Friends with God and with others

In Christ Jesus, God befriends us, as I blogged the other day.  That God is friends with us propels you and me to lovingly befriend our neighbours and help them to enjoy God’s friendship, too.  We sang about this yesterday at Telkwa CRC, using this hymn by Roy Berkenbosch of The King’s University College and CRWRC

In Christ Jesus, God befriends us,
comes to meet us in our need;
by His wounded flesh Christ heals us,
from the powers sets us free.
With a shepherd’s eyes He finds us,
in His arms we are embraced,
through His teaching we learn wisdom,
in the cross we meet God’s grace.

God brings help for those who struggle
and relief from poverty
when we act with love towards strangers,
risk ourselves to set them free.
Lay the walls of hate to rubble
‘til the cries of war are ceased,
when the rich share hoarded treasures
with the ones who have the least.

Creeds cannot dispel the hunger
that brings children to their knees,
nor can weekly rites of worship
ease the pain of dread disease.
Only love made real in service
reaches others in their need.
Holy Spirit, move our faith from
empty words to living deeds.

All my neighbours, near and distant,
must enjoy God’s friendship too.
They are waiting to be welcomed
to the feast where life’s made new.
Let us join our hands together,
raise our voices, shout our prayers,
live the life that Christ commands us
‘til there’s justice everywhere.

© 2002 Roy Berkenbosch. Posted here with permission. 
You can sing this hymn to the tune “BEACH SPRING” (Psalter Hymnal 579)

Really

I think this past Sunday was the first time I used a TV commercial as a call to confession…

I was not endorsing the Microsoft Windows Phone.  However, this ad is a very clever portrayal of how self-absorbed we can be.

Sunday was CRWRC’s World Hunger Sunday.  Focusing on hunger and injustice in our world helps us see what’s going on beyond the end of our noses (and beyond the texts we’re receiving on our cell phones).  But first we need to choose to be less selfish.  For that to happen most effectively, prayer is required, and that was the second focus of the service.

Lord, forgive us when we ignore one another.  Turn our attention away from ourselves and instead towards the joys and hurts in the world around us.

More:
John Dyer’s blog entry “Windows Phone Reminds You: ‘Be Here Now’” …read the comments, too.

Our Father’s love letter to us

It is impossible to fully describe God’s love for us.  But this must come close.
  

  
We watched this video yesterday during the 11am worship service.  I also reminded the people there of these two quotes from the Bible:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. (1John 4:9-12)

Source:
Father’s Love Letter website
 

Less presents, more presence

As we enter into Advent, anticipating the birth of our Saviour at Christmas and knowing that He will return, it’s critical to remind ourselves what this season is and is not about…
 

   
Prayer of confession

Lord God, we honestly admit that when it comes to Christmas, we do a lot more shopping, spending and stressing than worshipping.  Please give us not another present, but rather Your presence, Your Holy Spirit to help us to make good choices this year.  …Choices that free us to give of ourselves – our time, our abilities, our resources, our love.  And in that way, may we reflect Your love, shown so amazingly through Your Son, born of the virgin Mary, who was crucified, dead and buried, but on the third day rose again for us and our salvation.  It’s in His name we pray. Amen.
  

Assurance of God’s salvation
”…When the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer slaves, but God’s children; and since you are His children, He has made you also heirs.” Galatians 4

“Shine, Jesus, Shine”
  

Rededicating our lives to Godly living
“God’s gift to us [is] a relationship built on love. So it’s no wonder why we’re drawn to the idea that Christmas should be a time to love our friends and family in the most memorable ways possible. Time is the real gift Christmas offers us, and no matter how hard we look, it can’t be found at the mall. Time to make a gift that turns into the next family heirloom. Time to write mom a letter. Time to take the kids sledding. Time to bake really good cookies and sing really bad Christmas carols. Time to make love visible through relational giving. Sounds a lot better than getting a sweater two sizes too big, right?”*

Let’s follow God’s example and learn to give.  This Advent and Christmas, let’s reflect our God and give of ourselves – our time, our abilities, our resources, our love.  It might mean a few less presents, but a whole lot more presence – with each other and in worship to our loving God.
    

Notes:
*This paragraph comes from the
Advent Conspiracy website.
All of the above was part of today’s 11am worship service at Telkwa Christian Reformed Church.