Friday 23 December 2022

The Lord is ....

In times of great uncertainty and distress it is good to hold onto the promise that God IS our guiding Light and the One who comes to our rescue. There is no question about it - this is a true reality of Christ's birth, and the miracle is that we are invited to be a part of this gift. 

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid? - Psalm 27

May you know the guidance of the Light of the World this Christmas season and may you find God's strength carrying you into the New Year.

Living in Grace


Wednesday 21 December 2022

Invisible Light

The visible reminder of Invisible Light.” - T.S. Eliot

“I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” - John 8:12 (The Message)

This is such a beautiful promise for us all to digest again. Jesus is the Invisible Light, that T.S. Eliot speaks of and Light of World, that John mentions. May the light of Jesus fill your heart and soul this year. 

Karoline Lewis - "John understands that God’s promise to be with God’s people wherever they go has now taken on a different representation in Jesus."

Living in Grace


Tuesday 20 December 2022

What shadow do you cast?

See the source image

In reflecting on the presence of Jesus this Christmas, I have noted how wherever he went, Joy seemed to follow him. It was as if JOY was his shadow. 

John 15:11 - I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Somehow, we seem to believe that all shadows are sinister or dark, yet when I think of how the shadow of a tall building or tree gives respite to those of us baking in the sun, then shadows become a gift. Not only does Jesus give us the gift of himself, but his shadow brings along further gifts of Joy, Peace, Hope and Love.

Matthew 2:10 – “When they saw the star they were filled with joy!” (NLT)

“There is strong shadow where there is much light.”  - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If your life cast a shadow, what kind of shadow would it be? 

Living in Grace


Monday 19 December 2022

The Joy of the Lord is your strength

"And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” - Nehemiah 8:10

At this time of the year, we long for joy and happiness, and we are willing to seek it in all sorts of places. In my experience, Joy is not something we can buy, earn or even claim. However, we can 'receive' it - as a Gift of the Spirit. 

This JOY sustains us through all kinds of turbulence, crisis and stress. As much we hope that Christmas will be a time without pain and suffering, we realise that we live a world where these exist in abundance. However, it is my prayer that we come to experience the gift of JOY this year, through God's gracious Spirit.

o  Luke 2:10 – “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

Living in Grace


Wednesday 14 December 2022

Beautiful gifts come in small packages

"In telling the Christmas story, the Gospel writers remind us that when things seem darkest, joy can come in unexpected places and small packages. Children remind us of the joy of playing, giving, learning, and loving. In the presence of such joy, our inner child can awaken our Christ nature and then the Messiah is truly born.

Christmas is not an event that happens only in December or 2,000 years ago in Palestine. Christmas happens as we open to the possibility of hope, when we live in the understanding of peace, and when we give love."
- Rev. Kevin Daigle

Luke 2:12 - This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

May we not fall into the trap of believing that the 'biggest gifts' are the best. The smallest of children have changed the world. One child offered hope to millions of people - his name is Jesus. 

Living in Grace

Tuesday 13 December 2022

Jesus loves me, this I know!


When Anna Warner and her sister Susan teamed up to write the poem, “Jesus loves me”, I doubt they realised that it would have the incredible impact that it has had on the Christian community.

The lyrics first appeared as a poem in the context of an 1860 novel called Say and Seal, written by Susan Warner, in which the words were spoken as a comforting poem to a dying child. So, we can picture the scene in the story – there is a child who is lying incapacitated, vulnerable, and alone. The person who is caring for this little child, can think of only one person who could bring comfort to her and so she speaks:

Jesus loves me—this I know,
For the Bible tells me so:
Little ones to him belong, —
They are weak, but he is strong.

The refrain was written and added later many years later, but it certainly added to the overall power of the song:

Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
For the Bible tells me so.

And the Warner sisters are 100% correct – the Bible is filled with passages to point us to the truth, that God loves us. Arguably the entire Canon of Scripture is underpinned with this key thought: 

Jesus Loves Me!

1 John 3:1 - See how very much our father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! 

Living in Grace


Monday 12 December 2022

To love means ...

On the broad topic of Love, GK Chesterton once wrote - “To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

The birth of Jesus should open our eyes to see that God came for all people and to reveal Christ's Love to all who would receive it. When we are asked to love God and to love our neighbours, we can't really be "picky" as to who we love - this is the difficult part of putting love into practise.

Matthew 22:37-40 - "Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

“We don't need to explain our love. We only need to show it.” - Paulo Coelho

Living in Grace


Friday 9 December 2022

True Inspiration

"God's inspiration does not come to those who sit with folded hands and lazy minds and only wait, but to those who think and seek and search. True inspiration comes when the searching mind joins with the revealing Spirit of God." - William Barclay

I think these words teach us a lot about the value of Advent. Of course, Jesus is not only revealed to those who reflect on his birth, but I do believe that the more we 'seek' Christ, the more we discover him. 

So, this is my prayer for you this week:

May we find Jesus in the words of Scripture.
May we discover Christ in the chaos of our world.
May we encounter the Spirit of God in the songs of Christmas.
May we comprehend his grace in the touch of a friend.
May we be reminded of his love in the smell of the scented candle.
May we appreciate his incarnation in the silence of the night.

As you search for Christ this season, may you discover how close he truly is.

"Search and you will find." - Matthew 7

Living in Grace


Thursday 8 December 2022

Paradise unlocked

"Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, 

the devil confounded,
the demons take to flight,
the power of death is broken,
paradise is unlocked,
the curse is taken away,
sin is removed from us,
error driven out,
truth has been brought back,
the speech of kindliness diffused,
and spreads on every side,

a heavenly way of life has been ‘in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels." – St. John Chrysostom

When I read through these words of John Chrysostom, I was struck by the phrase - "paradise is unlocked."

As we accept the invitation to celebrate the Birth of Jesus, may we experience the beauty of a new paradise.

Revelation 2:7Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Living in Grace


Tuesday 6 December 2022

In conflict with ourselves, but at Peace with God.

In sharing about the PEACE that Christ gives to the world, I have been caught up in thinking how many people refuse to love themselves. Of course, there are plenty of people who have no problem with this (loving themselves), but there are millions of people who struggle to love who they are. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but in essence, the truth still stands - we are often in conflict with ourselves.

In response to this, Jesus says in John 16:33:

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

Complete Jewish Bible - “I have said these things to you so that, united with me, you may have shalom. In the world, you have tsuris (distress). But be brave! I have conquered the world!”

The starting point for our peace is to know Jesus. We can experience true Shalom when we know that we are loved by Jesus.

Living in Grace


Monday 5 December 2022

Looking for the star

"When they saw the star, they were overjoyed." - Matthew 2:10

"O come, thou radiant Morning Star,
Again, in human darkness shine!
Arise, resplendent from afar!
Assert thy royalty divine!
Thy sway o'ver all the earth maintain,
And now begin they glorious reign. Amen."
 - Charles Wesley

As we look out in the evening skies, let us take note of the brightest stars and remember that the birth of Jesus Christ brings great joy.

May you find your JOY this Advent season.

Living in Grace


Saturday 3 December 2022

We all have to grow up

Growing old is not optional for us mere mortals. From the moment we breathe our first breath, our bodies are influenced by our frail mortality. That is just life, and we can either fight against it or celebrate the gift we have been given. 

This weekend, Kim and I get to celebrate our birthday's once again. It is always special to mark our birthday's a single day apart. Each year, it is a long patient wait, but when we eventually get there, we get to celebrate together. 

The reason for this post, is not to remind you of our birthdays :) BUT to reflect on the fact that even Jesus had to grow up and he grew older. Too often we celebrate Christmas and leave Jesus as the tiny infant in the manger. This is not where he stayed! He grew up, became a man, and entered into three years of public ministry. At the end of this time, he gave up his life for the sins of the world. This is worth remembering. 

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21

“Don’t leave Jesus in the manger; don’t remember Him only at Christmas. Instead, learn to walk with Him every day, as you pray and read His Word and ask Him to help you.” - Billy Graham

Living in Grace


Friday 2 December 2022

Not just for me!

Many people are hell-bent on taking care of Number One (themselves). We note that a large majority of our world live with 'blinkers' on and try to appease only themselves. As Christians, we have to fight against this urge the whole time - it is like swimming upstream. Jesus teaches us to love our neighbour and to serve our fellow man/woman, but this is tough to do.

Advent offers us a different perspective on 'giving' and 'sharing.' So, we look to God as the source of all goodness and mercy - and then we should make an appropriate response. 

God gave us Jesus and he then invited us into his abundant mercy. However, this mercy, hope and peace are not just for us to keep (for ourselves), but to offer to others. 

“Advent challenges us to live in the present moment as agents of this future hope. We can begin to share this hope wherever we find despair and discouragement.”Trevor Hudson

2 Corinthians 9:8 - And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Living in Grace


Thursday 1 December 2022

Look to the seat of Mercy

The mercy seat (kaporet) was the golden lid placed on top of the Ark of the Covenant and it contained two cherubim on either side of the seat. It was believed that Yahweh would appear in the space between the 2 angels. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would sprinkle blood on the seat, asking God to forgive our sins. 

Of course, the birth of Jesus ushered in a new Covenant, and we don't need to sprinkle blood on the seat of Mercy anymore. In fact, we can argue that Jesus is the new Mercy Seat - our forgiveness rests on Him.

11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. (Hebrews 9)

It may seem the wrong time of the year to be speaking about the death of Jesus, but I was reminded today that it is the presence of Jesus that drew our attention to the grace and MERCY of Yahweh. 

Thought: As we remember World Aids Day, and all those who are impact by HIV/AIDS, let us be conscious of how we judge other people. In the end, we are all called to look to the one who offers us justice and Mercy - his name is Jesus. 

Matthew 7:2 - "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Living in Grace