December 28, 2014: Love, Through and Through!

Posted on : Dec 26th, 2014 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

By popular demand and your endless requests, this Sunday I’ve invited the Rev. Sue Fisher to return and share with us her message of what it means for us to embody the love of Christ. Sue was our guest pastor here Feb – May, 2006 while I was “on loan” to Brentwood Presbyterian Church. What a great celebration Sunday!  After worship Sue and I and any who wish to join us will be going out for brunch! 

For Reflection (from Sue)

On December 20th I was invited, by friends from the last congregation I served, to walk around “Candy Cane Lane” in South Torrance where scores of homes are decked out in holiday lights and decorations. Five adults, one infant in a stroller and 4 little girls ages 3 to 6 set out to gaze at the Disneyesque wonderland and stop periodically to sing carols on the sidewalk. To my amazement, these little girls knew ALL the lyrics to the Christmas carols! We passed blinking reindeer, towering blown-up snowmen, every cartoon character lit up and mechanically dancing, Santa in every possible pose, but the little girls got the most excited when they spotted a baby Jesus. When a house displayed a nativity scene, the girls would shriek, rush over to see little Jesus then point out all the other characters around the manger. These little ones remembered the reason for the season.

I think most people remember the basic reason for the season – that Jesus Christ was born. What many people don’t remember is the reason Jesus was born. An early church theologian, Athanasius (ca 298-373) declared “God became human so humanity could become like God,” and the divine nature of God was manifest in the person of Jesus Christ.

Interpreting the prologue of the Gospel of John, and other scriptures, Athanasius developed the doctrine of Incarnation, which from the Latin, in carnatus, literally means “in the flesh.”

John’s gospel starts out: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word literally means what God speaks, it means the spoken word of God, God spoke the universe into existence. The Word of God also means all that God is, which includes the entire activity of God, and this Word of God, all that God is, became one of us in the person of Jesus Christ.

We believe that, in the person of Jesus Christ, God became one of us to enter into our life with its suffering and its joys to give us an up-close-and-personal lesson in love.

The incarnation is a mystical, even fantastical concept. I think of it as through and through love. God’s love to us through Jesus – Jesus’ love through us to others.

On December 21st I went Christmas caroling with friends from Brentwood Pres. Church. We went to the California Home for Veterans in West LA. We sang and held the hands of elderly veterans from WWII through Vietnam. Many were disabled and mouthed the lyrics as best they could. We held their hands and sang and watched tears well up in many eyes. The most requested carol was Silent Night.

The incarnation tells us that God loves us, God is for us, God is with us, God will use us, with our gifts and graces and imperfections, to bring joy and hope in this world. That’s a very good reason for the season!

I can’t wait to see you all on Sunday!

Love,

Sue

 

~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

John 1: 1-18

“The Word took on human flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”

In the beginning there was the Word;

            the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God.

The Word was present to God from the beginning.

Through the Word all things came into being, and apart from the Word nothing came into being that is.

In the Word was life,

            and that life was humanity’s light-

a Light that shines in the darkness,

            a Light that the darkness has never overtaken.

Then came one named John, sent as an envoy from God, who came as a witness to testify about the Light, so that through his testimony everyone might believe. He himself wasn’t the Light; he only came to testify about the Light – the true Light that illumines all humankind.

The Word was coming into the world –

was in the world –

            and though the world was made through the Word, the world didn’t recognize it.

Though the Word came to its own realm,

            the Word’s own people didn’t accept it.

Yet any who did accept the Word,

            who believed in that Name,

            were empowered to become children of God –

Children born not of natural descent,

not of human will –

but born of God.

And the Word took on human flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.

We saw the Word’s glory –

            filled with grace,

            filled with truth.

John testified by proclaiming, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘the One who comes after me ranks ahead of me, for this One existed before I did.’”         

Of this One’s fullness

            we’ve all had a share –

            gift on top of gift.

For while the Law was given through Moses,

            the Gift – and the Truth – came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God,

            except Jesus,

            who has revealed God to us.

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