Monday, December 5, 2016
Matthew 9:35- 10:8 (GNT): Being Workers among the Harvest
As he saw the crowds, his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were worried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. So he said to his disciples, “The harvest is large, but there are few workers to gather it in. Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38)
As Jesus travels through towns and synagogues, he makes a keen observation: There are many worried, helpless, suffering people who need God’s presence in their lives. Matthew says they are “like sheep without a shepherd” (36). The problem, as Jesus points out, is that “[t]he harvest is large, but there are few workers to gather it in” (37). This metaphor points to the needy people, the “harvest,” and the disciples, the “workers,” tasked to show them the kingdom of God. At the end of the passage, Jesus calls the twelve disciples together and commissions them to go out, heal, preach, give life, and eradicate evil.
In today’s world, the harvest is still large and in need of garnering and reaping. Jesus, too, calls each of us to be His loyal workers, serving and loving all people. Our commission is to be Jesus Christ’s extension of love in this world, for we are the parts of His body. We are called to forgive, care, love, be patient, sympathize, and to offer our individual skill set and vocation to those in front of us. We are Christ’s disciples of the modern day, and our commission is no different than it was 2,000 years ago.
If we take a moment to reflect on your daily routines, we will notice moments when we allow God to work through us. And this is a beautiful realization. There are tangible moments when we radiate the love and grace of God. On the other hand, we should take time to recall moments when we struggle to convey His love. It is there that God asks us to be open, to empty our self will, and to allow Him to work through us to reach the other.
Jesus says that by our acts of love in this world we will be known as his disciples (John 13:35). I pray that we all embrace Christ’s commission to be fruitful workers of the harvest, serving our neighbor with His gift of love.
Have a blessed week!
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Romans 13:8-12 (NLT): Living the Great Commandment
These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. (Romans 13:10)
Life can be a rollercoaster of emotion, and at the peaks and valleys of that ride are the faces of those we encounter. Coming out of the tumult of time with family at Thanksgiving, we enter into the preparation for Christ’s coming through Advent. This is a time to reflect on God’s great love for us. Throughout Advent, Scripture reminds us of how God calls us to love one another. And in the busyness of Christmas preparation, spending, and gathering, loving each other with the heart of Christ can be a challenge.
In chapter 13 of Romans, Paul focuses on Christ’s commandment to love: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (9). Loving the person in front of us, Paul states, is the basis of who we are in Christ. In 13:11, Paul continues by giving a valid reason for the necessity of neighborly love: “[Loving your neighbor] is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is [near].” Paul advises his hearers to reexamine their faith, for many have been ignoring this fundamental tenet of Christianity. Paul’s proclamation to neighborly love, however, traverses generations to our own place and time.
Although Paul was shaking up those tepid in their faith during the first century in Rome, his message reverberates in our day, too. We are to live our Christian lives in the moment, knowing that God’s kingdom is right in front of us. Our lives need to be tuned in to the love of Christ in the world so that we become vessels overflowing with God’s love and grace.
As we prepare for Advent, as we shop for our Christmas presents, as we make ready for the gathering of family, let us keep in mind the core of our faith, for it is so easily lost in the frenetic pace of the Christmas season. Let us love each other with the love that God gives us. In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Fred Scrooge offers a beautiful meditation on how Christmas should open our hearts to love:
But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time...as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely…
I pray that we open our hearts to the love of God, allowing His love to pour out and penetrate the person in front of us. Amen.
Have a blessed week.