Happy Third Sunday in Advent!
In last week’s message we began looking at Alan Hirsch’s five habits of highly missional people: BELLS. We were encouraged to Bless someone in some way every day and to Eat, to share hospitality. Let’s continue.
L: LISTEN for the Spirit’s voice.
Alan Hirsch says, “For many people, listening to the Holy Spirit is like trying to hear the radio in a busy coffee shop. You can make out the announcer’s voice, but you strain to make out what she’s saying over the hubbub of the other patrons.”
Last summer ladies from the community and I gathered at a local restaurant for an evening G.I.G. (Girlfriends Inspired by God). We each brought a picture of our happy place. I was the ONLY one who actually brought pictures, I might add. We spent most of the night passing around cell phones (but that’s another story for another time!). We looked at stunningly beautiful places where some had camped or ridden horses, places where time had been spent with children and grandchildren, places where some had gone back again and again and again. I was struck that each picture had an element of quiet to it. You could see the peace, if that makes sense.
Friends, create a moment of quiet in your day, in every day. Take a walk without the I-Pod. Turn the TV off while you’re eating. I’ve gotten into the habit of driving without the radio. We’re not throwing out our electronic devices, we’re just taking back moments of quiet.
L: LEARN Christ.
Find time for daily study. We can’t answer the question, “What would Jesus do?” if we don’t know what Jesus did. Alan says we need to “marinate” our minds and souls.
Of all the habits, this particular one—learn—feels the easiest to turn into a law proposition. “I will start every day reading the Bible twenty minutes.” Speaking from experience, you’ll last a day and a half, if that. Be open to the lessons God puts before you. Grab an Advent devotional home with you. Go online to Bible Gateway and read Luke Chapter 2, the Christmas story from the King James version, the NIV, the Message, the Living Bible, the Good News translation. Do the same with the 23rd Psalm. Be creative. Be open. Learn.
Last is the letter S: SENT
Of all the habits—bless, eat, listen, learn, and sent—this is the only one that’s past tense.
Friends, you’ve already been sent. Every day you are placed with very people in the very places God needs you to be. Yes, you. God gives each one of us opportunities that are unique to us and our particular situations. How often we’ve said—they’ll never see the inside of this church, but they’ll see us. They might never open the Bible, but they’ll read our face.
How do others see Jesus in us? Paraphrasing a poem that Pastor Robin Dugall used in his weekly devotional, we see Jesus everywhere, making breakfast, fixing lunch, smiling and waving at people on the street, looking for help on a cold night. Yes, we see Jesus everywhere, taking food to the sick, welcoming others into their home, being friendly to someone who needs love.
You have been sent, dear friends, but you have been sent with the Almighty Himself. You are not alone. You walk with Jesus. You’ve got Someone (capital S) who is with you, leading you, giving you the words to speak, the opportunities to act.
And let us never forget that the God Who walked with Adam and Eve walks with us through our day. And that same God Who walks with us knows us. He know every single thing about us. He knows about the all-caps expectations; He knows where we’ll excel and where we’ll fail miserably. My own father raised the bar for me, something I didn’t appreciate until after long after he was gone. He wasn’t expecting me to be the best; he was expecting me to be my best. Your God has raised the bar, putting His expectations in all-caps, not expecting us to be the best, but to be our best.
Learning to be kind and be nice, we learn God’s love.
Learning to be hospitable, we learn God’s joy.
Learning to listen, we learn God’s peace.
Learning more about God and how we’ve been sent, we learn God’s hope.