December 24, 2014

Good News - A Savior Has Been Born to you!

At Christmas we celebrate the Good News of the birth of Jesus. Isaiah describes it as being like a light shining in the darkness. The Hebrews in Isaiah’s time, six Centuries before the birth of Jesus, felt they had been abandoned by God. As a consequence of their rebellion against God they had lost their spiritual protection and been conquered and oppressed by other nations. Their punishment was temporary. The Prophet Isaiah passed on the Good News that God would intervene in history in the future – through the birth of a child in Galilee (9.1) and “the government will be on his shoulders” (v. 6) This intervention would “shatter the yoke that burdened them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor” (v. 4) – i.e. our human fear of death and separation from God. The Good News was that a saviour would come and redeem individuals from their fear of death and the sin guilt that prevented them from being in the presence of God. To understand what God is doing in history, we need to understand why a saviour was needed, what this saviour needed to do and God’s desire to “make righteousness”. (Isaiah 61.11)

1. Why do we need a Saviour?
I was brought up as a cradle Anglican in a more Liberal environment where it was vaguely assumed that we were all saved by our baptism and only had to live a good life to be included in the heavenly kingdom. I remember mocking evangelicals who seemed to think Anglicans needed to be saved. What I did not understand, until I read the whole Bible myself and became involved in healing ministry, was that:

December 17, 2014

We Are All Chosen and Called By God (Advent 4, Year B)

Most of us take most of our lives trying to figure out what God wants us to do. It took me about 45 years. The story of God calling Mary to become the mother of Jesus  is the ultimate “call story”. God is calling Mary to take an enormous risk, to really trust in God. She lived in a culture that stoned women to death that had children outside of marriage. This young girl of about thirteen was called to have an intimate relationship of absolute trust in God.

1. Notice how personal this relationship is. (Luke 1.28-38)
The angel does not say God is going to give her some teachings or some rules to pass on. This is what the prophets had been doing ever since Moses. God was doing a new  thing. God was about to come Himself in human form. He needed a human partner he could trust. He chose Mary and called her into a personal relationship