Grace, Sweet Grace!

1Grace – God’s Undeserved, Unmerited, Unearned love and acceptance of you…

1. It’s the ring on your finger, robe on your back, kill the fatted calf and let’s have a party kind of love

2. It’s God’s love despite the fact that you have a ball and bat in your hands and a broken window to point to which is the result of your actions and past

3. It is God saying, “I love you” – no more guilt, no more shame, no more fear, no more hiding

4. It is PEACE when you are caught up in the pit of despair and anxiety

5. It is LIFE when you are in the clutches of death

6. It is a SMILE in a world filled with frowns

7. It is a HUG in a life more interested in doing you harm than give you love

8. It’s ASSURANCE when all you feel is that you’re grasping for a lifeline

9. It is a TOUH OF LOVE in the midst of a world that is much more apt to give you a smack of rejection

10. It is ACCEPTANCE when you are unacceptable

11. It is FORGIVENESS when you are unforgivable

12. It is HOPE when you are hopeless

13. It is STRENGTH when you can’t stand

14. It is HEALING when you are broken to pieces

15. It is RESPECT when you are feeling like you have not a shred of self-respect

16. It is NO CONDEMNATION when all you are feeling is condemned

17. It is FREEDOM when you are caught in the vice of judgment

18. It is JOY when you are burdened with sadness

19. It is MORNING when you’re always living in the dark

20. It is RESURRECTION when you feel pinned to a cross of death

21. It is LIGHTNESS in the weight of difficulty

Grace…when you are standing over your life looking at the stuff that gone on in you…when you are shamed by the wreckage you’ve caused…lies you’ve told for self-preservation…or opportunities you missed because you were so self-involved…when in moments that only quiet and solitude can surface within you…when your junk catches up to you like all junk does sooner than later and you get stuck in guilt…it is time to embrace GRACE!

The Sweet voice of Jesus!

1.pngFinding Quiet – Listening for Jesus’ “Sweet” Voice

This is one of those devotionals that is a “no duh!” for many people. Many ARE apt to say, “well of course Jesus wants us to listen to His voice.” Didn’t Jesus say in John 15, “my sheep hear and recognize my voice?” Even so, you would be surprised how many Jesus followers look at me with puzzled faces when I asked them if they have “heard from the Lord lately.” Many are either too busy, too distracted, or not knowledgable of something that should be a no brainer for a Jesus follower…listening for voice of Jesus. If you are following somebody, doesn’t that assume you are listening to whom you are following? So, find a quiet spot and reflect on the following words:

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

“With our whole heart, soul, mind, strength and fortitude; with our whole understanding, powers, effort, affection, and feeling; with every desire and wish, let us love the Lord our God who gives each of us our body, our soul, our life; who creates, redeems, and saves us by mercy alone; who does all good for us, the miserable, wretched, rotten, and ungrateful. Let us desire nothing else, want nothing else, delight in nothing else, except our Creator, Redeemer and Savior who alone is good; who alone is holy. Let nothing hinder, separate, or come between us. Wherever we are, in every place, hour, and time of day, let us continually, truly, and humbly hold in our heart and love the Most High, Trinity and Unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Creator of all, Savior of all, we believe in, hope in, and love You. Unchangeable, invisible, unspeakable, unfathomable, You alone are most gentle, most lovable, most delightful, and totally desirable above all others” St. Francis of Assisi

Voices, sounds, and noise fill our lives. Radios blare inside of our cars. Televisions are on most of the day in our homes. Smart phones and other personal music devices fill our ears with song and sound. You must admit, a quiet moment is hard to come by these days. It might be said that those moments of silence and peace are near extinction in modern culture.

Well, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that God wants to speak to you. The question is: “are you listening?” Or, are there other voices more interesting to you than the voice of God?

You must quiet your heart in order to learn how to listen to God’s voice. Discovering ways to nurture the practice of silence in our lives is part of the necessary journey into really living as a Christ-follower. Finding quiet for even a moment or two gives us an opportunity to train our hearts, ears and lives to hear a far sweeter voice. Silence teaches us to listen to the songs of the Savior and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit sings a melody of transformation not condemnation. The Spirit sings a melody that speaks the words of eternal life to the seeking heart.

“A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it” A.W. Tozer

As I said on Twitter, this guy is right!

58d93-6a00d83451607369e201347ffa45fd970c-piNY Post review of La La Land

I watch La la land the other day with a good buddy and my dear wife Vicky.  Yes, there were some enjoyable places in the film.  I enjoyed the music…dancing was so-so and characters were interesting.  The problem for me is that it garnered SO many Academy Award nominations.  I wouldn’t even put it in the top films of the year.  Now, I’m not a big movie reviewer…but what I am is a cultural student.  Hollywood loves to obsess on itself.  When there are movies with REAL meaning, with deep moral and spiritual messages, and life-changing and, actually, history making events, this movie is shallow at best in comparison.  And 14 Nominations?  That is a travesty.  BUT it is an indicator of narcissism that is what Hollywood has primarily loved to embrace.  SEE ANY of the other movies…all of the remaining best pic nominees have so much more to offer you.  Yeah, rent La La Land.  In fact, the title alone demonstrates its triviality.  Ok, so I’m a bit harsh…

The End of Language as we know it? Interesting and Provocative article

1Here’s an interesting article for you to read – LINK

Or the old fashioned way – https://paulwilkinson.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/the-erosion-of-language-as-we-knew-it/

Paul’s thesis is very interesting…his observations may not necessarily shock you but this one thing is true – language is changing and “standards” of communication seem to exist no more.  I remember when I was marked down on papers I wrote for using “too much slang.”  Now, I have to be careful (as a college professor) not to offend someone when they utilize “street” language because that language may be “racialized.”  Not only that but NO ONE can debate the impact of the demise of cursive writing, e-books, keyboarding skills and cell phone usage and it’s impact on communication (especially as Paul discusses, the impending demise of bookstores).  Anyway, I think you will like the article.  Comment if you want…I’d love to see what you think!

GREAT = defusing the antagonism between progressive and conservative Jesus followers – thank you Patheos

1This morning I read a great article that I am posting below.  It is VERY HELPFUL in confronting what has become a disturbing trend in USA Christianity…political rants.  I’m not going to say any more about this with the exception that this article is the prophetic call to faithfulness that we need at this time.  Here’s the link if you want to read it yourself from Dr. Scot McKnight’s blog.  Otherwise, thank you John Frye for you wisdom and insight.

The Gospel in 3D (John Frye)
Jan 13, 2017 

I imagine most Jesus Creed readers have attended a major motion picture filmed in 3D. With those amazing 3D glasses you sense that you are not merely seeing a film, you are living in it. I remember my first 3D film when I was eight years old (1955). With technology nowhere near as sophisticated as today, when the jungle natives threw their spears (a Tarzan movie) toward the camera, my mother said I yelled and ducked behind the seats. The spears were flying through the theater right at me. Back then you had paper 3D glasses with a red lens and blue lens.

Did you ever take the current high tech 3D glasses off while the film was showing? With some buddies I was watching an IMAX 3D film about NASCAR races. The sights, the sounds, the action consumed you. I took the glasses off and almost fell over from dizziness. The giant screen seem weirdly distorted. The glasses serve an important part in the 3D experience.

The gospel of the New Testament was filmed in 3D if I may continue the analogy. “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” It was not two dimensional “good news.” The same Apostle John wrote that he touched Jesus, heard him, saw him. When Jesus broke bread he handed some to John 3D.

Today, the evangelical Left sees Jesus though the blue lens. The evangelical Right sees Jesus through the red lens. Not seeing Jesus in 3D has created one the most dizzying, even appalling election campaigns in USAmerican history. To this day I am stunned by the uncivil discourse between the two “Christian” sides; talk often laced with profanity.
If ever the evangelical church has sold its birthright (the Gospel) for a mess of political porridge, it is now. The Left Jesus-group (elitist) wants to hold the Right Jesus-group (populist) accountable. The Right does the same to the Left. Stringent demands for political repentance are yelled across the red-blue divide with seemingly no sense whatsoever of the blatant sins created inherent in the divide itself. And the popular cop-out used by both sides— “Well, I’m just doing my civic duty as a U. S. citizen”—is pishposh (to use a McKnightism, who got it from Mencken). The Gospel doesn’t have a Democratic clause or Republican clause that excuses the ugliest of human behaviors for Christians. The more deplorable the candidates are (and I believe both are deeply flawed) is no excuse for Christians to act like jerks.

It is pathetic and beneath the Gospel of the Kingdom of God for Jesus to be recruited by either side. As if that were even possible! Last time I checked my New Testament, I saw Jesus in still King with all authority in heaven and earth. He is not Left (blue) and he is not Right (red). He is the color of pristine, searing justice, and if there was ever a time that the deplorable, unjust state of the evangelical church has become the target of the judgement of Jesus Christ, it is now.

The lost truth is this: Jesus Christ will judge his church. The Left and the Right thinks, “Well, it certainly won’t be us.” When the church acts just like the world, we are in jeopardy. This political season has pulled the hypocritical mask off both sides revealing mean-spirited, foul-language driven, power-seeking factions who think fleeting politics are some sort of safe foundation. Idolatry to the core.

“When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor 11:32 emphasis added).

My hope is that the church in the USA will rediscover the Gospel of Jesus Christ in IMAX 3D. To reimagine the realm we live in under the phenomenal King. Let his Way temper our spirits, frame our speech, and direct our actions. Only the 3D Gospel of the New Testament will unite the church and then energize the church to show this broken world “the new way of being human.”

Have a teachable spirit!

 

1“Once when Jesus had been out praying, one of his disciples came to him as he finished and said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…”  Luke 11:1

I’ve always been amazed at those who have a teachable spirit.  When my kids were small there would always be times to teach them something new.  Whether it would be learning to ride a bike or build a model airplane.  I loved those times!  As a teacher, it is awe-inspiring to have students in a class that actually want to learn.  There is nothing that gets a teacher more motivated than students who have a hunger for new information and personal transformation.  All I have to do is take a moment, look into the eyes of those in class and I can discern in a heartbeat their level of connectedness in the learning endeavor.  Frankly, learning does not occur when the learner hasn’t invested in the process.  Learning in some respects is one of the most life-threatening experiences in human existence.  To learn means that we are required to change, even sacrifice, for the sake of what we know.  I think most of us intuitively know that…which may explain why we choose to connect or disconnect with the learning process during times in our lives.  Thomas Merton once wrote, “The purpose of any education is to show a person how to define himself/herself authentically and spontaneously in relation to his/her world.”  Once you understand what Merton is trying to say, maybe that accounts for your own personal adherence or disdain for learning and growing.  Truthfully, only you know what is in the depth of your own heart and spirit in terms of growth in knowledge and spiritual authenticity.

Now, you would think that a passion for learning would be something that would be commonplace in the Body of Christ.  You would think that every Christ-follower would be fervent about learning and growing.  But that’s not often the case.  Over my years in local churches, I’ve looked upon the lives of those who think they have “learned it all” when it comes to their walk with God.  Messages at worship gatherings are often met with a flat emotional disengagement…learning opportunities are often evaded or put off because of the business of life.  We’ll follow the box scores of our favorite teams…watch countless hours of the Food Network and learn the latest gourmet recipes…we’ll memorize the schedule of our favorite TV shows or spend hours discovering how to beat the latest video game that we buy…but learn the truth that can set us free?  “Mmm, let me see if I have time for that?”

I wonder what would have happened to the disciples of Jesus if they didn’t have a passion to learn and grow?  The disciples often get a bad rap because it appears to many that often they just didn’t get it!  Even so, isn’t that the beginning of learning?  Isn’t that the outward appearance of a life that is open to further growth and development?  Go back in biblical history and as you do, you’ll see that discipleship implied that the individual who sought to be a faithful follower had as a key distinction in their life an all-consuming desire to be and know everything that their “rabbi” (or teacher) knew.  Children by the age of 12 often knew the entire Old Testament by memory.  Young boys by the age of 15 were making commitments to follow rabbis for fifteen years…being “covered in the dust of their rabbi” was the pressing goal and desire.  They wanted to know all that the rabbi knew so that the knowledge and the new action and lifestyle that proceeded from that new learning would transform their lives and set them free.  Knowledge was meant to lead to change.  They knew that…that’s why they pursued it!

I wonder…God wonders, where is your teachable spirit?  Do you have a hunger and thirst for the ways of God?  Do you NOT get it?  I don’t!  I need to learn!  I need to know more of God!  I need to know another kernel of truth that can take root in my life and grow.  How about you?

Today’s meditation has to do with seeking God for a teachable spirit in your life.  Won’t you take this time seriously and pursue God in that manner?

The following meditation comes from the book, Prayer Portions, by Sylvia Gunter:

  1. The first element of an open and teachable heart is God at work, seeking us and wooing us close to Himself. As the lover of our souls, He initiates our drawing near to Him.  Read Isaiah 55:1-2, Psalm 65:4, Jeremiah 31:3, Hosea 11:4
  2. The next element of an open heart and teachable spirit is to desire Jesus. How do you desire Jesus?  We simply ask God to fill our hearts with a desire for Him above all else.  Read Jeremiah 30:21, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Psalm 27:4,8.
  3. We cannot fake desire. God sees just as we are.  He knows our innermost thoughts and desires.  Read Psalm 44:21b, Jeremiah 12:3.  How does God respond?  Jeremiah 24:7.
  4. Another element of a teachable heart is complete abandon. God desires that we give Him our whole hearts, that we give ourselves to Him completely, withholding nothing.  Read Deuteronomy 4:29, 6:5, 1 Samuel 12:24, Psalm 84:10, Psalm 86:11.
  5. Another element of a teachable heart is repentance and humility. What is God’s command to Him people?  Read Ezekiel 18:30-31.
  6. Another element is to yearn to be more and more like Jesus. What did Moses ask?  Read Exodus 33:13.  What did David ask?  Read Psalm 119:33-35.  What was Paul’s passion?  Read Philippians 3:8, 10.
  7. The more we love Him, the more intimacy we enjoy with Him. How does Paul appeal to us?  Read 2 Corinthians 6:11-13.  What was Paul’s model for this action and appeal?  Read Romans 8:32.
  8. God our Father first opened His heart to you, withholding nothing, not even His own precious Son. You have all of Him.  Likewise, come before Him, offering Him your open, undivided heart and complete affection.  Does He have all of you?  Below, write Jesus a letter of commitment and openness to Him.

Now, it is your turn…”Dear Jesus…”

Christmas Eve Message – “Really, Good News!”

Christmas Eve Message

Again, Merry Christmas friends, may the Lord of Jesus be born in your heart tonight – prayer

I don’t know if you know this…but you are kind of an outlier tonight

Outlier?  Formal definition comes from the world of statistics and I’m not smart enough to attempt to explain it to you…

But the informal definition is something that was popularized last year by a NY times bestseller book by Malcolm Gladwell

  • Gladwell examines highly successful individuals
  • Success not just about personal talent – but some weird idiosyncrasies that add to a person’s natural abilities
  • Genius being a factor but there are many other factors
  • g. disproportionate number of Canadian hockey players born in the first three months of the calendar year
  • 10000 hour rule – you do anything for 10K hours and you’ll most likely be successful

Gladwell explains that successful people are outliers – not the norm – book explains what that means

Well, you are an outlier tonight – because just as success is far from the norm – so is being invested in some sort of faith community these days

Here you are – sitting in a local church for God knows what reason…like I said, not necessarily the norm for our culture today

That might surprise you so let me explain one of the reasons why I say that…

  • In fact, this one might surprise you – the reason why worship attendance even on special days like Christmas is NOT the norm has to do with the fact that Jesus followers have lost something…something important
  • Someone I know put it this way, “the good news isn’t sounding like good news these days”

Fictitiously line up a bunch of people at random and ask them about Christians

And here are some of the adjectives that you most likely will hear:

Illiterate, greedy, psychos, racists, stupid, narrow minded, bigots, idiots, fanatics, nut jobs, screaming loons, delusional, simpletons, pompous, morons, freaks…that that’s just a partial list

USA – has gone through an incredible change in our attitudes about religion

There was an article that came out several years ago, “10 surprising reasons kids are leaving the church”

The blogger who wrote it expected to have some hits to his website but man was he surprised when the post went viral and got over ½ million hits

Now, most of the people who are a bit hostile toward some religious experience aren’t those who necessarily come from a churched background…in fact, most people who haven’t had an experience of church are mostly pretty open minded and receptive about being involved in some faith community one day…

The hostility is seen when we get to the vastly larger group, those who have been around the block before with this Christian thing

A lot of people are hostile primarily because they have memories…LONG memories of wounds sustained while doing Christianity with supposedly loving, Christian people

There are vivid memories of wounds, splits, abuse, domineering and egotistical leadership and condemning fundamentalists

Wouldn’t surprise you that people feel judged…they feel inadequate especially when sometimes even well-meaning believers start throwing around things like the trinity, atonement, original sin…most of which are incomprehensible to most people

What’s frustrating about that – is that on a night like tonight when people like you and me want to focus on some good news, we discover that despite the fact that Jesus granted his followers the HUGE privilege of dispensing God’s love and grace and acceptance to a thirsty world…most of the churches that I know have dropped the ball…the only thing they have for a thirsty world is that which adds to thirst, doesn’t quench it

Now Jesus never did say that people who follow him are going to score well on every opinion poll…but I wonder what has happened that has gotten our culture so darn negative about anything that has to do with Jesus

Another example – did you know that when you ask people from around the world the question, “is religion a force for good in the world?” how many will say “yes it is?”

  • Over 50% across the globe think that religion does more harm than good
  • Crazy isn’t it?

In fact, here is the good ole USA, the sum total of all people who claim that they are part of the NONE group, those who claim NO religion in their lives…is a bigger group than all the Presbyterians, Methodists and Lutherans combined

Now why all this tonight on Christmas Eve?  Well, go back to what I said a couple of moments ago…

“The good news isn’t sounding like good news these days”

I don’t think you would get much debate from people if you talked about some of the realities that ail our society

Most people would agree that we have a rapid sense of despair, emptiness and a gnawing sense of a lack of personal fulfillment that is pervasive in our culture

Some people call it depression…loneliness…even a loss of one’s soul

But I think we would all agree that every person we know…is looking for the same things in life – personal meaning (we want to know that our lives matter) and community (we want to know that we are loved)

It is interesting to me about how all of us intuitively sense that there is a problem with people in today’s 21st century culture but how most of us disagree on what might be a good cure

Turn the clock back a few decades and most people would have agreed on the fact that people would have almost unanimously said “God”

But now, with churches driving more people away from God than turning people to God…the cure for what ails people is a hard one to pinpoint

And that’s what brings us to Christmas Eve…

In a small manger bed…in a pretty bleak atmosphere despite stories of angels, and singing and wandering/worshipping shepherds…there is a word that God has spoken that IS the only cure for what ails the human heart

This gift of Jesus is just that…a gift – a gift of love and grace that continues to inspire and dramatically change lives despite the passage of the centuries

God wants for no other reason for you and me to experience tonight a reminder of what has always been on the top of God’s agenda for you and me to experience – and that is love

For what more can a newborn baby bring than a heart of love…what more can a miraculous birth into our world be than that one expression of God’s love for you and for me that we so desperately need and long for

We need another good dose of good news in our day…in these moments

Maybe we’ve screwed it up a lot over the years…maybe we put the wrong foot forward when it comes to really letting people around us know about what God is up to…

But make no mistake about what God wants us to hear loudly and clearly again this Christmas Eve night – you and me are loved

How do we know that?

  1. God actually looks happy to be with us

You know how you can tell whether a person really does love and care about you?

When those other people want to hang out with you

I’ve always felt a bit sorry for people who wallow in the waters of loneliness…can be very devastating…

But what I like to tell people who are battling with loneliness is this – be the type of person that others would love to hang out with and people will start showing up

I’ve never had a problem not wanting to hang out with people who care about me and actually look like they are happy to be around me…just the way it is

Here’s God – God could have chosen any way in the universe on how to communicate his love to people…

What He did decide to do was hang out in our world and actually look like He was enjoying himself

If there is something we know about the Christmas story is that it was full of joy

  • Angels singing, shepherds running to see what this Jesus is all about…Mary and Joseph and a baby cooing in a manger bed
  • God didn’t wisk the baby away to some secret spot as if he were trying to keep him concealed or hide him from the average folk…God put him right out in public
  • Let everyone who wanted to see Jesus get a chance to see – God’s actually happy to be here

Make no mistake about it…if the truth of tonight is that Jesus loves you there is also another truth that is just as important for you to hear…Jesus likes you and wants to hang out with you

Incarnation – big word that says Jesus moves into your life…pokes around…looks where you want him to and where you don’t want him to and he still comes to the same conclusion, He says, I love you..astounding

  1. He’s taken the initiative to seek us out

Ever sense that feeling of being lost before?

A lot of us have…a lot of us would admit that we have lost our way in life more times than we can count

  • Some of us set out in life to be happily married and got divorced
  • Some of us set out to be healthy and got sick
  • Some of us set out to live in a sunshine filled, warm climate and ended up in McCall/Cascade Idaho
  • Some of us set out to do something really significant with our lives and ended up with an important but publically insignificant job, living our lives influencing dozens instead of millions

God does his best work with those who are lost…

We are lost…and Jesus was born in our backyard as if God were to say to us personally, “hey, found ya”

Bono, famous U2 singer and front man once wrote, “I went looking for spirit and I found alcohol; I went looking for soul and I bought some style; I wanted to meet God and they sold me religion”

Religion never can deliver because it is not something that seeks you…it isn’t personal…it is a system…a cold, organizational, dogma laddened system

But Jesus, this is God looking for you…

You never have to worry about whether Jesus really does want to find you

  • Oh you may have wondered if people really cared enough to look for you and find you when you were playing hide and seek as a kid
  • You may wonder even now if when you look at your life, I mean really honestly, if people were to know the real story…if they would care…if they would love
  • You never have to worry with Jesus

No matter who you are…no matter what you have done…no matter what’s going on in the deep recesses of your heart, Jesus will be born unto YOU this night

  1. In the eyes of a child, the Jesus child, there is nothing more than love and acceptance and grace for you

Ever looked into the eyes of a newborn baby?

Exploring…looking…searching and then locking in…when that happens, there is a smile

Jesus has the uncanny ability to look at everyone with grace-filled eyes

Not only seeing the beauty of who you are but what you could become…your sacred potential

One of my favorite authors once wrote, “turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is gooder than we ever dared hope and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad tidings in this world the gladdest thing of all”

A lot of us have been exposed to toxic faith

Hypocrisy and prideful people squelch any possibility of us encountering anything but toxicity

Good news – God wants you to thrive – this isn’t a meaningless universe and you are not here out of random or accidental processes that you and me will never understand…

God entered our world and demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is NOTHING that can separate us from God’s love

That’s why Jesus is important…He’s close…He’s very close…that’s what baby’s do…they snuggle in close

God isn’t out there…He isn’t on some throne of judgment looking to axe you as soon as He has an opportunity…what he is saying from a manger bed is I LOVE YOU

You know, there was a survey done by a sociologist not too long ago…asked the question, what are the words that people long to hear

And no, it isn’t “you just won the lottery”

  • Number one – “I love you”
  • Number two – “I forgive you”
  • Number three – “supper’s ready”

That’s what God says to you through Jesus – I love you, I forgive you and come to dinner with me

NO one needs to tell you to “get religion”

Religion is a system of rewards, blackmail, calculation and aggrandizement in which people only come off better or worse

You see, Jesus never bullies…the manger doesn’t coerce

  • When you feel like you are at the end of your rope…God’s love runs up to you and embraces you with tender arms and a loving heart
  • When you feel like your heart is broken and there’s no hope left, God takes that broken heart and gives you HIS

Right at the point of your struggle…God meets you with a miracle

“I don’t want a Christmas you can buy.  I don’t want a Christmas you can make.  What I want is a Christmas you can hold.  A Christmas that holds me, remakes me, revives me. I want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus.”

Let me close like this – Ever heard of the Voyageur 1 space program?

The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before.

  • More-than-35-year journey since their 1977 launches, they each are much farther away from Earth and the sun than Pluto.
  • In August 2012, Voyager 1 made the historic entry into interstellar space, the region between stars, filled with material ejected by the death of nearby stars millions of years ago.
  • Right now you can go to the Voyager website – voyager 1 is 12.3 billion miles from earth

Not too long ago, the Voyageur 1 spaceship, snapped the picture of who we are. A picture of who we are from 4 billion miles away, as the spacecraft turned around for one final glance back at its home before it drifted forever out of our solar system.

The photograph initially seemed inconsequential — black, dark…. empty.

  • But as men leaned in, looked at the picture with painstakingly focus they noticed it, the earth — and there we are.

That is who we are: the entire planet is an infinitesimal 0.12 pixel in the photographed scheme of space.

  • It almost looks like nothing, Pale Blue dot is Earth, in a shaft of sun light, taken from 4 billion miles away
  • And there we float, captured in a ray of light, suspended in the lonely black of space.

That is who we are on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve, the whole of the world sleeps and rises and waits and worships and we are a pinpoint.

We are a pinpoint and the astronomer Carl Sagan, deeply moved by that photograph of who we are in this universe, he said,

  • “Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

Carl Sagan, he looked at that pale blue dot in all that dark…. And said, there’s “no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

  • No hint of help?
  • No sign of saving?
  • No rumor of relief?

Our God doesn’t buy that assertion…our God isn’t buying into any of our sense of despair or lostness or feelings of insignificance

Our God breaks in…and as He does, His presence stuns reality across the heavens  Angels broadcast it and shatter the skies with the tidings.  Our God is a God who breathes stars, He breathed Bethlehem’s Star, then took on lungs and breathed in stable air.  Our God who formed and delivered the heavens, He waited patient like an embryo in a womb and delivered Himself to free all humanity.  Our God who cradles whole galaxies in the palm of His hand, whom highest heavens cannot contain, He folds Himself into our skin and He curls His newborn fist in the cradle of a barn feed trough — and we are saved from ourselves.

  • We are saved from our hopelessness — because God came with infant fists and opened wide His hand to take the nail sharp edge of our sins.
  • We are saved from our pain — because God pierced the dark and came to the pinpoint of us in the universe and He took the nails.
  • We are saved from our loneliness — because God is love that can’t stand to leave us by ourselves, to ourselves.

The entire cosmos sings it on Christmas Eve: We are not alone.

Out of the dark, out of the black and right into the land of the shadow of death, a great Light has dawned, and God comes and God is with us, Emmanuel… God on the pale blue dot.

  • We are not alone.

God can’t miss this pale blue dot, and God can’t leave you in your pain, and God can’t and the King comes, God comes — Love come down to you…

God’s with us on this pale blue dot, God whispering realest Christmas miracle into this dark:

  • “I am here and you are not alone.“

I tell you – that’s good news!

Let’s still be astonished!

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Let the Stable Still Astonish

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked stone walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said: “Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens and earth
be born here, in this place”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler
Rooms of our hearts
And says, “Yes, Let the God of all the heavens and earth
be born here —-
in this place.”

—–Leslie Leyland Fields

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