Monday, December 21, 2009

FINDING JESUS


I’ve been re-reading Steven James’ book, Sailing Between the Stars. It's a great book! I especially appreciate his unique way of reading between the lines and making observations that eludes most people. 


This morning I read chapter seven, Fleshing Out Jesus.  Here is a classic example of his insight. Steven writes about the account when Mary and Joseph accidently left the boy, Jesus, in Jerusalem after celebrating the Passover festival. On their way back to Nazareth in the caravan, each thought he was with the other. When they couldn’t find him among family and friends in the caravan, a frantic search ensued. 


They returned to Jerusalem and after searching three days, finally found him in the temple listening to the teachers and asking questions. 


Naturally, Mary reacted just like any parent would, and I paraphrase: “Son! Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking everywhere for you.” 


Twelve-year-old Jesus answered, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”


Steven points out the use of father and Father. Mary was talking about Joseph, Jesus was talking about God. Although Mary didn’t understand what he was talking about at the time, she kept it in mind. 


Then Steven makes the astute point that Jesus wasn’t lost, Mary was. She’d forgotten who Jesus really was and why he really came. After twelve years, he seemed like any other young boy. She’d nursed him, changed his diapers, taught him to walk and talk, played with him, rocked him to sleep at night. Joseph protected him, taught him a trade, he did all the things an earthly father is supposed to do. This incident reminded her that he was the son of God. 


I realized that in this modern day, we have also forgot who Jesus really is. We let religious art, ivy-college intellectuals, Hollywood, and our own self-directed religion interpret him to our benefit. 


I like Stephen's description of Jesus based on what we have learned about him in scripture. He reminds us that demons and hurricanes stepped aside to let Jesus Christ pass. Jesus has all the passion of God—the passion of God’s love and the passion of God’s justice—and all of that passion is contained in a humble soul. 


After reading this, I wondered, have I forgotten Jesus? Do I acknowledge him from across the way or do I join in his passion? Do I fight for things on earth that will pass away, or do I offer a cup of cold water in his name to the thirsty? 


I have been reminded to be involved in the things that matter, to be involved in the passion of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A CHRISTMAS THAT JESUS WOULD CELEBRATE

In my 54 Christmases I’ve seen society change from a hardworking mentality to a me first mentality, to entitlement, to greed, to not accepting personal responsibility, and now we face a bankrupt nation. 

But all is not lost. As we watch our dollar grow more worthless each passing day, we are finding ourselves again. Instead of getting lost in the orgy of spending for the perfect Santa Claus morning, we are spending time with those we love. Instead of debt bending our backs with worry, we stand straight and look to the future debt free. And since our gaze has gone from our navel (me, me, me) to the horizon we see others and recognize their need. 

Am I describing you? Have you undergone this change of mind? If not, I encourage everyone to use this holiday season as a springboard into the future. Change your mindset. Don’t regret the past, think forward and ask yourself, “How can I make someone’s life better?” Helping others doesn’t always require money. Time invested in their lives is just as needed. 

Lift up your eyes and be sensitive to those around you. Don’t grumble about the rich or the poor. Do something. Don’t feel that anyone owes you anything. Do something. Make the same choice as our forefathers. Have the attitude and the willingness to do what it takes. 

If you have two cents to your name, give one to someone else. If your house is only 300 square feet, invite someone over for coffee and encourage them. Start giving to the poor and continue giving throughout the year. Help those who have dedicated their lives to the poor. Teach your children to give. Make that the most exciting part of Christmas for them. 

For me, Christmas isn’t a time to celebrate the birth of Christ since he wasn’t born in December anyway. Christmas is the anniversary to renew my resolve to celebrate Christ’s command in Matthew 22:36-40 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”