Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jesus is coming to town!

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in our living room with my two kids.
We were taking a few minutes to admire our newly decorated tree and discuss Christmas.
My three year old son Charlie said to me, “Daddy Jesus is coming.”
Now for a pastor there is no greater moment of pride then when your children understand the true meaning and value of Christmas.
Here was my three year old son already understanding the true meaning of Christmas.
And just as I was thinking this he added, “Yeah, Jesus is coming to my house. He is going to come down the chimney.”
At first I laughed because I thought he had only gotten it half right.
But after thinking about it I realized that his statement was right on the money.
Jesus is coming to our houses this night.
The story of Christmas is amazing because it is the story of God coming into the world as a human being.

God the ruler of the universe, the master of all that is, came into the world and lived a life of a human.
Think about how great that is!
God cared enough about us that God’s son was willing to humble himself to come to be with us.
God loved us so much that he sent his Son who had full equality with God to be one of us.
And so tonight I’m telling you Charlie was right, Jesus comes into our homes.
Maybe not down the chimney, but he does come into our homes.
Jesus comes into our hearts.

Just as that first Christmas the angels came to the shepherds and told them the good news.
“To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Tonight the angels give us that same message Jesus comes for us.
And Jesus does not come into our make believe lives but our real lives.
Our lives that are not a perfect Normal Rockwell painting.
Our lives that do not always look so glorious from the inside.
Our lives that are broken, imperfect, and full of sin those are the lives that Jesus comes into.
Because the manger reminds us that not only Jesus birth is humble, but his death will be humble as well.
It will be a death on a cross that is for the salvation of the world.

So tonight Jesus comes into our lives.
I remember a couple of Christmas’s ago I spent a lot of time in the hospital beside a parishioner who was dying.
A mist all the wires, peeps, and blood I realized that in that room I experienced God more than in all the time I had spent in the malls, parties, and caroling.
I saw the members of this persons family shed tears of sorrow for someone they love, I saw them give up their time and energy to be with this person.
That was where Jesus was.
It is the way Christ enters our lives at their lowest when they are the worst.
And it is always through others giving that we experience the true value and meaning of Christmas.
Because through these instruments of flesh and blood Jesus enters into our lives.

Jesus comes into our homes this night.
Because we will gather with friends and family.
We will give gifts that we have sacrificed to give.
We will share good wishes, and merriment.
I think these things too are part of how Christ enters our lives.
That first Christmas eve all the characters are joyful.
The angels, the shepherds, Mary and Joseph are praising God.
They are joyful at the birth of our savior.
We too should be joyful that our loved ones are with us, that we are healthy, and that we are loved by our God.
I regret that sometimes in Christmas as we Christians react to some of the over commercialization we forget to be happy and joyful as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
This is a joyful night.
I love Christmas Eve service because it is joyful.
We all sing wonderful hymns, the choir brings joyful songs of praise to our God, the story of God’s peace to all the earth is told again.
Jesus comes to us in the celebration of our lives.

Jesus comes amongst the turmoil of the world.
In the story from Luke Jesus is born the middle of the rule of the Romans.
He is born in the middle of a census to count people for a tax.
He comes in the middle of war, economic upheaval, and uncertainty about the future.
We know that our world tonight is also unsettled.
Our country is fighting two wars.
The past year has brought economic calamities to many.
We have seen public figures lie, cheat, and steal all of our trust.
Into the middle of all that comes Jesus Christ.
Not undoing it, but saving us and redeeming the world.
I would like to suggest that in this place, at this worship service, for this time we are together celebrating the birth of Jesus everything is as it should be.
We are at peace, there is love, there is joy, our hearts are filled with God.
Think about it we are sitting here together singing songs about the birth of our savior.
We are remembering that God keeps the promises he made through the prophets, “behold the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…For a child has been born for us, a son given to us..”
The promise given many years ago through the prophet Isaiah has been fulfilled.
We are remembering that to us is born a savior, to shed the light, to bring peace, love, and joy.
Yes the world is a crazy place, but Jesus Christ has come into the middle of it.
And tonight in this place everything is as it should be.

As we leave tonight, as we remember the birth of our savior, we remember that Jesus has come into our homes, into our world, into our hearts.
We celebrate tonight because to us is born a savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Waiting in Peace

So far this advent we have talked about hope, love, and joy.
Today on this last Sunday of advent we are going to talk about peace.
Peace is often understood as an absence of war.
True peace is so much more than this.
True peace is the absence of hostility and fear from within ourselves, with our neighbors, with our world.
Even more it is the presence of hope, love, and joy.
Peace is the condition of life I believe we all most want and desire.
And peace is what we search for long for.
It is why we continue almost 2,000 years later to come to worship Jesus.
It is why all of you are here this morning.
You seek peace.
You seek your soul’s rest, for conflict to be removed, for hostility and fear to end.
Peace is so desired and yet so far from us.
In the history of the world there has been 3 days of peace!
And not even consecutive days.
I would guess that very few of us in our lives experience this much peace.
It is no wonder the world is always at war.
We are always at war within ourselves.
How many of us right now are carrying burdens of past relationships damaged?
How many of us are fighting with a member of our own family, or with another member of this congregation?
Forget the global implications of peace on a micro level we have a hard enough time finding and making peace.

Peace is important.
Did you know that the reason we pass the peace with one another before communion is to obey Christ command in the Gospel of Matthew.
There Jesus tells us basically that “Before you come to the altar make peace with one another.”
It is why I try to pass the peace with everyone in the congregation before communion.
If I had offended anyone during my sermon I want to make sure we are ok before we take the Lord’s body and blood together.
Jesus showed us that having peace was important for our spiritual well being.

Peace is hard.
But every Sunday we come.
We come looking for Jesus to give us peace.
What we read from the Gospel of Luke this morning is how Jesus brought peace to a troubled world.
Mary knew that the baby she was carrying was special.
She believed the witness of the angel.
As Elisabeth says to Mary, “blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
Do we believe what has been spoken to us about Jesus?
Do we believe that Jesus can and will bring peace?

Jesus brings peace into our lives in many ways.
He brings peace through forgiveness.
One of the things that upsets us, and hurts us is that we make mistakes.
We sin.
This brings hostility to our souls.
What brings peace is the forgiveness we have received through Jesus Christ.

Jesus brings peace through eternal life.
One of our great fears is death and loss.
I believe the reason for this is that it is one of the things beyond our control.
We like control and when things are out of our control we have turmoil in ourselves.
Jesus has assured us that even in death God is in control.
When we have faith in Jesus there is a peace that passes our understanding, and gives control to the God who is always faithful.

Jesus brings peace through revealing God to us.
One of the great things about Mary’s song is that she uplifts the truth of God’s work in the world.
It is often hidden from our eyes.
We simply do not always know what God is up to.
We don’t know why a five year old girl dies of a mysterious blood disease.
What Jesus shows us is that we can know certain things about God.
One of those things is that God will always be in what the world despises.
God will be in the week, the lowly, the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful, the merciful, the lost.
This is good news for us.
Because it means we can stop trying to find God where the world tells us to look.
Stop trying to find God in the unknown.
Instead look to your brother and sister next to you.
Look at those who are hurting and in pain.
That is where God is.

In Elie Wiesel’s book Night people are standing in line waiting to go into the consecration camps.
They can smell death.
One of the characters says, “Where is God in all this?”
Another character points to the hanging gallows and says, “There. That is where God is.”

I think in Christmas admits everything that is going on most of all we should remember that Christ showed up in the most unlikely of places.
He showed up born to a pregnant teenager, a poor carpenter, born in the stable of smelly animals, announced to poor shepherds.

What I believe is that he shows up in all of our lives.
But in ways we are not looking for.
In the middle of our hostility, and our fear God shows up and saves us, redeems us.
As Mary Sings, “The mighty one has done great things for me.”
I have found that Jesus brings us a peace.
We find a new way to be in the world.
We find a new way to exists with the people around us.

That is why we continue to come to worship this Jesus Christ.
Because with him we receive peace in our lives.
It is a peace that allows us to cut through loss and damage and to see God.

Jesus allows us to see God working through, in, and under our lives.
Jesus allows us to have peace with one another, within ourselves, and with the world.
Jesus allows us to forgive ourselves.
Jesus allows us to forgive others.
Jesus allows us to have eternal life.
Jesus allows us to see God in the difficult times.
Jesus takes away our hostility and replaces it with peace.

I ask you to consider if after having been in worship.
After having received the body and blood of Jesus.
After having heard his love for you do you not feel at peace.
I know I do.
All week long my world can be falling apart.
But at least for an hour every Sunday I am here, and I am at peace.
The trick is for us then to take that peace and bring it into the world.
To share it with our families, our friends, our neighbors, strangers, and if we get really good our enemies.
Then and only then are we able to create true and lasting peace.
I want to leave you all with a quote I like, “Peace is achieved one person at a time, through a series of friendships.”
I like this quote because it brings into perspective the task of creating peace.
It is a daily job one we have to work on all the time, and it is never done until we all have made friends even with our enemies, and even within our own sinful selves.
It seems like an impossible task but we keep working at it.
And every week when we gather we work at bringing peace into our lives through Jesus Christ.
Because for us as Christians peace is achieved through knowing Jesus.
It is through remembering God’s promises and the benefits of a life of faith.
God is working in each of our lives.
God is working through us the lowly and forgotten to bring peace.
And so this Christmas season we say once again, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

Waiting in Joy

The third Sunday of advent is the Sunday of Joy.
All of our readings for this morning deal with Joy.
For me one of the greatest moments of joy was when my children were born?
On their birthdays we tell them the story from our perspective of what it was like for them to come into the world.
We know that in the life of our children their will other days of great joy.
There will be graduations from high school and college, sporting events, plays, marriage, job success, and many other little moments to rejoice in the accomplishments.
What I would like to suggest to you this morning is that this is the greatest, most important, and most joyful day of our children’s life was their Baptisms.
In fact, our baptisms are the most joyful day of any of our lives.
Because Baptism is not just for those really happy times in life, it is more for the moments in between.
It is for the moments of doubt, fear, frustration, and failure.
Baptism is the moment in our lives when we tie our life journey to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Our Baptism is the day when we receive the blessing of knowing God!
And that is joyful.

As St. Paul writes in his letter to the church in Philippi this morning, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.”
In all things St. Paul encourages us to have joy.
That means in all times of our life the good and the bad.
It is important to have joy in times of great accomplishment and in times of great failure.
It seems like such an odd request.
How is it even possible?
As a parent I have lots of fears about my children’s lives.
Will they be good enough?
Will they find love and faith?
Well they be happy?
Imagine my son Charles in fifteen years getting ready for the junior prom.
Only he is unable to find a date. (I am no way suggesting I think this is going to happen I offer it as a possibility)
You can imagine that this for a seventeen year old would be devastating.
How would one coop with such a monumental hardship?
There is only one way that I can think of and that is through faith.
It is through seeing ourselves as beloved children of God.
For with God we are always cool.
We are always loved.
And with God we can still find joy in all things.

This is why I had my children Baptized, I would assume it is why any of us where Baptized so that our whole life we will know the joy of knowing God’s love given to us.
So when we feel alone we will know that God is with us.
St. Paul tells us that “The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving; let your requests be made known to God.”
God is there for us when our friends fail us, when we feel like there is nowhere else to turn.
In prayer we can turn to God and know through faith that God is there always eager willing and able to hear and listen.
In those times we know that even if we feel like a failure God has something greater in store for us.
In our Baptisms we all have this assurance.

One of my best friends has been living in LA for ten years now.
He has been trying to make a living as a screen writer.
Unfortunately he has not been making it.
Not from lack of trying or even from a lack of talent.
He is smart, he writes wonderfully well.
I have read some of his scripts and would enjoy seeing movies that he has written.
But it just is not working.
I was talking to him on the phone.
He was down because it seems that his dream is slipping from him.
I told him that I believed God had something even greater in store for him.
That God had a purpose to his life, and that someday he will look back and know why all this had happened.
You see that is what faith does for us.
It helps us have a grounding in our lives that allows us to have joy even in the midst of loss, frustration, or suffering.

They did a study that people who grow up as part of a religious community has a better time in life dealing with failure and hard times.
Therefore they had better chance (statically speaking) of being successful.
They had less of a chance of getting divorced, becoming homeless, and dropping out of school, becoming involved in criminal activity and dying earlier.
This is not to say any of this is a guarantee, it is only to say that we give our children a better chance at success, at being able to deal with what is sometimes a cruel world when we give them the gift of knowing God.
It is why we rejoice that we are part of the body of Christ.
I have noticed over the years that a congregation is just brighter and more joyful when there is a Baptism.
It is impossible not to feel the joy of a new baby entering into a lifelong relationship with Jesus Christ.

It is not only us who are joyful when a new life is brought into a relationship with God.
But God is joyful.
One of the startling things about the reading from Zephaniah is that it is not only the people that rejoice, but God rejoice that the people have restored their relationship with God.
“God will rejoice over you with gladness, God will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
What a great image God is so happy that the people have restored their relationship with him that he is singing in heaven.
Baptism is about our restored relationship with God.
It is about Jesus Christ giving us God’s love forever, and making us a new convent of forgiveness and love.
Now our relationship with God is restored through this water that washes away our sins, and brings us to new life.
And not just on the actual day of our baptism, but on multiple days of our lives.
There are many times when we lose our way, and forget who we are and what we are about.
But when we remember our Baptism, when we remember the joy of our parents, grandparents, when we remember the joy of the God’s people assembled.
Most of all when we remember God’s joy at calling us God’s children then we remember that we belong to a God who will not let us fall, who will be with us in all things, and who will turn away our fears, our frustrations, our failures.

This is what we wait for in advent our joy to be restored.
To remember what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do for us.
God rejoices over us with gladness.
God will renew us in his love.
And will exult with us over with loud singing.

Today God certainly rejoices as we assemble to remember our life with God, to have our joy restored.
We at Concordia are joyful this morning not because everything is great, but because of our faith in God.
A faith that daily renews us and washes us in God’s love and forgiveness.
Perhaps that is why we are so joyful at a Baptism because we as people of faith know how important our faith is to us.
We know how much we rely on Jesus to help us through our lives.
How we rely on Jesus to help us overcome the middle times of our lives.
How we rely on Jesus to help us rejoice always.
Let us today remember our Baptisms and rejoice that God has called us his children
So that we may be able rejoice in the lord always, and know that God always rejoices in us.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Waiting in Love

Yes we often call it puppy love.
The love we have for one another is often more of puppy love then the love we receive from Jesus.
It is love based on emotion and too often it is fleeting.
This morning in our second week of advent we are going to talk about love.
After all it was another great music group that told us, “all you need is love.”
Certainly as people of faith we should be, and feel love all around us.
If we believe that God is anything we believe that “God is love”.
The coming of Jesus into the world only proves it more to us.
And yet if God is love, if Jesus proves it to us, why do we struggle to live in love, and to see it so clearly all around us?

Paul’s letter to the Philippians has often been called the letter of joy.
Paul is happy about the faith of the people at the church of Philippi.
He is happy that they are a church that loves and cares for each other, the church at large, and for Paul while he is in prison.
As Paul says this morning, “It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”
Paul has seen and experienced the love of the people at Philippi first hand.
It is different than the division and fighting he had experienced at the church in Corinth.
I think for all churches there is an important decision that we make.
What kind of church are we going to be?
Living in the reality of the grace given us in Jesus Christ how are we going to live out that faith?

I think that we have to at least consider that the church should be about one thing, love.
Love should be the predominant thought and motivator for us in our actions.
For we know that Jesus Christ has broken into the world, and spread the light of love to all people.
Certainly Christ’s church should be about love.
But we know that too often it is not.
Why not?
Because we miss understand what Jesus meant by love.
Jesus did not want us to have puppy love but a deep love based on the love he gave us.
Where do we start when we talk about what love is in our congregation what Jesus meant it to be.

Perhaps a good place to start is talking about times and places in our lives where we have experienced love.
I know that I experienced a great deal of love in my family.
I know that this is not always the case for people, but for me in my family I do experience love.
This does not always mean that we all agree.
It does not always mean that we get along as well as we should.
What it does mean is that I trust my family with my life.
I know that deep down they have my best interest at heart.
I know they would do anything to see me succeed and have all the things I need in life.
This is true love, it is deeper then puppy love.

You see we often misunderstand Biblical love.
We think it is about our emotional response to someone.
The love that Jesus taught us to have is not about whether or not we like that person.
It is not about if we agree with everything they do.
In fact we know it is not because Jesus taught us to love our enemies!
That is hard.
In church we often think it is about getting a good feeling about being around people.
But I think what it is about is giving us a chance to show God’s love, and to grow in loving.
Church is about learning to love others even though they are different then me, even though I might not like them.
That is what Jesus brought to us.
It is what we wait for in this advent season.

As Zachariah sings in the temple, “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high will break upon us.”
What a wonderful sentiment.
What a great Christmas greeting.
Because it is what happens to us when Jesus comes into our lives.
The light breaks upon us, our hearts open up to the world and to others.

Here is the truth I really hope that God’s love works the way Jesus told us it does.
Because I mess up so much.
I am nothing but a sinful person, who needs to know that God still loves him anyway.
Most of the day I feel like I don’t measure up.
I know there are many people in the world smarter than me, there are many people in the world better looking than me, with more fashion sense, many people that have lots of more gifts then I got.
But what I hold unto each day is God’s love for me.
In that love I am who God made me to be.
I am not perfect, but loved.
I think that is so important to people.
I see people trying to hold on to some image of perfection that the world holds out there, and I know it is just not that good.

The trick for me is to be able to allow that same tender compassion God gives me to flow into my dealings with other people.
I think that we have to ease up on our criticism of others.
We are to see that they too are loved by God especially in Church.
Because we are suppose to be the body of Christ together.
We are suppose to be a family that comes together and despite disagreements, personality conflicts, and even sin, we are suppose to love each other.

That is our real witness to the world.
I think we sometimes act and maybe believe that our witness to the world is a model of perfection.
No it is a model of love and forgiveness.
A love that says that we will not give up on each other even when we act poorly, or sinful.
In fact, I will tell all of you one of my assumptions about you is that you are sinful.
I hope you have the same assumption about me.
But I also know that our God has broken upon us.
That Jesus has come and will come again to bring love into our lives.
I know that every week we gather around this table together and we share the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Every week we hear in scripture about God’s love given to us in Jesus Christ.
Every week we gather and the tender compassion of our God breaks upon us.
And because of that I do my human best to love all of you.
Not because we are worthy, but because I know God loves you, and God finds each of you special and redeemable.
And this morning my prayer for our congregation is the same prayer St. Paul offers up for the people at the church in Philippi,
“That your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”
How I pray that our congregation grows in love for each other!

Because I know this for certain without love we will never grow as a congregation.
We will never be able to reach out to others.
Our congregation will not grow because no one, and I mean no one wants to join a church were people don’t love and trust each other.

So on this second week of advent let us pray for love.
Let us pray that our love of each other might increase.
That our love of the world might increase.
And that the tender compassion of our God might break into our lives and overflow us with the love we receive from God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Waiting in Hope

Advent is a time of waiting.
Most of us do not like to wait.
We want things done in our time, on our schedule.
But waiting is what we must do all the time.
We must wait for others to get their acts together.
We must wait for ourselves to be ready.
And in advent we wait for God to come.
We wait for Christ to come during Christmas so we can remember the light that comes from the Christ child so we can remember our salvation, but we also wait for Christ to come again.
We wait for the world to be made right, for our tears to be wiped away, for justice and peace.
Why do we have to wait?
What is the point to all of this waiting?
Why doesn’t God just fix everything all ready?

This morning and for the rest of advent we are going to talk about four spiritual principles represented by the four advent candles.
Today’s candle represents hope.
Hope is all about waiting.
Hope is about waiting in this in between time we live in, when Christ has already come to light the way to save us.
And yet hope is about waiting for the final day of God to bring forth life, justice, and peace.
So during advent we wait for what God will do next.
And we have hope that it will bring forth Justice, Righteousness, salvation, and safety.

In this morning’s reading from Jeremiah the people of Israel are about to be captured and killed by King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
In the midst of their waiting for their final destruction Jeremiah offers them words of hope.
That despite the hardships they will face, despite the destruction, and dislocation of their lives they can still count on God to remain faithful to them.
“In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”
How many of us are waiting for something to happen?

How many of you feel lost, forsaken, broken, out of sorts?
We know that in this last year many people have lost their jobs, some have lost their homes, lost people they love, and lost things that seem precious to them.
What we have in these times is something very important.
It is hope.
It is a hope that is secure and true.
I ask you today do you believe in hope?
Do you believe that God will be faithful even among the ruins of life, even when the enemy is at your door, and all seems lost?

Let us talk about hope from a perspective of faith.
We know that Hope is one of the great pillars of our faith, “for hope, faith, and love abide…” St. Paul tells us.
But what is hope?
It is not optimism.
Optimism is a psychological term that is used to describe how we see situations, or want certain outcomes.
There is nothing wrong with optimism, but it is missing something that is essential in hope.
Hope is the more than simply seeing the world through rose colored glasses it is a belief in a better day and is certain of the outcome.
Jeremiah can give the people of Israel hope that God will rise up a righteous branch, because Jeremiah knows what God has already done.
Jeremiah knows that God created the world; he knows that God saved Noah and his family; he knows that God saved the people of Israel from slavery and led them to the Promised Land; Jeremiah knows that God anointed Saul, David, and Solomon, Jeremiah knew that God would not abandon God’s people.
You see Hope is based on past experience and understanding that God is good to God’s people.
It does not mean that everything is always going to turn out fine and dandy.
Hope is rooted into the reality of the situation, but still is able to see beyond and through it.

Notice that Jeremiah does not promise Israel that they will be saved from the destruction about to be brought on them by the Babylonians.
You see an optimist would look at the Babylonian captivity and say, “Well, at least we are still alive, and get to eat.”
What Jeremiah says is different it says that we can count on God to see us through and overcome this situation.
We have hope in our God who has been good to us since the beginning of creation.

I see this all the time in when people of faith reach the end of their lives.
They are on their death bed, they know that the end is coming, and they say they are ready.
Because their hope is in God, who gave his Son to die for us.
Their hope is in God who will rise them up, and who has concurred death.

In these days of jobs loss, death, and all sorts of worries, fears, and calamities are we hopeful?
Are we expecting Jesus Christ to come?

Perhaps that is why we wait.
Waiting teaches us hope.
It teaches to us to rely on God in the dark, lost, and broken times.
So that when Jesus does come we will know and recognize him.

And we need Jesus to come.
We need Jesus to come into our lives that are broken, lost, and just a little unnerved.
What we don’t need is another book telling us to look on the bright side of life.
What we don’t need is optimism that fades with the first sign of real trouble.
We need Hope.
We need Christ.

I had a friend who was a non practicing Jew.
She once asked me if life was easier if you had faith.
“No” I said, “You still have all of the heartaches of life. People still die. Bad things happen to you and the ones you love. Life is not easier. But you have a way to deal with those things. You have a hope that without faith is not there.”

It is the hope of Jeremiah, of Jesus, and of the church.
That despite what happens in our life Christ will come.

I can tell you today that in my life God has always been faithful to me.
When I was facing dark days, lonely days, destructive days God got me through.
And it is with that insight that I face new challenges and new days.
I remember the first time I faced death in my life.
My paternal Grandfather died when I was in college.
It was devastating to me.
I went into a tail spin.
Forget that we all knew it would happen sooner rather then later.
It was my first taste of death.
I did not know what to do.
I got lost, and the world got dark.
Many bad things happened to me in those days.
I don’t even know if I knew at the time what was happening.
What I know now is that God got me through.
I came to understand death in a whole different way.
I saw the gateway to eternal life as well as the pain it inflicts.
It prepared me for other dark times, and other losses.
Those where just as painful but I was able to remain hopeful and see God’s saving hand better.
I saw Jesus in the midst of death, and grew in faith.
I still wait for the day when death will be no more.
When we will not have to face the darkness, the loss, or the pain.
But until that time we wait with hope in a God who has brought us through.

In this advent season we wait.
We wait for the end to all of life’s heartache, pain, death, and destruction.
We wait for Christ to come to take away our pain.
We wait for Christ to come into our hearts.
But we do not wait in vain for we always have hope.
A hope based on what God has already done for us.
A hope that gives us life in the midst of death and destruction.
A hope that tells us of a wonderful and magnificent God who gets us through the dark times, the lost times, and brings us to life and safety.
May we continue to hope in God who brings a righteous branch out to save us all.