Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner

Last Sunday our church family gathered together in the evening to have Thanksgiving dinner and it was wonderful! The food was fantastic, the worship was authentic, and the message from Pastor Carey about being Thankful was much needed. We also expressed our thankfulness tangibly as we collected an offering for people in need within our own church family and local community as well as for South Brevard Sharing Center. During the evening, Pastor Michael shared a video clip from The Blind Side, a movie I had never seen before.

Before this clip above, the family runs from the televisions, grabs food, and then runs and sits down again. Watching it may have made a few of us feel guilty for the times we have spent our meals being entertained professionally rather than enjoying the relationships that we have, but I think the message was a good one. We are built for relationship and even though it may seem easier to check out of family and check into television and entertainment, those avenues are false places of rest. They may fill a short term desire and give instant gratification, but relationships are more enduring and fulfill a deeper sense of purpose for which we are designed. 

The Blind Side illustrates how a family can spend time together, but what was great about Sunday night is that we were gathered together not by blood, but by one Spirit, the Spirit of God, as one Body, the Body of Christ. The bond that united us as  family for that Thanksgiving meal was the eternal oneness that we experience in communion with Jesus Christ and one another. I'm so thankful for not having to walk my faith alone, or even with just my family at home, but with so many other brothers and sisters in Christ as we all gather together as a spiritual family. Thank you to everyone for just being there. 

"Oh how good, and oh how pleasant, it is with the brethren dwell together, in unity."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Political and Holiday Seasons

As this particular political season comes to end and we can finally begin to step back a little from the issues, the candidates, and the results (whether we are elated or depressed) it's worthwhile to note that in the wider view of history that Christ still reigns over all things and that He is the object of our focus.

Over 2000 years ago Jesus said when asked about the politics of taxation in the context of Roman oppression "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." We are participants in the politics of the world to an extent, giving Caesar what is his. I have no doubt that as citizens of our nations we should participate as citizens especially in the process of elections but more broadly speaking we are citizens of another kingdom. We give to God what is God's, namely everything we have, we are, and do. This is where Jesus has people focus, even in the less than favorable political conditions of his day.

Later, Paul wrote similarly in Romans 13. "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established...whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted....This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants." Paul commends the early Church to be subject to the Roman authorities and in other letters to pray for them regardless of whether we are satisfied or dissatisfied with the establishment.

Jesus and Paul had a broader view. Jesus saw a greater enemy than the emperor of Rome, a spiritual enemy, namely sin and death. Paul saw that the most effective way of seeing God's kingdom come, was not through rebellion, through turning the table on those in power through politics. The kingdom of God, or in more contemporary terms "God's nation and government", is not of this world. We can't point to a nation and say "See, there it is." Both Jesus and Paul saw that the way to truly change the world was not through overthrowing earthly authorities and establishing political entities, but through the good news of reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

They saw beyond one particular season to the big picture. As we get ready to celebrate our holiday season, I'm reminded that we celebrate Christmas at this time of year not because we have accurately recorded the day of Jesus' birth, but because the early Church took over the pagan holidays of the winter solstice that was celebrated during the darkest days of the year. The days get shorter and shorter during this Holiday season, so we gather together and celebrate knowing that this winter season is not all there is. Indeed after the winter solstice the days get longer and longer and we know that we can look forward to new life in Spring. 

As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, as citizens of another kingdom, we focus not on one particular season, whether we believe it to be dark or light in the moment, but rather we take a broader view; a view of history as a whole where we see the victory of Christ over 2000 years ago, His continuing reign over all things, and He is the hope that we hold onto. We fix our "eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2). We know that He alone is our savior both individually and corporately.