Have you ever watched a child throw a temper tantrum?
Just watched. The assumption being that you, dear reader, NEVER threw one yourself.
And I’ve wondered this week:
– Who teaches them how to behave this way? What causes this behaviour?
– And why is there such remarkable consistency among kids in how they do them?
I’ve also begun to wonder, do we ever really get past the urge to throw a tantrum once in a while?
What does it take for that to happen?
What do we need to overcome this ranting and raving because we don’t get what we want, or expect, or think we deserve?
Got to thinking about that as I read the story of Mary being visited by the angel, and told that she’s been chosen to be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38).
Most painting I’ve seen of this even show a calm, peace-filled woman in a posture of acceptance.
Then I re-read the text a little more carefully.
And I’m not so sure that it really was all like that.
It reads more like she really struggled at the beginning.
Like she had to overcome some significant obstacles, before getting to the point of being willing and able to say the famous words, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
I wonder if I could say that were my life to take a sudden left-turn?
How about you?
What would it take for you and me to get to the point where we could pray, “Anything, Lord. I’m ready to do anything for you”??
Worth pondering this Advent season?
God’s grace and peace be with you.
These weeks I’m thinking a lot about the sorts of things that have the potential to damage or cripple a person’s faith. Or even the faith of an entire community.
– When it seems like one bit of bad news after another keeps coming from the doctor.
– When we watch a gentle, innocent person victimized in some way.
– When we’re stuck in a trap of poverty – really stuck. And the bills keep flooding in at a rate greater than our ability to deal with them.
– Or living with fallout from the accident.
– Or a family member who is, for whatever reason, such a challenge to live with.
And we wonder – “Why?”
“Why, Lord, does it have to be so?”
“Why so hard?”
“Why no relief?”
When we are truly getting bashed around by the bad things of life, our faith can be busted up pretty badly, too.
It’s something that we continually wonder about.
This Sunday we’ll be digging into the topic at KCRC with
Faithbusters #2…. When Bad Things Happen.
Hope you can join us.
In the meantime, let me say that I am deeply grateful that we’ll be able to tackle the topic in the context of a worship service where we celebrate Holy Communion.
At the table we’ll remember Jesus come to earth as man – his body broken, his blood shed to take away the sin of this world that groans as in childbirth (Romans 8:22).
He is the One who will, one day, make everything new (Revelation 21:5).
And THAT, for me, is the focus I need to keep when thinking about injustice, pain, and so much unexplainable suffering in life.
I want to keep that focus, rather than throwing away my faith.
I want to cling even tighter to a faith that trusts in a God who loves this broken world SO much that he descended into it, becoming part of it, to set in motion eternal heavenly events that will one day set the Cosmos totally free of sin & decay.
And so, whatever else I think and do, I try to remind myself – and want to encourage you, dear reader – that we take our pain, our hard experiences, our struggles – to the cross of Jesus.
Bring them to the place where God became human, and where he experienced the very worst of injustice, of suffering, of weakness, and of death.
It is here, at the Communion Table, where we take part in Christ’s broken body and shed blood that we are deeply confronted with the reality that pain, evil and suffering are so strong, and the hold they have are so deep, that God himself needs to come to deal with it.
Don’t ever say God doesn’t care about pain or suffering or death.
He cared enough to die for it.
When we waver, let’s run as fast as we can to the Table of the Lord.
And there, at the Table, remember:
with the cross comes the resurrection.
Remember what we say at the end of every single worship service?
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
I totally believe that suffering needs an eternal perspective to find a true answer.
And I encourage you to think that way.
Think big picture.
We’ll not ever fully get it figured out.
Not on this side of glory.
But we can trust that, somehow, he will. And does.
God’s grace and peace be with you.
Had an encounter this week which renewed my awareness that we have more influence than we probably realize. That is – we have more influence on the attitude that people may take towards spiritual matters than we first suspect. People will be more or less friendly towards conversations about eternity, God and Jesus depending on how more or less winsome our attitudes and actions are.
For example – our attitudes towards each other. And actions – how we treat each other. When kids and teens witness their parents and older siblings fighting over traditions and interpretations of Scripture, doesn’t it make sense that they quietly begin to close their mind to the idea of becoming an active part of the church?
Perhaps this is what Jesus was concerned about when he prayed to the Heavenly Father, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23)
Or what 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 says: Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live…
Or Romans 2:24 which warns us to be careful about how we live, because if we go around preaching one thing, and then end up living another way, “God’s name is blasphemed among unbelievers because of you.”
Or – what if people don’t see or hear from us at all?
What if we live in isolation from the rest of North Grenville? Then those who have never heard about Christ, except as a swear word, won’t have a clue of what a life shaped by the love of Jesus might look like. And won’t be drawn to consider it for themselves. How sad!
There’s a song that was popular some years ago… probably more years ago than I care to consider (they say time moves quicker as you get older…. yikes!):
You’re the only Jesus some will ever see.
You’re the only word of life some will ever hear.
So let them see in you the One in whom
Is all they’ll ever need.
You’re the only Jesus some will ever see.
I hope my neighbors see Jesus in me.
And I pray my influence will make them even just a little more open to thinking about exploring who Jesus is and what he might have to offer for them.
Holy Spirit, please guide my speech and actions that this would be so.
And do the same for all my brothers and sisters at KCRC.
Well, the refugee crisis continues to dominate the media headlines these days as we witness the biggest human migration crisis since World War II. Some people scorn the publicity it gets now, reminding us that this problem has been brewing for four years. True enough, I suppose – but anything that helps get things moving towards some sort of at least mildly adeqaute response now is better than the mere pittance that has happened to date. Better late than never.
The pastors of churches in Kemptville discussed this issue at their meeting this week, and are beginning to connect with other groups in our community to discuss what the best local response might be. I’m grateful to be part of that conversation, and that this is a project we can approach together as brothers and sisters joined by one faith in Jesus, the Saviour who rescued us all from eternal death.
It’s interesting to note the secular media’s attitude towards this crisis – time and again they are pointing to the Church as the leader in providing a significant response.
Which I’m glad they recognize.
For if they didn’t, it would be because we haven’t been clear enough in word or deed.
We serve a Saviour who gave up everything to rescue us who were “refugees” of sin – caught in a downward spiral towards eternal death. He paid the GREATEST PRICE EVER to secure our eternal freedom.
He calls us to follow his example in Matthew 25 where we directly commanded to care for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned.
And St.Paul coaches us in Philippians 2 to have the same mind that Jesus had – being willing to empty ourselves of everything.
Doesn’t that seem to include some sort of welcome to refugees?
Beyond a two hundred million page form that has to be filled out in triplicate, and a multiple year review process?
There are, of course, concerns about terrorist and criminal elements.
But as we discuss these, let’s be careful they don’t become convenient roadblocks, just to protect our cushy way of life.
And let’s also not allow ourselves to be sidetracked by comments suggesting they’re really quite wealthy, or they are the enemy (ie Muslim), or they ought to have stayed in X___ or gone to Y____
I don’t recall Jesus giving room for such when he taught about turning the cheek, sharing the tunic, loving your neighbor…. AND your enemy (Matthew 5:38-47).
Ryan Dueck wrote a compelling blog post yesterday on this topic. He says it better than I ever could.
Please read it –
Here’s my personal take on it.
Many of us at KCRC are in this land because of immigration. Not quite refugee, but if you dig into your family’s background, odds on are that it wasn’t far off. Many of our families came from war-devastated Europe where there was no hope, no visible future. They piled into old troop carriers, packed together, and endured many days in less-than-pristine conditions to cross the ocean where they were welcomed and given new hope and opportunity. We, the generations who followed, are blessed and rich because of the journey they took.
Now there’s another group of people on the move. Migrating because of untold horrors at home.
Would it not seem to make sense for those who were blessed by being accepted into this country to be the first in line to want to bless this new vulnerable group?
Especially those here as (grand)children of immigrants who are followers of Jesus?
I do hope that you’ll be discussing this issue in your living rooms and around your kitchen tables.
Pray with me for the Holy Spirit’s clear direction on how best we can respond as a community of Jesus-followers.