December 27, 2012
It’s the end of the year, a time in which many look back and ask “how’d I do?” There’s nothing wrong with a thoughtful review of one’s accomplishments – or lack thereof. But it’s equally important to take stock of the quality of one’s hope. If it’s small, or even missing, it’s time to find and expand it. For hope is fundamental to your progress.
Christmas time is often called the season of hope for it reminds us of Immanuel, God’s promise to be with us. Just because the holiday is now over, there’s no reason to think hope is also gone. Immanuel is forever!
Jesus said of himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) He was describing the action of Immanuel or the Christ, which guarantees ready access to God at all times, even today. This holy promise never lapses, never picks and chooses who will benefit by it. Just as it enabled Jesus to bless all who came to him for healing and salvation, so it continues to work today. The Apostle Paul explained it this way: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil 4:13) That Christlike strength is available to all.
Mary Baker Eddy, a 19th century theologian who founded the religion to which this website is devoted wrote “The fact that Truth overcomes both disease and sin reassures depressed hope.” (Science and Health p. 420) Imagine that: the solid presence of Immanuel lifting you and me out of all the ills that flesh is heir to. That’s certainly worth hoping for!
Let us go forward then, claiming a reason for hope and trusting the everpresence of the Christ to reward that expectation.
May your new year be hopeful!
December 24, 2012
Isn’t it lovely to know that the celebration of the coming of the Christ is not about sect or denomination, nor is it about vicinity or era. When the angels shared the good news of the birth of Jesus, they promised it was to be for everyone. And the shepherds joyfully “made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” (see Luke, chapter 2)
Let us too, be generous in telling the story of great affection, salvation, and blessing this season stands for. The Apostle Paul says that in doing so, “we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Cor. 1:4)
Sometimes we want to shout the good news from the roof tops. Other times, the awe we feel can only be expressed in humble quietude. Phillips Brooks beloved hymn explains the latter. Well over one hundred years ago, he wrote: “How silently, how silently, The wondrous gift is given; So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven. No ear may hear his coming, But in this world of sin, Where meekness will receive him, still The dear Christ enters in.”
Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift. (2 Cor. 9:15)
Merry Christmas to you all.
December 20, 2012
This season of Immanuel says otherwise. The Bible is filled with many reassuring and clear passages about God’s love for the world – and all of His creation – for any of us to give in to concerns about some kind of impending destruction. In fact, the Scriptures state that God sent His son to make His love and salvation plain eternally. (see John 3:16)
The prophecy in the book of Isaiah about Immanuel (a Hebrew word meaning “God with us”) was given to comfort and sustain the early Israelites. (see chapter 7, verse 14) Jesus’ birth fulfilled that holy prediction, not only for his time but for all time. He once said of himself, “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (see John 16:33) By this, he didn’t mean he was destroying the world, but destroying its pull on him. The Apostle Paul explained it this way: “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (see Romans 12:2)
Jesus confirmed this when he said, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (see John 5:30) And he reiterated his mission this way, “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (see Luke 9:56)
Doesn’t it follow then, that the comforting promises of the Bible, and of Jesus’ own life are still valid today? Still worth celebrating? Still worth practicing – today and every day? Look for signs of Immanuel, for God with you. They are everywhere, in every moment and place. But especially look for them in your heart. You will know that you are safe eternally.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Eph 3:20,21
December 15, 2012
Tragedy makes us ask, “Why would God allow this awful thing to happen?” When bad things occur, we naturally wonder what went wrong and who is to blame. And where was God? But maybe that’s not the right question.
The Gospel of John records this powerful statement: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
God’s son came so that we could be saved: saved from fear, saved from anger, saved from sin. That saving Christ is here right now, turning our thoughts of sorrow, confusion, and revenge into promises of hope, redemption, and eternal life.
Let the Christ speak to your heavy hearts. Let the light of the world shine on you and all, and dissolve the darkness that seems to engulf us. Let yourself be loved and lifted by the presence of God’s only begotten son.
Fill your own thought with the healing Christ and then pass that love and light on. Do your part to redeem the tragedy. And trust that God – and His beloved son – are doing theirs.
December 13, 2012
Sure, Christmas trees are covered with them. But they’re more than just pretty ornaments: they are indicators of the season. Afterall, it was a brilliant celestial light and a heavenly host which heralded the nativity of Jesus Christ. Both shepherds and wise men, the meek and the mighty, followed and obeyed their guidance – and were rewarded with a promise of salvation for all.
The star, and the magi who followed it, are only mentioned in Matthew’s gospel (see chapter 2). Scholars and scientists have, for centuries, attempted to validate and verify its existence, but nothing has been proved for certain. And yet it still serves as a beacon to those who follow the Christ today. It’s bright beam stands for the enduring hope of redemption from sin and suffering, even from death itself. Isaiah prophesied, “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (see chapter 60, verse 3)
The angelic couriers, delivering God’s message of the dawning of the Savior, spoke one-on-one to Joseph and Mary. And in a great multitude they broke forth in glorious song to the humble hearts, who were waiting and listening, and ready to follow the happy proclamation. Those guides from God are still declaring today, the joyous news that mankind is loved.
So, stars and angels foretell a story of majesty and quietude, one which means even more here and now, than it did millennia ago. Let us learn the lesson of those symbols of Christ’s coming and prove that their prophecy is a present reality: the Messiah is alive and well and living in our hearts.
December 7, 2012
This is the season of Advent – of the coming of Christ – celebrated in many Christian denominations around the world. The ritual, the pageantry, all richly portend Jesus’ birth and point to the salvation that event made plain. But even though this time of year is especially set aside to reverently consider the dawning of the Christ, it is even more important to reflect on what that arrival means for you and me.
Jesus’ birth has been recorded as occurring at a particular time in history. But he said of the Christ which he expressed, “Before Abraham was, I am.” 1 His eternal nature, therefore, can’t be measured as starting at some point in time, but instead, as here for all time, past, present, and future.
Jesus brought to light that universality in his healing ministry and he repeatedly indicated that he expected us to follow him and do his works. He said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” 2 “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” 3 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” 4 And finally, he instructed, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”5
Ultimately, Jesus prepared us, both through his words and his example, to ensure that the Christ-spirit is ever-present, even here today. He said “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” 6
Doesn’t it seem then, that the best way to truly celebrate Advent, is to do as he did? To follow his directives? To forgive, to bless, to heal?
Let us turn this holy season into a divine advent-ure of loving him so much, that we can’t help but follow his commandments. Let us go into all the world and have our lives be his gospel preached. Let us love one another.
Merry Christmas to you all.
1 John 8:58
2 Mark 16:15
3 Matt. 10:8
4 Luke 10:27
5 John 14:15
6 John 14:12