Advent 4 – Believe

youngmaryAnd blessed is she who believed… (Luke 1:39-55)  Bottom line is Mary had a baby. Not that she had much choice, unlike today where we have so many choices. What is most important was that Mary believed what was about to happen through her was indeed a blessing. After what I thought was a difficult first year in college, I considered dropping out. When I shared this with a friend I have never forgotten what he told me. He said; “Whenever you make a decision you have to stand by it, whether it turns out to be good, bad, right or wrong. Accept the decision you make because it’s your decision.” His point was that I needed to believe that my decisions mattered. Whether I chose to leave or stay, something ultimately was going to be required of me. If I stay, I needed to believe that I could make it. If I left then I believed I couldn’t make it. It was the first step in understanding what it means to accept where I was, put on my big girl undies and believe in my ability to see it through. Immediately (stealing a phrase from Mark’s gospel), I got to work one class at a time. This of 5advent-candlescourse hardly compares to the difficult situation of a virgin named Mary being told that she would conceive the Savior of the world. However, what connects each of us to Mary and to one another is who we are as servants of the most high and the plethora of emotions we all experience when we find ourselves in what seems like an impossible or overwhelming situation. Second, we are connected by favor, which God has for all his servants, and like Mary ultimately in the face of difficult choices what ever they may be we have to believe that God’s plan is at work through us.
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Although we celebrate the first Christmas today, I said from the beginning of this Advent season that we live in an Advent life of preparation, expectation and awareness of Christ return. While the culture of the day may not have left Mary much of a choice, when you think about it, as Christians today, neither do we. Merry Christmas today and every day hereafter!

A New Creation And The Law

The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. This statement in John’ Gospel is crucial to those of us who strive to live into the baptism of Jesus Christ. We need the laws because they help us to understand what in community is acceptable and unacceptable. Being part of many communities we have many laws. I think it is safe to say that we don’t follow them all, including the Law of Moses as well as the Law of Grace and Truth. As new creations we have to consider them both. Laws are simply rules that regulate actions while grace is unmerited favor. We all know that laws are broken. We know that when laws are broken, consequences (although not consistent or equal by any stretch of the imagination) will follow. We’ve also heard it said that ignorance of the law is no defense against breaking the law. The good news is that whether we know the law or whether we are ignorant of the law, if we know Christ as a new creation we have God’s grace (should we choose to accept it), to redeem us from the law. Does this mean we will not suffer the consequences of wrongful acts?  No. Rather, those who continue to believe and strive to live into the baptism of Christ are counted as heirs to salvation, and through God’s unmerited favor, there is nothing that can’t be overcome.

Law vs. Grace; God’s Unmerited Favor; Heirs to Salvation

Nothing Is Insignificant

Absolutely nothing we do or say today is insignificant. Everything we do and say will affect either our selves or someone else in both small and large ways. With five barley loaves and two fish, Jesus fed five thousand people. When a task seems insurmountable to us, God will (if we allow him by giving him the glory) take whatever we have to offer regardless of its size, and make it work in our favor. Walk everyday in confidence knowing that with God our life has both purpose and meaning!

Nothing Insignificant; Insurmountable Tasks; God’s Favor