Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 31st - Reflection

John 8:12-19 (NRSV)
I am the light

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." Then the Pharisees said to him, "You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid." Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf." Then they said to him, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also."

So, here it is, the end of 2009. Another year of reflection. Another year to read the Word. Earlier in the year I was reflecting on the passages of the "One Year Bible" program. I recall reading that Luther would read through the Bible twice in one year. He would "shake the leaves" of the passages to listen to God's Word. For me, it's not so much a goal now of reading through the Bible, but more a discipline of listening. Listening to God, active day after day, in life and in the daily movement of faith.

Movement towards that great Light. But not so much my movement towards the Light, but the Light's movement towards me. A movement of wisdom and understanding and growth in faith, freely given through the pages of the Word, in the mouth's of so many people, and by the examples set right in front of my face, day after day. Light revealed daily, and glimpses and gifts of faith growing. Growing right inside of me. Light revealed in the sacraments so graciously given. Light revealed!

So, here it is, the end of 2009, yet really just a continuation of Light shining in this world. Light showing the way. Light revealing the Son, the Father and the Spirit. Light coming to my door day after day and inviting me out into the Kingdom. Light to invade me and shine in me and through me. Light to shine brightly in this world. Reveal the Light as the Light reveals Himself, today, tomorrow and forever. Thanks be to God!

Lord, the blessings You pour out are wonderful! I give You all thanks and praise. Walk with me this day and reveal Light. Reveal Your Light to me, in me, and through me this day. ---Amen

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December 30th - Reflection

Mark 13:32-37 (NRSV)
Keep awake

"But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake - for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake."

Keep awake, you can't tell when he will be coming. One thing for sure is that he IS coming. One thing for a a homeless the voice of many ways, he IS coming. He IS coming, he HAS already arrived, and he WILL come again. So beware, keep alert, pay attention!

Lord, You certainly have come to me. You came as a child, and you came as a Savior, and you came to me. I am certain of Your coming again in glory to fulfill Your plan and mission. Come, Lord Jesus, come! ---Amen

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 29th - Reflection

1 Chronicles 28:1-10 (NRSV)
Solomon will build the temple

David assembled at Jerusalem all the officials of Israel, the officials of the tribes, the officers of the divisions that served the king, the commanders of the thousands, the commanders of the hundreds, the stewards of all the property and cattle of the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the mighty warriors, and all the warriors. Then King David rose to his feet and said: "Hear me, my brothers and my people. I had planned to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God; and I made preparations for building. But God said to me, 'You shall not build a house for my name, for you are a warrior and have shed blood.' Yet the Lord God of Israel chose me from all my ancestral house to be king over Israel forever; for he chose Judah as leader, and in the house of Judah my father's house, and among my father's sons he took delight in making me king over all Israel. And of all my sons, for the Lord has given me many, he has chosen my son Solomon to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. He said to me, 'It is your son Solomon who shall build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be a son to me, and I will be a father to him. I will establish his kingdom forever if he continues resolute in keeping my commandments and my ordinances, as he is today.' Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and search out all the commandments of the Lord your God; that you may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you forever.

"And you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with single mind and willing heart; for the Lord searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever. Take heed now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary; be strong, and act."

If you seek him, he will be found by you. But if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever.

Shepherds, wise men and so many hear of the good news of a Savior. They seek him and he is found. If WE seek him, he will be found by us. Seek him...Grow in him...Learn from him...Follow him...Tell of him...Serve him...He will be found. Just turn and there he is.

In the projects we carry out day after day, seek him first. Seek him and he will be found. He will give direction. He will forgive sin. You will still feel the consequences of your will still feel the pain of our nature in will still feel illness...there will be poverty and war. But it you seek him, you will find him. He knows what it's like and will walk through it all with you. And in the end, he will deliver you from this wilderness walk and reveal a grand temple building that was shaping all along. Seek him and find him and find the hope of everlasting life...right in front, behind, above, below and beside and especially within you. Seek him...find him. Thanks be to God!

In the silence of the morning, I pause and seek and find. Walk with me this day. ---Amen

Monday, December 28, 2009

December 28th - Reflection

The Holy Innocents, Martyrs
Matthew 2:13-18 (NRSV)

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet,

"Out of Egypt I have called my son."

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

"A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled,
because they are no more."

Destroy a child? Who or what could think of such a thing? In a fallen people we tend to look only after ourselves. Sin, enters into our hearts, and desire to protect what is perceived as important takes over. So a king in political power begins to fear a baby born that is hailed as a king. But Jesus is a different kind of king. Surely politics will follow, but Jesus comes as the King of all creation. The King that will redirect the fallen and show us the way to love and compassion and understanding and healing. Jesus is a King that will bring truth and grace and open up the Kingdom of God to all who believe in Him and respond to His calling.

We have a King that comes to us, for us, and saves us. This King Jesus doesn't need to be concerned with selfish pride, or earthly riches. This King is humble, born in a manger and riding on a donkey. This King knows His priorities. This King is different! This King opens God's Kingdom to the children, rather than destroying the children, this King gives each child a life and a calling to live and grow and gain a new understanding day after day. This King has come to live and die and to live again in eternity to lead the children in His Kingdom.

Destroy a child? ... Someday! ... But that Child will raise from the dead and live! ... Destroy this Child? ... Impossible. Thanks be to God!

Lord, be with Your children this day. Some will live and some will die. Love them and protect them and grant them the grace of eternal life. Lead all Your children into Your eternal Kingdom, day by day, as we live in this fallen world and see the hope and joy and experience, in whatever measures you grant to us, Your Kingdom, today, tomorrow and forever. ---Amen

Sunday, December 27, 2009

December 27th - Reflection


First Sunday of Christmas
Luke 2:41-52 (NRSV)
Jesus increased in favor with all

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day's journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety." He said to them, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

What's the big deal? Why were you searching? Didn't you know where I would be?

Why have you treated us like this? We search and search and search and can't find you until we return to the temple and there you are! We find you in your Father's house.

Questions from Jesus and questions from Mary and Joseph and question from ourselves...

I wonder if Jesus was thinking...What's the matter with these people? I was sent by my Father into their world. I became flesh for their benefit. I came to them after all! Why would they be searching for me when I've been searching for them all along and have arrived! What more could these people want? Here I am and I'm in my Father's house! Go figure!!! It's not that hard!

I wonder if Mary and Joseph were thinking...That kid! We know he's special but for Pete's sake! Come on, just stay with the crowd! It's not that hard! Now we have to go hunt you down and find you. I wonder if he's lost now? I wonder where he could be? Let's return to Jerusalem and see if we can find him!

And then I think and reflect...I think I can find Jesus with my own efforts. I search and search and search. I read and reason and look and listen. But then Jesus comes to me. I really didn't come to him, he came to me. He comes to the door and asks me out to play. He found me, I didn't find him. Jesus was where he has always been, with his Father. It's not that hard! In fact, it's not hard at all. God took flesh and came down to us, revealed in Jesus and walks through this life with us. We can find him in the temple whenever. Don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? You can find Jesus present right there whenever. It's not that hard! Jesus is with you. You are not your own, like you like to think. You are God's! Jesus is with you and in you. No wonder Jesus was puzzled!

And then Mary treasured all these things in her heart, and Bill, and Joseph and you too! Thanks be to God!

What a treasure! What a gift! Thanks be to God! Thanks! ---Amen

Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26th - Reflection

Stephen, Deacon and Martyr
Acts 6:1-7; 7:51-60 (NRSV)
The stoning of Stephen
Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word." What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. ...

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it."

When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he died.

Stephen full of faith and the Holy Spirit. God had come to Stephen like God comes to us this Christmas. God comes to us and graciously gives us faith. And through our baptism we are granted that most awesome gift of the Holy Spirit. A journey begins in life for each one of us. We are now Children of God! Like Stephen, we are called into to action. We are called to GO!!! We are called to tell our unique story of God active in our lives. We are called to proclaim God's life active in our life. We are called and filled full of faith and the Holy Spirit.

But it won't be a cake walk. Surely we are blessed; but this walk with God will be a battle with the forces that oppose God's will. So, called and full of faith and the Holy Spirit, we must take a stand. Take a stand with the courage that Jesus had on earth and has to this day. Take a stand for and with the weak, sick, homeless, poor and afflicted. Take a stand and willingly go to battle against evil forces that are more powerful than we are. Battle evil forces against which we must depend on the faith and Holy Spirit and the power of Jesus can only overcome. We will lose the battle on our own. But we have faith and the Holy Spirit and Jesus that has overcome these evil forces and we will live in Jesus as He lives in us.

So Stephen takes a stand. Full of faith and the Holy Spirit, Stephen takes a stand and his earthly life if snuffed short. But that's not the end. God has much more in store for Stephen. And God needs you and me to do our part as He needed Stephen to do his. God needs me and I need God. Full of faith and the Holy Spirit, day after day, I continue the call. Proclaim God's activity in my life. Be obedient to the call. Walk side by side and comfort those in need. Live in compassion and love for those God sends into our lives day after day. Battle the effects of evil, and love those who God has given to you. And with courage and strength, love your enemies and do not hold sin against them.

Full of faith and the Holy Spirit! God has richly blessed each one of us. Now let's GO!!! in His strength and love and live the life He has called us to live, today, tomorrow and forever. Thanks be to God!

Lord, fill me with faith and Your Holy Spirit that I may live like Stephen and love like Jesus. I will live obedient to the call. ---Amen

Friday, December 25, 2009

December 25th - Reflection

John 1:1-14 (NRSV)
The Word became flesh
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 without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.

He came into the world. Came into the world in flesh. The Word became flesh and dwells among us and in us. Came into the world humble as could be. Came into the world with a big splash. Came into the world with a big announcement. Came into the world in a huge way. Came into the world to those who the world rejected. Came into the world in such a strange way that the rulers of the kingdoms of this world feared Him. Came into the world but didn't yield the power of kings with swords and death and oppression of the people. Came into the world and served the weak, the sick, the outcast. Came into the world full of grace and truth and lived and suffered and died.

Came into the world, yet rose again. Came into the world and invaded the hearts of all who believe. Came into the world and permitted believers to become children of God. Came into the world and rose to new life so that these very believers and children of God could be born of God.

Came into the world and lives in His children. In the beginning was life and in the end is life through Him. Came into the world that all may have life. Oh how we look forward to Your coming! How gracious You are to let us check it out! How wonderful it is to tell of Your coming...into this world and into our lives!

He came into the world! He came into you and me! He has come! Thanks be to God!

Come into this world, Lord Jesus! Come into my life and heart! Invade me and let me check You out! Come, Lord Jesus, come, into this world and my life, that I may always live for You, today, tomorrow and forever! Come, Lord Jesus, come! ---Amen

Thursday, December 24, 2009

December 24th - Reflection

Luke 2:1-20
1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!" 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

And they were terrified. An announcement that God had taken human flesh and come as human to redeem the world. But an announcement to shepherds?! I would be terrified too! An announcement to Bill? Sinful, silly Bill? Terrified! Why would God choose me to make such an announcement to?

Shepherds working, smelling of sweat, and hard work. Shepherds so dirty to be declared "unclean" in the Old Testament sense of the word. Shepherds working...and then an announcement.

As they gaze at one another after the announcement and the praise of all the heavenly host, their reaction was to GO!!! GO!!! A common movement amongst the people that Jesus would meet throughout his life on earth. Jesus motivates people to GO!!! So the shepherds after receiving an announcement of salvation couldn't help themselves but to GO!!! And they went and they saw and they proclaimed to all that God placed in their lives what they had seen.

All not so much different in how God comes to me or to you. Jesus comes into our lives with an announcement of His presence. We go and check it out. Faith grows and we tell the people in our lives what we have seen. GO!!! Jesus has come to you this day! GO!!! Check it out and find the truth. Then GO!!! and tell those God places in your life, today, tomorrow and forever. Just GO!!! and tell what you have seen.

And Jesus came to my front door, with Moses, Elijah and another, asking, "Can Billy come out to play?" And I GO!!! Check it out, then GO!!! and tell what I have seen. Thanks be to God!

Jesus, what an announcement that has been made! How can I help but to GO!!! and check it out? How can I help but to GO!!! and tell what I have seen, today, tomorrow and forever. Thanks! Now, I gotta GO!!! ---Amen

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 23rd - Reflection

Micah 4:6-8 (NRSV)
Dominion shall return to Zion
In that day, says the Lord,
I will assemble the lame
and gather those who have been driven away,
and those whom I have afflicted.
The lame I will make the remnant,
and those who were cast off, a strong nation;
and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion
now and forevermore.

And you, O tower of the flock,
hill of daughter Zion,
to you it shall come,
the former dominion shall come,
the sovereignty of daughter Jerusalem.

Assemble the lame...Assemble the outcast...Assemble the poor...Assemble the hungry...

God will come to those in need. God calls out to those left behind in society and shows His love to them. God comes down into the midst of these people to save. God comes into the hearts of people to save.

Jesus come to each one of us. Comes to me a sinner and saint. Comes to me when I deserve it the least. God is closer than you think. Turn and see your Savior. Turn and praise His name. Jesus is here in your world this day. Thanks be to God!

Lord, You come into the midst of my messy world and walk me through. Teach me the love You give to me that I may give it away to those You place before me this day. Give it all, ---Amen

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 22nd - Reflection

Micah 4:1-5 (NRSV)
A promise of peace

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord's house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
and many nations shall come and say:
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

For all the peoples walk,
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.

Some day I see a journey that we will all take. All who are Children of God. Multitudes of people from all over. People alive and those who have died, all making this journey together. People drawn by a great light to a holy hill. As we walk together towards that light, coming from all directions, and we approach the light drawing closer and closer to the light and to each other on the journey; we will set aside all of our differences, we will set aside all of our pride, we will set aside all of our earthly possessions, we will set aside all pride and join our hands together in love.

With hands joined in a love that we don't even fully understand, a unifying love beyond human comprehension, we draw closer and closer to the light and that hill. On that hill are three crosses. And at the foot of the cross, hand-in-hand with one another, we will kneel and slowly raise our eyes and witness the source of the Light, the source of the Great Love...and we will see Jesus.

United as One at the foot of those three crosses in the splendor of the Light of Love we will all share in a new communion. A new communion and a new beginning. We will share individually in the Light and Love of Christ and we will share as a melded unit of One in the Light and Love of Christ.

Jesus has come to us, individually and corporately. And we will walk in Christ on a new journey, forever and ever.

Someday, I see a journey we will take, all the Children of God. A journey we will take, all because of a journey God first took, through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, thanks for the journey You have taken. I look forward to our journey this day and that journey together to come. ---Amen

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21st - Reflection

Genesis 25:19-28 (NRSV)
Rebekah bears Jacob and Esau

These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, "If it is to be this way, why do I live?" So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,
"Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger."

When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Conflict even before birth. Born with conflict in the blood. Conflict, even in physical appearance. Conflict fighting to be first or conflict in just hanging on. A world we all seem to be born into. A world of conflict. Conflict even in the love of the parents.

We live our lives through and in the conflict that surrounds us. But just as the lives of Esau and Jacob evolved through conflict and struggle, in the end they came back together as brothers. It was the conflict that they had in common. It was God who stayed in that conflict by their sides.

Just as today, a Savior comes into the midst of my conflict and chaos. God takes on flesh and blood and is present with me. A common thread of presence day by day is Jesus. Even in the midst of my conflict, chaos and sin. Even because of my conflict, chaos and sin. God, doing whatever it takes for me! God doing whatever it takes to reach those in conflict, chaos and sin. Thanks be to God!

Come, Lord Jesus come. Especially into the midst of our conflict, chaos and sin. ---Amen

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20th - Reflection

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Luke 1:39-55 (NRSV)
Blessed are you among women

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."
And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

Jesus came to Elizabeth! Sure He was still in Mary's womb, but Jesus came to Elizabeth. And Jesus comes to each one of us in this same close and personal way. And like Elizabeth, we are filled with the Spirit. What a gift! What an awesome event! And it's not just for those in the place and time of Elizabeth and Mary. It's for you and for me too!

Jesus comes to each one of us. God made flesh! Comes to us and we are filled with the Spirit and we shout! Shout the message of a Savior come into this world, come into our lives, come into us to grant everlasting life! Jesus comes to us and like Elizabeth we respond with a shout and a proclamation to all the world that The Savior has arrived!

Lord, You come and I shout! I shout for joy at Your presence. Thanks be to God! ---Amen

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 19th - Reflection

Luke 13:31-35 (NRSV)
Jesus as mother hen laments over Jerusalem
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.' Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.' "

Jesus desires to protect his children. It's comforting to know that I am his child. I am loved so much that Jesus wants to gather me in and protect me. I can understand his feelings. Likewise, I want to gather my children under my arms and protect them. I want to protect them from all things that may harm them. But at some point, I begin to realize that I can't do this. I don't have the power to protect them from all harm. It hurts to know this, because one of my deepest desires is to protect my children.

Knowing that Jesus wants to gather me in, I can find comfort that even in my failure to protect my children from all harm, there is One who came into this world to gather all children in. Jesus took on flesh! God took on flesh to come to protect His children. So even in my shortcomings, God took on flesh to gather all of us in, myself and my children included. Gather us in to protect us. So we can live with the knowledge that even through the bumps and bruises of life, we are protected by a God so loving that He came into this world to gather us in. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I give you thanks, praise and all glory for Your loving act of becoming flesh. I give you thanks for the gathering. I give you thanks for the protection. As I live to protect my children, may they see Your loving and eternal protection and boldly live their lives in Your grace and love. --- Amen

Friday, December 18, 2009

December 18th - Reflection

Hebrews 10:32-39 (NRSV)
Confidence that rewards
But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
For yet "in a very little while,
the one who is coming will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one will live by faith.
My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back."
But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.

Hang in there! Hard times, hard situations, help build perseverance. There is hope for One who is coming. One coming to set all things right. Keep the faith and encourage one another to "Hang in there!" Listen to each other and share life stories. Share the presence of God as life unfolds. Stop and be silent and see Jesus' presence.

Sometimes I get in a hurry. I start to listen only to myself. Sometimes I need to STOP! Really stop and just shut up! Stop thinking and letting my mind run and listen. Stop and use all of my senses. Stop for 5 minutes at least! Stop! For Jesus is coming. Jesus has come. Jesus is here. STOP!

Jesus' compassion and love overflows and fills life. Fills life to overflowing. Fills like an overflowing stream in the mountains that spills on and on. Over the rocks and down into the depths of the valley bringing everlasting life. Stop and feel His love and compassion and permit it to overflow into my place in the stream and those rock that surround me.

Lord, I take this time now to Your presence......fill me to overflowing......STOP ---Amen

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 17th - Reflection

Hebrews 10:10-18 (NRSV)
New priest, new sacrifice once for all

And it is by God's will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, "he sat down at the right hand of God," and since then has been waiting "until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet." For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,
"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds," he also adds,

"I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

From earlier readings of fussing with one another and fussing with God, here the composite name of Jesus Christ first appears in the letter to the Hebrews. It's as if we received more than the flesh and blood of Jesus, but indeed we have received sanctification through Jesus Christ, and that once and for all.

With this we are now free from sin to return to our duties of service and love for God and each other in the Kingdom, day after day. Free from sin, and filled with the hope of a future time when, even in this place, faith and love will open a new way and a new return of Jesus when the Kingdom will finally be fulfilled. Thanks be to God!

Lord, You came to earth in flesh and blood. You lived. You died. You rose again. Our sins forgiven each day, we go out in faith, hope and love, loving you and one another, while we look to that day when You will once again return to fulfill Your loving acts in the Kingdom. ---Amen

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16th - Reflection

Isaiah 11:1-9 (NRSV)
A ruler brings justice and peace

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den.
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

The passages the past couple of days seem to have been about arguing and fighting and punishment and selfishness. So negative. So much punishment. Yet, we turn today, and hear a passage of hope. Even in the midst of all of our struggles with one another, with nature, with disease, with envy, pride and selfishness; God is sending someone to bring us together again. God is sending someone to make us one with another and someone to lead us to work with those we would least expect to work with. God is sending Hope. God is sending Love. God is sending Salvation. God is sending a Shoot from the stump of Jesse. God is sending Jesus! Thanks be to God!

Into the chaos, God comes, humble, yet God comes!

Thanks be to God!

Come, Lord Jesus, come! Come into the midst of my own chaos of selfishness and sin, come into the chaos of this sinful world and save us! Come, Lord Jesus, come! ---Amen

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15th - Reflection

Numbers 16:20-35 (NRSV)
God destroys Korah's company
Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying: Separate yourselves from this congregation, so that I may consume them in a moment. They fell on their faces, and said, "O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one person sin and you become angry with the whole congregation?"

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Say to the congregation: Get away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. So Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram; the elders of Israel followed him. He said to the congregation, "Turn away from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, or you will be swept away for all their sins." So they got away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the entrance of their tents, together with their wives, their children, and their little ones. And Moses said, "This is how you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works; it has not been of my own accord: If these people die a natural death, or if a natural fate comes on them, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up, with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the Lord."

As soon as he finished speaking all these words, the ground under them was split apart. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, along with their households - everyone who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they with all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol; the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. All Israel around them fled at their outcry, for they said, "The earth will swallow us too!" And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred fifty men offering the incense.

Whew! Don't cross that guy! The ground splits apart and you and everything about you are gone! All over a petty argument! It seems there was a challenge not only among priests but also among the congregation. Underneath it all was a challenge to the leadership of God and Moses from the congregation of people.

Moses speaks up once again for the people. Moses at least speaks to God to punish only the offenders and not the entire congregation. The rebels sins are pollution spreading through the congregation. These rebels have despised the LORD.

Even in the midst of the wilderness of our lives, it's important to know the presence of God. It's important to know that God is there, even when you feel so far away. It's easy for me, especially when I'm ill or someone close to me is in some sort of trouble, to sin and try to solve it all by myself. In this way, I pretend to be God. It never works out. It's only until I break down and deal with my own failure and inability to solve the problems that I reach out to what was always there by my side...Jesus, my Savior. It's such a selfish sin. So I turn, repent, and give myself over to God. Sounds easy! But it's not. Even then, after giving over, I need direction. I need to seek and listen for God's Word. I need prayer, talk, communion with other Christians, communion with God. That answer may be subtle or slow coming. The answer may never fully develop to my satisfaction, but remember to give it over to God. Patience may be tested. And sometimes the answer ends up right in front of me. I could never predict it or understand it but I must have faith that God will show me the way and the path to follow.

Lord, if I ever turn from You and run the other way, please chase me down! Please run after me and shake me up in such a way that I see You once again. Forgive my selfish sin and show me the path to take. ---Amen

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14th - Reflection

Numbers 16:1-19 (NRSV)
Korah's company rebels
Now Korah son of Izhar son of Kohath son of Levi, along with Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth - descendants of Reuben - took two hundred fifty Israelite men, leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men, and they confronted Moses. They assembled against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone too far! All the congregation are holy, everyone of them, and the Lord is among them. So why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?" When Moses heard it, he fell on his face. Then he said to Korah and all his company, "In the morning the Lord will make known who is his, and who is holy, and who will be allowed to approach him; the one whom he will choose he will allow to approach him. Do this: take censers, Korah and all your company, and tomorrow put fire in them, and lay incense on them before the Lord; and the man whom the Lord chooses shall be the holy one. You Levites have gone too far!" Then Moses said to Korah, "Hear now, you Levites! Is it too little for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to allow you to approach him in order to perform the duties of the Lord's tabernacle, and to stand before the congregation and serve them? He has allowed you to approach him, and all your brother Levites with you; yet you seek the priesthood as well! Therefore you and all your company have gathered together against the Lord. What is Aaron that you rail against him?"

Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab; but they said, "We will not come! Is it too little that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also lord it over us? It is clear you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Would you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come!"

Moses was very angry and said to the Lord, "Pay no attention to their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, and I have not harmed any one of them." And Moses said to Korah, "As for you and all your company, be present tomorrow before the Lord, you and they and Aaron; and let each one of you take his censer, and put incense on it, and each one of you present his censer before the Lord, two hundred fifty censers; you also, and Aaron, each his censer." So each man took his censer, and they put fire in the censers and laid incense on them, and they stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron. Then Korah assembled the whole congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole congregation.

Makes you wonder about yourself. Argue about who is more important than the other. Argue about who gets what job, what privilege, what pay. As humans we tend to argue over everything it seems. We argue over what the plan is. What direction the company, our church or even our family is headed in. And then we argue our point and many times attempt to steal power from another. In the end, we want to be in control of it all.

But in this passage, it seems to be a little different. All people serve God. All the people are priests. Each has a place and an honor that is needed. God has taken care of all the people and is leading them to the Promised Land.

This selfish ambition to control what God has under control becomes my sin. The selfish ambition to become the best or the most esteemed is my sin. My place is the humble yet honorable child of God, acting out the part that God has ordained for me, in God's Kingdom, day after day. That's my part! What more could I want! Lead me to that Promised Land! Thanks be to God!

Lord, forgive my selfish desire for power and honor and lead me in humbleness to serve You boldly in Your Kingdom, today, tomorrow and forever. ---Amen

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 13th - Reflection

Third Sunday of Advent Luke 3:7-18 (NRSV)
One more powerful is coming John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages." As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

What should we do? What should we do? What should we do?

Repent! We all sin, so repent!

Here we go from the beginning of John the Baptists life, in the reading yesterday, to the last part of his life in ministry. Yesterday, the announcement of his birth. Today, the fulfillment of his relationship with the people of this world. John coming to announce the ministry of Jesus. John coming out of the wilderness to shout out to people to prepare. John telling us in no uncertain terms to repent.

We are soon to be in relationship with Jesus. We will have to deal with Jesus' radical new thoughts and actions. We are about to receive a fierce and awesome Love that we have never seen before. What should we do?

Realize who we are! Prepare for the coming of the Messiah in a corporate way to all people and in a personal way to each one of us. A way much closer than any relationship we have ever experienced before. What should we do?

Repent and turn in love to one another. Repent and prepare for the entry of a Light and Love into the center of our soul. Repent and be prepared to surrender. Repent! For Jesus is about to take over and change the world and you. Repent! Thanks be to God!

In this season of short days and dwindling light, I repent in the darkness of my humanity. I repent in the darkness of my sin and I look to Your coming Light. Take me and fill me and use me in relationship with those You give to me this day. Invade me with Your Light and Love...even while I repent. ---Amen

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 12th Reflection

Luke 1:57-66 (NRSV)
The birth of John the Baptist
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, "No; he is to be called John." They said to her, "None of your relatives has this name." Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, "What then will this child become?" For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

It's been over a month since I have been at this blog. That doesn't mean that my walk with God has ceased or anything of the sort. In fact, in some ways the walk has turned into a journey of sorts. I usually don't directly reflect on my own life in this blog but this day I have decided to change it up a bit.

For anyone who was following the read through the Bible plan I was using, continue on. You can find this plan at I have enjoyed using this plan this past year and will close out the year with this plan as I read daily. Next year I have decided to choose a different plan. I find that choosing various read through the Bible plans and choosing different Bible versions helps me reflect on what God is speaking through the Word. Each day I attempt to use all of my senses to receive God's Word. God's presence is all around and through us each day if only we remain alert. And on some of the days when we are not alert, God's presence bursts into our lives in wonderful ways and sometimes in very fearful ways.

So here's whats been up with me this past month. First of all, I was blessed with a grandson on November 4th. His name is Daemien Fuller. It's funny, because he has a huge middle name that I'm not even sure of, that even may involve my name, but I'll leave that all up to my daughter Stephanie to explain.

I received my once every two month Remicade treatment for the Crohn's disease I battle. Then on the 18th of November a trip to Texas to see our new grandson and Kaiya (Steph and Devin too!). This was basically a work trip. Under the direction of Stephanie, I unpacked, cleaned, hauled furniture upstairs and basically put everything away from her move to Texas back in June or July of this year. How they lived with so much of their stuff still in boxes and closets, I'll never understand! Sarah flew down from Middletown to join us for Thanksgiving. Had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and celebrated, the following day, Stephs two days early 21st birthday.

I had been noticing that my blood pressure was going up when I would take it by those machines at Krogers, Walmart and the malls. It was high and I knew that I needed to bring it up to the doctor on my next visit. Didn't think much more about it though. Upon our return on the 28th of November, on the last flight, I noticed what was, I thought, a cold setting in. When we landed my headache was so severe that I couldn't even drive home. So Sue drove home and I went to bed. And that was that for a week or so.

Thinking I had a cold, I went to work on Monday the 30th. I thought I was getting better, but Monday evening headache and nausea set in. I called off Monday. Saw the doctor on Tuesday and discovered it was a sinus infection. Then the fun began. The headache returned with a vengeance. By Saturday, Sue insisted that I see the doctor on call. Went in to the doctor and she sent me to the emergency room. The headache and nausea were caused by my blood pressure peaking at 234/123. Since then I have been back to the doctor and medication has been altered until I am now on three different blood pressure medicines. I was able to return to work this week, but had to monitor my blood pressure every three to four hours. And that's where I am today. My blood pressure is still high, but not as high as last Saturday.

Now to the scripture passage above. ---Sometimes I wonder what the events in my life have anything to do with God. Sometimes I stop and think, what are all of these random events that occur? I wonder if Elizabeth, Zechariah, and for that matter the people seeing this story unfold wondered the same thing. Are we just a group of puppets carrying out a story? Are we all possibly involved in the story of God's redemption of humankind? I think so.

Even in my life, as I reflect, there are multiple relationships with other's involved. Those relationships weave in and out and back and forth. Those relationships become entangled in sin, love, forgiveness, empathy, passion, hate, and what seems to me, to be any and all senses and emotions that you could ever imagine. In these relationships, God moves. God moves in and through me and in and through those I contact or touch each day.

Did John know that he would someday announce the coming of Jesus ministry? Did Elizabeth realize that this birth was to bring her close to Mary? Did anyone realize that the tapestry involved in their own story would weave in the Messiah? Who could have a clue of the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus to come? And what about us? Can we even fathom how our life stories may someday be sewn into the burial cloth that covered Jesus in to tomb?

My hope and joy in this passage of scripture is that, thanks be to God, the twisting and turnings of my life and journey here in this place, may be sewn into God's tapestry of eternal life through Jesus Christ as I am involved in the Church day by day. My hope and joy in this passage of scripture is that, as Jesus comes to my door each day with Moses, Elijah and that one other person, that when Jesus invites Billy out to play, (this was a dream that I had at when five or six that sticks in my memory forever) my response will be "Sure! Let's go!"

Lord, I give you thanks for the day. I give you thanks for the journey. I give you thanks for all those you send to me each day who bring flesh to your presence in my life. Invade me, that I may bring Your flesh and blood to someone You place before me this day. --- Amen