What Brought You Here?

The Word became flesh and lived among us. (John 1:14, New Revised Standard Version)

Christmas Day, December 25, 2022

The Galactic Swirl. First observed in 1845 by William Parsons, the Third Earl of Rosse.

Maye and I grew up in a small border county seat town in South Texas but have lived in seven different cities over the past 30 years because of ministry-related appointments and assignments. As we meet and talk with people in the cities and neighborhoods we move into to live, the question, “What brought you here?” inevitably comes up.

This Christmas, I find myself meditating on what brought Jesus to live here; on earth, that is.

Jesus, says Scripture was with God, and was God in the beginning, before time and all of creation began (Jn. 1:1). He took on human form, became flesh and was born in Bethlehem but grew up in the small forgotten and obscure village of Nazareth for the first thirty years of his life. The Message Bible translation says, “Jesus moved into the neighborhood.” 

If Bethlehem was a “little town,” as the traditional Christmas hymn suggests, Nazareth was even smaller. Nazareth is not even mentioned in the Bible outside of New Testament references. The gospel writers had to explain that Nazareth was a small town in the region of Galilee because few people knew the rural, slow-paced village existed.

Nathanael, a disciple of Jesus, first asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” when told by Philip that the long-awaited Messiah was Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth. Jesus’ foes belittled him by calling him “Jesus of Nazareth.” To deter insurrections and further humiliate the Jews, Pilate had an inscription written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek and put on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (Jn. 19:19).

So, the question I’ve been meditating on this Christmas is, what brought Jesus to live on earth – to move into the neighborhood? After all, in this vast and ever-expanding universe, our earth is minuscule, situated within the Milky Way Galaxy, one of an estimated 350-billion large galaxies that houses about 30-billion-trillion stars; that is 30,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars!

The answer to what brought Jesus here and led him to move into our earthly neighborhood and live among us is a mystery; the mystery of God’s care and love for us. The Psalmist contemplates the mystery of God’s care and love for us when he asks, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established, what are human beings that your mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Ps.8:3-4). Jesus further adds to our appreciation and understanding of the depth and extent of God’s care and love for creation and humanity when he declares that God who cares and knows when one sparrow falls to the ground also knows the number of hairs on our head, cares for us, and loves us (Mt. 10:29-31).  

What brought Jesus to move into and live in our earthly neighborhood was God’s love and care for us. Jesus came to show us a better way of being human in the world. He came save a world laying in and suffering from broken-heartedness caused by sin and error. Jesus came to redeem us from lostness, aimlessness, suffering, sin, confusion, hurt, and our bent toward conflict and war. He did and continues to show us how to love one another through his law of love and gospel of peace.

Whenever Maye and I move into a new community and neighborhood and people we meet ask us, “What brought you here?,” we eventually get around to saying, “Christ did!” We’re here on his behalf to live among you and share the good news with you – if you do not yet already know – that God care for and loves you, you are not alone: the Lord is with you; have hope.

Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad!

Trusting God in the Dark

Fourth Sunday of Advent – December 18, 2022

“When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, he took Mary as his wife.” (Matthew 1:24)

Trust is essential in our relationship with God. Trust promotes our positive action and collaboration with God’s will based on God’s faithfulness to ultimately do what God promises. On this fourth Advent Sunday, we meditate upon what it means to give God the gift of our trust, especially in times when we are in the dark – without full understanding – about what God is up to in our lives.

Two of the four gospels in the New Testament provide accounts of the birth of Jesus. The gospel of Matthew introduces Joseph as the recipient of the annunciation of the Christ Child and the knowledge of the child’s mission – “He shall save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).” In the gospel of Luke, on the other hand, the archangel announces the conception and the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary. Both accounts are similar but not the same.

Joseph, in Matthew’s account, had much to judge and decide after learning that Mary, his fiancee, was with a child not his own. Whatever he judges and decides to do will expose him to social shame and dishonour. If he denounces and repudiates Mary, Mary could be stoned to death for adultery according to a strict application of the law and Joseph would always be known as the man who was cheated on by his fiancee. If he abandons Mary and leaves her to be a single mother, he will be socially accused of being an absent and irresponsible father. Either way, Joseph faces a future of shame and dishonour. In his sense of justice and deep love for Mary, he decides to walk away from the relationship – “to dismiss Mary quietly” – and take the social hit to his reputation to protect Mary from harm and public disgrace.

In that moment of anguish. discernment and decision, God intervenes. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and addresses him as, “Joseph, son of David,” genealogically linking Joseph to both Jesus and to King David. The angel then instructs Joseph to “not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” This angelic message only made sense to Joseph because he knew Old Testament prophecy about the coming of the Messiah!

The angel’s shedding of light (understanding) through the dream that God was at work in the situation overcame Joseph’s fears and gave Joseph the confidence to trust God, when his present situation was dark (absent of understanding). Joseph does as the angel commanded. He trusts God and takes Mary as his wife. He names the baby Jesus (as instructed by the angel) which means in Greek, God who is with us saves, and he becomes Jesus’ adoptive father. Joseph goes on to protect Mary and Jesus from harm by escaping and immigrating to and from Egypt when Jesus’ life was in danger (Matt. 2:13-23) and he provides for his family as a carpenter (Matt. 13:55).

Joseph moves through a season of discernment and judgment in efforts to seek clarity about what his next godly, righteous, and just steps were to be given his situation. God helped Joseph understand what was happening and the role Joseph was to undertake in the situation which gave Joseph the assurance to proceed with confidence even when he did not fully grasp or understand everything. Joseph trusts God in the dark.

This Christmas, we can offer God the gift of our trust, even when we do not fully understand what God is up to in our lives. We can trust God in the dark.

Outrun by God

Scripture: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10, NRSV)

Reflection: The 1999 romantic comedy film, Runaway Bride: Catch Her if You Can, starring Julia Roberts as Maggie and Richard Gere as Ike, focused on Maggie’s fear of commitment. Maggie gets cold feet and flees from several fiancés on their wedding day, jilting them at the altar. Ike discovers that Maggie is hesitant to enter into a long-term relationship because she suffers from people-pleaser syndrome. Ike accepts Maggie for who she is, falls in love with her, and gives her the space to be her differentiated self. Eventually, they have a small private wedding and enter into marriage, springing up joy and celebration for each other, Maggie’s family, and friends. 

Fear of relational commitments is real. Fear of commitment to long-term relationships can be caused by numerous factors such as complicated family dynamics while growing up, attachment issues, former unhealthy relationships, trust issues because of past hurts, child trauma or abuse, and unmet childhood needs. Some go as far as to sabotage healthy relationships to avoid commitment.

The prophet Isaiah proclaims that God, like a jilted but determined groom, is at work to redeem, reconcile, and restore the broken relationship with Israel, God’s bride. God wills to take a people prone to run away, stay away, and stray away from a relationship with him back and start again. With tender love and mercy, God is willing to receive, forgive, bless, clothe with garments of salvation, cover with righteousness, adorn the nation with jewels, and restore their lost fortunes. 

Many jilt God, reluctant to enter into a relationship with God through Christ, afraid to be bound by the promises, privileges, and responsibilities entailed in the relationship. Some jilt God because they feel unworthy or believe the Christian life is too difficult, incapable of living up to their end of the relationship. François Fénelon (1651-1715) wrote extensively about the absolute love of God. He emphasized the spiritual life was the only way to the joy, not drudgery, of life. Fénelon recognized that viewed from the outside, following Christ appears demanding, but insists that Christ’s spirit of love makes such a life easy, led by God’s peace and love within, which sweetens and enables our capacity to sustain the relationship with joy. “God is so good,” says Fénelon, “that he only awaits our desire to overwhelm us with the gift which is himself. If we feed ourselves with Jesus Christ and his word, we shall be like a vessel in full sail with a fair wind.”

The Christmas story is about God’s relentless love for and faithfulness to a world prone to jilt God and God’s love; reluctant to receive and reciprocate with its love and commitment. While it is humanity’s nature to run away, stay away, and stray away from God, it is the loving, merciful nature of God to outrun us. God wills to receive, forgive, bless, clothe with garments of salvation, cover with righteousness, adorn with gifts, and overwhelm us with the gift which is himself. Christ made God’s love known to us through the incarnation, his merciful ministry, and his overwhelming love for us. 

This Christmas, we can stop running away, staying away, and straying away from God; we cannot jilt and outrun God’s searching love and mercy for us. We need not fear committing ourselves to God, who has already committed himself to us through and in Christ. We can trust that God is faithful, and God will help us remain loyal to our commitment with the overwhelming gift, which is himself, always for us, in us, and with us. 


Remember that we are the clay, and you are the potter. We are all the work of your hand. We are all your people. Isaiah 64:9 

Pottery sherd I found at Sepphoris, Israel, while on the 2020 Great Plains Holy Land Pilgrimage

Regifting happens during Christmas. Regifting is the act of taking a gift that has been received and giving it to somebody else, sometimes under the guise of a new gift. Rule # 3 in an article in Money Crashers, “8 Rules for Regifting Unwanted Gifts Etiquette,” says only brand-new items should be regifted. 

What happens then, when we regift ourselves back to God? What if we are slightly damaged, broken, even shattered like sherds of shattered pottery? Will God accept us in that condition? 

Pottery and pottery making is mentioned several times in the Bible. Isaiah and other prophets and preachers used pottery and pottery making as object lessons to teach spiritual truths. 

Making clay pottery requires an idea design, materials, and a process. A finished piece of pottery begins with an idea design in the imagination of the potter of what the final shape and purpose of the created piece will be. Materials such as clay, a pottery wheel, water, and a kiln to fire and dry the pottery to keep it from returning to mud and breaking are needed. The process of pottery making involves the selection of properly prepared soft clay made from mud, the shaping of the mud on the potter’s wheel by a skilled potter, and the firing of the piece of newly shaped pottery in a kiln. 

The prophet Isaiah passionately implores God not to give up on his people. He reminds God that the formation of the people is a work in progress, and God’s work with his people is not yet finished. He calls upon God to come down from heaven and return to the potter’s wheel and finish shaping them with his guiding, loving, and merciful hands.  

Isaiah confesses that the people have not been easy to work with (64:5b-7). The centrifugal forces and pulls of life pushed them to separate themselves from God’s shaping hands. They failed to yield to God’s will. They stopped calling on the name of the Lord and neglected to take hold of God as the center of their personal and communal life. The people chose to live life on their own, without remembering or seeking help and guidance from God for their daily lives. They experience the dread that comes from feeling God’s absence and hiddenness. Without God at the center of their lives, they became spiritually and socially wobbly and uneven, spinning out of control and out of relationship with God. As a consequence, God gave them up to their own sin (64:7). Nevertheless, Isaiah’s prayer reminds God that the people are still clay in his hands and still his people. 

The harsh experience of the exile has softened like clay the hardened and rebellious hearts and minds of the people. The people have tried life without God as their center; it brought them humiliation, loss, and suffering. They are now ready to be reconsolidated and reformed by God. They desire a restored relationship with God, to again call upon his name for help and guidance, gladly do right, remember God in their ways, and place God at the center of their life together. 

Isaiah stands between the people and God as the people’s pastor, priest, and prophet. He offers a gift to God that already belonged to God – God’s very own people. The people Isaiah offers God as a gift have been through some hard times. As exiles in Babylon, they had no form or majesty, they were despised and rejected, and held of no account. They were stricken, struck down, afflicted, wounded, crushed and bruised (Is. 53). The years of exile beat them down and broke them like thousands of unusable pottery sherd pieces.

Nevertheless, Isaiah has absolute faith that God has the power to restore broken people and broken relationships because God is faithful and merciful to keep God’s promise to never leave or forsake his people. His prayer appeals to God’s restorative mercy which is greater than all of their human brokenness, weakness, and sin. 

Christmas is a season for giving gifts; sometimes regifted gifts. We give because God so loved the world that he gifted us his only son Jesus Christ so we might have life, abundant and eternal. Many of us will give gifts this Christmas season to loved ones, to our church so the word and deed gospel can be shared, and to charitable organizations so others can be cared for, fed, clothed, and housed. One important gift we can include is the surrender and regifting of ourselves to God, even if we find ourselves in this season of Advent spiritually wobbly, broken, struck down, wounded, crushed, bruised, or disconnected from God. Regifting ourselves to God will cease our sense of loneliness and abandonment. Pope Francis in his book, The Church of Mercy, says that in surrender to God, we will discover a fuller existence, lit up by faith and the love of the living God. We will find a love of God so great, so deep, a love so unfailing that always takes us by the hand and supports us, lifts us up, and leads us on. 

Let’s regift ourselves to God this Christmas season – even if life has left us somewhat wobbly, broken, and shattered into bits and pieces. God will receive us with open welcome and joy! The message of Advent is that God is not finished with us yet. He continues to shape us and the world to be more loving, merciful and just through new life in Christ. We can regift ourselves to God this Christmas – even our brokenness and shattered pieces of our lives – and trust that our lives will be beautifully reconsolidated and shaped by the Master Potter for good works in Christ Jesus (Ep. 2:10). 

The Final Word

Scripture – I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. Ephesians 1:17-19(NRSV)

Reflection: The writer of Ephesians hears of the faith of the church in Ephesus. He remembers them, gives thanks for them, and prays for them.  He prays that they may know that Christ is and has the final word over all things. He prays that the church would come to know the hope to which God has called them, the riches of their eternal inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of God’s power at work for them that has made them alive together with Christ who is seated at God’s right hand in heavenly places. 

He does not pray for healing of sickness, work for the jobless, food for the hungry, relief from threat of evictions, or a robust economy. His prayer does not deny human troubles; it assumes them. He prays that the Ephesians will focus on what God, the Father of Glory, has done for his Son Jesus Christ and all who place their faith in Christ. He desires they know that the exalted Christ is now enthroned in heaven as King over all creation. No flesh and blood, ruler, authority, cosmic power, or spiritual force of evil can ever defeat him. Christ’s power and reign is limitless, timeless, and cosmic, ultimately ruling above all kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers, dictators, emperors, tyrants, and czars.

On this Christ the King Sunday, we are reminded that Christ the King is and has the final word over all created things, visible and invisible. We are invited to sing, bless, thank and glorify God who has raised and made Christ sovereign over all creation. The prayer reminds us that we are not helpless victims because Christ is now in charge and we belong to Christ. The same power of God at work in Christ is at work for us. This realization grows and matures over our lifetime.

We are bound by the experiences of human life. In spite of all temptations to surrender, we can persevere through life’s daily struggles because all the world is truly under the power of God in Christ. This precious knowledge of God’s power at work in Christ and for us is enough to enlighten the eyes of our heart, enabling us to live and sing praise to God with unshakable hope, especially when we face days of clouds and thick darkness (Ezequiel 34:12).  

The two stanzas below in the hymn, “This is My Father’s World,” best capture this hope: 

This is my father’s world. Oh, let me never forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. 

This is my father’s world. Why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King. Let the heavens ring. God reigns. Let the earth be glad.

Author: Maltbie D. Babcock (1901)

Wising Up

Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to count our days so that we may gain a wise heart”

Reflection: The psalmist reminds us that life is short and precious. He writes in Psalm 90: Mortals fall asleep (die). They are like grass that flourishes and renews in the morning and fades and withers in the evening. Life is filled with toil and trouble, then it’s gone with a sigh – it flies away. 

The psalm’s message is not “deathophobic.” Rather, it reminds us to embrace and wisely use the brief life that we do have while we have it. It calls us to deepen the quality of our lives now with a wise heart centered in a full trust in God that leans toward wisdom, goodness, and love that blesses and makes a positive difference in the world.

Paul describes this kind of living this way: 

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9). 

The ongoing rising U.S. death toll caused by the coronavirus pandemic – 247,000 – has us at least thinking about the possibility of death more than which we are accustomed, especially when the virus touches our lives in one way or another. It also brings us to think about the purpose and quality of our lives.

My uncle Manuel, my dad’s brother, prematurely died of COVID-19 complications this past August. My three cousins and their children still ache over his physical absence from their lives. They are sustained by their hope in God’s unfailing love and by the quality and beautiful memories of my uncle’s love, goodness, and care for my aunt Anna Maria, for them, and their children. 

As I read and reflect on Psalm 90 within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the coming Thanksgiving Holidays, I solemnly think about and pray for all the families that will have loved ones physically missing from their lives and their tables this year because of COVID-19. May the blessed memory of lives wisely-lived by our absent loved ones and the quality of goodness, kindness, and love we received from them gladden our spirits and give us peace in knowing that our everlasting God is our dwelling place from generation to generation. And may God’s Spirit rest upon us, enabling us to live our brief lives with a wise heart and joy – before we fly away.

Listen to the Eyes

Scripture: Psalm 123 To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until he has mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud. 

Reflection: Mask wearing has made us listen more to people’s eyes. We can gather a lot of information about a person’s emotional state from looking at their eyes. Eyes can convey love, affection, cheerfulness, joy, and confidence. They can convey surprise, understanding, wonder, hope, trust, compassion, and mercy. Fear, anger, pain, sadness, judgment, worry, panic, and depression can also be detected when looking into someone’s eyes.  

Proverbs 30:17 listens and observes how a look of the eyes can convey mockery and scorn. Jesus said that the eyes are like lamps that are either lit or dimmed by the condition of our souls. If goodness is in one’s soul, the eyes are lit and bright. Darkness and evil in the soul, on the other hand, dims the light of the eyes. 

The prayerful eyes of the psalmist reveal the pain and darkness in his soul caused by the ugly and dehumanizing experience of scorn and contempt. The psalmist’s eyes also prayerfully communicate the light of trust and a confident expectation that God will respond to alleviate the dehumanizing effects of scorn and contempt on him and his community. 

While the eyes of the psalmist look to God, God also looks into the eyes of the supplicant and all who suffer scorn and contempt. God is moved by faithfulness and steadfast love to respond with mercy through the means of spiritual comfort and hope available through prayer and through the goodness, skills, means, and power of people committed to the common good of humanity. 

The prayerful plea of the psalmist resonates with many in our world that experience more than their fill of the ugliness of scorn and contempt. Like the psalmist, their eyes prayerfully lift up to God and to all people of good will entrusted with the stewardship of life-saving resources, policies, goods, and services that can restore and make whole their dignity and humanity. 

We have learned how to rely on and listen to the eyes, the windows of the soul, over the past eight months for communication because of the use of masks. We have listened to eyes that show scorn and hold others in contempt, and we have listened to eyes that have experienced scorn and contempt. We have also listened to eyes that show care, compassion, and mercy. When I reflect on the passages of Scripture where Jesus “saw” the people who came to him, I believe he saw into their souls by listening to their eyes then responded with acts of healing and mercy that brought wholeness. Jesus commands his disciples to do the same for others. May those held in scorn and contempt experience the listening eyes and healing acts of Christ and God’s goodness through us. 

The Example, Church!

1 Thessalonians 6-7: And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 

How we example to the world our way of living as Christians matters. Our lived example is on public display as individuals, congregations, denominations, and as a local and global ecumenical body of Christ whether we like it or not, are intentional about it, or unintentional. 

My oldest son Aaron shared that his 15-year-old daughter, Karina my granddaughter, calls him out when his actions stray from Christ-like behavior. All she says to him when she observes or hears his actions and words misaligned with the ideals of Christian faith, hope, and love is, “The example, dad! The example.” Meaning, is that the Christ-like example you really want for me to follow? 

Paul’s opening greeting in his letter to the Thessalonians beautifully commends and affirms them for their joy in Christ in spite of persecution and for the Christ-like example they exhibit to all believers in the region. Their example positively influenced and strengthened the faith, love, and hope of other believers. Their life-changing influence made Paul’s pastoral work easier because the foundation of faith and what it meant to live a life of faith was firmly established in the lives of the Macedonian and Achaian Christians because of the joyous, faithful, loving, and hope-filled life exampled by the Thessalonians. 

My granddaughter watches her dad’s actions and hears his words at all times. I do not think she looks to “catch” him. Instead, she expectantly looks to her dad to learn how to live a life that is more joyful, more faithful, more loving, and more hopeful. My son says that he is aware that he does not live in a bubble and that what he does and says affects others, especially his own children. 

Christians do not live in a socially insular bubble; our baptism does not allow for it. To claim we are Christians is to live a private and public life worthy of God who has called us. Such a life carries with it a set of expectations by a watching world that we are a people of joy, of faith, hope, abounding in love, mercy, and justice. The message of the gospel that has come to us, not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction enables us to hold fast to what is good and abstain from harming ourselves and others with our words and actions. 

We are examples to a watching world whether we like it or not, whether or not we are intentional or unintentional about it. Our missional commitment to seek the spiritual and temporal wellbeing of our communities, our nation and our world examples our faith, hope, Christ’s abounding love, mercy and truth. Our call to break down social barriers and see people as people, accepting others who are different than us, is needed today more than ever as a divided and hostile world looks to those that follow Christ and cry out, “The example, church! The example.” 

God’s Abiding Peace – Priceless!

“Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9, New Revised Standard Version)

Inner peace eludes so many today. Billions of dollars are spent every year in efforts to acquire inner peace, and peace of mind. For example, mobile phone users spent $195 million in 2019 on meditation apps. Other ways we try to buy inner peace and peace of mind is through the purchase and use of natural supplements, prescription drugs, security systems, insurance policies, and other risk preventative and safety enhancing goods and services.

A Psychology Today article identifies four types of peace; ease, tranquility, awareness, and the peace of what’s unchanging.[i] Inner peace as a state of ease is achieved when a pressing task is completed, or a problem is resolved, and we don’t have to worry about it any longer. The peace of inner tranquility is a body and mind state of non-reactivity and inner stillness.  Peace of awareness is described as noticing or being aware of trouble all around but not getting inwardly troubled by outward troubles. The fourth type of inner peace, unchanging peace, is a peace that is based on what is reliable, transcendent, and eternal.

The church at Philippi is experiencing the absence of inner peace, calm, and safety. Paul directs the church at Philippi to seek an unchanging peace that is based on God’s unchanging nature of love, mercy, and reliability. He shares how to mature into living in a state of unchanging peace in God even when everything around them was volatile, uncertain, chaotic, ambiguous, and ever changing. He calls upon the church to rejoice in the Lord always, to practice gentleness, humility, prayer, supplication with thanksgiving, and to practice focusing their thoughts on what is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, and commendable. He invites them to learn from his example of life and the inner peace with God he has attained even though he was under house arrest awaiting trial to defend the gospel.

Inner and abiding peace with God is important for our total well-being. God’s inner and abiding peace with us enhances our hope, joy, resiliency, creativity, and outlook on life in the now, for tomorrow, and for eternity. Peace is a gift from God that comes to be “with us” even when the world around us is intimidating. The good news is that God’s unchanging peace is a gift that is accessible and attainable by gaining Christ through faith, knowing Christ, being found in Christ, and becoming like Christ through imitation and the sustaining practices of faith. God’s gift of peace with us is priceless.

Do you have the gift of peace with God with you today? 

Can others clearly notice the peace of God with you as shown forth in your actions, thoughts, and words?  


[i] Hanson, R. (2016, November 09). What Is Your Sense of Peace? Retrieved October 11, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-wise-brain/201611/what-is-your-sense-peace

Declaration of Dogged and Deliberate Hope in The Lord

We look around us and become painfully aware that we are a frail and wearied humanity. We see that we are weary from the countless struggles and threats brought about by an infectious microscopic virus and the havoc it has wreaked all over the world. We see that we are weary from wrestling with unresolved racial tensions and hatred. We see that we are sick of arguing with opposing ideas on how to care for ourselves and others, for whom to care, and why we should or should not care. We see how weary we are from grappling with uncertainties. We see the effects of the growing disorder of our individual lives and the social structures that dehumanize, hurt people, distort relationships, and estrange us from each other. Our world seems dark.

Our chronic – now turned severely acute – awareness of our disordered human condition leads us as people of Christian faith to seek The Lord’s light and healing for our souls and the soul of our world.

As Christians, we are stubbornly and deliberately hopeful, not helpless, because we know by faith that The Lord never gives up on humanity. N.T Wright says that “hope” as conceived within the Jewish and then early Christian world, is a virtue not a feeling. It is a “dogged and deliberate choice when the world seems dark.” [i]  Dogged hope depends on faith in the One God, Creator of heaven and earth. Dogged hope is certain that God can be trusted, is true to his promises and will sort things out even if it is on the other side of terrible suffering. This certain and dogged hope, this assurance of things not yet seen, is a call to worship, bless, and praise The Lord as we anticipate and participate in God’s saving work in the world.  

The world is a dark place for many people today. By faith in our One Creator God, I am declaring this morning with the writer of Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21, my dogged and deliberate dependence and hope in The Lord for myself and invite you to do the same for yourself and our world.  

By faith, I doggedly and deliberately declare: 

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (145:8)

The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made. (145:9) 

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 145:14)

The Lord gives food to all the eyes who look to him in due season. (145:15)

The Lord opens his hand and satisfies the desires of all living things for wholeness – shalom. (Psalm 145:16)

The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. (Psalm 145:17)

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)

The Lord fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:19)

The Lord watches over all who love him. (Psalm 145:20a)

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever. (Psalm 145:21)


[i] N.T. Wright. Paul: A Biography. (San Francisco: Harper One, 2018) p. 45.