Friday, April 30, 2010

April 30th - Reflection




Revelation 11:15 (NRSV)
God's reign at the end of time


Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord
and of his Messiah,
and he will reign forever and ever."


Reflection

He has reigned, he does reign, and he will reigned forever! Finally with the sound of the trumpet of the seventh angel, it is finished. What was corrupt has been cleansed forever. Sin, death and the devil are gone to roam no more. Think of it...just think of it...


Prayer

Messiah, you ARE my world. You are all I need, you are all I live for. The love and compassion you have shown will unite all people under your reign and your Kingdom forever. --- Amen

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29th - Reflection




Revelation 10:1-11 (NRSV)
Eating the scroll

And I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. He held a little scroll open in his hand. Setting his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, he gave a great shout, like a lion roaring. And when he shouted, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down." Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and the land
raised his right hand to heaven
and swore by him who lives forever and ever,
who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: "There will be no more delay, but in the days when the seventh angel is to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, as he announced to his servants the prophets."

Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, "Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land." So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, "Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth." So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.

Then they said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings."

Reflection

You can read and re-read this passage over and over and let the thoughts and images flow. But what came to mind for me this time was the number of people and the number of times that the Israelites and so many others throughout time have had the right foot on the sea and the left foot on the land.


Especially in the stories of the Israelites, every time there was a passing from land to water and water to land, a great change was taking place. There was a great change in their lives and a miracle and a promise in fulfillment. Now here in this vision it seems a great change is about to take place. With God's promise in our hearts and our feet taking the steps in faith, God changes our lives forever. God's Word is always fulfilled. Each step of the way in our changing lives, we must recognize the promise, the blessing, the calling and the action we are to take towards the fulfillment of God's Kingdom.


A great change is to take place and we are called to step out in love and courage to walk in God's promises in faith...today...tomorrow and forever.


Prayer

Lord, I know of my sin and evil thoughts, I need your help and forgiveness. As I step out in belief, lead me and guide me and take me to that promised land. May I be part of your Kingdom in my presence, in my action and in your heart. --- Amen

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28th - Reflection




Psalm 100 (NRSV)
We are God's sheep

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.

Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Reflection
What joy we have knowing the Jesus is our shepherd and he has claimed us as his sheep. Jesus goes to all extremes to keep us in his care. So when we wander off and are either chased back or brought back to the fold by Jesus; we can enter the gates with thanksgiving and praise, for we have been richly blessed.

Each morning Jesus comes into your life and invites you to walk in his kingdom in his glory to love those he sends your way...what a joy and privilege this is! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
I'm coming Lord, joyful and singing in your presence this day. --- Amen

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27th - Reflection




Ezekiel 45:1-9 (NRSV)
God promises a sanctuary

When you allot the land as an inheritance, you shall set aside for the Lord a portion of the land as a holy district, twenty-five thousand cubits long and twenty thousand cubits wide; it shall be holy throughout its entire extent. Of this, a square plot of five hundred by five hundred cubits shall be for the sanctuary, with fifty cubits for an open space around it. In the holy district you shall measure off a section twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand wide, in which shall be the sanctuary, the most holy place. It shall be a holy portion of the land; it shall be for the priests, who minister in the sanctuary and approach the Lord to minister to him; and it shall be both a place for their houses and a holy place for the sanctuary. Another section, twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand cubits wide, shall be for the Levites who minister at the temple, as their holding for cities to live in.

Alongside the portion set apart as the holy district you shall assign as a holding for the city an area five thousand cubits wide, and twenty-five thousand cubits long; it shall belong to the whole house of Israel.

And to the prince shall belong the land on both sides of the holy district and the holding of the city, alongside the holy district and the holding of the city, on the west and on the east, corresponding in length to one of the tribal portions, and extending from the western to the eastern boundary of the land. It is to be his property in Israel. And my princes shall no longer oppress my people; but they shall let the house of Israel have the land according to their tribes.
Thus says the Lord God: Enough, O princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression, and do what is just and right. Cease your evictions of my people, says the Lord God.

Reflection
This is God taking up space on earth; this is God giving away some of God's space to us. God is specific in measurement and all detail of this sanctuary. The sanctuary given to us to show God's presence in this place. And the sanctuary had degrees of holiness included. The closer you approached, the closer you came to the Holy of Holies where God resided.

As we set aside a place for God, may we realize that the sanctuary is a special place that God has freely given us in the first place. I would suggest that we set aside the very gut or heart of our being to God as this sanctuary. This is not my own idea, but a compilation of biblical thoughts. You see, through Jesus crucifixion and death the curtain to the Holy of Holies was torn and this section of the sanctuary was opened. I like to think of it as God opened God's heart to all people in the gift of Jesus to us.

So likewise, I believe that God would like for us to tear or rip open our hearts or even better our guts (the very core of our beings) to the presence of Jesus in our lives. In a sense we give our lives to God so that God may dwell within us as we dwell within the now open sanctuary of God.

It's a wonderful vision of unity and love...God for the created and the created for God. It's an ultimate love. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, this day I rip open that door to my heart, the gut of my being to see you. Let's go into your Kingdom this day in the strength of the love you have shown to all to love and serve all those you give this day. --- Amen

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26th - Reflection




Ezekiel 37:15-28 (NRSV)
God will unite the flock


The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, take a stick and write on it, "For Judah, and the Israelites associated with it"; then take another stick and write on it, "For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with it"; and join them together into one stick, so that they may become one in your hand. And when your people say to you, "Will you not show us what you mean by these?" say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am about to take the stick of Joseph (which is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with it; and I will put the stick of Judah upon it, and make them one stick, in order that they may be one in my hand. When the sticks on which you write are in your hand before their eyes, then say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all. Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms. They shall never again defile themselves with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. I will save them from all the apostasies into which they have fallen, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes. They shall live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, in which your ancestors lived; they and their children and their children's children shall live there forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations shall know that I the Lord sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is among them forevermore.

Reflection

Two sticks are put together and become one. They become one not only because they have been put together; they become one because they have been put together and blessed with the Word of God. What is common, combined with what is holy, takes life and lives a new and changed life.


Just like you and me. At baptism the water comes together with a blessing and we are forever changed. Through the common of the water combined with what is holy in the Word, a new life lives and we are changed.


In the bread and the wine, what is common is combined with the Words of Jesus about his body and blood; and we take it in, and we are forever changed. A new life begins and grows in us. God continually blesses our lives and shows us the priority to place in the common and the Word. Without the Word the common is just common, but with the blessing of the Word a new life is formed and lives. Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord this day as you come to my door and I go out with you; I want to partner with you. Show me that focus that will last. Show me that eternal life and let me leave my temporary life behind. As we meet people this day, may I see the vision you have placed before me in the relationship of love you have called me to give. For this love within me, you have freely given and I freely give to those you set before me this day. This day, may the common in me be combined with your Word and blessing to become what you would have it become...today...tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25th - Reflection




Fourth Sunday of Easter
John 10:22-30 (NRSV)
Jesus promises life to his sheep

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one."


Reflection

"I told you!" Somewhere there is a cassette tape of my Mom yelling these very words at my Dad. I'm not sure of any of the details, but I can remember the tone of Mom's voice and the soft reply from my Dad. He was sort of like a whipped puppy.


Jesus has told us too. We can read and see the works he has done in history, through history and even in our own lives. Reflect on those works and believe. We hear his voice and know him. We hear his voice and are comforted. We hear his voice and gladly run to him. In our Shepherd we receive comfort and eternal life. I told you! Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, it's so nice to hear your voice! I believe! --- Amen

Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 24th - Reflection




Luke 12:29-32 (NRSV)
Do not fear, little flock


And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Reflection
Put your priorities in order! Strive for the kingdom. God will take care of what you are to eat and drink. Sure, we have to use the resources God has given us and put in the work to produce gladly. We can do this because all we have is a gift from God anyway.

I have been blessed with many things. I have been blessed with many talents and skills. I have been blessed. And it all came from God and belongs to God in the first place. So, knowing this, I can respond to the blessings God first gave me and use them. Use all the blessings to the glory of God. Because...we strive for the kingdom, which God has set before us to give God all glory and honor.

Put your priorities in order...strive for the kingdom...the remainder of all needs will follow. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, may my sights be set on you and your vision for me. --- Amen

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23rd - Reflection




Revelation 6:1-7:4 (NRSV)
The servants of God are sealed

Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out, as with a voice of thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there was a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer.

When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, "Come!" And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another; and he was given a great sword.

When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out, "Come!" I looked, and there was a black horse! Its rider held a pair of scales in his hand, and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's pay, and three quarts of barley for a day's pay, but do not damage the olive oil and the wine!"

When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature call out, "Come!" I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; they cried out with a loud voice, "Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?" They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed.

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and there came a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree drops its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the magnates and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on earth or sea or against any tree. I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to damage earth and sea, saying, "Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads."

And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel:



Reflection

Huh? I kind of love to hear how people try to take some of these words and arrogantly profess the meaning to them. Some people tend to believe that they have been endowed with some special power to make sense of all things.


Well, I can read this and read it again and make up all sorts of meanings. But what I can get out of it, is that I have a loving God that will remain with me, take care of me, love me and protect me even through the harshest of times. I have a loving God that gives me hope. I have a God that shows up and calls me and enlightens me and opens mysteries that I can't understand right before my eyes. I have a God that seals me in love and grace day after day. And I have a God that doesn't expect me to always "get it" because my God "gets it" for me. Thanks be to God!


Prayer

I read and hear your Word and sometimes I just don't get it. Sure, maybe, every once in a while I get a peek at your glory, but most of the time, you are way beyond me. So, I trust in you. I trust and hope and believe that you will lead me where you wish for me to go. I trust and hope and believe that you will allow me to serve in the way you wish for me to serve. I trust and hope and believe in you. --- Amen

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22nd - Reflection






Revelation 5:1-10 (NRSV)
The throne and the elders

Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."

Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
and they will reign on earth."


Reflection

The Lamb once again. I love the visuals of these words. I love the use of numbers and the completeness of the message. Yes, it's true, the Lion of Judah has, by his blood, saved all people. And yes, it's true, that we have been made into a kingdom of priests serving God.



Even in the midst of this earth and the evil we still see, we live and serve God, knowing that Jesus is victorious. And as we peek into this heavenly scene, we fall to the foot of that cross and worship the Lamb of God. The Lamb and the Lion, victoriously reigns forever and ever. Yes, it's true! Thanks be to God!



Prayer

Lord, at your feet, I look to you and give you all the glory and honor and praise, forever and ever. --- Amen

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21st - Reflection




Psalm 121 (NRSV)
God will preserve your life
Psalm 121:1-8 (NRSV)
A Song of Ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the hills--
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

Reflection
I can remember a critical time in my life, running home to confess a sin to my wife, as I drive by "Big Butter Jesus" on I-75, a prophet to me this day, yet a mostly humorous message to most, who read on the flashing sign out front, which of course was also way bigger than life, "God is closer than you think." How true that was then both spiritually, and physically too, if you believe that big ugly Jesus is God.

For me in my situation, Jesus was with me. With me as a friend and telling me that it was time to step up and do what was right. God there by my side, inside my head and all through me. I think he may have been driving the car that day even. And that's how Jesus has always been. He comes to you each and every day and walks with you in your life. He's there even in those times that you aren't with him...he's with you. I'm convinced of this funny but true presence and I'm ever thankful for that presence.

So, lift your eyes, to the hills or whatever, I'm sure you'll see him very close..."God is closer than you think."

Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, I lift my eyes and heart and very being and there you are...thanks! --- Amen

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20th - Reflection




Ezekiel 1:26 2:1 (NRSV)
Ezekiel's vision of God's glory

And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was something that seemed like a human form. Upward from what appeared like the loins I saw something like gleaming amber, something that looked like fire enclosed all around; and downward from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was a splendor all around. Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendor all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.

When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speaking.

He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you.

Reflection
"And above the dome..." Reminds me of the creation in Genesis. And maybe this is a new creation...a renewal of Ezekiel. He heard the sound of mighty waters...oh how in renewal, this weekend, did I ever hear the sound of mighty waters. The mighty waters of baptism and the mighty cleansing waters of Christ in action through normal men. I heard and felt those same mighty waters in action through, in, and with his children. I also heard the sound of an army. I heard the wind of the wings of the Holy Spirit blow gently and sometimes fiercely through the lives of all there gathered, into their souls and hearts and lives. God has gifted the church with an army of children that come to you and walk with you and show you, face to face, the face of God.

Look into the eyes and you will see the face of God before you. You will see the face of God coming through your brother and sister and God will touch you and hug you and give you new life. "This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speaking. He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you."

Renewal weekend, a time to refresh and recreate and see God face to face. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Let the power of the Holy Spirit sweep in and through this day so that my words may be your words and my actions the actions you have designed me to take this day. --- Amen

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19th - Reflection




Ezekiel 1:1-25 (NRSV)
Ezekiel's vision of four living creatures


In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), the word of the Lord came to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was on him there.


As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. In the middle of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf's foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another; each of them moved straight ahead, without turning as they moved. As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. Each moved straight ahead; wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. In the middle of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures; the fire was bright, and lightning issued from the fire. The living creatures darted to and fro, like a flash of lightning.

As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl; and the four had the same form, their construction being something like a wheel within a wheel. When they moved, they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. Their rims were tall and awesome, for the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When they moved, the others moved; when they stopped, the others stopped; and when they rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

Over the heads of the living creatures there was something like a dome, shining like crystal, spread out above their heads. Under the dome their wings were stretched out straight, one toward another; and each of the creatures had two wings covering its body. When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of mighty waters, like the thunder of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army; when they stopped, they let down their wings. And there came a voice from above the dome over their heads; when they stopped, they let down their wings.

Reflection
I was in exile, I was lost, I was separated from the place I should be; and the heavens opened and visions came to me and then it happened. The Word of God came to me. The Word of God has come to you and to me. The Word of God has descended from heaven in flesh and blood. The Word of God came to us in Jesus. The Word of God comes to us in Spirit. The Word of God explodes from Holy Scripture, the mouths of Christians and the actions of loving people. The Word of God is growing and recreating God's movement in this world.

The Word of God is here and on the move. The Word is focused in the faces of disciples. Look around! Open your eyes and ears! Listen and see the Word of God is here around you each day. The Word of God is in that brother spilling out his heart to you. The Word of God is in that sweet melody of that sister by your side. The Word of God is springing from this earth to pronounce an awesome creating God! The Word of God comes from the voice of that bird in the tree outside your window. That bird that lays it's life dependence on God's grace. The Word of God speaks through the loyal love of that pet.

With laser focus and direction, the Word of God beams straight and amplified,with purpose and meaning into the hearts of so many of God's children day after day. And the movement of that Word has purpose and mission. The Word of God burns in the center of the souls of Christians with passion. The Word of God stirs up that burning passion into a direct force, moving straight in all four directions, without veering; nto the hearts and through the mouths of children just like you and me.

Wow! What a vision! What a purpose! What a God! What a Word made flesh! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
I'm without words this morning, but oh how I'm with Word this day! Thanks be to God! --- Amen

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 18th - Reflection




Third Sunday of Easter
John 21:1-19 (NRSV)
Jesus appears to the disciples


After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No." He said to them, "Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."


Reflection

Why 153? And who did the counting? And why would anyone record this number? And why the detail about the fish being large. But then again, I guess when you follow Jesus lead, really big things happen. Big things like forgiveness take place when you follow Jesus. Big things like a call to feed and tend to Jesus' sheep in this world. Big response to a big action taken by Christ.


Why 153 and who did the counting? Don't know but, no doubt it's a big deal! Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, You are a big deal...much bigger than I could ever imagine...much bigger than I deserve...much bigger and greater! Send me out to do big things in your name. --- Amen

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17th - Reflection




Luke 14:12-14 (NRSV)
Welcome those in need to your table

He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."


Reflection

I really don't even want to be repaid. Why would I? Look at what Jesus has done for me! Look what he did! I could never repay!


But oh, how I sure want to respond! I want so badly to respond to what Jesus has shown me. Look at the love he has shown. Love that carries my sins to the cross, bears the pain and suffering and puts it all to death. Jesus puts my sin to death.


And then an amazing thing takes place. Jesus rose from the dead and raises me to a new life. How I want to respond! How I want to go forth without the worry of sin to show Jesus' love and compassion to the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and to all God's children.


I really don't even want to be repaid, but oh, how I want to respond! Thanks be to God!


Prayer

Lord, take me and use me this day to show love, compassion and service to the children you have given to me. --- Amen

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16th - Reflection




Revelation 4:1-11 (NRSV)
Heaven's holy, holy, holy


After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.
Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,
"Holy, holy, holy,
the Lord God the Almighty,
who was and is and is to come."

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,
"You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created."
Reflection
A door standing open in heaven! What a vision! Through Jesus a door now stands open in heaven. Those before us, those with us, and those yet to come will enter through this door. And we will gather at Jesus' feet and worship him in all glory.

As children of God we can enter through this door each day. We can relive our baptism and celebrate that Easter joy. We can walk in the Spirit and bring forth that eternal love shown to all of us through Jesus' death and resurrection. Evil has been defeated. Death is no more. Our everlasting life has begun.

A door standing open in heaven! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Holy, holy, holy are you O Lord! --- Amen

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15th - Reflection




Revelation 3:14-22 (NRSV)
Words to the church at Laodicea


"And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God's creation:

"I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, 'I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.' You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches."

Reflection
Ah, this is the passage of my dream with a twist. Jesus at the door knocking. Sure, I open the door daily to let him in, but instead, in my dream, Jesus turns my invite into an invite of his own.

I come to the door, in my five or six year old's dream, and there I see Jesus, Moses, perhaps Elijah and possibly one other, these men seem to be a little fuzzy in my memory. As a child, I open the door to invite Jesus and friends in to play, but instead, Jesus invites me out to play. So, out we go to play in his Kingdom.

Day after day we go out to play in Jesus Kingdom, here and now. Go out to follow Jesus and interact with friends. Daily we are taught as the disciples are taught. Daily we learn new ways of dealing in love with those we are given. Daily we go with the fire of passion and love.

Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying.

Prayer
Lord, this child hears your knock at the door! How exciting to go into your Kingdom with you each day. I'll be right there! Bye Mom! See you later tonight! --- Amen

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 14th - Reflection




Psalm 122 (NRSV)
Peace in Jerusalem

I was glad when they said to me,
"Let us go to the house of the Lord!"
Our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem--built as a city
that is bound firmly together.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there the thrones for judgment were set up,
the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
"May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers."
For the sake of my relatives and friends
I will say, "Peace be within you."
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.


Reflection

The resurrected Jesus brings peace to us. He brings peace and a mission. He brings peace and the wind of the Spirit. Jesus brings peace and a calling. Jesus brings peace within. Peace to the very heart of our soul. Jesus brings peace and joy and fulfillment and love. Jesus brings peace. Now go!


Prayer

Lord, in your peace I go to spread the news of your Love. What a wonderful story! --- Amen

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 13th - Reflection




Esther 8:1-17 (NRSV)
Destruction of the Jews is averted

On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. Then the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. So Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

Then Esther spoke again to the king; she fell at his feet, weeping and pleading with him to avert the evil design of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. The king held out the golden scepter to Esther, and Esther rose and stood before the king. She said, "If it pleases the king, and if I have won his favor, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I have his approval, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote giving orders to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming on my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?" Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to the Jew Mordecai, "See, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he plotted to lay hands on the Jews. You may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king's ring; for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked."

The king's secretaries were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day; and an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews and to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred twenty-seven provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. He wrote letters in the name of King Ahasuerus, sealed them with the king's ring, and sent them by mounted couriers riding on fast steeds bred from the royal herd. By these letters the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, with their children and women, and to plunder their goods on a single day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. A copy of the writ was to be issued as a decree in every province and published to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take revenge on their enemies. So the couriers, mounted on their swift royal steeds, hurried out, urged by the king's command. The decree was issued in the citadel of Susa.

Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king, wearing royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a mantle of fine linen and purple, while the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. For the Jews there was light and gladness, joy and honor. In every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict came, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a festival and a holiday. Furthermore, many of the peoples of the country professed to be Jews, because the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.

Reflection
The king had released the Jews from the bondage set before them through Haman, but the evil decree still existed. The Jews were released and free to defeat the impact of the decree written by Haman.

God releases us from sin and death, however, in this world as it exists today, we still deal with evil. Evil is a force that God has freed us to fight against through the power of Jesus. So, we must go out into this world day after day, knowing that we are baptised and fight the fight of our own sinful flesh and the evil of this world.

We fight, knowing that the battle has been won. We fight, knowing that one day Jesus will return and complete this battle. We fight by the side of Jesus, and for God, to bring all creation into His glory. Released from sin, death and the devil, through the resurrection of Christ, we fight. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, stand by and direct my battle against the forces of evil this day. May the world see Your Love. --- Amen

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12th - Reflection




Esther 7:1-10 (NRSV)
Esther prevails over Haman

So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, "What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled." Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me -- that is my petition -- and the lives of my people -- that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king." Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, "Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?" Esther said, "A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!" Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. The king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that the king had determined to destroy him. When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, "Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?" As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, "Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman's house, fifty cubits high." And the king said, "Hang him on that." So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.

Reflection
A plea for release from a wicked action taken by someone else. Haman had been caught in his sin, but rather than repent of his sin, and change, he tried to beg his way out. The result was death. How many times have I tried to rationalize sin? How many times have I tried to talk my way out of it? Never works! But, the times that I have admitted the sin and fell into repentance, God has always been there to forgive.

Sure, I still have to pay the consequences of my sin, but I also change and move in a new direction. I move in a direction towards God as God moved towards me in forgiveness. Sin, causes me to run away from God, but thanks be to God, God runs faster than I and gives me a chance to see sin and see salvation and permits me to decide. Thanks be to God! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
How deep my love is for my Father who runs and hunts me down and gives me the advice I need to hear. Thank You Father! --- Amen

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 11th - Reflection


Reading
Second Sunday of Easter
John 20:19-31 (NRSV)
Beholding the wounds of the risen Christ

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Reflection
The resurrected Christ always brings peace. "Peace be with you." Jesus would bring peace and a patience of understanding. This was a big thing, and it's so important we get on the right track with it. Jesus brings peace and the same mission that the Father had given the Son. The Father sent Jesus and now Jesus sends the disciples. But first there is peace and then the blowing of the Spirit.

A new creation is born. In the beginning a wind from God swept over the formless void and now once again, through the love and peace of Jesus, the breath of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, blows over the disciples. And they are sent. Sent as the Father sent the Son, so now the Son sends the disciples.

Disciples sent with the breath of the Holy Spirit as new creations on a mission from Jesus. Oh, how that baptism comes to mind! Claimed as a Child of God, wet with the waters of creation and the breath of the pastor proclaiming the presence of the Holy Spirit to this Child of God. A new creation is born. A creation that grows and learns and is filled with the Spirit and the presence of God. A creation that is called as a Disciple of Jesus to Go! Go, as the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends the Children of God. Go! My child go! Go, in peace and proclaim the love God has shown to you from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Go, filled with the breath and Spirit of God! Go!

Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, I recall my baptism daily. I feel that breath of the Spirit enter into my life daily and I go. Go as you send me each day. Go to live and proclaim the hope and love you have shown through Jesus. Go! --- Amen

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 10th - Reflection





Reading

Luke 24:36-40 (NRSV)
Beholding the wounds of the risen Christ

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.



Reflection

Look at his hands and feet. See what Jesus has endured. Don't be frightened by it all but believe with your whole heart. This is Jesus who suffered and died for you. This is Jesus who rose again and walks about this earth. This is Jesus in the flesh. Look at his hands and feet and believe. See!



Prayer

Lord, open my eyes that I may fully see the love you have shown. --- Amen

Friday, April 09, 2010

April 9th - Reflection


Reading
Acts 5:17-26 (NRSV)
The apostles freed from prison

Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, "Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life." When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.

When the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the temple police went there, they did not find them in the prison; so they returned and reported, "We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside." Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were perplexed about them, wondering what might be going on. Then someone arrived and announced, "Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!" Then the captain went with the temple police and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

Reflection
So what is going on? Put Jesus in the tomb and he comes out. Jesus enters through a closed door. Apostles put into prison but get out with all the doors locked. So what is going on?

News events that shake our lives. Sometimes things just don't make sense. What is going on? Some of this can't be explained in the physical sense of things. What is going on? Some things happening are in the spiritual sense of things. Something great and wonderful has occurred. Jesus has risen! He has risen indeed! What is going on?

There is something spiritual in the physical world! Jesus is alive and we have a hope beyond this world. We run to tell all the world of what Jesus has done for me and for you and we can't be held back. We can't even be held back by what is physical in this world. We are released spiritual beings in a physical world where the Kingdom has come. We are free from sin and death and the devil, even though we live in a world that still has sin and death and the devil, but now we have hope in Jesus. Jesus has released us from our prison and we run to tell all about his glorious, life giving deeds.

So what is going on? News of Jesus is going on! News of hope in our world! News that can't and won't hold any of us back that run to tell this great story of Jesus love. Acts of compassion and love coming through the spiritual to the physical in love. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, it's you that's going on! As I run to tell that you have risen indeed, work your love through me in this world. --- Amen

Thursday, April 08, 2010

April 8th - Reflections


Reading
Acts 5:12-16 (NRSV)
Signs and wonders by the apostles

Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.

Reflection
As we come to believe in what God has done for us through Jesus' life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit invades our very being. A new creation begins to grow. I can see this especially in baptism. In baptism, old or young, the Spirit of God takes hold of a life and begins to work. The person remains a child of God always, but begins to mature through Scripture, the Sacraments and the hearing and acting out on the Word. The Word becomes flesh in this Child of God and becomes active and alive. Passion for Christ and compassion for creation and neighbor grows and flourishes. There is no telling what the Spirit may accomplish in this life of a Child of God. --- "Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles." --- And even more believers were added to the Lord...Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord Jesus, may your resurrection be a life of resurrection in me this day. May all see that I am a spiritual being in connection to you and your love. Shake my life and rock my world in this Easter presence and let your love come through me today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

April 7th - Reflection



Reading
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (NRSV)
On this day God has acted

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say,
"His steadfast love endures forever." .

The Lord is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.

There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
"The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly."
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.

I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord's doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Reflection
But he did not give me over to death. This phrase struck a cord for me. I deserve death for my sin. I deserve death...but he did not give me over to death. Instead he hung from a cross and wore my sin and took that death on for me...he did not give me over to death...but was put to death for me.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. That act alone does it all...that act alone brings the joy from myself also that is an everlasting joy. I shall not die but I shall live. And live for him I will. Live for him in joy, service and happiness now and forever.

For on the third day Christ has risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

But he did not give me over to death...Thanks be to God!

Prayer
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. --- Amen

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

April 6th - Reflection


Reading
Judges 4:17-23; 5:24-31a (NRSV)
Jael kills Sisera

Now Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between King Jabin of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite. Jael came out to meet Sisera, and said to him, "Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; have no fear." So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. Then he said to her, "Please give me a little water to drink; for I am thirsty." So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. He said to her, "Stand at the entrance of the tent, and if anybody comes and asks you, 'Is anyone here?' say, 'No.'" But Jael wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, until it went down into the ground -- he was lying fast asleep from weariness -- and he died. Then, as Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to meet him, and said to him, "Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking." So he went into her tent; and there was Sisera lying dead, with the tent peg in his temple.

So on that day God subdued King Jabin of Canaan before the Israelites. ...

"Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
He asked water and she gave him milk,
she brought him curds in a lordly bowl.
She put her hand to the tent peg
and her right hand to the workmen's mallet;
she struck Sisera a blow,
she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.
He sank, he fell,
he lay still at her feet;
at her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell dead.

"Out of the window she peered,
the mother of Sisera gazed through the lattice:
'Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?'
Her wisest ladies make answer,
indeed, she answers the question herself:
'Are they not finding and dividing the spoil? --
A girl or two for every man;
spoil of dyed stuffs for Sisera,
spoil of dyed stuffs embroidered,
two pieces of dyed work embroidered for my neck as spoil?'

"So perish all your enemies, O Lord!

Reflection
It all seems so crude! What a way to bring death to an enemy. Did God ordain this death? I wonder about the compassion. I question the reason. But, here as I stand today, who am I to question? But it takes extreme action for God to battle the enemy he faces.

Jesus faced sin, death and the devil. And Jesus faced a death just as horrific as a stake through the head. Jesus was undeserving of this kind of death, but took the extreme action so that these enemies of sin, death and the devil would finally perish.

It all seems so crude! What a way to bring death to an enemy. But thanks be to God, Jesus did it...Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, teach me your ways. Teach me your love so wonderful and deep that extreme actions of compassion and love may be shown through me to those you love this day. --- Amen

Monday, April 05, 2010

April 5th - Reflection


Reading
Joshua 10:16-27 (NRSV)
Joshua defeats five kings

Meanwhile, these five kings fled and hid themselves in the cave at Makkedah. And it was told Joshua, "The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah." Joshua said, "Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them; but do not stay there yourselves; pursue your enemies, and attack them from the rear. Do not let them enter their towns, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand." When Joshua and the Israelites had finished inflicting a very great slaughter on them, until they were wiped out, and when the survivors had entered into the fortified towns, all the people returned safe to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah; no one dared to speak against any of the Israelites.

Then Joshua said, "Open the mouth of the cave, and bring those five kings out to me from the cave." They did so, and brought the five kings out to him from the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. When they brought the kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the Israelites, and said to the chiefs of the warriors who had gone with him, "Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings." Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. And Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous; for thus the Lord will do to all the enemies against whom you fight." Afterward Joshua struck them down and put them to death, and he hung them on five trees. And they hung on the trees until evening. At sunset Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves; they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day.

Reflection
Joshua and Jesus, both names linked in meaning. This story, although gory and seeming somewhat ruthless, reminds me of the tomb of Jesus. In that tomb, did Jesus fight sin, death and the devil? What went on those few days in that tomb? Or was the battle won outside of the tomb? Was the battle done and then the tomb sealed?

In one respect, I guess that answers to these questions really don't matter. What I do know is that Jesus saved me. Even though I fight the battle with sin, death and the devil, I know the victory has already been sealed in stone through Jesus. Jesus rose from the dead and lives eternally. Jesus has promised to come again for me and you. We fight the battle for now, but the victory of Love released and the full force of evil has been sealed in that tomb! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, you are the soldier and victor of all. Thanks for your sacrifice. May I fight the battle for and with you in this world day after day and show that earth shaking love you have taught to all. --- Amen

Sunday, April 04, 2010

April 4th - Reflection


Reading
Resurrection of Our Lord
John 20:1-18 (NRSV)
Seeing the risen Christ

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Reflection
Weeping and then turning and not recognizing...then turning once more and recognizing. This day tends to spin me around in continuous circles. Turning to Jesus in fascination...turning to God in doubt at first...turning to Jesus in belief...turning to Jesus in joy...turning to Jesus in love...turning to Jesus to listen...then running to tell.

How can Jesus love us so much? How can Jesus care about each one of us personally? But somehow, Jesus knows how to deal with us as a group and knows how to deal with us individually. Jesus knows how to generate fascination, joy and love in all of our lives and each of our lives. Today, we have seen the Lord! Today, I have seen the Lord!

The cold hard stone of the tomb is open and now warmed by the Light of Jesus and inhabited by his angels. The cold hard stone of death and sin have been warmed into laughter and great joy. The cold hard stone of the tomb has changed! All has changed! The sick symbol of the cross has changed into a lovely symbol of life. And our lives have forever changed to belief in the Son of God, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

He has risen indeed! Risen from the cold hard stone of the tomb. Risen from the bloody mess of the cross. And risen in each sinners heart and this sinners heart this day, to bring life, joy and eternal Light.

He has risen! Run and tell!!! Thanks be to God!

Alleluia, Christ has risen...he has risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Prayer
Lord, this day you have risen in my heart! How exciting! How wonderful! How thankful I am! --- Amen

Saturday, April 03, 2010

April 3rd - Reflection


Reading
Holy Saturday
Matthew 27:57-66 (NRSV)
The burial of Jesus

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, 'After three days I will rise again.' Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, 'He has been raised from the dead,' and the last deception would be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

Reflection
Joseph had a new tomb. A tomb he had hewn in the rock. Think of all the work Joseph must have done to hack this hole in the rock. The hours of swinging and chipping this rock away. The sweat he poured into the cutting blows attempting to make the rock smooth enough for a tomb. Joseph had to work at making this rock conform to the shape that would hold death.

Joseph had a new tomb. A tomb that he was willing to give over to permit the body of Jesus to lay in first. Maybe in some future time Joseph's own body would lay in this tomb also. But for now, Joseph was ready to permit Jesus to be the first occupant.

Sweat upon sweat, the sweat of Joseph to create this tomb, accepting the sweat of Jesus in his suffering and death. Sweat accepting sweat and love accepting love. Joseph, wanting to honor the body of our Lord and Savior.

But then the fear of Pilate that something would occur to make matters worse in his world. So more stone added to stone. Jesus hidden behind stone and in stone. Surely death was now imprisoned. Death was now captured and contained. No longer life but only death.

So, today we wait. We wait with death contained...we wait to see...we wait in love...we wait in hope...we wait in faith...we wait.

Prayer
Lord, as we wait...we pray...come Lord Jesus...come... Amen

Friday, April 02, 2010

April 2nd - Reflection


Reading
Good Friday
John 18:1-19:42 (NRSV)
The passion and death of Jesus

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, "Whom are you looking for?" They answered, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus replied, "I am he." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, "I am he," they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, "Whom are you looking for?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus answered, "I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go." This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, "I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me." Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave's name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?"

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, "You are not also one of this man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said." When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" Jesus answered, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, "You are not also one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not." One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?" Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate's headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" They answered, "If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you." Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law." The Jews replied, "We are not permitted to put anyone to death." (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?" Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pilate asked him, "What is truth?"

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, "I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" They shouted in reply, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him." So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!" When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him." The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God."

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor."

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge's bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, "Here is your King!" They cried out, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate asked them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but the emperor." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written." When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it." This was to fulfill what the scripture says,
"They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots."
And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), "I am thirsty." A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, "None of his bones shall be broken." And again another passage of scripture says, "They will look on the one whom they have pierced."

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Reflection
Well, there it is, as it took place, Jesus crucified. How we weave sin in and out and back and forth, through religion and govenment and even our own selfish desire for clothing or a token of the moment. But at the same time, how God weaves in and out, back and forth the Love which God has brought forth to show the world truth. God is love, through and through. The condemning God of the death of man takes on that death himself in Christ Jesus. We are shown the Truth of Love. We are shown the depth of Love. We are shown what Love will endure. We are shown the sacrifice of Love. How God Loves us so much that the Son of God, Jesus, would die for our sin. Jesus, dies for us and forgives us straight from the cross.

Aren't you drawn into all of this? Doesn't it make you want to return to the foot of the empty cross in prayer and cry out to God NO! This was mine! I want to kneel at the foot of that cross and slowly scan upward and see the blood shed, see the sponge and spear left behind, see the trash of a public gathering strewn about...look up and see the face of Christ and cry out in  thanks and joy for all he has done for me in my life and the lives of all the people I know and give a heartfelt, heartfull, thanks and praise Him forevermore. Aren't you drawn into all of this?...

It's Love in flesh for you!...

Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Awesome! You are truly wonderful! Love! --- Amen