Happy Mother’s Day to ALL mothers

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

Reposted from http://messymiddle.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/an-open-letter-to-pastors-a-non-mom-speaks-about-mothers-day/

Mail Waiting To Be Sent

0085515-R1-022-9AYou yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all people; and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”            2 Corinthians 3.2-3

When Jesus came into the world a star shone bright over Bethlehem, God’s sign to all, I am here and I have good news.  Come and I will share it with you.  Seeing that star, wise men and women have been able to find their way to God.

Now, if Christ has truly come at Faith Church, as we celebrated at Christmas, one would think that such a star hovers over God’s sanctuary at 2701 South Lamar.  It’s hard to tell these days since we have so filled the sky with lights of our own devising.  We rarely see many stars anymore, even when we bother to look up.  We flood the world with our lit up business towers and stadium lights, lights in trees and shopping malls, lights on cars and SoCo bars, now seemingly more numerous than God’s heavenly lights.  So, if the light of Christ is shining here, and I believe it is, it should come as no surprise that Austin folk may not notice it in all the glare.

What to do?  Perhaps, like that star God sent to guide the Magi, God would have us be stars for Austin, signs for other people, telling the world, “Over here, this way, I’m here and I have good news.  Come and I will share it with you.”

Or, to put it the way Paul did in one of his letters to the Methodists in Corinth: “you yourselves are our letter of recommendation . . . to be read by all people . . . you are a letter from Christ….”  And as Jesus reminded us in Matthew, we’re not meant to be lights kept hidden under bushels.  We’re not mail waiting to be sent, unopened, and never read.  We’re letters from Christ, birthday cards, sympathy notes, and dinner invitations.  We’re sent by Christ direct mail to every zip code and P.O. box.  And since God doesn’t send junk mail, we’re all going First Class.  So click on “Send,” friend, trust God with the journey and never worry that some mailer-daemon will declare you undeliverable.

Ready to go?  How about inviting a friend to church this Sunday.  Jesus didn’t send snail mail or any other kind of mail.  Jesus went out and invited people in person.  The essential thing is not the word written with ink but the Spirit of the living God working though you, not lines on paper or email, but a love letter you send from your heart.  God sends us into the world to be letters from Christ, greeting cards and party invitations, to be known and read by all, marked First Class / Express Mail.  What’re you waiting for?

A fellow postal worker for the Lord,

David Gilliam

 

Jesus’ Wish List

wish-list

 

Do you struggle each year to come up with the perfect gifts for friends and family at Christmas?

I know I do.

I wonder…what if we challenged the overarching focus of Christmas – one that is materialistic and self-indulgent – to one that is less about us and more about Jesus?  What do you think Jesus really wants?

Peace?

An end to hunger?

An end to poverty?

I think Jesus wants all those things.  But most of all, I think what Jesus wants for Christmas is…us.

Me.

You.

Our time, our talents, and our treasures.  And he wants them to be used in service to others.

As Christians, we are the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.  We have the love of Christ inside of us.  And how is this love known?  Through serving others.  With action.  We show the love of Jesus.  Jesus says in Matthew that what you did for the least of these – sick, hungry, homeless, oppressed, imprisoned – you do to me.  When we meet someone who has a need – be it hunger, or thirst, or shelter, or clothes – we are supposed to meet that need.  To take care of them.  To help them.  We are to visit the sick and imprisoned.  We are supposed to help ease their suffering.  We know that there are people in our community suffering during this season of the year.  I wonder… who are “the least” in our community?  And what can we do to ease their suffering?

Jesus teaches us that our lives have more meaning and value than we can imagine.  And what we do with them and choices we make really do matter.  It says in 1 John that “this is how we know love; that Jesus laid his life down for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  Now…not every Christian is called to literally lay down their life for another.  That truly is something special.  But every believer is called to respond to people in need and to help as best as they can.  It also says in 1 John, let us love with actions.  Sometimes all that is needed is something simple, like something to eat or drink.

Thinking about the needy can seem pretty overwhelming.  There are a lot of people in the world who are in need.  There are a lot of people in our community who are in need.  Now before we get too distraught, let me just say that I don’t think the heart of these verses is to make us feel guilty for what we haven’t done.  I see them as more of a “wellness check” that encourages us to do the right thing.  These verses are supposed to inspire us to be faithful, to serve the least in our community.  To encourage us to stop being so self-centered.  To help us gauge how we are – or are not – growing into the likeness of Jesus.  That serving others becomes so much a part of us that we do it before we realize we are doing it.  Before we know it, we are making time for others. We are getting out into the community and giving our time and our talents.  And when we get to this point, we are laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters. My seminary professor said that, “when we lay down the completely normal human desire to live for ourselves and instead allow the love of God to reorient us toward the needs of others, we are laying down our lives.”

When we serve, we lay aside claim to our own lives and put others first.  Because we love.  When we believe in Jesus, we believe in love.  And we cannot have love without action.  And when we let that love act, through things like giving clothes to the needy or food to the hungry, we can be sure that the love of God is what is pulsing through our hearts and our hands and our feet. [1]

Love has spurred us to action a lot this fall at Faith.  We have reached out into our community and painted a house for an elderly couple, given our time at elementary school carnivals, and given of our treasure when we filled up shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child and took ornaments from the Gift Tree*.

Hands for Housing with iACT, October 2012

Hands for Housing with iACT, October 2012

Gift Tree gifts for Joslin Elementary
Gift Tree gifts for Joslin Elementary

Gift Tree gifts for Zilker Elementary

Gift Tree gifts for Zilker Elementary

 

Love…. The Beatles had it right all along.

All you need is LOVE.

 

 

What does Jesus want for Christmas?

For us to love.  And how do we do that?  We serve.  Any and every way we can.

The Cotton Patch Bible says it best:  Let’s not talk about love.  Let’s not sing about love. Let’s put love into action and make it real.

Merry Christmas.

 

 

*The Gift Tree was an outreach that Faith did this Christmas to help needy families at Joslin and Zilker Elementary schools.


[1] Ron Cole-Turner, Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B, Volume 2, 1 John 3:16-24: Theological Perspective, 2008,