The Abba of Jesus

Good afternoon. It is Sunday, December 28, 2014. Only three more days in 2014.

Today’s Word of the Day is “Childermas.” This has a couple of meanings. 1. “The festival of the Holy Innocents (28 December), commemorating the massacre of the male children of Bethlehem by Herod (Matthew 2:16).” 2. “The day of the week corresponding to the day on which the festival of the Holy Innocents falls, considered to be unlucky throughout the following year.”

Today is Card Playing Day. The idea behind this is that, a few days after Christmas, people need a break, and some time to simply relax. Sitting around playing card games is a great way to do that.

There’s not a lot going on around here, this weekend. We had a good time at church last night, and had Christmas leftovers for dinner. Christi and I finished watching the SyFy miniseries Ascension, which left me totally confused at the end. It’s like it didn’t end, but just stopped. Otherwise, it was a pretty good show.

Today, we plan to get the house straightened up from Christmas. It still kind of looks like we just opened presents. We might take down decorations . . . I’m not sure when that’s happening. Christi wants to get some things together to take to Goodwill, to get donations in before the end of the year. I’m not sure if we will go bowling or not, today. Mostly, we want to get rested for the week.

At this point, we don’t have any plans for New Year’s Eve. We both have to work that day, so we’ll be a little tired. We’ll probably stay up, but I don’t imagine we will go anywhere.

(Source: This Day In History

It was on this date in 1869 that the “Knights of Labor,” a tailors’ union in Philadelphia, held the first Labor Day ceremonies in American history. It wasn’t until 1884 that the American Federation of Labor organized an annual observance, setting aside the first Monday in September as a holiday for laborers. Oregon would be the first state to designate the day as a holiday, in 1887, and in 1894, Congress made it an official legal holiday “for all federal employees and the residents of the District of Columbia.”

Today’s birthdays include Denzel Washington, Stan Lee, John Legend, Maggie Smith, David Archuleta, Sienna Miller, Woodrow Wilson, Martin Milner, Noomi Rapace, Mortimer Adler, Pops Staples, Johnny Otis, Edgar Winter (Beaumont, TX), Alex Chilton, Twila Paris (Fort Worth, TX), and Elaine Hendrix.

Edgar Winter is an American musician, most known for his work with The Edgar Winter Group. He is the younger brother of blues guitarist/singer, Johnny Winter, who passed away earlier this year, at the age of 70. Edgar was born on this date in 1946, making him 68 today. Both Edgar and Johnny were albino. His most popular single, released in 1973, was the instrumental, “Frankenstein.” That same year, he had a lesser hit with “Free Ride.” Here is a clip of the album version of “Free Ride.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
Psalm 66:16
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Psalm 17:6
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Psalm 118:14
Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side!— as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!

Psalm 31:11-16
The Gloria
Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, so it is now and so it shall ever be,
world without end. Alleluia. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to
be born of a pure virgin: Grant that I, who have been born again and made your child
by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through my Lord Jesus
Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”‘ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Matthew 22:1-14

The first part of this parable is very similar to the parable of the vineyard and tenants. God has invited the Jews to the wedding feast, but they are refusing to attend. Not only are they refusing to attend, they have also violently reacted to the messengers that God has sent their way. The King in the parable, representing God, has now sent his servants out to the rest of the world, inviting them to the wedding feast.

Verse 11 is where it gets tricky. The king comes in to view the guests, and a man is there with no wedding garments. The man is bound and cast out “into the outer darkness,” where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then comes that chilling statement, “For many are called but few are frozen.”

This is a difficult passage for many people, and even the commentary in The Reformation Study Bible is open to interpretation. I do agree with the RSB, but not all will. Everyone who hears the gospel is invited, but that does not guarantee inclusion. No one will enter the Kingdom of heaven without being clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In spite of what many well-meaning people will tell you, there are NOT “many roads to God.” The only way to the Kingdom is through the righteousness of Christ, which is a gift to those who have been chosen. There is also a clear reference to the fact that there is no middle ground between heaven and hell. All who attempt to enter the Kingdom without being clothed in the righteousness of Christ will be cast into “outer darkness.” Hell is real. Jesus speaks frequently about it, and quite clearly.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Intimacy with His Father.”

“A central theme in the personal life of Jesus Christ, which lies at the very heart of the revelation that he is, is his growing intimacy with, trust in, and love of his Abba.”

Jesus, being raised in Nazareth by Mary and Joseph, was surely brought up in the strict teachings of the monotheistic traditions of their community. There should be no doubt that he prayed the Shema three times a day. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (see Deuteronomy 6:4). “Jesus was surrounded with the Absolute, dominated by the One, the Eternal, the ‘I Am Who I Am.'”

During his time on earth, “Jesus experienced God in a way that no prophet of Israel had ever dreamed or dared.” He was inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and he “gave a name for god that would scandalize both the theology and public opinion of Israel. The name that escaped the mouth of the Nazarene Carpenter: Abba.”

Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.

Philippians 2:9

Father, may I know you even a fraction as intimately as Jesus knew you during his time on earth. May I know you as Abba, the way Jesus knew you. As 2015 approaches, may I continue to seek intimacy with you through Jesus. Give me the ability to be deliberate as I go through the year. I have found that I frequently forget to do this. This is compounded by the thing that I asked for prayer for in yesterday’s prayer gathering, the fact that I allow circumstances and people to control my emotions and state of mind so much.

I pray for this day. Give Christi strength as she heads out to do the grocery shopping for us and for her mom and step-dad. May she find your grace as she spends the time by herself. I pray that you would draw her spirit closer to yours during this time, and that your grace would rain down on her. As we spend the afternoon relaxing, prepare us for the work week ahead, that we might work from our rest.

I pray for the family of Tammy, Stephanie’s friend across the street, as she has apparently lost her father this past week. May you bring comfort to them, Lord.

What would our lives be like if we could experience God the same way Jesus did while on earth? May we know his Abba as our Abba!

Grace and peace, friends.

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