December 12, 2016- Not Enough Room for the Lord of Life? Luke 2:7, Isaiah 45:18

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“And she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

One of the hallmarks of modern life is what we see as the lack of time or space or resources.  How often do we say, “if only I had…more room, more time…more money…more energy,” and so on?

It’s telling that at Jesus’ birth there was “no room” for the arrival of the Lord of Life. The birth of the King of Kings was relegated to a corner of an animal barn.

It’s sad but we miss little advents of Jesus coming into our lives when we find ourselves too busy, too distracted, and too caught up in all the urgency of the moment to see Him shining through.  We think there is no room for Jesus in all of our busyness – but the reality is that we don’t always want to see Him in the room.

For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): I am the Lord, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:18 (NRSV)

Whether we recognize God’s presence or not, He is constantly in and with and through everything.  Even so, He invites us to engage Him, to seek Him, to see Him in His handiwork.

It’s easy to miss those moments where Jesus wants to come more fully into our lives.   Sometimes we are so busy looking after others or doing the things we need to do for physical survival, such as working and chores, that we need to take a moment to ourselves to just invite the Holy Spirit to wash over us and bring us the rest and refreshing that we need to keep on going.

One of the safety instructions that flight attendants give before a plane takes off is that should the plane cabin depressurize and the oxygen masks drop, adults should put on their masks before seeing that children have theirs on.  The logic behind this is that we cannot care for others if we neglect to care for ourselves.  This is true in the practice of our faith as well.  We need to make room for Jesus and invite Him to refresh and renew us in prayer, study and service before we can be of much use in the community and live purposeful, effective lives.

A very wise Pastor once taught that God is not interested in some abstraction called a “spiritual life,” but that He cares about your life.  All of it.  The “sacred,” the “secular,” the holy and the mundane.  Life is a gift of God.   He was willing to make His first fleshly appearance in a dirty animal barn, and die an ignominious and horrific death on a cross to prove His infinite love for us.  He became God with us so we could see that He is the Life.

It’s not so much a question of making room for Jesus, but making the effort to see and recognize Him in the room.

Mary prayed in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) : My soul magnifies the Lord. She made room for Him, figuratively and literally.  We can share her prayer again today- so others may see that Jesus is already in the room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 7, 2016 – A Day That Will Live in Infamy?, My Soul Magnifies the Lord- Isaiah 59:6-8, Luke 1:46-55

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Their webs cannot serve as clothing;
    they cannot cover themselves with what they make.
Their works are works of iniquity,
    and deeds of violence are in their hands.
Their feet run to evil,
    and they rush to shed innocent blood;
their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity,
    desolation and destruction are in their highways.
The way of peace they do not know,
    and there is no justice in their paths.
Their roads they have made crooked;
    no one who walks in them knows peace. – Isaiah 59:6-8 (NRSV)

Not to confuse American history with Biblical prophecy, (and I am not in any way implying that Isaiah foretold the invasion of December 7th, 1941) but in this text Isaiah is also describing the enemy of a people who have been invaded and plundered.

75 years ago today Imperial Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. It may be hard for us to understand the feelings of anger, helplessness, shock and disbelief that our grandparents or great-grandparents must have felt upon hearing the news.  Probably the closest that we can relate to the experience of Pearl Harbor today would be 9-11.  As a nation we felt violated, helpless and broken. We were angry, we were bewildered. We wondered if we would ever be whole again.  We wanted retribution and revenge.

Enemies like the ones Isaiah speaks of, as well as enemies like the Japanese Empire, and enemies like those who would perpetrate terror in the name of a false religion, are nothing new.  If there is anything constant in human history it is that humans like to engage in conflict, cause hurt to other humans, and to make war.  A lot.

The other constant in human history is that God is stubborn.   As much as we try to have our own way, and as devastated as we can be due to the actions of others, God is with us.  In and through the devastation God constantly finds ways to redeem His creation, to restore and bring life.

godwithus-st-augustine

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
    for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
      for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
      His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
      He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
      He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
      He has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
     He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
      according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”-  Luke 1:46-55 (NRSV)

The above verses are often referred to as the Magnificat, or Mary’s response to the news that she is to be Jesus’ earthly mother.  Her choice was to magnify the Lord rather than to magnify her obstacles or the challenges she would face.

Catastrophes will continue to happen as we live in this world of “not yet.”  Jesus Himself told us that there will be wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6) which are part of life on this “not yet” earth.

But will we claim the promise that was offered to Mary?  Even in adversity and desolation, and in the days that live in infamy, God is with us.  Can we allow our souls to magnify the Lord?