Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rejoice with Those Who Rejoice - Dec 1

Isaiah 11:10-16 & Luke 1:39-45

Isaiah 11
On that day, Jesse's Root will be raised high, posted as a rallying banner for the peoples. The nations will all come to him. His headquarters will be glorious.
Isa 11:11 (The Message)

Our Old Testament reading reminds us that Jesus is a banner over his people. What is a banner? It is a flag that waves proudly over those who honor the kingdom it represents. A symbol of hope and unity and joy. This Christmas season may the joyous presence of Jesus wave like a banner over your life.

Luke 1
Our New Testament reading invites us to reflect on the visit between Mary and Elizabeth her cousin and the expectant mother of John the Baptist.

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women and lessed is the child you will bear!” Luke 1:41-42 NIV

Here is a terrific example of how to "rejoice with those who rejoice" -- or in more modern parlance -- be truly happy for someone else. Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus, is now pregnant for the very first time -- and she is well past the usual child bearing age. One tradition says that she was likely in her 80s. But when Mary came to visit her and shared the great news of her own pregnancy Elizabeth showed no sign of jealousy or envy. In fact when Elizabeth heard Mary's news she was totally thrilled for her. Think carefully about all this for a minute.

Mary's child is the Messiah -- Elizabeth's is the forerunner. Mary's child is born of the Holy Spirit -- Elizabeth's child is the result of a miraculous "natural" pregnancy. Humanly speaking, Mary's miracle baby outshines Elizabeth's, yet all we see from the older cousin is excitement and praise. I love that!

God himself rewards Elizabeth's heart of selfless praise by flooding her with the presence of His Holy Spirit and by giving her a wonderful son of her own. Whenever someone you know is singled out for some special blessing and you are tempted to feel a pang of envy -- remember Elizabeth and get happy for them. It is a choice you know.

Prayer: Lord Jesus I'm just thrilled that undeserving as I am, you came to earth to show me your love. That alone should be enough to give me a supportive attitude toward others. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I too can learn to rejoice when others prosper. Amen

Spiritual Exercise: Write a note of encouragement to someone you know who has recently been blessed. Be truly deeply happy for them.

Draw near.

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