Those who follow the lectionary might have preached about John the Baptizer during Advent, but I chose to tackle him on the last Sunday of the year, with perhaps a different take on the life of Jesus’ forerunner. Based on Luke 3.1-20 and Mark 6.14-29, you can listen to this message here:
It occurs to me that I have some faithful readers with whom I have little other contact, so I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very merry
Christmas, and a new year filled with many blessings. Celebrate by worshipping Christ, our new-born King! God’s best!
We often complain about how busy we get around Christmas time, but if you read the biblical account in Luke 2, you’ll notice that it wasn’t a whole lot less busy that first Christmas: there were crowds making their way to their various towns for the census; the nearby shepherds came along at the angel’s announcement; there was “a great company of the heavenly host” (v. 13 – probably a large army of angels) shouting God’s praise; and there were all the people who were amazed at what the shepherds said (v. 18), many of whom probably went to the cave to see what all the fuss was about.
And we think it’s busy when we go shopping!
In the midst of all that was going on, though, what did Mary do? Jesus’ mother took in everything that was going on around her, and she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (v. 19).
Yes, there’s a lot going on at this time of year. And we can learn from one of those who was at the centre of it all to step back and ponder.
It’s not easy, but we can do it if we make a conscious choice to do so.
Even if you’re not done your shopping yet, take a few minutes away from the crowd. Grab a coffee, sit down, take in everything going on around you, and pray. Tell God what’s on your mind, on your heart. Share with him your deepest yearnings and desires. Commit to God that you will make this crazy-busy season about him, first and foremost.
After all, Mary did.
Why not take some time right now? Go ahead! Instead of writing more for you to read, I’ll give you time to rest amid this busy time. You won’t regret it.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” So says the song about Christmas. A big-box stationery chain uses it for back-to-school. And I use it for competitive curling season! The Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Brier, and the Worlds are annual standbys, but every four years, we are blessed with the Olympics, and the trials that choose the men’s and women’s teams that will compete on Canada’s behalf in the Olympics. It’s a wonderful time to see some outstanding curling.
I know, I know – some of you think that watching curling is akin to watching paint dry. But some of us find it pretty exciting both to watch and to play! My point is not to try to convert you to being a curling fan; the Lord will do that in good time!
So what? you might ask.
When I see the same surname on a different face, I’m usually looking at the next generation. Take John Morris, skipping a BC team, whose father was a competitive curler, and who now coaches a women’s team; or Scott Howard, playing for his father, Glenn, in Ontario. The passion for curling is strong enough that the next generation wants to take it on.
I think the church can learn something from competitive curling.
In Deuteronomy 6.4-9, we read: “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (NLT).
Way back in the time of Moses, God’s people were enjoined to make their faith-sharing organic: they were called to make their walk with God a family affair. It’s no different today. What is different, though, is the circumstances around which we seek to follow this command. There are so many influences on our kids’ lives nowadays that the task of being a Christian parent is about the hardest job known to humanity; I salute every man and woman who seeks to follow Jesus and encourage their children to do so. And I pray for parents who seek to raise their children to be followers of Jesus. One of the things I pray for parents is that they will have such joy and enthusiasm for their faith that their kids will want a taste of that joy and enthusiasm for themselves.
If you’re trying to help your kids love Jesus, show them how much you love him! I’m in your corner; you’ve got a tough job. But more importantly, God is with you.