Written by Cathy Schrock - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Image: The Cross and the Door, by Daniel Bonnell - https://bonnellart.com/
You were the creator of all things,
having breathed life into existence.
The crowning glory of Your creation,
man was empowered to decide for himself
whether or not to follow Your perfect way.
He chose poorly.
But You were not taken by surprise;
Your plan included this scenario from the beginning.
To fulfill the plan,
You were called to leave behind
eternity, position, and glory,
for time, lowly places, and humanity.
This was no Plan B.
You completed Your mission brilliantly,
holding fast to the master plan.
Never once did You deviate from
or try to change it,
even though You could have.
You were faithful until the bitter end.
But that was just the beginning.
Your work was meant to stand
as a testimony to Father’s undying love,
His determination to find what was lost,
to set free that which was held in chains,
and to light up the darkest places with hope and freedom.
And so it does.
Your work has set a standard
for all of us who will come behind You.
Not only has it set us free,
but it has empowered us to follow Your example,
to choose wisely.
Your work started in eternity,
and it will come to fruition and fulfillment there as well.
Yes and Amen.
Written by Dcn. Kelsie Meyers - St. Andrew's - Lewis Center, OH
Revelation is a powerful word. When something is revealed it is made known suddenly with a flair of drama or surprise. Matthew offers us this dramatic revelation at the start of his gospel. After giving us a list of Jesus’ Jewish credentials in his genealogy, and a brief synopsis of the angel’s visit to Mary and Joseph foretelling Jesus’ birth, the first people who meet Jesus are astrologers from the East. They read the signs in the sky and followed the bright star to the Christ child (Matthew 2:1-12). God revealed the truth about Jesus to these outsiders and their response to God’s revelation was appropriately dramatic. They responded with overwhelming joy. This was a joy that could not be contained. In my mind’s eye, I see the Magi whooping and hollering in front of Mary and Joseph’s house, letting out great belly laughs, grabbing and hugging each other at the sight of the star’s light shining on the house. They knew the star had led them to the King they intended to find. Once the Magi entered the house the scene was no less dramatic. They looked at the boy Jesus and immediately recognized his kingship and responded with worship and humility, kneeling before him. This is revelation. These Magi came looking for a King, and they found their King.
After reading the story of the Magi year after year, it is easy to make the three kings a part of our mental nativity alongside the animals, shepherds, and manger. But, Epiphany invites us to receive God’s revelation again. This baby, born into Jewish history, is the Light to the nations, the King over all creation, through whom God’s glory is revealed. The Spirit makes the mysteries of God known to us as He lives in us (1 Corinthians 2:7-12). Our work is to be open to receive the revelation that God wants to give to us. As we meditate on the Magi’s response to Jesus, allow the Spirit to shine his light in your hearts to reveal what is getting in the way of us receiving a deeper revelation of Jesus. Our sorrows, disappointments, attachments, and unforgiveness all become the darkness that God’s light shines into. As Jesus’ Kingship is revealed to us, we can surrender these things to his lordship and be set free.
Jesus’ glory is revealed to us, and it will be revealed through us. As we come to see Jesus more fully, we become the light that points others to him. We are surrounded by seekers, like the Magi, trying to make sense of this life. God wants to reveal Himself to them, and we have a part to play. As the stars of the sky were a map for the Magi, our lives, our witness, our testimony of Jesus freeing work, points seekers to Jesus today. May the Spirit of God breathe on us again and offer us deeper wisdom and revelation of the King we serve. May we be moved to overwhelming joy and humbly join God by offering ourselves to join in his revelatory work in the world.
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
“Love came down at Christmas, Love, all lovely, Love divine,
Love was born at Christmas, Star and Angels gave the sign,
Worship we the Godhead, Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus, But wherewith for sacred sign?”
This verse is half of a poem written by Christina Rosetti in 1885 and has since been put to music by several different composers. And even as it may not be as popular as many Christmas Carols, it speaks a valuable truth which is well to be remembered at this time and beyond.
Let’s consider a few basic facts from scripture concerning God and Jesus Christ.
1) God is love. It is His mode of operation. He loves all of Creation but has a special affinity for man, whom He made in His image. “He who does not love does not know God for GOD IS LOVE. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:8-9)
2) For sure, the scriptures testify to the judgment and wrath of God on occasion, but this too has been out of His love, for it is meant for correction and redemption. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction. For whom the Lord loves, he corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Prov. 3:11-12)
3) It was out of the intense love of the Father that He sent His Son to save us, His wayward children. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
4) The Lord God spoke through His prophets, telling His people that He would send a Messiah, one who is God with us, to lead us and be our Lord and King. “But you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands in Judah, yet out or you shall come forth to Me the One who is to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)
5. The story of the birth of Jesus, the Son of God is well known; but let’s be reminded of an event that occurred just 40 days after His birth when Mary had been brought to the temple for the rites of purification, and there encountered Simeon. We are told that Simeon was ‘just and devout waiting for the Consolation of Israel,” and the Holy Spirit had assured Him he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ…. “He took the child in his arms and blessed God and said, ‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared for all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.’” (Luke 2:25,26; 29-32)
6) Now we fast-forward about 30 years to a moment in time when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane pouring His heart out to His Father in heaven and includes a prayer for all who believe in Him. “O righteous Father, the world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and I will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:25-26)
Jesus loves us, this we know. His love is certain and it is eternal. What follows is the rest of the poem.
“Love shall be our token, Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men, Love for plea and gift and sign.
Love shall be our token, Love to God and all men,
Love shall be our token, Love to God and all men.”
Go, in peace to love and serve Your Lord, and love your neighbor as yourself.
(Ref. Mt. 22:37-39)
Writer and artist, Rhonda Logan-Bailey - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Mary and Joseph
in faithful anticipation,
awaited for what could not
be imagined but was soon
Entrusted with the treasure
Of God’s HOPE!
Of God’s LOVE!
Of God’s JOY!
Of God’s PEACE!
Presently, we are
waiting and anticipating
what we’ve been promised.
Not knowing when, yet sensing
a deep stirring.
Of God’s ENDURING HOPE!
Of God’s ENDLESS LOVE!
Of God’s ETERNAL JOY!
Of God’s EVERLASTING PEACE!
During the first Advent,
What was stirred? Who stirred?
Did anyone sense a change other than the prophets, shepherds, and astrologers?
Did the artists? I bet they did.
For artists are the tip of the spear.
Their vision pierces the darkness with ideas expressed in colorful hues, sound frequencies, and movements.
Today, the world is like a kaleidoscope,
oscillating between chaos and order
as we wait, like Mary and Joseph, anticipating the arrival
Of God’s HOPE!
Of God’s LOVE!
Of God’s JOY!
Of God’s PEACE!
In the return of Jesus!