Living Relationship

經文:Hebrews 2:10-18


(In Chinese, translated by Ken Sun)

Merry Christmas!

Welcome to church this morning, after a weekend of festivities. I don’t know what you have been reflecting upon this advent season as it has lead up to Christmas, but I have been doing some devotionals this season and reflecting about what my faith means to me. You might think that a Christmas season sermon is easy, but it’s actually difficult for me to talk about Christmas. I mean, Christmas is really kind of self-explanatory. We all know what Christmas is about.

Christmas is the day that Christ was born. Christ was born to save us from ourselves, from our sins, to teach us how to live according to how God wants us to live and show us who we could be and who God wants us to be. Christ showed us how miracles and healing can happen, how humility works, etc. etc. So every year, we contemplate what Christmas means and how we’re supposed to go out and do something to give back.

This is the time that we volunteer our time at soup kitchens, and give donations, for example. It is this time of year where we really think about what it means for Jesus to live among us, to be born. That’s really HUGE. Throughout the New Testament, this phenomenon is discussed over and over again, about what this means to humanity, and what this means to us, God’s children. As God’s children, we are certainly not godly. We are not perfect, nor are we always good. In fact, we are as far away from Jesus as we could possibly be. I mean, talk about sibling rivalry. If you have siblings, you know you are always being compared to someone else.

And yet, Jesus is not ashamed of us. In fact, Jesus will PRAISE us. Praise happens when we do something good! What can it possibly be that we could be deserving of praise? I don’t know about you, but I am always trying to be better, to do better. There are always things about me that I can improve on. One of these things that I’ve been working on is fostering a relationship with God, which has been on my mind over the Advent season. You know, it’s kind of a shortcut sometimes, being a pastor and being in school. I have a confession to make to you. It always felt like spiritual life is easy because I was always so immersed in it. I think that it was always very easy to take my faith for granted because it was always something that was a part of my world because no matter what happened, I was thinking about how God was in my life every day. I did not actually have to DO anything in order to feel connected to God or to depend on God.

I could not get through the day without calling out to God for help. Yet in this semester, I did not have that privilege. This semester I took two classes, one was about spiritual assessment and diagnosis and the second was a class on diversity. I also audited a class on organizational culture. Though I had started out doing spiritual reflections on my own with my coursework, by November, I was doing no theological reflection and no connection between what I was learning and my faith. And, it’s a weird feeling to me. My faith had always come so easily, but now it seemed like I had to work at it. So, in this Advent season, I wanted to make sure that I spend the time to prepare my heart and my spirit for the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ because I was feeling like not doing regular reflection with God was creating a distance from God.

A relationship with God is the same as any human relationship—it has to be fostered. I mean, for as long as we’ve known God, God has been faithful. It is we who have left God aside. It is we who have abandoned God for the sake of other things. So even though we know that God is always faithful, it is not enough. We must find ways to live our daily lives with God as a part of it. When I was little and growing up, my parents used to have my brother and I call my grandparents in Taiwan every week, like clockwork. It was a part of our routine. Most of our conversations went this way: Riiiiiiing—


A-gon (or Ama)

Hi. How are you?

Good, good. How are you?

Good. Is it snowing?

No, not right now, but the forecast says it will later.

Ok. Is it cold?

It’s kind of cold.

Okay, well you take care.

Okay, we will.

Take care.

You too.

It was always the same and we’d talk for about 2 minutes, not long. But, I know that it made a difference. My grandparents have certainly been important in my formation as a pastor and as a person even though they have not always been an active part of my life and they have never held me to any standards. Instead, they have simply supported me. Just like my grandparents, I don’t think God requires a lot from us—to do our very best and to always strive to be better, to live in an honest and authentic way that honors God and ourselves. To live our lives courageously, being able to see ourselves as God sees us: created in God’s image, but imperfect and to be able to commit to evolving so that we become better—to be who God wants us to be, knowing that God’s love knows no boundaries.

What is best about this is that we all know we can be better because we have God’s support, help, and guidance to be better; to be more loving, to be more patient, to be more serene, or whatever it is our faults are—if we would only ask for it. For me, it is certainly all of the above. And this is the time I am personally reminded of how much faith God has in me to be better. To be the woman He wants me to be. Christ is the ultimate testament to God’s love for us. There is absolutely nothing we can do to turn God away from us. God will never stop loving us, stop forgiving us, or calling us to be better. God has sacrificed Himself because of His love for us. This has happened and will never be taken away. So, for me, I started to do daily devotionals and made it a habit to invite God into my life: what does it mean for me to live my life with the presence of God? How can I be more aware of God’s presence?

This world is not a perfect world. We know that there is a lot of suffering and pain, even with the celebration of Christ’s birth, but today, we remember that God is always with us, not just in empty words and promises, but because God actually took on our suffering as a human being. We are all so similar but all so different. Even if we may go through similar experiences, we experience them completely differently. This is why we often feel alone. But instead of allowing us to feel alone, God wants us to know that He understands. God has been there and has suffered with us. In turn, we are strengthened by His presence. In this Christmas time, may we remember what God has done for us in His great love and what He is calling us to do in exchange. Merry Christmas, for our Saviour is born! May you remember on this weekend that you are a child of God. Whether or not you feel connected with God, we should always build on our relationship with God because God never gives up on us. And we remember every Christmas, that God has loved us so much that we will never be forsaken.

I encourage you to take some time this week think about the faith God has in us to receive this great gift of Life. Think about what more God may be calling you to do, about who God may want you to be, and how God may trust you to do His work. May you always feel the presence of God with you, this day and every day forward to make a difference in this world as Christ did, so many years ago.