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”

Where Hope Grows

Matthew 1:18-25                                                                          12.22.19

There is a division among us.  We have it at our house.  You may have it at yours.  Some people love to get surprised by a Christmas gift, trusting that the giver will know what will bring joy to the recipient.  Others prefer to give gift suggestions to the giver, ensuring that the gift will be exactly what is needed or desired.  I want to take a little poll this morning to see just how divided we are as a large group.  I am going to ask you to raise your hand if you prefer being surprised by a gift or if you prefer receiving an item that you have requested.    (raise hands)

God is the kind of giver who likes to surprise!  God did not select Mary because of anything she had done.  There was no contest to see who could bear the Son of God that she won because of her charisma or good looks or caring heart.  God selected Mary as a vehicle to surprise the world with an intervention of hope.  To say the least, Mary was surprised.  Her family was surprised.  Her neighbors were surprised.

God did select Joseph because he was of the family of David.  Our gospel writer spends the first 17 verses of this gospel of Jesus Christ documenting how Joseph is a member of the historic families of Israel, name after name after name, all the way back to Father Abraham.  Then we find out that Joseph is going to miraculously be the father of this child even without human conception. Continue reading “Where Hope Grows”