Posted in The 4th Dimension

The Reason for the Resolution

Today is the last day of the year, and as usual, it is a day when many of us re-evaluate our priorities in the past years and make resolutions to be better people and pursue better goals in the coming year. There’s something about entering a new year that gives one the impression of a fresh start – a clean slate. This feeling is further reinforced by the fact that everyone around us is talking about reasons to be grateful for the past years. It is a time when most people also re-cap on the failures of the past year, resolving to learn from them, do better and be wiser in the following year.

Yet, even with all the hullabaloo about the new year, experience, if nothing else, has taught us that nothing special or mystical happens at midnight December 31st. Continue reading “The Reason for the Resolution”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

In the Word & of the Word

I just dug up this (poem??) from my archives from 3 years ago. I hope it inspires you to make God’s Word your greatest treasure in 2013 and beyond.

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Spoken to cause creation,

Whispered to comfort Elijah,

Shouted to calm the seas,

Muttered to still the waves,

Mentioned to bring healing,

Quoted to silence Satan,

Proclaimed to raise the dead!

Preached to bring hope.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”

(John 1:1-4)

Infinity in 26 letters,

Eternity in decaying pages,

God’s vocabulary in man’s handwriting,

Life’s deepest secrets in lifeless pages,

The brightest light in blackest ink,

Profound truth in simple strokes….

Greatest treasure on cheapest shelves.

Deepest love on thinnest paper,

A masterpiece in ordinary font,

Immortal secrets in mortal hands,

Heaven’s blueprints under earthly eyes

God’s Word. God’s Son. God’s Love. God.

Resolve daily, to know Him above all else.

Cornell (31.12.2009)

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Are You Man Enough?

supermanHKThe real problem with men is not that they are feminine, but that they are not biblically masculine.

My point? We have been en-cultured to believe that men and women are like day and night. However, the truth is that the negative of a man is not a woman, the negative of a man is “not a man”.

God created men and women to complement each other, not to symbolize the negative sides of each other. It is not an angels and demons comparison but a yin and yang one. Unfortunately, the cultural notion that many Christian men are sissies or wusses is just one way this false dichotomy between men and women plays out in society.

There is a serious problem in how we perceive and judge what we normally describe as being  “manly” or a “sissy” (by the way, the root of the word sissy is sis, or sister, which effectively equates being a sister with something derogatory) . The following are a few examples of men that would qualify for sissies:

  • If the man is quick to shed tears, or get emotional, he is a sissy.
  • If a man uses expressions such as “I love you” with other men, he is a sissy.
  • If a man enjoys “chic-flicks”, soaps and sappy love songs, he is a sissy.
  • If a man prefers giving bear hugs to side hugs with his male friends, he is a sissy.

Why is any trait even remotely associated with being “effeminate” in the culture also considered negative in a man? And what shall we say when the same line and school of thought seems to be the prevailing worldview within the church?

Consider the flip-side of the examples listed above. See how the absence of these traditionally feminine traits in a man is seen as something to be celebrated. In fact, the very absence of feminine traits is often being promoted as a positive defining factor of manliness:

  • If the man seldom shows emotion and has never been seen crying in public, he is a manly man.
  • If a man seldom, if ever, uses the expression “I love you” with his male friends, he is a manly man.
  • If a man enjoys violent movies, sports and does not find soaps or “chic-flicks” entertaining, he is a manly man.
  • If a man only bear hugs ladies and only “side hugs” the men, he is a manly man.

Clearly, this dichotomy  disregards what the Bible considers true manhood and true womanhood. Even sadder, many men who preach and strive to live out biblical manhood still use such indicators to guilt-trip and shame other men. They implicitly (and sometime explicitly) tie “being a man” to one’s ability to shun culturally effeminate tendencies.

Rarely will you find a Christian man chastising another man for not providing for his family, for not loving his wife sacrificially or for not leading his family bible studies. But it is common to find Christian men, especially on social media, taking cheap shots at other men for displaying these “cultural” indicators of masculinity or femininity.

The problem with men

So, I return to my original assertion: the opposite of a manly man is not a woman. The problem with men is not that they are behaving like women, but that they are not behaving like biblical men. Before we criticize fellow men for not being “man enough”, before we ask fellow men to give up their “man cards”, before we admonish fellow brothers to “man up”, let us ask ourselves a few telling questions.

  • Are we criticizing them based on the world’s (cultural) definition and standard of manhood, or are we criticizing them based on the biblical standard?
  • Are we asking them to give up their man-cards for preferring expressive and more emotional art (lovey-dovey” worship songs) to hard-core rap?
  • Are we admonishing them for publicly expressing their care and affection to other men instead of hiding it and “acting tough”?

These are revealing questions. But they are only addressing the surface of an underlying deeper problem. I hope this post will sensitize us to re-consider our standards in evaluating identities that we brand “biblical”; are our standards defined by the world or the Word?

The prevailing force of contemporary culture and tradition is compelling and difficult to resist, let alone overcome. However, awareness of the problem is a pivotal step  towards redeeming our definitions of biblical manhood and womanhood in light of the culture.

Finally:

  • “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” [1 Cor 16:13-14]

  • “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” [1 Peter 3:7]

  • “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” [2 Timothy 2:15]

  • “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” [Ephesians 5:25-27]

So, fellow men, are you man enough?

Posted in Media

Should Christian Artistes “Take Back” Secular Music?

secular-music-christian-musicA friend of mine once remarked that “if you mute the sound to most of today’s Gospel music videos, I bet you will not be able to tell whether it is a Christian or a Secular Video playing.” He was right, many Christian songs are increasingly conforming to the MTV standards of music videos. The days of congregational singing on videos are slowly becoming history. While one may argue that it is a general change in culture, I cannot help but notice that, even in the days of Ron Kenoly and Don Moen, secular videos were just as perverted. It is the Christian videos that seem to have conformed to the secular videos with the passage of time. While this may be  cause for alarm and concern for many, it is not what I am writing about today. Today I will be thinking through another equally common practice in the Christian music. “Take backs”. This is when Christian artistes take secular songs and remix them (redeem them) by changing the lyrical content to something more biblical and Christ-centered. The debates surrounding the issue range from those who are convinced that music is “spiritual” and secular music has “demonic” influence to those who think that the only spiritual thing in music are the lyrics. Continue reading “Should Christian Artistes “Take Back” Secular Music?”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Christian Lessons from Secular “Love” Songs

song-lyrics-blank-space-taylor-swift

I was channel surfingon my radio the other night  when I came across an old familiar love song on a local FM station. It was the song “Thank You in Advance” by Boys II Men. Before I knew it, I was glued to the station, as each song took me back to my high school years when I would memorize the lyrics to such songs word-for-word.

I still enjoy the occasional good love song, and I would not pass a good “secular” album on Deezer Music. Which leads me to a fw thoughts about love, our Lord and music:

Does True Love Need a Truth Context?

What if someone told you it didn’t matter whom you loved, as long as you loved them truly and kept all the rules of love such as “kindness, patience, not keeping a record of wrongs…”?

Sounds innocent enough. But what if this person was talking about the love of a husband to his wife? What if he was saying that it didn’t matter which woman the married man was in love with just as long as he loved that woman truly and treated her like he treated his wife? Would you find a problem with that? Why?

Common wisdom tells us that a man is only supposed to treat his lawful wife like a wife, and not any other woman. To treat another woman like you would specially treat your wife would be considered adultery. Furthermore, marriage is a covenant and there are certain things that will be violated in that covenant if the man treated another woman like he specially treated his wife.

Right Message; Wrong Person, Wrong Time, Wrong Place

This illustration, albeit quite weak, is a very accurate representation of how many of us want to relate with God. A similar case could be made in the context of same-sex marriage: Are “feelings” the only thing that matters for two people to qualify for marriage or are there other biblical (and natural) factors?

This is a good internal debate to have as you approach the subject of Christians enjoying and applauding secular love songs. Many secular “love songs” perfectly illustrate this false reality of true love without a truth context.

If you listen to some of the most moving love songs of our time, you will find very close similarities to the Psalms of David in their sentiments, but not in their contexts. I am referring to the non-PG love songs; the other r-rated love songs have more in common with the Songs of Solomon.

When I listen to the lyrics to songs such as “I knew I loved you before I met you” by N’Sync, I am reminded of some biblical expressions such as Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” Yes, I know that’s a stretch, but you get the point. When I listen to songs such as Jackson 5’s “I’ll be there”, I am reminded of Jesus’ words to His disciples, “Behold, I am with you always.” Another stretch? I don’t think so.

My point is this, in many love songs, you will hear poetic messages about being ready to “die for the ones we love”  and other radical expressions of love and passion. They sound very much like the expressions in the Bible. The only difference is that a man who promises to walk across the ocean for his bride can’t possibly do it.

Many secular love songs are clear examples of how we want God’s rules (read “God’s word”) without a relationship with Him. The only way those words could ever be truth is if God Himself is saying them, not a mere human being. The devil is a liar, a copy-pasting liar, albeit a very convincing one. Satan is a plagiarist. There is no such thing as true love without a truth context.

Does True Morality Require the Gospel?

Another thing that I’ve noticed in love songs; they are very effective in communicating Christ-like values such as “perseverance”, “patience”, “commitment” etc. Take Joe’s “I believe in you” for example; “I believe in you, I swear that forever from today, no one will ever take your place…” or even Whitney Houston’s “I will Always Love You.” The title speaks for itself.

What virtues are being communicated in these songs? Commitment. Undying love. Sounds noble, doesn’t it. Commendable even. Who wouldn’t want a promise of commitment? Unfortunately, that’s all those words are, empty promises. The promise is not just empty because the lover won’t keep it, the promise is empty because the lover can’t keep it. Even worse, the promise is blasphemous because the lover should not make it as if the power to keep it lies in himself.

In the Bible, there’s only one person who is able to make (and keep) such promises, Jesus Christ. Romans 8:38-39 reassures us that “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The point here is so obvious that it is easily missed: God makes such a promise, not because it sounds nice and loving, but because it IS loving. He makes such a promise because HE is the only one who can keep such a promise. We do not have in us the legal right to make such a promise, let alone the natural capability to keep it. (James 4:13-15)

Many secular love songs are able to evoke deep emotions in us because they appeal to a certain core of our felt needs. These felt needs don’t require any reality, logical consistency or reason-ability. Felt needs can easily be met by saying the right things at the wrong time. Felt needs can easily be met by saying the right things to the wrong people. Why, felt needs can even easily be met by just having the wrong person saying the right things! But as long as these felt needs are not anchored to reality, to truth, they are all vain.

The Bottom Line

As long as Christians continue to preach the benefits of the Gospel to people who have not embraced the Gospel, we are merely fattening lost souls for hell. As long as we continue to preach moral reformation without anchoring the root of that morality to the cross of Christ, we are merely making people decent sinners. As long as we are encouraging, uplifting and motivating souls that have not heard the gospel, we are merely soothing the consciences of spiritual zombies.

JESUS is our TRUTH and our RIGHTEOUSNESS. (1 Cor 1:30).

What this world needs is the Gospel. What this world needs first is relationship with God, a relationship that begins by hearing the message of the Cross, believing the message and being reconciled with the God of that Gospel. A relationship that continues by being transformed by that God of the Gospel. What this world needs is to live in Christ, move in Christ and have its being in Christ. Any other approach to Christianity, no matter how “Christian”, “loving”, “considerate” and “tolerant” it sounds, is just another path to destruction.

Posted in The 4th Dimension

“Help” Me Believe?

This song by Nichole Nordeman (Help Me Believe) has been constantly replaying in my head and impressing upon my heart this evening. The lyrics echo one of my most recurrent prayers. The only word I would change in the lyrics, however, is the word “help”. I want to replace it with “cause”. I am not saying that the use of help is wrong, I am aware that “help my unbelief” is a biblical prayer (Mark 9:24). It’s just that, today, I am simply persuaded that most of the time when I (Cornell) ask God to “help me”, I usually have the unconscious notion that I am only asking God to supplement my strength rather than asking Him to supply all of my strength. I usually ask for God’s help as if I am asking for that final shove, when I have realized that my strength is insufficient. So, my prayer today is “cause me” to believe Lord.

“And I will put my Spirit within you, and CAUSE you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:27

Here’s the YouTube link to the song, and the lyrics are below.

Continue reading ““Help” Me Believe?”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Jesus: 100% Alien, 100% Citizen

Gods-Eye-NebulaAlien Citizens. That’s the title of this blog-site. That’s what I consider myself and every other Christian in the world. We are aliens in this world, yet ironically, this is the only world we have ever known and lived in. Well, the only one until we beheld a new and perfect world, a world that we look forward to. A world untainted with sin and ruled entirely by Christ. We can now envision a world in which there will be no more tears, no more pain and no more death.

The more we behold this new world, the more our hearts are filled with longing for it. This new world draws our hearts towards it, not the way a new experience draws curious minds, but the way thoughts about home make us nostalgic. We are homesick for a world we have never known, never lived in, a world that exists only in the future. We long to return to a place we never left. Heaven is the name of this world. Continue reading “Jesus: 100% Alien, 100% Citizen”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

The Everlasting Lovesong

For Mwaka,

In perfect rhythm we step to the beat,

The melodious tune synching our feet,

Our hands and hearts forever interlocked,

As the lyrics leave our feelings interlaced,

Each word is a divine and eternal promise,

There’s never been a greater joy than this,

A celebration of love formed in Christ,

A love perfected in reverence of His might,

The song that we sing is inspired by Him,

It ignites in us a flame that will never dim,

And as we move in closer for the kiss,

We realize it couldn’t be better than this,

Just the other day I was lost and confused,

I didn’t know how you needed to be loved,

That’s when I turned to the words of the song,

And there, I found all we needed to belong,

So, today we dance to the written promise,

And as we dig and delve into this abyss,

Its deep truths slowly sink and enlighten us,

Assuring us that God’s love will shield us,

Let us make a promise in our earthly stay,

That His word will be our songbook from today,

That we’ll meditate upon it in every chance,

For both you and I know; it is our perfect dance.

Cornell

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Di(sigh)pleship

discipleshipLove. Sometimes I wonder if I really comprehend the meaning, the magnitude and the implications of that word. We have romanticized Paul’s poetic description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 that it no longer seems to pierce our conscience. I have seen the attributes of love  on so many greeting cards (Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud) that I have grown almost indifferent to the reality of those attributes. Love. The Bible says that love is the mark of the true disciple of Christ. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:35).

It seems that every time the Bible speaks about the Cross as the ultimate expression of love, it always couples the word love with two other dreadful ideas: sacrifice and giving: Continue reading “Di(sigh)pleship”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Jesus is Not Afraid of Deadlines

Life is not always a bed of roses.
Loved ones’ hearts get hurt and sometimes halt.
Lives  get ruined. Even after praying, evil still rears its ugly head,
It seems everyone is set up for an appointment with Mr. Disappointment.

What do we do? What do we say? How do we feel?Jesus raises Lazarus
What if God doesn’t come through?
What if, after praying earnestly and believing and even getting convicted about God’s power and goodness, he still doesn’t show up?

How do you perceive God through window panes of pain?
Do you, like Jeremiah, drown in tears?
Do you, like Job’s wife, curse God?
Do you, like Job, question God?
Do you, like Peter, deny God? Continue reading “Jesus is Not Afraid of Deadlines”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Weird Christians and True Spirituality

nohandshakeThe church is full of all kinds of weird people. Oftentimes I have found myself admiring and being intimidated by these weird Christians (and even being weird myself) because of their weirdness rather than the display of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Sometimes I just can’t help taking their weirdness for true spirituality. Many are the times when this confusion has left me feeling condemned, less spiritual and inadequate as a Christian, even when the Bible has clearly said that I am complete in Christ and that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Perhaps you, like me, have met and gotten to know one of these three weird Christians. Maybe you’re even one of them:

1. The Charismatic Friend

There’s always that friend who makes everyone else uncomfortable during prayer meetings. He is the guy who will often drown everyone else with his loud unintelligible prayers because he likes praying in tongues and encourages others to do so. Continue reading “Weird Christians and True Spirituality”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Jesus; Government and March 4th 2013

God-and-government

1 Timothy 2: 1-2 I urge then that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving (giving of thanks) be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we (the people of God) may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness

Recently, I seem to have acquired some new found zeal for contemplating the matter of leadership in Kenya (Yes, zeal to think about this issue). Now, I’m no expert on the matter of Kenya’s political leaders (perhaps that’s obvious) and I certainly don’t know enough about our history and the myriad of issues that affect leadership to offer an extensive commentary on that subject. That aside, I generally feel, as many Kenyans do, the need for better leaders; leaders who do not yield to corruption. Leaders who are upright, full of integrity, informed, committed to service etc. Basically, leaders who satisfy the definition of leadership! Continue reading “Jesus; Government and March 4th 2013”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Is a Kenyan Jubilee Biblical?

There’s a reason why the New Testament is placed after the Old Testament in our Bibles; and this reason is not just that the events in the Old Testament took place before the events in the New Testament. This reason that I am particularly referring to also happens to be the reason why Leviticus 26 is written after Leviticus 25 (Leviticus 25 outlines the instructions for observing the year of the Jubilee while Leviticus 26 outlines the consequences of obeying or disobeying these instructions). This reason that I am referring to is recorded in the book of Romans: Continue reading “Is a Kenyan Jubilee Biblical?”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

The Kenyan National Anthem

waving-kenyan-flag2

Oh God of all creation
Bless this our land and nation
Justice be our shield and defender
May we dwell in unity
Peace and liberty
Plenty be found within our borders.

Let one and all arise
With hearts both strong and true
Service be our earnest endeavor
And our homeland of Kenya
Heritage of splendor
Firm may we stand to defend.

Let all with one accord
In common bond united
Build this our nation together
And the glory of Kenya
The fruit of our labor
Fill every heart with thanksgiving.

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Why I am Not Offended by Caroline Mutoko

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” [Exodus 20:4]

When God commands that human beings should worship no other gods but Him, it’s not because He feels threatened, or because He fears that He would be dethroned and lose His power and position as God. When God describes Himself as a jealous God, it’s not because He is insecure and is afraid of losing control over His creation. God is sovereign. And when God commands that we love Him and live for His glory alone, it’s not because He is lonely and dejected. He not only made everything, He sustains everything. That’s right, not even hell can exist without God holding it in place, sustaining and fueling its fire. Hell is an expression of God, His wrath. Heaven is an expression of God, His love. And this earth is a transient creation of God, it is His possession. Everything that exists finds its origin in God.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” [John 1:1-3]

Untitled-1There is an uproar in the Kenyan social media scene. The source of this sudden surge of heated online exchanges over the name “Caroline Mutoko” is a status update posted by the popular (or unpopular, I can’t decide) radio personality. Continue reading “Why I am Not Offended by Caroline Mutoko”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Needy Friends, Weak Friends and Jesus

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. This is mainly because I am vividly aware of what a poor friend I have been towards my brothers and sisters over the years. I can get too self-absorbed at times, in fact most of the time. It doesn’t help that my work does not involve “colleagues” or “workmates”. An office environment is something I don’t have, and this means that my social contact is minimal. No matter how much I may berate and discourage social media as one’s primary form of social interaction, it’s pretty much the case for me. I am even getting used to hearing friends who I’ve met online comment on what a different person I am in real life. Almost everyone whose first encounter with me was online claims that I am not what they expected when we finally meet in person. This is both a good and a bad thing.

Jesus-Friend-of-Sinners

One of the main downsides of having such little “real” social life is that I am more susceptible to living life on my own terms. people who have workmates are often forced to learn some social skills by circumstances. Continue reading “Needy Friends, Weak Friends and Jesus”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Wounded… But Still Saved

The last flicker of hope is snuffed out.
The closest resemblance to peace is shattered.
Like lead, my troubled heart weighs me down.
Confusion spurns its yarn around my plans.
As doubt spins its web all over my faith.
Hopelessness suddenly has a sweet aroma.
Darkness suddenly sounds like a bright idea.
I am down, my soul is downcast, my spirit is vexed.

I am having a bad day…

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”[Psalm 9:9-10]

You have never lost a case, even when I was guilty,
You have never turned away, even when I asked you to,
You have never rebuked me, even when I blamed you,
You have never hated me, even when I held you in contempt.
pot
Tonight, Lord…
I feel so distant from You,
I feel out of reach of Your grace,
I feel undeserving of Your mercy,
I feel unworthy of Your love,
I have let You down,
I have enjoyed an afternoon in the park on my mood swings,
I have let my love grow cold,
I have pushed away those who tried to help,
and I’ve ignored those who sought my help.

Somehow… I have found myself blaming You for letting me feel this way… so low.

Yet deep down, there’s a part of me that’s You.
A piece of me that understands You.
A bit of me that yearns for the joy I once had in You.
The joy of my salvation.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” [2 Cor 4:7-10]

I know that this feeling is only momentary, temporary, transient…
Because I have never seen the righteous forsaken,
And I know that I am righteous, in Christ,
I know that I am forgiven, by Grace,
I know that I am still Your Son, by faith,

That’s why tonight I earnestly seek You,
For You have never forsaken those who seek You.

And even though You slay me, still I will trust You Lord.

Posted in The 4th Dimension

Mary Christmas: “Jesus of Nazareth”

Continued from Part 2…

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” (Luke 1:30-31)

Part 1: Sometimes God’s messages to us seem too Utopian to believe,

Part 2: Sometimes God’s methods for us seem too illogical to follow,

Part 3: And then there are times when God chooses to meet us at our level… earth.

***** Continue reading “Mary Christmas: “Jesus of Nazareth””

Posted in The 4th Dimension

“God’s Will = God’s Way” (A Mary Christmas)

Continued from Part 1…

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” (Luke 1:30-31)

The reason we discard God’s mail is because we despise God’s mail.

The reason we mistake God’s voice is because we misunderstand God’s voice

The reason we don’t live God’s Word is because we don’t believe God’s Word.

You see, it is one thing to hear that you’re blessed. But it is quite another thing to believe that you’re blessed. Continue reading ““God’s Will = God’s Way” (A Mary Christmas)”

Posted in The 4th Dimension

A Mary Christmas: “Return to Sender”

December is here! Or should I say “Christmas month” is here? Well, as usher in this advent season, in anticipation of our commemoration of the birth of Christ, I thought I should share with you a short series of blog post that I penned about 3 years ago while meditating on the series of events that preceded the birth of Christ. Although the words are 3 years old, I believe that the message is both timely and timeless. Back then, I didn’t even have a blog, so, this is pretty much like sharing something new. The series, titled A Mary Christmas, focusses on some of the lessons Christians may learn from Mary’s experience before, during and just after the birth of Christ. Today and tomorrow, I will be posting the three-part series on the blog. Here’s part 1:

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” [Luke 1:26-28]

I am persuaded that the angel’s greeting [above] was not just prophetic, it was also perplexing to Mary. I can’t help but wonder if Mary was more perplexed by the angel’s visitation or the angel’s salutation. I think the moment she saw the supernatural being in the middle of the room, she knew she was about to witness something spectacular. She had heard of angels and what they could do. She knew of the famous story of her ancestor, Jacob, wrestling with an angel. Memories of stories she’d heard about the Egyptian firstborn’s massacre were still fresh in her mind. However, the first words from the angel’s lips were the last words Mary expected to hear. Continue reading “A Mary Christmas: “Return to Sender””