I’m diverting from II Corinthians because at the moment you’re reading this I’m on the high seas for a 3-day cruise but thanks to WordPress I can schedule this story and at the appointed time [I hope] it will be told.
Thank you Lord for the image of “your” new life, your Son, lying in a Cradle of circumstances. This time of preparation shows us how important this annual pilgrimage is to our celebration of that birth and that Cradle. It was your own preparation for us that made Advent a celebration at all and Jesus your special gift of access for us.
We all enter the Kingdom of God through that same Cradle: another “new” life born in the midst of a broken world. The Cradle still contains the memory of God’s preparation. It still holds the promise of what new life can become through the stories of wise men, shepherds and angels, even in a still-broken world. That Cradle is the shelter of God’s provision for us when there doesn’t seem to be room for us anywhere else. This annual journey shows us one more time where we’ve come from, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. There will be emotional and physical joy and hardship involved in that journey but…
• We have wise men today that have found their special path to that Cradle to offer their treasure and then share their story with us so we can follow and find our way too.
• We have shepherds today who despite their own fears rise and boldly share your Story.
• We have angels in our lives who sing your praises and share your promises of renewal, restoration and grace that prepare us to recognize and receive your gift of forever…again this year.
It’s glorious to remember isn’t it?
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
I know my heavenly master but I haven’t paid enough attention to the awareness that while I don’t have a job and a boss, real life is my earthly master. I spend many hours each week in the Word and in thought dedicated to learning to live in this world “with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” That’s where “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you” comes into play for me.
I struggle to string together a coherent prayer built on God’s perspective for the dismal realities of that earthly master. Those are situations so far removed from my own life; serious world situations and leaders that I have absolutely no control over. I’m startled by the realization that I’ve let what I work at with all my heart, my dedicated preparation to know my heavenly master, insulate my mind from the only possible option I have to obey that earthly master. It’s a revelation for me to accept the only frame of reference I have for those dismal situations I can’t control is prayer. May that new “sincerity of heart” continue to be so!
•Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.
•Matthew 4:3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. [Deut. 8:3]’”
Jesus was sending his disciples out for a very special purpose. That didn’t just happen, it took time to prepare. That’s what makes his instructions to the disciples so interesting. “He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.” It seems like comfort and convenience weren’t to be a part of their preparation. I wondered about the “no” parts.
The disciples were prepared to go out to “proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” but why not send them out with those small things that could give them comfort and convenience? Did Jesus have in mind his own experience of being tempted in the wilderness as he gave them those instructions? His own temptation had not been about hunger at all. The tempter had used comfort and convenience in his failed attempt to entice Jesus to settle for any means to an end and become a “convenient” Messiah.
Jesus still wants his disciple’s focus of preparation to be on proclaiming the truth that protected him from the temptation to settle for any means to an end – the word of God. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” There’s bread enough to last until tomorrow morning. I invite you to check back then for fresh Maundy Thursday Bread.