In a day and time in the world when many heads of state, religious leaders, and politicians are finding fault with one another and espousing theirs as the only way to save the world, we are observing the Season of Lent in which God reminds us of his love and concern for us in spite of all our faults.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him my not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17.
Christians fully understand that Christ has called us to love God above all else, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. But, we might ask, like the young man who wanted to follow Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Put quite simply, our neighbor is every child, woman, and man on this earth. And, there are a lot of those neighbors who make it very, very hard to love them. We certainly do not appreciate or condone any actions by others which endanger, belittle, or harm another human being. But, being both flawed human beings and disciples of Christ, we must strive to live as Christ lived and love as Christ loved.
That means that we have to know what is right and what is wrong and to be willing to take a stand against un-Christian-like conduct, and stand with those who seek truth, justice, and peace for all human beings. We may not be able to take all of the evil out of the world until the second coming of Christ, but we can certainly represent God’s goodness, grace, and mercy in our own lives.
As we continue on our Lenten journey, following in the footsteps of Christ to the cross, let us remember and live by the words of the song we learned as children in Sunday School: “Red and yellow, black and white, (we) are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Thank God, Jesus was willing to go the distance all the way to the cross for our sake and our salvation. How far are we willing to go to thank and praise, serve and obey him?
Yours in Christ,
Ash Wednesday is on February 10th this year. Many people observe the season of Lent by making a personal sacrifice such as giving up a favorite food or habit. Others may refrain from an activity they enjoy, etc. Much of the time they give up something that probably isn’t that good for their health anyway.
Your Lenten Sacrifice
I should hope that during this Lenten Season we might consider ways of observing a fast or giving our time and energy sacrificially that will be of service or bring comfort to others. And, I should also hope that we will make time for mid-week and Sunday worship, and family devotions> We can take time out of our busy schedules to reflect upon our relationship with God. Remember that God speaks to us in quiet moments, as well as through the relationships that we cultivate with friends, family, and even those accidental meetings with strangers.
What would Jesus Do?
As we take this Lenten Walk with Jesus in the forty days before Easter, let us remember that Jesus grew up in the same way, endured many of the same hardships we face, and overcame the same temptations that confront us so that he could take them upon himself for our sake on the cross. He did this for us, so that we might understand the importance of our being available for others who need to experience the Savior’s love, forgiveness, and salvation.
Throughout these forty days of Lent, Let us open our eyes, and ears, and hearts to those around us so that the love and presence of Jesus will shine through.
Yours in Christ,
On the thirteenth day after Christmas, Christians celebrate The Epiphany of Our Lord, which means that the Epiphany of our Lord is always on January 6. The word Epiphany means manifestation. It is on this day that we celebrate the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem to pay homage to the Christ child. It is also on the days after the Epiphany that we recount Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River and his first miracle of changing water into wine. Of course, we know that Jesus manifests himself in so many ways to his disciples in the world today; but during these days prior to the beginning of Lent (which comes in early February this year) we have the opportunity to reflect upon how it is that we, as Jesus’ disciples, can make him known to others in our communities and throughout the world.
Even if you find it difficult to verbally witness to others about Jesus, you still have numerous opportunities to witness through your actions and deeds of kindness to others. One way to start that requires no risk-taking is by praying for those who are experiencing prejudice, abuse, or neglect; and what about those who are depressed, or ill, or grieving. Praying for them by name is empowering both for you and for those for whom you are praying. Make a habit every day of praying for others by name, because this personalizes our prayers and brings us closer to those who need to know that they are important to God and to us.
Another way to witness about Jesus to others does require some risk; but it is worth it. Be a volunteer in the community; you can certainly start in your own congregation with the ministries that Grace supports. Doing something to actually bring hope to another person helps us to understand Jesus’ compassion and love for humanity. It also helps to widen our own perspective of what it means to be a good neighbor, even to those whom we either don’t know, or hardly know. The more we do for others, the easier it becomes to take those risks to manifest, or make Christ known in both deed and word.
If you have made no other resolution for this year, make this one: To be bold in your witness on behalf of the one you call Lord.
Yours in Christ,