Promises and singing
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations." (Luke 2:29--31)
It is hard to believe but we are to the third day of Christmas. I know the Christmas music has stopped, on most radio stations, and many of the trees are either down or coming down soon. It is, however, only the third day, of the 12 days, of Christmas. These lead to Epiphany and the coming of the "Wise Men" with gifts. It is a continuation of the celebrations of the promises of God -- Emmanuel, God WITH us. A promise God has given to each, and all, of us. It is something we can celebrate with singing.
The Gospel reading, in Luke, is about two people who have waited a long time, knowing God keeps God's promises. These verses, above, are about Simeon but Anna is mentioned only a few verses further on. Both have been waiting for the coming of the Messiah. Both have been a regular part of the Temple -- Anna even lives in the Temple. (v. 37) They both start praising (v. 28), and thanking (v. 38), God. We know "the rest of the story" so we also know God keeps God's promises. This is how we can be singing and praising God - even after the trees are down and a lot of the "Christmas" music has stopped.
The hymn I especially think of, this morning, is "Joy to the World." Isaac Watts took Psalm 98:4, "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music", and turned it into a wonderful way of expressing our JOY in Emmanuel -- God with us! Can we be singing and praising for God keeping God's promises?
"But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God." (Luke 1:30)
When is the last time you thought you saw (encountered) an angel? It has been over 20 years but I have a vivid memory of one of the times I had angels with me. I had car trouble, in a very remote spot in the Texas hill country, after an evening class. It was about 9:30 and my car died. I was able to pull as far off the twisting, curving road (small two lane road) as I could. I was sitting trying to decide what to do when a couple turned around, came back and offered to help. They took me back into town and stayed with me until the tow truck arrived. I found out later that friends, at church -- literally they were at the church preparing for a meeting the next day -- stopped what they were doing to pray for my safety. All of them were angels that night!
Angels appear in the Christmas story several times to various people from Zechariah (in the Temple) to Mary (in today's reading) to the shepherds (in a field). In each case the angels start out by saying "do not be afraid." Things are changing for each of these, and others where angels appear, so starting with "do not be afraid" makes sense. The response of each person is to follow where God is leading -- Zechariah's son John, Mary's son Jesus and the shepherds going to find "Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger." (Luke 2:15)
Yes, we are busy as caretakers with a lot happening at any given moment in our day. So I ask again.... when was the last time you encountered an angel? The words of encouragement needed at just the right time, the help needed at just the right time or even just a few minutes of QUIET at just the right time? I would also ask, even with our crazy schedules, when was the last time you were an angel to someone?
"Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16--18)
What makes you happy? My first thought is a cup of tea, my praise music and some needlework - preferably in my recliner. What about..... what brings you JOY? "Happy" is a feeling. It can come and go. JOY is a decision - in the middle of everything going on we can, and will, be full of "JOY." Even to the point, as my Dad's grieve group talked about, of "Sudden Outbursts of Joy And Gladness" -- SOJAG. Or...."rejoice always!"
Paul is writing to the Thessalonians reminding them, and us, we can "pray without ceasing" (v. 17) and "rejoice always." (v. 16) We can be doing these things even in the confusion, difficulties and constantly changing world we live in. During this time of Advent we are preparing to celebrate Jesus' birthday AND preparing for His coming again -- a lot happening with all the other things added in. There was a lot happening for the Thessalonians too AND for Mary and Joseph as they prepared for a new baby. What we have to remember is "JOY" (as in "rejoice always") is a decision we can make as we "give thanks" (v. 18). There was a post on Facebook, this past week, helping to explain this -- Jesus, Others, Yourself.
As Caregivers we need to remember to put God first as we are caring for "our" others. We also need to remember to care of ourselves, keeping our relationship with God strong so we can care for "Others." So..... what brings you JOY?
"A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." (Isaiah 40:3)
We talked, last week, about "waiting" and how we were at it. It is a hard thing to do - to wait. The hardest time is when it is something we really want, have been planning for and, or, are very excited about. As kids (and sometimes as adults) we would mark off the days on the calendar. I, personally, can usually give you the exact number of days until I get to see my son and his family. At least I can once a time for the visit has been established.
Today's reading is Isaiah helping the Hebrew people to know the Messiah is coming. They will know because a voice will cry "out." (v.3) We know, because we know the 'rest of the story,' John the Baptist "proclaimed 'the one who is more powerful than I is coming after me;'" (Mark 4:7) The thing we don't always think about is there were 700+ years between Isaiah and Jesus' birth and another 30 years before John was proclaiming. During the wait, during the long years, during all the confusion -- the people had their faith in God. We, however, have the added advantage of knowing God IS with us because we know the 'rest of the story' and Emmanuel.
During this Advent season we are celebrating and preparing for the "all ready" -- Jesus' birthday and the "not yet" -- Jesus' return. The question is: are we remembering, and sharing, where we have seen (and felt) God with us? Especially now, as Caregivers, with all the changes and confusion - are we sharing about how we KNOW God IS with us? The faith we have gives us the hope we need.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.