Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Matthew 4:1-11 (NRSV)
Matthew's account of Jesus' temptation
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written,
'One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "

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


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

Reflection
We all experience temptation, especially in the deserts of our lives when we are there for a long time. As the Israelites experienced temptation after the Red Sea passage, Jesus goes into the wilderness to experience temptation.

The Israelites were tempted by food and bellyached about the manna a temptation of the body. At Massah the Israelites demanded a sign from God and finally as Moses was on the mountain the Israelites were tempted with the golden calf. Jesus also experienced similar temptations, but he came through sinless. Jesus knows the power of temptation and this knowledge gave him the ability to move into his next steps in a ministry that would save the world and all lives. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, when I'm tempted in those desperate times, give me the strength I need to see your glory and your reaction to temptation. When I fail, may I humbly come into your presence to repent and seek forgiveness that I may experience the joy of your salvation. --- Amen

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 28th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Job 5:8-27 (NRSV)
Seek God
"As for me, I would seek God,
and to God I would commit my cause.
He does great things and unsearchable,
marvelous things without number.
He gives rain on the earth
and sends waters on the fields;
he sets on high those who are lowly,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
He takes the wise in their own craftiness;
and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.
They meet with darkness in the daytime,
and grope at noonday as in the night.
But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth,
from the hand of the mighty.
So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth.

"How happy is the one whom God reproves;
therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up;
he strikes, but his hands heal.
He will deliver you from six troubles;
in seven no harm shall touch you.
In famine he will redeem you from death,
and in war from the power of the sword.
You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
and shall not fear destruction when it comes.
At destruction and famine you shall laugh,
and shall not fear the wild animals of the earth.
For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,
and the wild animals shall be at peace with you.
You shall know that your tent is safe,
you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing.
You shall know that your descendants will be many,
and your offspring like the grass of the earth.
You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,

as a shock of grain comes up to the threshing floor in its season.
See, we have searched this out; it is true.
Hear, and know it for yourself."

Reflection
It's important to remember in the passage of today and yesterday that we are reading the words of Eliphaz as he gives advice to Job during Job's suffering. Job didn't do anything to deserve this hand of trouble dealt to him. We may struggle in life, but that's not always, or if ever, caused by something God has cast our way. Struggles certainly can result in growth of character and a closeness to God that we haven't experienced before, but that doesn't mean that God caused the struggle.

Jesus struggled in the desert for a long time. Jesus knows what to struggle is about and how it feels being human in the midst of struggle. In Jesus struggle came a time of testing that propelled him into God's ministry to all people and the salvation of the world. The results of that long time in the desert became our hope and life and joy of resurrection.

So as we are with friends in the midst of struggle, we walk through the struggle with them knowing that we can't fully understand all that they are going through, but we can feel the pain and understand the hope that all of us have in the joy of Jesus by our side along the way.

Prayer
Jesus, as you struggled in the desert for a long time. Be with me in my struggle and be with me as I am with those you give to me in the midst of their struggles that all may see your glory and your plan for our lives as we look forward to the fruits of what you freely give to all in the resurrection. --- Amen

Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Job 4:1-21 (NRSV)
Eliphaz speaks of sin
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
"If one ventures a word with you, will you be offended?
But who can keep from speaking?
See, you have instructed many;
you have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have supported those who were stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?

"Think now, who that was innocent ever perished?
Or where were the upright cut off?
As I have seen, those who plow iniquity

and sow trouble reap the same.
By the breath of God they perish,
and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.
The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion,
and the teeth of the young lions are broken.
The strong lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the whelps of the lioness are scattered.
"Now a word came stealing to me,
my ear received the whisper of it.
Amid thoughts from visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on mortals,
dread came upon me, and trembling,
which made all my bones shake.
A spirit glided past my face;
the hair of my flesh bristled.
It stood still,
but I could not discern its appearance.
A form was before my eyes;
there was silence, then I heard a voice:
'Can mortals be righteous before God?
Can human beings be pure before their Maker?
Even in his servants he puts no trust,
and his angels he charges with error;
how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
who are crushed like a moth.
Between morning and evening they are destroyed;
they perish forever without any regarding it.
Their tent cord is plucked up within them,
and they die devoid of wisdom.'

Reflection
The good and the bad both get good and bad in life. Just because you think you have lived "good" with God and neighbor, doesn't give you a ticket of freedom from hard times in life. You will get sick, you may become poor or unemployed or hungry or any number of things may happen in life. This is something we live through.

But the comfort of it all is that we have one of whom God sent to this earth to experience these very same joys and sorrows and good and bad in Jesus. In Jesus' life, suffering and death, he experienced being human to the point that in Jesus' resurrection we now live with a hope that draws us through these times. We know the glory waiting us as we walk with God through our life. There is a resurrection in store for you and for me. Believe and begin your walk with God today.

Prayer
Lord, teach me the lessons I need to learn from the life of Job, your servant. Walk with me through this life towards my resurrection in your glory. --- Amen

Sunday, February 26, 2012

February 26th Reflection by Bill Lynch



First Sunday in Lent
Mark 1:9-15 (NRSV)

The temptation of Jesus
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

Reflection
Mark moves fast in this passage. Jesus is baptized, spends forty days in the wilderness and begins his ministry. Jesus was baptized even though he was sinless. But we do see a new page turning here. We see Jesus taking on the human mission to feel temptation and feel need and feel human pain and suffering. Perhaps in those forty days Jesus felt joy and lived and loved creation with the plants and animals as Adam and Eve once had done. In those forty days, Jesus knows us more deeply and closely.

So since Jesus knows us; as he comes out of the forty days, he now knows how needful we all are and what an important mission he has to save all humankind from sin, death and the devil. The Gospel must be proclaimed, the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news!

Prayer
Jesus, you know me better than I know myself...forgive me as I repent. Build my faith as I believe in you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Good Gifts - Mary Medicine

Mark 15:31-41 (New Revised Standard)

31 In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. 33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "Listen, he is calling for Elijah." 36 And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down." 37 Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was God's Son!" 40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

Reflection
We tried to give him some relief from the pain. It wasn't uncommon at all to offer our medicine to someone being crucified on a cross. The sour wine or vinegar mixed with gall or perhaps some frankincense, and myrrh, would create a bitter drink that would help to ease the suffering, maybe even cause some confusion for the person so that their death wouldn’t be as cruel. But, this Jesus, he refused.

At first I thought he was going to have some. We told him it was sour wine, which could be used to quench thirst, but he wouldn’t have it. I think he may have wanted to feel the full force of the pain. Medicine is a good thing after all; there is nothing wrong with it when administered correctly and by the right people. Medicine is a gift from God! So why wouldn’t the man who said he was the Son of God take something-good created gift from God?

Then he cried out and breathed his last. I find it interesting that none of the accounts said that he died. He didn’t die of natural causes nor did he die from exhaustion. Jesus had a way to go yet. I think his death was a voluntary act. Jesus’ death was a death of his own choosing, because he delivered up his spirit. Jesus death surprised everyone. This was too soon, but boy the impact it had.
The reason for Jesus death seemed to become apparent to the centurion standing near-by. The soldier knew now that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus gave his life for the world on purpose. Jesus gave his life and breathed his last and felt the pain and suffering that all in this time, the times past and future times would know that God came to earth and saved God’s creation for all of us to give us new life and a new relationship with God based on gracious love.

Jesus showed gracious love that we might love him and love one another. With this I now have not been refused by Jesus but I am recreated something new. I am medicine used to heal the sick, ease the pain of the suffering. I am medicine to show the love of Jesus to all the people of this world especially when I am administer with the loving hands of one of Jesus’ disciples.

To Your Health,
Mary Medicine

Prayer

Jesus, you have given us all the medicine we need for life. Use us to distribute the Good Gifts of medicine to those in need through our hands and our dollars to your glory always. --- Amen
www.elca.org/goodgifts

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Good Gifts - Claude Hammer

Mark 15:24-34 (New Revised Standard)

24 And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. 25 It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews." 27 And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 28 29 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!" 31 In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. 33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Reflection
It's such a terrible past to have when, for the most part; all of my family has been so helpful. What could my ancestor have done? He was grabbed and handled so roughly. He didn't have a choice in what was about to take place. I feel so bad for him. Other members of his family had been used in such a positive way by the very hands that he was about to torture. Then the spike was placed in the other hand and my ancestor went to work doing the dirty deed. I'm hurt even thinking about it, I can't imagine how anyone felt.

Then, as Jesus hangs from the result of my ancestor’s work of connecting spike to wood through flesh, Jesus made another statement about building. You see, building materials and the work of building has been in the blood of myself and all of my ancestors for centuries. We work with and through the hands of skilled women and men to create wonderful buildings and works that bring pleasure and comfort and safety to all. Our intentions are and always have been for the good of all. But to even fathom rebuilding something of the degree that Jesus was speaking of in a manner of a few days was far beyond anything any of us could ever imagine.

Something about this Jesus, makes it possible for me to think he could destroy and build a temple in three days, but I don't think he was talking about the same type of temple I would be involved with. Jesus purposely decided to hang on that cross. There was a dereliction to this entire affair of Jesus continuing to hang there and die. I think he died on purpose. I think he ignored this whole temple thing because in Jesus mind there was a different kind of temple. Jesus hung there and became the sin of the people that put him there.

All people are guilty of this sin that Jesus became. Jesus was building all right. Jesus was building a case for eternal love of the Father for all of the children. This love that could only be expressed through the death of Jesus and the rebuilding of a grand temple in three days. This love so deep that for years to come people would be drawn to Jesus as disciples and follow him and emulate the love Jesus expressed from that cross that my ancestor pinned him to.

You see, in this expression of love, Jesus gave all people the building materials needed to give love to those in need. Give love freely to those who depend on God. This world is full of tragic events that unfold to enable all of Jesus' disciples to express their love through building materials needed for those impacted by disaster. And that's where I come in and you come in. Together we can reach out and show a little piece of this love that Jesus demonstrated for us on that cross through providing building materials for those in need. Building materials that go towards that wonderful temple of flesh and blood and nail and hammer and action. Building materials of love.

Yours truly,
Claude Hammer

Prayer

Open our eyes to the Good Gifts you have given your people to use to your glory... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen
www.elca.org/goodgifts

Good Gifts - Disciple Duck

Mark 14:56-66 (New Revised Standard)

56 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. 57 Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, 58 "We heard him say, "I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.' " 59 But even on this point their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?" 61 But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" 62 Jesus said, "I am; and "you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,' and "coming with the clouds of heaven.' " 63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "Why do we still need witnesses? 64 You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?" All of them condemned him as deserving death. 65 Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, "Prophesy!" The guards also took him over and beat him. 66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by.

Reflection
You know what! I walk like a duck, I swim like a duck, I quack like a duck...I betcha I'm a duck!..."by golly!" That last part comes from a politician these days. You know I don't walk around with a sign on me that says, "Duck." People just kind of look at me and listen to me and figure it out.

Years ago there was this group that supposedly couldn't figure out who this guy was. It was obvious to my ancestors and many other's but this guy asking the questions wanted to hear the words straight from the ducks mouth so to speak. It was a big thing for this guy to say who he was. There were many other's just telling lies about him. If he stated who he was... I think they had decided upon killing this guy! Mr. Pig doesn't have that issue. They just watch him and when he's plump enough, he's a gonner.

I know the guy's name was Jesus. The people questioning him were a bunch of religious kind of people. They knew who he was! They just wanted to hear Jesus say it so they could get all dramatic and find a way to have him killed by Roman law. So the high priest asked Jesus if he was the Son of the Blessed One. Well the Blessed one is just another way of saying God, so the question was, "Are you the Son of God?" Seems like they all beat around the bush for some reason.

And Jesus says "I am..." Isn't that so cool! I AM is what God wanted to be called in the first place. Then the high priest tore his clothes. It told you he could get all dramatic. Some say he tore his mantle. Well the mantle was a big deal for these people. Even in the Old Testament they talk about Elijah passing on his mantle to Elisha. It's like a coat or something with deeper meaning. There's even a specific way you're supposed to tear your mantle for it to be legitimate. This tearing of the mantle was meant to be an extreme expression of sorrow and grief, often done at funerals, to expose the heart. So, to say the least, this guy was really upset about Jesus saying he was the Son of God.

But, from what my ancestors have told me... he looked like the Son of God, he spoke like the Son of God, he even walked liked the Son of God. So he was the Son of God. Jesus gave his very life for all creation to be renewed and saved from such hatred, sin, illness and death. To this day people have decided to follow Jesus as disciples. Through gifts of the Holy Spirit, God has led these people to love one another. Love one another even in the illness, poverty, hatred and death.

There was another tearing that took place a short time after this high priest tore his clothes. The Temple curtain was torn. It also exposed the heart of God to all people. The heart of God showing the love that God has for creation.

So disciples today show their love for creation by caring for the poor, the ill and many others. I'm even a part of this. People give money that I may be used to help the poor and the ill to bring new life into their communities through the gifts that even I can bring. God loves me, ol' Disciple Duck, enough to let me be used to bring glory to Jesus! I have exposed my heart to God so that you may expose your heart to God and your neighbors.

Quackin' for Christ,
Disciple Duck
Prayer
Wow God! Your heart is amazing! Thanks for showing it to all the world through Jesus. --- Amen
www.elca.org/goodgifts

February 25th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Psalm 32 (NRSV)
God forgives sin
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
Selah

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,"
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Selah

Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.
Selah


I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.

Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Reflection
Oh, how we struggle with sin. We keep it bottled up and think about it and worry about it and grapple with it and wrestle with it. When we fight the sin in this way it even consumes us. But the turning point? The turning point is when we finally confess it. We we let go of it and take it to God. When we no longer hide it but take it to God. And God forgives us.

Set free from the struggle our energy is joyous response to the unfathonable love of God. We live in joy and love and live out a new recreated life free from sin. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, take this sin of mine and forgive me that I may change and be new in you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, February 24, 2012

February 24th Reflection by Bill Lynch


2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NRSV)
Apostolic and pastoral advice for Timothy In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
Reflection
Don't fool around with the gospel. Speak about it to your friends, family and neighbors. It's important that all know the truth of it and understand what an opportunity for life this is. Tell of Jesus Christ and the love God has shown to us. Proclaim the message clearly and express the fascination that it brings to yourself and all the world. There's no time to monkey around with it. Get going!

Prayer
Lord, everyday, every opportunity, reveal to me the times that I can proclaim the Gospel. --- Amen

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 23rd Reflection by Bill Lynch


1 John 1:3-10 (NRSV)
The apostolic message of forgiveness
We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.


This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Reflection
We are sinners. That's all there is to it. We need salvation for a relationship with Jesus. We can see the Light but we need the Light, we need Jesus to save us from our sin. Those past have seen the Light and been saved. They confessed and believed and were forgiven. So don't goof around thinking you can make it on your own. Don't be deceived into thinking that the things you do will save you. The things you do won't save you. Only he who is faithful and just will forgive you; and that's not you, it's Jesus.

Prayer
Jesus, show me the light of my sin that I may see it, smell it, and confess it, coming to you for forgiveness as I repent. --- Amen

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February 22nd Reflection by Bill Lynch



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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflection
Be sincere at what you do. Don't do things for show. Especially those things that involve our relationship with God. God doesn't need to be humored by me or anyone else. If you're going to pray then pray to God. Don't pray to put on a show or to be recognized by someone else. If you going to do something out of love, glorify God not yourself. It's not about you being a goody-goody. God can raise you even out of the dust. It's about God's love living in and through you to God's glory.

Prayer
Lord, lead me in honest relationship with you and those you give to me. --- Amen

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February 21st Reflection by Bill Lynch


Job 19:23-27 (NRSV)
Job will see God
"O that my words were written down!
O that they were inscribed in a book!
O that with an iron pen and with lead
they were engraved on a rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see on my side,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

Reflection
Did Jesus reach into time and touch Job's heart? Did Job see Jesus? It seems this to be a Christian psalm, but this is and Old Testament Psalm that surpasses time and understanding. The suffering Job sees Jesus, it seems to me.

It seems in the midst of suffering, when we are afraid and ill, we long for Jesus to come and be with us. But if we open our eyes and really see, we can see Jesus all around. Jesus in the hands of nurses, doctors, care-givers, in those who administer tests and those who produce medicine. We can see Jesus in the housekeeping staff that cares for our room and the maintenance people that repair and maintain all that is around us and in us. We see Jesus everywhere. When we notice Jesus we then know the presence of God. We know that our Redeemer lives!

Prayer
Jesus, open my eyes to your presence this day. --- Amen

Monday, February 20, 2012

February 20th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Exodus 19:7-25 (NRSV)
Moses meets God on the mountain
So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: "Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do." Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. Then the Lord said to Moses, "I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after."

When Moses had told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses: "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set limits for the people all around, saying, 'Be careful not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it. Any who touch the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch them, but they shall be stoned or shot with arrows; whether animal or human being, they shall not live.' When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain." So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, "Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman."


On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go down and warn the people not to break through to the Lord to look; otherwise many of them will perish. Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them." Moses said to the Lord, "The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, 'Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.' " The Lord said to him, "Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the Lord; otherwise he will break out against them." So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Reflection
God seems majestic yet distant to me in this passage. Stand back and listen. I can understand this command to stand back and listen. I can understand the power of God's Word. I can understand listening and listening again until I get a tip of what God is telling me. Much of the time, it's all beyond my understanding, but most every time there is a message for me in each.

But this stand back God is different from Jesus. I think God wants to come to us, not for us to come to God. Maybe if we think we can come to God, then we may think we are in control. But God comes to us in Jesus in the flesh and through the Holy Spirit. God comes to us and invades us and consumes us so that we can consume God. How wonderful is that! God loves us so much that instead of us finding God; God comes to us. Just don't run. Stay and listen! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
As I open my eyes, there you are. Thanks be to God! --- Amen

Sunday, February 19, 2012

February 19th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Transfiguration of Our Lord
Mark 9:2-9 (NRSV)

Christ revealed as God's beloved Son
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.


As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Reflection
Did we just get a glimpse of the sinless from heaven? Did we just see the glory of God shining from some Old Testament men as Moses face shone before the presence of God? Were we too in the presence of God? Is God now present with us in you, Jesus? Are you God? You are the Messiah! I think we just witnessed Jesus coming back from heaven to earth a second time. The mission is not complete. Jesus must die on that cross that we too may shine with God's Light. What was that all about? I want to see it again and again and again. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, let my light so shine before others that they may see my good works and glorify my Father in heaven... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Good Gifts - Freddy Fruit Tree


Revelation 22:1-7 (New Revised Standard)
1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. 6 And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place." 7 "See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."

Reflection
You know, I have a lot of relatives, some good, some bad and a bunch with a variety of gifts to give. Through the years there have been some songs written about us too. How about "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" for one. My favorite hymn about my greatest relatives is, "There in God's Garden." Now that tree was a good one. There is this river with trees growing strong on either side of it, trees giving different fruit for each month, and the leaves of these trees bring healing. Then that Tree of Wisdom, wow! What a tree! Anyway, sometimes I get so excited about all of this I get off track.

You guys are involved in the fruit tree. For me to be healthy, you need to come along and prune me. I know, it hurts! Believe me it hurts. But what it does is allow sunlight to get into my branches deep within. And that sunlight brings growth and more fruit. I want to produce fruit as much as you want to eat my fruit. You guys have always found joy in eating me!

But, I'm not so sure I'm the only one who needs a little pruning now and then. I pretty much stay here in one place and blow around some and get all wet and cold and hot, but I have a lot of time to think. I see you guys running around back and forth and sometimes I notice how you need a little pruning of your own. You get so busy that the sonlight doesn't get in. And that brings me back to my favorite hymn, your selfishness, greed and suffering need fed with a different kind of Light. Notice that capital L? Yea, you guys need the light of Jesus to shine into your deepest spaces. A Light that will bring great change and growth. A Light that will line you up beside that awesome river so you can feed from some wonderful water with the best of my relatives.

You will produce great fruit. All because of what God has done for you. God loves to see your fruit. You know, come to think of it, we can get together on this too. With "Good Gifts" you can give a fruit tree to people that need not only the tree but the work that's involved with keeping fruit trees. Who know's, maybe they too will discover Jesus light and be led to that great stream of water.

Fruitfully Yours,
Freddy Fruit Tree

Prayer
Jesus, may your light shine deep within me that I may bring fruit to all the nations... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

February 18th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Psalm 50:1-6 (NRSV)
God shines forth in glory
The mighty one, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.

Our God comes and does not keep silence,
before him is a devouring fire,
and a mighty tempest all around him.
He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
"Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!"
The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge.
Selah

Reflection
We hear God's Word and then we see God's Light and next we see the vision of God coming. What wonderful thoughts and what visions of God we have. Even in the coming of Christ, the angels announce Jesus coming, we see the light of that great star and then the visions of Jesus with us.

Jesus is with us and we still hear the Word. We can give thanks for the presence of the Spirit and the great gifts freely given. Even as we wait for Jesus triumphant return to raise the living and the dead. We rejoice in the hearing, seeing and the hope of that great vision. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, show yourself to me this day. May I hear your Word and see your Light and know the visions only you can give. --- Amen

Friday, February 17, 2012

February 17th Reflection by Bill Lynch


1 Timothy 1:12-20 (NRSV)
Gratitude for mercy
I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Reflection
God uses the very people that we would judge as unworthy of use in God's mission. So, for me, I need to be careful with judging other people. The very people I judge useless, may just be the people that God will use to lead the Church.

There is a warning here and a blessing. A warning to watch God take someone I may think couldn't be used and God uses them to glorify and honor God. There is a blessing here too. I am a sinful being. I have sinned and can also make claim to be one of the greatest of sinners. God will use me too. God has blessed me and all people with the life, teaching, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ to save each one of us from sin and death and grant a new and eternal life in Jesus. That's huge! Everyone has been given this blessing. Will you accept this gift of grace? A warning and a blessing.

God has come to save and give life. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, lead me to see the potential and beauty of all you give to me this day that I may honor and glorify you. --- Amen

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 16th Reflection by Bill Lynch


2 Corinthians 2:12-17 (NRSV)
God spreads the fragrance of life in Christ
When I came to Troas to proclaim the good news of Christ, a door was opened for me in the Lord; but my mind could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said farewell to them and went on to Macedonia.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not peddlers of God's word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.

Reflection
Paul reflects on a Roman triumph parade going through the streets. Paul relates this parade in which incense was used in the parade in celebration of victory to the spreading of the Gospel.

Isn't it a wonderful thought to see incense and smell the aroma in relation to the spread of the Gospel. It certainly is a wonderful victory parade for all people to realize that Christ has come to save us. The rich message of the Gospel wafting across all the world in joyful victory of Christ over sin and death. What an honor we have in telling and living and being part of such a celebration! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, use me to spread that wonderful perfume of your Gospel today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February 15th Reflection by Bill Lynch


John 4:46-54 (NRSV)
Jesus heals a boy
Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe." The official said to him, "Sir, come down before my little boy dies." Jesus said to him, "Go; your son will live." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, "Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him." The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." So he himself believed, along with his whole household. Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.

Reflection
Jesus implores us that we don't need to see to believe in him as the Messiah. Here, this man requests Jesus presence. Jesus knows that this man desires something fantastic to happen before he can believe, tells the man to go back and see the healing of his son. As the man returns he gets news of his son's healing at the hour that Jesus spoke. Now the man believes and doesn't have to see.

Sometimes we wait for Jesus to touch us to bring about a change. A change that may be healing or a change in us that draws us closer to what God has planned for our lives. But we need to remember, as in this passage, that we must believe and trust in God to lead and guide us first. The touch will come. Perhaps the touch will come in some way that we don't expect it, but through believing we are touched to the core. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, I believe, may you touch me and those you give to me this day that we may all serve you boldly and gladly to your honor and glory today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 14th Reflection by Bill Lynch


2 Kings 7:3-10 (NRSV)
Four men with leprosy announce good news
Now there were four leprous men outside the city gate, who said to one another, "Why should we sit here until we die? If we say, 'Let us enter the city,' the famine is in the city, and we shall die there; but if we sit here, we shall also die. Therefore, let us desert to the Aramean camp; if they spare our lives, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die." So they arose at twilight to go to the Aramean camp; but when they came to the edge of the Aramean camp, there was no one there at all. For the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the sound of chariots, and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, "The king of Israel has hired the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to fight against us." So they fled away in the twilight and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys leaving the camp just as it was, and fled for their lives. When these leprous men had come to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent, ate and drank, carried off silver, gold, and clothing, and went and hid them. Then they came back, entered another tent, carried off things from it, and went and hid them.

Then they said to one another, "What we are doing is wrong. This is a day of good news; if we are silent and wait until the morning light, we will be found guilty; therefore let us go and tell the king's household." So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and told them, "We went to the Aramean camp, but there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied, the donkeys tied, and the tents as they were."

Reflection
When you are leprous and separated from all other people, it seems you don't care to take a risk or two. What can happen? All of the people run from you anyway. These lepers decided to venture to the enemy camp and see what may happen. When they arrived, everyone was gone. So they began to loot the camp and then began to feel guilty. So they returned to let the king know what they had found.

When I realize the hope and joy and freedom I have in the grace of love and salvation that God has given to me; I can act like the lepers. I can take risks that other people may not. I am willing to risk my life for other's to help in the good of all. That's a noble statement, but in one degree or another, it applies to all who serve God. Those who serve God take risks and open themselves up in multiple ways. And there is some truth to think that we are all leprous in some ways.

It's amazing to think of the ways God uses us unclean folks to work the plan of salvation throughout time. Just as amazing is that God fulfilled the plan of salvation through sending the perfect Son of the Father to save us and continue to use us flawed people until he returns for that glorious resurrection. Lepers that we are, following and giving our lives to the One and only Savior. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, clean me up, wash me off, and use me this day to do your will. --- Amen

Monday, February 13, 2012

Febraury 13th Reflection by Bill Lynch


2 Chronicles 26:1-21 (NRSV)
Uzziah is afflicted with leprosy
Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king to succeed his father Amaziah. He rebuilt Eloth and restored it to Judah, after the king slept with his ancestors. Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done. He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.


He went out and made war against the Philistines, and broke down the wall of Gath and the wall of Jabneh and the wall of Ashdod; he built cities in the territory of Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. God helped him against the Philistines, against the Arabs who lived in Gur baal, and against the Meunites. The Ammonites paid tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread even to the border of Egypt, for he became very strong. Moreover Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and at the Angle, and fortified them. He built towers in the wilderness and hewed out many cisterns, for he had large herds, both in the Shephelah and in the plain, and he had farmers and vinedressers in the hills and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil. Moreover Uzziah had an army of soldiers, fit for war, in divisions according to the numbers in the muster made by the secretary Jeiel and the officer Maaseiah, under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king's commanders. The whole number of the heads of ancestral houses of mighty warriors was two thousand six hundred. Under their command was an army of three hundred seven thousand five hundred, who could make war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy. Uzziah provided for all the army the shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows, and stones for slinging. In Jerusalem he set up machines, invented by skilled workers, on the towers and the corners for shooting arrows and large stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped until he became strong.

But when he had become strong he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was false to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to make offering on the altar of incense. But the priest Azariah went in after him, with eighty priests of the Lord who were men of valor; they withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to make offering to the Lord, but for the priests the descendants of Aaron, who are consecrated to make offering. Go out of the sanctuary; for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the Lord God." Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to make offering, and when he became angry with the priests a leprous disease broke out on his forehead, in the presence of the priests in the house of the Lord, by the altar of incense. When the chief priest Azariah, and all the priests, looked at him, he was leprous in his forehead. They hurried him out, and he himself hurried to get out, because the Lord had struck him. King Uzziah was leprous to the day of his death, and being leprous lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the Lord. His son Jotham was in charge of the palace of the king, governing the people of the land.

Reflection
Uzziah was a good king that got too much or too full of himself. He did all the things that God would have him do and cooperated with the will of God, but as he became successful, his pride took over and Uzziah began to think that all his accomplishments were his own accomplishments.

Uzziah was leprous until his death. Disease can strike anyone, the rich, the poor, the powerful. When Uzziah was struck with leprousy, he was separated from the priests. Uzziah attempted to overstep his boundaries. He felt it was his right to take over some of the priestly duties because of his own accomplishments and that's just when disease hit Uzziah in his life. Disease that humbles and separates. I don't know if Uzziah ever came around to repent of his sin.

Disease strikes all one time or another. In disease we need to be willing to humble ourselves and reach out to God for healing and strength. We may be cured or the disease may be our path throughout life. The point is that God walks with us through disease. It's our attitude about disease. We can live it or blame it on God or something else. Disease is part of this broken world. Yet God sent Jesus to take on just that brokenness. Jesus did this and has sent the Spirit to live among us and in us. That's why we reach out to one another in sickness. We bring the touch of God to those in need.

Prayer
Lord, I have been humbled by disease and know that I must reach out to you and those who can help me. I can't save myself, but I know that I am saved. I am saved with my disease or without, for you are the One God of all salvation... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Good Gifts Joey Well


John 4:6-15
Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.  A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."  (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)  The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)  Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, "Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."  The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?  Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?"  Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,  but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life."  The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."

The Story just seems to go on and on about my Great-great-great-great-great-great-great Uncle Jacob. I'm not sure if I have the number of "greats" right there, but I do know that Jacob Well was well known. Get it? He even made into some book that people read all the time. I'm pretty sure that book became a best seller. Anyway, Jacob became great, not for his water, but for a conversation about water. Go figure!

This guy is sitting on top of Jacob when a woman comes up. The guy wants the woman to give him some water from Jacob, I think. But they get to talking and the guy says he could give her a drink of living water. I don't know what was so bad about Jacob's water, but the woman wants some of this water. So now I'm confused about who wants what water. I can't even figure out who's thirsty for Jacob's water. I kinda feel bad for Jacob. But these guys come up and bust up the whole conversation. I don't know if anyone ever did get a drink after all? Jacob Well sure became famous for the whole thing!

I think I figured out some of this living water stuff. This thing called ELCA Good Gifts allows people to give money so that more wells can be made for people that need good clean water. People give money and a well is made and this water helps people live... living water... see? I think that's what that guy sitting on Jacob Well was getting at a little. He cared enough for people to give all of us living water that we could live on forever if we just believed in him and trusted in that living water. And when people do this, they are glad to go and share this living water with anyone and everyone. Living water...no more thirst... all people are satisfied with this guys water and we don't forget to run off without getting a drink.

I'm not sure if ol Jacob Well knew what was going on, but people can continue this living water through ELCA Good Gifts by giving a chance at life to another in need. I'm proud of Great...........Jacob Well, my uncle.

Joey Well

Prayer
Giver of living water, lead all your people to love like you love and give water to all that need some. --- Amen
www.elca.org/goodgifts

February 12th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Sixth Sunday After Epiphany
Mark 1:40-45 (NRSV)

The healing of one with leprosy
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, "If you choose, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I do choose. Be made clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

Reflection
This was a cleansing. We are used to reading of Jesus healing, but this was a cleansing. Jesus touched an unclean man to cleanse him. There is some talk that Jesus was more angry than compassionate. I think Jesus has seen enough of disease, sickness and sin that the cleansing brought anger against the fallenness of creation, not the leprosy of this man.

Now that this man had seen and felt the cleansing power of Jesus, he was able to fulfill what the law required and to show himself to the priest and be declared clean from leprosy. This would be a life changing moment in this man's life, both now and in the future. The man couldn't contain himself in his joy and fascination with Jesus.

As we are cleansed of our sin, we too can, and want, to respond with great joy. When we confess our sin and we repent and are forgiven, there is a joy of cleanliness that draws us out into the world to declare all the God has done for us. We too become like this man with leprosy and are joyful for our new life in Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Jesus, as we approach you this day, cleanse us and create in us new hearts that we may gladly and joyfully go to proclaim all the you have done... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Good Gifts Mr. Pig


Deuteronomy 14:8 (New Revised Standard)
And the pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. You shall not eat their meat, and you shall not touch their carcasses.

You know what? I got a bad rap! Just because of my feet, I'm unclean. But there are some cases where this just doesn't matter. I'll bet there are a lot of folks reading this that are a little unclean themselves, maybe not because of their feet, but maybe for some other reason.

The good thing about all of this, is that because of this fella that came into the world a few years ago, you guys and I don't have to live our lives focusing on how unclean we are, but we can now live our lives because of what God can do in and through us.

It gave me this idea. I don't have much money. It doesn't seem to do me any good. One time I tried to buy some corn off this guy and he just looked at me like, how did that pig get a couple of dollars in his snout, and he took it away from me and I didn't even get the corn! But I'm willing to make a deal with you. There's this thing call Good Gifts with the ELCA (don't ask me what that means!) and you can give money and I get a new home out of it. I get to go to some people who will take good care of me, feed me and maybe even either sell me or eat me. I'm not so sure about that last idea, but I'm willing to help these people out however I can.

You give a little of you and I'll give all of me. How about that? I think that would be what that fella a few years back had in mind for us "unclean" creatures.

Mr. Pig

Prayer
Creator of all, use the lives of all you have blessed to bless the lives of another in need. --- Amen
www.elca.org/goodgifts

February 11th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Psalm 30 (NRSV)
You restored me to health
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity,
"I shall never be moved."
By your favor, O Lord,
you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cried,
and to the Lord I made supplication:
"What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
O Lord, be my helper!"

You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.


Reflection
I about died! Well, I hope I did die. I hope I died in that baptismal font. I hope that when I went under the water that I died. When I came out of the water my life was not as concerned about death as it was about life. In the baptismal gift I died and became a child of God, new life and all. I daily remember this death when I arise each morning. I remember that I was baptized and ask God to forgive me and make me new once again that I may live in and through and for him this new day.

I about died! Big deal! It's time now to live! Thanks be to God for this wonderful gift!

Prayer
Lord, take me this new day into new life in and through you. --- Amen

Friday, February 10, 2012

February 10th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Acts 19:11-20 (NRSV)
Paul heals the sick
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims." Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit said to them in reply, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered them all, and so overpowered them that they fled out of the house naked and wounded. When this became known to all residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, everyone was awestruck; and the name of the Lord Jesus was praised. Also many of those who became believers confessed and disclosed their practices. A number of those who practiced magic collected their books and burned them publicly; when the value of these books was calculated, it was found to come to fifty thousand silver coins. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

Reflection
God's work is not magic, it's not a trick. God was working through Paul. People try to take the credit for something that doesn't belong to them. They share the tricks of the trade and pretend that it was all their idea. You can't do this with God! When God works in and through you, you can't take the credit for it.

Besides, it's a wonderful joy to have God work in and through you. You don't even desire the credit. Once you realize the impact God has had on your life through the life of Jesus, and the gifts of the Spirit, it's not about you any longer. Your joy and desire is to bring glory to God.

Magic is for entertainment, God is for life. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
May all I do or say glorify you, oh Lord... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, February 09, 2012

February 9th - Reflection


Hebrews 12:7-13 (NRSV)
Discipline and healing
Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

Reflection
We've been seeing passages about healing this week. Sometimes healing makes us think that everything will be better for now and always. But to get to healing, you must have gone through some suffering. Without the suffering we would not realize the joy of healing. Without the struggle, we would not realize the joy of relief. Without the lessons taught by our parents when we were errant, we would not have learned to obey those things that may bring harm to us. All this is out of love. We feel the pain, we struggle and wrestle with ourselves and God in order that we may learn and understand our selfishness, our pride, our illness and our need for a Savior.

God teaches us that we need a Savior and that Savior, God will supply. Only God can save us. So with sorrow, pain, and suffering, comes joy in the morning as we witness the resurrection of Jesus who defeated sin, death and the devil on that Friday cross. And now Jesus sits in glory with the Father and the Spirit comes to us to lead us and guide us and take us through this life we live.

It may hurt at times, but there is joy. Joy beyond belief. We are learning a lesson. A great and wonderful lesson. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, teach me and show me the lesson you have planned for me today... tomorrow... and forever. I am yours. --- Amen

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

February 8th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Mark 3:7-12 (NRSV)
Jesus heals many people
Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, "You are the Son of God!" But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

Reflection
What if we all tried to touch Jesus to be healed? We all need healing after all. I don't think the physical aspect of all people touching Jesus to be healed would work. All of these people with who knows what kind of diseases trying to touch Jesus. The crowd was overwhelming in this passage, almost all of Palestine was present in the end. Jesus had to consider his physical well being in this case. He had so much more to do and it wouldn't be helpful to be crushed in the crowd. Apparently in this passage the boat was not used for a pulpit as another passage points out. It seems this boat was to protect Jesus from the crowds. So, what if we all tried to touch Jesus to  be healed?

But, then again, Jesus made it possible for each of us to touch him and for he to touch us. In Jesus' healing act of salvation our touching of Jesus becomes a mute point. Jesus has touched each of our lives with healing and forgiveness. And as Jesus touches us, we touch him. In his touch we are healed. It's not about how we reach out greedily to be healed that saves us, it's how Jesus lovingly gave his life for each one of us, that we are touched and healed eternally. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Jesus, your touch is both personal and corporate. Not only have you touched my heart and my life you have touched the lives of all people. As I follow you this day, show me that touch of love that I may touch those you give to me with your loving grace... today... tomorrow... and forever.