As I write this lesson, it is the first week of November, yet the retailers already have their Christmas decorations up, television shows are offering Christmas cooking segments, and schools are practicing for holiday concerts. I still have leaves to rake, a family event to plan, and the distractions of unsettling news stories.
The situations of our world can distract us from what is of greatest importance. When least expected, we may encounter heartache or situations that disrupt life and challenge the normal.
When people are desperate for hope they often gravitate to any person who seems to promise what they want. Our study compares and contrasts two biblical texts about the same redemption of God event, but positioned in a different context.
Today is THE day! Hallelujah! From your facial expression, although you are at church, you look stressed, exhausted and not in a “hallelujah” mood. You have gotten beyond the Thanksgiving family gathering, the Macy's parade, decorating the house, buying the gifts, keeping a schedule of all the school-church-community events, volunteering at the holiday pantry, getting out the Christmas cards and cooking! That sleepy little town of Bethlehem sounds alluring. Merry Christmas! Celebrate!
Jericho, Province of Palestine – Our community was rocked today by the news that one of our leading citizens has publicly announced his religious transformation after an encounter with the unorthodox Galilean rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth.
An article in Parade Magazine affirms the belief in miracles by members of the Beam family after their daughter survived a fall that her doctors declared would take her life. “Today, more than four years after the December 2011 incident, Annabel still takes no medication and has no symptoms."
It is not, as some friends have interpreted for me, a wonderful reminder that we must leave a heritage of love and morality when we come to death. It is not a touching story of a great philosopher/prophet who gave away his life as an ultimate sacrifice to show us a better way to live. It is not a reminder that we are only truly different from all other creatures when we center our life on self-sacrifice and exemplary ethics.
When we arrive at Easter every year we know the story and repeat the rituals, often without rediscovering the breathtaking reality of God’s love. On a recent Sunday my worship experience was energized by new joy as the choir sang an unfamiliar anthem based on the idea of Jesus’ suffering and death as a dance of joy!
How do you deal with failure? Are you devastated, consumed with guilt and the sense that your life will carry a negative burden and the future will never be better? Do you blame failure on circumstances or someone else? Or, do you find a way to make amends, to learn new behavior, to take responsibility and fashion positive values?
When you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, consider that Passover in Jerusalem when Jesus was preparing to die for us. The disciples were not paying attention. They were thinking about themselves. Jesus did not condemn them or turn them away. Instead, he opened his heart to them again, loved and encouraged them and looked to the cross.