Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Advent: Immanuel

"But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,
because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, 
because he will save his people from their sins.'
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  
'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel'--which means, 'God with us.'"
Matthew 1:20-23

For the last day of advent, I chose my favorite title for Jesus: Immanuel, God with us. The Isaiah passage I have written about on previous days is quite broad in its scope as the context of the passage is Messiah coming in triumph and restoring his people. But this term, Immanuel, is so beautifully intimate. God in a man, coming down to be with us physically. Such a thing is almost too breathtaking to attempt any meaningful statement. This truth gives me hope and joy and excitement and comfort and strength. Jesus walked among us, God here, a human, sharing our strengths and burdens. He made plain the love and justice and grace and mercy of our God. He submitted himself to the worst of deaths to tackle our root problem: sin. He triumphed and brought us hope that we can be more than the sinful leanings of our heart, that we can be redeemed and brought back to God. How can I adequately express what this means to me? How deep my heart beats with these truths?

And then to make his coming more profound--he is Immanuel even now. He said he is with us always. We are not orphans. He speaks to us through the Spirit. He walks with us step by step. We are guided by what he has said and done in his Word. Every day of my life he is available to me. He is here right now, right beside me. What hope and joy in this!

Remember today that your Immanuel is with you. He came and walked physically among us and he walks still in our lives. He is available to all who call on him, who submit to his heart and his will. Praise the Lord, Our Savior, for the child born who is God with Us!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Advent: Prince of Peace

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6
The last title applied to the child born for us in Isaiah 9 is usually translated "Prince of Peace." This title is the most interesting to me because it has the most depth. To say "Prince of Peace" is so simple in English; the Hebrew meaning is far richer. The Hebrew term translated as "prince" in English is actually much broader, meaning someone who rules or is in charge of something. It is not limited to royalty. The term for "peace" is one most people know: shalom. Shalom, though it contains the idea of peace, means far more. It includes the ideas of prosperity, harmony, well-being, security, completeness. Thus a better translation might be "ruler in charge of shalom."

How does this deeper meaning affect my view of Christ? When I've heard the phrase "Prince of Peace" before, I've thought more along the lines of Christ being passive--that he is peace because one of his attributes is peace. And that is true to an extent. But the idea of him being in charge of peace makes him an active participant in peace. He is not just peace in himself; he controls peace and makes peace happen. He is the ruler over my prosperity, harmony, well-being, security and completeness. I look to him as the source of shalom. This phrase fixes my eyes on the one who holds shalom in his grasp and is able to work it in my life. It reminds me that I am dependent on my Savior.

This Christmas, remember to look to your "Prince of Peace." Pray to him and thank him and petition him, for he is both the embodiment and the manager of peace in your life. Without the child born to us, peace is but a fleeting vision and temporary illusion. With him, peace has come to reign in our world and our hearts.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Advent: Everlasting Father

"For to us a child is born, 
to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, 
Mighty God, Everlasting Father..."
Isaiah 9:6

The child born for us, the wonderful counselor and mighty God, is also everlasting father. Everlasting is eternal, continuous, for all time and before. He has always existed and will continue to exist. I am also reminded of Hebrews 13:8: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." What assurance there is in the reminder that our savior is forever utterly trustworthy and reliable.

"Everlasting" describes the next term: Father. Such a beautiful word to apply to Jesus. God is described as father all throughout the Old and New Testaments. God as father guides and protects and loves. He is faithful to his children. Thus the phrase "Everlasting Father" holds a double sense of loyalty. The everlasting son is always existent, completely reliable, a faithful father. The Everlasting Father is complete assurance of never being abandoned.

Whatever you are facing, whatever this season holds, you are not set adrift. The child born for you is always present. He will not leave you or forsake you. He cares for you as a loving father, protecting and guiding. Remember no matter what that you will always matter to him and he will always care for you.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Advent: Mighty God

"For to us a child is born, 
to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, 
Mighty God..."
Isaiah 9:6
Mighty God. The term used for God here is el. El is a general term for God and is derived from a root that means "strength." The second name in Isaiah 9:6 then is one of power--the mighty strong one, the strong God. Mighty can also refer to a warrior. The son born will be a warrior, God in strength and power. The context of Isaiah 9 reveals the reason for this warrior, that he will "break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor" (Isaiah 9:4). This reminds me of when Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah, proclaiming of himself, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor" (Luke 4:18-19).

This miraculous child, the one sent to guide us, is also our warrior and our God. He has come to remove our burdens and defeat the rod of our oppressor. There is already a fulfillment in Isaiah in that God planned to rescue Israel physically, but Jesus himself proclaimed Isaiah fulfilled in some way during his first time on earth. Jesus declared he had been sent to set the oppressed free. What did he free us from when he first came? He did battle with sin and won: "So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:21-25).
At this time of year, let us remember that this son born for us came not only to guide us, but to break the slavery of sin in our lives. He is a warrior, come to do battle for his bride and claim her as his own. He has broken the rod of our oppressor and we are free. Such a profound truth, a humble babe in a manger born our warrior, God coming in might, the only one who could defeat the darkness of sin entangling our lives. Praise be to our Mighty God!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Advent: Wonderful Counselor

"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor..."
Isaiah 9:6
Are you overwhelmed this season? Are you caught in the busyness of life, the holidays seemingly rushing by? I don't know about you, but at this time of year I always feel my schedule is packed and I am hard-pressed to catch my breath. Perhaps our expectations cause us to rush this time of year or maybe even good intentions of friends and family as we find ourselves invited to multiple events. How many of us think at the end of the season, "Did I even remember why we do all this?"

This month I am going to be posting five advent meditations, thoughts on the child born to us, who he for us even now. It's a way for me to focus on him in the midst of the crazy, to take a step back and gaze  squarely at the one this time is all about. I pray that as I focus myself, these posts may also help others pause to regain perspective.

Today I look to my wonderful counselor. Wonderful. The Hebrew word means something extraordinary, something miraculous, something hard to comprehend. It describes a work of God that causes us to stand in awe. In Jesus, God inserted himself into our world as a human--a miracle to be sure, something beyond expectations and yes, hard to understand. God in a man? And this is not a story or a myth; this is God truly being born a child, a son with authority. It is hard to wrap our minds around such a profound truth. And then the phrase goes farther...

Maybe we can deal with God become man, born a child. Maybe we have enough faith in miracles of God to go with such a happening. But then...Counselor. One who gives advice and counsel. In wonderful, we see God's hand and action doing something beyond us. Counselor links this wonder to us. This miracle event is meant to touch us intimately. This child born will not remain above us, but will interact with us. He will be our adviser and counselor. He will speak words to guide us and lead us. We will so recognize his authority that he will be the foundation and center of our lives. This child of wonder has profound impact on me personally. Am I listening to him?

In the midst of the season, remember he who is a miracle born to show you the master plan of life. Turn to him, fix your eyes on him, recall especially now that he is your focus and foundation. Enter again into the miracle, setting aside distraction. For you he came, to you he speaks. He is your Wonderful Counselor.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

O Eternal and Most Gracious God...

Prayer Before Meal, 1660
Jan Steen

A Prayer, John Donne

O ETERNAL and most gracious God, who, though thou have reserved thy treasure of perfect joy and perfect glory to be given by thine own hands then, when, by seeing thee as thou art in thyself, and knowing thee as we are known, we shall possess in an instant, and possess for ever, all that can any way conduce to our happiness, yet here also, in this world, givest us such earnests of that full payment, as by the value of the earnest we may give some estimate of the treasure, humbly and thankfully I acknowledge, that thy blessed Spirit instructs me to make a difference of thy blessings in this world, by that difference of the instruments by which it hath pleased thee to derive them unto me.

As we see thee here in a glass, so we receive from thee here by reflection and by instruments. Even casual things come from thee; and that which we call fortune here hath another name above. Nature reaches out her hand and gives us corn, and wine, and oil, and milk; but thou fillest her hand before, and thou openest her hand that she may rain down her showers upon us. Industry reaches out her hand to us and gives us fruits of our labour for ourselves and our posterity; but thy hand guides that hand when it sows and when it waters, and the increase is from thee. Friends reach out their hands and prefer us; but thy hand supports that hand that supports us. Of all these thy instruments have I received thy blessing, O God; but bless thy name most for the greatest; that, as a member of the public, and as a partaker of private favours too, by thy right hand, thy powerful hand set over us, I have had my portion not only in the hearing, but in the preaching of thy Gospel.

Humbly beseeching thee, that as thou continuest thy wonted goodness upon the whole world by the wonted means and instruments, the same sun and moon, the same nature and industry, so to continue the same blessings upon this state and this church by the same hand, so long as that thy Son, when he comes in the clouds, may find him, or his son, or his son’s sons ready to give an account and able to stand in that judgment, for their faithful stewardship and dispensation of thy talents so abundantly committed to them; and be to him, O God, in all distempers of his body, in all anxieties of spirit, in all holy sadnesses of soul, such a physician in thy proportion, who are the greatest in heaven, as he hath been in soul and body to me, in his proportion, who is the greatest upon earth.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Reformation Day!

Sola Scriptura
"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, 
because you know those from whom you learned it 
 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures,
which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 3:14-15

Sola Fide
"For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 
Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too?
Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God,
who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith."
Romans 3:28-30

Sola Gratia
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 
not by works, so that no one can boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9

Solus Christus
"Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6

Soli Deo Gloria
"If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.
If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides,
so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
1 Peter 4:11 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Without a Vision, People Perish?

I am in my Bible reading cycle now at the point where I am reading through the entire Bible again.  My cycle is to read through the entire Bible, then take a break for a year or two and read specific books to study them, then read through the entire Bible again.  When I read through the Bible, I try to find a new way to read through it each time, either by reading a different version or reading a different format.  At this time I am reading through the NET version of the Bible.  The NET pays specific attention to the original languages of the Bible with its copious footnotes explaining why certain terms are translated as they are.  I have been in Proverbs lately and I hit a verse that surprised me--and made me realize how it is has been misused in Christian culture.

The verse is Proverbs 29:18.  The version I am used to hearing is the KJV: "Where there is no vision, the people perish."  I've heard this used often to support the idea that people need to have goals and objectives.  You usually hear it at church planning meetings or ministry meetings: "If we don't have goals, we won't make it."  Now, I am all for goals.  But that is actually not what this verse is about.  Actually, even in the way it's quoted above, there is an immediate problem: it's only half the verse and it's the only half I ever hear in the goal context.  In the KJV, the rest of the verse says: "but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."  Hum...This is a contrast with the first part as indicated by the "but."  How does people not having goals contrast to keeping the law?  Are people without goals inherently against God's law?

The answer was revealed to me in the NET translation.  A clearer translation of this verse is "When there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but the one who keeps the law, blessed is he!"  The footnote in the NET points out that the Hebrew term here for "vision" refers to "divine communication to prophets."  This is not about a group communicating their vision for a church or ministry.  It is about God communicating His word to His prophets.  Thus, the people in the first part are without God's direction and "cast off restraint."  The Hebrew says the people are "let loose" or "let alone," the idea being that they "run wild."  Now we see how the first part of the verse does indeed contrast easily with the second part.  People without God's direction run wild, but the one who follows the law is blessed.  The person in the second part is not running wild or let loose, but is under God's guidance.

Instead of telling churches and ministries to impart their vision, this verse is making the point that those without God's communication will throw off restraint.  It's a warning even to us today that without God's word, people will run around doing whatever they want bringing chaos to society.  Unfortunately, much of our society today is a perfect example of this proverb.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He's Alive and I'm Forgiven!

Each Easter it's our tradition to listen to Don Francisco's song "He's Alive" on the way to church.  It's from the perspective of Peter and captures the point of Jesus' resurrection--forgiveness.  Here's a link to listen to this song.  It always makes me all the more joyful on Easter Sunday.

And a comic by Johnny Hart--click on the comic to view it larger.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Oh My Black Soul!

Oh My Black Soul! Now Art Thou Summoned
by John Donne

Oh my black soul! now art thou summoned
By sickness, death's herald, and champion;
Thou art like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done
Treason, and durst not turn to whence he is fled;
Or like a thief, which till death's doom be read,
Wisheth himself delivered from prison,
But damned and haled to execution,
Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned.
Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack;
But who shall give thee that grace to begin?
Oh make thy self with holy mourning black,
And red with blushing, as thou art with sin;
Or wash thee in Christ's blood, which hath this might
That being red, it dyes red souls to white.

B.C. by Johnny Hart


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

People Are Multidimensional

A few weeks ago, I saw this video about a math teacher whose students consider him a bit strict and maybe crotchety.  This was before they discovered something else about him.  Go watch the video now if you don't want a spoiler :-)  When one of the teacher's students went to a meeting about a blood drive at the local children's hospital, he discovered everyone knew who his teacher was and loved him.  Why?  Not only is he the top blood donor at the hospital, but he also spends a good deal of his time comforting sick babies, walking with them, feeding them and rocking them.  When I shared this on Facebook, I mentioned how students often see their teachers as two-dimensional, thinking we are only what they see when we are at school.  But there is so much more to a teacher's life than school.

Really, there is so much more to everyone's life than the static glimpse we usually get.  Yet people continually judge other people because they only see one facet of someone's life. This is especially true of any famous figure.  We only see an actor on the screen or in select interviews and assume we know him.  We only see the politician on the screen or in the news and assume we know him.  We only see the sports person on the screen or in the news and think we know him.  Thus this judging does extend to our everyday life as well.  We only see that driver when he cuts us off, that mother in the grocery store with the crying child, that drunk on the street begging for money.  And we assume we have everyone's number--but we don't.

I have always been struck by how Jesus took time with people.  He already knew what was in every man and woman, yet we still see him doing things like engaging in conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, spending time in Zacchaeus' home, having dinner with Matthew the tax collector.  Jesus was about people.  He knew that the people he saw were "distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36).

So we aren't Jesus.  We can't read a human heart.  How then can we get to know the heart?  We must spend time with the person.  We have to stop assuming we know someone from one encounter or from afar.  You will only know someone if you are willing to hear their stories, listen to their fears and put yourself in their shoes.  People aren't two dimensional static pictures.  People are multidimensional and complex with experiences and moving lives.  And if anyone should take the time to get to know them, it's Christians.  We should reflect our own Savior's love for people.  He didn't walk this earth seeing people once and brushing them off with a negative thought.  He looked and listened and helped and loved.  And we should do the same.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Christians Aren't Perfect

A while back I was listening to a sermon on the radio and the preacher said that the church is filled with broken people.  In fact, he said the church is for broken people.  The church is for those of us who realize that we are sinful at heart and broken and we can't fix ourselves and we need someone to do it for us.  Enter Jesus.  I suspect if you love Jesus a good deal of that love comes from the fact that you know how broken you are and that you don't have hope without him.  I feel a lot like Paul does in Romans 7:18-19: "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing."  And I am just as relieved as Paul when he cries out: "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25).

So if the church is for broken people and thus filled with broken people, what should we expect to find when we step inside one?  Selfishness, pride, anger, legalism, greed, gossip, and so on.  Let's face it.  We don't become perfect once we're saved.  When we're saved, what we get is grace.  All that sinful stuff that defines us is washed clean because our God loves us enough to die and be raised for us.  That's what happens.  But we still struggle with that sinful human nature that doesn't want to rest under God's grace.  It rears its ugly head and gratefully we have the Holy Spirit as our aid, giving us a sword to fight the sinful nature.  But you know what?  Sometimes we will fail.  "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).

Of course, we don't want to sin.  Those who love Christ want to live as he did, or at least they should.  John notes that he writes so followers of Christ won't sin--"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2).  John notes that those who love Jesus will do what he commands.  We should want to obey and live godly lives.  But thank goodness John says that if we do sin, we still have an advocate who died for our sin.

I don't know about you, but I still struggle against my sin.  I have to turn to Jesus daily.  I have to ask people for forgiveness often.  And I have to remind myself that it is only by the grace of God that I can even take a step without continual self-condemnation.  And this is the situation of most Christians I know.

So this is what I want people to remember: that Christians are not perfect; their Christ is.  Christians want to be like him and the Holy Spirit is guiding them, but until glorification, we won't be entirely there.  And that's why you aren't going to find perfection in the church.  It seems the thing of the day for Christians to write blogs condemning the church and Christians for being horrible people that turn everyone away from the church.  I cringe at those blogs.  Because I know you will walk into a church and be met with mean people.  If you think walking into a church takes you out of the world, think again.  You will meet broken people in the church who wrongly treat you like dirt.  You can't expect perfection.

But you will also find people who don't want to be bound by their sin and who will sympathize with you.  You will find those who in their own brokenness don't crush others in their brokenness.  You will find those who extend to you the same grace they have been given.  In the church, you will find both the mean-spirited and the kind.  The argument goes that the world sees Christians in a bad light.  Of course they do.  The pastor who gets down on his hands and knees to serve the wounded in his community rarely gets the spotlight.  The pastor who has an adulterous affair is prime news fodder.  The church that supports and runs a pregnancy center isn't going to be hailed.  The church that throws mud at girls going to abortion clinics will be on the six o'clock news.  The world gets a heavy dose of the mean and not the kind.

So, yes, of course, we should seek to be kind, welcoming people in the church.  I wish every Christian I knew was kind and gracious 100% of the time.  But I also know that we live with sin and we are broken and sometimes, we aren't going to shine.  And rather than write blogs condemning our brothers and sisters for sinning, we should be encouraging each other to yield to the Spirit, take up our sword and fight the darts of our enemy and our sinful nature.  And reminding ourselves that our perfect Christ has given us the power and the love to fight the good fight.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Epiphany: The Word Made Flesh

Epiphany is a Christian holiday usually celebrated on January 6th that is emphasized more in Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches, but I think it has value for all Christians.  The Greek term epiphaneia means "to manifest or reveal."  On Epiphany, Christians remember how Jesus Christ's deity was manifested.  As such, churches may discuss Jesus' baptism, where his deity was declared or miracles that revealed his deity.  Celebrated twelve days after Christmas, some churches commemorate the visit of the Wise Men and recognize Jesus' arrival for all nations.  I always leave Christmas decorations up until Epiphany and try to find ways to celebrate the holiday.  This year I am going to concentrate on the Word made flesh as found in John 1.

I've always loved the beauty of the beginning of John's gospel.  In eloquent words, John speaks of the Word's revelation to man, how the Word became a human being.  The Greek term for word is logosLogos is a fascinating term for John to choose.  Have you ever wondered why John didn't simply say Jesus or Christ?  Why did he say "word"?  I know many Christians that think this refers to the Biblical word become flesh in Jesus or God's promises become flesh and although this is part of the meaning, there is more to it.  In fact, a deeper meaning to the term logos had been around quite a while by John's time.  It was a term used by philosophers which John appropriated for his gospel.

Heraclitus was a Greek philosopher from Ephesus around 500 BC.  He defined logos as the source and order of the universe.  He further described it as "the principle according to which all things change, that which determines the nature of the flux that resides in all human beings" (

Aristotle, the well-known Greek philosopher and student of Plato, called logos argument from reason. In this kind of argument, one seeks to give logical reasons to persuade someone of a fact.

The stoics, advocates of stoicism, a Hellenistic philosophy, said that logos is reason that pervades and animates the universe.To the Stoics,this logos was material and could be identified with God or Nature.They believed each person possessed some part of the logos.

Philo of Alexandria was a Jewish philosopher and a contemporary of John the disciple.Logos for Philo was the creative principle of the universe. He often paralleled the Logos with divine wisdom. The reason he did so was that he relied on the Platonic idea that imperfect matter and perfect idea were distinguished from one another. For this reason, God could not come into contact with any matter. The Logos, then, is the image of God and this is the image that God made in man’s mind. Philo said the Logos was "the archangel with many names, the expiator of sins, and the mediator and advocate for men. He said the Logos is a kind of shadow cast by God, having the outlines but not the blinding light of the Divine Being. The Logos as ‘interpreter’ announces God's designs to man" (Jewish Encyclopedia).

John would have been aware of how the term logos was used in philosophy.  Read now John's profound description of the Logos, how he picked up on the above philosophical meanings and transcended them:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God.All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men...And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-4, 14).

John declares the Logos is indeed the source and order of the universe--all things came into being through him.  He is the one who pervades and animates the universe--everything exists because of him.  Yet he is much more than mind or reason--he is life entire.  He is the light of men, says John.  He exposes the darkness as the divine wisdom that enlightens men.  John departs from Philo, declaring with boldness that the Logos has come into contact with matter--in fact, he has become matter himself, the Word made flesh.  He is not a shadow of God, he is the exact representation of God's nature (Hebrews 1:3).

In appropriating a well-known philosophical term, John tied and modified the philosophical beliefs of his time to Jesus, revealing him as the true Logos.  One need not look further than Jesus Christ to find the true divine being, "the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man" (John 1:9).  Those who come to this light are given the right to become children of God (John 1:12).  This Logos is personal.  He comes to enlighten and save and adopt.

This is what we celebrate at Epiphany--our Savior manifest, the Logos made flesh, the creator of the universe revealed in a man.

Tonight, we will read John 1:1-14, sing the hymn "Christ Is God Incarnated" and then celebrate with treats and special raspberry soup as we remember how we are children of God only because the Word became flesh.