2020 Advent Week 2

It’s Tuesday evening.  We’ve had a wind and rain event today.  The ferry has been out of service all day.  The email just came through and it won’t return to the island until tomorrow morning to make the first trip.  I have lived on Grand Manan for a total of 24 years.  The other forty-two of my sixty-five have been spent elsewhere.  I am glad to be home.  If there ever was a group of people who understand that things don’t always go as planned, it would be someone who lives right here.

Whether it is a ferry trip that is canceled due to high winds or vacation plans postponed because the catch was down.  None of these things are in our control.  Still we love our beautiful island home.  Right now things are out of our control.  I just circulated a request for input re: Sunday services.  The concensus is that orange is not a color that we can work with.  So we’ll move one single event online rather than meet in person on Sunday.  We are talking about an hour and a half gathering.  For me it leaves a huge gaping hole but my faith is not built on a 90 minute Sunday event. 

My Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.

I insert this video because I ran to it tonight.  I have never known anxiety in my life but a perfect storm has converged on my life in the last three plus years.  It is absolutely nothing compared to what some of you have faced but it has been too much for me, enough so that I have been driven to connect as deeply as I can with my spiritual resources.  This song has a particular relevance to me these days.

If one of you has a music video or some other material that you have connected with and you’d like to share it, email me at [email protected] and I’ll include it in our online material.

Here is some scripture that I have used this week.  Take a few minutes and look up the passages and think about them.

I have been thinking about the idea of peace.  When Jesus showed up, he brought peace to every conflict or calamity.  He deescalated things except for the religious folk.  Stiil they were unable to argue with his perspective.  I watched a Netflx documentary which was both good and disturbing.  It had to do with misinformation on the internet and how people can be manipulated to believe lies.  Our peace is shattered unless we can get on solid ground.  Facebook, although a wonderful utility for certain purposes, only facilitates confusion a lack of peace.  I have yet to fully process this documentrary but it will make a difference in my own social media presence.

So peace is eliminating the noise, confusion, misinformation.  The favor of God brings peace.  Read the scripture below:

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.””

(Luke 2:8–14, NIV84)

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.””

(John 4:39–42, NIV84)

 “Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

(John 20:24–31, NIV84)

The other scriptures as well have to do with knowledge and belief.  The woman at the well shared her testimony which impacted her community but there cam a point when the townspeople believed for themselves.  They made whatever step of faith necessary, from the knowledge that they had to personal trust in Christ.  Knowledge never takes us the distance.  In the end we all must trust for ourselves.

The scripture re: Thomas illustrates the rfusal to take someone else’s words for anything.  Thomas insisted on seeing for himself.  That’s not doubt at work, in my opinion but discernment.  Look at the following scripture:

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:1–6, NIV84)

As you watch the video today, note what is required beyond knowledge, to take us the distance.  I have mentioned a few thinsg.  You may think of more.  Remember belief is more a matter of the heart than the head. If we are to know the peace of God, it will begin in our hearts.  Paul tells us that we can know the “peace of God that passes all understanding“.

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