Monday, 22 December 2014

Love, the guest, is on the way.

It still brings me to tears that God became man to redeem us ordinary folks - that the Creator of the universe would be born in such humble circumstances and announce His coming to shepherds. The incarnation changes everything. Among them, it puts the lie to the Atheist claim that we need to be powerful, and Hollywood’s claim that we need to be popular, and the religious instinct that we must be perfect to reach God. 

We are none of these, and yet God became man out of love for us, be we poor widows, rich tax collectors, parents, children, businessmen, or backpackers. 

And that was just the beginning. He is at work even now to restore the entire universe under His rightful reign. As our pastor put it, to bring peace on Earth by defeating or transforming all His enemies. And we, weak you and me, get to be part of that work as members of His body! Making disciples of the nations, bringing light into darkness in every corner of the Earth, using the gifts and talents God has given us for His Glory. Praise God! 

So in honour of the God who loves a good celebration (Deut 14:22-27), indeed who made the very sun, moon and stars to remind us to feast (Gen 1:14), may your Christmas be merry and your New Year exceedingly happy indeed as we remember and await our Lord. 

Or, to quote one of my favourite Advent hymns:  

People, look east! The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.

Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

White fields

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”- John 4:34-38 ESV

Whenever I have read this passage previously, I have thought, "Oh, how nice, the fields are white for the harvest - they just have to go out and reap."

This past week has been the week of realising what white fields really mean.

When you look at them, and you are the one about to go a-reaping, you realise how big they are. You realise this is going to mean sweat and strained muscles and sunburns and very late nights.

More specifically in our case, we saw dozens of hungry, tired travellers pouring in to rest and be filled -- and we didn't know if there would be enough chairs, food and godly company to give them the welcome we hoped.

Last Thursday at Pilgrim Dinners, we had 53 guests. That means that in just 2 weeks, we doubled the number of guests. Thankfully, we had extra helpers turn up on the night, and several of our helpers could run out to buy extra food. I think we used every chair in the accessible part of the building (including those rolly office chairs) and we packed every one in like sardines.

The question on everyone's minds as soon as we were packing up was, "What are we going to do next week? What if it just keeps getting bigger?" (Peirce gave a rather hard-hitting talk on "Good" and how it is impossible in a world without God, and how we can never qualify ourselves for salvation by being "good", so now we've been joking that he needs to start preaching hellfire-sermons to stop so many people from coming.)

We've been thinking about what Jesus said:
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” - Matthew 9:37-38 ESV

So we do pray earnestly: Lord of the Harvest, send out more labourers. Pleaseenable us to gather fruit for eternal life.