Encouragement From The Word

Busy isn’t always better

Does December feel a bit different this year?

I could have asked that question last year and gotten a resounding YES! out of most any reader.  But what about this year?

Despite rising case numbers and the advent of the Omicron variant, this month leading up to Christmas seems a bit more normal than last year, for many people.  After all, stores are open, people are shopping, traffic jams in mall parking lots are there – but does it feel the same as in the past?

For those of us in church life – staff or volunteer – last December showed us how different it could be.  Commonly, our churches have been bustling with activity, from pageants to suppers to services.  Combine that with family obligations, and a lot of Jesus’ followers were pretty worn out by the time it came to celebrate his birth.

Last year was different.  Where I live, anyway, we were in lockdown at Christmas.  Activities were curtailed.  Family gatherings were discouraged.  Services were online-only and, in many cases, pre-recorded.

This year, unless things change drastically in the next two weeks, we’ll be able to have limited activities, gatherings, and services, all face-to-face.  But my sense is that the pace is slower.  The tension is lower.  The frenetic level of activity around this holy season has been reduced.

To me, it feels more…human.

How appropriate.

After all, this scurrying about that we do in December is all in celebration of God who became human.  That’s what incarnation means.

When John, the Gospel writer, gave his version of a birth narrative, he proclaimed that “the Word became human and made his home among us.  He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.  And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1.14, NLT).

In this version of the New Normal (and, we sense, there will be at least one more version yet to come), we have a bit more time, amid our celebrating, to behold the unfailing love and faithfulness, the glory of God, who became human and made his home among us.

I hope, in these weeks that remain before Christmas, that you will embrace that opportunity to behold those things…because busy isn’t always better.

Biblical Messages

A Christmas Riddle

John the Baptist introduces Jesus as the Lamb of God, and offers a riddle as part of the description.  We all like a riddle now and again – what does this one mean?  Listen, or watch, and find out.  This message is an exposition of John 1.29-34.

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Biblical Messages

Christmas morning: Differs not by one iota

Merry Christmas!  At our Christmas morning service, I did a very short review of our journey (so far) in the Gospel of John (by reading 1.1-14) and reviewed an important theological point that was posted on this blog a few weeks ago.  Listen to, or watch, this brief message below.

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Biblical Messages

A voice in the wilderness

In Advent, it’s normal for one Sunday to be dedicated to the story of John the Baptist.  Since we’ve begun a series in the Gospel of John, we’ve continued in that tradition, but at a different time.  We’ll see more of John the Baptist yet, but for now, we learn something of what our responsibility is – even at Christmas – through John the Baptist’s testimony.  Listen to, or watch, this message based on John 1.19-28 below.  (The song with which we closed the service was the old hymn May the mind of Christ, my Saviour.)

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Biblical Messages

Near to the Father’s Heart

If you want to know God, you need to know Jesus, who is near to the Father’s heart.  And we know Jesus by reading Scripture.  Listen to, or watch, this message based on John 1.15-18.

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Biblical Messages

In the beginning

…no, not that “In the beginning” – the one in John 1.1-5!  We’re starting a series on John’s Gospel with this message, which starts the season of Advent.  This is the closest John comes to a birth narrative; listen, or watch, to find out why it’s One Of Those Things that’s Not Like The Others.

 

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