|Posted by bethlehemlutheran on March 7, 2012 at 12:40 AM||comments (82)|
|Posted by bethlehemlutheran on February 21, 2012 at 3:45 PM||comments (2)|
This week the Church enters Lent, the great penitential season of the church year. None of us likes to admit we are wrong, but we aren’t able to accept God’s unconditional love if we don’t do it. The Church has set aside this time to help us.
The word “Lent” comes from ancient words meaning “springtime.” If we embrace the season and allow ourselves to face up to our shortcomings and open our hearts to God through Jesus, this time can be a springtime for our souls, a season of new growth and flowering.
The law exists to give us a way to examine ourselves, but the law given by Moses can only accuse, it cannot save. For our sakes (Yes, that includes you.) Jesus takes the punishment required by the law, so that we have nothing left to do, except to accept his gift of unconditional love.
Blessings for your Lenten journey,
|Posted by bethlehemlutheran on February 14, 2012 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
The disciples were often baffled by Jesus. He was always doing unexpected things: talking to women he didn’t know, touching unclean people, slipping away just when someone was ready to make him king. And things were going to get stranger still. This man they believed to be the messiah, God’s anointed one, would be arrested like a common criminal and executed.
Jesus tried to help them, tried to explain what would happen and why. Even when Peter, James and John saw him bathed in glory on the mountaintop, they weren’t able to understand. That would only happen later, on the day we call Easter.
|Posted by bethlehemlutheran on February 3, 2012 at 1:55 PM||comments (3)|
In 1st century Palestine, when people encountered Jesus, they knew there was something different about him—he spoke with authority. Back then, and today, speaking with authority is enough to make people pay attention (or maybe even elect you to an important position), but if you don’t follow that up with positive action, people will lose interest and look for a better authority elsewhere. Jesus demonstrated his authority in dramatic ways—casting out demons, curing illnesses, and, perhaps most importantly, allowing people to move from the fringes of society into the mainstream of life. He still demonstrates his authority that way.
|Posted by bethlehemlutheran on January 17, 2012 at 7:55 PM||comments (0)|
What triggers a radical change? Disappointment? Desperation? Hope? Idealism? A word timely spoken? Any and all of these can certainly push us toward change, but the actual pivot point is often a person—someone who understands the disappointment or desperation, who offers hope, embodies the idealism or speaks the clarifying word. Jesus said “Follow me,” and people did. They still do. Why?
|Posted by bethlehemlutheran on January 10, 2012 at 11:40 AM||comments (2)|
During the time between Epiphany and Lent, we are looking at various ways that Jesus is made known to people and the attitudes that need to be overcome in the process. John presents an attitude easily recognized by us today –skepticism. As soon as Nathanael hears where Jesus is from, he is ready to write him off. Nazareth was a town of no special importance to the Jews. It was a garrison town full of pagan Roman soldiers, their gods and their ways. How could the Messiah come from there?
Today’s skeptical question often is “How do you know the things written about Jesus in the Bible are true?” My answer has to be the same as Philips: Come and see.
|Posted by bethlehemlutheran on January 3, 2012 at 10:10 PM||comments (1)|
With the celebration of Epiphany this Friday, we in the church continue to ask an important question, “Jesus, who are you?” Throughout Advent and Christmas we have heard answers—God’s son born of a young woman, a light in the darkness, the expected one, the messiah or anointed one, savior of the nations.
As he grew into adulthood and prepared for his public ministry, Jesus, himself, needed to be clear about his identity. At his baptism at the age of about 30, he is given the answer in dramatic fashion, leaving no doubt in his mind as a voice from heaven declares him God’s son, and the Spirit settles on him like a dove. He would still need forty days in the desert to sort it all out, but from that time on, his understanding of who he was would never be shaken.
|Posted by bethlehemlutheran on December 27, 2011 at 11:45 AM||comments (2)|
A central theme of Advent is preparation.
We prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birthday by thinking about what the world was like before he came to earth as a baby and, as an adult, died to save us, and what it would be like now, if he hadn’t.
We prepare our hearts to receive him in the present by accepting his great gift of salvation and, with it, freedom from the power of sin in our lives.
We prepare for his return to earth in bodily form by living faithful lives, so that, if he should return today, he will find us doing what we have been called to do.
|Posted by bethlehemlutheran on December 27, 2011 at 11:20 AM||comments (2)|
Dec. 20, 2011
I was given a Christmas card this year showing Mary kissing her baby. It’s an intensely private moment—no shepherds, no angels, no kings, no threats, no mission to save the world. Just a loving mother and her baby. Cradled in her arms, he would gaze at the delighted shepherds and the worshipping kings. Sheltered in her arms, he would be protected from Herod’s threats. Blessed by her love, he would fulfill his mission. But now there is just a very young son and his mother.
|Posted by bethlehemlutheran on December 13, 2011 at 11:20 AM||comments (2)|
We know very little about Mary, the mother of Jesus. From what we know of the culture of which she was a part, we assume she was quite young, fourteen or fifteen, perhaps, when Jesus was born. We know from the Bible that she was Jewish, devout, and a descendant of King David. We know she was the gateway through which Jesus entered the world, and that she was present at crucial moments throughout his life, including at his death. And we know she willingly played here role in God’s amazing plan of salvation, setting aside her own expectations of the future and stepping boldly, trustingly, into the uncertain life God offered. But we really don’t need to know any more.