Friday, December 9, 2016

Heart of Advent

How is Advent progressing for you? What is occupying your heart and mind these days? Are you growing weary of the same Christmas music on every radio station in every store? Are you overwhelmed by shopping and preparations yet to do? Or are you filling up with the overwhelming mercy of God that Advent announces? Perhaps our little foray this Friday can serve as a bit of commercial in the ongoing activity of the season to encourage or correct as needed.

This Sunday we will be looking at Zechariah’s tongue-loosed, exultation commonly called the Benedictus. As the old priest’s sentence of silence is broken we hear him proclaim clearly the mission of the Redeemer in these terms: to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God (Luke 1:77,78). Knowledge of salvation. Forgiveness of sins. This is the heart of Advent. These are our most fundamental needs. Here human desperation meets Divine deliverance. Our folly meets His fullness. Unavoidable rejection meets an undeserved Redeemer. Praise God for tender mercy wrapped in the form of a vulnerable babe sent to deliver! As the days progress, may the truths Advent calls to mind form the prism through which we view the world.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Listening to Wisdom

Everyday we engage the community around us, grocery stores, business contacts, neighbors, mechanics, etc … One place I frequent is the YMCA. The Y is a great place for conversation, particularly in places like the hot tub, sauna or steam room. Yesterday, while sweating in the sauna, I was able to meet a young artist from Togo living in GR named Wisdom. It was great to hear a little of his story; to hear about his art, culture, love for GR. It was an initial conversation, I am looking forward to more.

One of the great gifts that we can give to people is to hear them out. I have been struck by this coming out of the recent election cycle. Both leading up to the election and coming out of it, I have seen people much more apt to give their opinion (posting on FB or in person) rather than to listen to their brothers and sisters. James has a perspective that is worth hearing to: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19). When we do this follow, the pattern that God sets when he deals with us: he listens. Take a look at the following list the session compiled a few years ago that indicates how God listens to us:

He inclines his ear to us. He sympathizes with us. Gets down to us (our level). Welcoming - Drawing us to himself. Hears with understanding. Hears the real message through our groaning. Hears us with delight. Never gets tired of hearing us. Without finding fault (not upbraidingly) Objectively. Without neediness on his part. Personally. His hearing has life to it. It’s essential. Hears with undivided attention. Hears above the noise.

Wouldn’t it be great if our listening to one another, both those like us and those different from us (culturally, politically, emotionally, racially, socio-economically, educationally, etc..) looked like that! Well there is no reason why it can’t. After all, who lives in you? Whose ears do you have? We are united to Christ and our life is hid with Christ in God. Let’s listen to Wisdom!