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Keep Your Lamps Burning

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning. Luke 12:35 

Sometimes we just want to turn the light out and rest. Has not 2020 felt like that, at times? This has been quite the unconventional year. Never in my lifetime have I seen people walking around all the time with masks over their face. This year has been hard. The COVID-19 pandemic has awakened us to the reality of suffering all over our world. The searing pain of death has become front page news in our hearts and in our headlines. You, me, and many have been so ready for a change. We desire rest from the labors of this year. And yet, Jesus reminds us in this scripture reading of how to turn our orientation to Him. This last day of 2020 beckons us now to discover a renewal of our hope in the Lord. 

In the night watches of 2020, and in the dawn of a new day, Jesus wants us to be ready to see and to embrace God’s continuing saving work. It’s as if Jesus knows that we have been tempted to turn out the lights and to rest. If our thoughts about 2020 were formed into a metaphorical lamp, then many of us have long-been prepared to blow it out and to move on. Yet, strangely, Jesus meets us in the midst of this feeling and asks us to keep our lamps burning. Why? Why should we keep our lamps burning? 

We should keep our lamps burning because the full work of God in Christ cannot be bound up into a single calendar year.  

We should keep our lamps burning because in 2021—just a day away—Jesus is still willing and able to bring restoration and transformation to all of our earthly situations.  

We should keep our lamps burning because God does not turn out God’s light on us.  

Per this scripture reading, turning out our lamps is likened to turning out our hope in the Lord. For this lamp that Jesus speaks of can be representative of our continuing hope in God. Even in a discomforting year, let us not blow out our hope in the Lord. Even in 2020, as we move into 2021, let us ponder anew what the Almighty can do. For ultimately, the rest we desire is found in Jesus. The hope we proclaim is found in Jesus. The change we yearn for is possible because of the saving work of Christ in this world. From 2020 to 2021, and for all times, JESUS SAVES. So keep your lamps burning, in Jesus name. Amen. 

Posted by Josh Miles
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The Middle of Nowhere

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, 
though you are small among the clans of Judah, 
out of you will come for me 
one who will be ruler over Israel, 
whose origins are from of old, 
from ancient times.” Micah 5:2 
When I was very small, I had no idea where I was from. People taught me my address and walked with me down the streets where I lived. Once I learned those details and lived into my surroundings, it all became familiar. That was the world until my world got expanded. I’m not sure when I realized there were other places outside of my Isle of Hope neighborhood. It might have been that time our car broke down on a random road in south Georgia. It wasn’t a postcard place, if you know what I mean. We were traveling with two cars, thank goodness, but one sputtered to a stop. It was a warm southern winter’s day and the surrounding farm fields looked bare and uninviting. I was a kid ready to play in order to pass the time, but nothing around me looked promising. We didn’t have a cell phone because they didn’t exist yet, so my family had to figure things out in what was clearly the middle of nowhere. It was hard to get it all sorted, but with the help of some kind strangers who lived nearby, we got back on the road again. 
This pandemic has stopped us in our tracks more than once. We have found ourselves feeling a bit stuck in “the middle of nowhere.” What was once familiar about life has been altered, and now we live our lives in new and different ways.  

Here is some encouragement. God always shows up in the middle of nowhere.  

In the second chapter of Micah, the prophet references a small clan, a nothing little middle of nowhere town called Bethlehem, and Micah reveals that is precisely where the Messiah will be born. Micah was from a small town called Moresheth Gath, about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. We don’t know much about his personal life, but we do know he cared about the poor and spoke out on their behalf. I imagine those who listened to Micah had some excitement about the coming of the Messiah, the King of all Kings. I do wonder how surprised they were to learn that Jesus would be born in the middle of nowhere.  

God always has his eye on those nobody else would think or want to notice. What good news for Micah to share that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. God shows up in the middle of  our nowheres announcing the good news that Jesus is Lord of all. This is a living truth that applies to our current situations. We have had to let go of the familiar and the unfamiliar aches our heads. You may still feel surrounded by all that is barren and unfamiliar. You may think you’re stuck at an address you don’t even know. Trust and believe that God shows up every time especially in the middle of nowhere. 

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