One of the ways that Jesus reveals himself to us is as a Preacher… which may indicate that Jesus wants to do some meddling in our lives.
One of the greatest gifts we can give, one of the greatest compliments we can pay, one of the greatest signs of affection we can bestow is our willingness and commitment to listen intently with understanding to someone we love. We don’t have to say much (or at times, anything) to let our loved one know that we really care. This year we invite you to Just Listen…to your teachers and employers, as well as, your family and friends…but most of all, Just Listen to God. This will be our year long-theme and we invite you to join us in the adventure.
Today we start a new series of Lenten Messages… These messages are designed to help us get grow in our faith (Lent means springtime). And the focus of these messages will be on listening to Jesus… who is in fact the very Word of God. What I would like to suggest is that if we get better at listening to Jesus, we will get better at discovering who God really is… not some phony image that we have somehow gotten stuck in our head.
When God chose to make the universe, he made humankind as his crown jewel (Genesis 1:27-31). He made us God-like with this wonderful gift of choice…which we have sometimes abused… instead using this gift to give, we have used it to take and suffered the consequences (Genesis 3:6-9).
I think there is something to the old adage: “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” For a lot of people the main thing is winning. “Winning is everything” or “winning is the only thing.” Indeed, this is the mantra of many exceptionally successful people.
In order to determine our direction and future we need to ask ourselves a number of questions including: What am I passionate about? And maybe, more importantly, what is God passionate about? What the Prophet Moses taught about God’s passion may serve as good starting place and may also help clarify some possible misconceptions we have about God’s nature (Deuteronomy 4:24).
This morning I want to underscore one verse of Scripture: Call to Me, and I will answer you. I will tell you of great things, things beyond what you can imagine, things you could never have known. (Jeremiah 33:3)
Is it true… All you need is love? That’s what John Lennon said…as did John, the author of letters 1, 2 and 3 in the New Testament (1 John 4:7-12). The Apostle Paul seems to concur… at least he says that love is the best that there is (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). And if God is love and God is embodied in Jesus, then it seems that love would be Jesus too… the first and upholding principle of all creation…the most powerful force in all the universe (Colossians 1:15-20).
C. S. Lewis’ observation that “the chief business of heaven is joy” corresponds well with our celebration of the 3rd Sunday of Advent. On this day we are reminded that Jesus came to earth so that we might experience abundant, joyful living (John 10:10; 15:11). He wanted our prayer life to be rich, full and joyful (John 16:23-24). And yet, so many of us seem to prefer living in a dumpster rather than God’s glory, seeking tawdry escapism that pulls us further and further into the darkness.
Peace…something we all want personally and internationally, but it seems so elusive. Maybe we need to listen to the Prophet Isaiah who speaks about the darkness of this world (Isaiah 8:20b-22) but also talks about the coming of Light (Isaiah 9:1-2)… and Peace (Isaiah 9:5-7a).
Today we begin a new church calendar year complete with a new theme: “Just Listen.” This week on the first week of Advent we would like you consider listening to the Prophet Isaiah as he speaks to us about the subject of Hope. In an uncertain age like ours, what could me more important?