“A song of Blessing”

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If you had nine months to think, to pray, to listen, and to rehearse, what do you think your first word might be?
Zechariah is so full of the Spirit that simple prose is not enough; he must sing! And “Blessed!” is the first word of that song.

“Light in the darkness”

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Every year Christians celebrate Advent. Every year we make a conscious decision to spend this season of light sitting in the dark – but it is not complete darkness:

“Do you recognize this King?”

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The Emperor expected to be worshipped. He demanded loyalty. Any devotion to Jesus was not welcome and would be brutally suppressed, punished, and rooted out!
So you can see why kings prompted more nightmares than daydreams.
And yet, John begins his letter to the seven churches with a vision, a daydream if you will, about a very different kind of king.

“What’s next?”

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Even when Jesus talked about the destruction of the Temple, they missed the point.
But we know.
We know what comes next (and they should too), because Jesus has told them three times about his coming arrest and trial, all leading to a humiliating and excruciating death on a cross. But death and despair do not have the last word. Life does. After three days he will rise to life!

“What would you give?”

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She had been somebody’s daughter, maybe a sister; somebody’s wife, maybe a mother.
But now she was a widow. That is a code word for the listening audience. Being a widow in that era almost always meant she was alone, vulnerable, powerless, poor, and invisible.

“How far are you from the Kingdom?”

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Mark is the only gospel writer that remembers it this way. After at least three confrontations with every form of religious leader available, people who could agree on nothing – not theology, not politics, not BBQ – nothing, except that they didn’t like Jesus; this man agrees with him!
Now you would be forgiven for missing the magnitude of that agreement.

“How can I assist you today?”

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I’ll bet you never thought of the gift of sight as having inherent responsibilities. (And I don’t mean that a healed Bartimaeus will have to get a job.) What I mean is that once you see things, you have to choose how to respond.

“Is this seat taken?”

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Jesus’ answer to James and John was not what they expected and it revealed a couple important things about the man they had been following and the future that lay before them.