Israelites have been in exile and they have lost all hope. God gives Ezekiel this vision of death coming back to life, of breath being breathed into the dead and them rising again. My favorite word in this passage is Ruach . It means breath, wind, spirit. In this vision God shows that God will not only raise the bones, but will breath his very spirit into them, bringing them to life. That is the promise we have from God, God as Holy Spirit walks with us and breathes life into our very weary and brittle lives. God promises to never leave us or forsake us. God will breath new life into us.
Our text from John 11:25-26 speaks to this very promise: 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
When we read the entire story from John about Jesus meeting Lazarus’ sister on the road after he has died, she is very distraught at the death of her brother. Jesus himself weeps over the death of his friend. But we are reminded that this only a momentary separation. In Jesus we have the promise of life eternal. And because of that promise we can live each new day in hope filled with the promise of new life. That is news that I want to share with all who have yet to hear it. I can not imagine how I would get through the difficult times in my life and death of people I love, not knowing the promise that Jesus has given. I want to be sure that everyone I know, hears this promise and I pray that they will accept this promise in their lives.
I am thankful for all who take time to read this message and I pray this brings you a message of hope this Advent season. May you remember that Jesus is God with us, the babe who came down, God’s love for all. May you be surrounded by that love this day and always.
Blessings in Christ,
For my Transit II students and anyone who wishes to respond: What does it mean to you that Jesus is God’s love come down to us? How have or can you show that love this Christmas season? How can you bring God’s hope, peace, love and joy (remember these are the four advent candles) to others?
Advent 1, Daniel 3: 1, 8-30
Daniel : The Fiery Furnace
Sunday, Dec 3, 2017
On Sunday I read from a sermon that Martin Luther King Jr delivered in November of 1967. He is talking about the story of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego. This section was the main point I wanted to share with the congregation and now with you who are reading this Blog.
Here are Martin’s words:
“But let me move now to the basic point of the message. Know this morning, if we forget everything I've said, I hope you won't forget this. It came to the point after saying "Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, but! if he doesn't deliver us, we still are not gonna bow." "But if not" -- do you get that? That these men were saying that "Our faith is so deep and that we've found something so dear and so precious that nothing can turn us away from it. Our God is able to deliver us, but if not..." This simply means, my friends, that the ultimate test of one's faith is his ability to say "But if not." You see there is what you may call an 'if' faith, and there is a 'though' faith. And the permanent faith, the lasting, the powerful faith is the 'though' faith. Now the 'if' faith says, "If all goes well; if life is hopeful, prosperous and happy; if I don't have to go to jail; if I don't have to face the agonies and burdens of life; if I'm not ever called bad names because of taking a stand that I feel that I must take; if none of these things happen, then I'll have faith in God, then I'll be alright." That's the 'if' faith. You know, a lot of people have the 'if' faith. Jacob found himself in that dilemma once, and his faith was contingent on an if. And he said "Now if God will be with me and if he will keep me in this way that I go; and if God will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, that I come again to my father's house in peace, then shall the LORD be my God."  That's the 'if' faith; Jacob hadn't quite gotten to the essence of religion.
There is a 'though' faith, though. And the 'though' faith says "Though things go wrong; though evil is temporarily triumphant; though sickness comes and the cross looms, neverthless! I'm gonna believe anyway and I'm gonna have faith anyway; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, the LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."  And old Job got to that point, he had a 'though' faith. He looked out and everything that he had had been taken away from him, and even his wife said to him "Now, what you ought to do, Brother Job, is to curse God and die. God has been unkind to you, and you should have let God know a long time ago that you would only follow him if he allowed you to stay rich, if he allowed your cattle to stay in place. You ought to curse him and die, Job, because he hasn't treated you right." But Job said "Honey, I'm sorry but my faith is deeper than that. Though he slay me, yet will I trust him. My faith is a 'though' faith." And this is the essence of life and religion. The question is whether you have an 'if' faith, or whether you have a 'though' faith.” http://notoriousbiggins.blogspot.com/2010/01/but-if-not-sermon-by-martin-luther-king.html?m=1
How do we live our lives with a though faith? A faith that wakes up every morning not only ready to share the good news of Jesus, but let’s be honest, sometimes we need to wake up just believing in the hope and promise of Jesus. There are powers in this world that want us to give in and life an “if” life. God wants so much more for us. How do you center yourself in the love and promise of Jesus Christ? I know for myself it is in daily ritual. I make it a priority to set aside Jesus and me time each morning. Waking up and giving thanks for the blessings in my life, asking for strength and wisdom to meet the things I am called to that day with grace and joy. And then I get out there and do it. Living the love I have received in Jesus and trusting that even though things may not turn out the way I had planned, or thought they would. Even though there were struggles, I trust that God is right there beside me and I go to bed giving thanks for those moments when I saw God and pray for forgiveness when I got in the way. And rest in God’s promises preparing me for the next day.
How do you center yourself to live a life of “though” faith? May you trust in Gods presence as you grow in your faith and trust in the one who came to earth that you would know the love God has for you. Blessings as you wait, anticipate and prepare this advent season.