Going Deeper 12-12-19

The second reading for Advent 3…

James 5:7-10  7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.


In the spirit of Advent preparation through repentance, I want to ask you to consider this: Which influences you the most… the Word or the world?  Is your life guided most powerfully by the word of God-- especially the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, or by the sin-broken and evil influenced culture which surrounds us?  During this time of getting ready for Christmas, are you more into the holiday or the holy-day mindset?


These words from Mary Foskett, Professor of Religious Studies at Wake Forest, got me thinking along these lines: In a culture dominated by the valuation of power and the accumulation of wealth, and largely driven by envy of those who possess both, James calls readers to follow an alternative way, one rooted in friendship with God rather than the world. He invites his readers to live in community that is free from envy and expressed by the kind of speech and action that is born of the wisdom that comes “from above.” This way of living is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy” (James 4:17). By arguing that “conflicts and disputes” (4:1) emerge from “friendship with the world” (4:4), James reminds us that what we value shapes who we are, both individually and collectively.


As children of God, we understand that Christmas is primarily about gifts… first and foremost the gift of grace from our Abba which came wrapped in swaddling clothes.  While we can enjoy cultural Christmas traditions, we do well to make sure our kids understand that it really is not about getting what we want from a Santa based on whether we have been naughty or nice, but on getting what we need from the Creator of the universe based on how good God is.  And while we all enjoy the love that is represented by the gifts we receive from others, there is a much greater joy to be found in lovingly giving gifts.


In the busy-ness of the season, let’s make sure to remember what this is really all about.


With You in His Grace,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."