Coleta United Methodist Church


Holiday Messages

Luke 2:1-14 2In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

Merry Christmas!

Christ is born! Through his birth, God has brought new hope, new life, and new promise to us. Did you open your Christmas gifts? Probably not. I also got tons of cookies, warmly written cards and nice presents. Christmas is a good season to show our love to our loved ones. Hope all of you have a good Christmas!

We had a Christmas Bible study with Michael Slaughter’s “Down to Earth” for the Advent season. Mostly the book was following Joseph and Mary’s faith journey. In Jesus’ era, the people of Israel married at their early ages. Men got married at around eighteen years old and women got married at twelve, thirteen years old. Through that fact, we can assume that Joseph and Mary were young when they met God’s angel. Mary said yes to the Angel who came to her and told her that she will be pregnant even before she was married. In that era, women who were pregnant before marriage were stoned to death, but knowing all that, Mary said yes to the news. “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Joseph was also the same. He heard a gossip that his fiancé Mary got pregnant. He was a righteous man so he was going to cancel their wedding secretly rather condemning her and asking people to stone her. But God’s angel appeared to him and asked him to take her as his wife. Joseph, without knowing anything about what’s going on, said yes to the demand. The writer of the Book of Matthew says, “Joseph did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

At our Bible study group, we talked about the possible dangers or difficulties that Mary and Joseph had to go through. They both were from a small rural town. We know how a small town works. Last year when I had a bat at the parsonage, the next day the half of the town knew about it!. We live so close to each other and know everything. So probably for the rest of their time, Joseph and Mary had to endure all the malicious gossips about themselves and their son Jesus. Probably Mary had to hear the rumors that Jesus was not Joseph’s son numerous times or they had to hear that their behavior was not religiously sacred numerous times as well. We can see their obedience to God’s demand was not easy. But they said a big yes to God and thanks for their obedience, Jesus could come to us.

Actually Jesus was also saying a big yes to God on Gethsemane hill on his last night before his crucifixion. He prayed, “My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.” Jesus wanted to avoid the suffering, but he said yes to God. Rather than putting his will before God’s will, he chose to obey God’s will with a big yes. Thanks for his obedience to God, now we have our crucified king and new life with new promise given by his sacrifice. So through the life of Jesus, our Savior, we are able to know there are many yeses to make our salvation possible.

During the Advent Bible session, one lady asked a question, “Do you think they could say no?” Then other ladies answered, “No, I don’t think so. God knows everything! So God must know they will say yes!” That short conversation captured me. God knows everything so God must know whether I am going to obey or not? That is really interesting. Actually I was going to say no because God respects our freedom to say no, but after their conversation, I agreed with them. God surely respects and cares about our freedom to say no, but also knows that we will say yes.

That night, I said yes to God for something that I felt I’d been called to do after watching a video. In Magnificat, Mary’s song right after the news that she will bear a baby boy, she sings, “God has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.” I was thinking about who is the lowliest of the world and let me share a short video that tells who I think may be the lowliest of the world. Video

The homeless, orphans, poor, sick … there are many lowly people in the world, but I think the refugees are one of the lowliest of the world. They don’t even have their own country where they have the right to live, the right to be protected. Mike Slaughter says that the refugees don’t want to leave their country but they have to because of the devastating situations. Many of them are exposed to threats of death, devastating hunger or bombing shells.

The Bible tells us that Jesus and his family were also refugees. As soon as he was born, his family had to flee to Egypt to avoid Emperor Augustus’ persecution for two years. Our king was also a helpless refugee when he was a baby.

I am an immigrant, but I have a legal status to live in this land. Many refugees are not. I don’t know anything about politics, but I know that God loves them and is nudging me to do what I can do for them. So I decided to say yes to God’s nudge and help the refugees. Luckily the United Methodist Church’s organization, UMCOR, which provides relief from hunger and disasters also provides refugee assistance, so I decide to donate what I can give to UMCOR. This is my yes to what God wants me to do.

Today is Christmas, the day God brings new hope to the world and Christmas is made with Joseph and Mary’s yes, their sincere obedience to God. Do you feel God’s nudge? If you do, please respond to that nudge with yes and be God’s helping hands, feet, and heart for the needy, the lowly of the world! Again, merry Christmas!