Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Meditation

This is the season for a lot of, peace, good cheer and all of that. It is also the time that many pause to remember the birth of Christ.

Nearly everyone who has even a passing knowledge of the scriptures agree that it's not likely Jesus was born anywhere near the 25th of December. In fact, we know that this date comes from a merging of Christians and Pagans and their beliefs.

Nevertheless, to me, there is never an inappropriate time to talk about anything having to do with the Savior. In fact, since peoples' minds are focused on it, or at least open to it, it's probably the best time.

Not long ago, I heard for the second time but paid real attention for the first time, to a song that is probably the most beautiful I've ever heard. It was moving to me on every level imaginable. Singing it and hearing it sung with a group of worshippers who believed it with all their hearts was an experience that nearly brought me to tears.

I thought I'd share the lyrics, written and copyrighted by Mark Lowrey and Buddy Green, with you for your "all season" consideration. May the Lord richly bless you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy would some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know---The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb---.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great--I--- AM---.

Each one reach one.
Each one teach one.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Oneness Despite Differences II

Last night, along with some of our brothers and sisters, I had the privilege of fellowshipping with literally hundreds of saints from across the St. Louis area. The event was the annual Area Wide Praise and Worship Service. I'd like to commend Phil Gold and his team for all the work that went into what was a very enjoyable and uplifting time in the Lord. I'd also like to thank Mike Root and the folks at Florissant Church of Christ for hosting the event.

One of the greatest things about our time together was the diversity of brothers and sisters in attendance. Now I know that when the word diversity is mentioned, the first place many minds go is to race and/or ethnicity. Allow me to provide you with a different perspective:

  • Diversity is the many qualities and characteristics that make each individual unique.

Certainly race, gender, age, national origin, ethnicity and religion all qualify as aspects of diversity, but I submit to you that it is so much more basic than that. It can literally come down to whether you were raised in a two parent household or a single parent household. It can involve whether a person was raised at either end of the socioeconomic spectrum. In any case, I prefer to think of it as differences in culture.

What does that have to do with the church? I'm glad you asked.

Our heritage in the Lord originated within and affected by cultures much different than most if not all of us know. We know almost nothing of the differences our ancestors in the faith dealt with on a daily basis. Within the Jewish faith, there were many different views. Sadducees didn't believe in angels nor resurrection while Pharisees did. There were the relatively uneducated fisherman whom Jesus taught and the highly educated students of Gamaliel. There were "common folks" and members of the Sanhedrin. Then there were the Samaritans to consider. They were those that were originally Jews, but became intermingled with historical captors and became estranged from more orthodox Jews. If that weren't enough, then came the introduction of the Gentiles. These, as we remain today, are a people greatly varied in history and belief. Three of the major civilizations in New Testament times involved the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Europeans had also begun to significantly influence the world as well.

The history of the church as we know it today, began at the intersection of all these and many other cultures.

One of the largest divisions between peoples was between the Jews and the Gentiles. There are many scriptures that chronicle these differences and "what saith the Lord (or Holy Spirit inspired scriptures)" about them.

  • The book of Acts discusses the genesis of the church among Jews from a variety of countries (each with their own cultures) in chapter two.
  • Phillip preached the gospel to those in Samaria and one in particular from Ethiopia in Acts 8
  • Gentiles received the Holy Spirit in Acts 10
  • The majority of the book of Romans deals with how these disparate cultures interact and are to come together under one head
  • Galatians 3:25-28 instructs that we who have put on Christ in baptism are one in Him, despite our differences
  • Ephesians 2:14-15 reveals that Christ, through his sacrifice, has removed barriers between "us" and "them"
  • Ephesians 4:4-6 drives home the fact that we are one.

Of course there are many other scriptures that fortify these points. My encouragement to all is that we stop trying to build walls that have already been broken down by the Master Himself.

  • "Accept him who is weak without passing judgment on disputable matters" Rom 14:1

Many of these disputable matters are merely church or congregational traditions and have no basis whatsoever in scripture. Christ busied himself by reaching out to the poor, indigent, hurting, hungry and lost. And He spent his time teaching all who would listen, despite the admonishment and accusation of the then so called establishment. What would Christ say today about our controversies over saying "Amen," lifting "holy hands," singing with multiple song leaders and what we wear to worship? Brothers and sisters, I don't know. But I suspect He would have walked away and attended to the needs of someone in pain.

So again, I salute all those involved in bringing the people of God together. It is what is meant to be. Do any of us really expect a homogeneous heaven? Luke 5:4-6

Each one reach one

Each one teach one