Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 30th - Reflection

Psalm 16 (NRSV)
Fullness of joy
Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."
As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names upon my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also rests secure.
For you do not give me up to Sheol,
or let your faithful one see the Pit.

You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

David hit the nail on the head. God is all that we need. God provides for all of our daily bread, our food, our family, our livelihood, our shelter, all. God provides for all of our needs body, spirit and mind. God gives us spiritual gifts of understanding when we need understanding and love when we need love. God saves us through the Father's Son and forgives our sin. Jesus frees us from sin, death and the devil. The Spirit encourages and teaches us throughout our lives.

David hit the nail on the head. And so did you and so did I. And Jesus forgave us anyway, and he rose from the dead. Christ has risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Thanks be to God!

Jesus, forgive me for those times I have betrayed, denied, and nailed you to that cross. Forgive my selfishness and sinfulness. Forgive my words that hurt. Pour into me those fruits of the Spirit that I need the most and send me out into the world to proclaim the love you show on the forever. --- Amen

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 29th - Reflection

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NRSV)
Witnesses to the risen Christ

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you -- unless you have come to believe in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

Concise and to the point. This is almost like a creed. Paul expresses the gospel here and celebrates his access to God's grace along with our access to that same grace. Here is the good news for all people through all time. With Jesus' own blood and life he died for our sins. On the third day he was raised and he reigns eternal. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you come to all people. I can't believe that you have come for me, a lost and condemned sinner! You did! I give you all praise, thanks and glory and follow you wherever you lead in your forever. --- Amen

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 28th - Reflection

Colossians 4:2-5 (NRSV)
The new life in Christ

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.

Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.

We have heard the good news. We have witnessed Jesus' life, his birth, his ministry, his passion and death on the cross for our sin, and finally we have witnessed his resurrection from the dead. That sentence from the Garden of Eden for our sin has been paid for us by God. Heaven is now open to us as we believe in all that God has done. Once again God has rescued his people.

So how important can it be to devote ourselves to prayer. Prayer is our time with God in conversation and existence with each other. Prayer is our relationship with God and each other. Look around and realize all that God has done for us. God feeds us both physically and spiritually. God provides for all of our needs. God gives our lives purpose and meaning. We live with one another in the love God has shown to us through Jesus. So we pray to God and for and with each other. We pray for our enemies and for all those things that seem to sour our lives.

We pray for those moments when we can proclaim to a hungry friend what God has done for us and for all people. We pray in the Holy Word of the Bible and learn and ponder how God is active in the lives of his people. We pray when we grasp the messages God gives through the Bible day by day. And we pray when a mystery or two happens to be opened to our human eyes and God's glory is revealed, even if we only get a peek.

Prayer and love for God and each other. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I come to you this day in prayer. My life is a prayer to you of thanksgiving and praise and honor and glory for all you have done. Live with me this day that I may point all you give to me towards you. --- Amen

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27th - Reflection

Matthew 28:1-10 (NRSV)
Proclaim the resurrection
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you." So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

It's been a couple of days since we last saw this reading. So much has been presented to us. It's easy to get all wrapped up in the awesome event of the resurrection that we forget the command of the angel at the tomb. Go quickly and tell his disciples that Jesus has been raised from the dead and you will see him.

It's more that go tell them that Jesus is alive. Jesus has been raised from the dead. Jesus did die. Jesus died with our sin. Jesus is now the new Adam alive from the dead. What was so final in death is now alive in Jesus.

So go quickly. If the angel hadn't given this command and the promise to see Jesus, I could imagine that the women would stop and talk about this and all that was happening. For many other people that was what happened. It was all talk about what had happened. Pretty much just gossip. Everyone talking about someone else, but nobody going to talk to the source.

If you want to know truth, then go to the source and talk to them, don't go to someone else involved or listen to second hand information. Go to the source. So the women went to tell the disciples that Jesus has been raised from the dead and is going ahead to Galilee. Go! Go! Go, to the source and believe. Stop the gossip and confusion. Jesus has been raised from the dead and you will see him. Thanks be to God!

Lord, teach me not to talk for another person. Teach me to send people to the source. Send them to the source and they will hear. As we go to the source in your Word and your Sacraments, may we be guided by your Spirit to forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26th - Reflection

Exodus 15:1-18 (NRSV)
Song at the sea
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
"I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength
and my might, and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father's God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.

"Pharaoh's chariots and his army he cast into the sea;
his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
The floods covered them;
they went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power --
your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries;
you sent out your fury, it consumed them like stubble.
At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up,
the floods stood up in a heap;
the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.

The enemy said, 'I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.'
You blew with your wind, the sea covered them;
they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

"Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in splendor, doing wonders?
You stretched out your right hand,
the earth swallowed them.

"In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed;
you guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
The peoples heard, they trembled;
pangs seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed;
trembling seized the leaders of Moab;
all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away.
Terror and dread fell upon them;
by the might of your arm, they became still as a stone
until your people, O Lord, passed by,
until the people whom you acquired passed by.
You brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your own possession,
the place, O Lord, that you made your abode,
the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.
The Lord will reign forever and ever."

God not only rescues his people, he lives with them and loves them. We certainly will praise God for the deliverance from death. In this passage God has saved the Israelites from the Egyptians. It is a very example of how God is with his people even in the depths of the sea in a cloud to confuse the way of the Egyptians and a pillar of light to lead the Israelites.

Likewise in our day God is with us through the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us. We have the Holy Bible to turn to for guidance and instruction on how to live our lives. We have the sacraments as witness of God's presence in the lives of the people today. We have the inspired spoken word through our pastors and leaders. And we have his inspiration that speaks through so many other's in so many ways. God is all around today.

And with the proof and knowledge of the resurrection, we can only respond to this awesome love of God in spontaneous praise and adoration. We serve in joy and love, not out of a sense that we could ever pay back, but out of a passion to support and honor and serve what is completely beyond any act we could return in favor.

And that's the beauty of the love of God. That's the beauty of the close relationship God has formed with you and me. And in this relationship lies the joy of life! Thanks be to God!

Lord, you are Holy alone! We praise and honor you alone!--- Amen

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25th - Reflection

Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 (NRSV)
Israel crosses over the sea
As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, 'Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." But Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still."

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers."

The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh's horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt."

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers." So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. ...

Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them:
"Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea."

God does this all of the time it seems. God uses something earthly or natural to produce a miraculous event. Here God used the east wind to produce a path of salvation for the Israelites. In much the same way God uses water in baptism to create a new life in God. God uses the bread and the wine to produce a oneness with Christ. And in Jesus flesh, God used his Son to produce salvation from sin. A combination of the physical with the spiritual. God used bones and a spiritual breath to bring about new life from what was dead. Jesus used mud with a command to produce sight for the blind. The list goes on and on.

So many times God comes to us, the physical, and combines a little spiritual and out comes a miracle. And mixed in each miracle is a degree of Love that goes beyond all understanding. God is doing this very same thing in your life and in mine. If only we let God, and sometimes even if we don't, God produces miracles with love through us. How great is that?

Lord, as I revel in Easter Resurrection, I think of your miracles and the Love within each. Use me as your earthly element this day, combine me with the spiritual and mix in that Love to bring a smile of hope to another this day. May all know of your saving miracle in Jesus' life, ministry, healing, suffering, death and resurrection. May all see those wonderful waters of baptism washing clean. --- Amen

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 24th - Reflection

Resurrection of Our Lord
Matthew 28:1-10 (NRSV)
Proclaim the resurrection After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you." So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

The fantastic event of the appearance of an angel descending from heaven and rolling the tomb stone away to take a seat upon it was followed by a subtle, but greatest, miracle of all times...the tomb was empty! How did Jesus get out?

I recall studying Luther's sermon on this passage or a similar one. Luther proclaimed that at some point Jesus passed through the stone. Meaning that at a certain moment in time both Jesus and the stone occupied the same physical space. Likewise, later in time Jesus would visit the disciples in a closed room. Did Jesus and the door occupy the same space at this time too?

This thinking opens up another realm of looking at creation and God. It even opens up some possibilities of thinking about other words in the Bible. For instance...the wine and the blood... the bread and the body... I am in you as you are in me... But all of this seems to be just some fantastic explanations to awesome events. God also gives us the faith we need to believe. There is ample reason to believe in the risen Savior even without thinking about those possibilities where God has entered through space and time.

The angel's appearance was fantastic. But Jesus' appearance was subtle. The women ran and they met Jesus. And Jesus says "Greetings!" No big event. No meld of earthly and divine. No choirs singing. Just a human hi!

Jesus always seems to flip things around. Just when you are getting really worked up about it all, he is nonchalant about it all. Hey! Howdy-do! Greetings! This was no big deal. All part of the plan. I told you guys about this after all. Didn't you expect this?

Take off and tell all, because all need to know what has happened. Salvation has come! God is here. God is out of the tomb and alive and well and leading the disciples. New life is present and among us.

Christ has risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Out of death, sorrow, pain, grief, suffering, evil intentions, painful beatings, hurting words, stinging actions, Lord you rise to new life. No biggie! But huge to me and all my family and friends. Huge, because most if not all of those painful words above, we have inflicted upon you in one way or another. But you shrug it off and love still the same. I love you Lord Jesus. I run to bow at your feet and show my love to you. For you have risen in spite of me. You have risen because of me. You have risen for me and I am always yours. I love you Lord Jesus! --- Amen

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Daily Reflections: A letter from Grandpa Lynch to Kaiya at her baptis...

Daily Reflections: A letter from Grandpa Lynch to Kaiya at her baptis...: "To Kaiya on her baptismal day, Kaiya, today is Saturday March 22nd 2008. You were baptized at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Centerville Ohio...."

April 23rd - Reflection

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.

This death was real. That unmentioned activities that take place, behind the scenes, of every death. The preparations and what to do with the body. This death was real and like any other death, something had to be done with the body.

It was also the sabbath. So the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. Is thinking and plotting and planning work? It seems it would be to me. But, they avoided this issue, or ignored it, and asked Pilate to have the tomb made secure. But Pilate threw the problem back at the chief priests and the Pharisees.  There is some debate over the meaning, but it could have been Temple police or Roman troops that were sent to guard the tomb. If it were Temple police it seems ironic that they would be working on the sabbath, yet even possibly guarding the "real" promise of the covenant in the body of Jesus, the Word made flesh, not just stone tablets with God's word.

During this time did the guards hear the birds singing and nature coming alive? Was there reflection on the events of the previous week going through their minds. Did they realize the "realness" of this death and ponder? Did the guards realize that they were guarding the real temple that would raise up?

It seems at times I sit by the tomb in guard. I listen to nature, and ponder the previous week on this very day every year. It never gets old that I think about and wonder how the Father feels at this time. But I always have this sense of something BIG is going on during this Saturday. Something BIG is going on that I can feel but is not quite real enough for me to fully grasp. God is working on something great.

That's the feel of today, and perhaps this life on earth. God is working in me, and in you, on something great. Something great is in the works because of what Jesus has done this past week especially. And this "something great" is our hope and our joy and our life in the here and now and in eternity.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, in the silence of earth we wait, we ponder, we feel hope, we feel joy, we feel sorrow, we grieve. We grieve our sinful actions and repent. We feel hopeful for your saving grace. We look to that something wonderful that is going on just beyond what we seem to be able to sense, and know that you are involved. We are grateful that you are our Savior. As we we we we we we seek to follow you. --- Amen

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22nd - Reflection


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.

"I am thirsty." These words take me back a night with Jesus. They take me back to that bread and wine. Jesus blood here present on this cross. A cross blackened with dried blood of the past few hours and fresh blood in the present. And Jesus says that he is thirsty.

Thirst, a human desire, yet here it seems divine. Our Savior is thirsty. Who would not run to him with water and beg to quench his thirst? I'm sure any of us would run to our Savior and bring water. We know and believe that Jesus is our Savior because of this very afternoon. We believe that Jesus gave his very life for us. So, yes, we run to Jesus to supply water.

Yet in our running with water, we show a belief in God. And we are drawn back to that previous evening. We find that we are also thirsty. We are thirsty for our Savior. We are thirsty for that wonderful wine of life. We are thirsty for that life giving water from Jesus. We are thirsty for the love that we see on this cross this afternoon. We are thirsty for Jesus and we run to Jesus with water.

Yes, Jesus, I am thirsty! I am thirsty for you! Thanks be to God!

O Lord, I run to the foot of that cross with the water you have graciously provided. I run to the foot of that cross and see the pain and the suffering. I run to the foot of that cross and see my sin in full view. I run to the foot of that cross and see you in my place. I run to the foot of that cross and see Love. I run to the foot of that cross thirsty. Thirsty for you. I run...I fall...I bow to my King.  --- Amen

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21st - Reflection

Maundy Thursday
John 13:1-17, 31b-35 (NRSV)

The service of Christ: footwashing and meal
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean."

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. ...

"Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Jesus humbled himself before the disciples. At this time in history, humility was despised as a symbol of weakness. Yet Jesus humbled himself. I wouldn't think that Peter would want to believe that Jesus was weak. Peter looked up to Jesus. Peter left it all for Jesus. Jesus was not weak, yet he humbled himself.

And Peter and the disciples participated in Jesus' humility at the foot washing. Jesus took a sign of weakness, a servant job, and made an example and a command out of humility. We are to humble ourselves, one to another, and serve each other in that deep love that Jesus exemplifies. We are slaves who have no rights in the master's house.

So, now the challenge. We know we are slaves and servants. We know we are disciples of Jesus. We know that God loves us and saves us. If we know all of this and if we truly believe all of this, then we gladly serve God in humility and thanks and praise. And we joyfully do as Jesus has done in the washing of the feet. We will joyfully wash one another's feet.

And Jesus has done it again. Again he has taken what was once an action that would be despised as a symbol of weakness and turned it into an honor for his disciples throughout the ages to do. We joyfully wash one another's feet. We joyfully serve other's knowing that in serving other's we are privileged to follow Jesus' command.

What a great command to follow! easy Jesus has made this command. It's not like a's an honor...because Jesus has shown us love and has shown us how to love.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, thanks for the foot washing. I can't wait to put in action what you have taught me. --- Amen

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20th - Reflection

Wednesday in Holy Week
John 13:21-32 (NRSV)

Jesus foretells his betrayal
After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, "Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me." The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples the one whom Jesus loved was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "Do quickly what you are going to do." Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the festival"; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

"And it was night." Not much of a sentence. But I think it was more than just darkness, it was a time without light. We all go there some time or another. I don't think any one can say they haven't in one form or another. We go into the night of life. We walk into the darkness, that place without light. We fall trap to sin and walk away from Jesus. We walk away to betrayal of what we know we should do and walk into what we shouldn't.

The Apostle Paul writes about this night. He expresses his desire to do what is good and right yet doesn't. We all have walked into the night and slipped into that place of betrayal, that place without Light. Others of us walk into the night and fall asleep at the times we are needed. We fall asleep and just can't seem to pay attention at the crucial moments.

We all walk into the night. We all stumble in the darkness. But, thanks be to God, we have been given that baptismal candle with that flame of the Holy Spirit shining in the darkness. A Light that leads us back. We stumble and bump into one another in the night of darkness, but we also walk towards a much greater Light. A Light that has come through the darkness of sin and death. A Light that has been in the deep darkness of the tomb. A Light that has come out of the death of the tomb to shine more brightly than humankind could ever imagine.

With the flame of our baptismal candles, with our faithful disciples, together we stumble and bumble along, following that great Light in mission and love, towards new life and new joy in the morning.

In the night... use the light of your baptismal candle... use the guidance of fellow disciples... use the Word... use the Church... use the Light of the One ahead and follow in joy, praise, thanks and life.

There is joy in the morning. Our God has come to save!    ...even in the night.

Thanks be to God!

Lord you have fed us with your life. As we stumble in the night, save us from sin, death and the devil. Lead us to your light of day that we may be one with forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19th - Reflection

Tuesday in Holy Week
Isaiah 49:1-7 (NRSV)

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

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

Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations,

the slave of rulers,
"Kings shall see and stand up,
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

God has a plan in place.
There is a conquest taking place.
We each serve and have a purpose.

Yet we each have a choice in that plan and purpose.

And the Father has a Son.
A Son driven by the Spirit.
All in a conquest of service.

Service in love.
Service in action.
Service to the least.

Jesus came to save.
Jesus gives you life.
Jesus served up his life for yours.

Will you take up this life?
Will you follow Jesus?
Will you serve yourself to God?

Serve in love to God.
Serve in love to your neighbor.
Serve in  joy of new life.

God has a conquest in love.
God has a conquest in service.
God has come to save.

Thanks be to God!

Lord, we come this day and sing a servant song. We see how Jesus served as a servant and follow his lead. Thanks for new life. Thanks for the life of Jesus. Thanks for salvation. What joy there is in the morning. What joy there is in service. What joy there is to see you in the face of another. Thanks for the joy of serving. --- Amen

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18th - Reflection

Monday in Holy Week
Isaiah 42:1-9 (NRSV)

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

A the form of a servant...Jesus bows down to the feet of his disciples and washes a servant. Stinky feet he comes to serve. Does Jesus smell the stench of sin as he washes feet? Does he smell the lies and deception? Does he smell the adultery and sexual perversions? Does Jesus smell the over indulgence of food or money or power? Does Jesus smell the made up stories used to cover one's deviant actions?

I think Jesus took in all of this and much more that I couldn't even imagine. Jesus washed away, as a servant, the sin of this world. Jesus washed all this away not only with water, but also with his blood. Jesus became that dirty sin of ours and died on the cross as sin itself. All as our servant...all as our Savior...all as our true King. Thank you Lord Jesus. Thanks.

Lord, you have taught me how to wash feet. You have taught me the depth and the price of sin. As I bow down at the foot of the cross and see your blood stained feet and see the results of my sin, forgive me, renew me, and send me forward in this world to live the life of a servant, humble and forgiven and willing to wash some feet myself. --- Amen

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April 17th - Reflection

Palm Sunday
Matthew 21:1-11 (NRSV)

Jesus enters Jerusalem
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, 'The Lord needs them.' And he will send them immediately." This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
"Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
"Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!"

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, "Who is this?" The crowds were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."

Not only were the donkey and colt going to work, Jesus was heading out to do his most important work for creation. I wonder what that donkey and the colt were thinking. Did they question what all the hoopla was about? Their job was to carry a load. A load that sat on some garments spread between them. This load was not heavy enough to need two work animals. But maybe the work facing Jesus was the real heavy work to be carried.

So in this passage, Jesus goes to do some heavy work. And the people celebrate. They celebrate not knowing the depth and the meaning and the impact the work Jesus would have on the world. The people celebrate one last time, like they think it should be. But the Lord has something far more shocking and something that has an eternal impact on all of us in store.

Hosanna in the highest heaven! The Savior is here! Thanks be to God!

Lord, how do you face us when we don't understand? I'm the greatest of those that have a hard time understanding. How do you deal with me when I don't take your Word for the truth it means? What do you do with me when I twist it into something it is not? Lead us to truthfulness in ourselves and our actions that we may see your saving grace and not our sinful actions. You are the Savior to which we proclaim Hosanna! --- Amen

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 16th - Reflection

Psalm 31:9-16 (NRSV)
I commend my spirit

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
and my bones waste away.

I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
a horror to my neighbors,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many
terror all around!
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.

But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.

I begin this reading and think how I relate to the writer of this Psalm. The writer's is right on with how I feel now! But as I slowly continue, I begin to realize other friends, family, and people I know are in this same boat with me. I think further of all the people that have prayed to God for me while I was at my depths and how grateful I am for that support. I ponder how we have all been able to relate to one another, maybe not in the specifics of each individual pain and suffering, but to pain and suffering in general. Then I thought about how I have turned to God for another person and groups of people.

Many times throughout life we come together in pain and suffering. Yet in that suffering, we are drawn out, even in just brief moments, to a joy in life that brings hope and salvation. At those moments, God is always at the source. When we back away from ourselves and let God into the group or the "boat," we find that God is the source of life.

And this is when we see in our very own boat that God is the one in our midst who will deliver us from the hand of enemies and persecutors, from pain and sorrow. Not in a magical way, but in a way that we will know, even as we experience the pain and the emotions, God is with us and has gone through this too, and has given us the hope to follow him, through the pain, through the suffering, through the persecution, to life in him and life in his kingdom.

God is closer than you think. There with his steadfast love and grace to deliver us. What a hope! What a life! What a way to live in the here and now, good and bad, pain and joy, sorrow and happiness. What a way to live in the trust of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God!

Lord, thanks for being in the boat with us. Our trust is in forever. --- Amen

Friday, April 15, 2011

April 15th - Reflection

Philippians 1:21-30 (NRSV)
Seeing Christ in this life

For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God's doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

We are called. Each one of us is called. The disciples each were called to follow Jesus. Each had to decide to leave behind whatever it was they were doing, wherever they were staying and follow Jesus. We are called.

As we follow Jesus as disciples our world focuses on Jesus. We learn from Jesus as he teaches us. We listen to Jesus' every word. We are called and we follow. We receive joy and faith as we see Jesus joy and faith in the Father.

Then we find that the One who called us also saves us. Saves us from ourselves and sin. Jesus saves us from death. Jesus takes on our sin and dies for it. We are called. We focus on the Savior and follow and learn and live new life.

Our calling shows us the greatness of God beyond space and time. We are called to something much deeper than our earthly minds can imagine. We are called to a God beyond ourselves yet at the same time within and around ourselves. God joins us in flesh and blood and calls us to be with him.

As we respond to this call we joyfully go out to point to the One we follow. We passionately proclaim all that we have seen and point to Jesus. We are his disciples after all! God has found us and we want our friends, family, neighbors, strangers and even enemies to see Jesus!

We are called and we respond...automatically...not out of some need to be good, but because of Jesus. We respond because of Jesus and all he has done! Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I follow you this the Spirit moves within me...may those I meet and greet know who I follow and why. Give me the words to say and the way to live this day. --- Amen

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 14th - Reflection

Philippians 1:1-11 (NRSV)
Encouraged to follow Christ's righteousness
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God's grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Those childhood night-time prayers still apply today and always. We think of all the people in our lives and give thanks to God for each of them. Today we thank God for all the wonderful relationships that have been given to us and give God thanks. We pray for the well being of each person. We pray for God to guide and protect our friends, neighbors, and enemies as well. We pray for so many other people that God has graciously given to us.

A relationship of love that overflows to God in thanks. Jesus life was that same overflow of love. I always pictured Jesus, as he was pouring the wine into the cup, filling the cup till some of it overflowed and spilled. This cup of love is still spilling and flowing today. Jesus love spills over and fills the world with his love as we continue spilling that very same love from the cups that we take. Spilled love of God in the relationships of those God gives to us day after day.

And maybe that's our simple daily call. A call to spill that love of Christ to each person we meet each day. Spill a little and see the disciples of Jesus follow. Thanks be to God!

Each day you fill me with Word. Word made flesh. Each day, Lord you come to my door and invite me out into a relationship with you and with others. Your precious saving blood unites us. May we spill a little of the love on one another this day. May someone else see you as the Messiah, the Savior, our God and leave it all behind to blindly and boldly follow you. --- Amen

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 13th - Reflection

Matthew 22:23-33 (NRSV)
God of the living

The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.' Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother. The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman herself died. In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her."

Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is God not of the dead, but of the living." And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching.

The Sadducees based their faith on the books of the Law. So the question was one that would continue the life of a race of people on a physical realm. But Jesus answer came from the spiritual level of which the Sadducees didn't believe in either. The life to come will be spiritual even though there will be a body. But the whole phrase "God of Abraham" was used by God way after the physical deaths. This implies that God is speaking of some sense of life after death.

As we turn to Jesus and hear the Word, believe and become disciples of faith our response is naturally to follow and learn and begin to emulate Jesus. Jesus is our leader after all. As we die to sin and accept this "new life" in Christ we begin to take on that spiritual aspect in this physical world. In a way we begin to live our eternal life, here and now, on this earth. We are Children of God. We belong to Jesus and we are in communion with all the saints.

So even today...following and believing in Jesus' saving grace...we worship and follow the God of the living. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I open my eyes this day, I come to you to seek your will and your way for my life this day. You are the God of the living. You are life. Thanks! --- Amen

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12th - Reflection

2 Kings 4:18-37 (NRSV)
Elisha raises a child from death

When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, "Look, there is the Shunammite woman; run at once to meet her, and say to her, Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the child all right?" She answered, "It is all right." When she came to the man of God at the mountain, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi approached to push her away. But the man of God said, "Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me." Then she said, "Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, Do not mislead me?" He said to Gehazi, "Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, give no greeting, and if anyone greets you, do not answer; and lay my staff on the face of the child." Then the mother of the child said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave without you." So he rose up and followed her. Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. He came back to meet him and told him, "The child has not awakened."

When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and closed the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. Then he got up on the bed and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and while he lay bent over him, the flesh of the child became warm. He got down, walked once to and fro in the room, then got up again and bent over him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, "Call the Shunammite woman." So he called her. When she came to him, he said, "Take your son." She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took her son and left.

A child had died to a faithful women of God. It didn't seem fair or right. But a child had died. Something that is never lived down is the death of a child. It's the mourning of a lifetime. God once again works through Elisha to bring life from death. Just as God brought life from death through Elijah, God brought life from death through Moses, through Abraham, through Jesus and through his Word. God brings, in some cases, physical life from death, and in other cases, spiritual life from death, and in other times, both physical and spiritual life from death.

God is all about life from death. God wants creation and his children to live. We were created to live abundant life. We were given the faith to believe in Jesus and receive freely life from death. As we believe we are gifted to proclaim to those God gives to us through word and action this life giving grace God freely provides. We are given purpose in this life in the here and now and sent as disciples of Jesus to proclaim this life from death gospel that is available to all throughout our world.

Speak of your life from death and let the Spirit move that conversation along. Bring that sound of life to your lips when there was no sound and rejoice in the Lord. Again, I will say...rejoice!

Lord, you call us to respond with our story of life from death. How you have brought us to life from death. You call us to tell of the story you have recorded for us through the Word in Scripture. Both are alive and well and just enough for your Spirit to move another from life to death. Use me this day as I follow Jesus. --- AmenWhen the child was older, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. He complained to his father, "Oh, my head, my head!" The father said to his servant, "Carry him to his mother." He carried him and brought him to his mother; the child sat on her lap until noon, and he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, closed the door on him, and left. Then she called to her husband, and said, "Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again." He said, "Why go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath." She said, "It will be all right." Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, "Urge the animal on; do not hold back for me unless I tell you." So she set out, and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 11th - Reflection

1 Kings 17:17-24 (NRSV)
Elijah raises the widow's son

After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. She then said to Elijah, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!" But he said to her, "Give me your son." He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. He cried out to the Lord, "O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?" Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the Lord, "O Lord my God, let this child's life come into him again." The Lord listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, "See, your son is alive." So the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth."

Life from death. Death is not the fault of God killing the widow's son. Death is a result of our sin. God gives life and not death. But God has been gracious to give us life instead of death. God's word is his promise and our hope of life through Jesus.

It seems there is a special meaning to the upper room or in this case the upper chamber. God comes to us in life, in life through Elijah and life through Jesus in the supper. A paralytic was lowered from the upper area of the house to be healed by Jesus. Healing and life seems to come in this gathering of friends and God in this upper room.

God opens up in the upper room and shows us glimpses of the promise of resurrection and life. In this upper chamber, this rooftop area, this upper room, we hear and witness the Word of God in truth. Thanks be to God, the God of life.

Lord, as you come into this room of my heart, may I listen and heed the Word of Life. --- Amen

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April 10th - Reflection

Fifth Sunday in Lent
John 11:1-45 (NRSV)

The raising of Lazarus

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." But when Jesus heard it, he said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them." After saying this, he told them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him." The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right." Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world."

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, "Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me." When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

The purpose of Lazarus' sickness was not death. The purpose of Lazarus' sickness was the glorification of Jesus. Jesus showed a love for those who he was with prior to going to Martha and Mary, and Jesus showed a love for all mourning the death of Lazarus in that he knew that sickness and death were not the ultimate purpose of their suffering.

In our sin we brought about sickness and death. In our fall we live in a world that is no longer perfect as God has intended. But God sent Jesus as flesh and blood to redeem his people and creation. The raising of Lazarus was just the beginning for Jesus march to Jerusalem, his passion and his own death. Through Lazarus we begin to understand that Jesus is (I AM) the source of life from death. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. And Jesus feels the results of our sin in the mourning of the death of Lazarus.

Death is painful and hurts. But as we die, we also have the hope of life in resurrection and new life. We live in the hope of a new life in Christ even as we live this life in sickness and pain. We live a life of hope and joy in all that we have been given. We live this life knowing that we are in God's love. We live this life knowing of the closeness of Jesus. We live this life through the ups and downs and the ins and outs of a new life in the making here and now.

God's glory is exalted and proclaimed through us as we live and breathe today, tomorrow and forever. Thanks be to God!

Lord, call me out of this tomb of sin to new life in you. --- Amen

Saturday, April 09, 2011

April 9th - Reflection

Psalm 130 (NRSV)
Mercy and redemption

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.

I long for God. I long for God to forgive me and show me love. Even though I hear the words of forgiveness and feel the love, I long for that forgiveness and love. There are times when I feel so far away from God. I feel as if I'm lost in hopelessness and despair. But then I become aware of the greatness of God. I realize through all that surrounds me that God is way bigger than I can ever imagine.

So, when I watch and know how God is there with me; with me in the highs and the lows, I feel that steadfast love of God and see how great is his power to save me. Far apart from God in my feelings, yet God is closer than I could ever imagine. God is close in the highs and the lows. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I yearn for your love and your closeness. But then I realize how close you always are and stand in awe. I stand in awe of how great you are even with how small I am, you love me. --- Amen