Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 31st - Reflection

Reading
Wednesday in Holy Week
Psalm 70 (NRSV)
Be pleased, O God, to deliver me

Be pleased, O God, to deliver me.
O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life.
Let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who desire to hurt me.
Let those who say, "Aha, Aha!"
turn back because of their shame.

Let all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you.
Let those who love your salvation
say evermore, "God is great!"
But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay!


Reflection
Hurry up! Hurry up, for you are the only one that can save me! Sure they caught me in my sin. Sure, I confessed my sin and you forgave me, but they hang my sin over my head and constantly mock me and bring shame. I never said that I wouldn't suffer the consequence of my sin. I fully expect to pay the price for my sin, but these people just love to hang it over me.

I wonder how Jesus felt? He was taking on my sin. He was suffering for my sin. He was giving his life for my sin. And the people were relentless in punishment and sarcasm. And he deserved none of that! I deserved it and he got it. So...Here I am...

Here I am, poor and needy, hasten to me and help me my deliverer, do not delay! For I rejoice and am glad in you...Just look what a wonderful thing you have done for me...Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, we both know of my sin...I turn to you and confess and seek forgiveness...I turn to my neighbor and seek and give forgiveness. Open my heart to the beauty of your love that all hate may flee, today, tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 30th - Reflection


Reading
Tuesday in Holy Week
Isaiah 49:1-7 (NRSV)
The servant brings salvation to earth's ends

Listen to me, O coastlands,
pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born,
while I was in my mother's womb he named me.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, "You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified."
But I said, "I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my cause is with the Lord,
and my reward with my God."

And now the Lord says,
who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength --
he says,
"It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations,
the slave of rulers,
"Kings shall see and stand up,
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

Reflection
My cause is with the Lord. My cause is to be a servant of God, giving light to the ends of this world I have been graciously given and set within. Give the light of a salvation that shines brightly through me and leads all to focus on the cross of Christ. Let that light shine through me and reflect off of me that it is so compelling that the world can not help but to look to the Light and follow that Light and me to the feet at the cross of Jesus. A focus so strong that we all gather from all corners of the world and kneel at the feet of Jesus and see the Love of God so powerful and so real. My cause is with the Lord and I am the servant, here gathered with a host of witnesses to that Love Divine! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, use your servant this day and may your light brightly reflect off of me and shine through me this day that others may come to you. --- Amen

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 29th - Reflection










Reading
Monday in Holy Week
Isaiah 42:1-9 (NRSV)
The servant brings forth justice

Here is my servant,
whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed
until he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord, that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols.
See, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
I tell you of them.

Reflection
The Lord...Words that move beyond time to describe God...Words that move beyond time to describe Jesus...Words that move beyond time to describe the Creator, Savior and Spirit that moves in and through. Words that point our vision towards the cross and the Savior, who lived, suffered, died and rose again. Words for you and me that move beyond time. Words made flesh...Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, I give you thanks that your Word has moved beyond all time and space...I give you thanks... ---Amen

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28th - Reflection


Reading
Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday
Luke 22:14-23:56 (NRSV)
The passion and death of Jesus

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!" Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this.

A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

"You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

"Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." And he said to him, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!" Jesus said, "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me."

He said to them, "When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?" They said, "No, not a thing." He said to them, "But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, 'And he was counted among the lawless'; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled." They said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." He replied, "It is enough."

He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, "Pray that you may not come into the time of trial." Then he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done." Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial."

While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, "Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?" When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, "Lord, should we strike with the sword?" Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, "No more of this!" And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, "Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!"

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, "This man also was with him." But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know him." A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, "You also are one of them." But Peter said, "Man, I am not!" Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, "Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean." But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about!" At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.

Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, "Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?" They kept heaping many other insults on him.

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, "If you are the Messiah, tell us." He replied, "If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." All of them asked, "Are you, then, the Son of God?" He said to them, "You say that I am." Then they said, "What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!"

Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king." Then Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He answered, "You say so." Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, "I find no basis for an accusation against this man." But they were insistent and said, "He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place."

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.

Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him."

Then they all shouted out together, "Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!" (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, "Crucify, crucify him!" A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him." But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.

As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us.' For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews."

One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun's light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, "Certainly this man was innocent." And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Reflection
Wow! What a range of emotions this passage always bring forth. From the Supper, to prayer, to denial, to betrayal, to trial, to beatings, to crucifixion and death. But also, from fellowship, to compassion, to understanding, to prayer, to healing, to truth, to love. A range of emotions beyond comparison. And then on the sabbath they rested.

Who is this fellow? We certainly have heard it from his own lips. For through his lips we see the wine and the bread pass. Through his lips we hear the Word of healing. Through his lips we learn of God the Father. Through his lips we see that trickle of the blood of suffering, death and pain passing. Through his lips we listen to the hope of paradise. Through his lips we hear those wonderful words of forgiveness. Through his lips come the Word which was before, after and beyond all time. Through his lips comes our salvation.

Who is this fellow? He is the one who looks us directly in the eye and causes us to see the depth of our sin for which we run out to cry in repentance and sorrow. He is the one who seeks to bring us back from the depth of that sin to life in him. He is the one who lovingly hears our words of anger and sees our suffering and pain and offers to go through all of that by our side on his cross next to ours. He is the one who understands exactly what it is like to be human and be tempted. He is the one who puts up with our mocking words and still loves us. He is the one that through the blood and sweat of my hatefulness, speaks words of love and forgiveness.

Who is this fellow? He is my friend, my Savior, my God, my Messiah. Here is the One who comes daily to my door and invites me out to play by his side in his Kingdom. Here is the One who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Here is the Almighty and Holy One. Here is the One I live for and love and give all glory, honor and praise.

Through the lips of our Savior, we hear a Universe of Love. This fellow is my God and Savior, this fellow is your God and Savior. This fellow is the Messiah! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Amen! Amen! Amen!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27th - Reflection



Reflection

Luke 22:1-13 (NRSV)
Jesus prepares for Passover with his disciples

Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it." They asked him, "Where do you want us to make preparations for it?" "Listen," he said to them, "when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, 'The teacher asks you, "Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"' He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there." So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

Reflection
Look for a guy carrying a jar of water. What a bizarre thing to do! But come to think of it, just a few weeks ago, I was looking for someone with a jar of water for my daughter's son. And I found a wonderful person with such water that was willing to use that water. Water that would lead my grandson to an upper-room. Water that would bring life through death. Water that would not only drown out sin but would refresh and bring life.

Look for someone carrying a jar of water, then prepare yourself. Prepare through growth in faith. Prepare through the hearing and learning of Holy Scripture, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles Creed and the Lord's Prayer. Receive that jar of water. Receive that ever flowing stream of water that never ends and watch faith grow. Watch faith grow and live...sure, we're all just children; but through the grace of God our faith continues to grow.

When you have entered the city a precious person will meet you with a jar of water and a journey beyond belief will begin and grow. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, I give you thanks for all those wonderful Christians which meet your children, young and old with that wonderful water of grace. Be with each Child of God as we continue to grow in faith and love through you. --- Amen

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 26th - Reflection

Reading
Hebrews 2:10-18 (NRSV)
Jesus' suffering binds him to humankind
It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying,
"I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you."
And again,
"I will put my trust in him."
And again,
"Here am I and the children whom God has given me."

Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Reflection
Jesus knows what it's like to be me. Huh? Why would he want to know what it's like to be me? I'm not sure about that, but I think that it has to do with his deep love for me. He loves me so much that he wanted to know what it was like to be me. And more than that, he wants to take on my sin for me... he wants to take on death for me... he wants to be tested like me... and he died for me. Jesus knows what it's like to be me and is able and willing to help, and has helped. Jesus has shown compassion and love for me. And that "for me" applies to a corporate "for us" as well. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Thank you, Jesus. --- Amen

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25th - Reflection



Reading

Annunciation of Our Lord
Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Reflection

This always seemed, to me, to be a strange passage to occur during Lent. Sure, it makes sense that it would come now, nine months prior to Christmas, but it never seemed to fit into Lent for me. But then again, maybe it does.


As we reflect on the upcoming passion and crucifixion, maybe, just maybe this is the time that Jesus seed begins to grow in you and in me. Maybe during this time of reflection, the Holy Spirit invades my spirit and yours and we are no longer barren. Maybe, just maybe, we have found favor with God and he comes to us and shows us the depth of love in his passion. Maybe, just maybe, we find Jesus so much closer than we could ever imagine and the King really and truly begins to reign in our lives and in our being. And, maybe, just maybe, we find that nothing is impossible for God. Maybe, just maybe...


Prayer

Lord, plant yourself deep within my spirit and reign eternal in me. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 24th - Reflection



Reading
Psalm 20 (NRSV)
Victory for God's anointed

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary,
and give you support from Zion.
May he remember all your offerings,
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices.
Selah

May he grant you your heart's desire,
and fulfill all your plans.
May we shout for joy over your victory,
and in the name of our God set up our banners.
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

Now I know that the Lord will help his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with mighty victories by his right hand.
Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,
but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.
They will collapse and fall,
but we shall rise and stand upright.
Give victory to the king, O Lord;
answer us when we call.

Reflection
My pride is in God, not myself. God is the one who saved me from my selfish attitude. God is the one who came to my rescue when I failed to win the battle. I found out, at my lowest point, that I can't do this on my own. At that point, I looked around, and there was God, hand outstretched, ready to help me. I can't do this on my own. God gives me reason to take Jesus hand and follow him daily. God gives me reason and gives me a joyous reunion in Jesus. I give all the praise, honor, glory and victory to Jesus, my Savior, my Friend, my King. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, I reach out my hand to you...take it and lead me on...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 23rd - Reflection



Reading

Judges 9:7-15 (NRSV)
Anointing the bramble


When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and cried aloud and said to them, "Listen to me, you lords of Shechem, so that God may listen to you.
The trees once went out
to anoint a king over themselves.
So they said to the olive tree,
'Reign over us.'
The olive tree answered them,
'Shall I stop producing my rich oil
by which gods and mortals are honored,
and go to sway over the trees?'
Then the trees said to the fig tree,
'You come and reign over us.'
But the fig tree answered them,
'Shall I stop producing my sweetness
and my delicious fruit,
and go to sway over the trees?'
Then the trees said to the vine,
'You come and reign over us.'
But the vine said to them,
'Shall I stop producing my wine
that cheers gods and mortals,
and go to sway over the trees?'
So all the trees said to the bramble,
'You come and reign over us.'
And the bramble said to the trees,
'If in good faith you are anointing me king over you,
then come and take refuge in my shade;
but if not, let fire come out of the bramble
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'

Reflection

Too good to lead...so the work gets passed on and on...and finally one steps forward to take the lead. It sounds like a leader who leads by example. The bramble will work hard. The bramble may offer some shade, but look out for those prickly things! The bramble used as a broom at times to do the dirty work. That's the leader the laziness of the people chose as they passed over leadership to revel in their own wonderful gifts. But the bramble was willing to go to work. Was willing to let the fruits of the bramble do the tuff stuff. So watch out you fancy trees...the bramble may just expect you to bear fruit...real fruit of love and service to the King!


Prayer

Lord, forgive me when I'm haughty and keep me humble. May my work be fruitful service to you in your Kingdom today, tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Monday, March 22, 2010

March 22nd - Reflection

Reading
Exodus 40:1-15 (NRSV)
Anointing the holy things


The Lord spoke to Moses: On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. You shall put in it the ark of the covenant, and you shall screen the ark with the curtain. You shall bring in the table, and arrange its setting; and you shall bring in the lampstand, and set up its lamps. You shall put the golden altar for incense before the ark of the covenant, and set up the screen for the entrance of the tabernacle. You shall set the altar of burnt offering before the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. You shall set up the court all around, and hang up the screen for the gate of the court. Then you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it shall become holy. You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, so that the altar shall be most holy. You shall also anoint the basin with its stand, and consecrate it. Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting, and shall wash them with water, and put on Aaron the sacred vestments, and you shall anoint him and consecrate him, so that he may serve me as priest. You shall bring his sons also and put tunics on them, and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests: and their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout all generations to come.

Reflection
Sometimes I feel like I am a temple being prepared by God. And in this temple God will sacrifice Jesus. Why does it feel like God is preparing me? Shouldn't I be preparing for God? Shouldn't I be preparing for God to enter the temple of my heart and soul? Shouldn't I be getting ready?

But that's not how it feels. It feels more like God is preparing me. Sure, God is about to enter. God is about to enter and stay. God is about to take over. But, it's not about my preparations, it's about God preparing me.

The feeling makes me both fearful and joyful at once. I'm fearful that I won't be good enough for God. But, God's good enough, isn't about me, it's about Jesus. Jesus took on flesh and blood. Jesus took on the likeness of my temple and changed that temple from a bloody mess into a shining glorified body of life.

I think God is preparing my temple. Changing my temple from a bloody mess, to one day fill it with the presence of Jesus. What a joyful day that will be. What a wonderful change. May I become ready for Jesus to enter my temple, and may God prepare that temple for Jesus' presence.

Prayer
Lord, enter into my heart and prepare me for your presence. Take me and use me this day to your glory. --- Amen

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21st - Reflection



Reading

John 12:1-8 (NRSV)
Mary anoints Jesus for his burial


Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."


Reflection

Judas was a thief and Jesus was a thief. They both took what was not theirs. Judas stole from the common purse and Jesus stole from what all men had in common. Judas stole what was thought to be of great value. Jesus stole what we deserved for our sin. Jesus paid the price for the sin we committed.


What were the results? Judas faced death. Jesus faced death. Jesus brought forth life eternal. Judas faced the results of betrayal. Jesus transformed that betrayal into faith and hope and love and a community of the redeemed.


I too am a thief, but thanks be to God, I can turn to Jesus and what he did for all of us, and be transformed by the creator of life.


Prayer

Lord, take my sin from me and change me into what you would have me be. Take my life and make it what you wish it to be. Take me and transform me into your delight. --- Amen

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March 20th - Reflection



Reading

John 11:45-57 (NRSV)
Plotting against Jesus during Passover

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, "What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation." But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed." He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death.

Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, "What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?" Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

Reflection

If we let him go on like this, everyone will start believing in him. Do you or I go on like this? Like what? What a wonderful reason we have been given to "go on." What a reason Jesus has given us to go on and on and on. In fact Jesus came for us to be able to go on and on. He came that we may go on and on without fear. He came that we may be bold to go on and on. He came that we may be free to go on and on. Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, as I go out this day, I will go on and on about your grace. I will go on and on about your life. I will go on and on about your salvation. And I will go on and on, today, tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19th - Reflection



Reading

Joseph, Guardian of Jesus
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a (NRSV)

and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do 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 as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him;

Reflection

What are we going to do now?


It seems funny that we only get this much of the story. Was there more to this? Didn't Joseph get mad or anything? We don't hear anything like this. But he decided to dismiss Mary. But something would happen that would change the life of Joseph forever. Something would happen that would change our lives forever. Joseph was visited by an angel and given a message.


I think we all at some time or another have been visited by an angel. Maybe we got the message or maybe we just received a visit. But this visit would change the world. A Savior was born. Out of a life changing experience for Joseph in the first place; a life changing experience would occur for the entire world.


A visit by God to all of us. A life changer no doubt.


What are we going to do now?


Prayer

Thank you, Lord, for your visit...a life changer! --- Amen

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 18th - Reflection



Reading

Philippians 2:19-24 (NRSV)
Apostolic visits are promised

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But Timothy's worth you know, how like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; and I trust in the Lord that I will also come soon.



Reflection

To be chosen and sent...God has lovingly chosen us in our baptism and through the Church we are blessed and taught and nurtured and then gifted and sent. A wonderful process that occurs at any age and at any time in life. A process God has given freely to all people through the love of Jesus Christ and what he did for us and on our behalf on that cross years ago.


To be chosen and sent...Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, I give you thanks for the life you have given me in your Church. I give you thanks for that host of angels that taught me, nurtured me, gifted me, encouraged me, loved me and sent me. Use me this day to do likewise to one of your children. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17th - Reflection



Reading
Psalm 53 (NRSV)
Restoring our fortunes


Fools say in their hearts, "There is no God."
They are corrupt, they commit abominable acts;
there is no one who does good.

God looks down from heaven on humankind
to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God.

They have all fallen away, they are all alike perverse;
there is no one who does good,
no, not one.

Have they no knowledge, those evildoers,
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon God?

There they shall be in great terror,
in terror such as has not been.
For God will scatter the bones of the ungodly;
they will be put to shame, for God has rejected them.

O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When God restores the fortunes of his people,
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

Reflection

There is no God? A short walk in the night would make one wonder at the wisdom of this statement. Stare at the stars, or look through a microscope. There is no God?


See how the grass grows...Observe a babies smile...Watch a sunset...See a birth...Pray a prayer...Watch a baptism...Take communion...Repeat the Apostle's Creed...Open the Word...Give an offering...Work in a shelter...Confess your sin...Talk to a pastor...Talk about faith with another...Visit the sick...Serve the elderly...Sit in quiet...There is a God! Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, fill me with the wisdom to see your face in this place at this moment. Fill me with your Love and teach me to pray. Send me full of your Spirit to serve. --- Amen

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 16th - Reflection



Reading
Leviticus 25:1-19 (NRSV)
The jubilee celebration

The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath -- you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound laborers who live with you; for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food.

You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month -- on the day of atonement -- you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.

In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property. When you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not cheat one another. When you buy from your neighbor, you shall pay only for the number of years since the jubilee; the seller shall charge you only for the remaining crop years. If the years are more, you shall increase the price, and if the years are fewer, you shall diminish the price; for it is a certain number of harvests that are being sold to you. You shall not cheat one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.

You shall observe my statutes and faithfully keep my ordinances, so that you may live on the land securely. The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live on it securely.



Reflection

Rest for a while and then return to God. Rest and return and rejoice. What great gifts God has given us, God provides work, food, health, happiness and all that we need for this live. God provides family and friends and times to learn and grow in love one for another. Rest for a while and then return to God. Return to God and rejoice. Thanks be to God.


Prayer

Give us this day our daily bread. --- Amen

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15th - Reflection



Reading

Leviticus 23:26-41 (NRSV)
Days for confession and celebration

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Now, the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you: you shall deny yourselves and present the Lord's offering by fire; and you shall do no work during that entire day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. For anyone who does not practice self-denial during that entire day shall be cut off from the people. And anyone who does any work during that entire day, such a one I will destroy from the midst of the people. You shall do no work: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your settlements. It shall be to you a sabbath of complete rest, and you shall deny yourselves; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening you shall keep your sabbath.

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel, saying: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month, and lasting seven days, there shall be the festival of booths to the Lord. The first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. Seven days you shall present the Lord's offerings by fire; on the eighth day you shall observe a holy convocation and present the Lord's offerings by fire; it is a solemn assembly; you shall not work at your occupations.

These are the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you shall celebrate as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the Lord offerings by fire -- burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day -- apart from the sabbaths of the Lord, and apart from your gifts, and apart from all your votive offerings, and apart from all your freewill offerings, which you give to the Lord.

Now, the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall keep the festival of the Lord, lasting seven days; a complete rest on the first day, and a complete rest on the eighth day. On the first day you shall take the fruit of majestic trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a festival to the Lord seven days in the year; you shall keep it in the seventh month as a statute forever throughout your generations.


Reflection

It's not about me and it's not about you. It's all about God. Deny yourself and look towards the Creator. Deny yourself and look towards the Redeemer. Deny yourself and look towards the Spirit. Offer what God has given you in service and love. It's not about me and it's not about you. It's all about God.


All so easy to say, but so difficult to follow. We fall short of the offering and we fall short in our sinful selfishness. So we are called to a struggle. We are called to wrestle and return to God in realization that we can't do this on our own. We need our Father to save us. We need our Savior to walk with us through our own individual world of circumstances and lead us through. We need each other's help in times of need. We depend on one another and can't do this on our own.


So God draws us together in love for one another. In our need we must turn to each other for help. We must put aside our pride and turn to other's for the love and guidance needed in our times of struggle.


It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about God. God has saved us through the Savior. God unites us in love one for another to help each other in that very same love in time of need. Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, teach me to reach out when I'm in need and not selfishly attempt to do it all on my own. And thank you for reaching out to me when I needed it the most. --- Amen

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March 14th - Reflection



Reading

Fourth Sunday in Lent
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 (NRSV)
The parable of the forgiving father

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."

So he told them this parable: .

"There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.' So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands."' So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly, bring out a robe -- the best one -- and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' And they began to celebrate.

"Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.' Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, 'Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!' Then the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'"

Reflection

Today, my grandson, Daemien Thomas Emmanuel Fuller was baptised. "Bubby" was given the gift by his heavenly Father. Claimed as a Child of God and called to be a saint in the Kingdom of God. Water was poured on his head and the wonderful Word was proclaimed by Pastor Sara...I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Family stood by and witnessed this grace-filled moment. Family and God Parents declared that Daemien would receive the Holy Scriptures, be taught the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the Apostle's Creed.


Even though a child, Bubby was welcomed by the Father with open arms and a party was to follow. Even though a child all present declared welcome to a new brother in Christ. Even though a child...


It seems as if that a gift from God like this would not only fill the room where this baptism took place but a great cloud would fill beyond the room and into the church and beyond the church into the entire world. A movement of the Spirit took place this day. The Love of God was displayed this day. And a Father welcomed another child into the Kingdom.


Sure, there will be many days ahead for Bubby that will be filled with temptation, with sin and with doubt. But also, in those days ahead, Bubby will be filled with the Word of God and taught what a Christian is all about. Bubby will be taught the focus on Christ, the cross, and the resurrection. Bubby will learn of the movement of the Holy Spirit in his own life and the life he has in the Church of God. Bubby will be given the faith from God to one day make that wonderful decision for himself that Christ has a place in his heart. Bubby will see Jesus at his door each day and be given the gift of reliving this baptism each and every day.


Yes, there was a party for the sinners this day, along with a party for the saints. The fatted calf was presented and the Love of God shone forth in the face of an infant. I saw Bubby smile this day. I saw Christ smile. I saw the Father with open arms. Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Grow in faith and love, Bubby, grow this day in Christ. --- Amen

Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13th - Reflection



Reading

Luke 15:1-10 (NRSV)
Parables of a lost sheep and a lost coin

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."

So he told them this parable: "Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

"Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Reflection

How uniquely loved each one of us is by God and by each other. The love we have for God is an individual love. Our love is deep and passionate and intense. This same love we have for God is reflected to those we deeply love around us. Oh, how our desires take us to all extreme actions to save and comfort and care for the one we love.


And again, how deep and wild is that love that God has for each one of us. God goes to all extremes to save each child. Goes to the extreme of giving the life of the Father's child in Jesus to save the lives of the children God created. How deep and wild is that love.


Then combine all of this passion into the Church and we find Love for the Creator, Redeemer, and Spirit and love for the Children in corporate combinations that will blow your mind. Love in action full of the Spirit and moving throughout heaven and earth. Love that is a power above all powers.


How uniquely loved each one of us is by God and by each other. What a force God has created and sustained and brought to life in Love. Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, send me out this day to reflect even a portion of the love you have planted within me that all may see your great Light and come to you. --- Amen

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 12th - Reflection



Reading

2 Corinthians 5:6-15 (NRSV)
Walking by faith and not by sight


So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord -- for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

Reflection

"...so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them." So that's what it's all about. I no longer live for myself. My joy is in what God has done for me. And at this is the battle too.


When I begin to think I can live for myself, I lose focus on what God has done for me. I lose focus and attempt to live for myself and by myself and fail. Human pride gets in the way of the failure, and I attempt even harder to make it on my own just to prove that I can do it on my own. But, I ultimately and at some point will fail. In the depths of failure, I realize that God has placed people in my life to live with me in the joy that is richly provided. People with love and compassion and understanding. People who will walk with me out of the failure and into a new life. A new life right where I am, built out of the love and joy of what Jesus did for me when he died and was raised to a new life himself. Jesus stayed with the people he was called to be with and brought them joy. This same joy given freely to me in my new life here and now through God and all those others now that are in my life...here and now.


So, as I live, I live anew with those God has placed before me in this place. I live anew in the joy, compassion and love Jesus gave to me with what he did for me. Now in this life, I go freely to love those here and now and rejoice in this life free from the wants and needs that I think I need to make it on my own, to live the new life in the joy fulfilled that I no longer live for myself but Christ lives in me for others.


Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, fill me with your love, joy and compassion to live my life for you and that you live life through me to those you have placed in my life, here and now. --- Amen

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March 11th - Reflection



Reading

2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5 (NRSV)
Paul comforts with a promise of glory


So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling -- if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.



Reflection

What hope we have! This slight momentary affliction is put in perspective. I must endure this little bit of life. I must endure and be joyous that this slight momentary affliction is a precursor to a continued life in Jesus. Sure, for today I groan in this tent that I have been given, but in the whole scheme of things, this is only a short while.


But in that short while, the number of lives that God can touch through me can astound even me. God touches other lives through the lives of the Children of God. God touches others through you and through me. God touches lives through the Spirit placed within us to do the will of God. God touches lives through the sharing of the Bread. God touches lives through the wonder of the Wine. God touches lives, here and now and invades our very beings with the water and the Word. God touches lives with the divine Word and the wonderful Command and the beautiful common elements of this earth. God touches lives. God touches you. God touches me. God reached out and touched...In this wonderful, joyous, important short span of time. Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, I thank you for your presence this day. I thank you for the touch of your breath at my side as we stop to think about and ponder the wonder of your Word. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 10th - Reflection



Reading

Psalm 39 (NRSV)
My hope is in God


I said, "I will guard my ways
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will keep a muzzle on my mouth
as long as the wicked are in my presence."
I was silent and still;
I held my peace to no avail;
my distress grew worse,
my heart became hot within me.
While I mused, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:

"Lord, let me know my end,
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing in your sight.
Surely everyone stands as a mere breath.
Selah
Surely everyone goes about like a shadow.
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
they heap up, and do not know who will gather.

"And now, O Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in you.
Deliver me from all my transgressions.
Do not make me the scorn of the fool.
I am silent; I do not open my mouth,
for it is you who have done it.
Remove your stroke from me;
I am worn down by the blows of your hand.

"You chastise mortals
in punishment for sin,
consuming like a moth what is dear to them;
surely everyone is a mere breath.
Selah

"Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and give ear to my cry;
do not hold your peace at my tears.
For I am your passing guest,
an alien, like all my forebears.
Turn your gaze away from me, that I may smile again,
before I depart and am no more."


Reflection

A passing guest. Jesus passes by and God takes me in and gives me hope. On this journey of life, God sent Jesus. Jesus passes by every day. Passes by and invites each one of us into the Kingdom. Invites us into the Kingdom to forgive and start new life. Passes by and brings hope and a smile. And as Jesus passes by and becomes so personal and close as friend; I smile. I smile and joyfully go to work in that Kingdom of hope and grace. Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, I hear your knock on the door as you pass by. Let's go! Let's go to your children and build a revolution of compassion, grace and love for all this day. --- Amen

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

March 9th - Reflection



Reading

Ezekiel 17:1-10 (NRSV)
Allegory of the vine

The word of the Lord came to me: O mortal, propound a riddle, and speak an allegory to the house of Israel. Say: Thus says the Lord God:
A great eagle, with great wings and long pinions,
rich in plumage of many colors,
came to the Lebanon.
He took the top of the cedar,
broke off its topmost shoot;
He carried it to a land of trade,
set it in a city of merchants.
Then he took a seed from the land,
placed it in fertile soil;
A plant by abundant waters,
he set it like a willow twig.
It sprouted and became a vine
spreading out, but low;
Its branches turned toward him,
its roots remained where it stood.
So it became a vine;
it brought forth branches,
put forth foliage.

There was another great eagle,
with great wings and much plumage.
And see! This vine stretched out
its roots toward him;
It shot out its branches toward him,
so that he might water it.
From the bed where it was planted
it was transplanted
to good soil by abundant waters,
so that it might produce branches
and bear fruit
and become a noble vine.
Say: Thus says the Lord God:
Will it prosper?
Will he not pull up its roots,
cause its fruit to rot and wither,
its fresh sprouting leaves to fade?
No strong arm or mighty army will be needed
to pull it from its roots.
When it is transplanted, will it thrive?
When the east wind strikes it,
will it not utterly wither,
wither on the bed where it grew?


Reflection

Riddles that perplex from the Word. Sometimes we see riddles. Riddles that have great meaning for the people of the day. Riddles that guide and lead to action. Riddles about actions taken while in exile.


But at times we are all in exile. We are all transplanted to another place and time. We are all out of the norm, where we belong.


Can we still grown while in exile? Sure! God will be with us if we are home or away. Our focus and center must be on God even while away. We may feel as if we are in exile, but to God we are always with God. God is by our side, at home or away. We can grow with good roots anywhere. Root yourself in our God and Savior.


Prayer

Lord, keep my roots strong and may I feed from the the love you freely give...no matter where I may grow. --- Amen

Monday, March 08, 2010

March 8th - Reflection



Reading

Jeremiah 11:1-17 (NRSV)
Judgment against the olive tree

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Cursed be anyone who does not heed the words of this covenant, which I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron-smelter, saying, Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God, that I may perform the oath that I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day. Then I answered, "So be it, Lord."

And the Lord said to me: Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and do them. For I solemnly warned your ancestors when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of an evil will. So I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.

And the Lord said to me: Conspiracy exists among the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors of old, who refused to heed my words; they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken the covenant that I made with their ancestors. Therefore, thus says the Lord, assuredly I am going to bring disaster upon them that they cannot escape; though they cry out to me, I will not listen to them. Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they will never save them in the time of their trouble. For your gods have become as many as your towns, O Judah; and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.

As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done vile deeds? Can vows and sacrificial flesh avert your doom? Can you then exult? The Lord once called you, "A green olive tree, fair with goodly fruit"; but with the roar of a great tempest he will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed. The Lord of hosts, who planted you, has pronounced evil against you, because of the evil that the house of Israel and the house of Judah have done, provoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.

Reflection

My stubborn heart that turns from God and goes to other things that I think I can live on and by. I can make it on my own with enough money, the right job, a good house, a good family. I can make it on my own because I'm Mister "I Know Everything!" --- yea right! I can't! I know that now, but how much time did I spend trying to convince myself that I can do it on my own. I need family, friends...I need God!!!


I need the Spirit to trim me and pull the fruit off of me. I need God to fertilize. I need those loving Christians to pray, to be bold and honest with me. I need love from God and the Church. Teach me to turn from my stubborn ways and keep my by Your side. Day by day, I walk with Jesus on his side and following his teachings and his will. That's the focus...Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, forgive my sinfulness and do what needs to be done to bring me into your favor. --- Amen

Sunday, March 07, 2010

March 7th - Reflection



Reading

Third Sunday in Lent
Luke 13:1-9 (NRSV)
The parable of the fig tree

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them -- do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did."

Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, 'See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?' He replied, 'Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.' "


Reflection

Tragic things happen to all of us. But, unless you repent, you will all perish. Take a hard look. See that I can't save myself. Tragic things will happen. I must repent. I must repent and grow. If I bear no fruit, Jesus graciously gives me another chance. Dig around me and pile on the manure. Some awful things can happen. But maybe...just maybe...through some of these awful things that happen...through some repentance...the grace of God does not give up on me...and there is growth.


And maybe...just maybe...through trust and hope...even in those tragic things that happen...those that fell...still are wonderfully wrapped in the arms of a gracious Lord and Savior...even in the tragic things that happen.


After all...look at the tragic thing that happened to Jesus...death brought life...eternal life...Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, as I face tragic things myself or along side of another, fertilize and bring me the growth only you can grant...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, March 06, 2010

March 6th - Reflection



Reading

Luke 6:43-45 (NRSV)
A tree and its fruits


"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.


Reflection

At first glance I see a way to judge another person...but as I look closer...I see the way to look at my own actions.


As I walk daily with God and, as daily God comes to me, and I confess my sin to God; God always forgives. God comes to me, I confess, God forgives. God showers blessings and gifts upon me. Even in the midst of the wilderness and my sinful stubborn self, that tests God's patience, God showers gifts. Showers gifts, grants forgiveness, and God brings forth new life in me out of death.


Each day, I can reflect on my actions for the day. Was the fruit the good fruit that God nourished? Or was the fruit the bad fruit that I selfishly nourished for my own good? That fruit that I can view as good, truly felt good from the heart. That fruit that was bad, brought on deception, lies and doubt.


Prayer

Lord, as I walk with you through this day, give me pause to question the fruit that I am producing. Give me time to stop and turn to you and question my ways. Forgive those times that I have produced that "bad" fruit and teach me to boldly use the blessings and gifts you have given to me to produce good fruit for you and for those you give to me this day. --- Amen

Friday, March 05, 2010

March 5th - Reflection



Reading

Revelation 3:1-6 (NRSV)
Warning to the church in Sardis

"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:

"I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Yet you have still a few persons in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.


Reflection

My works are not perfect by any stretch of imagination. Nor do I claim my works to be perfect. But with the grace of God I am growing in faith that God gives to me. Faith given each day that grows trust and hope. Trust and hope, not on my works, but on the works of the One who came down to this earth to save me. My trust and hope is in Jesus works. My works are a result of the love and grace God has freely given to me. God gives me gifts to be used in the Kingdom. And through the trust and hope of Jesus life, death, suffering and resurrection, and with the movement of the Spirit in and through me, I joyfully work in the Kingdom.


I work in a Kingdom alongside the One who is the Master Tradesman, Jesus. Sure, I mess it up, but he graciously corrects me and teaches me and lovingly leads me to be the tradesman he wants me to be. In this relationship as apprentice and disciple, I listen. I listen and learn and apply what Jesus teaches day by day. And day by day, by Jesus' side, I joyfully work the works I have been taught, not concentrating on the errors, but concentrating on the skills of my Master. What a freedom! What a joy! Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, teach me this day that I may work in joy by your side. --- Amen

Thursday, March 04, 2010

March 4th - Reflection



Reading

Revelation 2:8-11 (NRSV)
Warning to the church in Smyrna


"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life:

"I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.

Reflection
The words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life. What a wonderful thought. The One who was first and last. One who knows our affliction and poverty. This passage is direct and to the point for many of us. Even though many are rich by this world's standards, we create in ourselves a view of poverty and affliction. We create a view relative to our worldly wealth rather than a view relative to what we really need to live. God richly supplies what we need to live. We are truly blessed and even rich. No matter the degree of our worldly wealth, God makes us rich. Rich in blessing.

But many think that they deserve worldly wealth and richness from God. Many think that God blesses them because of what they have done or because of some action they have taken.

Truly God does make us rich. What we have done, in our sin and selfishness, deserves death.

However, God chooses to bless us with life through the One who was first and last, the One who was dead but now lives. It's not about what I or you or we have done that brings blessing, it's what God has done that brings forth the blessing of life. That's being rich! That's being blessed.

That richness is completely different from what our world claims as being rich. The richness of God and what God has done for you and me and us, makes all the difference. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, you have richly blessed me. May I richly bless another with and through your gracefulness. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

March 3rd - Reflection





Reading

Psalm 105:1-42
God's covenant with Abraham

O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wonderful works.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually.
Remember the wonderful works he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of his servant Abraham,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
He is mindful of his covenant forever,
of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance."

When they were few in number,
of little account, and strangers in it,
wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
saying, "Do not touch my anointed ones;
do my prophets no harm."

When he summoned famine against the land,
and broke every staff of bread,
he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
His feet were hurt with fetters,
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the Lord kept testing him.
The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
He made him lord of his house,
and ruler of all his possessions,
to instruct his officials at his pleasure,
and to teach his elders wisdom.

Then Israel came to Egypt;
Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
And the Lord made his people very fruitful,
and made them stronger than their foes,
whose hearts he then turned to hate his people,
to deal craftily with his servants.

He sent his servant Moses,
and Aaron whom he had chosen.
They performed his signs among them,
and miracles in the land of Ham.
He sent darkness, and made the land dark;
they rebelled against his words.
He turned their waters into blood,
and caused their fish to die.
Their land swarmed with frogs,
even in the chambers of their kings.
He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
and gnats throughout their country.
He gave them hail for rain,
and lightning that flashed through their land.
He struck their vines and fig trees,
and shattered the trees of their country.
He spoke, and the locusts came,
and young locusts without number;
they devoured all the vegetation in their land,
and ate up the fruit of their ground.
He struck down all the firstborn in their land,
the first issue of all their strength.

Then he brought Israel out with silver and gold,
and there was no one among their tribes who stumbled.
Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.
He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
They asked, and he brought quails,
and gave them food from heaven in abundance.
He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.

For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.

Reflection

As children of God, we all have a story. We all have a journey. We all have a walk of faith. All the different stories and walks lead back to God. All different, all unique, all wandering journeys, but all lead by God and lead us to God.


As Christians, we have that great and glorious, yet horribly awful focal point of the cross. Yet on that cross, hangs the One who God gave to us to save us. One tree of life that extends out to all of our separate, yet united walks. All walks back to that cross and that Savior. Like water that flows out of the desert, is life that flows off and down this cross through Jesus. Life that flows over and within and around our daily lives that fills us, forgives us, gifts us and sends us out. Sent in separate ways that miraculously combine into One, in that holy catholic church. That church united by the Holy Spirit. The One true church.


What joy we have to look and reflect on this world God has placed us within that shines with abundance and grace....yet...what a world we have to look too that God will display in all the Life given through the action and love of Christ. A world beyond what we can fathom. Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, I look out and am in awe of the world you set before me day to day...how can I even begin to imagine the world and the Kingdom to come! Thank you for today...tomorrow... and forever! --- Amen