Sunday, December 11, 2016

Love (Advent)

During Advent, we talk this ‘story of amazing love’: a God who so loved the world that he ‘put on flesh’ (incarnated), became human, and took our death penalty upon himself (John 3:16-17). In many different places, the Bible is clear about why that happened: Jesus loves us (1 John 4:19; Romans 8:35-39). This past year we talked for a couple weeks about how Jesus’ love empowers and changes how we love others: “Love others as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)

As plain as that command is, it goes through a filter.  Many of us think we know what it means that God loves; we think that the love we pass on to others is reflective of that, yet at times we recognize that we don’t understand what it means that God loves us, and we see that we have a terrible time loving God and others well.

So let’s talk about how we get past our filters and misunderstandings and learning to understand the love of God.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Peace (Advent)

It was an interesting group to whom the angels gave this message: “Glory to God in the Highest; and on earth, peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14). The shepherds were probably watching a temple flock destined for sacrifice in and around a tower called the Midgal Eder, the 'watchtower of the flock,' a lookout and a place of refuge close to Bethlehem for their flocks in case of attack.  Shepherds brought ewes there to give birth. The priests maintained ceremonially clean stalls, and they carefully oversaw the birth of each lamb.

The prophet Micah had written years before: “As for you, O watchtower of the flock, (Migdal Eder)… kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:8) I don’t think it’s coincidence that angels announced Jesus’ birth to these shepherds. They were temple-trained; they knew the fulfillment of prophecy when they heard it.[1]

But their watchtower was overshadowed by another tower. Herod’s mountain fortress, the Herodian, overlooked the town of Bethlehem.