In my first year of high school, Australia converted to decimal currency and Simon and Garfunkel released the song, “I am a rock”. While everyone in Australia was working together to adjust to the new currency the song spoke of going it alone. “I am a rock. I am an island.”
It’s a sad song about being hurt and withdrawing into isolation in order to avoid any more pain.
We’ve had some experiences of isolation this year and depending on our nature we’ve either enjoyed or hated those times.
Our God is into community. God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in a divine community of love and because we’re made in the image of God we’re also made for community.
The Christian faith in particular and life in general aren’t meant to be solo adventures. Even those with an introverted nature need others. We all need community.
Paul describes the community in terms of a body with many different and varied parts in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. The different parts of the body need each other and when they work together the body functions properly.
The beauty of this image and situation is found in the love and support we give and receive in the community. There are times when we desperately need the support of a loving community and there are times when we provide the support to members of the community.
This ‘strange’ year has highlighted the need for community. We need to care for each other and look out for each other.
It’s great to know God is always doing his best for us. It’s also clear our sisters and brothers are gifts from God. God often helps us through the community. God bless you with all the help you need and with all the strength you need to help others.
SMELLING A Memory Trigger 2nd Sunday in Advent
Read: Luke 1:1-4 “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart” Proverbs 27:9a (NIV) There are certain foods and smells which trigger childhood memories. Whenever I bake honey biscuits the smell of cinnamon and spices fill the house, and my husband immediately is transported back to childhood Christmases. On a Sunday, arriving home from church and smelling the roast in the oven brings me back to my own family’s Sunday roast when growing up. There are also smells that we associate with our loved ones. My husband’s cologne brings a smile to my heart when I smell it bringing with it the safety and security I feel with him. Others smell my Giorgio perfume and immediately know I have been there. I have been told that smells are a powerful sense that can bring memories both good and bad. The sense of smell has many functions which include detecting desirable foods, danger, attraction to others and also plays a role in taste. We can know what something is – whether good or bad without even seeing it. We can walk into a room and decide if we want to stay there or leave according to the smell. A musty room makes you want to leave, whereas a room smelling fresh and clean makes one want to linger and stay. In the beginning of Luke, the author Luke, sets the scene, like a room, to be appealing and make people want to linger longer and read more. He makes it attractive, logical and factual, an appealing smell for us all to read more about the birth of Jesus. Luke figuratively puts on the Sunday roast so that all may want to know more about God’s love through Jesus. We are also to smell good for Jesus. “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15 NIV) The way we talk and behave also is a reminder for others. Whether knowingly or unknowingly people will be attracted to Jesus, just through who you are. Be a witness and scent to the world for Jesus! Prayer: Lord, help me to be a pleasing aroma for you. You are incredible and allow me to show others this through who I am and how I act. Amen
SEEING Seeing God’s Provisions 1st Saturday in Advent
Read: Luke 2:1-7 “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Acts 14:17b (NIV) Travelling on the musical ministry team from Lutheran Youth Encounter in the 1990’s was truly a faith building experience. We were provided with an honorarium of US$50 a month and left to being provided for everyday through the kindness of churches and their members. Each night we performed a concert in a church along with having a potluck dinner beforehand. Then we were taken home by wonderful people who offered us a bed and breakfast and supplied us with any other need – a tube of toothpaste, soap, haircut, stamps, and lunch the following day. This continued day after day for a year and sometimes we still had the US$50 in our wallet at the end of the month. We relied on God for providing for our needs through His people and we saw His goodness every day. God had planned for the coming of His Son to earth from the beginning of time. We read many references leading up to His birth and the way Jesus would then suffer and die. We read in Luke 2 all the references to Jesus being born at a particular time and place. These were documented, so that later in history we can see the proof (God knew about our unbelief). God knew that Mary and Joseph would have to travel to Bethlehem due to a census and that Bethlehem would be bustling with people. He also knew of a safe and secure place (a humble place) where the Son of a mighty God would be born. He was born without a king’s fanfare but was given the heavenly angels’ fanfare. All this was foretold in the Scriptures. God had also seen how this tiny baby was to die 33 years later, Jesus’ whole life had been seen by His watchful Father. God had provided amazing earthly parents for Jesus who would teach Him and love Him. Our God also sees our needs before we even know we have a need and places people around us to provide for these needs. Today, take note of all that God provides for you and give thanks to Him. Prayer: Thank you dear Lord for providing everything I need for life and health. Help me to see also the needs of others and help them in their needs. Amen.
SEEING The God Who Sees
Read Luke 1:46-55 “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” Genesis 16:13 (NIV) Have you ever felt invisible? That you are looked over and your opinions and thoughts not valid. As the sixth child in a large family, I often felt invisible and overlooked which made me withdraw and become quite shy. I did not like to put myself or my opinions forward for fear of being shot down. As I finished high school, a new life of university was opening to me, and I made a conscious effort that I would no longer be unseen but change my introverted nature to an extrovert… which is how people today know me. We all have a need to be seen and recognised and to be truly known. Hagar was the maidservant of Sarai, who became pregnant by Abram when Sarai couldn’t have children. Even though God had promised Sarai a child, she believed that they had to do it some other way than rely on God. But once Hagar was pregnant, Sarai made her life miserable, so she planned to run away. She tried and an angel came to her and said that God had seen her pain and he understood. Hagar called God ‘El Roi’ - the God who sees (read the verse above in Genesis). It isn’t that God just sees, but God saw her. This reveals something about God and his character. He is omnipresent, everywhere all at once, and He is omniscient, knowing everything all the time. So, God, by His very nature, cannot overlook us. We also read the song of Mary, who herself was invisible, being a woman and so young. But she praises God for revealing Himself to her and remembering her and giving her the joy and honour of being the Lord’s mother. Mary was seen by God and her life was never the same. You also are seen by God. Even when we may feel invisible to the world around us, we never go unnoticed by our Heavenly Father. God sees every heartache, every unspoken word, every sacrifice and every longing. God sees you! Praise God this Advent for revealing Himself to us in a tiny baby. Prayer: El Roi, you are the God who sees me. You know me and love me just the same. Surround me and bless me with your presence and love. Amen