Tag Archives: Jesus

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’…

Lights.

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.

Pastors, two essential principles to teach yourself and your people

21 Nov

Pastors, two essential things to give to your congregation about Generosity, we are all tax collectors

Why did Jesus teach about money? Because He was making disciples. He knew that how we spend money, time and our talents indicates where are hearts are settling, what we worship. In Matthew 6 Jesus says, “24 “You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.” This is the first essential Jesus wants your congregation to hear, how we use and think about our money and monies indicates our heart’s worship. And without Jesus we are all tax collectors.

Zacchaeus the Tax Collector in Luke 19 is a case study that illustrates both the positive and negative uses of money-how £££ used Zacchaeus before he encountered Jesus and how he used £££ after they met. Nine short verses in Luke 19 tells both sides of the story,

Zacchaeus before Jesus

Zacchaeus was rich, but for all his riches he was looked down upon by the people. His riches came from cheating; defrauding (8). He was a thief. He thought he was holding on to his funds but they actually were holding on to him isolating from others. His job choice made him small. Proverbs 11:24 states, “The world of the generous gets larger and larger. The world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.” Zacchaeus worshipped money and this worship is what really makes him smaller, and not just in stature. Then Jesus enters; “they all grumbled.”(7) But change is coming.

Zacchaeus after Jesus

From a lonely man whose house no one wanted to enter into or eat with, Zacchaeus is welcomed into relationship. Jesus is willing to enter his home, “…I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus is so moved that he worships. How? Verse 8 gives us the answer; Zacchaeus standing in the public, gives away what he formerly held dear. He gives half his wealth to the poor. This leads us to the second essential Jesus wants your congregation to hear. Ephesians 4: 20-4, 28:

“But you have learned nothing like that from Christ, if you have really heard his voice and understood the truth that he has taught you. No, what you learned was to fling off the dirty clothes of the old way of living, which were rotted through and through with lust’s illusions, and, with yourselves mentally and spiritually re-made, to put on the clean fresh clothes of the new life which was made by God’s design for righteousness and the holiness which is no illusion.

 If you used to be a thief you must not only give up stealing, but you must learn to make an honest living, so that you may be able to give to those in need.”

Like Zacchaeus, we are all tax collectors. That’s why “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke: 19:10) Our monies are either using us, or we are using it. And if we are using our monies as a disciple of Jesus we have to be like a changed and transformed Zacchaeus, giving to those in need.

Only someone who has been in great need can understand the needs of another; only someone who has been small and unloved can understand the love of a large and holy God. We are all tax collectors till we worship Him.

 

meditation 13: Caravaggio, the ‘peace’ of open hands, fruit of the Spirit

2 Sep

ImageImage

Of the number of Caravaggio’s in Rome, three specific works illustrate peace, and all at a moment of a death. First, above, the Calling of St. Paul. Paul’s eyes are closed; his hands open and empty. His old self, his fleshly self, is dying. His face is peaceful; no grimace. He is open to God’s call; the Lord’s being; not his old, flesh:Saul.

Second,is the image of the deposition of Christ. Here, Jesus’ hands are open, a receiver of death, and a death on the cross. He is empty, Yet -and yet- soon all will fill with the hope of a bodily Resurrection.

Finally, there is the three piece work, It is a three piece altar work, not pictured here,’The Calling of St. Matthew’. Imagine. In the first and last panels of the Call, Matthew, in death, his left hand now opens. Initially, in the first panel, it was closed on his coins from his tax collecting. There, he was a young man, head down, not looking at Jesus’ call, Jesus’ hand beckoning him. Openly, now in peace, a receiver of eternal life. He is receiving. What? ‘(A better resurrection.’ Eternal community with the Father, Son and Spirit. ( Hebrews11:35) With open hands, Matthew, in death, has peace. Peace, a fruit of Spirit.