Setting our Hope on Jesus

Ephesians 1:3-14      What a joy-filled visit we had with our Cuban family in Sagua la Grande last week! We were able to share goodie bags with each household of the congregation thanks to the items you brought in for us to share. They love getting the re-usable cloth bags that are hard to come by on a Cuban salary. We filled them with items that are scarce in Cuba: note pads, pens, tea bags, ziplock bags and instant oatmeal. And we were the recipients of bags as well! They took some of the ziplock bags and put together a goodie bag for each of us, with items made by church members out of love and caring—little pins and hairbows, decorations for the kitchen, hot pads for cooking, a crocheted cross book mark for the Bible, mementos of our time with them given out of great love and respect. Wherever it happens, gift giving is a way to demonstrate affection, respect, love or compassion toward another person. As we exchange gifts between Hunting Ridge and Sagua, we demonstrate that we know each other, we value each other, we love each other.
Tomorrow, January 6, is the day marking Epiphany, the Christian church’s celebration of the revelation of the gift of God’s Son to the world beyond Israel. This day is symbolized by the arrival in Bethlehem of the astrologers from the far east—non-Jews—also called magi, or wise men, and in many cultures, it is a day for exchanging gifts. The wise men brought symbolic gifts fit for a king—gold, frankincense and myrrh. What if the wise women also came? What might they have brought? Continue reading “Setting our Hope on Jesus”

Life-Giving Sustenance

Advent 3:  Isaiah 35:1-10; Matthew 11;2-11
God is a change agent, transforming what was once barren into a blossoming, watered garden. When the people of Israel were living in exile, away from all that was familiar, they longed for a change, a return home, clinging to hope for renewal of life as they once knew it.
God is a change agent, transforming what was once burning sand into a pool of refreshing water. When John the Baptist was in prison, he wanted to know—is there any hope left? Am I here for good reason?
God is a change agent, transforming the physically disabled into ones who see and hear and dance and shout. We live in a world today where our news swirls with impeachment, cyber attacks, mass shootings and drug fueled violence.
The people of Judah and Israel, John and the followers of Jesus, you and I — facing desert conditions all around. Rocky and barren, waterless and forbidding, disabling and limiting, hope crushing.
But God is a change agent. Continue reading “Life-Giving Sustenance”