Fourth Sunday In Advent

love.pngOn our journey to Christmas we have lit the candles of Hope, Peace, and Joy on our Advent Wreath. We relight them now to remind us of the hope that Christ will come again, bringing everlasting peace and joy. This is the fourth Sunday of Advent so we light the last candle of Love. To a world of empires and despots, war and greed, grief and apathy, we proclaim that love is strong enough to overcome all evil and that compassion is more powerful than fear. The angel Gabriel reassured Mary “nothing will be impossible with God”. The power of love is the power to overcome what we think is impossible. Love tells us God doesn’t want our excuses for why we dare not try, but our faithfulness to do. As we light the candle of Love, we remember that God so loves this world that he sent his only son, Jesus to save us. We do so in honor of those who have shown us how to love even when doing so is not convenient or sensible. We remember those who show us that compassion–unconditional love–is central to a Christian’s life.

Let us pray:

All loving God, break into our world and our hearts again. Magnify your love in us until it overflows to our neighbors. Renew our faith to relive the wonder of your love. Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you that we may shine the light of your compassionate love. Come, God of Love. Amen

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

Luke 1a.pngIn the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin. pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings. you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever, his kingdom will never end. How will this be, Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called, “the Son of God.” Even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. ” May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.                                                Luke 1:26-38

We have here an account of the mother of our Lord; though we are not to pray to her, yet we ought to praise God for her. Christ must be born miraculously. The angel’s address means only, Hail, thou that art the especially chosen and favored of the Most High, to attain the honor Jewish mothers have so long desired. This wondrous salutation and appearance troubled Mary. The angel then assured her that she had found favor with God, and would become the mother of a son whose name she should call Jesus, the Son of the Highest, one in a nature and perfection with the Lord God. JESUS! the name that refreshes the fainting spirits of humbled sinners; sweet to speak and sweet to hear, Jesus, a Savior! We know not his riches and our own poverty, therefore we run not to him; we perceive not that we are lost and perishing, therefore a Savior is a word of little relish. Were we convinced of the huge mass of guilt that lies upon us, and the wrath that hangs over us for it, ready to fall upon us, it would be our continual thought, Is the Savior mine? And that we might find him so, we should trample on all that hinders our way to him. Mary’s reply to the angel was the language of faith and humble admiration, and she asked no sign for the confirming her faith. Without controversy, great was the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, 1 Timothy 3:16. Beyond all questions, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world was taken up in glory.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

John The Baptist Birth Foretold

Luke 1.pngIn the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s  division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him, “Do not ne afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of their parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Zechariah asked the angel, How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years. The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not be able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.               Luke 1:5-20

In Biblical times it was a disappointed for a woman not to have her own children and for others to look down upon Elizabeth because she was barred. However, little did they know of or anyone else know the plan that was in place by God. The child that was to be born to Elizabeth and Zechariah called John was to be the one chosen to prepared God’s people for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even through they had no children they never doubt that somehow or someway that God would bless them, and that God was the one true God, “The Great I Am” that was told by Moses, and by other prophets. Can you even try to imagine the joy that was in Elizabeth’s heart when she came to realize that she was with child even pass the child bearing years. Jesus’ own words to his disciples later in his life would be, “With man this is impossible, but not with God, all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)  Because regardless of your situation in your life right now at this very moment, all things are possible with God.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends