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Advent Blog

Last week we focused on emptying yourself. When we empty ourselves we can put Jesus just where He needs to be in our life - the center.  Is Jesus the center of your life?

This week we hear the story of Pentecost and going out to be Jesus to others.  Bishop Hying asks us to consider how to we put on Christ? How are we the feet and hands of Jesus? I've often reflected on what this means to me and I have come to the understanding that for me to be the hands and feet of Jesus is to see Jesus in others.  No matter what they do or how they act a reminder that they are made in the image of God.  That can be hard some days and when it is hard to remember that someone is made in the image of God then it is hard to keep Jesus at the center of our life.  Jesus looked upon everyone as having great value, do I? Jesus reached out and touched the sick, do I? Jesus loved those who had different beliefs, do I? Jesus responded assertively to those who challenged him the most, do I? Am I Jesus to others today? Each of us is part of the Body of Christ - how do I live this out daily?  The final question in the video was: What human encounter has drawn about service from your heart? How would you answer that?

Take some time these last few days before Christmas to consider how central to my life is my relationship with Jesus.  Do I encounter Him in my daily life with others? Am I living as if my mission is to be Jesus in the world or do I still desire to go back to my life from before I knew Jesus so well? Go back to fishing with Peter or tax collecting with Matthew? NO, I want to live the life Jesus has called me to - do you feel the fire of that burning within you? Fan the flames of that fire and allow Jesus to transform you and your heart this Christmas Season

Kenosis - Part 2

First and foremost I want to explain the word kenosis.  Wikipedia explains it as:

In Christian theology, kenosis is the concept of the 'self-emptying' of one's own will and becoming entirely receptive to God and the divine will. It is used both as an explanation of the Incarnation, and an indication of the nature of God's activity and will.

So last week I asked you to remember how as a child you felt about anticipating Santa's arrival... this week, how did you feel when you found out the truth about Santa? If you're anything like me I was devastated.  Santa to me was a role model of giving to others without expecting anything in return (well, maybe some cookies and milk, but that seems minor when you think of all he left behind).  As a child I wanted to go work for Santa, can you imagine working at a job where your whole goal is to bring joy to others!?! That's what I wanted to do, but alas it's not real... or is it?

In this weeks video Bishop Hying shares with us that Jesus' life and ministry was about serving others.  Jesus gave to others the gift of His time and attention, His presence to those who were the least in society.  Can you imagine the joy of those who encountered Jesus? I think of the lepers who were healed, the blind that were given sight, the woman at the well who goes to tell the town of Jesus, and countless others who were so overcome with the healing they received that they rejoiced and ran out to tell others of the good things Jesus had done for them and within them!

God had promised a savior that would come, but little did anyone expect that savior to come as a baby in a stable to unwed parents living in poverty who would be on the run after the baby is born.  Yet, that's just how Jesus enters into humanity.  Jesus comes to us as a vulnerable baby who will fulfill the promises of God through means other than what everyone expected - instead of being wealthy or royalty Jesus is a simple man who empties himself of his own desires to show us the way to follow God's will in our life.

Are there people in your life that you have made promises to? I know there are for me.  In order to keep those promises I need to do some self-emptying.  I can't be there for others when I am so focused on my own desires in life.  So, how does a person go about this self-emptying process? For me it is through prayer, through those times of silence with God, I am able to most effectively listen to where God is calling me in life.  Yes, there are many things I want to do - go for a run, sit and knit, lose myself in front of the TV, etc, etc, etc... I'm sure we all have a list of things we want, but how do they line up with the promises that we have made to others? It's a daily discernment process for me - some days I know that I need to fill my cup so that I can be all I can be for others, while other days I need to share what I have with others.  

  • How do you empty yourself?
  • If we are to make ourselves a gift to others what would that look like today? Consider the people in your life today and how you can be gift to them.
  • How has serving others inspired your faith?

This week consider making a commitment to empty yourself of your will, your desires, and your wants once a day, and spend that time, energy or money on someone else and meeting their desires or will. 

 

Do you remember being a young child waiting for Christmas, counting down the days until Santa comes? As a child we were filled with hope - hope that Santa would place the gifts we wanted under our tree. We hoped that Santa would fulfill what our hearts desired. What if we lived our adult lives with that same kind of anticipation of Christ's coming - that Christ would fulfill our hearts desires and that the tree under which he would lay our gifts may come in the form of a cross that we carry daily, or a tree that protects and shields us?   

I've recently been shopping and came across a new game called Santa VS Jesus, it's a group party game where there are two teams - one is the Santa team and one is the Jesus team - and at the end of the game the winner "rules" Christmas.  I must admit this game has caught my attention and is intriguing to me.  Who does rule Christmas for you? Do we get so caught up in the secular world of gift giving and receiving that we forget the real reason for the season?

This week we watch the video on FORMED called CRUX and contemplate the following.  Share your thoughts as we journey together this Advent season!

  • Jesus was the fulfillment of the promises God made to His people throughout the Old Testament.  It is through hope that we as Christians can face our daily crosses.  What hopes do you hold on to?  What hopes keep you moving forward each day?
  • The presenter in the video (Bishop Hying) encourages that we live in the present moment - not in the regrets of the past or the anticipation of the future, but in the present.  In the busy-ness of the Advent season what do you do to stay in the present and be present to others?
  • Another point Bishop Hying makes in the video is to live a life of relationship with God.  Where are you at with your relationship with God? Just as our earthly relationships take time and energy to build, so does our relationship with God.  Are you spending time and energy to grow your relationship this Advent season? It's never too late to start - what's something you can do this week to spend time with God? 

Make a commitment this week to sit in silence.  Start with 3 minutes today and each day add a minute. Set a timer on your watch or your phone and just be for a few minutes.  Don't worry about what's next, just sit.  While you are in silence talk to God or just focus on your breathing.  Sitting in silence can help us to slow down and refocus on what is important. 

Advent online - Introduction

Advent is a busy time of year - there is much hustle and bustle that distracts us from focusing on the real reason for this season.  This Advent we have lots going on at OLIH to help you prepare your hearts for Christmas! 

Follow our Advent Blog which will post on Wednesday mornings on both the website and the Facebook page.  Watch the video on Formed, read the reflection, and comment to join in the conversation!  Let's journey together online during this busy time of year.

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