Saturday, December 30, 2006

God Did It Right The First Time

A little girl was sitting on her grandfather's lap as he read her a bedtime story. From time to time, she would take her eyes off the book and reach up to tough his wrinkled cheek. She would alternately stroke her own cheek, then his again. Finally she spoke up, "Grandpa, did God make you?"

"Yes, sweetheart," he answered, "God made me a long time ago." "Oh," she paused, "Grandpa, did God make me too?" "Yes, indeed honey," he said, "God made you just a little while ago." Feeling their respective faces again, she observed, "God's getting better, isn't he?"

We can understand why, from her child's perspective, she would think God is getting better. In reality, whether it is creation or salvation, God did it right the first time. When creation was finished, God surveyed what he had done and said, "that's good." But we messed it up. We let sin into the world. So God made possible a new creation.

Paul summarized it this way in Ephesians 2:8-10, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works ..."

God did it right in Christ. In him we are a new creation, and we celebrate this every time we come to the Lord's table. The gift of God in Christ is revealed here in the bread and wine. As we come to this table we are thankful for a God who did it right the first time and made it possible for us to be a new creation in Christ.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Devotionals

Members of our church contributed this year to an Advent Devotional booklet, one devotion for each day in the month leading up to Christmas. It was a good experience -- both for those who contributed and others as well. Here are two that Frances and I shared.


Isaiah 9:6 "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, PRINCE OF PEACE."

Two December birthdays present us with an ultimate choice -- the birth of the bomb and the birth of the Babe. An editorial in the Christian Century some years ago said, "a plaque at the University of Chicago reads: On December 2, 1942, man achieved here the first self-sustaining chain reaction and thereby initiated the controlled release of nuclear energy." The plaque may be found at Stagg Field.

Celebration of the other birth took place a a field too. At the Shepherd's Field there was a blaze of light, without benefit of nuclear blast, and the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those whom He favors" (Luke 2:14). Since that fateful December day in 1942 we have lived under the shadow of the bomb. Has it brought us peace? Missiles carrying bombs have been called "Peacekeepers," and in a limited sense they do promise peace. They cause fear, and fear of massive reprisal may deter an enemy strike. The absence of war, however, is the only peace the bomb promises, and the promise is extremely fragile.

The Prince of Peace offers a much more comprehensive peace. It is the peace of forgiveness, of a clear conscience, of security in the midst of turbulence. It is well-being even when conditions are difficult. Near the end of his life Jesus said to his disciples, "My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 14:27). Which shall we choose, the bomb or the Babe, the peace offered by the world or that offered by the Christ? ....... "Lord, we seek your peace, not only for ourselves, but also for this troubled world, through Christ our Lord, Amen."

Frances gave us this one:


John 8:12 "When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life'."

There are many references in the Bible to "light," from Genesis 1:3 when God said, "Let there be light," to the last book in the New Testament where we read these words about the New Jerusalem: "the city does not need the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light (Revelation 21:23). It is fitting that light is an important part of our Christmas. Since that bright star led the way to the Bethlehem stable, so our use of candles and lights on the tree may illuminate the dark days of December as we remember Christ's holy birth.

For several years in the 1970's people in the Northwest were urged to use fewer Christmas lights because of an electricity shortage. Since that era passed, lights have flourished like never before. City streets, shopping malls and entire neighborhoods are brilliantly lit and a wonder to behold. We may marvel at the sights, yet as we light our own candles and trees and join in the carols, may we stay ever aware of the true light of our lives which comes only as Jesus is honored.

Our church choir recently sang this lovely song: "Lord, let your light, light of your face shine on us, that we may be saved -- that we may have life -- to find our way in the darkest night. Let your light shine on us." (Michael W. and Deborah Smith) ----- "Lord, may your light show me the way and may I share it with others. Amen." Frances Knox

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How Much Did Jesus Weigh?

My reflections,usually weekly, will focus on the Lord's Supper with occasional comments on other topics, such as books I am reading, or thoughts inspired by something I have read.

How much do you think Jesus weighed? I imagine him as being about 5' 10" and maybe 142 pounds, not huge, but tough, wiry. No fat or excess weight, but strong. He could walk all day over the rocky trails of Palestine and then do it again the next day on a diet that was sparse and lean. Of course, we know that there is more to weight than just physical dimensions. Someone comes from a prominent family and his name carries weight. A woman graduates from a prestigious university and her diploma carries weight. A Doctor's opinion carries weight. A judge's verdice carries weight. How much does Jesus weigh in all of his glory?
I really can't say how much he weighed physically, but I can say this: the weight of Jesus Christ is such that if we anchor our lives in Him nothing will be able to move us. Think of the Golden Gate Bridge. Those who sail in from the sea say that the first thing seen on the horizon are the two 1,200 foot towers. Draped over those towers are coils of wire, three feet in diameter, and from them are suspended other coils that hold up the bridge bed. And all of the weight of the traffic passes back and forth. But it is not the towers and it is not the wire overhead; it's the anchors, thousands of tons of cement poured, first on the San Francisco Penninsula, and then in Marin County. Everything in that bridge is anchored on either side of the bay. Let earthquakes roll, and the wind blow, but the bridge will not be moved.
A hymn says: We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll
Fastened to the rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.
This table of the Lord reminds us of our Savior's love -- a love that will not let us go -- a love that we can always depend on. Our anchor in the storms of life. Hebrews 6 speaks of the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf and the hope that we have in him. then it adds in verse 19, "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast ..."
The weight of Jesus is more than enough for us to anchor our souls to. For this we can say thank you as we recall what he has done for us.