"Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him." - Matthew 3:13
When Jesus enters into Jerusalem, he is baptized again. This time by his suffering on the cross. He descends into hell and sets loose those who were held captive. Then on Easter he exits by way of the resurrection. This is our road map.
Jesus says, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."
Jesus speaks of doing particular things; feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, befriending the stranger, clothing those exposed to weather or social cruelty, caring for the sick, and visiting the imprisoned. Our opportunities to be Christ-like will come in the form of specific people with individual needs.
When we do Christmas, it is very tempting to skip the story of King Herod's murdering the children of the Bethlehem region. I remember one adroit fool suggesting that we could skip Matthew 2:13-23 in our Sunday lections because the event discribed doesn't appear in the secular histories of the time and could have been made up by Matthew. The only secular histories we have from this period are pro-Roman and okay with Herod's "lock innocents in cages" type of politics.
"Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly." - Matthew 1:9
We, like Joseph, tend to consider the opinions of our neighbors higher than our faith when we are faced with a moral choice. We criticize unwed teens, but do little to make our highschools better enviroments for relational growth. Further, the church does little to transform those neighborhoods where a normal and safe childhood is an impossibility.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear... - Isaiah 11:3
It is possible for a roll of film to go a decade or two without being developed. During that time, the images are invisible. Any attempt to see what is on the film results in erasing the image. Only by carefully processing the film is the photographer’s art brought to light. Often things are hidden away until it is the right time for them to be revealed. A baby is hidden in womb until it is born...
Jesus has a different definition of leadership. It is for him to work with others so that together good things happen. He has commitment to service. He can be the king of love without a crown of gold. Even his thorns and painful death remind us that life is not about the people we lord over but the humility we live under.
"Take courage, all you people of the land. For I am with you," says the LORD of hosts.
In this modern era, it takes courage to speak about the reality of Heaven. Our bodies are mortal, from the moment of our birth we begin to die. Yet, our culture idealizes youth and riducules those who are content with the aging process. Often we are told that believing in heaven is silly, only a pie in the sky.
"Today salvation has come to this house" --for Jesus came to save the lost
Being short – as in having less money than you need at the moment – and being up a tree, are expressions we use for those awkward or dangerous moments when our own stupidity is about the be rewarded. What about you? Are there personal potholes that you fall into? Traits that work against your desire to be on top of life?
"All who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." -Jesus
In matters of religion, we should expect reversals. Those who start out well, don’t always end well. Getting into heaven is not a matter of joining the right church or developing the right theology or holding on to traditional values, whatever those might be.
I think we have to value compassion, character, and the heart for justice as core biblical values. If we advocate for these things consistently, then entering into the political fray is both necessary and within the pastor’s role. We must support politicians who: 1)Have actually made things with their own hands, or brought healing to the sick, or acted against their own interests for justice to be done...