Posts Tagged ‘John 3:16

23
Dec
20

Put Some Meat On It

What has Christmas cost you… so far?

Close up Christmas gift box. Christmas presents in red and brown boxes on Christmas Tree background in loft interior copy space.

And no, I am not talking about the money you have spent on presents… or decorations… or food… or postage for all of those cards… or gas for your car.

In fact, I am not talking about the financial cost of Christmas at all. 

I’m talking about the cost of Christmas…

… To YOU. Personally.

I ask this because – for Christians at least – Christmas is supposed to be about INCARNATION… the word that derives from the Latin carne, meaning meat. Fittingly, the central event of Christmas – the birth of the infant Jesus of Nazareth – was all about God putting MEAT on God’s divine, unconditional, infinite, sacrificial, life-giving, all-affirming LOVE. 

It was history’s ultimate gift. And so we choose to memorialize that act by our own giving. 

But the point of the season is still INCARNATION… that is, putting MEAT on our aspirations. And anytime we do that, there is a cost;

  • It means instead of wishing there wasn’t such a thing as racial injustice in the world, we actually invest our own flesh and blood in helping to end it.
  • It means instead of wishing people didn’t live in poverty, we invest our own flesh and blood in helping relieve poverty for a specific person or group of people.
  • It means instead of wishing we weren’t such a polarized country, we invest our own flesh and blood in helping to bridge that fissure.

However, like most of us, I would rather ASPIRE than PERSPIRE.

I love hoisting the flag of the causes I believe in, or opining passionately on social media, or bending my neighbor’s ear about all the rotten cruelty and injustice there is in the world. 

But when it comes right down to investing my precious blood, sweat, and tears, well, let’s not get too carried away here, shall we? Let’s slow our roll and take it EASY, mmmK?

Except that’s not the actual spirit of Christmas. 

Giving gifts to friends and family is a good start. It symbolizes God’s supreme act of giving that inspired John the Evangelist to write, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NRSV).

But I believe Christmas is meant to spur us to live as GIVERS even after all the wrapping paper has been thrown into the trash. 

In order to fully celebrate Christmas, I believe we are called to “put meat on” the things we say we care about… for each of the other 364 days of the year, too. 

I believe authentically honoring the spirit of Christmas should cost us something.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. May this holiday season mark the beginning of a new life of costly giving.

Abundant blessings;

03
Aug
20

Part of the Pack

Patrick picThis is Patrick.

Patrick is our 4 ½ -year-old Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. And no, even though we lived in Kansas City for many years, he is NOT named after Patrick Mahomes.

Patrick loves people. In fact, as far as people are concerned, Patrick is one of the sweetest dogs you will ever meet.

[Patrick with dogs is another story, but we won’t go into that right now…]

 If you happen to visit our home sometime (and I hope you will), don’t be surprised to find that Patrick immediately comes over, sits down beside you and leans against you with his entire body weight.

A trainer we worked with explained this behavior to us. He said, “This is Patrick’s way of telling you that he has adopted you… this is his way of saying that you are now part of his ‘pack.’”

I don’t know about you, but when I first heard this explanation, I found it very comforting.

Who wouldn’t?

The experience of being approached by someone – in Patrick’s case, with very little advance reconnaissance – and being told (in dog lingo), “You and I are now family,” is one of life’s truly warm and fuzzy moments.

I soon discovered that my response to being “adopted” by Patrick reinforces multiple sociological studies, all concluding that the need to BELONG is a foundational human drive. That need is why we have families. It is why there are communities. It is why people join clubs, or churches, or radio-controlled model airplane flying groups.

We all want to BELONG somewhere… to know that there is a place in the universe for each one of us…

… even with all those quirks and idiosyncrasies of yours. Er… OURS.

At the beginning of their relationship, God claimed the Israelites and told them they were part of God’s “pack.” In Leviticus 20:26 God said to the Israelites, “You shall be holy to me; for I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from the other peoples to be mine.”

Even without an extensive reading of the Bible, you know how the rest of this story went. You know that the Israelites continually sought fulfillment elsewhere… outside of God’s pack. And God, just as continually, chased them down, corrected them, and renewed their pack affiliation.

And then God finally came in flesh and blood and said, “I want you ALL to be part of my pack. No matter what your dietary practices, no matter what your past record of faithfulness or unfaithfulness, no matter what your pedigree, you are invited.”

The text of God’s actual invitation is found in John 3:16 where we read these well-know, time-tested words that remind us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

And just like with Patrick, when God says EVERYONE, God means EVERYONE.

So as you read that verse and ponder God’s invitation, I hope you will hear it being extended specifically and intentionally to YOU.

Because it is.

 

Abundant blessings;

08
Apr
20

Give it up

Crown of thornsHere in the U.S., we sing proudly about being citizens of, “The land of the free and the home of the brave.”

And yet most of the time we define freedom as “my right to do whatever I damned well please, whether you like it or not. I mean, if I want to own an arsenal of high-powered weapons or a cage with 45 boa constrictors, you can’t stop me. This is AMERICA, dammit!”

COVID-19 might be changing all that.

We suddenly find ourselves in a situation that demands we allow our actions to be guided by a bizarre concept known as The Greater Good.

Yes, I would love to gather with my fellow Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church members and celebrate Easter Sunday this week.

Yes, I CRAVE the smell of hot dogs, beer, peanuts, and the newly mown grass of the baseball stadium where Joan and I could join thousands of others to revel in America’s Pastime.

No, I don’t like putting on a cloth mask and rubber gloves to make a simple trip to the supermarket. Besides making my ears stick out in a very unflattering way, it chafes and stifles and scratches.

And yet… this moment requires that I put aside MY preferences for the greater good of those around me.

This moment requires that we ALL do the same in a simple act known as SACRIFICE.

Parents long ago learned the meaning of this word. We realized early on – maybe Day Two or Three – that our lives were no longer our own… that every ounce of our energy was now devoted to that fragile new life we’d been entrusted with.

I will admit it; at times I have resented the idea of sacrifice. “It’s not fair…” I have whined, “… that I can’t do what I want to do.” Being the essentially self-centered man I am, it feels unnatural to defer the gratification of ANY of my urges or hungers.

And yet, it seems that every time I have put on my big boy pants, shoved ME aside, and elevated THE NEEDS OF OTHERS, something true and resonant has stirred within. The self-sacrificial act has seemed somehow right and essential… almost as if this is the proper, ordained order of things.

And so today, as we stand smack-dab in the middle of Holy Week (at least on the Christian calendar), it is good to be reminded we are approaching the celebration of history’s ultimate act of self-sacrifice. The faithful will gather in our on-line communities and remember that there was never a purer expression of love than the one we saw demonstrated on that first Good Friday. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16, NRSV).

And then, when we fire up our laptops or iPhones on Sunday morning, we will again be reminded of the truth that LOVE ALWAYS WINS in the epic battle of love vs. power.

I wonder… would it be too much to hope that when next Monday morning rolls around, we all retain that lesson and willingly and even JOYFULLY put the greater good of the world ahead of our personal priorities?

If that happened, that would sure make this AN EASTER TO REMEMBER, wouldn’t it?

 

Abundant blessings;




Russellings Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow Russellings of the Spirit on WordPress.com

My Pastoral Ponderings

Pondering my way through God's beloved world

All The Shoes I Wear

Writing Down The Bones

Just Being Me

My life and faith - without a mask.

La Tour Abolie

An eclectic mixture of personal essays, stuff about writing, stuff about books and far out philosophy from an old baggage in a book-tower.

Eden in Babylon

a topical new musical and other progressive, creative works

_biblio.bing_

A law student and an avid reader. Along with your desired book reviews you're gonna get great book suggestions. Books of all genre with detailed review. Thank you, Visit Again ❤️

Humanitarian Explorer

Traveling the world to discover and meet needs

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

Steadfast Pictures

Visual Media for God's Glory!

The Immortal Jukebox

A Blog about Music and Popular Culture

yadadarcyyada

Vague Meanderings of the Broke and Obscure

Pics and Posts

Goodies from my mailbox and camera

My Spirals

• Hugs and Infinities

Shreya Vikram

Blurring the lines between poetry and prose

LUCID BEING

“Compassionate toward oneself, we reconcile all inner, and the universe - from within.”

%d bloggers like this: