Life happens fast, doesn't it?
No, I'm not talking about how quickly time flies, I'm talking about how things can change in an instant. One moment you're living your best life, and then something dramatic happens that changes everything.
For 400 years in between the end of the Old Testament (Malachi) and the New Testament (Matthew), there was absolutely nothing from God. No prophets, no wrath, no voice from the heavens, and then all of a sudden something miraculous happened. A young girl from Nazareth got a call from the Angel of the Lord, and the next thing we know, there's a star in the sky, angels are singing, and shepherds are coming to visit a baby in a cattle stall.
Fast forward 12 years and the young boy, Jesus, not quite a man in the eyes of the Jews, is sitting in the temple, teaching men twice, perhaps 3-times his age about God.
Fast forward about 18 more years, and Jesus comes around the corner to the Jordan River, is baptized by John, and a dove appears, coming down from heaven and a voice shouts, "This is my son, with him I am pleased."
Now, fast forward 3 more years and Jesus has entered into Jerusalem, riding on a young donkey to shouts of Hosanna! God Save us! Now it's Wednesday; the middle of the week...the calm before the storm.
You see, Jesus knew everything that was about to happen. He knew that he would have his last Seder meal with his disciples, he knew that Judas was going to sell him over to the Romans for 30 pieces of silver, he knew that he was going to be taken back and forth between the Romans and the Religious leaders, that they wouldn't find any real fault him him. He knew that he was going to be exchanged for Jesus Barabbas, a common criminal, whom he also was going to die for. He knew that he was going to be whipped, scorned, mocked, and killed. He knew it was all going to happen, and yet..
...He was so passionate about you that even knowing all of it, he did it anyway. He could have, at any moment throughout the whole ordeal said, no...this isn't worth it. But that's not what he did. He stayed there. He stayed in Jerusalem. He stayed handcuffed. He stayed on the cross. But there is one place he didn't stay...but that's a story for another day.
It was certainly our sickness that he carried,
and our sufferings that he bore,
but we thought him afflicted,
struck down and tormented.
He was pierced because of our rebellions
and crushed because of our crimes.
He bore the punishment and made us whole;
by his wounds we are healed.
Like sheep we had all wandered away,
each going its own way,
but the Lord let fall on him all our crimes.
(Isaiah 53: 4-6)
Jesus Clears the Temple Courts
Have you ever thought about your image of Jesus? What he looks like? How he speaks? How he acts? Is he meek and mild? Does he have a beard? Long curly hair? What color is it? Is he soft spoken? Does the Jesus you know act like what you read above?
There is this great scene in CS Lewis' the Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, where Lucy is talking with Mr. & Mrs. Beaver about Aslan, the Christlike Lion figure of the series. Lucy asks the question if Aslan is safe, to which Mr. Beaver responds, "Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he is good."
I don't know why or where over the years of American Christianity we began to believe in meek and mild Jesus. The God of all creation, the God who speaks in the fire of a burning bush, who's voice crashes like thunder, who strikes fear in the hearts of those who dare incur his wrath, this is the same God who came in the form of the man named Jesus the Christ.
But, just because he is the God I mentioned above, that doesn't mean he isn't compassionate.
He is fair.
He is just.
He is God.
Let us Pray
God of us all, we thank you for your Holy Justice. We have often failed to treat your house with respect and the honor it deserves. Help us to remember that you are God; that in your anger you are just, but that in your love, you are compassionate, and that ultimately, you are GOOD.
We love you, Father,
In Jesus' name.
Jesus Predicts His Death
Well, our world continues to change around us very rapidly. As many of you may have heard by now, The Governor of the Great State of Texas, Governor Abbott, has declared that as of next Wednesday, March 10, he is rescinding his executive orders about capacity in all businesses, opening up 100%. On top of that, he has declared that the State's mask mandate will also end. As it is with every polarizing issue, there are many who are elated at this decision, and there are equally as many who are angry and/or frightened that this might be a huge mistake. But, no matter where you stand on the issue, our job as Christians is to keep our "minds on the concerns of God, [not] merely on human concerns."
No, this is not the blog post where you get to read Pastor Bryan talk about where he stands on this issue. That is not the purpose of this blog at all.
As your pastor, it is important for me to let you know where we should go as a Church. First and foremost, we should continue to Love God, Love Others, and Make Disciples of Jesus Christ. After all, that is our mandate no matter what pandemic is occurring, or what social and political issues there are in the world.
I won't go into full detail here, but there is a movement in the church (I'm not talking about here in Llano, just in general) right now on how to do ministry in difficult times and in times of waiting. But the reality is, the church should have already been ready to deal with difficult times. After all, it was out of difficult times that the Church was created. We should be used to it by now. But we have become too comfortable...too much like the world, that when the rest of the world is running around like crazies, it is difficult to distinguish the church from the world.
If you'll remember the reading from this past Sunday from the Common English Bible in Psalm 46: 10,
"That's Enough! (STOP IT)
Now know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations;
I am exalted throughout the world!"
In other words, when the rest of the world is freaking out, we should be the the peace in people's lives, because we should have the peace of Christ living within us. We should be least concerned about the worldly things and the most concerned with the heavenly things.
I won't lie, I am frustrated. Not at mask mandates. Not at occupancy mandates,but at the lack of the conviction that the church has. I am frustrated at the fact that we have lost touch with the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives so much so that we fear everything. I am frustrated at the fact that people think it necessary to call people out on Facebook because they believe something...EITHER WAY!
Who are we?
Who is our God?
Perhaps what we need is to hear Jesus say to us, "Get behind me, Satan. You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns."
Ouch. That hurts.
Let us pray.
God forgive us. We have too often put our trust in the governments of this world, the platforms we have to speak from, even our churches as an organization. We have failed to be obedient to you, keeping our minds on the heavenly things instead of the things of this world.
Help us to focus ENTIRELY on you. Help us to be more like your Son, Jesus, every day. Sanctify us. Make us Holy. Give us clean hearts to do your will in the world.
In the name of Jesus we pray,
Growing up in the United Methodist Church, I have always had a passion for ministry. Now, I have been called to serve the people of Llano at an awesome place called Lutie Watkins Memorial!