For some reason God seems to do the best character development work when we are in the wilderness. Throughout the biblical text we see people out in the wilderness or in the "wintertime" of their spiritual lives. It is often here that God decides to do something new. “Now my heart is returned to sister winter,” as singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens describes it.
The idea of the future has a mysterious quality to it because it is always beyond us, in one sense not yet fulfilled. As you look ahead, what do you anticipate about the future? What concerns or fears do you have? Do you think that in the midst of the inevitable uncertainty regarding various aspects of our future, there is still reason to be hopeful about what lies ahead for you, for your family, or for others? Why or why not?
Christmas reminds us God is redeeming all our little human stories into his great divine story through Jesus Christ. This is the good news of the Gospel. The nature of Jesus’s incarnation—God becoming human to be in relationship with each of us—puts us face to face with real people with real stories. When we choose to distort, ignore, or not enter into another’s story, we deny the incarnation and change what is happening.
As unpopular as it may seem the reality of Advent is that it doesn’t need to occur in the best of circumstances. In fact, Jesus was born in the midst of terrorism and heinous acts against human life.
Grace brought me to him; Grace made me right with him; Grace is the only way I am allowed to live with him. God’s first word and his last word toward me is Grace.
A covenant between parties is a two-way street. We aren’t mere recipients of Jesus’ salvific act. We aren’t coming to the table just to “remember,” and proclaim a big hearty “thank you.” We are called to obedience, to be faithful to the covenant in which we have been inaugurated. We are eating and drinking the atonement. We are being baptized into it. We are committing ourselves to the baptismal life, the-dying-and-rising-to-Christ life.
Methodists gathered together because they were convinced that growth in holiness was most likely to happen in community.
It's a mistake to criticize questioning by and in itself. An unexamined life is not worth living, and an unexamined faith will last about as long as Farrah Fawcett hair, Hammer pants, beanie babies, MySpace, "Gangnam Style" and every other grass that withers and flower that doth fade away.
The Lord is commissioning us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to go out into the lost and broken world whereby we will surely incur hurtful wounds and subsequent scars. In those places, we will be able to share the sufferings (Phil 3:10-11) and forgiveness of the Crucified One, and with Paul say, “ I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Through time and faithfulness to the Lord, you may also be able to share Paul’s words, potentially to those who look down their noses at your age, and say “From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the scars of Jesus” (Gal 6:17; cf. 2 Cor 6:4–6; 11:23–30).
We modern people think of miracles as the intervention or suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant miracles to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus came to redeem where the world is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs of his power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. In the end, miracles are the restoration of order by Jesus’ interruption of the broken order or the way things work.