Monday Morning Musings for 12.19.16

  1. Perhaps the biggest question that people contend with in life is: What is my purpose? What am I doing here and is there anything I can take part in that will transcend the limited number of days I spend on this planet? The answer is given beautifully in the opening verses of John's gospel when he dispenses with the birth narratives of the other three gospels and gets to the heart of Jesus' identity as The Christ. He calls John the Baptist as his first "witness." John was "sent" on a mission to bear witness to the light of Life. That's it. There it is. Our purpose is not to be a great husband or mother or friend or businessperson or whatever – it is to bear witness to the Light of Christ as we engage in those things. Unfortunately, it seems the American Church of the 21st century has become so apathetic and self-absorbed that we are not living into the purpose for which God made us. It's no wonder we feel restless and discontent. We're not fulfilling our purpose! It's not about us; it's about Jesus – and as we courageously and faithfully serve our culture at the point of her need, we bear witness to that truth.
  2. Such witness is always to be born in humility. That's the tricky part. We reflect the light; we don't absorb it. We are messy, broken people so humility should come easily. I get frustrated when people rail against the church for her human failings, declaring that we are "hypocrites." Of course, we're going to fail – that's why we're in church! Don't judge Christianity by the Christians; judge Christianity by Christ. It's not about us, so we never absorb His light or glory; we only reflect it and point others to His way. Don't demand the light – share it.
  3. THIS JUST IN: Teenage girls develop both mentally and emotionally faster than teenage boys. Good grief. I could have saved the researchers a lot of money. Who does NOT know that? The study said there was one category that really stood out: girls learn the ability to pay attention far faster than boys. Perhaps this explains why the teenage boy response to most every question is "Huh?"
  4. I TAKE IT ALL BACK: I was wrong on the Christmas card issue. I admit it. Missed it. Whiffed. Badly. I put it out there and, boy, did I hear about it! And you were right. As I have received many cards in these past days, they put a smile on my face and, holding them in my hand, I rejoice and give thanks for those people. It's simply a time issue and the Swansons need to get back on that bus!
  5. Even as the election fades and the transition of power now looming, I continue to be reminded of the human brokenness in our political expressions. I shared with one church member recently that my hope would be that our unity in Christ would always be such a sure foundation that it would transcend any earthly issue that would threaten to divide us, even politics. Sadly, that has not been the case. I have seen many wounded people and many broken relationships down that road. Especially in the season of Christmas, I pray that we would recapture the joy of His coming, the reality that He came to answer the very broken mess that we have seen before us in the past few months. Let's bear witness to something greater than what we've seen, engaging the process, but remaining respectful and gracious in it so as to learn the art of true dialogue.
  6. The pain of Aleppo, Syria has become so deep and so horrific that we have numbed ourselves to it. Please don't. Please pray. This week, a man tweeted a video in which he said, in utter exhaustion, "Death will be a relief to us." In our celebrations, let us remember that this is why Jesus came…to enter that darkness. If we are ever under the illusion that somehow we can save ourselves, look no further than Syria.
  7. In contrast, I love this time of year as it reveals the goodness of the human heart by the way in which people help and serve one another. One such demonstration is born through my friend BARNABAS. Reflecting #2, he does his giving in total anonymity, blessing our church staff in wondrous ways. To BARNABAS, THANK YOU! Another such demonstration is found in a group that calls themselves TWELVE ORDINARY WOMEN. Again, reflecting #2, they go about serving and helping others anonymously and profoundly, leaving behind the enduring light of Christ. Take their examples and do something for someone else…even in, say, June!
  8. CHRISTMAS EVE TIMES: Make your plans to be with us for worship that day, either in person or online – all are live streamed at fpco.org – 2:30 and 4:00 for our Children's Celebration of Christmas, 6:00 and 8:00 for Traditional Candlelight Communion, and 10 pm for Genesis, our non-traditional expression also with candles and communion. A little teaser: the pre-worship announcement video is hilarious. Rejoice!
  9. Alas, the American dream is changing. For the first time, only 41% of those 30 and younger will earn as much as their parents did. That used to be a given, but no more. Perhaps those same parents can begin instilling in their children the true nature of their purpose in that which is beyond income or privilege.
  10. Congrats to the Highland Park Scots, my alma mater, in winning the Texas 5A State Football Championship!