Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35

John’s telling of the washing of feet in the Upper Room begins with: ‘Jesus knew that his hour had come’ and ‘the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas…to betray him.’  Yet sitting between these two shocking and terrifying statements is a testimony to Jesus’ love for his disciples.  John wants us to know that Jesus sees this as a final opportunity to express his love for ‘his own.’

Jesus can serve with such compassion – so humbly, so generously – because he loves so much. Such an exemplary last act of love! Jesus describes his action as an ‘example’. It is to become our pattern, our invitation to embrace the unexpected freedom of living for others.

Yet, it is even much more than this.  What Jesus gave was a blessing – a repeatable, relivable blessing. As Jesus said: ‘If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them’ (13:17).  Where will we find the courage to center upon such love and embrace such an extraordinary invitation toward loving and blessing others?

God of Generosity, guide us to be generous with our love, and challenge us to be a blessing to all.  Amen.

Heather Simpson

Central Christian Church, Uniontown, PA

Read John 3:1-17

In the midst of John’s telling of the coming of the Christ as the light of God, we meet a religious leader coming to Jesus under the cover of darkness, looking to commend Jesus, and to confess – however secretly – that he believes that Jesus is indeed working in the power of God.  He is met with a rather out-of-place remark about seeing beyond the signs Jesus was working to the actual kingdom of God, which can only be seen and known through a new kind of life being born in us.  It is the birth from above that is needed to give entry to the presence of God.  And the key, Jesus says, in coming to that new birth is from water and the Spirit.  Both of these point all who would believe toward the one who is “lifted up,” like the healing serpent on the staff of Moses in the wilderness.

The healing hope for the world, and for the lives of Nicodemus and others who would be disciples (including you and me), is in the person of Jesus Christ, lifted up on the cross.  We are called, even in the shadows of our cautious questions, to look upon him and have life.

Loving God, help us to see, even through the shadows, your presence, and find new life born from holy water. Amen.

Heather Simpson

Central Christian Church, Uniontown, PA

3rd Sunday in Advent, Dec. 11: Read Luke 1:46-55

from Heather Simpson, Central Christian Church, Uniontown, PA:

There’s nothing more exciting, as well as nerve-wracking, than the days leading up to the birth of a child.  The anticipation, the deep mystery, and sacred connection to God’s amazing work.  Here in the midst of it all, each moment seems so different than the last. Imagine the flood of emotions, overwhelming an innocent girl who has been told that the child she was bringing to the world would be the one to set God’s people – her people – free to fulfill their calling in the world!

 

When I hear her outburst of joy, poured out in the home of her cousin, who was carrying the one soon to be known John the Baptist within her womb, I do marvel at what incredible things God was doing, and still does, with the least likely candidates. As Mary’s song of praise declares, the world is turned upside down by the “strength of God’s arm” at work in those who yield themselves to God. What might God do with someone like you or me, when we are willing to say:   “Yes. As you say, Lord, may it be so…even in me?”

 

May our song find God’s tune, during this journey of Advent.  And our outbursts be of joy, and ready response, for all of God’s amazing surprises.

 

Gracious God, center us in your love, wrap us in your joy, and prepare our hearts for the birth of our Savior.  Amen

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