The Pondering Pastor

These "Ponderings" originally appeared as articles in our church newsletter or bulletin or just as the musings of one bald pastor. I place them here to encourage you, my fellow blogite and maybe to help us all in our pondering.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Life at the End

HIND-SIGHT IS 20/20, so the saying goes. Oh, that we could possess that 20/20 vision at the beginning of things. Sadly, it does not seem available to us. As we enter into a new relationship, take on a new job, or begin a new journey we are not afforded that 20/20 vision. More often than not, we seem to enter into those situations blindly, maybe even with a blissful ignorance that new opportunities often bring. And so, we stand today, on this final Sunday of 2008, at the crossroads of vision and blindness; of knowledge and ignorance.
For those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ, we look forward with hope. Not a blind and ignorant hope, but a hope that finds its foundation in the faithfulness of God. We stand at this crossroad and take a look over our shoulders and see the grace, mercy and power of God who keeps His covenant promises to His children. As we ponder the year that was and gaze into the year that will be, we do so with the knowledge that the God who brought us thus far, will be the God who will lead us, and walk with us, through the days which lay ahead. He still is Emmanuel, God with us.
I wonder if the letter that the Apostle John wrote, was not written at such a crossroad? What uncertain future was before him, and the churches to whom he wrote? We do know that the days would yield more danger for the followers of Jesus, not less. To look forward with strengthened hope they needed to be reminded of the reality of their Savior and salvation. To those facing an uncertain future he wrote,
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. (1 John 1:1-4)
May your joy be complete in Christ as you continue in your walk with Him.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Born in a Barn

THE COMMON RESPONSE FOR LEAVING the front door open at my home when I was young was, “Hey whadaya born in a barn?” I suppose if Jesus’ mother, Mary, yelled that at him (as I am sure most good Jewish mothers would) He would have responded, “Yep!”

It has been a rather cold day here as I write this edition of the Shepherd’s Staff, at least cold for our neck of the woods. This blustery weather has moved my heart in two directions. First, my heart is very grateful for the God-provided blessings of a cozy home, a glowing wood-burning stove, and steaming cups of tea, not to mention the warmth of family and friends. But second, my heart has been saddened by the thought of those I see wandering the streets without the comforts of home. The thought of their plight makes the cold even more biting to my spirit.

Jesus understands their plight. Not just from His position as the omniscient God, but also as the little baby born in a barn; a baby whose bed was the hay of a manger. The incarnation of God did not place Him within the halls of royalty, to find warmth before a raging fire, wrapped in blankets of fur. No, this little child knew firsthand the poorer side of life. In his earliest years He found Himself an immigrant in the foreign land of Egypt, and as a young man He would tell His friends and followers that He had no place to lay His head.

Where would our Jesus be born today? Where would a poor traveling couple find safety and solace?

In a seedy motel?

In the doorway of a church?

Under a bridge?

If the angelic host declared His birth to you this day, would you visit Him there?


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let's Play

THE RULE AROUND OUR HOUSE HAS BEEN (at least as interpreted by me) that if Dad didn’t get a “toy” for Christmas, well it just wasn’t really Christmas. Every year I expect some sort of toy with which I could play once all the presents were open, and most years I was not disappointed.

One of the blessings of having kids is that you can also play with their new Christmas toys. Though I wasn’t too keen about Barbie dolls, I do think some of my son’s Lego sets are pretty cool. In fact, one of the best parts of the Christmas day menagerie is getting to push aside all the discarded wrappings and play with my kid’s newest acquisitions. Linda retreats to the kitchen to care for the family Christmas feast and I move toward implanting batteries in a new race car, or reading through the instructions for the latest board game.

Yep, Christmas toys are cool!

And Christmas toys are for sharing.

In the afternoon sun of a California Christmas kids can be seen on the street with all the neighborhood kids, riding new bikes, bouncing new balls, and showing off the smashing new sweater from Grandma (well, one could wish J). It seems to be the one time when we love to share with others. It is the time to share what we have received, and to let friends and family in on the joy. It’s what makes Christmas, Christmas.

All this playing and sharing of course finds its foundation in the sharing God did with us. He shared His Son, more than that, He gave His Son. The loving heavenly Father desired to bring to our hearts and lives new joy; a joy that would move us from the doldrums and death of our lives, to the heights of His love and life.

This Christmas let’s take time to play and to share of the gifts of joy we have received.