Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Prayer


We praise you and give you glory on this day of celebration. We are so grateful that you would humble yourself to be born as one of us.

We have so romanticized the story of Jesus' birth that it probably looks nothing like the real moment. However, we realize again how insiginificant you allowed yourself to become: not the son of a king or a priest but the son of a working-class, itinerant builder. You were not born in a fancy mansion or a beautiful palace but in a place where the rest of the population would find you and relate to your story. In being born the way you were and in the place you were, you made yourself accessible. We cannot praise you enough for being willing to be so vulnerable so that you would become real to all of us.

What a gift - for this Christmas or any Christmas. Thank you, God, thank you!


Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Light Shine in the Darkness

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1: 5 NRSV

Many of us will participate in a Candlelight Christmas Eve service tonight. However, for some local churches near me, the services may be in the dark.

You see, one of our local fire district apparently has had a law on the books for the last ten years that says any church using open flames other than on the altar must have four off-duty firefighters stationed in the worship area. The cost for the church? A mere $400.

All this for one verse of "Silent Night?"

How many churches do you know that have had fires on Christmas Eve, anyway?

Thank God that Jesus' light is not dependent on candles, off-duty firefighters or crazy local laws! Jesus' light is so bright, there is no darkness that can overcome it.

Merry Christmas!

Amelia Sims

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Peace of Christ Be With You

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1: 7b NRSV

How badly we need the true peace of Christ today!

I often think of peace as rest, quiet and calm, with neither tension nor war.  Certainly this season needs it's share of peace. But perhaps Jesus gives a different kind of peace. Maybe Jesus' peace is the peace of the heart. The "calm assurance" of Christ's presence in our lives. The deep peace of God's love in our hearts and lives.

When we truly find that peace of Christ, all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season won't seem as important or stressful anymore.

God, open our hearts to your peace. let your peace fill us so that we have no room for disquiet and worry, only your love. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Time Has Come

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2: 6-7 NRSV

The Gospel of Luke is traditionally known to be written by a physician. However, because we have no signed originals, this is really a bit of faith-based guesswork on our part.

Personally,  I cannot believe that the person who penned these two verses had ever participated in any kind of birth - human or animal - except their own.

The verses make it seem like the entire birth was calm, straight-forward and blessedly quick. It could have been, I suppose. But I don't think it was a truely silent night. At the very least, the baby Jesus must have cried at least once!

Perhaps writing about the messy, painful and scary parts of birthing were always far removed from polite company such as the Theophilus to whom the book is addressed. Certainly all of our pageants, nativities and modern manger scenes are incredibly neat and tidy. However, Luke never holds back on the messy, bloody and horrible scenes from Jesus' death.

God, remind us this season that Jesus entered into the real world - one that is messy, chaotic and often horrible. Thank you that he entered in and continues to enter in today! In His name we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, December 21, 2009

Doing As God Asks

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife. Matthew 1: 24 NRSV

How many of us could receive a message from God in our sleep and immediately wake to do as God has asked?

I suppose there are two parts to that question: How many of us are paying attention to God's messages in our dreams and how willing are we to act on what God imparts to us?

Joseph - like his namesake in Genesis - is very cognizant of his dreams. Perhaps this is not the first time God has spoken to him. It could be that Joseph was very disciplined in carrying out what God instructed him through dreams. And even though this is a life-altering decision, Joseph does not hesitate to carry out the instruction of the angel of the Lord.

I wonder if the choice of God's parents had as much to do with Joseph as it did with Mary.

God, you speak to us in many ways including our dreams. May we not dismiss our dreams as either neurons firing in our sleep or food for psychological analysis; may we listen for your voice instead.
In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, December 20, 2009

God's Compassion

Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. Matthew 1: 19 NRSV

I am still trying to figure out how to keep a pregnant unmarried woman out of public disgrace.

Although it seems to be more common today, there is still a lot of stigma associated with being unmarried and pregnant. It is good that we don't take these women out and stone them to death. Or even make them sew a large red "A" on all their clothes. But how much compassion do we really show them?

Joseph was trying to do the right thing. He wanted out of a situation in which he knew that was not a child of his. But he also knew that Mary could face a death sentence if the situation was not handled well.

Little did he know what kind of compassion God truly required of him.

God, sometimes we are more full of judgment than compassion. Help us, Lord, help us! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Family Tree

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.... and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. Matthew 1: 1, 16 NRSV

One of the most skipped parts of the Bible is probably the lists of ancestors. Matthew's beginning is no exception. But while it may seem dull, it is important to see that Matthew traces Jesus' ancestry through Joseph. It is Joseph after all who must return to his family's town for the census. Tracing the bloodline to David involves looking at Joseph's, rather than Mary's, family tree.

You see, Joseph is far more important than we tend to give him credit for.

We often see Mary as the one with the important role in Jesus' beginnings. But Joseph must have played a much stronger role in Jesus' life than we tend to give him credit for. Because of the connection with Joseph, Jesus is born in the same city as King David. It is Joseph who keeps King Herod from finding the baby Jesus. Because of his work as a builder, Joseph is able to travel - to Judea and to Egypt. For someone to be able to embrace God as not just Father but Daddy, Jesus must have had a wonderful relationship with Joseph.

We have much to be thankful for in the fatherhood of Joseph. Beyond sharing his ancestry, Joseph had an important role in raising the son of God.

God, we thank you for Joseph who often gets overshadowed by Mary, the shepherds and the wise men. Help us to be thankful for our own earthly fathers, even when our relationship with them may not have always been the best. Thank you for being our loving Heavenly Father! Amen.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Righteous Branch

The days are surely coming says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days in and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. Jeremiah 33: 14-15 NRSV

The day is surely coming! There is only a week left before Christmas Day!

However, before you jump up from the computer or your iphone to check your shopping list or begin baking, remember why you are reading this devotional in the first place. It is here where you are spending just one minute with God. At this time, you are preparing your own heart for Jesus.

How are you doing? Are you any closer to God now than you were at Thanksgiving? Have you really prepared yourself for Christ this Advent?

Will admitting that we have been swept away by the consumerism of the American Christmas at least get us back on track with God? Perhaps. We can at least do our best to remain true to Jesus' commandments of loving God and neighbor.

For it was Jesus who was promised, the Branch of David who executes justice and righteousness.

Come, Lord Jesus!


Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Holidays??

And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne.  Revelation 12: 5 NRSV

We don't think of the Christmas story as being in the book of Revelation. However, Revelation is talking about Jesus here in chapter 12. In fact, we get his whole life in one sentence: he is born to rule but is taken to heaven.

Why is he taken to heaven?

To protect him from the dragon that is waiting to devour him. Because Revelation is really written in code, we must ask ourselves what the dragon is or represents. The dragon seems to be an earthly ruler - perhaps an emperor of the Roman Empire.

John seems to be saying that Jesus, God's ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven, was in danger of being swallowed up by the earthly powers and princes. The government was truly after him - and they did execute him - but he was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven.

And we thought saying "Happy Holidays!" was taking Christ out of Christmas!

God, we often say it but help us to mean it: let us keep Christ in Christmas. In His name we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowldege of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. Luke 1: 76-77 NRSV

For a moment, it sounds like John is being set up to be the promised Messiah. There are many echoes of Abram and Sara in this story - older, barren but faithful couple. Zechariah is from the priestly clan (from what other clan would the Messiah be from?). And Zechariah has clearly had a vision in the Holy of Holies; he is now mute because of his unbelief.

But the gospel writer makes it very clear that John is to prepare the way for the true Messiah. Sounds like there was some confusion among some Jews over whether John or Jesus as the Messiah. Perhaps after Jesus was hung on a tree to die (an obvious curse for the Hebrew people) many were looking for other options. Certainly there seemed to be some competition and confusion between the followers of John and Jesus (see Luke 7:18 ff.) before Jesus was executed.

In this story of John's birth, it is very clear that John's prophetic role is that of the one who prepares the way of the Lord rather than the Lord himself.

And that is our role as well. We may think we are preparing our homes for Christmas parties and Santa Claus, but it is our time spent in preparing ourselves and our neighbors spiritually for Jesus that is the important part of this time of year. May we not be confused during the business of the season.

God, prepare our hearts for You. Then may we help others prepare for You as well. In Jesus' Holy Name. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What will we become?

Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about through out the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, "What then will this child become?" For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.  Luke 1: 64-66 NRSV

Zechariah has just confirmed that his son's name is to be John. And as soon as he has done this, he regains the ability to speak and is filled with the Holy Spirit, praising God.

Their neighbors are filled with fear and begin spreading this story throughout the area. Everyone wonders what this means about this baby. What will he become?

As any parent has probably experienced, holding a newborn makes one wonder about what that child will become. What will they look like? What will their personality be? Will they be famous, rich, brilliant, and a Christian? Who will they marry? What will their profession be? The possibilities seem endless.

John's beginnings point to the action of God in his life. The divine has had a direct and greatly influential hand in the birth and future of this boy. No wonder everyone who hears and sees Zechariah is afraid.

But has not God had a direct and greatly influential hand in our birth stories as well? Does God not have great things in store for each one of us? Are we also not asked to be messengers of the Good News and the coming of Christ? Should each of us not be those who prepare the way for the coming of Jesus?

God, you have wonderful plans for what each of us will become. Help us to hold tight to your promise and be filled with your Spirit. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, December 14, 2009

Is there something fishy about this boy's father?

On the eight day they came to cicumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, "No; he is to be called John." They said to her, "None of your relatives has this name." They then began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. Luke 1: 59-62 NRSV

I have never thought about this part of the story as particularly controversial. However, here is the boy who has been born from older parents who have never had any children. The father is mute, supposedly from receiving a vision in the Temple. The priests and rabbis want to name the child after his father - a very traditional name choice. But the mother wants to name him John.

Now, these holy men know good and well that there is not one person in their family that has that name. They even say so. The implication seems to be - is this child even Zechariah's child? Or did you commit some adultery with someone named John?

I have really never realized how dangerous this situation could have become for Elizabeth as well as for the baby.  There must have been someone in the room holding their breath during this whole exchange. A day of rejoicing and ceremony could have quickly become a day of accusations and death.

Let's turn now to the father who can verify (hopefully) that this is truly his own son.

God, accepting your word and your message sometimes means we can be in very uncomfortable places. Help us and give us the courage we need to speak your Truth. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, December 13, 2009

God's Mercy

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. Luke 1: 57-58 NRSV

When a baby is born, most people do celebrate and rejoice with the family. If the woman had previously been barren or suffered a loss of a baby, then friends call the child a miracle or a gift from God.

Elizabeth's friends and neighbors see this birth as an example of God showing Elizabeth great mercy.

When I think of being merciful I tend to think of someone being saved from the brink of some disaster. I tend to equate mercy with helplessness or perhaps some kind of sinful state.

The friends and neighbors saw the birth of this son as a way of God giving Elizabeth forgiveness of sins as well as better standing in the community. If she had never given birth, would that mean she lived in an unforgiven state? Without the birth of John, would Elizabeth fallen into some kind of disaster such as divorce, depression, or loneliness?

Are we to immediately assume that those who are barren today do not receive God's mercy. No! We must remember that these are the impressions and statements of Elizabeth's friends and neighbors. They are much like our own friends and neighbors and we always must be careful not to equate their opinion with God's mercy, love and grace.

God, you show mercy in ways that we cannot see. Free us from gossip and feelings of superiority over others who suffer from misfortune and loss. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blessed Is She Who Believed

"And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." Luke 1: 45 NRSV

Mary walks into her cousin's home and immediately both women are filled with the Spirit and begin praising God and one another.

Even in utero, there is a recognition of the definite hierarchy of these two children.

Elizabeth speaks first and recognizes the superiority of Mary's belief and acceptance of what God had told her. This is in great contrast to both Zechariah's (now mute) and Elizabeth's (now in seclusion) belief, Mary's own hasty departure from home not withstanding.

It is Elizabeth's child who leaps within her and acknowledges the greater baby in the room/womb. Elizabeth, how is older, addresses Mary as the mother of her Lord. It is Mary's baby who is Lord, not Elizabeth's. So it is not only about acceptance but the actual child that decides who is more significant.

I think it is not the understanding of a virgin birth that we should focus on but the trusting acceptance of God's promise.

God, help us to focus on your promises this Season. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

She went with haste

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. Luke 1: 39-40 NRSV

Mary has accepted God's word. The angel has just departed from Mary. Yet, here we have a detail that is hard to follow after Mary's faithful response. Mary sets out and goes with haste to a Judean town in the hill country. Mary is from Nazareth. She leaves her hometown in a big hurry. Are her parents aware of her pregnancy or does God somehow orchestrate this visit? This must have been very unusual. The tradition at that time is that the fiance is waiting for the spouse-to-be to finish adding a room to his father's house. The wedding can happen at any time. Yet Mary takes off in a big hurry.

She goes to an unnamed town in the Judean hill country - which is at least 50 miles from Nazareth. This was the area around and near Jerusalem where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. I think if it had been someplace like Bethlehem there would have been some mention here.

Mary, like Elizabeth, is keeping her pregnancy a secret. But the stakes of being found pregnant are much more deadly for Mary than they ever were for Elizabeth. Mary could easily have been stoned to death according to Jewish law.

Perhaps both women thought of Moses' mother who hid her son from Pharaoh and his soldiers before leaving him in a basket on the Nile.

Is doing God's will mean keeping some things secret until they come to fruition?

God, what do I need to keep secret? In Jesus' name. Amen

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, December 10, 2009

After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, "This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people." Luke 1: 24-25 NRSV

For five months Elizabeth remains in seclusion. I find this a strange detail. I could understand if she had been in seclusion toward the end of her pregnancy but this seems to be at the beginning. Does seclusion mean that she stayed inside all the time? Or did she just remain in their hometown, not traveling to Jerusalem? Did she attend services at the synagogue on the sabbath day? The main idea seems to be that she kept her pregnancy a secret.

This makes me wonder if Elizabeth had previously miscarried or lost a child before birth. Perhaps she wants to make sure this one is going to come to term before going public with what has happened.

When my husband and I were first pregnant, we told everyone. We were so happy! Then, within a month, we had a miscarriage. The next time we became pregnant, we didn't tell a soul. And we had another miscarriage. This one was harder because we had not told anyone about being pregnant in the first place. The repercussions of keeping a secret greatly affected us both. But I can understand wanting to make sure and keeping it a secret so that folks don't feel sorry for you if you are unable to have the child. Elizabeth was not so sure about God's gift.

We can easily see how Zechariah didn't believe God's messenger. Now it looks like Elizabeth had some doubts as well.

God, you constantly are giving good news and great gifts but we have so much disbelief. Help us to be open to your Word and your gifts. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Barren Christmas

Both of them were rigteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years. Luke 1: 6-7 NRSV

There is such  an emphasis on children during this season - much of which actually has little to do with the baby in the manger.

Yet, the gospel of Luke begins with the story of a barren woman.

I know several women who are barren. I know of a few more who have suffered the loss of a baby just before or right after birth. I know that this time of year is difficult for them. There are a lot of what-ifs. And a lot of I wonder whys. They have a lot in common with Elizabeth and Zechariah.

In fact, if you have never had a time where you considered yourself barren, there is no way for you to really enter into what was going on in the minds of Zechariah or Elizabeth. They were holy people, righteous before the Lord. They had done all they were supposed to do, yet they had no children. In those days, the blame was usually placed on the mother - in fact the gospel says that Elizabeth herself was the barren one. But both suffered from some sort of public humiliation - there would always be someone out there who would think that they had sinned or fallen short in some way.

Were they still praying for children? Had they given up hope and accepted the life they had? Did they have dreams for their family that they had finally laid to rest?

God enters into their story. God enters into the story of all women who are barren. Maybe they are not to give birth to a child but God promises an everlasting hope and an eternal dream.

God, please be with those who face an empty cradle this Christmas. Fill them with your hope, comfort and courage. Help us to be supportive and sensitive to where they are without being judgmental. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Question of the day: Who do you know who needs hopeful encouragement today?

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What sort of greeting is this?

And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." Luke 1: 28-30 NRSV

What sort of greeting is this?

An angel of God appears to you and says: "Hey! you are very blessed. God loves you and is with you. You are special in God's eyes!"

What you hear: "I'm a messenger from Almighty God and you have just been chosen to do something for God that is way outside your comfort zone, will probably get you in big trouble and will be extremely painful as well. But, no worries, because God is going to be right be your side the whole time. God has been watching you very carefully since you were born and has seen deeply into your heart and soul. You are the right person for this job and I am here to share what God has in store for you. Your life will never be the same. Don't be scared. Be happy!"


Run like you know what. Don't look back.

But wait, Mary simply accepts this and does not back down. I guess God really did know the right person to choose for this awesome responsibility.

God, what are you saying to me right now? What awesome responsibility are you asking me to take on? Amen.

Question of the day: What does God want you to take on?

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, December 7, 2009


By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.  Luke 1: 78-79 NRSV

Jesus is seen as the light of the world. Zechariah prophesies his own son as being a light to focus on Jesus. The scriptures speak of us being in darkness until God's own light through Christ shines on us.

I think we have taken the idea of lights shining in darkness a bit too far.

In fact, most of us will probably equate Christmas with lights: lights on trees, lights on houses, lights in yards. My son's teacher says that you could probably see her house from the moon with all the Christmas lights in her yard. Even our traditional Christmas Eve Communion service focuses not on the gifts of bread and wine but on holding the lighted candles while singing "Silent Night."

We have focused on lights but not the True Light. Jesus gives the light that doesn't depend on electricity or decorations. Jesus' light shines in a darkness that is Spiritual rather than physical. The light Jesus gives to our lives will never be extinguished. Let us see the light John the Baptist is shining in our own lives and be filled with the light of Christ.

God, thank you for John the Baptizer and the guidance he gives all of us toward the True Light of Christ. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Question of the day: What has been truly more important to you this season: the Christmas lights or the Light of Christ? 

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Second Sunday of Advent

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord. Luke 1: 45 NRSV

Elizabeth knows what she is talking about.

Elizabeth's husband, Zechariah, was in the Holiest of Places fulfilling his duty as a Priest of Almighty God. Yet, he did not believe when an angel appeared to him and gave him a message from God.

Zechariah did not trust the messenger or the message. His lack of faith in God's voice caused him to lose his own voice. But the message was still fulfilled.

Elizabeth greets her cousin, Mary, who is pregnant with Jesus. Elizabeth sees that Mary believed.

Mary, a simple girl who was not present in the Holy of Holies and was neither a priest nor even a learned man, believed the messenger and the message.

Mary was blessed. And so are we.

God, through an ordinary girl you have brought blessings upon blessings. Thank you so much, Lord! Amen.

Question of the day: How will you respond to God's message today?

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Explanation of the Picture

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2: 7 NRSV

The picture above was taken by my seven year-old this past March. The star marks the traditional spot of Jesus' birth. You can find it in a small room below the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Just this week my son looked at this picture again and asked why the star was bent. I know that there have been some deadly altercations and kidnappings in this very church in recent years. And my husband and myself have traveled there previously. But does that mean this is why it is bent?

Looking at our pictures from almost 15 and 20 years ago, it is hard to tell. The church used to keep candles near the star so that our pictures are dark, but it looks like the star was bent even back then.

Either way, the bent star reminds us of the chaos that Jesus was born into as well as the chaos we have today. Even when God's son came into the world, there was no comfortable place for him to be born.

There is still no comfortable place for Jesus to be born today. Yet, remarkably, he still enters in.

God, thank you for entering into the bent, broken and chaotic world. In Jesus' Holy name. Amen.

Question of the day: Where in your life would you consider yourself bent or broken?

Copyright Amelia G. Sims

Friday, December 4, 2009

Slave or Free?

One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother. Galatians 4: 23-26 NRSV

Jesus comes to us through the promise rather than through slavery.

We have spoken of Jesus putting on the garments of a slave but he has come to free us from slavery. This is through the promise that God has given to us.

Jesus came in the flesh so that we might be truly free. Jesus took on human likeness and absolute obedience so that we would fulfill the promise. Jesus was born as a babe so that we could be reborn as children of God. As children of God, we too can claim Sarah as our mother and attain the promise.

The cross would never have happened if Jesus had not taken on flesh and lived among us.

Thanks be to God for God's perfect gift in Christ Jesus! Amen.

Question for the day: Are you acting like a free person or a slave?

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Not a King, a Singer Nor a Warrior

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning this Son, who was descended from David, according to the flesh, and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord ..." Romans 1: 1-4 NRSV

Paul claims that Jesus was a descendant of King David according to the flesh.

In the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, Jesus' lineage back to David is actually traced through Joseph. Matthew gives a geneology while Luke says that Joseph returns to the city of David as that is where his family was originally from. More signifcantly, both gospels tell the story of Christ's birth in the city of Bethlehem.

Jesus was not born a son of Herod or any of his family.

Jesus was not born into the families of Annas, Caiaphus or any of Aaron's priestly descendents.

Jesus was born into the family of David.

Is there significance in terms of being a warrior? No.

Is there significance in terms of being a singer and song writer? No.

Is there significance in terms of being a king? Only in a Spiritual sense.

Is there significance of being a man after God's own heart (see I Samuel 16:7) ? Definitely.

God, Jesus was truly a man after your own heart. Thank you for the gift of Jesus. Help me to be a person after your own heart. In His name. Amen.

Question for the day: How much are you living as a person who is after God's heart?

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Form of a Slave

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
     who, though he was in the form of God,
         did not regard equality with God
          as something to be exploited,
     but emptied himself,
         taking the form of a slave,
         being born in human likeness. Philippians 2: 5-7 NRSV

Christ emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.

He gave up all his power and his equality with God. He became one of us. Yet he was also willing to do as God commanded, not as he wanted.

When you give up control of your own life, your own body, your own self, you become someone in the form of a slave. That is exactly what Jesus did.

However, unlike a slave with a human owner, subject to that person's whims and abuse, Jesus was a slave to God. Even though that meant he obeyed God "to the point of death," God did not forever abandon him. In fact, it was through what Jesus did in his obedience that saved all of us. What was an act of obedience or slave-like behavior became an act of ultimate love.

The good thing is that all of us who are born as humans can participate in that divine love.

God, as we prepare ourselves for Christmas, help us to participate more fully in your love. In Christ's name we pray. Amen.

Question of the day: What actions can you take that show your slave-like obedience to God?

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Revealed in Flesh

Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:
     He was revealed in flesh,
          vindicated in spirit,
     seen by angels,
          proclaimed among Gentiles,
     believed in throught the world,
          taken up in glory.
     1 Timothy 3: 16 NRSV

He was revealed in flesh- not through a power of nature or from animals. The whole world didn't see angels marching to proclaim God's message. Food and wine didn't fall from heaven into the arms of the hungry and poor. The revelation of God's love came in the package that looked just like you and me.

He was revealed in flesh. And not through flesh of a rich or ruling family. This flesh wasn't part of the priesthood. He was born in a small town, not a thriving metropolis like Jerusalem or even Rome.

He was revealed in flesh. He took on mortality. He embraced suffering. He lived with difficult family members, every day worries, problems and solutions of this life on earth. He slept, ate, cried and laughed.

He was revealed in flesh.

And he still is.

God, you took on flesh and lived among us. You still want us to reveal your message to others. Help us be your living witnesses, Lord! Amen.

Question for the day: Do you see yourself as revealing Christ?

Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims