Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31st Reflection by Bill Lynch


Isaiah 60:1-6
The Ingathering of the Dispersed

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
   and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 
For darkness shall cover the earth,
   and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
   and his glory will appear over you. 
Nations shall come to your light,
   and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 


Lift up your eyes and look around;
   they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away,
   and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. 
Then you shall see and be radiant;
   your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
   the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
   the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
   all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
   and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Reflection
"Good morning glory!" This was a saying that I heard almost everyday from my Mom when getting up. It's one of those sayings that bring cheer to you on the moment of rising and everyday since. I can still hear Mom saying this and think of it often.

Mom's words carry the spirit of this passage. Jerusalem is pictured as someone laying on the ground and encouraged to rise and shine. God seeks for us to rise and shine, to reflect God's glory to all the earth and all those we meet. You could stretch this vision to the Church or any number of situations. We are a people and individuals that walk in darkness. Pick up the newspaper and you can easily see the darkness of this world in the current events of the day. Yet as God's Children, we are to rise and shine, for our Light has come.

Out of the darkness of the void of creation a great Light came into this world and became flesh in Jesus. Our Light has come and life is here. Life we don't deserve, but life given out of the love of God for the darkness in which we dwell. Jesus brings life and light to all people who believe. 

God has made himself shine so brightly, we can't help but to notice the Light. God's glory shines brightly in the love of those people sent into the tragic events of the day that give his Light to those in the darkness. This is the morning of the kingdom of God. God shed his Light in Jesus and the Church has begun. A Church to minister to all people and praise God for all God has done for the world. 

Get up and look! Look at God all around! It's an amazing sight to see if you but open your eyes to the Light present in this world of darkness. Don't focus on the darkness of sin, death and the devil. Focus on the Light of God for all people. Shout praises to God and worship him! 

When we focus on the Light of Jesus we too become radiant with that Light. Jesus' light shines in and through us, Jesus' light reflects off of us. This is a thrill for all believers and brings forth a free response to love God and all those God gives to us every moment of our lives.

"Good morning glory! Rise and shine!" Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Jesus, the great Light of the world, shine in and through and off of me this day that all may see you in what I do and say... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30th Reflection by Bill Lynch



1st Sunday of Christmas 
1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26 (NRSV)

Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, "May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord"; and then they would return to their home.

Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people.

Reflection
The lions had gathered together in a pack. As I watched, I knew the lions were aware of the speed of the zebra. The zebra is a shrewd animal with greater speed than the lion. The only way that the lion could capture the zebra was to do it in a pack of lions and seek the youngest of the zebra.

But this time was different. The pack of lions did go after the zebra, but it seemed to me as if the youngest of zebras there was not the slowest. This is what I saw during the hunt of the lion pack. As the lion pack spread a little and moved the zebras became aware of the situation. You could tell among the zebras that there was a mother child relationship between a couple of them. As the lion went for the attack, they moved towards the youngest of the zebras. Just as this happened and as the zebras began to run with great speed, the mother zebra seemed to come up lame. The younger zebra was able to escape with all of the other zebras and the lion pack switched directions towards the mother zebra. As the lions approached the mother zebra, suddenly she was able to run. Run full speed away. But, her delay was just a bit too much. The lion pack captured the mother zebra and she became a meal for the lion pack.

It was a sad sight to see. Then I noticed in the distance the Mother zebra's youngster looking on at what had happened. This zebra was looking and learning it appeared to me. Looking and picking up on the lesson of how it's mother had given her life. Just like the young zebra was looking on, I was as well.

This mother zebra taught me that giving life gave life. Gave life that grows in wisdom and understanding. I saw a love that went beyond this earthly life to a life that continues to grow and nurture. I couldn't help but to think of the baby Jesus in the manger. I couldn't help but to think of the crown of thorns, the bloody face and the cruel punishment that Jesus took for the likes of me. I couldn't help but to think of my sinful self and what Jesus had come to do to pay for my sin. I couldn't help but to think of standing at a distance and seeing the baby and my Savior on a cross, both in that manger. I couldn't help but to think of my Savior rising from the tomb and living in glory. I couldn't help but to think of how Jesus saved me from sin, death and the devil that I might live to his glory and proclaim to all people what God has done for them. I couldn't help but to think of the joy it brought to me.

I couldn't help but to think of myself as a young zebra anxious to find out all I could find out about Jesus and the life he wants me to live. I couldn't help myself... but Jesus did!

Prayer
God you have come. You come among us and walk with us. You are in the hunt with us and you gave your life for us. You have come a baby and lived as a child with deep curiosity and faith. You gave your life to all people that they may live. Even as a youth, you gave your life to the world. As your children grow through the grace you have granted, accept our lives that we may praise you with our lives and bring glory to your name... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29th Reflection by Bill Lynch





Luke 2:41-52
The Boy Jesus in the Temple

 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’ He said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour.

Reflection
What strikes me in this passage on this day isn't so much the shock of not knowing where your child is while travelling for a day, but rather how Jesus seems to be living and learning and growing. With some simple research into this passage I find there are some who believe this was more about Jesus teaching in the Temple. Even artists interpretations of Jesus standing while the teachers listened. But what I get out of this passage is a wonderfully curious boy learning about his religion and being fascinated about how God has worked throughout time in the lives of so many people.

I can relate to this in my own fascination with the Bible and the teachings of the Church as a child. Loving the stories of the Bible and looking at the pictures of the small hand-outs that were so neatly folded by Sunday School teachers and placed into my shirt pocket. Saturdays spent in Catechism and Junior Choir. The moments as an acolyte and the emotions the Lord's Prayer would give me. The tingles up the spine while in worship that felt the closeness of God in a message, a song or a prayer. I can understand Jesus wanting to be  in the Temple and the questions he must have asked.

What fascinates me is that God would allow Jesus to be a child and to grow in wisdom, something similar to like many of us grow as a child. I don't buy the idea that Jesus was like some Wonder Child doing super human things as a little boy. I don't see that evidence in the Bible and I respect those Spirit inspired people who chose the books that would be contained in what we know today as the Bible. In this passage, I do see a child as a human child that is curious and desires to grow in wisdom. Sure, not all children were this way, but some are this way.

So God comes to us as a Baby in a manger. God comes to us in the attempt to understand the wonder of God. God comes to us in the questions of the teachers in the Temple. God comes to us as a little boy wanting to learn more and more and more. God comes to us fully human like the rest of us. God comes to us in a Jesus that is so excited about his faith that he seems to forget time and space.

I can relate to this passage and am overjoyed knowing that God comes to us in our curiosity of God and all of God's wondrous ways of entering into our lives and our hearts. Reading this passage makes me want to dig deep... really deep... to ask questions... and to question things that other's would never question for fear of the authorities. After all, isn't that what Jesus would do?

Prayer
Jesus, thank you for your curiosity. Thank you for being like us. Thank you for coming to us as a baby and as a young child with all the features of a child. I'm never going to grow up, so put up with my questions, my curiosity and my play. Billy wants to come out and play... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 28th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Colossians 3:12-17

 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Reflection
Did you receive Christ? All through Advent we have been waiting. Waiting for Christ to come again. Waiting for Christ to return. Did he come to you? Did Christ come to you to be with you? Christ has come, Christ does come and Christ will come again.

We know of Jesus' coming as a babe in the manger. We can read about the Word present at creation and present on this earth in Jesus. The Bible is one source of the Word given to us to see Jesus. So, if we believe it, we receive Jesus in the Bible. If we choose to believe it Jesus comes to us and his peace rules in our hearts. Even for those who don't yet believe, Jesus comes, comes to offer his grace. Will you accept that grace?

In this acceptance, we change and become a new creation. A creation founded and blessed by Jesus the Word made flesh. The Word that was with God in the beginning. The Word that existed before John the Baptist at the creation of the world.

Did you receive Christ for Christmas? Even as a believer we receive Jesus in our hearts day after day. Jesus has come to us to stay. How else could we respond but to follow him in his will and his way? How else could we respond but to praise him and sing songs of joy and thanksgiving.

Turn to the Word of the Bible, look and see, turn to Jesus and believe. You will receive Christ into your heart and become a new creation.

Did you receive Christ?

Prayer
Jesus, you have come to us and we find that you have been with us all along. Send your Spirit to those who have not believed that they may see your presence and your loving grace and believe in you. Use each one of us to tell of your love... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 27th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Psalm 148
Praise for God’s Universal Glory

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
   praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
   praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon;
   praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
   and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for he commanded and they were created.
He established them for ever and ever;
   he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
   you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
   stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills,
   fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
   creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples,
   princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike,
   old and young together!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for his name alone is exalted;
   his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
   praise for all his faithful,
   for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!

Psalm by Bill Lynch

All of God's works are great.
  Look into the telescope and see,
God's works are to be praised.
  Praise God for infinity!

All of God's works are great.
  Peer into the microscope and see,
the smallest living cell that moves.
  Praise God for life!

All of God's works are great.
  See the compression of air,
then feel the power of a jet engine.
  Praise God for power!

All of God's works are great.
  Walk on a trail in the spring,
life abundant raises from the earth.
  Praise God for nature!

All of God's works are great.
  Wander through history to the manger,
see salvation in the Babe.
  Praise God for Jesus!

All of God's works are great.
  Sing joyfully of all God has done,
live life with God forever.
  Praise God for eternity!

Prayer
God, you came into time in the flesh of Jesus. You hovered over the earth in Spirit. You counseled your people as Father. Come this day into the hearts of people that they may see, feel and know of your presence. Display yourself in multiple ways that those you created may realize your presence and seek you to come into their hearts. Be with us this day that we may live to do your will in a way that pleases you. Hear, dear Lord, our praise... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 26th Reflection by Bill Lynch



1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
The Child Samuel at Shiloh

 Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, ‘May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord’; and then they would return to their home.

 Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favour with the Lord and with the people.

Reflection
A child given to God. Elkanah was blessed with Samuel. Samuel was God's gift of a son to Elkanah and Hannah. When Hannah asked God for a son, she dedicated her son to God as a child. Samuel grew up with the priest Eli at the Temple.

Each year Elkanah and Hannah would come to the Temple to offer the yearly sacrifice, Hannah would bring a small garment to be used as a robe for Samuel. This garment was a linen ephod. Eli would bless the couple and they would return home.

This passage reminds me of the way God nurtures us in our faith walk. God comes to us and we believe in God. As we grow in faith we grow in stature. We desire to dig deep into our relationship with God. We seek our purpose and the Holy Spirit points us towards that purpose. We live our lives for God and give ourselves up. It's not only a yearly offering but rather an offering of our life to God.

Through the realization of God's gift of Jesus, his life, ministry, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension; we respond in love towards God and love towards one another. This response results in giving our lives to God, gladly and freely. The response is a glad moment followed by an eternity of life with God.

God offered his Son, Jesus, to live with us. An eternity of relationship between God and people was dedicated in Jesus coming to this earth. We have received this gift of faith and grow. What a gift! What a joy! What a life! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, I dedicate my life to you. You have given Jesus into this world to show us the way, the truth and the life. Bring all people to believe and follow, today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Nativity of Our Lord - Christmas Day 
Hebrews 1:1-12 (NRSV)

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say,
"You are my Son;
today I have begotten you"?
Or again,
"I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son"?
And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
"Let all God's angels worship him."
Of the angels he says,
"He makes his angels winds,
and his servants flames of fire."
But of the Son he says,
"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions."
And,
"In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like clothing;
like a cloak you will roll them up,
and like clothing they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will never end."

Reflection
God spoke. God spoke long ago and God speaks today. God spoke into reality the creation of all things. God spoke each day of creation. God has spoken in mysterious ways. God spoke through the prophets and the fathers. God spoke and it occurred. And God spoke and the Word became flesh and came to us to dwell with us and be one of us. God spoke and the Word of creation appeared again to all people. God speaks in the Bible and the spoken Word through people we live and breathe with. God speaks in and through the Sacraments. God comes to us in Word and Sacrament. God comes in us in creation. God comes to us in one another. God comes to us in Spirit. God comes to us and God speaks to us.

How do we take this Word that God speaks? Do we evaluate it and accept it if it seems reasonable to our senses? Or do we accept God's Word and believe, even though we can't understand? Do we wait for understanding before we accept the spoken Word from God, the Word made flesh?

Listen to God's Word. Listen to the Word made flesh in Jesus. God speaks and we listen to Jesus. God reveals himself in Jesus. Look to Jesus and listen and you will hear God speak. When confused with the spoken word that may or may not be God's Word; listen to the Word in Jesus. Jesus is the Word made flesh that comes to us and guides us. In Jesus this world was created. In Jesus all things come into being. In Jesus we have life. And God speaks through Jesus, yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever. God speaks through the Word made flesh that has come this day to dwell with his loved ones of creation... that's you and me.

Look into the eyes of Jesus. Look into the eyes of the One in the manger. You will hear God speaking. Speaking not of some glorious earthly ruler, but speaking of humbleness and love for the least. God speaks to all creation in Jesus. God speaks in Jesus of truth and grace and righteousness. This is a power that we on this earth are not familiar with. But God speaks in this humble setting. God speaks a much more powerful message than we can understand. God speaks in Jesus of new life. God speaks in Jesus of the guts to tough it out for our sin to free us from sin, death and the devil. God speaks his Word in Jesus through loving action right before our eyes and into our hearts. Look into the eyes of baby Jesus.

Look into the eyes of baby Jesus. Hear his cry. See his smile. Watch Jesus coo. Jesus has come to you this day. Come in flesh and blood. Receive him this day, the Word made flesh that now dwells among us, with us and in us. Today your Savior comes to you. Believe and live in fascination free from sin, death and the devil. For Jesus comes to you. Follow this baby into eternity.

Prayer
Jesus, today you have come into my heart. May your Word from beginning to end dwell within me and come forth from me as I live my life for you. As I tell of the Word made flesh to all the world, be with those who struggle to believe and enter into their hearts and lives that your glory may be fulfilled... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Nativity of Our Lord - Christmas Eve 
Titus 2:11-14 (NRSV)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Reflection
Wow! What a horrible year this has been for me. I suffered from Crohn's flares multiple times this past year. On top of that, one of the side effects are kidney stones. Well, I had em! After multiple tests and bunches of glamour pictures of my innards the doctors went after those stones. Two lithotripsy treatments didn't work. One of those treatments involved the installation of a stent. Several months of infections with high fevers. Finally the doctor decided to go in through my back and remove the stones from my kidney. What a terrible year!

And on top of all that my Mom died on my birthday and my Father-in-law died a couple of months later. Family stress and upheaval over these deaths followed by my Mother-in-law going into a nursing home. My daughter suffers from the effects of mental illness, my wife coming apart at the seams and I was missing more work than what anyone would care to miss in an environment of high unemployment and fiscal disaster.

Then think of all the events going on in the world. We had the Aurora shooting and the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. A presidential election that was ugly and calls and calls and calls to my home phone. The super storm Sandy hitting the people of New York City and surrounding areas. Conflict in Libya and the scandal at Penn State. How about the Fiscal Cliff? Then what's happening in Syria. The list goes on and on and on. Tornadoes and fires and the end of the world scare from the Mayan calendar.

What is this world coming to?

Wait a minute! It's not about what this world is coming to. It's rather about what has come to this world. It's not about my poor old self and what I've suffered through. It's what has come to me to be with me while I suffered. It's not about the events of this world and the tragedy of it all. It's what's come to us in the midst of pain and suffering. What's? Rather who!

God came into this world at the precise time planned. God came into this world as a baby in a manger. God came into this world, humble and poor. God came into this world and suffered, laughed, endured and lived to die for you and me. God came into this world as Jesus just when Jesus needed to come into this world. And God still comes into this world to live and suffer and die with each one of us and all of us together.

Jesus felt all of the pain and the suffering and the living and the dying that all of us feel. Jesus even cried and mourned and laughed and lived as you and I live each day. Sure, I got sick this year, sure I had people I loved die this year. Sure, I had to support and live with those near and dear to me that are living with illness, sickness, sadness and pain this year.

God not only comes into the world in Jesus, but he has comes into my life to live with me through all of the ups and downs. Jesus and the Holy Spirit descended into my world upon my baptism. I was washed over with God and buried under the waters of baptism so that I could realize what God had done for me. I live a life in sin, yet free of sin because of Jesus coming into this world and doing what he has done for all people.

Do you believe it? Do you accept what God has done for you? God has done this for all people. A Gift given freely. Accept the gift. Live into the freedom of the gift. Respond to the gift and live a life through the tragic impact of sin, death, disease, destruction and tragedy. Live a life of hope and anticipation for the time when God comes to you and calls you and uses you. It may be a momentary call or a call to a career. But it's a call and God will give you all you need to respond to that wonderful call.

See, how God gave himself to us, in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God comes to us! God lives with us and in us and through us and teaches us and strengthens us and gives us no choice but to believe. God is with us! God gave himself to us to redeem us and to make us clean for him. We have a comforter with us always. Even when the event hurts so bad we can't stand it, Jesus comes to us to comfort us and give us hope. We are God's people!

In that perfect time God will come again. Jesus will return for us in this world in which we live. The tragedy and the tears and the illness will be gone. In God's time this will happen. But until that time, we look to in hope, we will live under God and live with the assurance of a Savior that lived in this very same world in which we live in. A time of hope and joy and salvation. Here and now and to come.

It's not what has happened to the world in which we live. It's not, "What has this world come to."

It's "What... or Who has come to this world."

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds."

Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Thank you Jesus! Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 23rd Reflection by Bill Lynch



4th Sunday in Advent 
Micah 5:2-5a (NRSV)

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.

Reflection
Henry had recently retired. He worked a life as a welder. Throughout Henry's career, he welded everything from pressure vessels, to superstructures, to aviation parts, to large piping. Henry knew all there was about welding. He could also create wonderful works of art by welding scrap metal together. Once Henry retired he kept on welding such wonderful artwork that sold quickly at art shows.

Henry spent hours teaching his son how to weld. He passed all of his skill on to his son, Paul, so that this skill would not be lost in time. Paul took over the welding trade from Henry. This skill and trade passed from generation to generation, but as it passed the skill of the next welder in line was always increasingly compromised from the last. Before you know it, years later, the welding skill was lost by Henry's descendants.

It was sad to see that creative ability of Henry lost to time like this. No one cared to carry on Henry's skill into the future. But, then came, Steve. Steve picked up a piece of art that Henry had made hundreds of years ago and admired the work. Steve even looked into the history of how Henry was raised and how he lived his life and how Henry became a welder. Steve studied very hard and practiced every day as a youth the skills of welding.

Steve attended a trade school to learn welding and before you know it, Steve was working as a welder and creating works of art just like his ancestor Henry used to do. The trade was back in the blood of Henry's family. I'm sure Henry would be elated to know this if he were alive today.

Years passed after Steve lived his life and died and the welding trade left the family once again. The trade was ridiculed in the family as an ignorant trade of one less educated. In fact the future generations just kept away from anything to do with welding at all. Not only was the trade lost but the skill was lost as well. The future of welding in Henry's family seemed to be gone forever.

Steve's son, Michael, noticed that the trade would be lost in the generations to come. For some reason Michael predicted that years from now, several generations into the future, the welding trade would come again into Henry's family. Michael knew that this creative skill was in the bloodline. Michael studied the welding skills that his ancestors had demonstrated through time. There was a love and a passion for this trade that went beyond anything Michael had ever seen. Michael predicted that the welding trade would reappear stressing the creative and artful work the most by someone in the future. This person would be a peaceful, loving person. He would not do so much welding of pipe and superstructure, but live his life creating new forms of artwork that display the peaceful side of welding.

Many generations after Michael and Steve; Joshua was born. Joshua took back up the trade of welding. Josh lived a humble existence. He bought a shop and walled off one portion of the shop as a living area. Josh welded constantly. He built artwork through welding and sold it at auction. The money that Josh made went to the children of homeless families in the area, with just enough left over for Josh to eat and pay rent. It seemed as if Josh's life were lived through his welding art for other people. Josh gave all of his artwork away in the sense that the money went to those who needed it the most.

Josh attributed his skill to a gift from God. A gift that came years before. Looking back through time it was amazing how much Josh favored his ancestor Henry. There were only pictures of Henry painted by one of Henry's artist friends. Josh's image appeared to be the exact likeness of Henry. It was as if Henry, who created what seemed to be everything in art from the beginning, had reappeared as Josh. Josh and Henry even lived similar lives. Was Josh Henry? Was Henry Josh? It's as if Henry had returned through all time and lived once again.

Creative ability that was lived out in love from Henry to Josh. This Love was passed, lost, passed and lost again. A Love so deep that it will surely now live forever. A Love that will dwell secure, for now this Love will be great to the ends of the earth. A Love that brings peace to all generations.

Prayer
Lord, you came into this world and moved your love throughout all creation. Then we ruined it in sin. You came once again to give your love so that we may live once again in the love that you freely give. You will come again in this very same love to restore all things to you. Take this scrap metal and make it what you would have it be, that I may serve you in your kingdom. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 22nd Reflection by Bill Lynch



Savior of the nations, come
Author: St. Ambrose; 
Translator (English): William M. Reynolds; 
Translator (German): Martin Luther (1523)


Savior of the nations, come;
virgin's son, make here your home.
Marvel now, O heav'n and earth,
that the Lord chose such a birth.

From the Father forth you came,
soon returning to the same,
captive leading death and hell.
Let the song of trimph swell!

You, the Father's only son,
have o'er sin the victory won.
Boundless shall your kingdom be;
when shall we its glories see?

Brightly does your manger shine;
glorious is its light divine.
Let not sin o'ercloud this light;
ever be our faith thus bright.

Hymn
Text: Bill Lynch

Yes, we run to see new life.
We come to be the mid-wife.
You have come into this world
giving grace and love unfurled.

You come and all hearts will leap.
You waken people from sleep.
In you alone we are blessed.
For you we offer our best.

In humbleness you reach us.
You have come in our likeness.
You give your life for our sin,
so that new life may begin.

Praise to Father, Spirit, Son.
God our Savior Three in One.
Praise we sing with all the host.
In love we give our utmost.

Prayer
Lord, you come to us and dig deep inside of us. We feel your presence in the depths of our beings, and we leap for joy. We can't help but to respond with all your heavenly host with song and praise. For you have come to us, blessed us, lived and died for us and rose again in glory to defeat sin, death and the devil. To you alone our lives we give. Be with us as we live in this world. Help us as we follow you and learn and live the love you have shown to us. Keep us safe as we wander this earth, giving freely the love you gave to us to one another. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen






Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21st Reflection by Bill Lynch



Luke 1:39-45
Mary Visits Elizabeth

 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

Reflection
Women! They always get excited about things! This time it was different though, even I got excited about this. Didn't Mom know that I had feelings and emotions too? I can hear in here you know. When I heard the voice of Mary, I knew there was something special happening. After all I'm a little older than he is but not any wiser by far.

So, when I heard Mary's voice, I knew He was near too. So, I kicked Mom a little and turned some. Come on Mom, this wasn't about you, it was about Him! Funny thing was, Mom knew it was about Him too. How did Mom know why I was excited to see Mary? I hadn't even seen Mary in my life. Well, I guess I hadn't seen Mom in my life either.

It was at my kick and the awareness of His presence that I felt the Holy Spirit enter my heart. It was at the kick that I knew God's call in my life. It was at that kick that the Holy Spirit gifted me with what I needed to live out my life for Him. At that kick inside Mom, I knew what God had called me to do. At that kick and the realization of His presence, I began my calling.

At that kick I announce His coming presence in the lives of all people. At that kick I told Mom to get prepared. I was telling Mom to repent and get ready for the Messiah is here! Here right now!

Just a little longer and I will see Mom, Dad, Mary and Jesus my Savior. Then I'll really ramp up this call of mine. But for now, I'll kick!

Women! They get excited about all of the right things in this case especially. God had come this moment. We couldn't see him just yet but Jesus was with us. Jesus was with Mary and me and Mom and I kicked about it!

Prayer
Lord, you come to me and I kick. May my kicks be kicks of acceptance and joy and not kicks of resistance. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 20th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Luke 1:39-45
Mary Visits Elizabeth

 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

Reflection
Mary went with haste to see Elizabeth. Something important was taking place. There was news to tell. Two women with child, and all meet. Both of these women opened up their minds, hearts, and spirits to a movement of God in their lives. A movement of God through their faith and openness to how God may use each one of them. Through faith they not only gave their lives for God but also gave their bodies to God as a sacrifice of love.

Something big was taking place. A bond of the souls between the women and a bond of their children in their wombs. All of them called by God to set up the coming of the Messiah in Jesus. This continues to this day through the Church and through the lives of the Children of God. We are called to announce and take our place in the coming of Jesus, in our lives and in the life of the world. We await the return of the Messiah. A return that not only takes place in the future but takes place now in our lives and the lives of those we take the Gospel of love to.

We give our lives, body and spirit to God and are called by God in some way to reach outside of ourselves to make known what God has done for all people through his coming in flesh into this world in Jesus. We live in the faith and trust that God keeps his promises.

It's with haste that we go to see another. To see God in someone else and to proclaim the joy God freely gives through the saving grace of Jesus. Something important was taking place in this passage and something important is taking place today in the lives of God's Children. Have faith and trust in what God has planned.

Prayer
Lord, something important has taken place and is taking place today. In faith and hope and trust I give my life to you as you call me to something important to do. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Hebrews 10:5-10

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
   but a body you have prepared for me;
in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings
   you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”
   (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’
When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Reflection
God was looking for a sacrifice all along. When we read the Old Testament we read of sacrifices of animals for the sin of the people and the nation. We read of detailed descriptions that seem so odd by today's standards and culture. We read of sprinkling blood and the pouring of the blood of the sacrifice. We read of the smell pleasing to the LORD.

But people rebel and don't get it. The people of the Old Testament rebel and we rebel today and don't get it. We find that we just can't figure it out and then turn to our own reasoning and strength and still don't get it. The prophets came along to tell of a future sacrifice to help us. Jesus makes it plain to us. God becomes the sacrifice that shows us what God is looking for. Jesus comes and gives his life for our sins. Jesus comes and heals, teaches, suffers and hangs on a cross, giving his blood for each of us and for all of us as the sacrifice that God really wants.

Jesus took the place of the sacrifices of the Old Testament. Through Jesus' final offering; this took the place of all the Old Testament offerings once and for all. God was showing us through Jesus that he doesn't want animals for the deliverance from sin, death and the devil. God wants us. Jesus showed us that God wants our lives and our devotion to him to do God's will and live in and under him.

God sent Jesus into this world to love us to death. God was looking for a sacrifice all along. What pleases God is our full trust and dependence on Jesus as Savior that we now in joy can offer ourselves fully to God. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, forgive my sins, I pray. Lead me and guide me and save me from myself. Use me to do your will as I give my life to you. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Luke 1:46b-55
Mary’s Song of Praise

 And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Reflection
As I ponder the Song of Mary he came to me.
   I didn't so much as hear his voice,
but I felt his presence.
   I wasn't expecting this to happen to me.
I'm nobody! I'm just a regular guy.
   I'm not rich by any standard.
My job is not of any significance in this world,
   but he came to me just the same.
I felt his presence deep inside.
   Deep inside in the pit of my gut.
I guess some would say he came into my heart.
   Why would he come to me?
The feeling created a warm emotion deep within.
   I felt an honor to have his presence so close.
It brought a song of praise from me.
   A song that was spontaneous.
A song that just sprang forth.
   Not so much a song that one could hear.
His presence brought a song of joy and praise.
   And then I began to sing aloud.
Sing aloud a song of joy.
   For I heard the call and voice of Jesus.
I felt the power to go on in life.
   I knew the joy through ups and downs.
And my song of joy went on and on.
   For Jesus has chosen me this day.
Thanks be to God my Savior and King!

Prayer
Lord, I get it now! You come to all of us. You have come in the past as a baby and lived on this earth just as we live on this earth. You come to each one of us today and dwell within our bodies in Spirit. Your presence leads and guides us daily. Lord, open the hearts of those who would reject you and give them a peek into your heavenly kingdom that they may accept you and believe in what you have done for them. We look forward to your coming again. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Micah 5:2-5a
The Ruler from Bethlehem

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
   who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
   one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
   from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
   when she who is in labour has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
   to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
   in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
   to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.

Reflection
This prophecy gives an overview of time in Israel. From the kings that would come from the small and insignificant town of Bethlehem to the time of exile and beyond. A mother is mentioned that will give birth to a king that would restore Israel. A king that would unite the scattered and exiled Israelites once again into a great nation.

A king that would bring safety to his people. A king that would rule with strength and majesty. This would be a kingdom that would have no end. A king that would bring eternal peace.

Sure sounds like Jesus to me. Jesus leading his people like sheep. Giving his people the bread of life to live on. And all this not only for Israel but for all people.

A passage of hope and comfort as we wait and prepare for Jesus coming today into our hearts and lives; as we wait for the celebration of Jesus coming in the past on that great day and as we wait and prepare for Jesus return in the future.

Prayer
Lord, throughout the ages people have looked forward to your coming. May we, this day, receive you into our hearts as we rejoice in your coming as a child years ago and as we wait in the hope of your return to us in the future. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 16th Reflection by Bill Lynch



3rd Sunday of Advent 
Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Reflection
Rob grew up with football in his blood. Even at a young age he would sit in front of the television and watch football. He would leap up and down and shout "Get that guy!" At a young age Rob started playing football with his Dad in the backyard. They would spend time together passing, kicking and even snapping the ball to each other. They would run around the yard with a football and tackle one another.

When Rob was old enough, he began to play Pee Wee Football in the community. Rob began to get better and better as the years passed. In High School, Rob was really good. Rob was scouted by many of the local and some of the not so local colleges. Rob played on the defensive side of the ball.

Once Rob was in college the competition for his DB position became fierce. No longer was Rob the stand out. During practice one day Rob decided to eliminate his competition. During one of the tackle drills, Rob went after the legs of the best DB on the team with intentions of breaking his leg. It worked! Rob had eliminated his competition that Sophomore year of his and Rob went on to start that year and his Junior and Senior year as the best DB on the team. Rob was nationally recognized and drafted to play for the Arizona Cardinals.

Wow! Rob's fortunes changed. He was making plenty of money and Rob felt as if he earned every cent of it. Rob was a self-made man now. Rob knew that all his efforts were due to what he had done. All the credit belonged to Rob. Rob was at the height of happiness. Rob even recalled how he and he alone had succeeded in the "pursuit of happiness."

Then came the game. The game against the Panthers. A guard shot out and came as if he was hunting down Rob. He hit Rob in his knees so hard that Rob went down and couldn't move. The Trainers came out to check on Rob. It looked like a career ending injury to Rob's knees. As Rob was taken off of the field, he couldn't help but to think of what he had done to another player in his college days. Rob relived that moment over and over in his mind of when he broke the leg of his competition.

Rob began to waver on his thinking that he was the one responsible for making it big in the NFL and making the big bucks. Maybe it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. You see Rob got married when he first made it into the NFL. But that marriage didn't last. In fact a second marriage that produced and child didn't last either. He didn't spend any time with his son and hardly even knew him to amount to anything. Rob wasn't really all that happy and now this! Rob thought of how great he wasn't really now.

Luckily, Rob recovered from his knee injury and came back full strength. It seemed almost every play Rob would remember the leg he had broken to spring his way into the NFL. Rob was a different player too. Rob would play hard but play honest and fair. He would help the opponent off the ground as much as his own team mates. Rob even spent time with his son several times a week.

Rob had discovered that he wasn't the reason for his success. There was something much more meaningful than the "pursuit of happiness." Rob had discovered that a Savior was needed in this life. He found out that all the success, the money or even the beautiful women would not bring lasting joy. Rob was on a pursuit for joy that went beyond anything Rob could do for or by himself.

Sure, Rob relived that time on the practice field over and over when he had done that terrible action of breaking the leg of another man in order to get ahead. It was that constant reminder that helped Rob recognize that the happiness he once thought was the all of life wasn't what it was cracked up to be. Rob found that joy came in the realization that humbled himself. Joy came in the freedom of God's forgiveness of that moment of sin on the practice field in Rob's life. Since Rob had come to realize the need for a Savior. A Savior that came to this world and lived a humble life, giving all that was physical of himself to all the world, even to death on the cross. There was more than this place and this world and football. There was a joy in what was to come. What was to come in our spiritual life and unity with Jesus.

Rob saw beyond this world into the next. Rob remembered his sin and was grateful for the life of Jesus and the forgiveness he brought. In this Rob, now lived through the highs and lows of life knowing of a joy to come and a joy present in the freedom to live life past any future sin. Rob knew of a Savior that loved him even through and in his sin. Jesus would call and use Rob just as he was. And Rob lived free and happy.

Rob had come to meet Doug. Doug walked with a limp and became a leader in his church. Rob and Doug were wonderful friends throughout their lives since the day Rob had injured his knee on the field. Doug was Rob's physical therapist that nursed Rob through recovery from his knee injury. Doug introduced Rob to Jesus in those days and forgave Rob for that time he broke his leg and the limp that followed him in life. Two men living in the joy of forgiveness with a new change in life.

Prayer
Lord Jesus, come near. Through the ups and downs of life, in sin and out of sin, with your presence and saving action alone can I live in joy. True joy of a hope beyond this world and into your presence. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,
Author: Henry Van Dyke (1907)


1 Joyful, joyful, we adore You,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before You,
Op'ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

2 All Your works with joy surround You,
Earth and heav'n reflect Your rays,
Stars and angels sing around You,
Center of unbroken praise;
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Praising You eternally!

3 Always giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Well-spring of the joy of living,
Ocean-depth of happy rest!
Loving Father, Christ our Brother,
Let Your light upon us shine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

4 Mortals, join the mighty chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
God's own love is reigning o’er us,
Joining people hand in hand.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music leads us sunward
In the triumph song of life.

Hymn Text by Bill Lynch

Rejoice in the Lord God always,
Rejoice in God all people.
Let's be gentle in all our ways,
Peaceful, loving and humble.
For the Lord is always with us,
in our past and in the now.
We today will speak the witness.
To the Savior give our vow.

Prayer
Lord, as we wait for your coming, we know of your presence in the here and now. For you have come in the past through the creation all things, you have come to this earth in flesh and lived to be our Savior. And, yes, we look for your coming again to fulfill your promises. We today witness to the love you have taught us for you and for one another. In this love we rejoice and respond. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Luke 3:7-18

 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’

 And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’

 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Reflection
So there I was, ready to do what my Master would have me do. It was a funny set of words that I had heard said about me. I was being used as a threat this time. Really my Master wasn't ready to put me into action just yet. He just wanted to tell the people that I would go into action at any time. I may be put into action in a flurry of motion and movement from one tree to the next.

Any tree that didn't bear fruit would have to endure the results of what my sharp edge could do. The words were a warning. A warning for the people of earth to repent and get ready for the coming of something very powerful and mighty.

But when he came, he was something vastly different from what I expected. He came to show the people how to bear fruit. The people could bear fruit through his death. It was weird yet wonderful all in a strange way. Jesus came and gave his life so that the people could live life in him. Jesus took the brunt of the punishment that I will yield to those who still refuse to accept Jesus' gift of life and love.

These people deserved nothing but the results of my sharp edge. They deserved death by the blows of my maker. They had refused to follow God for years! I mean years and years! They all sin and separate themselves from God and deserve damnation. But, Jesus came! God sent his own Son to live and die in the place of these people so that they could have life. Listen people! Look people! See what God has done for you.

But, here I am... lying at the root of the trees. Waiting for that flurry of movement, that doesn't need to take place. If only they will listen.

Prayer
Lord, help us to hear the voice of John. Help us to hear your voice and see your love in Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Luke 3:7-18

 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’

 And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’

 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Reflection
God sets us up. God sets us up to do his will in the way he wants us to do it. Think of John in the wilderness. Think of his clothing, his food and his way of life. John was set up to speak his mind. Rather, John was set up to speak God's mind to the people. God's Word spoken, direct, to the point and with no strings attached. John held allegiance to God alone. John spoke to all types of people in the same way. John gave God's Word directly to the people. Rich, poor, powerful or humble; John spoke directly and with courage.

What John spoke of, probably went beyond what even he expected. Someone mightier than himself was coming. That he could figure out. But, I wonder if John had any idea how much mightier. Jesus, was mightier in spiritual directions. I wonder if John was thinking of someone mightier in earthly directions. Jesus is mightier in all directions and that's hard to fathom. But, maybe John did understand the vast realm of this kingdom being proclaimed.

Jesus came and showed all people what God really means by "life." Jesus demonstrated life and love to all of us. God demonstrated life and love to us and gave us his life and love in the very form of Jesus life and love. That's a salvation that you can't be spooked into by a powerful prophet. That's salvation that you are loved into by a Savior.

Jesus also came and brought us together in unity. Jesus showed us how to love one another in fellowship with one another. Jesus showed us a love that extends to God and extends to love for one another. Jesus taught us how to live together and thus we have the Church, Jesus Holy Bride. So, we have the Church of Jesus Christ our Savior gathered together throughout all time, reaching outside of itself to all people to call, gather, and unite in the love of God through Jesus. We go beyond ourselves and our earthly confines in love to those that need to know Jesus and what he has come to this earth to do and what he will return to this earth to complete. John had a call, an awesome call and you and I have a call also to reach outside of ourselves to those we are given each day in love and life.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for the voice of John. Thank you for the ongoing life and love of Jesus. May I be a voice in the wilderness for you this day. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Philippians 4:4-7

 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Reflection
This is an old picture of my youngest daughter, Stephanie. You can see the joy in her face while on this stroll. As children we are joyful, for the most part. Cares and worries are taken care of by loving parents. As we grow into adults we seem to lose some of this characteristic and the worries and anxieties of this world overwhelm us at times. But we are Children of God and we can turn to God in prayer as this passage indicates.

We are called by God. Our call is a joyful call because we are united to God and through salvation we respond by glorifying God. What a joy it is to be close to God. Jesus came into this world to get close to us and to be one of us and to unite with us in such a way that we laugh and rejoice.

When we begin to worry and get anxious, we turn to God in prayer and seek help and guidance. Worry is something we all do, but we have a God to turn to with our worries. Likewise when we are thankful, we turn to God in prayer and acknowledge God for all we have been given. All we receive we do not deserve. But through God's love, we are blessed and peace abounds in our lives. In this, prayer takes the place of worry and thanksgiving abounds.

Oh, the peace that passes all understanding. Peace that stands in place of worry and anxiety. Peace that draws our thankful hearts in the closeness and nearness of Jesus our Savior. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, you are near... Lord, you are here. As I come to you with a thankful heart for all of the blessings you have overwhelmed me with; I also carry worry. I lay my worries with you and talk to you and listen to what you have to say. Renew me and give me that peace that only you can give. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 11th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely God is my salvation;
   I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God is my strength and my might;
   he has become my salvation.

 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say on that day:
Give thanks to the Lord,
   call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
   proclaim that his name is exalted.


Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
   let this be known in all the earth.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
   for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Reflection
Oh how fearful I was when I heard of your coming.
   I didn't know the love you were giving.
You came as someone I could relate to.
   So great and awesome yet so close and friendly.

Through the waters of baptism,
   you came to cleanse me.
But in the suffering and death,
   you came to save me.

All glory and honor and praise and glory,
   to you my Savior, my King, my Friend.
All in heaven and earth love and adore you,
   and sing for joy to Father, Son and Spirit.

Prayer
Lord, what great joy you bring to this earth. We wait in hope for your coming again. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Zephaniah 3:14-20
A Song of Joy

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
   shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
   O daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgements against you,
   he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
   you shall fear disaster no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
   do not let your hands grow weak.
The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
   a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
   he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
   as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
   so that you will not bear reproach for it.
I will deal with all your oppressors
   at that time.
And I will save the lame
   and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
   and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you home,
   at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
   among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
   before your eyes, says the Lord.

Reflection
I just heard a couple of guys talking on the ham radio about taking steroids for an illness they were suffering from. One operator said that he studied for an exam and took it the next day and passed. I've been on steroids myself. I don't know if this would happen to me or not, but steroids do wind you up and make it difficult to sleep.

This passage reminds me of how it would be with Jesus present. We wouldn't need any medication to be wound up. Look at some of the words of this passage... rejoice, exalt, victory, gladness, renew, praise, restore. You would be so happy that you couldn't stand yourself!

Then reflect on the healing being done here. Wars would cease and illness healed and fortunes restored. It's all about salvation. Salvation before our eyes!

Prayer
As we wait for your coming, we look in hope to how you would have our lives and the lives of those around us really be. As we wait for your coming, may we boldly proclaim to all the world the salvation you have graciously offered. As we wait for your coming... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, December 09, 2012

December 9th Reflection by Bill Lynch



2nd Sunday of Advent 
Malachi 3:1-4 (NRSV)

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight -- indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Reflection
It was a cloudy day that day. Not partly cloudy, it was cloudy. It was raining a light mist that seemed to cover the entire earth. Everywhere I drove that day this mist was falling. It seemed as if the earth were being cleansed on this day. I drove from Cincinnati to Columbus that day and the mist was constant. It was never a downpour, but always a mist and it didn't stop. All day long. About four in the afternoon was when I noticed what was going on. As the mist fell my car began to shine as bright as a new paint job. The oil and dirt of the road cleared up. Even though it was a dull cloudy day, everything on the earth began to sparkle like new. I even began to feel a joy in my heart. It wasn't like a dull rainy day, I had the feeling it was a bright, sun filled day of joy and freedom and laughter.

I began to laugh and couldn't stop. My heart was light and everything was new again. What started out as dull and boring became shining bright and joyful. Jesus had come to this earth once again and into my life and heart forever! Jesus had returned to the temple of my heart and life. All that was old and ugly was now new and alive! I felt purified! I didn't do a thing for this feeling at all. It came upon me as I was waiting for Jesus second coming. There are no more comings now. Jesus is here to stay!

Prayer
Lord, I read your Word and know that there will be a mysterious event when you come again. Some look to this event in horror, but I look to this event in anticipation and hope. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, December 08, 2012

December 8th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Luke 3:1-6
The Proclamation of John the Baptist

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
   make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
   and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
   and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’

Reflection
Look how this passage begins. It seems to trumpet the power and reign of the famous Tiberius. It goes on and on about him and his title and who he knew or was related to. Then by contrast the introduction of John the Baptist. A simple man in the wilderness. But, let me ask you, which one of the two do you remember the most? Which one of the two can you even name without reading this passage? Do you remember the powerful? Do you remember the humble?

John came to speak God's Word to us. The one of the wilderness in simple clothing with an odd diet is the one I remember. I would flunk a Bible memory test on Tiberius but I would pass one on John the Baptist. Yes, I can even relate to John, and maybe even be able to eat his diet. I like most anything to eat. I may question why though.

John was called by God. All of Jesus' humble disciples are called by God. Through the waters of our baptism the Holy Spirit enlightens us and calls us in some way or another. Perhaps we are called to a career, or perhaps we are called to act in situations daily in our lives, but one way or another God calls his people. And God loves to call the humble nobodies by worldly standards. Yes, God calls the powerful too, but it's the humble nobodies that surprise the world with God's call.

John was called to bring a message that was straight and to the point. Nothing like a message that a politician may use that attempted to please everyone. John's message was direct. John's call set him on fire with passion and urgency. John's call was to bring the Word of God's message to the people. John brought this message forth as himself. A message through a vehicle of a man that was humble and lived a simple life under the stars of God's creation and in the midst of the life of the wilderness. John, in the wilderness would have drawn near to God in prayer and appreciation of all that God created. John, with the preparation of the Creator, was called to herald the announcement of the coming Messiah into this world. A Messiah from heaven to this earth in flesh and blood.

John cries out an image of the earth. An image of a road. An image all people can relate too on this earth. How many hilly, winding roads have we traveled in some obscure path to get somewhere. Here John describes a road, like his message, that is straight and to the point. We create roads that go around things, over things. In some ways we take the simple way but also the most difficult way to our destination.

We can look back on the road we have taken and see the winding, hilly difficulty of our travel. We can repent and look forward to prepare ourselves for the laser straight path to God through Jesus Christ our Messiah. We can prepare ourselves for something new. We can get ready for the coming of Jesus into our lives and our heart. We can prepare ourselves for Christ's second coming to this earth. Christ will come again!

Prayer
Lord, you choose the weak and the humble and surprise the world with your message. As I walk with you this day, lead me and guide me in what you would have me say or do. Forgive my sin and change me into what you would have me be. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Friday, December 07, 2012

December 7th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Luke 3:1-6
The Proclamation of John the Baptist

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
   make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
   and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
   and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’

Reflection
He wandered around us in those days. It's almost as if he started to become one of us. All of my brothers and sisters saw him at one time or another. He began to take on our characteristics and lived a simple life. Depending on the gifts God gave for survival. And then he began to make noise. A noise that seemed to penetrate all of us and proceed out into the sky. I'm sure his voice is being heard somewhere right now in the universe and beyond.

"Get ready! Prepare yourself!" He would shout and cry out. Then he wandered around even more and people started to come and hear and listen to what he had to say. He began to use the streams of water and people came to repent of their sins and be baptized, all in preparation for another person. I wonder if we will see this "other" person wander among us at some time or another?

He told of someone coming that would bring salvation to all flesh. Well, this guy did come out here with us eventually. He was tested by evil among us and overcame that evil. In the end one of my friends gave their life for him as he gave his life for all flesh.

I guess that's the message. Prepare yourself people, repent, get ready, your Savior will return again. Give your life to him and you will live in him instead of dying. I can't help to remember the day they came to cut my friend down. He gave his life and became a symbol of torture changed to a symbol of life.

Prayer
May I hear the message through your Word and prepare myself through repentance, through living my baptism daily and through loving you and all you give to me. I give my life to you. Come. Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, December 06, 2012

December 6th Reflection by Bill Lynch


On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
Author: Charles Coffin; Translator: John Chandler


1 On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
announces that the Lord is nigh.
Awake and harken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings!

2 Then cleansed be every life from sin:
make straight the way for God within,
and let us all our hearts prepare
for Christ to come and enter there.

3 We hail you as our Savior, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward.
Without your grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.

4 Stretch forth your hand, our health restore,
and make us rise to fall no more.
O let your face upon us shine
and fill the world with love divine.

5 All praise to you, eternal Son,
whose advent has our freedom won,
whom with the Father we adore,
and Holy Spirit, evermore.

Hymn
Text- Bill Lynch

Out of the wilderness we pray,
come Lord Jesus Savior this day.
As each of us repent of sin,
we ask you to come enter in.

For Jesus alone we prepare,
for our Savior we are aware.
Salvation draws near in waters,
in grace for all sons and daughters.

We praise Father, Son and Spirit,
through Jesus love we inherit.
Great Love eternal you bestow,
Upon all creatures here below.

Prayer
Jesus, we look for your coming. Coming now this day into our hearts to show us the way. Coming in the future in glory as we prepare today. Your love has spilled throughout this earth and into all the hearts of your people. Come, Lord Jesus, come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen