Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas a Season of Time and Light

Time is such an important part of our human experience. We are bound by time and controlled by time. Yet God is not controlled by time since He exists outside of time. Rather time is controlled and planned by God the Father. The Bible says that “when the right time came, God sent his Son {into the world}. A woman gave birth to him, and he came under the control of God's laws. God sent him to pay for the freedom of those who were controlled by these laws so that we would be adopted as his children.” Galatians 4:4-5 (GW)

So when the time was right the light of God (or perhaps I should say God the Light) entered the world and his light became the light of men.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. … The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-5; 9-14 (NIV)

I am reminded of this ancient medieval Christmas prayer at Communion: "...through the mystery of the Incarnate Word the light of God's brightness has shone anew on the eyes of our mind so that, while we see God visibly through Jesus Christ, we may be seized by love for the invisible things of God."

(For those of you wondering where this prayer is found it was translated from the Latin in the Gregorian sacramentary as found in Jean Deshusses, Le sacramentaire grégorian, ses principales formes d’après les plus ancient manuscripts, Spicilegium Friburgense 16 (Fribourg, 1979), pp. 98-106. It's from the preface for the main mass for the morning of Christmas at St. Peter's. Thanks Lester for the reference!)

To each of you may the Light and Life of Christmas make Himself real to you in a deeper more meaningful way this Christmas Season!

Pastor Val

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Welcome to the Murk!

As a young believer I always felt that walking in God’s will would be easier if I could just get rid of self (fat chance!). I also believed that the more mature in Christ I became the clearer God’s will and path for my life would be.

What I have experienced is quite the opposite. Now I know that there are those of you who question my spiritual maturity and I have to admit some days I question it, too. I feel like Paul when he describes his life to the believers in Rome as it is recorded in the letter he wrote entitled Romans.

In Romans chapter seven Paul tells of the struggle he has in knowing what he should to do and yet struggling to do it. He also relates how difficult it is sometimes not to do what he shouldn’t do.

If this sounds like the struggle you go through from time to time you are not alone!

Maybe you thought that if only you could attain some lofty position spiritually you would be able to see God’s will more clearly, as though you are standing on a mountain top overlooking the rest of your life. But what we often see is fog, mist, haze and uncertainty.

A friend of mine following God’s clear leading launched a church in Colorado a year or so ago. In a recent conversation he told me that he felt like he had launched a boat out into a lake that had a murky bottom. He had hoped that by launching out into the deep that the water would gain some clarity. Instead he found that the water seemed to be even murkier!

I think that as a young believer God grants each of us more clarity as to His will and plans for our lives. But as we mature our way seems to grow hazier. We struggle to see clearly the path that has been laid out for us. I think God does this because He wants to teach us trust and dependence on Him.

Psalm 119:95 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Unlike the halogen beams of today, the ancient lamps that the writer of this psalm is referring to produced a rather smoky light that didn’t cast a very large amount of light. Usually it was just enough to guide your next step. God promises to direct our paths but not provide us all of the directions ahead of time, like mapquest.

Does it cause us worry and consternation to see so little of the future? Yes, yes it does! We all wish we had a better grasp on our future. But God is trying to teach us to continue to trust in Him. His plan is perfect (even if we don’t think so from time to time).

Remember God is more interested in building character then He is in providing you comfort (this side of eternity)!

So welcome to the murk!

Pastor Val