Monday, June 17, 2013

understated incarnation 1 Kings 19:1-15, Luke 8:26-39

When Jesus walked on earth God's kingdom came with even if it didn't appear so. Most people saw a man as they looked at Jesus; but those who needed him most, the hurting and the lost, knew there was something more to Jesus.

Luke says when Jesus traveled through the country of the Gerasenes a naked daemon possessed man came towards Him.

What business do you have messing with me? You’re Jesus, Son of the High God, but don’t give me a hard time!” (The man said this because Jesus had started to order the unclean spirit out of him.) Luke 8:28 The Message
A man who most needed Jesus met him and knew who he was. He was the Son of God most High. Maybe to others he looked ordinary; but the hurting man knew Jesus as the one who came to bring healing. Maybe instead of expecting God to come with legions of angels we should look and see when He's come incarnate into our world. Dietrich Bonhoeffer observed,
When God's Son took on flesh, he truly and bodily took on, out of pure grace, our being, our nature, ourselves. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Life Together page 24
Believers often experience God working in smaller ways than expected. Perhaps this is really God's nature. When we need God the most we see him come--and when we are sure of ourselves; when we mistakenly believe we don't need a savior we don't see him moving in our lives. The Good News is that God is always present--incarnate in our world. When the prophet Elijah met God it wasn't in the rock splitting wind, the earthquake, or consuming fire; rather God came in still calm 1 Kings 19:12.

The incarnation conceals Jesus' power and glory. He comes unexpected today in the church, His body, serving mutually with those in need. In an interview Father Greg Boyle reflects about how God moves through gang bangers he's worked with in Homeboy Industries. Boyle reflects on the mutuality of God moving and changing lives his and the gang members seeking to start over. God works in and through us. He comes in the care and concern of others. God comes in the still small voice, often surprising us by working quietly in our lives.
Peace, and thanks for reading. John.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Finding mercy and forgiveness Luke 7:36-8:3

Jesus is open to hurting sinners looking for a fresh start and renewed identity as a child of God. Others might not be open to those in need of mercy, but Jesus is open.

In Jesus the hurting meet mercy. Luke writes of a woman, a known sinner, who sought out Jesus Luke 7:37. She found the teacher at dinner and knelt down. Her tears flowed bathing his feet Luke 7:38. The man hosting the dinner was smug. He though to himself, if Jesus knew who she was, Luke 7:39. It's dangerous to sit with secret thoughts and judgments--it's risky because our inner monologues are fully revealed to God. Jesus responded to the man's thoughts with a question of his own about forgiveness Luke 7:41-42.

As Simon sat smug the woman worshiped Jesus bathing his feet with her tears and anointing them with oil. She, Jesus said, was forgiven Luke 7:48. The others at the table doubted but Jesus gave her a blessing of peace Luke 7:49-50.

A wise teacher, Gerhard Forde, taught that God could do the most for those who needed the most help. Those who sit smug, with no need of a savior don't receive as much from God as this forgiven woman. She knew what she'd done and what others thought of her. And through forgiveness Jesus reclaimed her as God's beloved daughter. Those who stay apart from God remaining in sin don't know the forgiveness and new life that is waiting for them. Those who return like this hurting woman will be likewise blessed as they turn from their old life and walk into a new life in Christ.
Peace and thanks for reading, John

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Death Defeating 1 Kings 17:8-24 Luke 7:11-17

Broken people in need of divine intervention have the greatest opportunity to see God move. Why? because God can do more when you can do the least yourself. Those who need little or nothing from God won't see His full power displayed. But those who are broken can see God's glory unfold in their lives.

2 single moms knew God's life giving power in tough times 1 Kings 17:8-24 Luke 7:11-17. Both widows hard circumstances were getting worse. Both moms lost sons way before their time. Death always shocks us. A child's death shakes our core. We assume the world follows a natural order. These 2 moms lives didn't go as assumed.

Don't be tempted to blame these women for their circumstances. Maybe you think, if they just had a little more "faith" or a little more "holiness" they wouldn't have suffered. Don't even go there. The faithfulness of these moms wasn't the issue. One opened her home to God's prophet sharing the last of her worldly goods with him 1 Kings 17:8-16. The other met Jesus as her son's body was on the way to the cemetery Luke 7:11-17.

Maybe you've been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Maybe you are in a fix right now today. Where ever the place of need is God can act. Maybe you look back with amazement at a moment when you thought things were too broken even for God make things better. Does this sound at all like you or maybe where you've been?

  • exasperated
  • at the end of your rope
  • sick and tired of being sick and tired
  • hitting rock bottom
The church is called to be light for the world. We are called to carry the promises of God into lives of pain and hurt. Jesus never said we should just wait for the hurting to come in the doors of the church. Faith holds on to the promises of God made known in Jesus Christ as we reach out together. It's as the church, as the communion of saints, that we remember together who God is in the hard times and the good times. It's through our shared life as sisters and brothers that we hear the promise of God's love again and share it. Its a gift to share the Word in faith reminding one another of God's goodness. It's a great time to be church meeting people who've been kicked hard in life with the promise of God's love. It's a good time to speak of the second chances God gives even in the face of death.

These two hurting moms watched as their sons were raised from dead. They watched as breath came back and blood flowed again. On the way to Jesus rising were other resurrections, other times when God exercised dominion over death. The Bible's high point is always Jesus resurrection; but God's death defying power broke in at other times in people's lives even before Jesus rose. These moments revealed who God was, is, and will be.

Thanks be to God for the moments when His death defying power breaks in reordering our world and our lives. AMEN.
Peace to you and thanks for reading, John