As we enter the beautiful season of Advent and remembering, I wanted to share a couple of pieces that I have written this year about the good news and miracle work that only Jesus can accomplish. We begin with this piece about God’s great redemption story!
Who doesn’t love a great story? From the time we are children, we learn of villains and heroes, evil witches and helpless princesses. We learn about good and evil in this world. In the end, we anticipate and eagerly await the victory. We all want good to win.
As we think about our common humanity in a world that is becoming increasingly more polarized, it is important that we remember the most important story. It begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The story that starts in a garden culminates with the promise of the protagonist’s return, and the realization of a new heaven and a new earth. “Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen” (Rev. 22:20–21).
Our country has spent the past few days mourning the deaths of Aretha Frankin, The Queen of Soul, and Senator John McCain, the Maverick.
It is befitting during times of mourning that we ponder the inescapable question:
Do I have something to die for?
This year marks the 50-year anniversary of the assassination of preacher and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Although this man is most known for his dream—the one he delivered to approximately 250,000 people, the dream that continues to live as a breathing document of hope today—the speech that best captures his life and ministry was given on the night before he was slain. It was titled “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” and in it he stated, “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
In his sermon “The Drum Major Instinct,” given at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, he told hearers the way he wanted to be remembered. He wanted people to know that he tried to give his life serving others, loving others, being right about the violence of war, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and visiting the imprisoned. Living an other-centered life is why his words still resonate with us 50 years later.
I love the Gospel of John. I find it the most theologically challenging Gospel account, and I appreciate the ways it allows us to look into the intimate relationships and conversations that Jesus had with ordinary people.
John’s Gospel includes the reverent yet warm exchanges between Jesus and his relative, John the Baptist. It gives account of the high-ranking Pharisee, Nicodemus, coming to speak with Jesus at night and then being exposed to the light that truth provides. It speaks of the gentle rebuke and invitation that Jesus offered the Samaritan woman at the well. It informs us of Jesus’ deep love for Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. We learn from the comforting exchanges recorded in John 11 that Mary was not the only one who sat at his feet to learn from him—Martha learned the deep theological truths too. In short, because of his commitment to fulfill his kingdom mission, Jesus took the time to “stop” and “see.”