Steve Macchia Blog

A New Year’s Prayer

 

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A New Year’s Prayer

By Stephen A. Macchia

Throughout the New Year 2018, may the Lord grant you the courage and strength to…

Dream more
Complain less
Listen more
Talk less
Love more
Argue less

Forgive more

Divide less

Hope more

Fear less
Relax more
Worry less

Help more

Harm less

Believe more

Doubt less
Play more
Work less
Focus more
Distract less
Pray more
Fret less
Sing more
Shout less
Be more
Strive less
Give more
Take less
Live more
Stress less
Rest more
Hurry less
Read more
Noise less
Trust more
Control less

And, may the Lord bless and protect you,

may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you;

may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace,

and may you open-heartedly receive and open-handedly offer to all who cross your path the loving gift of friendship and grace,

granted generously to you from the Triune God, the Almighty Father, the Beloved Son Jesus, and the Empowering Holy Spirit,

throughout each day of 2018 and forevermore. Amen.

 



Happy Christmas To All!

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Happy Christmas to all!

Christmas day is traditionally known as the beginning of “the twelve days of Christmas” concluding on January 6, which is called Epiphany. During the 12 days of Christmas, we join the chorus of Christ followers in commemoration of those who so faithfully loved Jesus the Messiah.

On December 26 we remember Saint Stephen, who was one of the early Church’s first deacons and a forerunner of expressing the love of Christ through generosity to the poor. On this day we give leftovers to the poor, as described in the popular Christmas carol, “Good King Wenceslas.” Stephen was also the first martyr, giving witness to the love of Christ by the sacrifice of his own life.

On December 27 we remember St. John the Evangelist, the one who gave witness to the Incarnation through his profound gospel message, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). On the 28th of December we recall the children who were murdered spitefully by Herod in the feast of the Holy Innocents, dying so unjustly and at such an early age.  In their suffering we are awakened to the myriad ways human suffering has occurred in our broken world and throughout history. In their suffering we renew our hope in the coming of Christ to relieve suffering and grant mercy to those in need.

Finally, on January 6 the season of Christmas comes to an end…with the oft-forgotten festival of Epiphany. On this day we primarily commemorate the visit of the Magi with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; we also celebrate the baptism of Jesus; and, we remember his first miracle of turning water into wine. The season of Advent has ushered in the celebrations of Christmastide, which comes to a glorious conclusion at Epiphany.

From there we turn our attention to the life and teachings of Jesus. We recommit ourselves once more to faithful living and loving and learning. We acknowledge the Incarnation of Jesus, we celebrate his coming into this world and into our hearts, and we lean fully into what it means to live fully committed to his teachings as ones who are lovingly redeemed and continuously transformed.

In Jesus the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…we behold his glory and we proclaim it to a lost and needy world. Thanks be to God!

Happy Christmastide to you and yours – may you…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!



25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #25

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

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Promise #25 – the Messiah has come to us as Jesus, the Name Above All Names (Luke 2: 1-20).  The birth narrative is a miraculous glimpse into the coming of Messiah Jesus into this world. Born in a humble manger, with Mary and Joseph by his side, he brings with him good news of great joy for all the people. Today is the day the Messiah comes as a baby, and is  surrounded by a great company of the heavenly host. The angels song is very simply, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” The shepherd’s song is also filled with glory and praise. But Mary treasures the moment, pondering this new reality in her heart. On this Christmas Day, how are you cherishing the miraculous gift of the Incarnate Christ-child, our loving Messiah Jesus?

Merry Christmas, and may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!

 



25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #24

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

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Promise #24 – the Messiah’s coming will be reason to praise, for salvation has arrived (Luke 1: 68-79).  Zechariah’s song reveals the heart of a godly father toward his loved ones. He praises the heavenly Father for unleashing his presence, power and peace over all who serve him. He praises the God of Israel for his work of redemption, salvation, holiness and righteousness. He recalls the promise of God to rescue his people from the hand of their enemies. And, he recounts the ways his son John would prepare for Messiah Jesus to forgive sins and guide the feet of his beloved into the pathway of peace. It’s a remarkable song of praise. As your heart swells with Christmas joy, for what intangible gifts are you most grateful today?

Throughout this holy season, may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!

 

 



25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #23

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

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Promise #23 – the Messiah’s coming will be hopeful, prayerful and expectant (Luke 1: 46-55). Mary’s song of praise is a prayerful response to the Lord’s favor upon her life. Her willingness to serve God in the fulfillment of this miraculous promise is indicative of her heart. She is hopeful and expectant and she glorifies the Lord with mindfulness of his abundant blessing. She shouts for joy in the mercy extended to her as he so faithfully has done for generations. She acknowledges the many ways God has remembered his promises and has lifted the humble, filled the hungry, and blessed the ones who extol his praise. As Christmas Day approaches, how are you rejoicing in God, the generously merciful lover of your soul?

Throughout this holy season, may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!

 



25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #22

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

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Promise #22 – the Messiah will be called Emmanuel, God with us (various texts). The promise of the Messiah spans the Old Testament and the fulfillment is laced throughout the Gospels and the New Testament. The focus of the promise is Emmanuel, God is with us…he always has been, is today, and will be forever with us. Not only that, he’s for us. He has our very best interests always in his heart and mind. As we wait, watch and wonder this Advent season, our embrace of the Incarnate Christ child becomes more resolute. On this 22nd day of December, recall the many ways God has been preparing all generations for the coming of Messiah.

O come, O come, Emmanuel (Isa. 7:14)!

Rod of Jesse (Isa. 11:1), free us from Satan’s tyranny victoriously;

Dayspring (Isa. 9:2), disperse gloomy clouds with cheers on high;

Key of David (Isa. 22:22), open wide the path to our heavenly home;

Lord of Might (Isa. 33:22), hold firmly the Law in majesty and awe;

Wisdom from on high (Isa. 11:2,3), invite order on the way to knowledge;

Desire of nations (Haggai 2:7), bind all people in one heart and mind.

Our hymn of praise exalts the heavens and blankets the earth.

O come, O come, Emmanuel…your prophets foretold the truth.

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace;

Emmanuel has come, is with us now, and will come again once more!

Throughout this holy season, may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!

 



25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #21

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

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Promise #21 – the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2: 1-6). Bethlehem, the least of the clans of Judah, would become the birthplace of the Messiah Jesus. He would come to earth and declare the significance of the least, the lost, the lonely, the forgotten, the abandoned, and the ridiculed. It’s no surprise that God would choose such a humble setting for the Savior and Redeemer to be delivered to this world. We often overlook the “least of these” whether in one’s family lineage, home town, ethnicity, socio-economic background, or in any number of specific heritage markers. God chose the least of the least and he did so on purpose and in fulfillment of his promise. How will you choose to come alongside the “least of these” in your sphere of influence today?

Throughout this holy season, may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!



25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #20

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

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Promise #20 – the Messiah will be called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2: 13-15). Joseph was the human father God ordained to care for the baby Jesus and his mother Mary. Told by an angel in a dream to take his young family to Egypt for their protection, Joseph obeyed the Lord. When it was safe for their return, and on the heels of Herod’s death, Joseph brought his little family back to Israel to live in Nazareth. Dreams. Angels. Prayers in the night. All these means were used of God to inform his beloved Joseph in the care of the Messiah Jesus. The pathway from Bethlehem to Egypt to Nazareth was the trail of blessing orchestrated by God. Who has God given to accompany you in walking a life of faithfulness, grace, and love? How has God revealed his protection and grace?

Throughout this holy season, may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!

 



25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #19

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

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Promise #19 – the Messiah will be born among sorrow and the object of a murderous plot (Jeremiah 31:15 and Matthew 2: 16-18). When the Magi outwitted Herod’s wish to know the location of the baby Jesus, all the boys in Bethlehem under the age of two were ordered to be killed. Because of the Lord’s protection, Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled for Egypt to escape the wrath of small-minded, jealous-hearted Herod. Jeremiah’s words came true and weeping and mourning ensued. How sad to realize such unfortunate evil would surround the joyous birth of the Messiah. Our world is ravaged by suffering, violence, and injustice…how will you lovingly respond today?

Throughout this holy season, may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!

 

 



25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #18

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

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Promise #18 – the Messiah will do life-affirming, redemptive deeds (Isaiah 61: 1-3 and Luke 4: 17-21).  Offer good news to the poor. Bind up the brokenhearted. Proclaim freedom for all captives. Release prisoners from their darkness. Comfort all who mourn. Provide for those who grieve. Bestow a crown of beauty, oil of joy, and a garment of praise. Call them oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. These are the deeds of the Messiah Jesus. For them. For us. For you and me. What actions has the Lord bequeathed to you of late and which redemptive service are you being called to render to another today?

Throughout this Advent and Christmas season, may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!