The Hope of Christmas

The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity–hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory–because at the Father’s will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.”

– J.I. Packer

Play it Again, Sam!

Maybe my title doesn’t make much sense to our readers, but it does to me –Sam is our organist!  I can’t close out my discussion of the cross without one more hymn I love that extolls it — Lift High the Cross.  Sam can play it again any time he wants!  It was written in 1887 by George Kitchin, who was the Church of England Dean of Winchester at the time.  It was intended to be used as a festival hymn and was first at Winchester Cathedral.  Some have suggested that the inspiration for the hymn comes from the conversion story of Constantine the Great, after he saw a cross with the words “in hoc signo vinces” (in this sign thou shalt conquer) in a vision.  It was first published in the U.S. in 1974, and shortly after that was added to the Lutheran Book of Worship (ELCA hymnal) and later to Lutheran Worship (Missouri-Synod hymnal).  It’s often used during Lent to evoke the message of the sacrificial love of Christ.

For more about Lent see:

Lenten Discipline

Final Questions For Lent

A Lenten Quote

 

The Cross — A Symbol of Community

I just started reading a book about small groups and building community, and I came across this description of the cross as a symbol of community.  I thought it was worth sharing.

“The very shape of the cross suggests the two main transactions that were effected through it.  The upright post stands for the restoration of our community with God.  God reached down from the holiness of his transcendence above, into the abyss of our human need in order to reconcile us to himself….The arms of Jesus were stretched on that horizontal beam, and his servant hands nailed to it.  His extended arms reach out from the crossbar to all who want reconciliation with God in order that we may also be reconciled to one another, forming one body in his embrace of love.  Perfect community is to be found at the intersection of the two segments of the cross, where those who are reconciled with God are reconciled together–where we love God with all we have and we love our neighbor as ourselves.”

From Groups:  the life-giving power of community by John Ortberg, Laurie Pederson & Judson Poling

 

How To Be A Christian Witness

As Joan stated in an earlier blog, I am going to be speaking on Apostolic Action on an upcoming Via De Cristo weekend.  She asked me to post a few of the things I will be saying.  This post will be about how to witness.  I may follow up at a later date with how I witness.

To be effective in apostolic action we need to develop relationships with the people to whom we want to show Christ’s love.

We need to remember to talk to God about your friend before talking to your friend about God.

1. Pray first, last and always John 17:20 “I am praying not for these disciples but also for all who will EVER believe in me through their message” Please realize that the verse is telling us that John is praying for us in our discipleship
2. Make a friend – Show genuine interest in their lives as a whole not just their spiritual well being
3. Be a friend – Proverbs 17:17A “A friend is always loyal” Be accepting and tolerant NOT judgmental Show them the love of Christ by your loyalty
4. Bring your friend to Christ – It is only after prayer, an initial introduction of yourself, and taking the time to be a true friend that will bring to your friend the knowledge of salvation.

Apostolic Action flows from us
When we put Christ as the center of our lives – John 3:30 “He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less”
From our personal encounter with Christ – John 15:16a “You didn’t choose me I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit”
And our encounters with our brothers and sisters – Matthew 5:16 “In the same way let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”
It is important that we understand that our testimony is not only in the words we speak but also our deeds. “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words. This is a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

Is being a witness of Christ easy – NO.  But think about it this way, it wasn’t easy to die on a cross but He did – So we need to face our reservations, concerns, fears, whatever you want to call them and do as commanded by the man who died for us.  It is a very small price to pay for the love He has shown us.  Wouldn’t you say??

 

As always, remember

God Loves You And So Do I

Michele