Thursday, December 29, 2011

Name Above All Names

  This Sunday Episcopalians will gather to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Name.  In the Episcopal Church this is one of the feasts, that when it occurs on a Sunday, takes precedence.  That is to say, the normal readings are set aside and the Feast of the Holy Name is celebrated instead.  By the time we get to Sunday, eight days will have passed since the joyous birth of the Baby in Bethlehem.  
  In accordance with the Law (Leviticus 12:3), Mary and Joseph present their new born son.  The Child is given His name, the name given to them by Gabriel, and then the baby is circumcised.  Thus is Jesus publicly recognized as being a part of God's Chosen People.  Faithful, observant peoples of the Jewish tradition still follow this custom today.
  The name "Jesus," (or Joshua or Yeshua) means "God saves."  At the time, it was probably a fairly common name much like Michael or John.  As we see this Child grow up, however, we see how He (and only He) lives up to- or into- that name.  The blind have their sight restored.  Unclean lepers are healed and brought back into the community.  The dead are raised.   Sinners find their sins forgiven.
  All the barriers the threaten to keep us separated from God come crashing down.  Whether the obstacle be physical or spiritual, it yields in the face of Jesus.  No longer are you and I outcasts, forever cut off from the love and mercy of God.  Even death, that once seemingly ultimate and final barrier, has given way.  In its wake is the potential for true and lasting peace.
  Truly, in this One who lived and died for us, "God saves!"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Journey with the Bible

  I am about to wrap up my seventh year of reading through the entire Bible in the course of one year.  Each time there is something different that takes me by surprise.  Maybe there is a story I did not recall.  Perhaps there is a passage that takes on new meaning.  This never fails to amaze me.  Although it should not, for such is the work of the Holy Spirit.
  As I write this, I am thinking about next year's journey.  What translation will I use?  Which reading plan will I follow?  There are endless possibilities out there.
  The one constant is the love.  Each chapter, every book is filled with love.  Time and time again, the people turn away from God.  Yet God's love for them is unchanging.  Time and time again, God reaches out in love.  The Bible is, simply put, the greatest love story ever told.
  A new year is just over a week away.  Many of us will make resolutions.  We'll pledge to loose those 10 extra pounds.  We'll vow to eat better and exercise more.  We might even determine to take more time for what is important in life . . . like family and friends.
  In 2012, I invite you to join with me in making the commitment to spend time each day with God.  Journey along with me and get to know the One whose love never ever fails.  Join me in taking up the challenge to read the entire Bible next year.