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Showing posts from December, 2018

How the revolution comes

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CHRISTMAS EVE: Grace Embodied, Part 5. (Go here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

John 1:1-5 Luke 2:1-20
There’s an old Jewish saying, “God couldn’t be everywhere, so God created mothers.”   I’m sure some of our mothers would balk at this while others might embrace it.  But it touches on something that is true, which is, we can’t experience love without someone to love us and someone to love.  And God, who is a relationship of love, came into this world as a human baby, to be loved by a human mother.
 When Mary said yes to the angel, this was scary and exciting and real and also little bit hypothetical. Sharing it with Elizabeth and Zechariah made it more real – joy needs to be shared. Remember how they all had a turn announcing the good news?  It was cosmic good news – tyrants pulled from thrones, poor lifted up and rich sent away, ancient promises fulfilled, a mighty savior rescuing from enemies, a kingdom without end, light to all those in darkness, and guiding us into peace.  Heady s…

Dying to Labels, Rising to Love

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ADVENT 4: Love (Grace Embodied, Part 4. Go here for Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3)
Matthew 1:18-25
Our text says Joseph is a good man. A righteous man.  He has an impressive pedigree and follows God’s ways. On paper, he seems like a solid choice to be the father of God incarnate.
This is comforting right off the bat, because we like to know who are the good people, and who are the bad ones. These are really helpful categories in our world. Knowing what makes people good and what makes them bad helps us aspire to be good people, and also  to know who the bad people are upfront so we can reject them in good conscience.   It really messes with us when those we thought were good turn out to be bad, or those we thought were bad do something good.  We like our categories clean. We like our aspirations clear.
But in the bible, when we start out thinking people are good, we often discover they’re not.  And more often, the people God chooses don’t even start out good to begin with – consider Adam and …

The Joy Brigade

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ADVENT 3: JOY (Grace Embodied, Part 3. Go here for Part 1, and here for Part 2)
Luke 1
There was a joyful story going around social media this week, shared by a mom who was traveling alone with a 2 and 5 year old, and all three had reached the end of their rope. When they got to the airport security line, the mom was near tears, and one child was screaming. "Out of the blue, one mom stops the line for security and says, 'Here, jump in front of me! I know how it is!' Wyatt fell asleep and I was trying to carry everyone's carry-on when another mom jumps out of her place in line and said, 'Hand me everything. I've got it.'  “When I said thank you to both of them they said ‘don’t you worry, we’re going to make sure you get on that flight.” The second woman helped them all the way to their gate.  And then on the plane, her son began to scream again when a third woman stepped in. “After about 45 min, this angel comes to the back and says ‘you look like you need a br…

God and the slave-girl

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ADVENT 2: PEACE (Grace Embodied, Part 2. Go here for Part 1.)
Genesis 16
The Hebrew word for Peace, Shalom, means “fullness” or “completion.”  Saying Shalom as a greeting is to say, “May you be completed.”
Peace is not an ethereal idea. It’s an actual thing.
Conflict and division – they are real, heavy and dark and sharp, crushing and weighty things. Peace is not just taking that away, leaving nothing but a vacuum, shallow emptiness where squashed-down discord smolders or discontent breeds like mildew.
Peace is not an empty space of enforced silence between otherwise foes.  No. Peace has substance and girth. It exists in the world. It is something you can hold and touch and smell; Peace is tangible and real wholeness.   It’s what God’s kind of life tastes like and feels like in your hands. 
We know the feel of peace. It’s that thing that happens between people when forgiveness is slowly labored into,
and when love is discovered and shared.  It’s when, drifting along untethered, someone sees you…

In our humanness, Hope.

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ADVENT 1 (Grace Embodied, Part 1)
Genesis 1:26-2:9, 2:15-25, (and some of Genesis 3)
There are things we can’t control.  Like this crappy weather.  Or the calendar.  We are carried along on the current of life and here we are, once again bumping up against the time of year most fraught with expectations, and staring down the last page of 2018 with all the millions of things that get jammed into December.
It’s Advent.  Advent is the beginning of the church year, and the church version of the countdown to Christmas.  As the world around us comes to the end of a year, we have come to the beginning.  We’re returning to the silence, the darkness over the face of the deep before the Creator says “Let there be Light” and life begins. Every year the Church cycles through this pattern of seasons of worship that help us understand our story inside God’s story. In Advent we use the color deep blue to signify the darkest night just before the dawn starts breaking in, and we see it as a time of hushed…