DECEMBER 16, 2021 X YOU’LL NEVER LOSE MY LOVE

Block 7th

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that when God could have done anything (or nothing at all), he chose to use the most helpless of things to save us: a baby. God used a purely human baby and would have to live a purely human life before dying an awful death for us. Like we saw in yesterday’s message, God is in the business of using the ordinary. The things we so readily discount. God has done miraculous things, but this way of coming to save us seems pretty common when you strip it down to bare bones. And I think that’s the point. I think God wanted to let us know that he was willing to jump through hoops and hurdles for us, even if we wouldn’t do the same for him. When the angel arrives at the shepherds, he first tells them a most important command: do not be afraid. I need this message so often in my own life. Even when I know God is good and good to me, I still find myself overly fearful of things I cannot control. I risk not being present in the moment because I am so afraid of what might happen next.But the angel goes on to tell them there was good news coming for all people. Not some people. Not selective people. Not the people who did it all right. But all people. And that good news was that God was changing the story. You see, he initially worked through Moses to deliver the Law to the people. And the Law functioned as the old covenant. Jesus comes down to earth in human form, and he redefines this covenant. The Law still exists, but the terms change suddenly. What was once a rigid law-based covenant becomes something different: a covenant built on grace. God uses Jesus to establish a covenant with us, his people. He’s the middle man. He’s the missing piece from the Old Testament. Now, if you study a covenant, you will realize it does not function as a contract. A covenant is a promise made by one party, and it still stands no matter how the other party manages to mess it up. It does not expire. God binds himself into this agreement, and there are no contingency plans associated with it. By saying yes to Jesus (and yes, that’s all it takes), we thrust ourselves into a right relationship with God, and nothing we can do or say can ever break that. Growing up and grappling with my faith, I found this hard to believe. Because we are so used to human contracts over eternal covenants, it’s understandable why we might think we could fall out of right-standing with God. That we could be do something to mess it up or make it all go south. That our choices could make God walk away from us. But this is why the angel calls it “good news” for all people. Because it’s different from what anyone had ever known, and it meant to fill people with hope and peace and promise. Jesus is not a rigid contract that we need to follow line by line. He is a grace-filled promise that guarantees we will mess up the terms, and he will still want us. This is the very essence of Christmas. Christmas symbolizes the beginning of a better story– a chance to live in a relationship with God for the first time since Eden, all because of a baby crying out in the middle of the night. It seems so ordinary.I’m tempted to add rules and regulations.But I know that’s not the point for you and me.We need to grab and hold tight to the real thing God is trying to show all of us: You cannot lose my love.You cannot fall away from me and make me want you less.You cannot do or say a single thing that will make me turn my back on you.I am after you.I am searching for you always.I am rejoicing in you and all the ways you are made. You are more than enough for me. You are more than enough for this story I placed you in.You are not an accident, sweet thing. I am so pleased with you, and there’s not a single thing you could ever do to change that. This is my promise– to never turn away from you. READING Luke 2:8-10 STEAL THIS PRAYER Dear God, you never turn your back on me. I don’t deserve it but thank you, thank you, thank you.   

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