December 23, 2015

Jesus Gives Us the Spiritual Gifts of Love, Joy and Peace (Christmas)

The Good News of Christmas is that God intervened in history to come and live among His creation as a man and make a New Covenant. Covenant of Moses and the Law had been broken several times by the Hebrew People and they were crying out for a Saviour who would free them from Roman occupation and religious corruption. God did much more. He showed His love and trust by coming as a helpless baby who would grow up and give His life as a ransom to establish a New Covenant of forgiveness. This New Covenant broke the power of Satan and freed believers from the spiritual yoke of human sin-guilt that separated them from God and led to spiritual death. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to come and live inside believers  – giving them the spiritual gifts of love, joy and peace as a sign of relationship.

1. Jesus birth shows us God’s love as relationship, community & belonging

The birth story is a love story. Joseph and Mary loved and trusted God. They endured ridicule, shame, humiliation and potential death by stoning as the penalty for having a child out of wedlock. Why did Mary travel 90 miles on a donkey in her Ninth month? Why was there no room for them in the inn? God chose Mary – not the daughter of a corrupt priest or king; because Mary was a holy woman who loved and trusted God:
  • Story is so hard to believe we know it must be  authentic
  • Story of their love and trust and God’s love breaks our hearts
  • Story defines God’s love as trust and courage in the face of opposition – not the sentimental mush we hear so often
  • Story calls us to respond by loving God in a powerful new way
  • Calls us to repent our own lack of love for God and ask for forgiveness
  • Belief or trust in Jesus saves us from spiritual death and brings us into a right-relationship with a God of community and belonging
  • Believers receive the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gift of love
 2. Jesus birth provided a way for believers to have the spiritual gift of joy
You do not see many happy people in our cities and towns. We have all experienced losses, betrayals and disappointments that seem to weigh us down. Many people feel their life has no real meaning or purpose. They have believed the lie of our time that life is about power and possessions. Last week my barber commented that a mutual friend seemed much happier in the last few months. I explained that she had a reconciliation with her son and had finally been welcomed to visit her Grandchildren. Un-forgiveness is the “...yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.” (Isaiah 9.4 in our Readings) Apology and asking others for forgiveness can freed us from separation and restore broken relationship.
  • Jesus birth was like a light shining in darkness – hope of restoration of relationship with God
  • Jesus death on the Cross broke the power of guilt and shame by providing believers with a real new way to forgiveness & wholeness
  • Forgiveness cleanses our soul so Holy Spirit can live in us – as joy
 3. Christ’s Mass gives us all a way to have the spiritual gift of peace
We all have times when we feel separated from God and other people. Many people have listened to the lies, half-truths and false teachers in our culture. Jesus New Covenant gave us a way to re-connect spiritually with God through self-examination, confession, acceptance of forgiveness and participation in Christ’s Mass or Holy Communion:
  • We hear and believe the Good News of Jesus love and forgiveness
  • We go through a process of self-examination and confession
  • We accept forgiveness, forgive ourselves
  • We renew our Baptismal Covenant with God – say amen to prayer
  • We experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit – love, joy and peace
  • Gifts of love, joy and peace are a sign of being at peace with God
May God bless you with the spiritual gifts of love, joy and peace
tonight as you participate in Christ’s Mass!

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