Journey for Life

Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:1-17

When Bev and I went to Manitoba last month, we were watching the weather very carefully. We wanted to be able to pack efficiently for the trip, to not take too much stuff with us.

A few days out, and the weather looked half decent. Overnight lows maybe around -5C, daytime highs about +5C. Things were looking good. So we packed up and headed to Windsor to drop the kids off the day before we flew out.

That evening, as we were talking with my parents, I got a message from a friend who lives in Winnipeg. “Hopefully the snow storm doesn’t disrupt your plans too much!”

Snow storm? Did she really say “snow storm”?

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Special Visitors

Scripture Matthew 2:1-12

There are times when something is happening around you and you don’t quite realize that you are part of it. It could be just the group of people around you are involved with something and you suddenly realize you’re included. It could also be someone making an announcement and you don’t realize you are a recipient of what’s being announced. It could be that someone is calling on you, but you don’t realize it, you think they are calling on someone else.

As a basketball coach of middle school boys… I tell you it can be astonishing at times how often kids don’t realize you are talking to them.

“Billy, you’re on.”
“Billy… you’re on, get out there.”
“Billy… let’s go!”
“Oh… am I on?”
“Is your name Billy? YES!”
And then Billy finally jumps up all excited and finally gets on the floor.

There was also the time last year when Bev and I went to a play and it was one of those one’s where they call people up on stage a couple of times during the performance. They looked over in my section at one point and said, “You sir…” I thought “Oh crap.” And sure enough, yes they meant me.

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A New Year… A New You?

So, here we are. Winding down Christmas… only 6 more days to go. New Year’s is coming up really soon as well. And what do we like to do around New Year’s? We like to make resolutions. We want to start the new year with our best intentions to being a better person! Maybe we want to lose a little weight. Maybe we want to be in better shape. Maybe we want to eat better. Maybe we want to have a better attitude in some situations. What sort of resolutions do you make?

Then what is the joke a few weeks in? “Have you broken your resolutions yet?”

Sure, some people are able to keep on the path to a better lifestyle. But many, many people just don’t make it. You want proof about people struggling to make adjustments to the their lifestyle? Go to the gym on January 2nd and try to get on one of the treadmills. See how long you have to wait. Then, go back on February 2nd and see how long the wait is then. Gym owners they must love January with all the new memberships they sell.
I’d love to lose a little weight, I’ve been considering it for some time now. At least I think I’d love to, I haven’t really done anything to achieve weight loss. I suppose I could join a gym for a few weeks then not go back again to see if that helps. For some reason, just wishing for some weight to drop off my body doesn’t seem to be working. I mean, I’m eating all the same stuff I always have. I haven’t changed my lifestyle any. I don’t see why it’s not working!

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What If?

Scripture: Luke 2:1-20

Tonight is a wonderful night. It’s a quieter night. Everything is closed. The streets are bright with Christmas lights and trees in everyone’s homes. It just seems so peaceful. Then we come into the church, and it too is all lit up and bright. But at the same time, there’s a peacefulness here as well. Even with the crowd and shuffling about in the pews we feel that peacefulness, don’t we!

We come and we hear that old, old story again about Mary and Joseph heading to Bethlehem. Mary is very pregnant on this journey, carrying God’s Son within her. We hear about how they found an unexpected place, a manger, where their special son is born.

We also hear about the shepherds, who hear the angels proclaim the good news of the birth of the Saviour. They too make their way to the manger to witness the child born for all humankind.

We spend so much energy on preparing for this night. All the decorating. All the baking. All the shopping. All the wrapping. We want this day to be very special. And we should! I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, although maybe some people do take it a little over the top.

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What For?

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25

We so often focus on the story of the birth of Jesus as written in the Gospel of Luke. We read it every Christmas Eve. And I see why we do, it has the most detail of the story. It’s much easier to plan a play for, it has all the characters, it has movement, it has a great plot line. But it’s not the only account of the birth of Jesus. There is a simpler version, like what we find in the Gospel of Matthew this morning. It’s a story with a greater focus on Joseph. It’s not a big surprise, really. The world is male centered at the time. The strong focus on Mary in the Gospel of Luke would probably have been a greater surprise given the time and place of the Gospel of Luke.

It also has something to do with the audience. Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience and is leading them to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah. He draws them in by following the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, highlighting his Jewish heritage. This is important, because the infant will be identified by the heritage of his father. So by showing Joseph is Jewish, we know that Jesus is a Jew from the family line of David. This is also important, because they audience knows from their teachings in the Old Testament that the Messiah comes from David’s family line.

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