😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace and presence be with you. Continuing my four weeks of Advent focus on four gifts that I am thankful for, this second week I’m focusing on the gift of community. Monday’s Gospel reading Luke 5:17-26 and Tuesday’s Gospel readings Matthew 18:12-14 are just two of the many passages in the Bible about the importance of community.
‘One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with Him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in His presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.”
Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– He said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”’
First, it’s not every day, month, or even year that an opportunity arises that would draw your community to act so boldly, that they are willing to carry your weight to the top of a building and gently lower you into the presence of Jesus. To this I say Amen, that you don’t have situations like that arise too often. And again, I would say Amen, in praise and thanksgiving for those so drawn by the love and compassion of Christ, your community, to so willingly and boldly move mountains to show you Christ’s love and His desire to be in your presence. In your life, some of these moments may have been during a job loss, illness, a miscarriage, an accident, military deployment, family relocation, a divorce, suicidal thoughts, starting over, and so on. It is by God’s grace that your community heard God’s calling and acted attentively to your needs.
Second, we hear how the man got up, and went home glorifying God. Which then ignited the fire within the community to also glorify God. Not only supporting, but also celebrating with community is important. It’s kind of like a smile…They’re contagious. Support your community when God calls upon you and also celebrate and glory in their victories.
‘Jesus said to his disciples:
“What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”
God does not want us lost and on our own. It is when we stray from our faith community that we become more vulnerable and susceptible to Satan’s enticements. Your faith community is a shield against the flaming arrows trying to pierce your soul. In times of hurt, distrust, pain, unforgiveness, depression, etcetera, these are the times that Satan finds most opportune to attack, so it’s no surprise that these are the times in which we tend to separate ourselves from community and get lost in ourselves. In those times, I know it’s hard to want to have community around, but don’t shut them completely out. Stay open to a handful of your community. You’re shield may not be fully up, but at least you won’t be 100% vulnerable to Satan.
Community is action. Community is receiving. Community is a choice. I am thankful for community. I wouldn’t be able to thrive in this earthly life without community. Even Jesus had a community of disciples that He chose to keep close.
Bless others and be blessed.
If the Lord has touched you in some way with His message today, I ask that you pay it forward by sharing this message, so that you and He may also bless others. Click subscribe to receive your message every Wednesday.
#Brad&Rebekah – When We Gather