Worship the Mystery of Christmas

imageWhen they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented and presented him with gifts of gold and incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:10-11

For God to condescend to assume human form and to walk among a people clumsy violence known for killing their prophets is the mystery of the first Advent. He does not appear as a fully grown man of mysterious provenance, but rather, as a baby with a human mother who herself possessed the sin nature derived of her descent from Eve and Adam. The baby Jesus endures the growth process, emptied of His divine powers and prerogatives and walks sinless on the inexorable journey to Calvary.

How is it that the baby attracts the worship that He deserves? He possesses nothing outward that belies His perfection and divinity. No halo, no translucent glow surrounding him, he does not spring from the womb preaching the good news. He is a hungry, cranky, sleepy and weepy infant, despite the beatific scene painted by the hymnists. Yet worshipped He is.

He is worshipped because of the divine revelation of heavenly hosts singing Gloria in excelcis deo. He is worshipped because the archangel Gabriel left the presence of God and appeared to various people telling them that the long-awaited King had come. He is worshipped because the string of witnesses stretching from Mary to Elizabeth to John to the shepherds quietly watching over their flocks at night. He is worshipped because it is indisputable as to who He is.

With the distance of time comes a casual familiarity. We can see how the story ends and see the baby as the grown Savior. Returning to the first days of His life we return to a faith that requires trust in an unknown future. It is faith in history that is not written yet, but rooted in the signs we have seen. We may know the ultimate conclusion to the story as God has revealed it to us, we can restore the mystery about tomorrow. We can step out in faith to attempt great things according to our calling, knowing that all preceding promises have been fulfilled.

Be blessed this Christmas and in all of your days to follow…

Magnificat–Third Sunday in Advent 2010


Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

The Physician alone records this effusive greeting (Luke 1:45) from Elizabeth to Mary. The Virgin has accepted reality of her calling and has the first encounter of its outworking in the effect that the Divine child in her womb has on His brother in Elizabeth. As the Spirit moves, Mary is overcome and speaks these words,

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,

for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” (1:46-49)

As your celebration of the Lord’s birth comes one week closer, it is an excellent time for you to reflect on your life and compose your own Magnificat. Despite the fact that struggle and persecution and trouble may be your companions this year, God is mindful of the state of His servant. Whether you are enjoying providence or lack, Jesus knows where you walk and He is mindful of your limp. Good or bad, rich or poor, in sickness or in health, God knows our lives and has them well under control despite what we may see immediately in front of us. For this alone, the Spirit within raises praise in our hearts and minds. We can take this opportunity to be as effusive as Elizabeth, as expressive as Mary. Let your Magnificat glorify the Lord so that others may see the blessings in your life.

Grace and peace and joy to you.

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Hope–Second Sunday of Advent 2010

imageMay the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)

One of the great reminders that our observance of Advent brings, is that we have not been left alone to patiently endure until the Lord returns for us. As Paul wrote in the verse that precedes the passage above, every word of the Scriptures was written that we may be encouraged and have hope. Perusing those scriptures we find that we not only have hope from these words, we are surrounded with like hope in our family, community and church. We are both recipients and providers of this hope, from and to other Christians. Together, we look to the flame that edges closer to His coming with each week and together, we await his second arrival.

Paul uses the scriptures to remind the reader of a promise from years past that applied to them in that day, and which remains applicable to us in our hour:

“The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in Him.” (15:12).

Jesus, the ‘Son of David’ is that root. He is the source and center of our hope. His life provides the model for our endurance and servanthood to others. Others within the church know the source of our hope. Our calling is to take that hope outside of the church and into the world, living lives that exude such joy and assurance that it sparks the spirit in others to seek out the fount of promise.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (v13)

Grace, peace and hope to you.

image Per Ola Wilberg

Go and Do Likewise…

Mother Mary

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” 

And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed, 
for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 

His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation. 

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.”

Luke 1:45 – 55

Fourth Sunday in Advent ~ Change Comes

image First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:5-10)

The end of Advent brings the beginning of everything else…everything changes because of the single moment in history when Jesus sets aside his crown and comes to walk among us. A single moment…a holy birth…a changed world. God set aside the futility of the old sacrificial system, a set of laws that man could not satisfy in his own power and provided the perfect lamb.

One single moment changed everything…God elected to place the perfect lamb in our midst…He elected to become the perfect sacrifice for those who would believe and obey…the single Christmas moment changes everything.

Has it changed you?

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Advent Benediction – Little Town of Bethlehem

For the final Sunday of this year’s Advent season, my benediction looks toward the tiny town of Bethlehem for the momentous event that changed everything for history and for you and me…

imageimage tbass effendi

Bethlehem Benediction [Micah 5:2-5]

Out of tiny Bethlehem came the Brightest Morning Star,

the Glory of God,

The Son, our Savior.

Out of tiny Bethlehem came the Shepherd of our flock,

He stands in the strength of the Lord,

He stands in the majesty of the name of God.

He is our salvation and security.

Be blessed in the majestic name of Jesus,

Son of God,

Holy Shepherd,

Holy One of Israel,

Your Salvation and Strength.

Be a blessing to others though you may feel as tiny as Bethlehem.

Show the Love of Jesus.

Live as the Son lived.

Help others find the Shepherd, The Holy One, Their Salvation and Strength.

May the blessing be birthed in you.


O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie;

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, The silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting light;

The hopes and fears of all the years, Are in thee tonight.

Phillips Brooks/Lewis Redner

Third Sunday in Advent : Rejoice!

image Our Advent watch comes closer and closer to the glorious day on which the Lord came to redeem His beloved by His sacrifice. Isaiah’s prophecy is often read during this celebration and the praise songs of chapter 12 give us the perfect words to exclaim our worship. The pair of psalms is a wonderful call and response to our hearts. First we rehearse the great gift of salvation we are given by our God alone,

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.

The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. (v2)

With this promise and truth embedded in our hearts our attitudes turn to joy. We are freed from having to enable our own salvation. We do not have to work for it – we cannot work for it. God alone is the source of our salvation and Jesus alone is our Savior. This truth becomes a well from which we can draw living water into our lives on a moment by moment basis. Whenever we feel dry, the well is available. We can draw up the bucket of God’s strength and our joy will be revived.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

In that day you will say:

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;

make known among the nations what he has done, and prolcaim that his name is exalted.

Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;

let this be known to all the world.

Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you. (vv 3-6)

Say it. Shout it. Tell the world, the Lord has Come!

Image by jeffjose

Advent Benediction of Rejoicing


As Mary knew, may you also be blessed to know,

the joy of anticipation, the joy the change to come.


The prophets shouted God’s promise,

‘Be glad and rejoice with all your heart;

The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy.’


You are blessed in knowing that the Bright Morning Star,

would come,

did come,

and will come.


Be blessed, community of faith,

rejoice and share the news and the light of the Star!

God’s greatest blessings on you.



Image Coach O