A Season to Change

Isaiah 11.pngA shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with the righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give with justice he will give decision for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.        Isaiah 11:1-5                          I will baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, who sandals, I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirt.                                              Matthew 3:11

Once again, we have entered into the season of advent, anticipating the birth of Jesus and hoping that soon very soon that the promise of peace on earth would become true, but can we change our own lives if not the world. As we stop and look into the manager of a tiny little baby perhaps we can say to ourselves what does this all mean. We can pick up a newspaper, watch the television to take notice and to say where is this peace on earth? So much violence in our world and at times so much hate, where is this love that people seems to be talking about especially that we seem to hear it more during this season. As we begin to prepared for this season in many ways such as baking with our children or grandchildren, going shopping in a crowded mall where at times people can be a little crazy, okay you may be thinking they can be nuts at times, the beautiful lights we all see, and the music that is playing on our car radio, and even the movies on television which reminds all of us this season. I personally love the smell of a fresh Christmas tree in my home, which reminds me of the season. Are all the different traditions that we have in our own families does this tell others and also us that we are ready to make a change in our own lives? Are we showing others of what we do or say that we are followers of Jesus, we are his disciples. Even thro this is a beautiful season there are so many people who are hurting this time of year and need to hear about the hope we have in Jesus. Christmas is a profoundly beautiful season, but for some it also highlights the losses, griefs, and heartbreaks in their lives. In Isaiah 11, the prophet Isaiah speaks of a ruler who would be a descendant of Jesse. Jesse was the father of ancient Israel’s great King David. This descendant would rule with true justice and true faith, and he would establish true peace. This peace would be so great that even wild animals would be able to lie down next to one another and even a child will lead them. This descendant would also become a standard for people throughout the world. And, this descendant would be sought by people throughout the world. As Isaiah talks about this future King, he is telling us that he will be able to look into the hearts of people and judge based on the truth. The poor and oppressed will find a champion in him. This ruler to come will stand for justice and will impose punishment of evildoers. This King will not be clothed in royal purple or anything so fancy, his garments will be righteousness and faithfulness. As we heard from the gospel of Matthew we come to learn that John the Baptize was the one to prepared the way of the coming of the Lord. In most households when someone says, “Company’s coming! Everyone works and clean up the entire house in preparation of their guest. The gospel of Matthew has John proclaiming, “Messiah is coming! But do not go and clean up your house. Instead, mend your heart! Clear your lives of any obstacle that would hinder his coming.” Housework requires the right tools to use. The type of tools John has in mind are repentance and baptism. Repentance comes from the Greek word metanoia, which means change of mind, to change one’s life completely. Repentance is like driving down the wrong road, then turning around and going in the opposite direction. Baptism is the symbol that one has repented and been cleansed of sin. This was important to John’s ministry that he became known as John the Baptizer. How do we, as followers of Jesus Christ, return the purpose of Christmas to the focus of Jesus? How do we prepare for his birth and for the second coming, it is not by having parties, decorating our houses, and giving gifts wrapped in fancy paper, but instead by giving ourselves anew over to the way of Christ? I suppose giving ourselves over to Jesus Christ begins with God’s gift of grace to us. It is something we feel inside. Some call it a moment of conversion. Others call it baptism by the Holy Spirit. John Wesley the founder of Methodist called it assurance. Maybe during the season of Advent, we could call it the Spirit of Christ coming into our hearts. But whatever we call it, we will know when it happens to us, because it does cause us to confess our sins and turn ourselves away, over and over, from the trappings of this world so that we can reorient ourselves back toward Christ.

Grace and Peace yo You My Friends

 

Welcoming The Stranger

Hebrews 13 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.    (Hebrews 13:1-2)

I grew up in a large family, my parents had seven children and I was the middle child of the seven. Since I was a teenager when my mom had died from cancer I don’t seem to remember a lot of things about my mom, and yes at times it drives me crazy. However, one of the things I do remember even thro we were poor whenever anyone drop by our home their was always room for one more at our dinner table, and somehow a miracle that we seem to have enough food to go around for that meal. Regardless of how little we had, we were always taught to share with others, and that is what we did as children and that is something I still do today. As a woman now and married if I ever know someone who is celebrating any holidays alone, I would always make it a point to invite that person or family to stop by and share a meal with my family as well.  I can honestly say that I am a people person, I can always find something to talk about even to strangers especially about my faith to others.

The church I attend our pastor is always talking to all of us about hospitality, and when he saw me how I would approach a stranger and greet them, I somehow became the person in charge of hospitality for our church. For me I always believe that Pastor Doug just made this all up, until I was searching the scriptures for myself to be able to share an evening meditation at my church, that I came across this message from Hebrews as well as from the book of 1 Peter 4:8-9 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Wow, my mouth had just drop wide open when I read both of these scriptures. I share with others it’s not a Pastor Doug saying, it is something we are called to do as Christians. Anytime you come across anyone not only the people you know,but also the stranger, offer them a smile, a kind word, just like the scriptures tell us we will never know if we are offering kindness to an angel. Doing these simple task doesn’t  cost us anything, we never know the difficult trials that someone is going thru right at that very moment, loss of a job, health issues, or anything else, so a kind word goes a long way. As adults we need to take a good lesson from children, put children all together in a room, they don’t need to know anyone at that very moment. A child would not judge others like adults, they don’t see colors to be prejudice against someone for any reason, it does not matter if another child is in a wheelchair, or disable in anyway, all they all see is a child to play with, and all they offer to one another is a smile and kindness.

I will end with this scripture for you to read, it comes from the book of Isaiah 11:6  The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a LITTLE CHILD, will lead them. We must become like little children to enter into the kingdom of heaven, just think about it.

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends