From Gavin’s Desk

Readings: Zephaniah 3: 14-20, Isaiah 1: 2-6, Philippians 4: 4-7, Luke 3: 7-18

There are so many songs that are written about individuals or inspired by individuals by those they have influenced. Not all of these are good and not all of them speak of how the individuals have added value to the world, but it remains an incredible thing when someone is immortalised through the words of song. What a fantastical thought that when you have simply lived your life and done what you believed to be right, it has inspired someone to burst out in song (because life really is a musical just waiting to be sung…). Through the language of emotion, they have given expression to something that has inspired them in a way that they were not fully able to express through words alone.

Zephaniah so beautifully describes God’s joy over our living fully because we are living in obedience to God when he tells God’s people that “the Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (3:17, NIV). Who would have thought that our faithfulness brings God so much joy that God Himself bursts out in song as He celebrates our happiness? What an incredible image we have before us to help us grasp the boundless depths of God’s love for us. He is always with us and is always able to help us be who He created us to be, He is delighted with us and longs to give us peace in the confusion of our lives. And when we receive that peace, He bursts into song because He is so filled with joy that we have received His joy and that we dwell in His love.

In the immaturity of our relationship with God, we view God to be cold and distant and far removed from the reality of the suffering of humanity and we are afraid of doing anything wrong because we are less concerned with the consequence of our sin for the sanctity of community than we are with God’s wrath. As we mature in our relationship with God, we discover a God who is attentive to us and we find that we are less concerned with God’s wrath than we are with the consequence of our sin for the sanctity of community. The story of Christmas is a story that helps us mature in our relationship with God as it reminds us of how God’s hearts breaks for us because we cannot see the wood for the trees and it is the story of how God breaks into song as He makes a way for our eyes to be opened to see the beauty of all that is good and pure and holy; of how He has broken down the barriers that we have built up between ourselves and God. It is not only the angels who sing at the birth of Christ; God is celebrating with song and Jesus is the song of God’s joy and the expressed words of God’s love for us.

Gavin

From Gavin’s Desk

Readings: Malachi 3: 1-4, Luke 1: 68-79, Philippians 1: 3-11, Luke 3: 1-6

I remember when I was a child; it was really exciting to receive a letter addressed to me in the post-box. I was too young to get window letters (bills) and so every letter was a friendly letter. My sister and I used to rush to the post-box to be the one to fetch in the post because there was always the possibility that there would be a letter for us (especially around April because our birthday’s are only five days apart). Even when we didn’t have post, my mom would let us open her post sometimes and this was always an exciting moment; not necessarily because of the content but because of the possibility that every single letter held in it. We didn’t always understand what was written in the letters and we were often unable to concentrate all of the way to the end of the letter; but there was always a possibility that our names would come up and that people would have thought enough about us to mention us by name. What a joy it was to discover that you were significant to somebody outside of the family.

Even better than those letters were the ones my mom wrote to others and mentioned us by name; telling them how we were doing because it was always wonderful hearing your parents boast about you to others.

I wonder if we had received window letters addressed to us at that age or if we had received fines in the post during those years if we would have been so excited to go out and fetch the mail. We long for letters, but we don’t long for those letters that call us to order because we have functioned outside of socially acceptable behaviour (the law) or ask us to commit to sacrificing for the sake of responsibility.

We long for God to intervene in the world and we see signs of that intervention in different ways and at different times (even though God always intervenes but we are not always attentive to it). Sometimes, that intervention is one of embracing and boasting of us as His faithful children and sometimes it is an intervention that calls us to order and to remember our commitment to Him because we are in a covenantal relationship and we do at times go astray. Sometimes it is an intervention of correction because we are complicating the relationship that we have with God and that others have with God. The great big love letter from God to us that we have in the Word of God and the smaller letters that we have in the intervention of others in our lives are never bad letters and we never have to fear God’s presence and word in our lives because every single letter, note, memo, email from God is good because everything from God is good.

It can be no other way and so we never have to fear that which comes from God because it not only holds great possibility but it holds within it an eternal possibility that brings with it the best of love, peace , joy and hope.

Receive the gift of life this season as God gives you the gift of His Word. Receive Jesus. Receive God’s profession of love for you.

Gavin