Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 31st - Reflection

Deuteronomy 5:22-33 (NRSV)
Moses delivers God's commandments
These words the Lord spoke with a loud voice to your whole assembly at the mountain, out of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, and he added no more. He wrote them on two stone tablets, and gave them to me. When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you approached me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders; and you said, "Look, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the fire. Today we have seen that God may speak to someone and the person may still live. So now why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer, we shall die. For who is there of all flesh that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and remained alive? Go near, you yourself, and hear all that the Lord our God will say. Then tell us everything that the Lord our God tells you, and we will listen and do it."

The Lord heard your words when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me: "I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you; they are right in all that they have spoken. If only they had such a mind as this, to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and with their children forever! Go say to them, 'Return to your tents.' But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you all the commandments, the statutes and the ordinances, that you shall teach them, so that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess." You must therefore be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn to the right or to the left. You must follow exactly the path that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you are to possess.

The people heard the thunder but Moses heard the words. Moses goes between God and the people. Jesus was similar yet different in a profound way. Jesus was God. Jesus wasn't a go between. But through Jesus God became known in a personal way to each one of us. Jesus came to each of us and delivered us from the law. Moses delivered the law.

In the law Moses delivered we found out that we fall short of fulfillment of the law. We can't close the gap between God and man. In Jesus, God closed the gap and came to us. In Jesus, the law was fulfilled and we were united with God in a relationship of love.

So, now, with the law delivered to us and with us delivered from the law; we gladly unite to fulfill the law and love God and one another. We listen and hear God's Word and see that Word written and spoken and acted out in our lives and in the life of Jesus. No longer do we just hear thunder, but we hear God. Thanks be to God!

Lord this day...open my eyes and ears to see and hear your Word that I may act it out in love towards you and those you give to me this day. --- Amen

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 30th - Reflection

Genesis 9:8-17 (NRSV)
Sign of the covenant
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."

There are several interesting points in this passage. This passage shows a corporate God, not so much a personal relationship God. God is establishing a covenant of life on earth. We usually think of God's promises as related to eternal life, but this promise relates to all flesh and all earth. This is a promise between God and earth, which includes us.

And then the sign of the bow. The bow usually translates as a weapon. As we see the rainbow and the storm is normally in retreat from us with the sun coming out; we are reminded that God put his weapon aside from destroying all the earth and will protect the entire earth.

God shows us his grace in wonderful fashion as beams of light bend and appear in multitude colors of love and redemption.

And this is when and where we are to act. In the devastation of recent tornadoes and floods and many natural disasters, God shines his beams of light through not only rainbows with the weapon set aside, but through those he gifts and calls to love one another through Jesus gift of grace. You see, we are called to let Jesus' Light shine brightly through us as we individually bend that light into a wonderful color of grace particular to each one of us. In this way those in need of help after devastation will not only see the rainbow set aside in the sky, but they will also see the Light and beauty of the grace of Jesus love shining brightly and colored to each one of us.

And that's a wonderful rainbow of love. Thanks be to God!

Lord, be with those who are devastated by natural disaster. Bless those who respond in love. Care for your people and this earth. --- Amen

Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 29th - Reflection

Sixth Sunday of Easter
John 14:15-21 (NRSV)

Christ our advocate
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."

Faith and love connect and lead to obedience.

When we have faith in Jesus we see and understand the love God has shown us through Jesus life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection. We grow in this love and understand the richness of the depth of the love God has shown to us through Jesus.

So as our faith takes root, love connects and we are joyful and on fire to be obedient to the will of God. We desire with a fierce passion to act out in the love God has shown and taught us in Jesus Christ. We hunger to serve all those in need, especially the poor, the ill, and the downtrodden.

We desire this not because we are looking for credit from God, but we desire this because we know the love God has shown us personally through Jesus and want to emulate that love to all the world. As we emulate Jesus' love we declare Jesus our God and Savior with joy and thanksgiving.

Jesus is with us in ways that we can't see and ways that we can see. Through the counsel of the Holy Spirit to the truth of Jesus we have God within us and around us constantly. We are in God and God is in us.

Faith and love connect and lead to obedience. Jesus is revealed to you and through you. Thanks be to God!

Father, I give you thanks that you are constantly in my presence. I give you thanks that you have revealed yourself to me through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. As I grow in faith and connect to you in love send your Spirit of Truth into my life that I may be obedient to your will and your way...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, May 28, 2011

May 28th - Reflection

Psalm 66:8-20 (NRSV)
Be joyful in God, all you lands

Bless our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept us among the living,
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid burdens on our backs;
you let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings;

I will pay you my vows,
those that my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.

Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for me.
I cried aloud to him,
and he was extolled with my tongue.
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.

But truly God has listened;
he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me.

We stop and listen to God's Word and pray to our Father. And we find that God has listened very closely to us also. Listened so closely that God has felt our pain. God knows the anxious worry we have and our stress. God knows us first-hand. And as we listen to God our spirit is filled with hope, joy, confidence and rescue through all the trials we face. God is with us and God is closer than we can imagine. Through the storms of life we have a Savior! A Savior that leads us to that wonderful spacious place, beyond the storm and the wilderness is the bright shining Light of Jesus. And by our side we see the glow of Jesus' presence as he lights our path. Thanks be to God!

Lord, thanks for your presence in my life...thanks! --- Amen

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27th - Reflection

Acts 27:13-38 (NRSV)
Paul survives shipwreck
When a moderate south wind began to blow, they thought they could achieve their purpose; so they weighed anchor and began to sail past Crete, close to the shore. But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster, rushed down from Crete. Since the ship was caught and could not be turned head on into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven. By running under the lee of a small island called Cauda we were scarcely able to get the ship's boat under control. After hoisting it up they took measures to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they would run on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and so were driven. We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard, and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship's tackle overboard. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul then stood up among them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island."

When the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the sea of Adria, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. So they took soundings and found twenty fathoms; a little farther on they took soundings again and found fifteen fathoms. Fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. But when the sailors tried to escape from the ship and had lowered the boat into the sea, on the pretext of putting out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved." Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat and set it adrift.

Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads." After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. (We were in all two hundred seventy six persons in the ship.) After they had satisfied their hunger, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.

Through faith in God, Paul had confidence that safety had been granted by God to all on ship. So, Paul took control of the situation with confidence.

There are times when leadership change is needed. There are times when a different style of leadership is needed. In emergency situations a clear thinking individual is best to take the leadership role. This would be a decisive person that can clearly and quickly motivate each person to action towards a very specific goal.

Other times a person that has planning techniques would be the leader preferred. When a well thought out detailed plan is needed to accomplish the goal is needed, speed may not be preferred. In this situation a different type of leader would be needed. There are times when leadership change is needed.

Finally one other of the most common types of leadership styles needed would be the one of the visionary. A person that can bring people together and vision and "see" what is needed for the group as a whole. Leadership changes are needed.

Some of us are better at one type of leadership or another type depending on the environment in which we are placed. It could be that the immediate need for action may be too stressful for a visionary style leadership for this person to be effective in bringing a rescue. It all just depends.

In any case turning to God in prayer, and turning to the Word for direction always leads towards good leadership. We are limited many times by what we see in the here and now. But as we turn to our Heavenly Father and listen, we gain the advantage of truth, wisdom, love, compassion and direction. That moment of pause is so vital in our lives. But it's too easy to speed past that moment and selfishly attempt to take control in our own selfish way.

Take the pause first. It's advice witnessed from this passage when Paul paused to listen in a dream and then took confident action. It's advice easy to hear and see but so hard to do myself. For me I need to take the advice of pause with the Word and prayer. Thanks be to God!

Lord, stop me to listen, pray, hear and see the Word. Fill me with the wisdom and leadership style needed for this day...tomorrow...and forever through your Spirit. --- Amen

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 26th - Reflection

Acts 27:1-12 (NRSV)
Paul sails for Rome

When it was decided that we were to sail for Italy, they transferred Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius. Embarking on a ship of Adramyttium that was about to set sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul kindly, and allowed him to go to his friends to be cared for. Putting out to sea from there, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. After we had sailed across the sea that is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship bound for Italy and put us on board. We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind was against us, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Sailing past it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

Since much time had been lost and sailing was now dangerous, because even the Fast had already gone by, Paul advised them, saying, "Sirs, I can see that the voyage will be with danger and much heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives." But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. Since the harbor was not suitable for spending the winter, the majority was in favor of putting to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, where they could spend the winter. It was a harbor of Crete, facing southwest and northwest.

This is one section of the Bible that really comes up with some good narrative of a voyage and a shipwreck. Very good to read and exciting too. It also displays a side of Paul that we don't see that often. We see Paul and his active logic and intelligence of ancient seamanship. Luke paints the scene of a journey and the dangers that take place in these passages.

But Paul is a passenger after all and the final calls are not made by Paul on the timing of the voyage.

Sometimes in life we are in it for the ride. Sometimes we have some influence and a little control, but more of the time we are in it with little or no control. In this we turn, as disciples to Jesus, and give our trust and faith. We work our hardest at whatever the call may be, but we trust in the outcome. We live, we love and we serve others while we take the voyage.

And that life, that love and the serving is what makes a wonderful trip with our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I trust you, I love you. I serve you and those you give and send to me today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 25th - Reflection

John 8:31-38 (NRSV)
Jesus, the truth of God

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?"

Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father's presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father."

Truth and freedom both are connected in this passage through Jesus. Jesus is truth. Through Jesus we are set free. But being set free implies that we were caught or slave to something. And that is sin. Even as a descendant of Abraham and being one of the chosen people did not set anyone free from sin. And through our sin came the curse of death. Only through Jesus can we be set free from our sin and live a new life.

In this new life we still fall to sin. But we are not held in bondage to that sin. This doesn't give us the freedom to sin however. We recognize the stench of our sin and humbly repent and turn back to God. It's not as easy as all that sounds. It's not like we can freely and knowingly sin with the attitude that we can always turn back. It's more like we can freely live out the love of Christ with our neighbors, knowing that if we do sin, we can turn to our relationship with Jesus and seek his guidance and love and forgiveness. In this we grow as disciples and listen to God's voice and direction. In this freedom we are set on fire by the Holy Spirit in a passion of love and compassion for one another.

Lord, teach me your truth and set me free to love others as I love you. --- Amen

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 24th - Reflection

Proverbs 3:5-12 (NRSV)
God, the truth and life
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body.

Honor the Lord with your substance
and with the first fruits of all your produce;
then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.

My child, do not despise the Lord's discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves the one he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.

We have seen in the readings these past few days multiple examples of the need to have trust and faith in God. The Israelites upon leaving Egypt needed trust and faith in God. Think of the faith Stephen had when being stoned as he was looking to Jesus and dying in that trust he had for God. Even back to Abraham looking at the stars at night and seeing all his descendants. Did he see Jesus? What a wonderful gift of trust and faith in God that would produce such a wonderful promise and covenant. All of these blessings that come along with what, to some may see as curses, are rich examples of trust and faith for those of us left to ponder the meaning of such faith.

So today as we stand on the side and witness this faith, this trust, this love, maybe, just maybe, as I heard in a sermon this past Sunday from Pastor Sara, we are the next in line to be used and called by God. Trust and faith build and grow and live within our souls, our minds and bodies, that we are the next to take such a bold stand. A bold stand to love Jesus through serving others. We love because he first loved us. And as we live in this trust and faith of what Jesus has done for us through his saving grace, we learn and love to love Jesus and serve those he chooses to give to us each day with delight. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you have my heart and I acknowledge you as my Savior. As I walk out the door this day with you and your disciples into the kingdom, teach me service, teach me love, teach me compassion, teach me to love and serve others in love. I love you and am excited in joy to serve others in your name...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23rd - Reflection

Exodus 13:17-22 (NRSV)
God leads the way
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, "If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt prepared for battle. And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, "God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here." They set out from Succoth, and camped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

There was an easy way to get to the promised land. But doing this would not have permitted God to reveal himself to his people. The journey would be too easy and, being sinful beings, we would believe that we could waltz into the promised land all on our own power. Who needs God anyway? But God was the one that had lead the people out of Egypt. They wouldn't even have had this opportunity if it hadn't been for God.

In addition the people, and all of us for that matter, need to realize the blessing God has provided and believe in God and follow God's command. So we follow God as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In this walk with God we demonstrate our allegiance and faith and trust in God as our Savior.

Today, we follow God by following the teachings of Jesus. Jesus is God and the Spirit is God and equips us along that journey. We continue to need the qualities of a humble faith, a sure trust, and an honor for all that Jesus leads us to and through. However in the journey, there will be tough times, persecutions, pain, sorrow along with joy, honor and blessing. It's a mixed bag and it's a wonderful gift. Because through this life as a disciple of Jesus, we have met a leader that reaches out his arms to us and demonstrates the compassion of knowing all the we endure.

What an awesome God! Thanks be to God!

Lord, I know of your presence in the stormy clouds and the roar of thunder and the flash of lightening. I follow you in the tough times. And I know of you when I'm in the dark and that great pillar of fire leads my way. And I believe in full trust and faith that one day you will lead us to that promised land. You are my Savior. You are my God. I will follow...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22nd - Reflection

Fifth Sunday of Easter
John 14:1-14 (NRSV)

Christ the way, truth, life
    "Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house there are many dwelling places.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.  And you know the way to the place where I am going."  Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?"  Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you know me, you will know my Father also.  From now on you do know him and have seen him."
    Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied."  Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.  Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.  I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

There is unity once again in our belief in Jesus. Unity with God and with those disciples called and directed to enter through the gate of Jesus. So, even in this passage as Jesus is about to ascend, we can live in the comfort and knowledge that we will never be left alone. God will always be with us and Jesus will be preparing a room for us to live in unity.Isn't that room the very "upper room" that we meet one another and our Savior in each day as we gather in spirit with God to receive guidance and purpose for our daily life? Yes, Jesus has prepared a room for us, swept clean and wonderful. A room that we can all gather together in unity with God. Thanks be to God!
Lord, thanks for the room. Thanks for the room in your life and mine. --- Amen

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21st - Reflection

John 8:48-59 (NRSV)
Jesus the greater prophet

The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, 'Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, 'He is our God,' though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad." Then the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

"...before Abraham was, I am." Such few yet such powerful and meaningful words from Jesus. This passage is a dispute about Jesus and his place with the prophets of old. There was a Jewish tradition that Abraham was permitted to see the entire history of his descendants. Remember when God told Abraham to look at the stars of the night sky and declared that Abraham's descendants would be like these stars? From here a tradition was brought forth that Abraham actually saw all of his descendants.

So Jesus claim that Abraham rejoiced that he would see the day of Jesus was very offensive to the Jewish leaders. Abraham was held with such high esteem that for Jesus to claim that Abraham would rejoice in Jesus' day brought a reaction of disgust from the leaders.

So if Abraham did see all of his descendants; think of the joy he had when he saw Jesus. Abraham was a sinful man like you and I after all. Sure, he was chosen by God, but so are we. Sure, he was pivotal in history, but so are we. I don't claim to be on the historical level of Abraham, but in the eyes of God, we all are unique lives he created. We all are special and wonderful creations, created for a purpose. We all are children of God. And when we look to the stars as Abraham did so many years ago, and believe and have faith and trust in the promise of God...we claim God and God claims us.

So if Abraham saw Jesus in those stars, just think of the joy it brought to him. If we see Jesus in stars or whatever else, we have joy too. Jesus comes to us and reveals himself to us. A Jesus reveals to us that unique name of God...I AM. "...before Abraham was, I am." What a wonderful gift of just a few words to us.

God revealed this name to Moses at Moses call. ""God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." He sail further, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"" (Exodus 3:14). So in just a few words Jesus reveals his divine nature to us. Jesus comes to us and speaks to us and tells us that he is not only flesh but is also our God. In Jesus "I am" statement he refers to a perfect existence. Jesus always existed for us throughout all time. Such few yet powerful and meaningful words from Jesus! Thanks be to God!

Lord, I don't know if I get this message right or not, it's really beyond my comprehension,  but I do know that you are my God. You are my I AM. You are my Savior who has come to me and saved me from sin, death, the devil and my sinful self. For this I am eternally thankful...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 20th - Reflection

Acts 6:8-15 (NRSV)
Stephen is arrested
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated some men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. They set up false witnesses who said, "This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us." And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Contrast Stephen's speech regarding the faith of the fathers and the trust all exhibited in God with the face of Stephen prior to his speech. Stephen was full of grace and power and his face was like the face of an angel. An angel or a messenger, Stephen was about to provide a powerful message to the religious leaders of the day. Stephen was about to deliver a Spirit filled message to all people throughout time.

Two sides were being drawn up here. Stephen filled with the Spirit and the other side filled with confusion and fear.

Will we today stop to listen to the message Stephen has to give? Will we resist with confusion and fear?

When the Spirit speaks listen. Listen and bounce the message off of scripture. Listen and pray to God. Listen and learn to be open. Listen for the Spirit to speak truth and knowledge to you. Then stand up and act. Act boldly in the love God has shown through Jesus. Act in love for God and one another. Listen and act...Thanks be to God for those disciples like Stephen!

Lord, may your Word speak to me loud and clear. May your Word speak through me loud and clear. May your Word act through me with all the love you give...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19th - Reflection

Acts 7:1-16 (NRSV)
Stephen addresses the council
Then the high priest asked him, "Are these things so?" And Stephen replied:

"Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, 'Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.' Then he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living. He did not give him any of it as a heritage, not even a foot's length, but promised to give it to him as his possession and to his descendants after him, even though he had no child. And God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and mistreat them during four hundred years. 'But I will judge the nation that they serve,' said God, 'and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.' Then he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

"The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions, and enabled him to win favor and to show wisdom when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout Egypt and Canaan, and great suffering, and our ancestors could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there on their first visit. On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him, seventy five in all; so Jacob went down to Egypt. He himself died there as well as our ancestors, and their bodies were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

What a wonderful heritage God has given to us. Even if you or I are not direct descendants, we see a people that live and have faith in the promises of God. There will be some stumbling on the way. There will be doubt and sin along the journey. But those that live in the faith and trust of God's promises will one day see. Maybe that day may not come while walking this earth, but we can believe in the promises that God makes.

Just look at the history of the promise of God and marvel at the faith of Abraham and Joseph and so many others up to this day. God's promises are sure! Thanks be to God!

Lord teach me daily to live in the trust and faith you would have Abraham live. Show me how to be your disciple. Your promises are true and faithful. --- Amen

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 18th - Reflection

Matthew 20:17-28 (NRSV)
Jesus came to serve
While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised."

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to him, "We are able." He said to them, "You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Jesus teaches and demonstrates with his life  threefold qualities we are to lead as his disciples. Jesus shows us humility, suffering servant hood, and Jesus own greatness in his ability to sacrifice himself for our salvation.

Greatness does not come out of powerful positions. Powerful positions are a result of true greatness. Jesus shows true greatness in his willingness to humble himself and serve life in the creation of God by sacrificing himself for our own salvation. You and I, and any other, could never have saved ourselves. We most likely would approach salvation in the inappropriate manner of conquering others in order to sustain our own place. But Jesus turned this entire thinking upside down in history forever.

Jesus gave his life to give us life. Jesus humbly served what he created out of a love that went far beyond any act  human power could expel. But in this act of Jesus, both God and man, he changed the value system of all disciples to one of humility, service and sacrifice out of love for another.

Serve as the slave in humility and grace and love. Give your life to the Savior and live. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I give you thanks for your honest talk when I need it the most. Help me and teach me to live the values you would have your disciples live here...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17th - Reflection

Ezekiel 34:17-23 (NRSV)
God the true shepherd

As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats: Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, but you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture? When you drink of clear water, must you foul the rest with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have fouled with your feet?

Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.

I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.

Restoration is mixed in together with judgment. We are called to care one for another also. We are called not to live in greed of the goodness that God graciously gives us as sheep. We are called to live in unity and support of each other acting out the love that has been shown to us through the Shepherd.

One shepherd will be set up to care and love the sheep. That true shepherd is God. God who calls us in love, to love God and each other.  Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I turn to you today, I seek healing of body, strength of mind, and growth of your Spirit in me. I ask for your daily bread that I may partake no more than what I need and leave what is needed for all others. Feed all your sheep and may we grow in love one for another. --- Amen

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 16th - Reflection

Ezekiel 34:23-31 (NRSV)
God provides perfect pasture
I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.

I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild animals from the land, so that they may live in the wild and sleep in the woods securely. I will make them and the region around my hill a blessing; and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. The trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase. They shall be secure on their soil; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke, and save them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They shall no more be plunder for the nations, nor shall the animals of the land devour them; they shall live in safety, and no one shall make them afraid. I will provide for them a splendid vegetation so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the insults of the nations. They shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, says the Lord God. You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture and I am your God, says the Lord God.

A promise of peace. God will remove the wild animals. All the threatening aspects of our life with God will be gone. We can look forward to living in peace with God, his people and his creation. It is a vision of unity and peace. It is a vision of salvation that only comes through or is achieved by the Messiah; salvation brought on by God not ourselves or our doings.

It's time to relax and listen to the Word of God and focus on what will be...Thanks be to God!

Lord, I sense the peace and rest you bring. Only through you can the chaos be overcome. In creation...in life...in all --- you have created life and good out of chaos. Thanks! --- Amen

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 15th - Reflection

Fourth Sunday of Easter
John 10:1-10 (NRSV)

Christ the shepherd
"Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers." Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

My human pride and selfish ambition have led me to try to gain access to God as the thief would. I try to get to God in so many ways with all of my own efforts. Just like the thief, I try to gain access to God by being a goody two shoes or the church lady. I think God will pay attention if I act all churchy. What a bunch of sickening crap is all that! God doesn't owe me anything for being good!

Other times I try to get to God by doing good things for others. But in so doing my "real" motive seems to be that I just want to look good for God. What a bunch of bull! God doesn't owe me anything for being good!

Access to God isn't by all these things that seem to make sense to my selfish ways of doing things. I can't gain access to God by anything I do, or say, or act, or be. I can only gain access to God through the "gate." And that gate is Jesus. Jesus is the door to God for all of us, not our church lady actions, or our goody two shoes life, or our insulting gifts of love in appearance.

Jesus has the true claim to be the gate or door to God. And through Jesus we are led in and out. We are guided by Jesus gift of love and life, not by any gift we could ever offer. We hear the voice of the shepherd through the word and gate and door of Jesus. God came to us and has given us access to God through Jesus.

So put all of that churchy stuff behind. It makes most people sick anyway. Be yourself. We are sheep led through the gate of our Lord and Savior to the presence of God so that we can give our life to God. What an honor! What a privilege! What a new life! Thanks be to God!

Lord, lead me guide me and call me to life in and through you...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 14th - Reflection

Psalm 23 (NRSV)
God our shepherd
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff -
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
As we focus on God we see care and careful watch over our lives. We see God with grace of life when we deserve death. We see God loving and caring for us all life long. As we focus on God we see God's presence in the good times and the bad times. We see God with us when we desire God's presence and even when we are running away.

Here in this psalm we see contrast-- Good and evil, happiness and gloom, security and peril-- We see contrast in a God that sticks close through thick and thin. Here in this psalm we see a Father's love for the life of his children.

In this wonderful vision we see our Savior! Thanks be to God!

Father, you have cared for me through it all. Be with me as I walk this path of life day by day. --- Amen 

Friday, May 13, 2011

May 13th - Reflection

1 Peter 2:13-17 (NRSV)
Living honorably in the world
For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Live as free people. We are to live as if we are free from sin. Even though we sin. We need to smell the stench of that sin and come to repentance, knowing that this is not the will of God. We are to turn around from our sin and turn to God. Living free of sin, means we are not to be held bondage to that sin. Sure, we will sin. Sure, we hate that sin. Sure, we will acknowledge our sinfulness and turn to God in new life. But sin is not our focus. God is the focus.
If we focus constantly on our sin we will get stuck in it. Jesus paid too great a price for that kind of behavior. Acknowledge, confess, turn and receive forgiveness. Move on towards the calling God has set out for you. Follow Jesus in his Kingdom in the here and now and live obediently to his will and way knowing all along that you will sin but sin need not be your focus. Jesus is your focus and his will and his way are your life.
"As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God." What a way of life! Thanks be to God!

Lord forgive my sin. As I focus on you and your way, I seek to serve you in all your needs…today…tomorrow…and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 12th – Reflection

1 Peter 2:9-12 (NRSV)
Living as God's people
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Once you were not a people,
but now you are God's people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.


Isn’t it awesome how God comes to us through Jesus. God chooses us and anoints us with holy water and oil. God fills us with the Spirit and gives us all that we need to live this life to honor him and to love others.
We become a people of God sent out in the love that Jesus as shown us as his disciples to tell the world of the wonderful message of God’s salvation through Jesus. We are given a new life in unity with God and one another in the mercy freely given in order to speak the message of change to all the world. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you have graciously come to all of us through Jesus and Spirit. Fill our lives and join us as one with those you give to us day by day. I’m glad to be in your family…today…tomorrow…and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11th - Reflection

John 21:1-14 (NRSV)
The risen Christ eats with the disciples
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

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

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Peter's attempt to return to the ordinary, for him, and go back to fishing wasn't working all that well that night. They couldn't catch a fish. But then a man on the beach gave them some advice to cast the nets on the other side of the boat. The nets filled with fish and Jesus was recognized.

Peter took immediate action and put on some clothes and left his familiar boat to be with Jesus on the beach. Jesus invited the group to breakfast, an ordinary meal. Peter left what was ordinary in his life in the fishing to be with Jesus at the ordinary of breakfast.

Breakfast, the first meal of a new day. We break the fast and with Jesus we do just the same. The bread is broken and the fish is served and we begin a new day. A new day fed in body and spirit with the food from Jesus. Fed to go into the kingdom. Go into the kingdom with Jesus to the ordinary and the extraordinary. Going, led by Jesus and the Spirit, to do a new work and live a new life. We break the fast and live again. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I come to you here and now, take me from my ordinary to you, extraordinary but willing to exist in my ordinary. You make all things new. You sustain life and give me my daily bread. I have all I need in you. Send me this day. Go with me as I follow you in your kingdom to serve you and those you would give to me to serve and love this day. --- Amen

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 10th - Reflection

Proverbs 8:32-9:6 (NRSV)
Wisdom serves a meal
And now, my children, listen to me:
happy are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise,
and do not neglect it.
Happy is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord;
but those who miss me injure themselves;
all who hate me love death."

Wisdom has built her house,
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine,
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her servant-girls, she calls
from the highest places in the town,
"You that are simple, turn in here!"
To those without sense she says,
"Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.

Lay aside immaturity, and live,
and walk in the way of insight."

If we but open our eyes and see and open our ears and listen; there he is. There is Jesus once again opening the scriptures to us and explaining what we could not, did not, or refused to see or hear. God is with us. God is closer than you think. God is preparing a meal for us, simple as we, are to turn to him. God invites us to "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed." God invites us to take him in. Take Jesus in and live and walk in his way.

If we but open our eyes and see and open our ears and listen...we see Jesus...we see love...we see salvation. Thanks be to God!

Lord as I take in the bread and the wine, open my eyes to see you, open my ears to hear your voice. I am your disciple and I follow you. --- Amen

Monday, May 09, 2011

May 9th - Reflection

Genesis 18:1-14 (NRSV)
Abraham and Sarah eat with God
The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, "My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on -- since you have come to your servant." So they said, "Do as you have said." And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes." Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, "Where is your wife Sarah?" And he said, "There, in the tent." Then one said, "I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?" The Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, and say, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son."

Nothing at all is too hard for the Lord. In Sarah he brought life from a dead womb and through Jesus he brought life from a dead tomb. God visits us and gives us the hope of new life in him. God comes to us and like Martha, Abraham scurries to make God feel comfortable with a good meal.

We welcome God into our lives and want God to stay in the flesh with us. But God usually leaves us with the Spirit to deal with whatever journey we have been placed upon. And that journey all along the way brings mini-stories of the hope of life and builds our faith and trust in God. It seems we are all placed on a journey with Jesus by our side. We are on a journey with a few friends and Jesus and we learn, as we stumble and bumble along, that God is closer than we think and that all along the way, God is building our faith and trust and hope in him. And this is the life we receive. This is the hope we receive. This is the love we receive.

It all starts with a promise, some companionship and a gift. Thanks be to God!

Thank you Jesus for your visit this day. As I go with you Moses, Elijah and a friend this day; teach me hope and faith in all we do. --- Amen

Sunday, May 08, 2011

May 8th - Reflection

Third Sunday of Easter
Luke 24:13-35 (NRSV)

Eating with the risen Christ
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Jesus was able to remain anonymous for a while and heard how two of his disciples loved him so. He heard how two of his disciples believed in the prophecy of his redemption of Israel. And these two disciples couldn't understand how the rulers could reject Jesus. These two had no proof yet. They had not witnessed Jesus and it was now the third day. So Jesus directs the disciples to scripture.

A stop at the disciples destination and a chance for a meal with this guest. But Jesus assumes the role of host at the meal. Jesus takes the bread, breaks it and gives thanks...the veil is lifted from the eyes of the disciples and they recognize Jesus, who immediately disappears. The disciples realized a strange and awesome feeling in this experience. They realize they had just seen the risen Lord. The are compelled by a spirit of joy and elation to run and tell the story.

What an awesome event. Jesus takes us to scripture, takes us to the Word, and reveals through the prophets and the law God's glorious saving act through himself to his disciples and even to us today. God shows us the bread and the wine and Jesus is revealed to our very eyes. Through the Word and through the Sacraments, God comes to us even today.

What joy and elation we have when we open the Bible and discover Jesus. We discover Jesus active and alive and we are filled with elation that compels us to get up and move. We are elated to go out and live the love that Jesus has shown us. We are over-joyed to give that love to all we meet and talk to. We serve other's in this love. We give to the poor and needy. We visit and comfort the sick. We mourn with those near death. We rejoice in new life of those richly blessed. We share what God has first given us.

Why? Because we are free to do so. Free in the most awesome way. Free from the sin that Jesus died for. Our eyes are open and we have received Jesus, through the Word and through God's active coming into our lives this day. Thanks be to God!

Lord, open my eyes and give me that elation only you can supply. You are my God! You are my Savior! You are my Word! You have come! --- Amen

Saturday, May 07, 2011

May 7th - Reflection

Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19 (NRSV)
I will call upon God
I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
"O Lord, I pray, save my life!" ...

What shall I return to the Lord
for all his bounty to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful ones.
O Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!
We form a relationship with God through prayer and devotion. These are only a couple of ways that we interact with God but these are also a couple of the most important ways we come to be in relationship with God. We also come to God repenting of our sin and seek God's presence. We offer thanksgiving and we offer our lives to God in an outpouring of love and joy for what God first did for us.

In the relationship with God we find that God comes to us and is with us. As we thankfully recall the grace of God we find a Father that draws us in and near. What a wonderful loving Father we find as our bonds to sin are loosed and we learn to love openly and freely in joy. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you have opened up my life to live in joy to you and to all you give to me day by day. You have shown to me a love so deep and so wide that my life overflows in anticipation for the giving of that same love to all you give to me day by day. --- Amen

Friday, May 06, 2011

May 6th - Reflection

1 Peter 1:13-16 (NRSV)
A holy life
Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
How do we look forward to the grace that the revelation of Jesus Christ brings to us? We look forward in joy and thanksgiving. We look forward with a happiness of service and love for God and for one another. We look forward with a great anticipation of the holyness that God has graciously given us because God is holy. So we prepare and set all of our hope on the grace that Jesus Christ has revealed to all the world.

All our hope, joy and life comes from you Lord. Reveal you love through me this day in love and service to one another. --- Amen

Thursday, May 05, 2011

May 5th - Reflection

1 Peter 1:8b-12 (NRSV)
The promised salvation comes Even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven things into which angels long to look!

We are guided by the Spirit when we come to faith. Old Testament writers as well as New Testament writers as well as the faithful today are guided by the Spirit in our testimonies. When we hear the good news of Jesus Christ, his life, his ministry and his passion and resurrection, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and given the understanding only God could provide.

What an indescribable joy the good news brings to us as we receive the outcome of faith and the salvation of our souls. And just think, the Spirit sent from heaven things into which angels long to look! Thanks be to God!

Lord, you have given us a joy in faith and salvation beyond anything we could ever imagine. --- Amen

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

May 4th - Reflection

Matthew 12:38-42 (NRSV)
Jesus speaks of the sign of Jonah
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!

Signs and awesome revelations are one thing, but the Word made flesh in your very presence is something completely different. When we have Jesus, we don't need signs. When we have Jesus we don't need something else to point us to the kingdom of God. When we have Jesus we are in the kingdom of God. No sign is needed here. We have something far greater than any sign could be.

Open the scriptures and you will see and have revealed to you signs for sure, but something far greater than any sign. Open the scriptures and you will see Jesus revealed page by page, Old Testament and New Testament. You don't need a dream or a sign to be revealed when the Word is revealed in the scriptures so readily available to us this day.

Open the scriptures daily and see Jesus revealed. Live in the kingdom of God daily with Jesus. The kingdom has existed with Jesus through all time and even today for you and for me. No need for signs or dreams or revelations. Jesus is here and now. Thanks be to God!

Lord, open my eyes to your presence in the Word daily...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

May 3rd - Reflection

Jonah 1:1-17 (NRSV)
Jonah saved from the sea

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, "Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me." But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep. The captain came and said to him, "What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not perish."

The sailors said to one another, "Come, let us cast lots, so that we may know on whose account this calamity has come upon us." So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, "Tell us why this calamity has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?" "I am a Hebrew," he replied. "I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land." Then the men were even more afraid, and said to him, "What is this that you have done!" For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them so.

Then they said to him, "What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?" For the sea was growing more and more tempestuous. He said to them, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you." Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them. Then they cried out to the Lord, "Please, O Lord, we pray, do not let us perish on account of this man's life. Do not make us guilty of innocent blood; for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you." So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Events hundreds of years apart, yet seem to have so much in common. Recalling Jesus asleep on the boat as a storm brewed and frightened the disciples. Jesus commanded the storm to stop and it did. Likewise a storm is brewing, but Jonah wishes to be cast into the sea to calm the fury of God. Jonah knew he was running from God. Jesus knew that he was to fulfill the plan of the Father. Both were going through a storm. One was running away but willing to save the lives of those on board. The other was willing to take on the storm to save the lives of those on board.

Both end up in a tomb for a few days or so, and both come out alive. Jonah comes out to the service he was called to do. Jesus, having performed the suffering and death of the cross comes from the tomb to new life for all. It seems that we must be willing to walk into the face of the storm before the gift of new life.

It also seems to imply that the raging sea is a threat, but a threat, that with faith in God,  we can deal with. We can deal with the storms of life knowing that in any case, if we are running away from God or running after God, God will always be with us in the storms. God will calm the storm and go through the storm with us. This doesn't make the storm any less threatening. The storm is still a storm. But with Jesus with us in the storm we will be protected.

Protection comes in many forms though. We go through the storms of life to new life, or we may go through the storm to new service here and now. In either case we know that God is closer than we could ever think or imagine. God is with us in the storms and knows just how a storm behaves. So we trust God in the storms of life. We trust God and give God all of our hope and faith.

My Lord and my God! I believe! Thanks be to God!

Lord, I give you thanks that you are with me, in sin and out of sin. Rescue me from my sinful, selfish self and lead me to the life you would have me live. You created me and I have chosen you. You are my Father, my Friend and my Redeemer. You are my Lord and my God! I believe in you...today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen