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Gabriel- ‘sent’ – God word comes 3 Advent 2018

19 Dec

Gabriel, ‘sent’ ; His word comes’ advent 3 2018

Vines Greek New Testament defines

Send ‘ as – apostello lit., “to send forth” (apo, ” from”), akin to apostolos, “an apostle,” denotes (a) “to send on service, or with ..

Lukes’s gospel opens with the Angel Gabriel traveling in his Lord’s service first to Zechariah the priest and Elizabeth’s husband.

Later, when Gabriel speaks to Mary a number of similarities and differences arise: both Zechariah and Mary are spoken to in moments when they are alone, in privacy with their thoughts and emotions; and both respond with questions and doubts. Both were also in prayerful states when Gabriel approaches. But they are also very different people: one was a young girl, a virgin to be wed; the other an older man very settled in marriage. One was hopeful in prayer concerning her new life path; the other reflective on the absence of children and the joys of an extended family. Luke describes Zechariah as being in specific prayer for a child and that he, Gabriel, was coming in direct answer to the priest Zechariah’s prayer. But the priest does not believe there will be a child, then…

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel.I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

Words here stop for a time.

He who makes his living through speaking- will not even be able to share with his wife Elizabeth his emotions. Yet words will become action; facts: first for Mary as Her story and response is different from Zechariah’s. Luke tells us that …

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Mary in response does as Zechariah question ‘how’?; and yet she listens to the sent Angel Gabriel and immediately believes. Mary’s words do not stop when she hears Gabriel’s words. But Zechariah will speak later too. Why?

Because Gabriel comes to both Mary and Zechariah with somewhat similar news: births are always miracles but for each of them their children come in the face of a lifelong sterile marriage and in Mary’s case virginity. Their coming children are sent. Miracles of answers to prayers; words. And each are ‘sent’ to.

So why is the word “sent” used in each’s narrative? What is the meaning of its use?

‘Sent’ indicates not just a message; an angel; or even that children will be sent to Mary and Zechariah. What is sent are words. God’s words.

Words which will become actions; truth; love.

In Mary’s narrative (verse 37) has Gabriel stating to Mary’s question “how” -‘That no word of the Lord will fail’ The older NIV translation famously translated this verse as ‘Nothing is impossible with God.’

I always loved this older translation. I taught and wrote on it. Can you imagine thru eternity how many impossible prayers Gabriel has seen happen; come true? Inspiring beauty.

But as I have gotten older I am growing quite attracted to this new NIV revised translation. God sends His personal words to us; He speaks; and He hears our words and worship. He is a God true to His word even if at times as Zechariahs we don’t believe; we doubt yet we still have His sent word. It always holds us more than we can ever hold it. Ultimately the narratives of both Mary and Zechariah end with their singing prophetic words. They send us songs. Both sing that in essence that ‘the Lord has done done great things for me… for us’ ( verse 49)

And that is why Mary and Zechariah’s -as different as they are- have the word ‘sent’ in common: so we can understand and then receive the gift of the word. His word. Never void; becoming flesh. A baby’s soft flesh.

God sends; we receive. Hallelujah

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Barnarbas, sent Advent 2 men scatter; God sends

13 Dec

Barnarbas, sent- Advent 2 – Men scatter; God sends

“They sent Barnarbas to Antioch…” Acts 11: 22

Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem for a census. Pulled, scattered by authorities from their Nazareth home, they end in a cave, a manger, homeless. And so were believers moved from their Jerusalem home, persecuted by religious authorities; scattered.

Men in these authorities desired control and power; they wanted to destroy new life. Yet God formed a strong fellowship among the homeless in Antioch. They grew in numbers, belief and loving desire to know Jesus more. Under oppression and censure the generous apostles of Jerusalem had to send help; the best of the apostles among them, Barnarbas.

Vines’ Greek New Testament defines (send)

‘Send ‘ as – apostello lit., “to send forth” (apo, ” from”), akin to apostolos, “an apostle,” denotes (a) “to send on service, or with ..

The Church in Antioch needed this apostle as Acts 11 tells us,

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch,spreading the word only among Jews.20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

Why then was Barnarbas sent?

Simply, he looked at hearts; he saw and felt the people and was glad and joyful. He felt the homeless of Antioch and he became a ‘home’ for them- a person and a place of teaching and listening; a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit; he was an apostles’ apostle; a servants’ servant.

In this place Antioch, where Christians are first named and called, Barnarbas lives as a ‘Christ’ a sent one, ‘a little Christ’ among scattered refugees so they could feel at home.

Whether in a cave or a city; Egypt or Bethlehem; among Magi or shepherds; Jesus came -was sent- to show us how to not just get to home but be a home, a sending, a Barnarbas for all.

This advent be a home, a ‘sending’ for another. Hold a door; say a kind word; give a gift; share a talent- go; … let the Spirit of the season send you

a rewrite of ‘home’ advent 2018

6 Dec

sent 1 ‘home’ Advent 2018

Liza is a friend who is homeless. Single, with living parents and sisters, life has not turned her way until very recently.

Today, though, she is hopeful that NYC Human Resources will move her out of her homeless shelter to a studio apartment. When she is settled in her home, then she states ‘ I will feel secure enough to tell my family how they abused me all these years…I can be authentic with them…. ‘

Liza’s hope in a future home makes her views on life illuminating: she is homeless but she has not lived-she will not live- in a state of homelessness. Her hope of being sent to a studio apartment, a home, removes the state of despair, this state of homelessness. When homelessness occurs, people are transformed into objects.

While temporarily homeless, Liza trusts that a higher power sees her, and understands what her daily life is like. And there will an answer to her prayers for a home. Her hopefulness forms her into being. A being, not an object. In fact, Liza is quite like the thousands of Central American immigrants who travelled thousands of miles with same hope as Liza an American home. They are living, traveling human beings. They travel by, with, in hope. Hope is their homes.

Jesus, a baby borne in cave, a manger, homeless, is Liza’s and any displaced person’s answer. Jesus, sent by God the father, is our hope, our home. And he becomes our home by becoming homeless himself.

Jesus knows what is to be alone and lowly; rejected and driven away. Jesus knows homeless.ness.

He experienced total despair.

Threaten with murder at his birth by Herod; Jesus is then crucified by Roman soldiers at 33,

‘“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with loud voice — “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” — “that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46).

Forsaken, without hope, Jesus cries out on a loud voice for all who have experienced homelessness. He is no longer a person; he is an object, a thing crucified outside the city’s walls. We all can become things, objects without hope, when our voices are not heard. When we are not spoken to.

But this is why Jesus was sent: he became homeless so we could have a home in his house. Just as his baby cries were heard by Mary and Joseph; Jesus’ loud cry on the cross is heard. It is heard by Matthew; the forgiven Roman soldiers and especially by us-he becomes the home that sees, feels and hears.

Enter His home this season.

sent 1 ‘home’ Advent 2018

2 Dec

sent 1 ‘home’ Advent 2018

Liza is a friend who is homeless. Single, with living parents and sisters, life has not turned her way until very recently.

Today, though, she is hopeful that NYC Human Resources will move her out of her homeless shelter to a studio apartment. When she is settled in her home, then she states ‘ I will feel secure enough to tell my family how they abused me all these years…I can be authentic with them…. ‘

Liza’s hope in a future home makes her views on life illuminating: she is homeless but she has not lived-she will not live- in a state of homelessness. Her hope of being sent to a studio apartment, a home, removes her state of despair, this state of homelessness. While temporarily homeless, she trusts that a higher power sees her, and understands what her daily life is like. And there will an answer to her prayers for a home. She is quite like the thousands of Central American immigrants who travelled thousands of miles with same hope as Liza an American home.

Jesus, a baby borne in cave, a manger, is Liza’s answer and any displaced person’s answer. Jesus, sent by God the father, is our hope, our home. And he becomes our home by becoming homeless himself.

Jesus knows what is to be alone and lowly; rejected and driven away. Jesus knows homeless.ness.

He experienced total despair.

Threaten with murder at his birth by Herod; Jesus is then crucified by Roman soldiers at 33,

‘“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with loud voice — “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” — “that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46).

Forsaken, without hope, Jesus cries out on a loud voice for all who have experienced homelessness. He is no longer a person; he is an object, a thing crucified outside the city’s walls. We all can become things, objects without hope, when our voices are not heard. When we are not spoken to.

But this is why Jesus was sent: he became homeless so we could have a home in his house. Just as his baby cries were heard by Mary and Joseph; Jesus’ loud cry on the cross is heard. It is heard by Matthew; the forgiven Roman soldiers and especially by us-he becomes the home that sees, feels and hears.

Enter His home this season.

sent Advent 2018

26 Nov

Advent 2018 prologue

sent

‘For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.’ John 3: 34-35 ESV

In any ‘sending’ three major actors (at least) play significant roles. First, there is the person who sends; next there is the person or thing sent; and then, finally, there is the recipient of the sent gift.

The John’s Gospel builds on the idea, the principle, the trope of ‘sending.’ By depicting Jesus as ‘sent’ John defines sending as a special gift, a gift put aside for purpose. Jesus is the Son, and God is the Father. Jesus’ mission is described as a unique expression of the Father’s love for the world. (John 3:16) The sender loves his world so that he gives the gift of an only, a unique son. And this son uses his father’s language, his words, to underscore the indescribable nature of this gift, this sending.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus uses the Greek verb pempein to refer to “the Father who sent me” no fewer than 24 times. These references put the focus on the Father, who through this action of sending authorizes and empowers the Son in his mission. What is this mission? To love, to so love us that we can not help to overflow with love, his love.

In addition, while Jesus refers 24 times to his sending father, in another seventeen passages, Jesus uses some form of the verb apostellein.

This verb focuses on Jesus as the one who is sent. It means to be set aside for a specific purpose. This purpose is the Father’s will. Jesus’ acts with the full authority of the Father because he does only what the Father wills. Indeed, for John, the Father is present, speaking and acting in Jesus (John 5:17, John 5:19-20). This emphasis on the interrelationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son describes not just the sender and the sent, but also the receivers.

And what of the recipients? Us. How are we described by this sending?

We are described as being loved; by needing a God who searches and knows us like David sings in Psalm 139:1 and still (Still!) loves us with a love supreme; a love overflowing, a love divine.

In these next four weeks of Advent I will be looking at people in both the Old and New Testaments who are ‘sent.’ Apostles and servants; children and the elderly; disciples and teachers; angels and Saviour.

And what do they all have in common?

They all point to process of being sent, of sending; of overflowing with the precious indescribable gift of Advent, of love.

Follow Advent 2018 at

http://www.charlesosewalt.com

loss

6 Aug

loss

how do I face it?

when I realised I was unloved as a baby

an unexpected 1953 twin, deliver to a sister, my Aunt , who cared for me those first months

when I failed my first spelling exam

My mother finding the hidden paper took a high heel and landed it on my seven year bold head. Blood and stitches and then grandfather who stoped the beating

when I was caught cheating on a final history exam

then, I lived in the spaces of real people in my imagined words; by giving answers to Jimmy I had hoped to save him from a tour in Vietnam. Caught; he went.

when I went to uni and develop a taste for college women, left boyhood behind

then. I choose Barbara among the dews

when o married at 18 and left Brooklyn’s east 4th street for Bronx

then…

(After several years…)

Barbara told me she loved another; not me, I died just as if I were her friend at Fern Park, Old Orchard Beach Maine, by his old hand

my losses carried me from abysses to my space: a vacuum of empty words; love vacated; a torn, cut life. Leaving closed, closeted spaces I created, and entered, my own abyss- unique and inescapable: loss

LeBron, reversed

8 Jun

how does the reversal call in game one of the NBA Finals against LeBron James inform my life?

So, in game 1 LeBron was outside the reviewable circle, had feet planted and got a positive call (charging on KG) for his efforts.

But, not only was the cAll reviewed, it was reversed and then a ‘win’ becomes a loss in game one of the NBA finals.

My, the essential question about all this is;

If LeBron can’t get a call, what chance do I, we have?

Birthdays forgotten by your family, even your twin? Check.

Still waiting for your Christmas present in July? Check.

Father’s Day forgotten? Check.

So, why can’t I get a ‘call’?

Well, I think I have a great deal of company in this august overlooked, unseen group. I can’t say why but I can respond reflectively with some personal insights. Here are some:

1. When one call goes against you, expect more to come fast and furiously.

George Hill misses a free throw; JR thinks the Cavs are ahead and holds the ball.

Forgotten for a birthday? Minor stuff. A child will need monies; lots of money; they will ask; another family Manet becomes ill; job changes; movings and divorces. Parents pass or need cares. Fast and furious all comes

When troubles come, they come in cascades. Deal with it.

2. The higher you preform; serve; rescue; be the life of your team, the party, the greater the expectations.

LeBron can’t continuously play the entire 49 minutes (plus one). Soon his heart, his body, his spirit and soul will empty. A stream needs water flow in to be refreshed; it can t solely flow out. But friends, colleagues and even watchers, strangers, expect you, expect more.

3. Referees, as judges, will rule and find you wanting in key moments.

You have preformed and won in the past. It is human nature to root, consciously or unconsciously, for the undergoes, pot against LeBron. Whether by envy or mouse or misapplication of power, those who sit in as referees in your life will find ways to see Not your work or you but what they desire: themselves.

To find for you, to rule in your favour only confirms to them their shortcomings-what and who they will never be.

They can’t truly see you, the calls or even themselves. Don’t expect the blind to see; the deaf to hear; the heartless to feel. They can’t.

4. How does LeBron respond to all of the above? He takes a pause and plays as deeply, as passionately, as fully as as he can becomes he loves the game even when it doesn’t love him

He is always, all ways, all in.

27 secrets beliefs about trains

2 May

on the metro, subway

‘I want mercy for myself; justice for everyone else

the good, things I like to do, have on my train trips

the recording in London, ‘Mind the Gap’

if you are 60 years of age in London, all tube and bus rides are free

for one set fare in NYC you can ride all day from one end to the other (Dyre Avenue, the Bronx, to Coney Island, Brooklyn)

musicians play in the W always of the subway in NYC, from singers to actors; from violinists to drums and more

helpful, friendly staff ( Paris, London, Europe calling)

people giving up seats to seniors, Mums, with children or pregnant with children to come, or to give a seat up for anyone at all

public transportation is the ultimate going green

the baddies, peoples and things who are driving me crazy

the recording in London, ‘Mind the Gap’

people who stand still in the middle of passageways to trains

those who take up more than one space. standing or sitting

those who stand by a subway/metro/tube doors (and won’t move for love, money or the disabled- this is London calling)

people who play their cell phones loud on the subway (NYC calling)

loud talkers

slow walkers

slow walkers who are reviewing the mobiles/cells

slow walking tourists (please stand aside, preferably to the right)

those who block the escalators by standing next to a companion speaking and oblivious to those who want to walk on the left (please stay right, in your slow lane)

slow walkers )did I say this already?)

the uglies, the unthinkable, the unmentionables, the unimaginable

changing service without any notice (NYC, NOT calling)

‘Weekend works’ with ‘free’ shuttle bus services

urine puddles, (especially in NYC at Penn Station when the weather gets hot) stains and smells on the Metros stairwells, walkways and elevators’ enclosures.

full meals with their assortments of: drippings, visuals and odours left on seats and floors in subway cars and stations

large packages and or bags on seats in cars replacing the living

unbearable announcements on cars

people pressing onto you, touching you, on packed trains

vermin in the subway eating pizza

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UPXUG8q4jKU

muffled, muttered, the incomprehensible

oral announcements on the NYC transit cars (I used to tell excited noisy primary students on field trips to understand carefully to such announcements as the speaker was giving out the secrets of the universe-we never could quite get these secrets translated)

the recording in London, ‘Mind the Gap

the third thief; after easter 3

18 Apr


the third thief ; after easter 3

Luke 23:39-43 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!”But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Corinthians 9:15 New International Version (NIV)

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift

Jesus is the third thief among these two confessed thieves. He steals our lives from back from the evil one. He is giving his earthly life to cover us, to lavish us as our prodigal, extravagant Saviour with his indescribable gift: eternal life in his kingdom.

It is an unimaginable, indescribable gift. It is His life for ours. A glorious gift and theft.

Bilbo Baggins is a type of this giving, thieving Christ.

Bilbo Baggins, the creation of J.R.R. Tolkien, is a hobbit. A usually quiet, sedate creature, he is caught up in a wild adventure along with the Wizard Gandalf and a troop of Dwarves to seek out some treasure. To prove himself as a burglar to the disbelieving Dwarves, Bilbo makes a bold move: he will steal treasure from Smaug the sleeping dragon. Here Tolkien describes the theft:

“Then Bilbo fled [with the cup]. But the dragon did not wake – not yet – but shifted into other dreams of greed and violence, lying there in his stolen hall while the little hobbit toiled back up the long tunnel. His heart was beating and a more fevered shaking was in his legs than when he was going down, but still he clutched the cup, and his chief thought was: “I’ve done it! This will show them. ‘More like a grocer than a burglar’ indeed! Well, we’ll hear no more of that.” ‘(12.17)

Bilbo steals for the approval of dwarves. This is what motivates him and drives him to perform. It is what Bilbo serves and risks his life for: he worships the idol of being a people/dwarf pleaser. In doing so he becomes a thief.

Dwarves, on the other hand, worship gold, treasure and earthly wealth. They risk their lives (and some will die on Lonely mountain by tale’s end) for these riches.

Smaug, the menacing and sleeping dragon, has still another master— greed: ‘Dragons may not have much real use for all their wealth, but they know it to an ounce as a rule, especially after longpossession; and Smaug was no exception. He had passed from an uneasy dream (in which a warrior, altogether insignificant in size but provided with a bitter sword and great courage, figured most unpleasantly) to a doze, and from a doze to wide waking.’ (12.20)

Smaug is a hoarder, a counter. He knows the price and whereabouts of all his possessions. This is what he lives for: power in long possession. He can’t use the wealth. But wealth is his power source and what he worships.

Each of J.R.R. Tolkien’s creations seek life through power: power of approval from others; the power of riches and the power of possession. None can be generous as they are controlled by power. The Dwarf King Thorin and the Dragon Smaug die in their desires. Only Bilbo lives. How?

Much later in his life Bilbo gives away his treasured possession—the Ring of Power- to his orphaned nephew Frodo. It is only by giving earthly power away can Bilbo sail into the eternal life in the lands of the elves at the narrative’s close. So…

What are we to do in light of God’s indescribable gift?

Give up power, or any desire for power, as Christ our Gift lived. Again, let’s look to the apostle Paul.

In Philippians 2, The Message version, Paul writes,

‘if you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life…love each other …Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.’

Put yourself aside. Become like the Giver: love, give and extend helping generous hands. This is the only way to a fully loved life; to eternal life, to real power.

Give all away. All ways.

Note: a portion of the above material appeared in the Stewardship blog under Charles Osewalt.

https://www.stewardship.org.uk/blog/blog/tagposts/Charlie%20Osewalt/10

after easter 3

13 Apr

On holding2 after easter 3

1 Corinthians 15

‘ …you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.’(bold, my emphasis)

Below is a reflection on how what I hold and what holds me makes my home. Paul tells the church in Corinth to ‘hold.’ They are told to hold firmly to the one home that can never be taken or withheld; the home that never, ever disappoints or hurts; this home is the ‘hands’ that reach and receive: the word of God. This is the only true home. And I have returned to this home after holding the following reflective, essential questions-

eq (essential questions) :

thoughts, questions on ‘holding’

what am I holding? what is holding me? Into whose hands have I placed myself? Into, into whose hands, to whom, will I (be) long to?

and then what am I withholding? what do I think, imagine, feel, sense, is being withheld from me ? And why is it being withheld?

finally, who holds me, who has held me in the past…who lets me deeply, deeply allows me to hold them

And, on, in my past ?

who held me firmly, lovingly? and today, and tomorrow!?

who shall hold me and I them?

my safe-home is where I can hold and feel held. Home.

His word holds as I hold. Hold.