Today is the church’s traditional celebration of Epiphany. The church I serve recognizes the “five evangelical feast days” during the Christian year. While Epiphany is not one of them, by gathering for a meal as a congregation, for what we call our “Epiphany Feast,” this event helps us continue to enjoy Christmas into January, as well as marks the beginning of our new year together as yoked-together believers in one local body. I’m posting the essay below (delivered previously this past Advent as a sermon on Christmas) as a reminder that Christmas, and its underlying doctrine of Incarnation, is more than just a day for shopping, that we can toss out to the curb like a dried up, has-been pine tree once the new year hits.
Zap! Like a loop of wires in your house, your mind is only suited to carry a certain level of “current” when it comes to theological truth. The following five truths–more like riddles–will trip the circuit in your brain if you think too hard about them. Yet, contemplating such truths is the perfect antidote for Christmas consumer ‘excess’ and a great way to prepare your heart to receive the Christ this Christmas season. Continue reading →
Because “mercy” is in our church’s name we try and make a point to look for people who need mercy and show it to them. Let me begin, though, with a few “mercy” caveats.
First, Christians don’t think mercy is limited to helping people who need money or food.
Second, God defines mercy, not people. Just because you think something is (or isn’t) merciful doesn’t mean God automatically agrees (or disagrees) with you. For example, mercy includes all kinds of things, some of which aren’t popular. It is merciful to speak up for children who may be murdered through an abortion procedure. It is merciful to speak the truth to men and women who are perishing in their sin. It may be merciful to be silent in the face of someone’s suffering.
Third, Christians don’t think this is a substitute for preaching the Gospel, nor do we think that somehow we’re earning God’s favor for what we do. We think, on the contrary, that if we have heard the Gospel preached, we have all the favor from God we need. Which is such good news that we want to share and show it to others who haven’t yet tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
Which gets me to the point of this post, “postcards from grateful hearts.” This past Christmas some folks at Mercy Hill had opportunity to partner with some generous people (some Christians, some not) who wanted to share with people who had financial needs. Continue reading →