Dear Hyde Park Family,
Is God on your Christmas list?
That’s an appropriate question, given that Christmas is about Jesus’ birthday, after all, not anyone else’s. So if anyone deserves a present from you, it is the one who was given as a gift for the world. And the gift that is most suitable for God to get from you is not one you can pick up on Black Friday or Cyber Monday; it’s one that you can give every day.
It’s the gift of your obedience.
Consider how the Christmas story is filled with one person after another, giving Jesus the gift of their obedience. What would have happened if these people had chosen otherwise?
- What if Mary had said, “I’m sorry. Too much pressure. Go find another girl.”
- If Joseph had said, “Nope. No way. Too risky.”
- If the shepherds had said, “Us? In the presence of a king? You’ve got to be kidding.”
- If the magi had said, “Herod must hear about this at once.”
- And what if John the Baptist had said, “You want me to eat what? And wear what?”
In fact, Mark’s version of the Christmas story begins with that same John the Baptist, who is all about calling people to repentance and obedience. John’s message was simple and clear: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”
The word “straight” is Mark’s favorite word. The Greek word occurs seventeen times throughout his gospel, translated in different ways. It most often occurs as immediately, which we tend to associate with being “instantaneous.” But it also has the sense of being “straight up” or “straight forward.” Consider how this nuance changes the way some of these passages in Mark might be read:
- “Then Jesus perceived with clarity and focus in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves.” (Mark 2:8)
- “But when the grain is ripe, he goes in with his sickle with discipline and efficiency, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:29)
- “But Jesus spoke to them with straight talk, and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Mark 6:50)
- “Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Then he was able to see straight and true and followed him on the way.” (Mark 10:52)
From the beginning of his gospel until the very end, Mark’s primary concern is that we understand that following Jesus means living a life of focus, discipline and intentionality. Don’t deviate, stay focused and don’t lose track.
If you are interested in giving God a gift this Christmas, there may be no better one than the gift of your obedience to the way and will of Christ in your life.
At Hyde Park United Methodist, our Discipleship Pathway is our gift-buying guide for giving God our obedience:
- Be regular in worship attendance
- Participate in a small group
- Offer your time and energy in service to others
- Fill out an Estimate of Giving Card to help us support ministries for 2020
- Join us in The Bible Project 2020 and spend time every day next year reading the Scriptures
- Invite someone to one of our upcoming worship services this Advent and Christmas season, including our upcoming “Blue Christmas” service for those who are grieving
- Pray regularly.
There can be no better preparation for Christmas than the one you do in your own soul. Let us all prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight.
Peace, Hope, Love and Joy,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
CHRISTMAS IS COMING
Christmas Eve is three weeks away! Plan to join us for one of eight services Dec. 22-24. View the schedule of services. Invite a friend to experience the fresh arrival of Jesus in our lives. Consider signing up to provide Christmas Hospitality and provide a warm welcome to the thousands of guests joining us.