Throughout the season of advent we emphasized the coming of God into our midst. In these first weeks following Christmas we are confronted by the humanity of his coming. Today's messages wrestles with the mystery of Emmanuel. The one who comes to us as one of us, the Eternal Logos who while here on earth grows in both wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.
Today we consider a scene from Jesus' childhood. He is brought to the temple, still an infant. Even so Anna and Simeon discern his presence and give praise to God. How sensitive are we to the leading of the Spirit that helps us to discern God's presence among us. How can we become more so? The first step is to pray. Lord, make yourself known. It is the Lord, by the Holy Spirit, that makes such things know. Let us ask God to do so and let us then watch with expectant hearts for Emmanuel to be revealed in our lives today. Let us watch knowing that he will be.
Our scripture lesson recounts Mary's angelic encounter and her faithful and humble response. Mary is called to do far more than bear a child but to raise one. Mary is called to love the one who is love, the one who will one day reveal God's love to the world. Though we are not called to raise the Christ child, we are called to love those around us as if they were the Christ himself. We too are called to love.
Years before Jesus, the prophet Joel offered words that describe the impact of Jesus' ministry. Peter would quote those words in the first sermon of the church. In using those words, Peter reminds us that Jesus came to reconcile us to God and to make peace.
In today's consideration of Daniel we see a clear demonstration of faithfulness. Daniel's faithfulness? Yes, certainly. But even more so, we witness the faithfulness of God, whose strong arm reaches and upholds us even in the midst of exile.
Jeremiah lived during a tumultuous time. He not only warned of the coming Babylonian exile but watched it unfold. His words were not all doom and gloom, however. Even as exile drew near, he had words of hope to offer too. He reminded the people that impending hardships would not last forever. His words can provide encouragement to us as well. In them we find a reminder, that God does not abandon his people, and that better days will come.
Today's message reflects on the powerful message of a small book, the book of Jonah. Far from a children's story Jonah offers one of the most challenging aspects of the Christian ethic. The idea that God loves even our enemies and that we are called to do the same. But what precisely does that mean?
We often question our ability to meet the demands of life or to make a lasting difference in the world. On our own, our doubts may indeed be well founded. However, when we are responding to a true call from God, God meets us and makes whatever it is we have to offer enough to advance his purposes. Is it enough? Who we are, what we have to offer? Perhaps that is the wrong question. Perhaps the right questions is this, "Is God enough? To be at work in me?" The answer is a resounding "yes."
Today's message considers briefly the promise of God to David. While it is David who offers to build a house for God, God opts instead to build a house for David. This house is not a place but a people of whom we are a part through Jesus Christ. In Christ and through Christ, the promise to David is fulfilled but that house is still expanding even today. Through God's work in and among the body of Christ, the church, more and more people are being enfolded into God's great house every day. To this work, we are called.