . . . Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” These passages can be found in the first chapter of Luke.

 Whereas Zechariah was struck silent for his unbelief, Mary praised God in her majestic “Magnificat” found in Luke 1. For their part, and to our loss I believe, Protestants have tiptoed around Mary, fearing that such exalted language about her veers too close to make her a co-redeemer of humanity. Anything that elevates Mary to that degree is cause for concern. In more syncretistic and popular forms of Christian folk religion among those who either don’t have the education or have such information denied, it is not difficult to find such abuses.
We have also taken exception to dogmatic formulations about Mary that were made much later and that do not enjoy clear biblical support, such as her freedom from both actual and even original sin (Immaculate Conception), and the idea that after her death she was taken directly to heaven (Bodily Assumption). Protestants rightly press a caution that both Catholics and Orthodox believers themselves acknowledge, that we honour or venerate Mary as the Mother of God, but we do not offer her our worship, which is due to God alone.
Genuine veneration of the Mother of God should lead to unambiguous exaltation of the Son of God. Mary played a unique role in the mystery of salvation whereby God humbled Himself to be born as the baby of a peasant teenager in order to reconcile the world to Himself. We can only stand in awe of this woman who was faithful to God’s call to such an improbable role in redemption.
However, Luke’s story is not about this one young woman alone. He invites his readers and hearers to make the same step of faith— to jump blindly into God’s newly arrived Reign by gambling on love. There is no requirement that we understand God’s vision. There is simply the invitation to allow incarnation to happen with us, for love to be born in us, and for God’s Reign to come through us.

It is not because we are significant or because we have answers that love seeks to be born in and through us. It is because God makes what seems impossible completely attainable. God simply waits for our yes, and once we have given it, God goes to work to bring the incarnated love to birth in us and, through us, in the world. The incarnation really is the ultimate love story, Emmanuel, God with us.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

You are a Gift!

December 15, 2017 - 9:32pm
I am told and from my own observations, not having experienced such a thing, that when something as extraordinary as a new baby comes into your life, time takes on new meaning. The change is instantaneous, and before you know it, you cannot imagine what it was to live life any other way. Hours, days, weeks, months, take on new meaning. One thing for sure, you cannot predict the fullness of time any more than you can predict what God will do in any given moment, or exactly when a baby will be born.
Of course, the idea of the fullness of time also means that we believe that there is a general trajectory to the world and that God is the one with the finger on the pulse of that trajectory. Time and time again, we are given clues in Scripture about what that path looks like Isaiah 64: 1-3.  This is no promise of business-as-usual. This is the doors of the prison flung open. This is such as the Long Bay here in Sydney or Guantanamo Bay shut down. This is the atrocities of Darfur or Myanmar completely reversed forever. This is flood-ravaged plains dried up and restored and hurricane destruction rebuilt. This is AIDS eradicated and foreclosures cancelled.
This is a promise so radical, a trajectory so extraordinary, a world so upside down that it prompts only one question: “When, Lord?” We do not know where we are on the arc of God’s plan, any more than we know when a baby will come or when the fullness of time will be revealed once again or God’s great reversal will play out or our world will be turned upside down in the most remarkable, unpredictable, and spectacular of ways.

We are promised that only that those who mourn will wear garlands of roses and orchids and lilies as they dance with delight, and will splash one another with the oil of celebration instead of wallowing in the stink of death. We know that those who hunger and thirst and long to be filled with something other than regret shall be filled, and those who have lavished in plenty and luxury and satisfied self-confidence will have to wait their turn.
Those promises that we hear are to make the struggle worth it. In an animal barn surrounded by farm animals, with the cold reality and the stink of life all around her, a young girl gave herself over to the fullness of time and leaned her body and her spirit fully into that long arc, and the world was turned upside down forever. You are a Christmas gift to the world! We who are members of the body of Christ, are the children of the Spirit and more challenging we are a Christmas gift to the world! We are God’s gift, not just to the pretty parts of the world, but to the ugly, dirty, uncomfortable parts, so that we can bring hope to the hopeless, justice to the downtrodden, and freedom to the enslaved.
John the Baptist could say he was only a witness, sent to testify to the light. But we are more than witnesses; we are children of the light. Jesus, Light of the, told his followers that we were to be the light of the world with him. Yes, following Christ means walking in some very large footsteps— but Christ walks with us, and God’s Spirit empowers us to fulfil this calling. For those who are still seeking we are to be that light and to those who seek know that you also are beloved.
Rejoice, all who hear this good news! We who claim to be Christian are here to show God’s love to those who believe or feel they are unloved, to transform cries into laughter, and to partner with God to turn tears of sorrow into shouts of joy. God’s steadfast love is with us always, and that is a marvellous Christmas gift indeed. But the greatest Christmas miracle is this: God’s steadfast love is with the least and the lost, the poorest and the saddest.

How does this occur? It happens through each one of us. We help the Christmas miracle of God’s steadfast love transform the world when we live this calling and proclaim this message. Rejoice! You are a Christmas gift to the world! Thanks be to that same God.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

What do we hear?.

December 8, 2017 - 8:47pm
Advent is not an easy season, with its harried pace and busy schedule. Even non-Christians are surrounded by the holiday patterns of shopping, partying, decorating, and hurrying. Many people are haunted by grief: lamenting broken family relationships, deceased loved ones, and failed friendships. Even non-believers may find themselves yearning for connections with God and community that they seldom notice at other times of the year. And so, God offers the gift of steadfast love to the godly and ungodly alike.
The sinful Israelite's are offered hopeful words of comfort. Our reading this week from the second letter attributed to Saint Peter reminds us that God does not want any person to perish. And we are also reminded in Mark’s Gospel that John comes preaching not just repentance, but forgiveness. God’s gift of love is not just for perfect people, not just for loving people, not just for Christians or Jews or Muslims or Buddhists. God’s Christmas gift of love is for all people, so that “all people shall see it together.” We are given this season of waiting as a gift. For in the waiting, we are all invited to hear God’s glorious promise of love. 
In the waiting, we are all allowed to grieve absent loved ones and lament unfulfilled hopes. All the while, God is waiting with us— waiting for the godly and ungodly alike to hear God’s tender voice, to perceive God’s constant presence, and to accept God’s steadfast love. In this season of hurriedness and impatience, Peter’s words fall like the water of a soothing fountain: “Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” God is in no hurry to force us into a realm of love and peace that we are not prepared to accept and embrace. God awaits the day when we will hear and believe: “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together.”
In our “church world” today we take the concept of a gospel, good news for granted. We have heard the “good news” throughout our lives. Even outside the church, scriptures are quoted and biblical principles are espoused so that it is impossible to escape some level of “gospelisation.” What would it be like to hear the good news for the very first time? What might the stories of Jesus elicit in our hearts and minds had we not heard them over and over since childhood?
In the opinion of most scholars, the gospel ascribed to Mark is the “beginning,” at least of the written form. Truly, it was a “new thing.” Imagine yourself in a life of poverty, locked into a spiral of hard work for little gain, tied to one place for all time, under the sovereignty of a foreign power, denied basic rights and freedoms, and lacking any real hope of change or advance. For some who will read this, that is the life they live and it’s not hard to imagine. For others it is hard to imagine such situations. Yet they still exist all over our world today both overtly and subtly.
It is easy to frame such an existence as futile and desperate. But into such a reality comes a message of possibility, a story of a redeemer and saviour. This is a story of a champion rising from the common herd, someone just like us, but in very significant ways nothing like us at all— a man who possesses the very power and wisdom of God. Could the stories be true? Could the prophesies and promises of the ages come to fulfillment? Was there hope for the oppressed and the downtrodden?

In our modern world, it is difficult to imagine what first-century Jewish people heard when they first received the “good news.” Yet, in our modern world, we can reflect on what we hear as, again and again, we hear the gospel message. Do we hear promise? Do we receive hope? Does the gospel still contain power to transform lives?
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Keep Awake!

December 1, 2017 - 8:33pm
Christians have the somewhat regrettable habit of pulling readings from Isaiah out for the lead up to and during the Christmas break. It’s similar to the way we dig the Christmas decorations out of the shed, cellar or attic to put up a month or so before Christmas.  It appears from my experience that we read these passages from Isaiah as if he’s a fortune teller or a Nostradamus, making predictions about Jesus. But, maybe we should fight that tendency.  I say this because the writers of Isaiah weren’t writing about Jesus, per se.
No, writers of Isaiah were passing on the messages that they received from God, which were intended to provide specific comfort to specific people during a specific crisis. These people are in exile. The temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed. The very home of God had been destroyed. The writers of Isaiah weren’t writing to predict the future. They were writing to give courage to the people of Israel, so they could endure. So that begs the question of how we hear these words from the Isaiah’s if exile is our reality? Imagine we are little Israel and we don’t have military might.  We are now beginning to wonder if our God has also been defeated— where is God when he’s not in the temple?

These thoughts are quite challenging. I invite you this week to spend some time with the book of Isaiah. Listen to the words in their own context. Let them speak to you in your context. What is going on in your life such that heaven being torn apart and mountains quaking would be a sign of hope? Just imagine what is happening around our world politically with the rumblings of the USA against North Korea and other nations and the return rhetoric from those countries.
As Christians, we seem to have a hard time reading the book of Isaiah without immediately thinking of Jesus. Because while we are preparing for Jesus’ birth in four weeks, we know what happened two thousand years ago. God did tear open the heavens. And good, observant Jews, who had been hearing the book of Isaiah’s writings all of their lives, recognised a connection between Jesus and the words of the book of Isaiah. The Gospel accounts of Jesus were written down by people who often framed their understanding of who Jesus was through the lens of the book of Isaiah’s writing. “Oh, that you would tear open the heavens and come down.”
And God did come. God heard the cries of the people and changed the way we relate to the Divine. A baby was born in Bethlehem, in a manger, away from the halls of power and privilege. And the world was turned upside down by this man, fully human, fully divine. Once the Divine enters the world, even the heavens themselves will be shaken. By making reference to sun, moon, and stars, this weeks reading from Mark 13 is cluing us in to the truth that God’s reign is a cosmic reign, it isn’t just a change of administration like ion the political sphere of our worldly nations. It isn’t just new people taking over. It is an entirely new creation.
And so, we wait in patience, knowing that not every act of God resounds like a pounding sledgehammer. In the book of Isaiah’s metaphor, God does not always split open the heavens. Whereas even his closest disciples longed to call down fire from heaven and to brandish swords, Jesus compared his coming kingdom to tiny mustard seeds and to the imperceptible but certain fermentation of yeast.

As we enter Advent, we begin it with a revelation that a change is coming. And we are told to wait for it. To watch for it. In the coming weeks, as we light the candles and prepare for Christ’s return and for Christ’s birth, watch, wait, and keep awake. Or for others, as we put up the decorations and select the gifts we are still to watch and wait and keep awake. The Good News is at hand.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Maybe Mum Was Right

November 24, 2017 - 9:44pm
As life has gone on I have found that it turns out that often what my Mum said was right — One of these sayings was that we are known by the company we keep. When I was growing up in Timaru, Aotearoa (NZ, I would often get taken into the rural areas by our Father. The rural areas where the closest living neighbours were often livestock. Out in the bush where our Father took us, it wasn’t hard to keep company that our parents would approve of, because we were spending most of our days around family.
Surprisingly in those early times of my life, even at school, the rules were pretty easy to figure out. The boys played with the other boys and the girls played with the girls, and the only bleeding over of those two groups was that the very athletic girls sometimes played games with the boys, if the boys were feeling conciliatory on the playground that day. It got a little more complicated, in high school for some when students from various schools came together as one class, and suddenly there was a little variety— just a little, though, maybe one hundred twenty students total at each level.
Even though I attended an all-male high school suddenly I could hang with the smart kids, or the arty kids, or the sporty kids, or the rough kids or what some called the no-hopers. And to my wonder and amazement, I was told that at the other High School old friends found it was suddenly okay to befriend the opposite sex. Although if I’m being honest, girls rarely came to the Boys High. I’ll also admit that the boys who got to hang with awkward, twelve to thirteen-year-old girls were those who came for specific things like Music and German language classes.
At the beginning of High School, one could say, is an exciting but sometimes excruciating time to figure out who we are. It is also a time much less when we find out who our friends are supposed to be. Yet, we haven’t quite figured out that the choices we make when we are adolescents need not rule the rest of our lives. Everything feels so weighty, as if our making one wrong choice would disrupt the course of our whole life. At least that is what I thought I had understood when I was twelve or thirteen years old.
At first read, our text from the final verses of Matthew 25 for this week seem to be about how to earn a place in heaven with Jesus, how to be judged favourably by the Shepherd King: be a sheep, not a goat. The original hearers of this sermon would have understood “sheep” and “goat” to be very specifically coded words with deeply ingrained cultural meaning.
Matthew reinforces this with the use of “left” and “right.” The right hand was the socially acceptable hand, used for eating and greeting. The left hand was used for unmentionable, private tasks, and was never used for public greeting. For all intents and purposes, everybody was a right-handed person, whether they wanted to be or not. To be on the left was a very bad thing, and everybody hearing this story would have understood that.
So really, it seems as if Jesus is simply saying, “Do the right thing.” The problem is that the sheep don’t really understand why they are sheep, and the goats don’t know what goat-like behaviour has left them in the predicament they are in. Since, in reality, sheep and goats grazed together and travelled together and acted as one herd until it was shearing time or sacrifice time; it is almost as though everybody ended up surprised when the sorting happened. It can’t really be as simple as that, can it? The secret here to being favourably judged can’t be just “Don’t do anything stupid.” Don’t we wish.

Are we humans called to act in this way or is that we are called to respond differently? Well, as Christians we are called to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison. Christians are called to speak out against the injustices and inequities that plague society. They are to work to ensure that the message of God’s love is not subsumed by the much louder, more forceful noises of the secular world. These actions are to be done out of love for God, love for each other and oneself as well as out of the spiritual centre that develops from spending time with God. 
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Depth of True Love.

November 17, 2017 - 7:52pm
“I was afraid.” Too many times those words have been a door closing against an invitation to grow. I was afraid to love. I was afraid to let another love me. I was afraid to reach beyond the familiar, to share my faith, to raise my voice, to stand apart, to move beyond a stereotype. In the terrain of the heart, “I was afraid” is buried in a place both deep and yet highly accessible.
True love is anything but shallow. But it is not gorgeous and glamorous and perpetually young. The last servant, in this week’s reading from Matthew 25, fearing the shape-shifting dirtiness of love, paradoxically buries it in the ground to preserve it as it is. By protecting love from change and tragedy, adventure, wildness, and the sheer awe of engaging in life, this servant loses the very gift he had, through simple lack of imagination.
You have to give this third servant credit. He was only following what was, in his day, a sensible and responsible course of action. A talent was one of the largest values of currency in the Hellenistic world, a silver coinage you’d want to get help carrying home— it weighed between fifty-seven and seventy-four pounds. This is fifteen years’ wages for a day labourer, about a quarter of a million dollars when adjusted for inflation. In ancient times, the safest place on earth for something of such great worth was underground. 
Josephus, a first-century historian, said that it was not unusual for people to bury their treasure during times of military conflict. Further, unexpectedly discovering underground treasure, a scenario we stumble upon in one of Jesus’ parables, was not uncommon. “If you want to secure your money,” advised a rabbi from antiquity, “bury it.”
St. John of the Cross wrote that “in the evening of life we will be judged on love alone.” The two servants in this week’s reading from Matthew 25, probably more experienced in loving, fearlessly invest their portions of love. Heedless of the sheer fool-hardiness of the project, they risk ego, rejection, derision, even death, adventurously increasing the master’s wealth of love in the world. The last servant misses the point. The poor clueless man finds himself in the outer darkness because he was clinging to the supposed safety of burying his love in the ground.
John Wesley comments, “So mere harmlessness, on which many build their hope of salvation, was the cause of his damnation!” Love begets love. The more you give the more you get, exponentially. But investing in love can seem counterintuitive, because true love can be mundane, ordinary, passionless, plodding. And love shape-shifts to fit circumstances of tragedy and necessity, loss and age and death, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.

What I pray for is that the Master of the house may find you and I adventurous in our loving.
Categories: Syndicated Blogs

No Vacations.

November 10, 2017 - 8:53pm
Can you imagine a scene in which there are ten contestants, pitted against each other at an international piano competition? Imagine further that five of them have constantly practiced their entries to perfection, and remained ever ready to be called to play. Meanwhile, imagine the other five contestants spending their time watching television and eating pizza and doing everything but practicing. If you can envision this, it won't take much imagination to figure out who would meet the approval of the judges.
This might be an example through which Jesus would approach us in our time, to make an important point about the ways of God. But, of course, Jesus was not aware of piano competitions, so he drew from what he knew. In this week’s gospel from Matthew 25, we find him telling about some maidens who were called to serve as attendants at a wedding.
In that time, weddings were great moments in the life of a village, with every resident participating. If the bridegroom came from another village, as seems to be the case here, there was no way to know exactly when he would arrive, and therefore it was not certain exactly when the wedding would begin. To compensate for this, maidens kept the bride company, awaiting the arrival of the groom with great anticipation. Of course, when it grew dark on such occasions, lamps were needed to see.
As soon as the bridegroom arrived, a festive welcome was made, and a torchlight procession led the couple to the place of the wedding. When the procession reached the appointed place, all entered, the doors were locked, and the festivities began. No one was admitted late. Jesus used this familiar setting for his listeners and us, to present a parable about ten maidens, five who were prepared for the eventualities and five who were not.
The wise ones had prepared. They had enough oil to last until the bridegroom came. They were ready. They knew what was required of them, and they did it. When the time came, they could act in a manner that was faithful to their culture.  The foolish attendants were unprepared. When their moment came, they lost the opportunity to help light the way. They were unable to act out their appointed role in the community. They lost the chance even to witness the wedding. 
Repeatedly Jesus shows us what God is like. Our God takes no vacations and never takes a break from offering love to us graciously. God never stops forgiving us and never ceases to watch over us. God never rests from the desire that we follow in his way. God never lets up on loving us, no matter how much we may rebel and stray. God is always ready.
For our part, as we seek to stay on the journey of faith, we live and move by doing and being what Christ has shown and taught us. We are to take no vacation from being prepared to act in keeping with the values we have been shown. We are called to imitate the wise maidens, remaining prepared, moving in accordance with our training, when the time comes to act.
And like the maidens in Jesus' parable, we do not know when or how we will be called upon. But if we remain always prepared, we will be able to act in accordance with the values we confess.  We are called to act our values and practice them, more perfectly, and with more dedication, than the wise maidens.
Although God's gifts are free, we are still challenged to be like the wise or the foolish
maidens? Will we be prepared to recognise and accept what God offers us? Will we recognise God's love, God's grace, God's forgiveness, God's joy, hope, and the wonders of God's creation? Are we prepared? As God presents us daily with challenges and choices, will we be ready?

Categories: Syndicated Blogs

Practice What You Preach.

November 3, 2017 - 9:18pm
“Why don’t you practice what you preach?” Have you ever said those words? Maybe someone has said them to you. Hypocrites are people who pretend to be something they are not. They may say one thing and then do the opposite. They may act one way in a certain setting and then act another way in a different setting. It is very important that as Christians, we follow the example of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter where we are or who we are with. The words we speak and the things we do should always reflect our faith. Sometimes we are good at telling other people what they should do and how they should live, but we fail to follow our own instructions. We need to, as the saying goes, “walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”
Some time ago, I saw a Peanuts comic strip that had Snoopy on top of his doghouse with a flock of baby birds. The time had come for the baby birds to learn how to fly, and Snoopy was their teacher. Snoopy flapped his ears and walked to the end of the roof of the doghouse. He leaped into the air and continued to flap his ears. Unfortunately, he landed right on his head. He got back up onto the roof and shared this lesson: “Do as I say to do and not what I do.”

In this week’s scripture from the gospel of Matthew 23, Jesus tells the crowds and his disciples to do what the Pharisees and the scribes teach them to do, “but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.” In other words, the leaders talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. Why is it important to practice what we preach? The most basic reason is the integrity of our faith; as we who call ourselves Christian are the body of Christ for the world.
In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells us, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.” People should be attracted by the light of the way we live and the words we speak. Whether we like it or not, people are watching us and seeing how we respond to the ups and downs of everyday life. Children watch adults and then imitate what they see and repeat what they hear. Are our words and actions something we want repeated by our children? Our friends, neighbours, co-workers, family members, and classmates are watching us.
What evidence do we offer of our profession of faith? Are our responses any different from those of persons who don’t profess to know Christ? Not only are nonbelievers watching us, but so are other Christians. Persons who are new to the faith often look to more-mature Christians. Do our words and actions encourage and build up other Christians?
How do we all as members of humanity practice what we preach? One way is to be careful about the words we speak. You can tell a lot about a person by the words they use. You can tell even more by the words they use when they are distressed, angry, or threatened. In the letter called James, the writer tells us the tongue is very dangerous. It can set a great forest ablaze. Humans can tame, all kinds of animals, but we cannot tame the tongue. People are listening to the words we speak. Do our words build people up or cut them down? Do our words bring peace and calm to a situation or do they add fuel to the fire?

The words we speak are meant to match the person we claim to be. If we profess that we are followers of Christ, then our words need to reflect that relationship. We practice what we preach when we live our lives as reflections of the life of Christ. The way we act at work needs to be the same way we act at home, at church, around other Christians, in the supermarket, or waiting for a bus. I like the saying, “What you see is what you get.” It reminds us to try to act the same wherever we are. When people see us, they need to see a reflection of Christ. Do we live our lives in ways that reflect him?
Categories: Syndicated Blogs