Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas b (Light - effect the world)

Christmas b (Light – effect the world)
December 25, 2011                                  John 1:1-14

John 1:1 What do you think of? What does “WORD” mean?
First Sunday of Advent: Hope & importance of waiting
Second Sunday of Advent: Love, and the need to prepare
Third Sunday of Advent: Joy, and our call to bear witness
Fourth Sunday of Advent: Peace, in the face of change
Today is Christmas! LIGHT, darkness cannot overcome!

In the Beginning
          John’s Gospel draws our attention beyond the other gospel writers: who take us through the genealogy or the descriptive narrative. John takes us all the way to Creation.
·        Genesis begins with an illustration of dark & light
·        God saw that it was Good! (Gen 1:4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.)
·        John draws us back to that and says:
o   Jesus has always been
o   Jesus is GOOD
o   Jesus overcomes darkness

Word (In the beginning was the word… the Word became flesh)
“The Word” is taken from the Greek word Logos.
Ø  Logos is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion.
1.       Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason”,
2.       It became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus (ca. 535–475 BC), who used the term for a principle of order and knowledge.
v  Ancient philosophers used the term in different ways:
·   The sophists used the term to mean discourse,
·   Aristotle applied the term to refer to "reasoned discourse" or "the argument" in the field of rhetoric.
·   The Stoic philosophers identified the term with the divine animating principle pervading the Universe.
v  After Judaism came under Helenistic influence, Philo (ca. 20 BC-AD 50) adopted the term into Jewish philosophy.
v The Gospel of John identifies the Logos, through which all things are made, as divine and further identifies Jesus as the incarnation of the Logos. (Wikipedia – Logos)

When I read John 1:1…
          I immediately think of the written “word” or (Scripture)
The bible is beautiful, transformational, and foundational – but is static…!
o   Do we short circuit the foundational truth of our God Incarnate – when we limit ourselves to the written word?

Read John 1:1-14 from “The Voice”
Engage the Word – transform your understanding to incorporate the living, incarnate relationship found in John 1:14
So the Word became (flesh)human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. We have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

The Word is not stagnant. It is active – participatory, inviting!
          The Word, The Voice, is God Incarnate; Relational!!!

In our modern understanding of Light vs Darkness:
§  How does darkness affect us?
§  Is darkness a tool of oppression?

·        People of the Bible time (and still millions of ours):
-      Literally understood darkness + lived in it daily.
-      The United Nations estimates that 1.5 billion people across the globe still live without electricity, including 85 percent of Kenyans.(Sustainable Energy for All)
-       Non-Profit – putting solar lights in the African villages
o   Litteracy and education increase!
o   Rape & STD’s decrease.
§  LIGHT overpowers darkness!

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 1:14 The Voice… chose to become human and live surrounded by his creations… Undeniable splendor enveloped Him-the one true Son of God-evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth.

BE.Hopeful  BE.Loving    BE.Joyful     BE.Peacful
BE.the LIGHT of the Christ!

As you go, BE the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden—shine the light of Christ. Go and Love!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advent 4b (PEACE - Do not be Afraid!)

Advent 4b (Peace –Do not be Afraid)
December 18, 2011                                  Luke 1:26-38

Read Luke 1:26-38
Change – How do you deal with change?
§  What kinds of change have you experienced lately?
§  What change was easy?
§  What change was hard?

First Sunday of Advent: Hope & importance of waiting
Second Sunday of Advent: Love, and the need to prepare
Third Sunday of Advent: Joy, and our call to bear witness
Fourth week of Advent: Peace, in the face of change

How has God Incarnate – Changed your LIFE?

Angels:  In Luke 1:30 & 1:13 “do not be afraid”
Why are they always saying “do not be afraid”?
          Are they scary?
          Is their very presence so different – it causes alarm?
          Are they bringing bad news?
          Are they bringing good news?
          Are they bringing a new and different message?

Do Not Be Afraid:   Seen all throughout Scripture.
·        Angel’s words “Do not be afraid” seem often to prescribe a coming birth.
Gen 15:1-6 The Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”

Birthing: Luke 1:35 (NLT) The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 

When we think of Birthing: We think of the total change of life.
§  We tell “soon to be” parents: cherish this time.
§  Get all the sleep you can…
Same use of “come UPON you” is found in

Acts 1:8 (NIV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

What happens in Acts?
Chapter 1:
o   Jesus meets with his disciples for the last time – and then is lifted to heaven.
o   Before going – tells them the Holy Spirit will come on them and they will be his witnesses.
Chapter 2:
o   The day of Pentecost.
o   The Holy Spirit comes and changes everything. People are able to speak in different languages.

God is always doing something new with his people:
Drawn to think of Isaiah 43:16-21 (specifically vs 19)
19 See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness  and streams in the wasteland.

We too – like Mary are provided the opportunity:
Ø  To give birth to the growing love of God in this world.
Ø  To give birth to the growing light of Christ.

v In the chaos of the Advent Season, in Christmas,
v  In the chaos of life, In the chaos & uncertainty of change
Ø  May we not be afraid, and may we find the Peace of God that passes all understanding

How has God Incarnate – Changed your LIFE?
What is being birthed – that you hear the angel saying: “do not be afraid?”
          In your patience – BE.Hopeful
          As you prepare – BE.Loving
          When you witness – BE.Joyful
          Throughout the changes of life – BE.Peacful

As you go, take courage from these words from Christ: "I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)  Go and Love!

Advent 3b (JOY - bearing witness)

Advent 3b (Joy – bearing witness)
December 11, 2011                                  John  1:6-8, 19-28

Song: “I’ve got the JOY JOY JOY JOY…”

Share Testimonies
          – How has God brought Joy to your life?

Memory Verse1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (tniv) Rejoice always. 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

First Sunday of Advent: Hope & importance of waiting
Second Sunday of Advent: Love, and the need to prepare
Third week we’re looking at: Joy, and our call to bear witness

v In the Old Testament there are many occasions for joy: 
* marriage    * the birth of children     * good harvests
* recovery from sickness     * and defeat of enemies

v Greatest source of JOY = God’s action on behalf of his people.
The prophet is a joyful witness to God’s GRACE!
§  And his joy has a social dimension
¨      not only for the poor and oppressed in Israel
¨      but for all peoples
John’s Gospel
Includes many of the themes found in the other Gospel accounts about John the Baptist.
          He is perceived by some as an Elijah figure.
          He is making straight the way of the Lord
          He prepares for the coming of the ONE

There is, however, one distinctive theme
John 1:6-7 God sent a man, John the Baptist,[a] 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony.

The Theme: WITNESS
v The word for “testimony” or “witness” in Greek is martyria
·        Which we derive our word “martyr.”
v The term evokes the setting of a law court.
·        In such a setting the witness gives a testimony and speaks the truth.
v In his witness John the Baptist refuses to make himself the center of attention.
§  Instead, he rejoices as a witness to Jesus.

Question: “WHO ARE YOU?”
·        John Answers: “I am not the messiah.
o   I am not the light… But part of the light.
o    I am not the messiah…
§  But I know him – and he’s here.

When the world asks you: Who are you?
v What is your response?
§  How are you participating in the redemption of the world?
§  How are you participating in bringing JOY?
§  Are you prepared – to give account – of your JOY?
Memory Verse1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (tniv) Rejoice always. 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

v In the New Testament (and today) we have many reasons for JOY:  * marriages  * birth of children
* good health   * recovery from sickness  *employment...

In your patience – Be.Hopeful
As you prepare – Be.Loving
As you bear witness to God’s bountiful Grace – Be.Joyful

As you go, May the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and sould and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful! (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.)  Go and Love!

Advent 2b (LOVE - Just the beginning)

Advent 2b (Love – Just the beginning)
December 4, 2011                    Mark 1:1-8

Growing up – played Basketball
            Practiced free-throws
            Jumped rope – to jump higher and faster
            Ran lines to be quick from point to point.

Now – Running a marathon:
o   Training schedule
o   Wearing the right shoes, shirts, shorts
o   Have to find time to run throughout the week
o   Can’t just show up and expect to do well
o   Have to prepare accordingly
·         In all you do – you have to prepare.

Last week talked about:
            Hope and the importance of waiting
This Week our emphasis is on:
             Love, and the need to prepare

It’s out of God’s love for us that he sent his son:
John 3:16
Ø  It is out of our love of God that we prepare…
Ø  It is out of our love of others that we prepare…

Prepare your hearts for the coming of the Messiah
Isaiah 40:1-5
v  “Comfort my people,
v  Listen to my prophets
v  Make a straight highway, Fill in the valleys
v  Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places.
Ø  Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,

2 Timothy 4:1-5   
 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction
5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

The question is:
How are you Preparing your hearts for the coming of Christ?
            How are you preparing for the coming of the Messiah
            How are you preparing for the coming of the incarnate?

How are you Preparing to bring Christ, the “Light”, to the World?
2 Peter 3:14-15 14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. 15 And remember, the Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved.

Unlike the other Gospel writers:
·         Mark doesn’t list out the family tree –
·         or the nativity story.
·         He starts with:
Mark 1:1-3 This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.[a] It began 2 just as the prophet Isaiah had written:
   “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
      and he will prepare your way.[b]
 3 He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
   ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
      Clear the road for him!’[
 Mark gets a lot of flack for rushing through the story.
Ø  Leaving out key details
Ø  Just giving the quick version
·         But he believed the Return was soon and that we all need to prepare.
·         We all need to act swiftly.
·         We have no time to waste.

Run. Train. Prepare.
Trim your “wicks”
Get out your lighter
            Take the light of Christ to the world!

As you go, Prepare your hearts for the incarnate! Go and Love!