It’s resurrection day! I’m remembering this very special week in Jesus’s life thru the filter of coronavirus today. Holy Week this year began very differently than most of us would have expected. Coronavirus moved us from participation to isolation and gave us a conscious awareness of the reality of our need to be safe.
Our senses have been bombarded all week with grim truths that describe the endless march of a viral enemy beyond our control. But there is another truth that has become the glimmer of “good” hope during this week. It’s hope that reaches beyond the stress of physical distancing, fears for our safety, illness, ventilators, and death…into the future.
The hope of the future of humanity has been revealed through the conscious, sacrificial and persistent service of ordinary people despite personal risk to themselves. That hope is a reality because of this truth; God has intentionally intervened in the hearts of those ordinary people to equip them to surpass even the best of human motives.
people have shown us a Holy
love that saves, in real time,
to make God’s divine
to all of
In the year of our Lord 2020
Jesus Christ lives to be a part of our future and our hope.
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
[Matthew 28:6 NIV]
John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. [NRSV]
I read that the word “love” appears in the Gospel of John more often than in the other three gospels combined. We may be familiar with many stories of Jesus showing love during His life as he taught, fed, healed and prayed for people. We’ve learned our lesson well that the complete expression of that love is the death of Jesus followed by His resurrection. That’s the ending.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus during this time of Advent as the embodiment of God’s love for His creation. It almost seemed too simple to even try to write about until another thought entered my mind. Jesus was always present with God. He wasn’t a Heavenly go-fer who did God’s bidding. He was God. That certainly deals with the idea of simple doesn’t it? Jesus knew full well what becoming human meant for Him. He knew His future right from the get-go. We begin this annual celebration knowing the end of the story, Jesus was willing to surrender His own life for us. The beginning of the “love” story is the part that makes this Advent a reality. Jesus loved us enough to enter our world as a helpless infant. His own future on earth began with His willingness to trust that the humanity He entered would become a part of building His life on earth so that His love would become their salvation.
Hebrews 11:39 & 40 [NLT]
39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
Hebrews 11 turned out to be a literal page turner for me. I read it in different versions of the Bible and then I read more about these two verses in several commentaries all because of one word – US.
US? Yes…it’s “us!” We have become part of the history of these people from the past because of God’s completed work in Jesus. Those ancestors made it into this “By Faith” chapter because their faith reached into the future of US. That past and their faith has reached beyond time to strengthen our present with the promise of completion for US all as the future unfolds. US is God’s version of “outreach” at it’s most creative. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine the past, present and future as a triangle. The triangle is also the identity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and they are the reality of the Field of Hope for our daily life, past, present and future..
Triangles are the strongest shape. When a force is added to a triangle it is spread evenly through all three sides. They work together like a building truss and make a structure that is extremely strong and stable. That strength is the promise of God. It’s the field of hope that includes all of US.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NIV
I read the Scripture from Romans early Sunday morning before church. It caught my eye because my last post had been about letting our history become His Story in the New Year. I thought of history as being wiped away to clear the slate for a new year. Then I went to church and heard “The promise of salvation doesn’t always look like what we expect or want.” It wasn’t a sermon about wiping away the unexpected and unwanted interruptions that happen in every life. It was a message of recognizing the promised presence of Jesus with you in the midst of the worst news or circumstances.
Later that day I read this from Henri Nouwen’s Creative Ministry: “We are…invited to look at our history as the sequence of events that brought us to where we are now and that help us to understand what it means to be here at this moment in this world.”
History has impact on our present, our future and our imperfection. The ultimate unwanted and unexpected interruption of the perfection God created happened way back in Genesis 3. Even in the consequences that followed that sin I see God’s hope for history in His unexpected provision for those first two people. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” There are many other examples of people in the Bible who endured the consequences of their own imperfection but found strength to hope in God’s Word.
We’ve just completed the celebration of God’s ultimate solution for our imperfection, the birth of Jesus Christ. He’s our evidence of “everything that was written in the past.” The details of the promise of our salvation won’t always work out as we expect or want. We’re still dealing with the consequences of imperfection but we can trust and depend on God’s perfect solution “so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Faith in Jesus is evidence of God’s hope for our life and that makes it a part of His Story.
Genesis 18:25 Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Did Abraham speak to reassure himself or God?
“The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous” the Lord chose to go and check it out for himself. It’s personal for him. “I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
It’s personal for Abraham too. The fruit of the promise the Lord had given him long ago is in sight. “…the Lord said to Abraham…I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Two of the guests had left for Sodom and Gomorrah but “Abraham remained standing before the Lord” to negotiate? [pray?] about how many righteous people it would take for the city to be spared. His heart was filled with concern because now this would be his son’s future too.
Did Abraham speak to reassure himself or God?
The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Fifty righteous people became 45, then 40, 30, 20 and finally Abraham said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He [God] answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home” …to wait for the future.
Did Abraham speak to reassure himself or God?
The answer to my question is “both.” We negotiate? [pray?] to reassure ourselves and the Lord that we do care about the righteous and the unrighteous no matter how shortsighted our faith is as we wait for the future and wonder “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Matthew 13:3 Then he [Jesus] told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” NIV
I am a confirmed believer the Spirit of God uses repetition to direct my mind. Repetition of a recent word or thought gets my attention and that’s exactly what God desires. Remember my reference to the “mustard seed” in the last post? This truth about seeds just “happened” to pop up in this blog by raincitypastor, Richard Dahlstrom, Step by Step Journey.
“One of the most famous parables in the Bible is the story about the seed and the sower. “A farmer went out to sow his seed” is how it begins, and by the end of the tale we discover that not all the seeds reached their full potential. The seed, though, was never the problem; it was the soil. Too many rocks. Too many thorns. Not enough depth. It’s a powerful tale, because later in the Bible we’re told that “His seed abides in us.”
That thoughtful commentary recalled yet another recent repetition of thought for me – the book of Genesis and our future. We all know the long-ago story of Adam and Eve and their “original sin” that became our heritage. Thankfully that is not the end of the story at all. 1 John 3: 9 says “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.”
I think God’s provision for Adam and Eve was more than clothing as they left that perfect Garden to begin a life of “painful toil.” He chose to leave a little seed of his “original innocence” within them insuring there would be a new heritage for all their descendants – the possibility of overcoming their own sin. Innocence was no longer a given but there would be “good soil” that could produce a crop of purity — “a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”