Christmas 2015 is now part of history. The New Year 2016 is several days old as I write these words. And our journey through time marches forward, full of challenges and opportunities for each of us in the days ahead.
What you do with 2016 is partly a matter of chance… but mostly a matter of choice. And the choices are yours!
In the story of the “first Christmas”, we find the story of many people, living normal, everyday lives, as we are today. And yet, those lives were “interrupted” by the movement of God’s Spirit at work in their world.
- We find Mary: a young teenage girl, unwed, and expecting a baby. She was searching for understanding about her situation and the surprising message of an angel visitor.
- We find Joseph, engaged and with a pregnant girlfriend, but not his fault! He too was searching for guidance – how do I handle this situation in a respectful way? And an angel visit too?
- We encounter an Inn Keeper, with no rooms available for the weary traveling couple, and yet, searching for options, is able to find a “yes” in the midst of “no room”, and provided shelter in the stable for the family.
- We find poor, outcast shepherds, encountering and frightened by an angel invitation, and yet choosing to overcome the fear, and say “let us go and see”, searching out the savior, announced by the angels.
- We read of the journey of the ‘wise men’, making a long trek, searching for the young Jesus, and bringing him gifts.
Many other people’s lives and journeys were also interrupted on this special night, and the days that followed.
And yet, today, the same Jesus that was born in that manger, announced by angels, and visited by shepherds and the wise, is calling to you! “Come, and find me!”
We’re not talking about a “historical” Jesus, stuck in the pages of an ancient set of books. The Jesus that calls to you today is the Jesus that “grew up”, physically and spiritually, that sought out God, that learned from his parents and family, that worshiped in the Temple, that responded to God’s call to be baptized and begin a new path.
That same Jesus from the Bible, spent his 3 years of ministry, sharing good news, healing, bringing hope, love and encouragement to people who were hurting, and teaching people a new way of getting along and solving problems.
He confronted the powers of the world and the church, and was killed for his actions. But as we know, the story doesn’t end there! Jesus was resurrected, walked and taught among us for another 40 days, and was seen by individuals and crowds of up to 500 people at once, before he ascended “into the clouds”.
He did not go there to relax in his recliner and wait for each of us to die! Jesus, through his life, ministry, and resurrection, suffered the injustices and hatred of this world, overcame the limitations of our world, and is continuing to work among all of those who choose to be his partner in making the vision of God a reality among us in THIS world!
As we begin 2016, we invite you to begin searching for a deeper, more personal encounter with the living Jesus Christ!
As you search, you are joining a LONG history of people, who have each chosen to learn about Jesus and His teachings, to put his teachings to work in their lives, to search for an encounter with Him, and to expect a life-changing encounter with God!
From the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, we have this promise:
11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord
Claim this promise of hope from your loving creator! Choose to begin 2016 by seeking Jesus in a new, deeper, more personal way. “If you seek me with all of your heart, I will let you find me”!
There are new and amazing blessings that God is waiting to unfold in your life, when you’re ready to put away the distractions, temptations, poor choices, and limiting attitudes, that are currently in your way. We encourage you to find and gather with a healthy Christ-centered faith community for this journey. The Community of Christ offers congregations in over 60 nations, inviting you to journey WITH us, as together, we seek to learn the mind and will of God for our communities, our families, and our world today. (Find a congregation)
Like the angel invitations and message of Christmas, how will YOU respond to God’s call in your life THIS year? We invite you to choose to ‘come and see’, and let the presence and love of Jesus Christ assist you on your journey of learning, growing and being, the person God created you to become in 2016!
Brad Bryant, Seventy
Community of Christ