When They Prayed
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   I chose the theme of our 2023 Annual Conference session, “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they ...
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Wrapped in such an ordinary package

December 15, 2019

Because God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit always have had complete reign above the earth in a land called heaven, then it is reasonable to assume that the kingdom of heaven was and is where the Trinity lived and reigned. Wherever the Triune God was, then that’s where the Kingdom of heaven was and is. That lasted all throughout time from Genesis through Malachi, and then through 400 years of silence before the New Testament.

In that land called heaven, the Son, Jesus, stood up one day, gave the Father and the Spirit a temporary hug goodbye, opened His hand to receive the tiny seed His Father placed in it, and made a bold, gigantic decision, all in obedience to the Father. The Son stepped off of the glittering soft streets, outside of the abundance of rainbow colors that dripped wonderful smells of beauty, became small inside the womb of a young woman, and moved into the sin, dirt, and humanity of earth. Upon first opening his eyes, he saw darkness. He took his first breath and smelled stench. He opened his ears and heard animals oinking and braying and screeching. This was His temporary new home. He already knew the length would be 33 years.

And so, on an ordinary night in an ordinary town in an ordinary and rough cave used for a stable, surrounded by ordinary animals and two very ordinary parents, God became man and this world of ours would never be the same again.

Before the shepherds were given this celestial message by the angels, they stood on a hillside, dressed in quite ordinary clothes and would now be sent to find a baby that was anything but ordinary. These shepherds reeked with strong, offensive odors, carrying always on their person the smells of their job. When Jesus began His public ministry, He selected as His disciples several who carried on their person the smells of raw fish. It’s a trademark of God, accepting those others feel are unacceptable. He does the same for us. Aren’t we glad you and I don’t have to clean up before He invites us into kingdom?

Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we least expect Him, and always in the most illogical situations. On this very ordinary day in this ordinary world, God has a message for ordinary people like you and like me. His message is, “I love you. No matter what your sins or transgressions in 2019 or before, I love you and I forgive you. I reach out especially to the poor, the hurting, the lonely, the unsuccessful, and I say, ‘Come unto me all ye who are burdened and heavy laden. I have come to bring you peace.’”

Today, because of God’s extraordinary reach to ordinary people, you and I are caught up in the wonder of seeing royalty wrapped in ordinary humanity, lying in a manger and saying to you tonight, “I came for the ordinary. I died for the ordinary. Never let anyone make you feel that you are not worthy of my love.”

Thanks be to God. Because of Jesus, ordinary people like us will forever be wrapped in royalty.

The Rev. B.J. Funk is associate pastor of Central UMC in Fitzgerald. Email Rev. Funk at bjfunk@bellsouth.net.

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