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Acts 12:1-5 “1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James,...

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Simeon


Luke 2: 25-28

“25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God…”


Simeon was a man in waiting.  He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.  This consolation (comfort) would be embodied in the coming of the Messiah.  That is when God would comfort Israel.  

So, Simeon waited in prayer and in expectation, keeping himself open to the voice of the Holy Spirit.  Through the Holy Spirit, he knew that he would one day see the Messiah face to face.

Like Simeon, the Messiah is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit over the course of our lifetime. Throughout this process, we come to know Him; to truly know Him.

And He is our great consolation.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Friday, December 29, 2023

The Firstborn


Luke 2: 22-24

“22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Jesus was 40 days old when he was consecrated to the Lord.  In Exodus 13 we read that God said to Moses “Consecrate to me every firstborn male.  The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal.”  

The firstborn males represented the whole of all who were born.  All of Israel belonged to God, and the firstborn males were symbolic of this relationship.

Christ, the Savior, was born so that all people could have life.  His life served as an example to us all.  His death freed us from the bondage of our sins.

The first offspring...we were lifted by His life, purified by His blood.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Monday, December 25, 2023

When Christmas Begins

Luke 2: 15-17, 20

“15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child...20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

The angels left.  The great company of heavenly hosts were gone.  The light that had shone round about them was gone and they were surrounded by darkness once again.  The shepherds stood alone in the empty fields.

One of the Shepherds, excited about what he had heard and seen, suggested that they leave the fields and travel to Bethlehem to see for themselves what the angels had revealed to them.  And they hurried off and discovered that everything they had heard that night was true.

Christmas is more than the glitz.  It is more than lights.  It is more than songs and gifts.  It is more than words.  Christmas means the savior is actually in the world.  Christmas means seeking Him, finding Him, and believing in Him.  

Christmas does not end when we give the last gift, cut off the lights, or take down the tree.  It has only just begun.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)



Saturday, December 23, 2023

God’s Peace was Born


Luke 2: 13-14

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The peace that the angels proclaimed was not peace between nations or peace between family members.  The peace that the angels proclaimed was a more profound peace; a peace offered to us by God.

This peace is to be found through a relationship in Christ; a peace grounded in our faith.  This kind of peace transcends our circumstances and the circumstances of the world.  It is a peace that passes all understanding, and is offered to all who seek Him.

Into this world God’s peace was born.  And the angels rejoiced.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Friday, December 22, 2023

Born Unto You


Luke 2: 10-12

“10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

The shepherds were terrified by the presence of the angels, but the angels reached out to them, telling them not to be afraid.

When God directly intervenes in the world our first reaction is fear.   This is because God’s intervention is unexpected, unusual, and, to be honest, scary.  Are we afraid of God’s messengers or are we afraid of God’s message?  Or both?  God’s messengers may not look like the messengers in our heads.  And God’s message may not always be the message we want to hear.

God’s message normally involves change; change for the world, and change for us.  The coming of Christ offers us the possibility of change ; it offers us the possibility to stop the charade of righteousness under the law and to change for real; to change our hearts; to transform us with God’s help into a new creation in Christ.

So, this Christmas season, remember the message of the angels.  Do not be afraid. Hope has been born unto you.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Good Shepherd


Luke 2: 8-9

“8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”

When we think of God revealing something earth shattering and momentous, we think of mountains trembling, smoke billowing, earthquakes, etc.  But not in this case.

God first revealed the birth of the Messiah to shepherds who were tending their flocks nearby.  He sent His angels to quietly announce the news to them.  

Shepherds were the lowliest occupation in Israel.  The orthodox looked down on them because they could not comply with all of the meticulous requirements of their religion due to the demands their flocks made upon them.

Later in his life, Christ identified himself as “the good shepherd”, a nod, no doubt, to the shepherds that His mother must have told him about, who visited him when he was born.

The lowly shepherds, a child born in a stable, two parents unable to get a room…

And the glory of the Lord shone around them.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The Bread of Life


Luke 2: 6-7

“6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

Arriving in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph found it to be crowded with people who had traveled there for the same purpose, to be counted so that they could be taxed.  They were all compelled to be there by Rome.   

And, probably to their dismay, Mary and Joseph found that private rooms for guests were in short supply. So they slept in a place where the overflow of people stayed and where animals were kept at night.

While they were there, Mary went into labor; a young girl, as far from home as she had ever been, giving birth to her first child, in a strange place, under unfamiliar circumstances.   

The Bible is silent about her labor.  Was it difficult?  Was it lengthy?  Was Joseph there holding her hand?  Was there a midwife?  All it says is… “and she gave birth…”.  And just like that, the promised Messiah entered the world.

All of the things they had been told by the Angel of the Lord must have come flooding back to Mary and Joseph as they watched and experienced his birth, as they held him and swaddled him.   

And they lay him in a feeding trough; the bread of life.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Who is it that Waits to be Born (part 5)


I Peter 1:3-4

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.

Who is it that waits to be born in Bethlehem?

He is the living hope; a hope that is alive in our hearts; a hope that causes a deep joy to reside in us despite our circumstances; a hope that is certain and cannot be taken away; a hope that cannot be kept secret, that has to be shared; a hope that is a light in the darkness to those who are searching.

A hope that never perishes, never spoils, never fades.

The Hope of the World waits to be born in Bethlehem.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Monday, December 18, 2023

Who is it that Waits to be Born (part 4)


John 4:10-14

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”


Who is it that waits to be born in Bethlehem?

He is the living water from an eternal well.  

He is at once the water and the source. 

One drink of water from this well will cure your spiritual thirst forever.  

Drinking the water from this well will cause springs of water to well up in the drinker, so that others may drink from you.


To receive this water, all we have to do is ask.


The living water from an eternal well waits to be born in Bethlehem.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Saturday, December 16, 2023

Who is it that Waits to be Born (part 3)

2 Corinthians 5: 17-19

“17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”


Who is it that waits to be born in Bethlehem?


He is the new; 

a new creation, a man who is God, who creates in us a new work;

a new opportunity for humankind to reject sin and death and choose God; 

a new covenant based not on faithful actions but on the faith in our hearts; 

a new love in which we love not only those that are easy to love but also those who are hard to love, even those who call us their enemy; 

a new forgiveness in which we forgive without limits;

a new kind of leader who serves, who seeks out the least and the last and the lost, who came to heal rather than to conquer.


With His birth, the old will be gone.


The new of God waits to be born in Bethlehem.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Friday, December 15, 2023

Who is it that Waits to be Born (part 2)

2 Corinthians 5:21

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”


Who is it that waits to be born in Bethlehem?


He is God’s plan for the redemption of the world; the once and only sacrifice for our sins to redeem us and put us in a right relationship with God.  Christ is the bridge between God and humanity. 


God sent Christ into the world for our sake; for His love of us. Those who come to God through faith in Christ become righteous, because Christ is righteous and sinless.  And in this righteousness we are reconciled to God.  


God’s plan of redemption waits to be born in Bethlehem.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Who is it that Waits to be Born (part 1)


Colossians 1: 15-17

“15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Who is it that waits to be born in Bethlehem?

In the beginning...Christ was there. Christ was with God and Christ is God and God’s work in creation was and is the work of Christ. Christ’s physical image is the incarnation of the invisible God.

Christ is the I Am, The wind that blew across the waters, 

The Word.

The great mystery. 

The Creator waits to be born in Bethlehem.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The Journey to Bethlehem

Luke 2: 1-5

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.”

Bethlehem was the burial place of Rachael, Jacob’s wife;  the original home of Naomi (of the book of Ruth); and the ancestral home of David.  David, as King of Israel, never lost his love for Bethlehem, and he longed for a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem (2 Samuel 23: 14-17).

So, Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, his place of birth, with Mary and Jesus, who was yet to be born, so that they could be counted by the Romans. Under Roman law they were compelled to go.  

But God used the law for His good purposes.

A ninety mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem; a man and a woman and an unborn child...became the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy:

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2)


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)



Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Two Special Children


Luke 1: 39-45 

“39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Elizabeth and Mary, two women of faith, two women chosen by God to fulfill His plan, two relatives glad to see each other at such a special time in their lives, two women rejoicing in each other’s company.  

The yet unnamed babe, the baptist, the forerunner, the herald, the eater of locusts and honey, the voice in the wilderness crying repent, rejoiced at the sound of the virgin’s voice and leaped in his mother’s womb.  Years from that day he would point out the Lamb to his followers as he walked by.

Two relatives touched by God. Two special children in two wombs to be born.

And the world would never be the same.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Monday, December 11, 2023

The Word


Luke 2: 38

“38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”

Mary, the Lord’s servant,  said yes.  

Yes to God.  Yes to love.  Yes to trust in the Lord. Yes to the true meaning of the words “Fear not.”  Yes to becoming God’s portal into the world.  Yes to becoming mother to the Messiah.  Yes to turning her back on the normal life she knew.

She asked only that God’s word to her be fulfilled.  But Mary did you know….

“In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)



Saturday, December 9, 2023

Called to Follow God


Matthew 1: 20-24

“20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”

In ancient Israel, being engaged carried certain legal obligations and if an engaged couple wanted to nullify the engagement it required a “divorce”.  Joseph had considered divorcing Mary, his fiancĂ©, because she was pregnant with a baby that was not his.

God intervened.  An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, the first of four dreams in which God communicated with or warned Joseph.  After each dream, Joseph awoke and did what God asked him to do.

Joseph was more than a man who was faithful to the law.  He was a man of God, who apparently had spent enough time with God to recognize His voice, to believe His visions, and to trust in His word.  For Joseph, the word of God was more important than the letter of the law.

Because of his relationship with God, Joseph chose to be part of God’s plan for the salvation of the world rather than conform to the world.

This Christmas season, let’s all choose to be part of God’s plan.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Friday, December 8, 2023

God’s Favor


Luke 1:30-35

“30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Mary, a young woman, a virgin, who was engaged to Joseph, a carpenter, was visited by an angel, a messenger of God.  She was afraid.  We would have been afraid too.  

The angel told her that she had found favor with God.  Most of the time we think that this is a good thing.

In this case, God’s favor was a double edged sword.  It meant that Mary was to bear a special child, a child who would be called Son of the Most High, the Son of God.  It would also mean that she would be pregnant with a child that was not Joseph’s.  This meant that she would put her engagement with him at risk, and also risk public ridicule and disgrace.

God’s blessings are not always easy or easily understood.  But sometimes the redemption of the world hangs in the balance.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Thursday, December 7, 2023

A Heart Ripe for God

 Matthew 1:18-19

“18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”


The story of the birth of Jesus begins with two, ordinary, very human people. Joseph’s reaction of concern was a reaction you or I might have,  when he discovered that his fiancĂ© was pregnant with a child that was not his.


Joseph was faithful to the law, and Jewish tradition called for divorce to take place in a very public way.   If Joseph had followed the law, Mary would have stood in the public square to face questions about her faithfulness to Joseph. All the townspeople would be watching, and likely judging.


But, Joseph was not only faithful to the law, he was also just and caring. He gave up his rights under the law, and instead of choosing the path of vengeance, he chose the path of mercy and decided to divorce Mary quietly.  This is a reaction that you or I may not have had. 


Joseph was an ordinary man with an extraordinary heart; a heart that was ripe for God.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Christ Came into the World


Isaiah 61: 1-2

“1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me

 to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

 to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,”

Christ was sent into the world because God loves the world.  

Christ was sent to proclaim the good news that all who believed would have eternal life, not just a select few, but all. 

He came into the world to comfort, heal and rescue the least, the last, and the lost; to be the light for all who are bound in sin.

Christ, the Son of God, the Christ child, who was born on a quiet night in Bethlehem, came into this world for you and for me.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Friday, December 1, 2023

The Light

Isaiah 60: 1-3

“1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”


Have you ever been in a cave in which the lights were turned off?  The darkness in a cave is darker than any darkness I have ever witnessed.  Inside a cave, no light penetrates and the darkness feels heavy and thick, almost solid.  When someone shines a light into that darkness, it immediately lifts that thick, heavy feeling.


The birth of the Messiah represents God’s light shining forth into a dark world, a world covered in thick, spiritual darkness.  A light shining in such darkness would be a beacon of hope for the lost of all nations.  


But will we follow this light?  John tells us that the “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19).  


The darkness is thick, but the light has shone forth, is now shining, and will shine forth for the hope of the world.  


Walk in the brightness of Christ’s new day.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Waiting for the Christ Child


Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

The birth of the Messiah would be a miracle birth.  He was to be born of a virgin; something unheard of; something only God could accomplish.  People would speak of the birth, knowing that God was present in that event, and they would call the baby Immanuel, meaning God is with us.

As Joseph and Mary waited for the child to be born, they held this secret between them.  The child in Mary’s womb was not Joseph’s but God’s.  God was indeed with them.  And they awaited his birth into the world.

Christ was born into the world on a night long ago, in a manger, in Bethlehem. 

Christ is with us now, reborn into our hearts.  

And we await his return for the redemption of the world.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A Child Has Been Born to Us


Isaiah 9: 6-7

“6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness, from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

The birth of the Messiah was foretold by Isaiah.  The Messiah was to be a child, born into the world.  Think of the wonder of this.  The Messiah, the savior of the world, would be born as a baby, a helpless infant that had to be nursed, fed and changed; an infant for which every need had to be met by its parents.  The savior of the world must first be saved; nurtured and raised to adulthood.

The Messiah would accomplish great things- endless peace, justice and righteousness.  But first he must be born.

So, during this advent season, let us eagerly await the birth.  Let us prepare our hearts for God to be born anew in us.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)