Archive | December, 2022

wonders of Advent 2022, epilogue Matthew 5

25 Dec

After speaking the blessings from the Sermon on the Mount, after giving a listing of the types of people coming Christians will be, ( one example, Matt 5: 7 ‘Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.’ ) and then…

… Jesus answers Carroll Shelby’s question ( as posed by the actor Matt Damon in the 2019 movie ‘Ford v Ferrari’ ) ‘The only question that matters. Who are you?’

This is how Jesus answers Carroll:

( from John 1 )2 ‘He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’

The only word, or thing, or image, or trope that matters on Christmas Day ( or all days ) is light. Jesus comes to both teach and to place light in the world. And We are what he places on hills and on houses; on fields and mangers. We are his light …

Our eyes are drawn to light, whether we are a darken word or a walker on a moonless night. We are drawn to this light. And, in time, in comes within us.

And thus this is Jesus’ answer to Carroll Shelby’s question ‘who are you?’—

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’ ( Matthew 5 )

We are to be lights as Jesus gift is his light, the essence of his living, his life- the essence of his character, his community with the Spirit, and with His Father.

And we are not to be just a one time a year light, but lights of the world. All days. All times.

So, Jesus came for the answer to the only question that really matters, ‘ who are you’…’

We are Jesus’…


wonders of Advent 5 Anna, a prophet sees; holds, shares … fire

19 Dec
light, fire

Prophets hear and speak. They see, hurt for those who hurt God. Those who do not trust and share in the Lord’s love for them. Those who plant their own ways and paths.

Prophets have no such option: they are called to speak the revealed words of the Lord. Their speaking, their voices, are not their own but His. In the Advent story when Mary and Joseph and their child Jesus enter the temple for dedication, two prophets speak to them. First Simeon, then Anna. Here is how Luke’s gospel paints Anna:

36 ‘There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.’

We do not hear Anna’s exact words. We see her as Mary saw her, how Mary describes this moment to Luke.

Anna is a prophetess, yet we don’t hear her words. What then do we see? Hear?

We see her character: a woman who fasts and prays. A woman who is awaiting redemption. Jesus as redeemer is what we, what Mary sees. An old servant redeemed. Her prays are not wasted; her fasting not overlooked.

And she never stops speaking of Jesus in the temple, even after the baby leaves. She is sharing redemption’s birth with us, redemption’s Advent. This is her prophecy; this is what we, and all in the temple hear: Redemption. And she must, must speak.

The prophet Jeremiah answers this why in his own life description – as he prophesies in Jeremiah 20: 9a

Why? Why must an 84 year old speak to all she comes in contact with?

…’ if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name, his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.’

Jeremiah is not just describing himself: he speaks of prophets. He speaks of light and fire; fires and lights.

Our God is a fire: from the burning bush to the day of Pentecost. From Isaiah’s lips being purified with burning coals to the Lord’s fire that consumes Aaron’s two sons. ( Leviticus 10 ) Anna must share because she, as all prophets have fire in their hearts, in their bones.

This prophetic fire always creates light; it opens all to understanding. All to meaning. This fire does not destroy, but reveals.

Anna’s words are fires and lights. They reveal redemption. This, her purifying instrument that opens the Lord’s meaning, is His words; His redeeming words. Her words work with Simeon’s and Jeremiah’s. With the words of all OT prophets.

And as Jeremiah must speak, Anna also cannot be quiet. For she is a light that speaks to all about redemption’s Advent, it’s fire. She shares with all.

Anna prophesies redemption, for all. She speaks ‘Jesus’- she shares Advent light, its fire.

light… light

from Luke 2, wonders of seeing – Advent 2022

9 Dec

22 ‘When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (las it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord” 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,

31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.

34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”’

How does, what does Simeon, a devout, loving man, see?

He sees, hears by the Spirit. The Spirit reveals to him that he will ‘see’ the Messiah before he dies; after many years of waiting, this same Holy Spirit moves Simeon to the temple courts. And now Simeon sees…

He sees a family consecrating a first born to the Lord. He sees that they bring the most the could, the poorest offering that can be given to the temple; he sees the boy, forty days old; and then he holds Jesus in his arms and prophesies, “For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.”

He sees salvation; he sees light; he sees God’s glory. He sees and feels the peace of Jesus. Bathed in light, bathed in the Spirit, Simeon shares, prophesies, the light of a promise fulfilled; the Lord’s Messiah-‘salvation.’ Jesus.

Yet, in this moment, Simeon also sees darkness: hearts’ thoughts dark revealed; people rising and falling- Mary’s coming sorrows, a mother’s soul pierced. Darkness.

So, Simeon’s light, his Holy Spirit’s light, reveals sorrows and darkness alongside salvation.

He sees the whole Jesus, the whole story of Advent: light with darkness.


wonders of advent 2 december

2 Dec

darkness, a place for, of light

‘We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.’ 2nd Peter 1

light, visible

This time of year ( December in the Western world ) has less daylight than any other time. The sun rises later; fades earlier. And yet, on the 25th of December sunlight begins to lengthen. A number of pagan sun cults (Mithra )celebrated this day as the birth, the renewal of their gods.

There is no mention of the date of Christ’s birth in the Bible. The only clue we have is that Shepherds were in Bethlehem’s fields. This detail places the one on the spring. Yet, we celebrate the 25th of December, the winter. Why?

It seems the Christian Church chose to celebrate the birthday of Jesus on the twenty-fifth of December in order to transfer the devotion of the heathen from the Sun to him who was called the Sun of Righteousness. The church choose to reclaim pagan worship time for Jesus.

But the Lord allows all for a reason. I believe He was pointing to, underscoring the role of darkness in life. Author/ priest Barbara Taylor Branford speaks of darkness as something, “We are supposed to get over it, fix it, purchase something, exercise, do whatever it takes to become less sad,” she says. “Turning in to darkness, instead of away from it, is the cure for a lot of what ails me. Because I have a deep need to be in control of things, to know where I am going, to be sure of my destination, to get there efficiently, to have all the provisions I need, to do it all without help–and you can’t do any of that in the dark… I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”

Jesus was borne in a cave, a manger, in darkness. Jesus died, crucified, on a cross. Jesus was resurrected from a tombcave.

He did not run away from soldiers in the garden; He let the unclean and lepers touch him as He touched them. He was not afraid of eating with sinners, tax collectors and Pharisees Even with prostitutes. For a final last meal he broke bread with betrayers. His final supper with betraying friends.

Jesus entered our world, a covered in sin and darkness. Why? As Ecclesiastes 3:11 speaks,

11 ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.’

Jesus entered the darkness so we could become beautiful. His love for us is ‘why’ he entered deep darkness. To be with our hearts, hearts of darkness.

Jesus, eternal light in our dark, human hearts.

In darkness, light shines.

Beautiful darkness, beautiful eternal light.