31:7 For thus says the LORD: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, "Save, O LORD, your people, the remnant of Israel." 8 See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. 9 With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, "He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd a flock." 11 For the LORD has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. 12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again. 13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. 14 I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the LORD.
[size=85]Ephesians 1:3-14 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will,6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory.
John 1:1-14: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth...."[/size]
Christmas 2b 2009 Grace/& Peace to you from God our Father & from our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
Comic: began New Year's routine: It’s time to make New Year resolutions. Have you made yours yet? Last New Years I made 6 resolutions and I am proud to say that I kept them all year long. I kept them in an envelope in the top drawer of my desk!
also told story re:A young woman was at a New Year’s party.
she asks her friend for a cigarette.
The friend replied “I thought you made a New Year’s
resolution to quit smoking,”
The young woman answered
“I’m in the process of quitting, Right now,
I am in the middle of phase one.”
“What’s phase one?” the friend asked.
The young woman replied. “I’ve quit buying.”
¿ Any NY resolutions this year? ¿ ____? ¿______?
¿ Past years? ¿_____? ¿____?
¿ Success ?
For my part: Among other things, I have resolved in past to:
• eat less
• exercise more
• budget better
• Be more loving spouse, supporting parent
• Be more patient
• Procrastinate less
• Accomplish more
• Pray more diligently
Oddly enough – for years,
Make new list, ….w/ same items
Why? Because good @ making…
Terrible @ keeping them.
But every year, do it over again.
Why? Why do we bother w/ what
Often seems to be an exercise in futility?
I think it is because as sinful people,
People who, to paraphrase St. Paul:
Do what we don’t want to do, shouldn’t do
And fail to do that which we know is right,
We need the hope offered in possibility
Of new beginnings,
Of blank slate,
Such possibility can make us
Happy, excited, motivated to get started,
Eager to see results of our new way of living/ being.
We are hopeful we can avoid our past mistakes,
Review all the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” times,
And learn from our errors.
And sometimes we can, a little.
But usually, we don’t see instant results,
Or it is harder than we’d planned;
Or we are distracted by a crisis in life.
We get discouraged, disappointed, even lazy.
So we loose ♥, make excuses, give up.
& b4 we know it, are back to our old habits & ways.
Resolution, not forgotten, but discarded;
& a sense of failure driven just a bit deeper
Into our spirit.
And that makes it that much harder
To kindle up a spark of willingness to try again.
Eventually, maybe like me:
Stop making resolutions.
They are a set up for failure.
I now make “goals” or “possibility lists”.
And I no longer raise the bar as high for myself:
Instead of: “I am going to loose 20 lbs in 2 months”,
I tell myself, I’d be content to loose 2 lbs. per month –
Keeping it off would be easier that way…
But you & I both know – It = only semantics/ word games
Excuses, self justification.
Ultimately, such techniques are merely ways
Of offering one’s self permission to fail.
Why, in all the excitement of the possibilities
offered in New Year, New opportunities
Do we so quickly stumble & fall?
Why, in w’s of St. Paul,
Do we all “fall short of the mark?”
It is because to the New Day, the New Year,
The New Dream , we bring……
Our old self …..
& along w/ old self, we bring
Old baggage of sin/ failure, pride/ denial
Shame/ anger/ rage.
We try to do a new thing w/ old tools,
And worst of all, we try to do repairs on the worst client:
The one holding the wrench.
A repairman cannot fix himself.
We cannot mend our own brokenness.
Even if we have “knowledge” @ our disposal:
We = like man in commercial,
Sitting @ kitchen table w/ butter knife/steak knife(?)
Speaking w/ dr. on phone
Who is trying to talk the man thru
Performing a self appendectomy or some such.
Finally the man says to dr.:
“shouldn’t you be doing this?”
Does this mean we should stop making NY resolutions?
One author wrote:
“Those who refuse to make New Years resolutions
because they always break them anyway
are missing the point.
Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self-assessment
& repentance that demands personal honesty
& reinforces humility.
Breaking them is part of the cycle. “
What author neglected to say
(or what someone neglected to quote) was what
the most important part of cycle is:
That our self assessment & repentance,
Ø matter how humble,
Is pointless, futile
unless there = some way, someone
Who offers forgiveness,
Who provides a new beginning
We need someone whom we can trust
To show us a way out of the old cycle of
Brokenness, sin & death,
Into a new way of hope & joy & trust in New Beginnings.
And the Good News, the Gospel this 2nd Sunday after Xmas
Is this: We have such a one in Christ Jesus –
One who was in the beginning,
Who began the beginning,
And who gives to those who believe & trust
Power to become new –
To become children of Θ.
that we were created to be in our beginning.
And what really boggles the mind
= that our new beginnings,
Our new tomorrows,
Were planned from the first beginning –
Before we were born,
Before our mother’s father’s mother’s father
When Θ began the world,
He planned his fullest revelation of himself
to appear to us in Jesus of Nazareth,
born in Bethlehem.
Θ has been in the business of new beginnings
From the beginning:
Scripture witnesses to this
In the story of Θ making clothes for A&E b4
Expelling them from garden;
In protecting Cain w/ special mark after Cain kills Able;
In enabling Jacob to reconcile w/ Esau
After tricking him out of birth right,
In providing kings for Israel
When they begged for a human ruler,
In giving King David many children,
Even tho he committed murder & adultery.
In Jeremiah’s proclamation today of Θ’s promise
To re-gather the exiled Israelites,
To turn mourning into joy & Sorrow into gladness,
All of the possibilities & hopes of our new beginnings
Are rooted in the One who calls us son’s & daughters,
Who took on flesh in the babe of Bethlehem,
Who lived & loved among us,
Died on † to assure us of forgiveness of sins.
Declared the best new beginning of all:
That the power of sin & death are not the ultimate power.
Life in Θ is the ultimate power,
And will reign for all of eternity.
We experience that new beginning
@ baptismal font -- poured out on us in ♥,
Bringing promise of forgiveness, & new life in Him.
Claimed anew as Θ’s children,
Born once more in the Father’s ♥.
We experience that new beginning
@ God’s holy table – in bread & wine, body & blood.
Peace, forgiveness, a clean slate,
Power to live an amended life,
Knowing that when we fall short
(and we will…at least this side of KΘ)
We are able to come once more
To our forgiving, loving parent,
For restoration, reconciliation, renewal.
On our own, we can make all the resolutions we want –
They can be a form of confession.
But until we turn the list over to Θ and say,
“shouldn’t you be doing this?”
They are useless.
Because even if we can loose weight,
Be more patient –
These are all surface stuff –
They show on the outside.
None of these address the deeper truth –
The inner brokenness & separation
That can only be healed by
♥ & power of Θ of resurrection.
The other thing re: run of the mill resolutions ,
So what if we do slim down, toss the tobacco, use $$ more wisely?
What do we do w/ the healthier self,
The fatter wallet?
Are these things the ultimate goal?
Or is there a deeper, more meaningful purpose?
Perhaps another reason our resolutions fail so frequently
Is when we try to do them on “self-will”
Rather than “Θ- will”
There is only a selfish purpose as foundation.
But if fulfilling the resolution is a means to a more meaningful goal
If there is a bigger picture in sight
We might have more sustaining motivation.
Eg: quit smoking so I can watch my grandchildren grow up;
Become thinner so that I have more energy to
Do the work/ hobby that I enjoy.
Manage $$ better so that later I can travel the world.
Even better then,
If we hand Θ the list, & not only say,
“shouldn’t you be doing this”
But then add – “now Θ – what do you want me to do for you w/ this fresh start, this new beginning?”
Because Θ ≠ offers us a new beginning for Ø reason:
Θ has a purpose in all He does;
He has a purpose for each one of us;
He has a purpose for Shepherd of the Valley in Galt.
& if we ask him, he will reveal that purpose to us.
Each day that we live into our “new beginning” in X,
He will show us more of that purpose.
And as we grow in trust,
He will give us power to accomplish that purpose.
(which, will give us even more reason to trust).
So then, if w/ Θ’s help, we become healthier,
Have a bit more $ left @ end of month,
We can be doing it so that we are better
Able to serve Θ & our neighbor,
to live into our baptismal new beginnings –
Our primary purpose, of course:
The great commission @ end of Matthew:
Go to all nations, teaching all I have commanded,
baptizing in the name of F/S/HS..
But w/in the larger purpose, Θ has specific purposes
For each of us.
And he provided for our ability to respond to his plans –
First by making us his children,
Then “blessing us in X w/ every spiritual blessing in the
* ≠ “some”, or “a few” or “a little bit” – But “EVERY”….
God ≠ stingy: Paul tells Ephesians
that Θ has “lavished” riches on us.
In Jesus, an eternal kingly inheritance is ours.
Our possibilities for new beginnings in Jesus = infinite,
Limited only by two things:
1) extent of Θ’s ♥, which, I hope you will agree = ♥ w/ out limits.
2) Our willingness to receive it.
Think about Θ’s love as huge, gushing Artesian well.
When we = thirsty, & know others are too
– do we bring a teaspoon,
or a huge bucket to the water?
The flow is constant, abundant … why take only a little ?
Θ ≠ stingy to us. we need be stingy
w/ His ♥ to ourselves, or to others.
We are called in our baptism to be bold in our witness
to New Beginnings offered by Jesus --
that others might also have opportunity
To give Θ their list & experience their own
New Beginnings & growth in ♥ & service to Θ.
Now, I know after reflecting this a.m.
on your own resolutions & new beginning possibilities,
you are dying to know what some of today’s
celebrities have resolved for the coming year:
BRITNEY SPEARS: “I would like to stop worrying so much because I worry all the time. And to learn how to be happier, just in general. And to stop biting my nails!”
KANYE WEST: “My resolution is to be as nice as possible to the press.”
FERGIE: “It’s always the same: to work out more and eat healthier. I’m trying to go organic, eat more raw.”
JAMIE FOXX: “I’m looking for the right woman. ….
CAMERON DIAZ: “I have always had the same New Year resolutions: to stop smoking, … and to stop shopping”
DAVID ARCHULETA: “I would like to learn more about the music and business that I have gotten into…
Tory spelling: drink more water & stand up straight.
Aren’t these wonderful?
Because certainly the world will be a better place
if our celebrities don’t worry,
don’t bite their nails,
drink more water
& are nicer to the press!
Θ desires so much more for us,
Brings out so much more from us:
I encourage one resolution:
That each one of us resolve to strive to:
Know more deeply, trust more deeply,
The Θ of New Beginnings,
And allow him to work new things in us this year
For his glory & for his purpose,
That in the fullness of time,
he will gather up all things in him.