Our Blog

A Great Question

Intelligent people often ask rather silly questions. A quick Google search uncovers some classics that attorneys asked of witnesses in courts of law:

"Was it you, or your brother, that was killed in the war?"

"Were you alone or by yourself?"

"How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?"

"So you were gone until you returned?"

"Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he just passes away quietly and doesn't know anything about it until the next morning?"

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was no silly fool. When the angel Gabriel spoke of her pending pregnancy she asked, "How can this be since I am a virgin?"

Now that was a GREAT question! Her mind must have been racing and her heart beating wildly. As far as she knew there was only one way to get pregnant and she didn't qualify! What would Joseph think? What would her family and friends think? Would anyone believe her unlikely story?

Yes! For centuries God's people have believed her story. We understand that nothing is too hard for the Lord who does all things well. Like Mary we hear Gabriel answer her question, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." And like Mary we are satisfied, "...let it be to me according to Your word."

So often we rather glibly repeat the words of the Apostles' Creed: "...conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary..." But there was nothing glib about it. It was a dramatic miracle and a necessary one in that the Savior of the world had to be conceived without a sinful nature. Let us resolve to give it more serious thought during this Advent season that we might join Mary in praising God and saying, "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!"
Posted by Jim Bachmann

The Rhythm of the Manger

The thing about Frederick Buechner is that he has a way of painting pictures with his words. He tells a story about a cold Christmas Eve. A young minister lives next to a farm. His neighbor is out of town for the holidays and had asked the minister to tend to his sheep. The minister had agreed. Now it's time for bed. It's been a busy day preparing presents for Christmas morning. The minister puts his head on the pillow, and it occurs to him that he'd forgotten to feed the sheep.

He bundles up and heads out in the wee hours of Christmas morning. He trudges through shin-deep snow to the barn. He grabs a couple of bales of hay and carries them to the shed. He turns on a forty-watt bulb hanging from the roof. It sways back and forth illuminating this part, then that part, of the shed. He shakes loose the hay and scatters it. The sheep start to stir. He's about to head back home. Then he feels his shin rub against something. He looks down. It's the manger. It had been right under his nose.

Then he has this profound thought. It's Christmas morning, yet he had been so busy tending the sheep that he almost hadn't noticed the presence of the manger.

Buechner writes, "He whose business is above everything else to have an eye for such things is all but blind in that eye. He who on his best days believes that everything that is most precious comes from that manger might easily have gone home never knowing that he had himself just been in the manger. The world is the manger."

Buechner's point, I think, is to remind us how easy it is to forget that we live in a world which Jesus once crawled as a baby and walked as a man. The dirt of this earth has been blessed not only by bearing the fingerprints of its Maker, but also the footprints of its Savior. We live in a world that He created, and a world in which He reveals Himself to us. He bids us make room in our hearts for Him just as Joseph and Mary sought room for Him at the inn. And it's our business above everything else to have an eye for such things.

I write this to remind you what you need to be reminded every year: Christmas is about Christ. It's not about us. It's about what Christ has done for us. And what He plans to do with us. Christmas isn't about politics or pandemics or personal preferences. The strange situation the world finds itself in makes no difference to the strangest thing of all—that Christ took on flesh, walked on this earth, died on a cross, and rose from the dead to secure our everlasting life. Yet sometimes when we are trying to stay warm and safe, when we're tired, when we're preoccupied, when we have so much work to do feeding the critters, it's easy to forget about the manger. Sometimes we don't even notice it.

Well, I have some good news if you have an eye for it. Click on this Sunday's bulletin and you'll see that it's time to start singing Christmas hymns. It's time to revisit the manger. It seems long overdue to me. And I want to make sure we notice it.

The holidays of the church calendar help set a rhythm for the year. They set a heartbeat-like rhythm based on the manger, the cross, and the empty tomb as our lifeblood. And that rhythm, at least for me, got a bad case of atrial fibrillation when Easter went fully virtual. Yes, we had to do it. But the idea of spring with no corporate, personal Easter gave me a new appreciation for C.S. Lewis' description of Narnia under the reign of the white witch—it was always winter but never Christmas.

There will be a Christmas this winter, Lord willing. And we're summoned back to the manger to get our hearts in tune. So, whether you're with us in person or joining us online for the coming Sundays, have a heart prepared to love and sing and wonder. And have an eye toward the glory of the manger that points us to the God who, as the Nicene Creed says, "came down from heaven...and was made human" for us and for our salvation. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.

Posted by Heath Cross

A Love Lock with God

I've never been to Paris. To some extent I suppose I have lived a sheltered life. But when I go, if I go, I hope to check out the Point des Arts bridge. Perhaps many of you have been there and walked across this pedestrian bridge that spans the Seine river. If so, you might have noticed the many "love locks" attached to various nooks on the bridge. In 2008 lovers began to write their names or initials on the locks and draw a heart to symbolize their love. Once the padlock was attached, the lovers would throw the keys to the lock into the river, symbolizing their "forever" love for each other. The idea caught fire and eventually between 700,000 and 1,000,000 love locks were locked onto the bridge.

Unfortunately six years later a portion of the bridge's railing collapsed. The love locks were estimated to weigh a staggering fifty tons! Authorities were forced to remove the love locks to ensure the bridge's safety.

What's the point? The presence of so many love locks points to the common need everyone has for "forever love." We crave unconditional and everlasting love that "never fails" (1 Cor. 13:8). In that seldom-read Old Testament book, Song of Solomon, the woman asks her beloved to "place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm" (8:6).

No two human beings are the same. But whether we are rich, poor, black, white, young, old, prisoner, free, etc., we all want "forever love." One of the greatest tragedies of the fall is that we cannot find such love in this world. If conflict doesn't separate us, death will. But all is not lost! In the gospel we find our forever love: "For I am sure," Paul says," that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord," (Rom. 8:38-39).

During the Thanksgiving season, let us give thanks that the Lord will never stop loving us. We stop loving Him at times but His love never fails us. And as Advent approaches, we are reminded of the proof: "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..."

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Previous12345678910 ... 1516