Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31st - Reflection

Ephesians 4:25-32 (NRSV)
Called to honesty and forbearance

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Anger that simmers can be used to bring forth sin and hate and all sorts of evil intentions against the neighbor. We need to deal with our anger and forgive. If the world were all made of forgiveness, just think of how things would be. That forgiveness started in Christ and continues in him through us to our friends, neighbors and even our enemies.

In the forgiveness comes the compassion and tender heart and Christ. It's certainly not the easy first step. But that first step has already been taken in that step of Jesus towards me. So, I step out in forgiveness towards those Jesus gives to me day by day with a compassionate and loving heart forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave me. Thanks be to God!

Lord you first came to me. You love me and show me your way. As I step out this day and approach those you give to me, may I step towards them with a heart of compassion, love, blessing and forgiveness. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30th - Reflection

John 7:14-31, 37-39 (NRSV)
Drink of Jesus, the Messiah

About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished at it, saying, "How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?" Then Jesus answered them, "My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.

"Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?" The crowd answered, "You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?" Jesus answered them, "I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man's whole body on the sabbath? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."

Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, "Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from." Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, "You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me." Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, "When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?" ...

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Sometimes Christ reveals himself to us and we don't want to see him. We don't want to see him or admit that he sees our sin. So we pretend a little. We pretend we don't know that Jesus is the Messiah. We pretend we don't know where he comes from. We pretend that Jesus presence with us is not the same as the presence of God. We pretend that our sin is hidden. We pretend that Jesus can't be God.

But then Jesus looks right past all of our false imaginations and comes to us with the Spirit of God. Jesus shows us rivers of living water. Jesus reveals his grace of forgiveness, only if we stop pretending that we have not sinned and come to him and repent.

When we see Jesus as God, the God that knows us completely, we drop our guards and run to him. Run to Jesus, humbly repenting and asking for deliverance from sin, death, the devil and our sinful self. Jesus responds with an outflow of rivers of living water from the believers heart. Receive the Spirit and live! Thanks be to God!

Lord, the source of living waters; I come to you this day and repent. Forgive my sin and fill me with that living water that I may go out in your name and gladly do your will, your way, this day. --- Amen

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 29th - Reflection

Genesis 29:1-14 (NRSV)
Rachel at the well

Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the people of the east. As he looked, he saw a well in the field and three flocks of sheep lying there beside it; for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well's mouth was large, and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well, and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well.

Jacob said to them, "My brothers, where do you come from?" They said, "We are from Haran." He said to them, "Do you know Laban son of Nahor?" They said, "We do." He said to them, "Is it well with him?" "Yes," they replied, "and here is his daughter Rachel, coming with the sheep." He said, "Look, it is still broad daylight; it is not time for the animals to be gathered together. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them." But they said, "We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep."

While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep; for she kept them. Now when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother's brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother's brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of his mother's brother Laban. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's kinsman, and that he was Rebekah's son; and she ran and told her father.

When Laban heard the news about his sister's son Jacob, he ran to meet him; he embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, and Laban said to him, "Surely you are my bone and my flesh!" And he stayed with him a month.

In marriage we begin a new life. A new life with a new partner. At the well we uncover water that sustains life. With the meeting at the well of new life we uncover and drink from the water to sustain life.

God leads us to living water at the well. In this living water we meet Father, Son and Spirit and are claimed as a Child of God. A marriage of sorts begins and grows. We are covered with this living water and brought into a marriage with the Church.

As newly baptized children, it's no wonder that those in the Church gladly run in love to a new Child of God. We proclaim, "Surely you are my bone and my flesh!" We are one in our baptism in God. And at the well we all live faithfully, having been given a drink of that living water.

What a wonderful place is the well of God. What a wonderful gift God gives! Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I come once again to the well today, give me that living water. Show me the way you would have me go, the people you want me to meet, and the way you want me to live. Cover me with living water this day. --- Amen

Monday, March 28, 2011

March 28th - Reflection

Genesis 24:1-27 (NRSV)
Rebekah at the well

Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he had, "Put your hand under my thigh and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but will go to my country and to my kindred and get a wife for my son Isaac." The servant said to him, "Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land; must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?" Abraham said to him, "See to it that you do not take my son back there. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and swore to me, 'To your offspring I will give this land,' he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there." So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.

Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and departed, taking all kinds of choice gifts from his master; and he set out and went to Aram naharaim, to the city of Nahor. He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water; it was toward evening, the time when women go out to draw water. And he said, "O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. I am standing here by the spring of water, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. Let the girl to whom I shall say, 'Please offer your jar that I may drink,' and who shall say, 'Drink, and I will water your camels' let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master."

Before he had finished speaking, there was Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, coming out with her water jar on her shoulder. The girl was very fair to look upon, a virgin, whom no man had known. She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up. Then the servant ran to meet her and said, "Please let me sip a little water from your jar." "Drink, my lord," she said, and quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, "I will draw for your camels also, until they have finished drinking." So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels. The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.

When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, and said, "Tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?" She said to him, "I am the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor." She added, "We have plenty of straw and fodder and a place to spend the night." The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord and said, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the way to the house of my master's kin."

Abraham was led by God to places unknown to him and times unknown. Abraham walked in faith with God and followed God's lead. Likewise, in Abraham's last recorded words in the Bible, he sends his servant to bring back an unknown wife for his son Isaac.

So Abraham's faith was an example for this servant who now walks in faith back to the land from which Abraham came.

As we walk in faith with God, we become examples to family, friends and neighbors, of people that love, trust and are faithful to God. We walk into situations unknown. Sometimes we live through happy times and sometimes through sad and even tough times. The walk we take is not always easy. However, we can always rest assured that God will lead and guide us along the way.

Jesus, being God in human form, knows how this walk of faith takes place. Jesus walks with us as he walked in faith and love with Father. So as we too walk, we can always know that Jesus is closer than could ever be imagined. Jesus is closer than you think and knows you deeper than you can imagine. In this I give all thanks and praise to God.

Lord, as I walk this day into the unknown; I know that I can look to my left or right, front or back, and you will be with me. Lead me and guide me this day. --- Amen

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 27th - Reflection

Third Sunday in Lent
John 4:5-42 (NRSV)

The woman at the well
So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?" Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."

Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!" The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."

Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you want?" or, "Why are you speaking with her?" Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?" They left the city and were on their way to him.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, eat something." But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, 'Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I have ever done." So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world."

Jesus bond and relationship with us is so close that he knows all that we do. He knows me and still comes to me. Comes to me even and especially in my sin. He comes and tells me of those actions I have taken that are sinful. If I listen to his words I will act. If I believe in him as the Messiah and Savior, I will humbly confess my sin and change.

God is so wonderful that Jesus comes to us even when we are running away from him in sin. God comes and spells out the way to go that leads to eternal life. Believe in God. Listen and take in the depth of the close relationship God has formed with you and make the changes. God is with you as you change. God is in you as you change. And God is changing you as you change. It's God's first action that brings on an abundance of first actions of change in your life. You simply must believe and proclaim the glory of God in your life.

We all sin. In this sin is Jesus connection to us and God's means of salvation. We deserve death. But Jesus creates life through death and gives us new life. An exciting life. A redeemed life. What a wonderful life to live! Thanks be to God!

Lord, you know me and still love me. You know me and still forgive me. You know me and come to me and help me live a new life in your love. Thanks. --- Amen

Saturday, March 26, 2011

March 26th - Reflection

Psalm 95 (NRSV)
The rock of our salvation

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice!
Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your ancestors tested me,
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, "They are a people whose hearts go astray,

and they do not regard my ways."
Therefore in my anger I swore,
"They shall not enter my rest."

What a great and awesome God we have. A God who sends Jesus into our flesh to save us from the punishment of sin that we fully deserve. A God that you just want to kneel before or fall prostrate in front of because of our utter wonder of the grace we have been shown.

But, we still sin, and must watch our rebellousness in God's presence and return to God from the wilderness of our sin. God is the one and only God of the universe. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you are indeed awesome. Awesome in your creative life giving power of all that I can see. Awesome in the realm of glory that as of yet I am unable to see. You are awesome and gracious in the lives of all. Hear my priase dear Lord and guide me this day in your will and your way. --- Amen

Friday, March 25, 2011

March 25th - Reflection

Ephesians 2:11-22 (NRSV)
Christ, the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile

So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called "the uncircumcision" by those who are called "the circumcision" a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands -- remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

It's interesting the people God calls. When you look back through the Old Testament and the New and even today, the people God calls aren't all that different from you or I. Noah did a wonderful job building the ark, but went and got drunk afterwards. Saul was a hansom and powerful king, but brought the spirit of Samuel up later in life. David was one of God's favorites, but he committed adultery and murder. Peter was a wonderful and inquisitive disciple, but denied Jesus when Jesus needed him most. Paul was on fire with the gospel, but stood by in the death and persecution of so many early Christians. You can go on and on with this. Even beyond the pages of scripture and throughout the history of religious leaders and lay people.

In spite of all these flaws, God calls us through Jesus Christ to be one Church. With the power of the Holy Spirit, flawed people are enlightened, gifted and called to action in the one Universal Church. Leaders and lay come together to form a priesthood of believers.

Jesus came and united the Jews and the Gentiles. Jesus took on the sin of the world and abolished the differences. In this the Church was opened to all. Jesus death and resurrection was for all flawed people, and that's all of us. We are all united in the gift of Jesus. We are all one in Christ. And in our oneness, we come together in that love that builds and grows through Jesus and the movement of the Holy Spirit through space and time.

What a wonderful gift! What a wonderful unity! All people and all Children of God! Will you accept the gift? Thanks be to God for all those different, unique, creations of God who gladly, humbly, and lovingly unite under Jesus!

Lord, I give you thanks for the diversity of people who have been in my life, all created and loved by you. Bring us together as one in your name, your mission, and under your head, Jesus Christ. --- Amen

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 24th - Reflection

Colossians 1:15-23 (NRSV)
Christ, the reconciliation of all things

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.

What a connection God has made in Jesus with us and the created.

In our fall, Jesus came in our form, to make the creation acceptable once again.

And how all things include what is invisible now to my eyes is beyond my thoughts.

But I can have faith in what God has done.
I can believe and account for Jesus birth, life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection.
I can look to the words of the Bible and see evidence recorded years ago that attest to this very account.
I can believe in those words.
I can choose to live by the Word made flesh.
I can be a disciple of Jesus and choose to take his hand while in my lifetime and follow his lead.
I can do this because God builds faith and increases hope and chose to be involved in my life through a close relationship with Jesus.
Finally, I can continue in hope the the gospel I have heard proclaimed and become a servant of this gospel.
What great things I can do, all because of what God chose to do for me through Jesus.
Thanks be to God!

Lord, your way is beyond my imagination. But that's what I love about you. You are the great I AM. You are my God. You are my Savior. And because You are --- I can be your child. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 23rd - Reflection

John 7:53-8:11 (NRSV)
Jesus does not condemn the sinner Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."

There is an underlying issue in this story. Mosaic law stated that the woman was to be stoned to death, but the Pharisees knew that the local authorities would not permit a sentence to be executed. Jesus takes this issue and turns it inward for each one of us.

We all have sinned and fall short of the law. Who is there that could carry out the sentence of death for this woman? The only one who could carry out the sentence in this case was Jesus himself. And Jesus granted life from death. Life from death with a stern command. Jesus does not condemn the woman, but sends her away with the command to not sin again. Forgiveness from the sinless one. Thanks be to God!

I am dust and to dust I will return. Out of that dust, Lord, you created me. I have become dirty and have sinned. Forgive my sinfulness and stir up once again that dust that your breath of life may enter in to me again. Send me Lord with the purpose you have in store for me. Send me to bring your message of life from death and joy from dust today. --- Amen

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 22nd - Reflection

Isaiah 65:17-25 (NRSV)
God promises a new creation
For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain,
or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord
and their descendants as well.
Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent its food shall be dust!

They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain,

says the Lord.

This is the way things are supposed to be it seems. People live together in love and harmony with one another and with God. It seems that a picture of the creation God intended is given in this passage.

As this vision is described and the words pop to life, we see what God has in store for us. Sure, our sinfulness messed the reality of this living up, but in this vision God gives us the hope of new living to come.

And that living won't come through our good intentions or good efforts. This vision will be made reality through the birth, life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection of God's Son, Jesus Christ. As Jesus comes into this world to make things right with God in the place of sinful humans.

And in this, is the awe of the story. In this is the love of God. In this act is salvation. What hope we have been given. What a Savior we have seen! Thanks be to God!

Lord, you have given us a Savior. You have shown us the vision. Use me and my fellow disciples to move this vision towards reality today in the love that you have placed in our hearts this day. --- Amen

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21st - Reflection

Numbers 21:4-9 (NRSV)
Moses lifts up the serpent

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food." Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, "Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live." So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

Look and live. Look at the serpent on the pole from God and live. Look at Jesus, Moses, and Elijah and the Light of God and live. Look at the cross of Jesus and live. Look at the body, the bread and the blood, the wine and live. Look and live.

God teaches us that salvation only comes through him. Salvation is not something we come upon or stumble upon with our own effort or work. Salvation comes from God and God alone. Look and live...only in God do we receive deliverance.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I open the Word in the pages of the Bible, I see so many examples of "look and live." You reveal yourself and save me and your people. This day may I "look and live" as I encounter you in the world you send me into. --- Amen

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 20th - Reflection

Second Sunday in Lent
Matthew 17:1-9 (NRSV)

Christ revealed as God's beloved Son

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid." And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, "Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."
Here we see a combination of the appearance of the Law, the Prophets, and the Messiah. The entirety of God's Word is now flesh and comes to be with us and shed his great Light now upon our faces, face to face. In Jesus there is nothing hidden. God makes himself known through flesh and spirit. Our own creation can now sense God, feel, touch, smell, hear and know that God is real. Our own creation can now know the Spirit of God. Our own creation can now spring forth to new life under the warmth and the power of Jesus' Light.

God comes to us and reveals himself to us and we are awestruck! Thanks be to God!

Lord, I wish to dwell with you and you come to dwell with me. It's all topsy turvey! It's all wonderful! --- Amen

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 19th - Reflection

Psalm 121 (NRSV)
The Lord watches over you
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.
When we place all of our trust in God, we begin to see the God of creation. As we lift our eyes to the hills, we see the vastness of all that God has created. We stand in awe of the hand work or God and the precision of life. Then life brings forth thoughts of God working throughout history with this people. And God works not only with his people but works on a personal level with you and with me. Once again we are brought full cycle, as we recall that God is the God of eternity.

This Psalm leaves me in awe of God's power, love and might. It takes me out and then close in to feel the breath of God on my cheek. We have a wonderful loving God in our midst, day by day. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I climb on your lap this day, comfort me, teach me, encourage me, hear my worship and send me to do your will in your way this day. --- Amen

Friday, March 18, 2011

March 18th - Reflection

Romans 3:21-31 (NRSV)
Paul relates law and faith
But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.

Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

When we witness the bright light of the Savior, Jesus Christ, we begin to see just the beginnings of the greatness of God. We can't fathom how far God reaches out in love to his people. So, when we witness just a peek at this light we know that it's not all about us. In fact we feel awed that there is anything about us. We feel the love of God for each one of us. God is so big and we are so small, that it is amazing that we could even be cared for. What a wonderful feeling this becomes. How loved and important we are in the eyes of God.

And we also begin to learn about salvation through this great Light of Jesus. We could never achieve salvation. Never through obedience to the law or by good works. God's salvation is so far beyond all this. The Law and good works are now responses to the realization that the Light and love of Christ is our way to salvation. Jesus gave us salvation through his love for us.

And back to the beginning thought. How vast and how wide is the love of God. This Light of the mountain became the light of the valley, of the world, of the universe, of all. And in this Light of Christ shines salvation for all. Thanks be to God!

Awestruck by your Holiness, I can only say thanks! Thanks be to God! --- Amen

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17th - Reflection

2 Timothy 1:3-7 (NRSV)
Faith handed down from faithful mothers
I am grateful to God -- whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self discipline.

Just think of the examples my Mom and Dad have set in my life. I remember seeing Mom in quiet moments daily reading her Bible. Her Bible even had small devotionals within it. I remember seeing this and then in later years I emulated her actions and found out the depth of the Word in the Bible and how Jesus comes to life in those words, Old and New Testament both. The gospel message springs forth even from the law.

And then hearing my Dad give a talk from the pulpit. The example Dad set of taking a chance and doing something outside the norm. This inspiration active in Dad gave me the strength to be willing to give sermons and speak in public. God took action with Dad's faith and Dad was an example of Jesus love for those in need.

Paul's passage brings back memories that have been taking place throughout time. Memories that God is alive and working and in our midst. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I live each moment with you, may I see you in the other and may you work in and through me. Help us to teach one another the message of the Cross and Salvation through Jesus amid your life and ours. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March 16th - Reflection

Matthew 18:10-14 (NRSV)
Not one of these little ones should be lost
"Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

God doesn't want anyone to perish. God cares about each of us so much that in heaven we have angels that are continually in the face of the Father. We're talking about God here! The God of the universe, beyond as big as we can think and beyond as small as we can think, before and after time, that God.

God wants to save each one of us and never let us stray. Yet this same God created us so that we could stray if we choose to. That's a God of love! And this God rejoices when we return to him. Rejoices when he tracks us down and finds us and leads us back. That's a great and awesome thought. That's our God and he wants us.

God wants and loves you and me and the person next to you and her, his little ones. Thanks be to God!

I love you Lord! Teach me to love others as well. Show me and teach me your passion in love. --- Amen

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 15th - Reflection

Genesis 4:1-16 (NRSV)
God protects Cain
Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have produced a man with the help of the Lord." Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it."

Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out to the field." And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" And the Lord said, "What have you done? Listen; your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground! And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth." Cain said to the Lord, "My punishment is greater than I can bear! Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me." Then the Lord said to him, "Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance." And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Who decides what is good or what is bad? We do it all the time. We decide what is good and what is bad. We judge people based on our decisions. But here, God decides not good or bad, but what pleases him. The Lord had regard for Abel;s offering. He thought highly of Abel's offering. Abel brought of the first lings of his flock and Cain brought of the fruit of the ground. Was it the manner the offering was presented or the quality? We are really not sure, but for some reason God had thought highly of Abel's offering. God can have a favorite after all. It's not a competition here between Cain and Abel. But it seems to have became one when Cain became angry, killed Abel and lied to God about his death.

Sin enters into us through one means of anger. Our selfish pride of seeing someones work honored, leads to the open door of sin and the anger it produced to sneak into our lives. Then when action is taken on that anger, sin controls us, even to the point of murder.

Our separation in sin from God widens as we deny any knowledge. God here chose to protect Cain but Cain didn't feel like it was protection, but rather made him a target and a shame to all the world. We are set out as fugitives and wanderers away from God in our sin. We are lost in our sin.

But thanks be to God, we are marked and still claimed by God. We are also free to turn around a wander back to God. He didn't say Cain couldn't return to him and repent of his sin. God opened the door for the return of man to him by sending his son Jesus to be that man that would lead us all back to the Father.

Marked with the ashes of sin and death, through Jesus coming, life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection, we are lead back to God in Jesus to be marked with that baptismal cross of Christ forever. It's Jesus that saves us and re brands us with the death tool he died on for us that gives us eternal life with God. We return, through Jesus, to the grace of God in joy and thanksgiving. Marked by the saving grace of God that protected Cain we are marked with the cross of Christ and see the countenance of God shine once again upon us and be gracious to us. The return! Thanks be to God!

Lord, cast me not away from your presence...but let the glow of your countenance graciously shine in and through me that I may love those you give me with your love this day. You are God! --- Amen

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14th - Reflection

1 Kings 19:1-8 (NRSV)
An angel feeds Elijah in the wilderness

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow." Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there.

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, "Get up and eat." He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, "Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you." He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

Elijah has just done a ton of work for God and what did he get for it? Death threats! I think Elijah was pretty sick and tired of this whole ordeal. He wasn't making any great progress and it still seemed like a long haul ahead. So depressed and tired, Elijah had enough of life and was ready for it all to end. He was old after all. Give an old guy a break.

But God had more in store. God fed Elijah with bread. What a symbolic food God has chosen to bring life to his people. Bread that would sustain Elijah for a long time and bring him back to Horeb the mount of God.

Likewise God has given us Bread to sustain us for a long time. Through Jesus Bread we can go for a long time towards our goal, with the mount of God in focus. We can be disciples, gathering people along that path towards that cross along the way in our life. Bread to sustain us and Wine to give us that burst of energy only God could provide.

Let Jesus into your life this day and follow him. Open the Word and see Jesus come to life in the pages of the Bible. Seek the Sacraments and see earthly elements spring to life along with the Word and a promise from God. Your life will change. And all along you will focus on Jesus and be fed with that same wonderful Bread that fed Elijah at a low point in his life. Thanks be to God!

Lord, today feed me your Bread, teach me your Word, show me your Sacraments in action and lead me as I follow you in your forever. --- Amen

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 13th - Reflection

First Sunday in Lent
Matthew 4:1-11 (NRSV)

The temptation of Jesus
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written,
'One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
'He will command his angels concerning you,'
and 'On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'"

Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
'Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.' "

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Jesus faced the same kind of temptations you and I face. Jesus faced the same kind of temptations the Israelites faced while wandering in the wilderness. Jesus faced the same kind of temptation that Adam faced in the lust of the fruit, and the lust of the eyes. Jesus faces the same kind of temptations you and I and all people face.

Jesus, having come through the waters of baptism was now tempted for forty days. Likewise the Israelites having come through the saving waters of the Red Sea were tempted in the wilderness for forty years. Jesus was tempted to do many of the things that God had already done for the Israelites in the wilderness. Think back of manna and relate this to the bread from stone temptation.

Jesus knew the lives of the Israelites well and he knew what God had done for them. And Jesus got the point of it all...Worship the Lord your God.

The Israelites missed it...we miss the point...but Jesus didn't. Jesus took on temptation knowing that it's all about God. Not about your needs or my needs, it's about God. So as we face temptation in our daily lives. Try...try your best to turn to Jesus and see that's it's not about what it does for yourself, but it's all about God. Turn to Jesus, he's closer than you think, and seek his help. Turn to Jesus and see that Light and Listen to him. You can't do this on your own. You need Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Lord, when I face temptation, settle my mind that I may turn to you and see your light and listen. You are God the One I forever. --- Amen

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March 12th - Reflection

Psalm 51 (NRSV)
Create in me a clean heart
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,

and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

I have sinned. I have grievously sinned. I am convicted of sin. It's my sin and not yours. It's sin that I did and I am accountable for my sin. I have turned away from God in my sin. My sin has hurt others and my sin has hurt God. My sin has been against God. My sin deserves death.

I need to be cleansed of my sin. I need God to wipe me clean. I can't clean this mess up on my own. I need God to wash me clean.

And it's only God who can do this. I can't turn to someone else to have my sin washed clean. God is the only one who can clean me from my sin. So I throw myself to God and seek the blood of sacrifice for my sin.

I can't stand the thought of separation from God. I crave God's love in spite of my sin. I'm so afraid that I will be cast into outer darkness. I need God to save me from my selfish hell that my sin has brought on.

And then I see the blood of Christ. At the foot of the cross, I slowly gaze up and see Jesus offering of forgiveness for my sin. At the foot of the cross, I witness the only one who could ever make me clean. At the foot of the cross, Jesus creates in me a new heart, a clean heart, a new and a right spirit inhabits me. At the foot of the cross I see Jesus take me up, when I should be cast away, and places the joy of salvation within me.

Thanks be to God! Thanks be to God! Eternal thanks be to God!

Lord, in my sin I come to you. In my sin I fall to the foot of the cross. Forgive me and renew me and return to me the joy of your salvation. --- Amen

Friday, March 11, 2011

March 11th - Reflection

Romans 1:8-17 (NRSV)
Live by faith
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, asking that by God's will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "The one who is righteous will live by faith."

Have you ever remembered someone always in your prayers? Especially those with a strong faith. Those you pray for daily that their faith may remain strong. Strong through all suffering...strong through all pain...strong through all the situations that life seems to bring. You pray that Jesus would be with that person or persons in such a meaningful way that they will feel and know of his presence and follow Jesus. You pray for a deep spiritual gift to be active in them that the world they live in may know of the gospel love that God has planted within their hearts.

Have you ever remembered someone always in your prayers and wanted to be with them? I think that may be that agape love that God gives to us from time to time. A love that is always unashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith.

Have you ever remembered someone always in your prayers?

Thanks be to God!

Lord, I bring before you this day those faithful witnesses of your love and your gospel. I give you thanks for those who model your love. Be with and protect all in your always. --- Amen

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 10th - Reflection

Romans 1:1-7 (NRSV)
Appointed to preach the good news of Christ
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
God was previously known as the Creator, the God of the Column of fire, the cloud, the God of the Tabernacle sitting over the Ten Commandments. God was the one who lead his people into war and back to safety. God was known as a caring, loving, God, yet a fierce judgmental God. Maybe too much for us to understand.

So God appeared in flesh in the form of Jesus. Jesus walked with us and lived love, compassion, healing and saving grace. Jesus showed his Spirit to this world and when he ascended, the Holy Spirit came to us to lead and guide us.

It was in his Jesus experience that Paul was called to reach out to the Gentiles. God's people have now been opened up to everyone through the saving life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus for the sin of all the world. Paul was called to bring the word of salvation to all the world.

Likewise, you and I have been called to be saints in the Christian fellowship that exists in this world and in the heavenly realm. So as we prepare for our action to all that God has done for us through Jesus. As we prepare for the action of our call. As we live in the hope now planted deep within us. We are given a greeting.

Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. What a start! Thanks be to God!

Lord, teach me, show me, guide me in your grace and peace that I may act out in this world in the love you forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

March 9th - Reflection

Ash Wednesday
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 (NRSV)

The practice of faith
"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

"So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

"And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ...

"And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So what's the point is the point here? When we take some action...what's the point of that action? Do we do things just to look good? Do we act like the church lady on Saturday Night Live? Are we trying to impress others? What's the point of your actions and words?

Focus on Jesus in action and words. Jesus doesn't need to know how good you are. Jesus doesn't need you to act as if you are his friend. Jesus wants you to be you and to have an honest and open relationship with him. When we have a relationship with God our relationships with others are directed by the love God has shown us through Jesus.

It's not about you or me at all. Jesus life exemplified the giving up of oneself for a purpose or cause. Jesus gave his very life for that purpose, to die for the sin of the world and rise again to eternal life. Not for himself, but for the world. Likewise we concentrate on the call God has in store for us. We apply our actions towards God and God gives those actions to others. Not in the "church lady" way that does no one any good, but in an honest way that is humble and gracious and loving and from the heart.

Focus on Jesus and his light. Follow him as a disciple and honor God. Thanks be to God!

Lord, forgive me when my focus strays from you to me. Take my life. Clarify your call for me. Help me clearly understand the purpose you have in mind for me and guide me all along the way. --- Amen

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

March 8th - Reflection

1 Kings 19:9-18 (NRSV)
Elijah hears God
 At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away."

He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away." Then the Lord said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."


Do you suppose that Elijah was at the same place that Moses spoke with God on the mountain? Elijah was at a cave. Maybe God and Moses met at a cave on the mountain. Maybe we meet God at a cave too? The women and the disciples were in a hurry one morning to meet God at a cave.

God seems to be telling us at times to stop. Stop and listen to the gentle sound of silence. Stop and listen to Jesus in the silence. Stop and listen to what God has to say.

It's easy to get in a hurry in the hustle and bustle of our lives. It's easy to move about thinking only of what goals we have set for the day. It's easy to get all wrapped up in planning our every move. It's easy to lead a selfish life of my plan and my way. It's easy to forget to stop and listen for the gentle sound of silence and let go of the plans and listen to God.

Let go of my life and my plans and give my life and my plan over to the gentle voice, the still small voice, and listen to the life and plan God has for me.

Go to the stillness of the cave, the tomb, and witness the resurrected life in Jesus, God has there. Listen to the gentle sound of silence. Feel the presence of death becoming life in Jesus. In the tomb, in the cave, in the prayer, in God. In the gentle sound of silence, we hear that still small voice, with the mighty roar of eternal life. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I pause...I listen...In the silence I hear Jesus.  ---Amen

Monday, March 07, 2011

March 7th - Reflection

Exodus 33:7-23 (NRSV)
Moses asks to see God's glory
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise and stand, each of them, at the entrance of their tents and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tent. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.

Moses said to the Lord, "See, you have said to me, 'Bring up this people'; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.' Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people." He said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." And he said to him, "If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth."

The Lord said to Moses, "I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name." Moses said, "Show me your glory, I pray." And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, 'The Lord'; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But," he said, "you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live." And the Lord continued, "See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen."
We really want God to be with us in this life. At least I know I want God to be with me. I especially want God by my side when I'm hurt, ill, emotionally pained, or in the midst of my sin. I need God to walk with me and lead me and guide me. I need God to take away the fear of choosing directions to take, or going through a dark moment in life. I need God by my side in my life.

Moses really wanted God to be in this "leadership" thing along with him. Even though the people had sinned and strayed from the path God had in mind, Moses needed God and wanted God. I wonder if this human need is what God is looking for out of us. God wants to be needed. God doesn't need to be needed, but when God sees the children reaching out in love for their Father's love, God always responds.

Now we have Jesus. Jesus a man who comes to the door and knocks. Jesus who reveals his face and emotion, his love and compassion and friendship. Jesus is God in flesh and walks every day with us. Walks in Spirit and in Word. As I reflect on the written Word, the Word revealed in the sacraments, and the spoken Word through other disciples and people God sends, I see Jesus. I see Jesus and hear him. I see Jesus and want to know my direction, my purpose, and his love. And I want to walk this life with Jesus.

Can Billy come out to play? Sure! Mom, I gotta go! I'll be back for supper! I'll have a few friends with me! OK? Bye!

Lord, as you come to my door, I get excited. Lead me this day away from the trap of sin. Lead me and teach me to love others with the love and compassion you have. Show me your face while we play. --- Amen

Sunday, March 06, 2011

March 6th - Reflection

Transfiguration of Our Lord
Matthew 17:1-9 (NRSV)

Christ revealed as God's beloved Son

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid." And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, "Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."

It was a reunion of sorts. Or maybe it was an introduction to the divine by a unique circle of friends.

Moses had been exposed to the Light of God in the past. So much so that the people would request that he wear a veil to shade the glow from his face after his God encounters.

The mountain was the place. The place for Moses and the Ten Commandments and for Elijah in that "Still small voice." The mountain top was associated with revelations from God. And here the disciples would witness the voice of God and see the Light of God shine brightly.

When we see Moses we think of the "Law" and when we see Elijah we think of the "Prophets," so here we have the Law and the Prophets and the Son along with the disciples all in a mountain top experience. It was a reunion of sorts.

Throw in a bright cloud. Cast back images of the cloud that would lead the Israelites through the wilderness and you have a divine message, a divine revelation.

When we experience God's salvation in our lives, a cloud settles near us and the Holy Spirit is given to us to lead and direct us. We gain the focus of the Light of God and God takes us to new levels as we follow God's voice, God's Light and God's way. We would love to remain on this "high" but this is just the beginning.

Moses had so much more work to do after the Ten Commandments and the first cloud experience at the tabernacle. Elijah had so much more to do in God's purpose for his life after his mountain top experience. Jesus was to begin the passion and his gracious act on the cross for us. Likewise the ministry of the disciples was just beginning.

In this same manner when we are baptized we also hear those words that God is pleased. Just as God spoke on the mountain top this day about his Son. We are just at the beginning of the new life God will live in and through us at our baptism. At Jesus baptism God spoke those same words of pleasure in Jesus. And at our baptism God speaks the same words to you and me.

So, as mountain top experiences occur for you and me, may we relive our baptism and know the unique pleasure God has for us, yet be ready to move on boldly and confidently with the mission God has called for us to by day...into eternity. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you speak through the Law, through the Prophets, through Jesus and through your Word. I give you thanks for all times when your Word is clear and visible. Use me this day, in your way, to bring your message of love to the world you have given to me. Use me to act out the love you have shown throughout the ages that I may relive my baptism. I give you thanks that you draw my gaze and attention to Jesus. I give you thanks that you shine brightly his Light into my life. I give you thanks for Jesus loving act in me. Bring me this day to always feel the warmth of Jesus great Light on my face and deep within my spirit that Jesus may bring some warmth to another this day through me. --- Amen