All posts tagged: salvation

25 Gifts–Why Jesus (Advent 2014, Day 5)

Pure, beloved, forgiven, chosen, graced, valuable, good. What a gift, one that inspires tears, faith and action. Like Zacchaeus (whose story we read about in Luke 19), when we know the heart of heaven has found us, is there anything we have in this world that even comes close to that miracle?
But there is One who knows our truest identity and he calls us by name and he knows us by heart. He was born in the crudest of conditions, grew up with the working poor, and always, always knew that he was God’s first-born, the dearly loved and valued king who had the incredible purpose of loving the world. Oh, he knows us, he loves us so much.

The Advent Fulfilled: The Beginning of the All People Society, of which I am a member

LUKE 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. All people. The angel said it. The singular message of the annunciation of Jesus is inclusive: for all people. We tend run ruts and circles and see the same people, the same circumstances, the same economic strata, day after day after year. This isn’t a bad thing, because we are to live the life we’ve been given, in the place where we live, but it can be to our detriment that we fail to see the infinite possibility of these two words: all people. These three syllables are vast as the ocean and harder to explore, define and understand than space. All those people, all those souls,  all those dreamy-eyed moms and beaten down garbage pickers in India, all the Hindus bathing in dirty, sacred rivers and illiterate natives fishing the Amazon, the screaming day trader on the stock exchange floor, the old man who made terrible mistakes, the …

The Advent Fulfilled: Looking Closely At King Herod’s Blood-Stained Hands

Christmas devotions are spent in the living room, sprawled on the floor and snuggling on couches. The soft, twinkling lights on the tree cast magic into the room and we tell the story, again, of the appearance of the angel to Mary, of the travels to to Bethlehem, of the night the canopy of sky rolled back and the glory of heaven appeared and angels sang. But the day King Herod ordered the slaughter of Bethlehem boys… well, that sounds like the record was ripped from the player and the needle scratches and we sit stunned by the grotesque. And every year my kids are aghast at the horror of that king’s actions and we talk about what history tells us about Herod the Great, King of the Jews under Caesar. Ultimately, the question comes: why didn’t God stop him from killing babies?

The Advent Fulfilled: Harried Herod and the Pilgrims We Call Magi

“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler  who will be the shepherd of my people.” {Matthew 2:6} The Magi arrived in Jerusalem and lifted a corner of the veneer carefully laid by the political schemes of Herod the Great. They had questions. The kind of questions that locals would never ask. Local Jewish leadership groups, the Sadducees and Pharisees, were too entrenched in the Herodian subterfuge, too invested in the grandness of their beautifully constructed Temple to speak up. Local Palestinian Jews were too afraid. The working poor bore the financial burden of Herod’s construction projects including the Jewish Temple, another temple to Ceasar, and an amphitheater. Herod ruled as if he were a Roman henchman. To say the average Jew in Palestine at the time of Jesus’ birth was oppressed is sadly, a gross understatement.

The Advent Fulfilled: Salvation Is His Name

Yeshua. The name slipped like a sigh into the darkness. Yeshua, the Lord Saves. Yahweh is Salvation. His face scrunched into a pout, eyes squeezed tight and his tiny mouth opened in a hungry wail, bottom lip quivering. Yeshua. Hungry boy, naked babe, wrapped in soft flax and wool and hearing his mother’s voice whispered into the air, over his head, into his little, curled ear: the Lord Saves. He heard this name called sharply when he toddled too close to the cooking fire, heard it frantically called through the temple, heard it every night as he grew up, “Goodnight, Yeshua.” Sleep well, the Lord Saves.