Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 31st Reflection by Bill Lynch

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 (NRSV)
Blessed is the one who comes 

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say,
"His steadfast love endures forever." ...

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.

I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord's doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever. 

God's steadfast love isn't a here and now thing. His love is forever. With his love we can rejoice and praise him. With his love we have life and salvation. With his love we build our lives as on a rock. When we see and read the words "Save us" we can think of 'Hosanna' a longing of all people for God's action in our lives.

His love is forever. This is the day the Lord has made. Thanks be to God!

I need salvation. Salvation that only you can give. Lead me in your festal procession that I may praise your name forever. --- Amen

Friday, March 30, 2012

March 30th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Philippians 2:12-18 (NRSV)
Shine like stars in the world 

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me. 

We can't save ourselves. Salvation in itself is a witness that we can't save ourselves. We need someone else to save us. That person is Jesus. It is a privilege and honor to be a Child of God. Along with this comes a responsibility. We live lives of high standards. We are disciples of Christ and strive to follow him in his actions and love. We are not the Light, but we carry the Light with us.  We reflect the Light, being Christ, by loving and serving as Jesus loved and served. We have the Word to guide us and show us the way. We have the Sacraments to demonstrate God's grace here in this world we live. And we live in the hope and security of what Jesus has done for each one of us that we will remain in relationship with our God. We can't save ourselves, but we can rejoice in the Salvation gracefully given to us through Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Father, as I bear witness to the Light of Jesus in this world teach me to love as you have love... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 29th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Philippians 2:1-11 (NRSV)
Paul's plea for Christ-like humility
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death
even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

You have to watch yourself and who you follow. Selfishness and conceit are the enemies of humans. Once you pick up these characteristics in yourself or someone you follow, it's time to pause and pray. In yourself, seek forgiveness. Repent of your sin. In one your follow, reevaluate what is going on. Approach the person and speak to them. Selfishness will hurt many people who are followers. Conceit will close out the words of another and confine the leader to their own will and way.

Jesus took on the qualities of unity and love. Jesus humbled himself and exhorted others to love as he loves. Jesus took on obedience to the Father. Through actions of love Jesus leads all disciples. There is no selfish ambitions. In fact Jesus humbled himself to the point of becoming human. True exaltation comes from humility, because all the glory is God's. And in this we praise, honor and adore Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God!

Father, when I'm tempted to selfishness and a conceited character, turn my eyes to Jesus that I may see the form he took as God who humbled himself in love for all people. Lead me away from following another who is selfish and conceited in their own gain and lead people away from unity. Draw me near to Jesus humble loving Spirit that I may live the life you wish me to live in humble love towards those you give to me. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 28th Reflection by Bill Lynch

John 12:34-50 (NRSV)
God gives eternal life

The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light."

After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
"Lord, who has believed our message,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,
"He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and understand with their heart and turn
and I would heal them."

Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him. Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

Then Jesus cried aloud: "Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me."

Jesus spoke to the people about the light that he provided. Then Jesus went off. The Light was still present in Jesus' teachings and word. The Light is present for us this day. We can see Jesus in the Word given to us through Baptism and the sacraments. The Word springs to life and brings Light into our world and our lives. Jesus becomes present with us and we feed from him. The Holy Spirit comes to us and gives us understanding, gives us our call, gathers and enlightens us so that we joyfully serve in the Kingdom.

Jesus purpose in this passage was to save all creation and lead us to everlasting life in his actions. Jesus demonstrates a love of substitution for our lives of sin. Jesus is preparing for this gracious act of love.

Lord, as I see your Light and am taught the Word, I give thanks to you. May I live my life in response to what you have done that my life may please you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March 27th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Isaiah 44:1-8 (NRSV)
God gives life to the people
But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen!
Thus says the Lord who made you,
who formed you in the womb and will help you:
Do not fear, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my spirit upon your descendants,

and my blessing on your offspring.
They shall spring up like a green tamarisk,
like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, "I am the Lord's,"
another will be called by the name of Jacob,
yet another will write on the hand, "The Lord's,"
and adopt the name of Israel.

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel,
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.
Who is like me? Let them proclaim it,
let them declare and set it forth before me.
Who has announced from of old the things to come?
Let them tell us what is yet to be.
Do not fear, or be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
You are my witnesses!
Is there any god besides me?
There is no other rock; I know not one.

God reminds us that there is only one God and from the river that runs to the throne of God we will grow. We will grow sustained by the living water from the stream that flows from the Temple of God. The Living Water of Jesus coming to us and going through us, sustains our lives and relationships with Jesus.

Jesus the beginning and ending leads us to the Temple of God and the throne of God. The Holy Spirit is our current in life that teaches us along the way. All are drawn to this river to drink that living water. Thanks be to God!

Lord, may your water refresh us and may new life bloom in abundance that all may hear our praise to you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Isaiah 43:8-13 (NRSV)
God is our savior
Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
Let all the nations gather together,
and let the peoples assemble.
Who among them declared this,
and foretold to us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to justify them,
and let them hear and say, "It is true."

You are my witnesses, says the Lord,
and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the Lord,
and besides me there is no savior.
I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses, says the Lord.
I am God, and also henceforth I am He;
there is no one who can deliver from my hand;
I work and who can hinder it?

Sometimes, wonderfully, we become exhibits for God. Exhibits in the way that we are saved by God. People look at us and our actions. But then I think of how I sin. I think of the times of my failures and don't want to be on display. But we are still exhibits. We still are witnesses to God's saving acts.

In this way, we're good exhibits. God saved the sinful and imperfect, the weak and needy. Kind of like Paul, I feel like I'm the biggest one. But that's the point. God comes to save any and all of us. God comes and calls, gathers and enlightens the sinful to make the Church. Only God could deliver us and do such an amazing thing. We all have a chance. You can witness to God's saving grace, look within and around and be amazed at all God has done. Thanks be to God!

Lord, even though my body and mind are failing, even though I sin, you still call me and use me. Use me this day to love those you have given to me that your Light may shine through and speak to them of how wonderful and valuable they are in your and my eyes. --- Amen

Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 25th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Annunciation of Our Lord
Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

What? What does this have to do with our Lenten journey? I'm going to stretch it here a little, but this passage spoke to me. Just one Sunday from now in 2012 we will celebrate Palm Sunday. Jesus coming to the crowds at Jerusalem. In this passage we see how God selected Mary to conceive, carry and give birth to our Savior, Jesus. Mary didn't expect this honor. I would think in some ways at first the angel horrified her. Would this take place through rape by an angel. Not so much different from the issues of angelic beings with humans in Genesis? Both acts that were not acceptable to God. But, the angel said that God has chosen Mary. How confused Mary must have felt.

Taking it all in Mary accepted the message from  the angel. The Holy Spirit came upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowed her. Mary had been overshadowed or separated for God. Her child, Jesus, would be holy or divine, and Mary accepted this message and this work that God had blessed her with. Mary's fear had turned into an honor to serve God. Jesus would be part of Mary, in the very center of her life and flesh. God had chosen Mary and she felt and lived the grace and love of this choice.

Back to our Lenten journey. As we approach Palm Sunday, we too have spent time in the wilderness, dealing with temptation, hunger, pain, suffering, and human emotion. We too have seen sin and evil. But mixed in with all of this, we too have experienced the overshadowing of God. Jesus ministry was to begin after his wilderness experience. Palm Sunday is his experience of the beginning of the fulfillment of a major part of Jesus call to earth.

As you and I approach Palm Sunday, Jesus approaches us in his glory. We begin to take on the journey of Jesus. Jesus ministry becomes a part of our lives. In some ways, like Mary, Jesus becomes a part of us. We begin to take on the empathy of the range of human emotions that come with the celebration of coming out of this wilderness of temptation, to the joy of Palm Sunday, to the betrayal, denial, suffering and death of Jesus on Good Friday. We too, take part in this celebration, betrayal and denial. We too sin against Jesus by nailing him upon that cross with our sin and Jesus becomes part of our lives and part of our beings.

But God took all of this and treated it with grace. Just as we take in the bread and wine into our flesh and it becomes part of our bodies, we take on Jesus and he becomes part of our bodies and our soul. Just as Jesus became part of Mary, he has become part of us through our Lenten journey. We have been chosen and selected and blessed and separated and called to be a servant of God through Jesus. Filled with the Holy Spirit we take on the call of God with joy and thanksgiving for all God has done for us. Now that's some grace! Thanks be to God!

Lord, just as you selected and came upon and within Mary, so too select and come upon me that I may fulfill the call that you have given to me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Psalm 51:1-12 (NRSV)
Create in me a clean heart
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

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

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

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

and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Here David pours out his heart to God in repentance of his sin against God, Bathsheba and Uriah and so many others. I too have poured out myself before God in repentance of sin. In repentance I am overwhelmed by shame, humbled and broken, yet saved by the mercy and grace of God. Repentance does not free me from the consequence of my sin. The damage is widespread and many beyond the obvious are hurt. Sin is primarily against God.

In my sin I separate myself  from God. I turn away from the ways God would have me follow. I am in deep need of God's cleansing and need a complete spiritual washing. So in repentance, I cast myself before God and am at the mercy of God's wrath.

Yes, I too have sinned just as David sinned. But, thanks be to God, I have been washed clean, restored and forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Lord, thanks for not casting me away. Thanks for restoring me to the joy of your salvation. --- Amen

Friday, March 23, 2012

March 23rd Reflection by Bill Lynch

Hebrews 4:14-5:4 (NRSV)
Jesus' priesthood surpasses Aaron's
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

Jesus is our High Priest. Jesus knows exactly what it is like to be human. He knows the temptations, the pain and suffering, the joy, the tears and he knows all the range of emotions that we go through. Jesus knows sin even though he did not sin. So, in this knowledge, Jesus has presented our case to God for our forgiveness. Jesus even became the sacrifice, himself, for our sin.

So much more than just the high priest, Jesus is God and man. Jesus is Spirit and man. Jesus is Creator and the man.  Jesus is truly God and truly man. Jesus has passed through heaven and earth. Jesus is our High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

I like a bit of information from from the Dead Sea Scrolls 11 QMelch that portrays Melchizedek as a heavenly being who will bring salvation and judgment at the conclusion of the final jubilee. In other literature Melchizedek is referred to as the one that brings the baptismal waters and one who gathers and emits light. Jesus is this and so much more. Jesus is our High Priest who saves, gathers, and lights the way for all creation. Thanks be to God!

Jesus, my High Priest, my Light, my salvation, truly human and truly God, lead me and light my path this day that I may love other's as you have loved. --- Amen

Thursday, March 22, 2012

March 22nd Reflection by Bill Lynch

Hebrews 4:1-13 (NRSV)
God promises an eternal sabbath rest
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For indeed the good news came to us just as to them; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
"As in my anger I swore,
'They shall not enter my rest,' "
though his works were finished at the foundation of the world. For in one place it speaks about the seventh day as follows, "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works." And again in this place it says, "They shall not enter my rest." Since therefore it remains open for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he sets a certain day "today" saying through David much later, in the words already quoted, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later about another day. So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God's rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.

Here is the real "Left Behind" series. This one is not reading to entertain. This one is for believers. As we hear, read, observe, and receive God's Word in various ways we come to a decision point. The Israelites in the wilderness had a decision point also.

In the beginning God created. At the end of creation, God rested. God wants us to rest with him. With the Israelites, that rest included entry into the Promised Land. With God's rest in this day, we can enter into a rest that is now both here and not yet. I'll explain that later.

The Israelites were invited into God's rest upon entering the Promised Land. They first needed to believe in God and place all or their trust and hope in God's guidance and power. The entry into the Promised Land  is a rest that is here and not yet. There is a greater rest that is fulfilled in Jesus coming again. For now, God invites us, the Gentiles, to a rest through Jesus life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection. Jesus even experienced a rest, here and not yet.

We have been given the Word in the Bible and in the Gospels and in the Sacraments and in the voices and actions of people and all things created, to permit us to hear God's voice. Upon the hearing, we have a decision to make. We can believe and enter God's rest here and now or run away and be "left behind" from God's rest.

When we believe and enter into God's rest now we change. The focus of our lives changes from ourselves and our own needs to what God would have us do and believe. We are changed into different people and see the world in a different way. We yearn to hear God's voice in so many ways and follow Jesus as disciples. Our lives completely change.

And you don't escape this change even if you have been a believer for as long as you can remember. You are changing. Your faith is growing. Your life is moving towards Christ, and God is using you in ways you may not even see or feel. You will not be "left behind" in God's rest that is not yet, but you receive the joy of God's rest that is here and now. We no longer need to be tormented by our sin. We are free from our sin to live for and in Jesus. That's some rest that is here. And in Jesus coming again we are promised a rest that is "not yet" that will be completely free from the temptation of sin and our human failures. We will have reached the Promised Land that today is "not yet".

Don't be left behind. Believe the voice of God and grow in faith today. Live in God's rest now and wait for the fulfillment of the God's rest that is "not yet." Thanks be to God!

Lord, may all who hear your voice believe and enter into your rest today... use me if I can help. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March 21st Reflection by Bill Lynch

John 8:12-20 (NRSV)
Christ the light of the world
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." Then the Pharisees said to him, "You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid." Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf." Then they said to him, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also." He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

Jesus walks before us in the darkness of this world giving us light and direction for our journey. We look, listen and follow Jesus through our relationship with him and one another. We see and feel the love Jesus has given to all the world and respond likewise to the weak, poor, ill and those in need. We come together and hear the Word proclaimed and see the presence of God active in the sacraments. We rejoice in the healing that God has granted all of us. Healing in the midst of the process of death and life. All this from Jesus who is our Light and salvation.

Jesus, lead on as I follow your Light and love those you give to me. --- Amen

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 20th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Numbers 20:1-13 (NRSV)
God gives water from the rock
The Israelites, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam died there, and was buried there.

Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and against Aaron. The people quarreled with Moses and said, "Would that we had died when our kindred died before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to bring us to this wretched place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; and there is no water to drink." Then Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting; they fell on their faces, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and their livestock.
So Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he had commanded him. Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, "Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?" Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them." These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and by which he showed his holiness.

Again, God saves his complaining people. Again, God brings water from a rock. I can't help but to think to Jesus in this passage. I recall statements relating Jesus to the cornerstone of the Church. I recall my baptismal waters and think of this life saving water flowing from this rock. Baptism, a gift from God. God gives baptism and salvation to me before I can begin to recognize what I've been given. That's grace! A God that gives you something no matter if you decide to accept it or not. God loves me and you so much we are granted salvation and water from the rock no matter what. You have no choice. Now, you can believe and live a response of thanks, praise and give honor to God. Or you can run. But the gift of water from the rock and salvation is given. Even if you are crying about it. Thanks be to God!

Lord, your love amazes me. How much you love your people. Thanks...I believe. --- Amen

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Exodus 15:22-27 (NRSV)
God gives the people water
Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

There the Lord made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he put them to the test. He said, "If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you."

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water.

Even though the Israelites had been delivered from the Egyptians by a loving and gracious God, they still needed to pray and cry out to God for help along their journey towards the promised land.

Isn't it amazing how a tree planted years prior to this situation of the Israelites tasting of the bitter water would be the tree that would make the bitter water sweet. God had so lovingly thought of the Israelites in advance.

Today, too, God has loved all people. God had planned in advance our deliverance from sin through Jesus life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection. But we still walk the journey in the wilderness. Even though delivered, life can be tough. We, too, need to cry out in prayer to God for the wood that makes the water sweet. Doesn't this make you recall your baptism and the cross? And to think that it's a corporate action that comes also in an individual experience. Thanks be to God!

Lord, hear your peoples cry as we walk through this wilderness of life towards the promised land. You alone deliver and sustain us... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 18th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Fourth Sunday in Lent
John 3:14-21 (NRSV)

The lifting up of the Son of Man
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God."

The gospel in a nutshell is a title many have given to John 3:16, but this passage contains so much more to give thought to and to live in. God commanded Moses to raise a post with a bronze figure of a snake for the people to look at and live. The Israelites had complained about having to eat worthless food in manna and judgment came in the form of poisonous snakes. Many people died. Soon the Israelites realized the sin they had committed and confessed their sin.

I'm just as sinful as the Israelites. I too complain about my place in life, income, health and many other aspects of daily living. I sin in wanting more and more without giving thanks for what I have. No different than the Israelites. I too have confessed my sin both personally and corporately.

The Israelites saw how God had blessed them with life. They were taught that deliverance from death only comes from God. They were invited to look and live. Likewise today, all people have been invited to confess their sin and look and live. Today we can look at Jesus on that cross, see Jesus become our sin, take on our sin and die for our sin. We can look and live. As we look we believe and see the pain and sorrow our sin has caused God in Jesus to endure and we are given life. Given life not because we looked, we looked to believe, but we are given life because of what Jesus has done.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."

We look and believe in that life. As the Israelites looked at the serpent they believed in God's deliverance from death and lived.

In this promise of life we no longer need to worry about sin. We no longer need to hide in the darkness with our sin. Sin itself, in Jesus has been brought to the Light and has been exposed in all of it's ugliness and Jesus in our sin, put it to death.  We have seen and our sin has been exposed before all. Even though we may still sin today, Jesus has defeated that sin. We may still live with sin, but we no longer need to fear that sin because of what Jesus has already done. We now can live in the Light of the day.

It's confusing, I know, even still to me, but it seems to say to me, now our focus is not so much on our sin but on the response to what Jesus has done for us on that cross. We don't focus on our sin, because Jesus died with our sin, so we focus on the eternal life we have been granted through Jesus. Now we live as children of the resurrection of new life and live for God in the Light of Jesus. We wait for the return of Jesus when he will gather all together with him in glory.

Until that time? Until then we live in the Light. We are disciples of Jesus, learning, working, loving and living for him with those he gives to us each day. We are called, gathered and enlightened to live eternal life beginning now, as we have looked, believed and received life. Thanks be to God!

Jesus, as I live in your gracious Light, may your light shine brightly in and through me that I may actively love those you have given to me this day that they too may look at you, believe in you and live... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Good Gifts - Connie Cow

1 Peter 2:1-7 (New Revised Standard)

1 Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and 5 like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in scripture: "See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." 7 To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,"

At first I didn't think that my milk was spiritual milk, but maybe it is. Maybe my milk is good for more than nourishment. Maybe my milk is good for more than strengthening the bones and teeth of humans. I think my milk may have a little bit of that spiritual taste to it at times, moo-re times than not.

God has gifted me with many qualities. I'm good for milk, fertilizer, my babies, and hopefully, in the end, some meat. I can make a family rich enough to sustain life.

Since God has gifted me with many qualities, I like to think of myself as part of this cycle of life. God granted me a blessing of life that I may give my life to bless others. It's kinda like that spiritual milk the humans long for. Humans desire to taste the kindness of life God has granted them through drinking in the spiritual milk only God can provide.

This milk is available through the love of Jesus Christ sometimes referred to as the cornerstone of a building. Jesus is the Living Stone and Christians become like him through the drinking of the spiritual milk. But living stones can't be kept alone, they must come together and be built one on another with Jesus as the cornerstone. All creatures are only fulfilled in God. So humans live to place all those bad qualities behind them and live to love Jesus the Living Cornerstone of all creation.

And that's where you and I come together. Through "Good Gifts" you can purchase me and more like me to be given to people in need. But, I only want you to do this out of the love of Jesus. I want you to show Jesus' love to another in need because you have tasted that wonderful spiritual milk only God can provide. After all, we love Jesus by serving others. Sometimes I feel moo-ved to express my love for God in offering myself up to God's creation. Don't you feel moo-ved too?

Your Friend,
Connie Cow

Lord, give me that spiritual milk that I may love as you have loved. --- Amen

March 17th Refelction by Bill Lynch

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22 (NRSV)
God delivers from distress
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south. ...

Some were sick through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities endured affliction;
they loathed any kind of food,

and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress;
he sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from destruction.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.
And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.

One has to wonder sometimes, why me? Why did God choose to rescue me from my sin and selfishness? Why did God come to me and call me? What does God want with me when so many others are out there so much better than me?

But, as you take an honest look at the words of the Bible, you see that God has come to the sick, the poor, the sinful and the needy and called, gathered and enlightened them with the Holy Spirit and used them for God's work. It truly is God's work our hands as expressed so many times. Here is the mystery of many of the passages this week revealed. Through the loving actions of God in Jesus Christ, we have been called, sinful though we are, to respond to God. The Holy Spirit builds our faith and we soon believe in what Jesus has done for us and are in Christ.

Having sought our own redemption and failed, we turn to Jesus sinful people that we are, humbled in our sin and weakness, Jesus takes us in and gives us the promise of resurrection in and through what he has already done.

Psalm 107 is often referred to as the Song of the Redeemed. God's love endures our sin. God's love is steadfast and true. God has become our next of kin (ga'al) in relationship and has taken us in to be his, forever. Through our sickness and sin, God in Jesus has rescued us and God in the Holy Spirit sustains us and delivers us. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you did it... you did what I couldn't even come close to... you did it and I give you my life... my love... my heart... my hands. Use me this day to love those you give to me and proclaim the glory of all you do for all your people... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Good Gifts - Alfred Alpaca

Judges 6:36-40 (New Revised Standard)

36 Then Gideon said to God, "In order to see whether you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 I am going to lay a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said." 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, "Do not let your anger burn against me, let me speak one more time; let me, please, make trial with the fleece just once more; let it be dry only on the fleece, and on all the ground let there be dew." 40 And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.

OK, I know it wasn't my fleece that Gideon used or even the fleece of one of my relatives, but it was a fleece. My fleece is what I'm known for. My fleece is used for clothing, bedding, rugs and many other things. My fleece is even warmer and softer than that ol wool fleece that Gideon used. After all, just look how cute I am. But to be fair to Gideon, he would have had to travel half a world to get hold of my fleece. Now that would have really been a test for God!

Maybe not, come to think of it. I suppose God could have picked up some of my fleece and taken it to Gideon to have him run a test on it. Gideon thought he was putting out the test to see if God would deliver Israel by Gideon's hand. After all, even I could believe if there was dew on the fleece and that rocky hard threshing floor was dry, but flip it around, now there's a test! So Gideon did and the fleece was dry and the floor was wet! Gid ol boy, you better get with it and surprise those Midianites!

God surprises me all the time. He created me and gave me a purpose with you in mind. With a little of your money and a bunch of your prayers for those in need, I can provide an income for people for twenty years or so. Together with "Good Gifts" we can respond to the test of love that God gave to Gideon, the Israelites and to you and me. You see when I think of all that God has done for us, what more of a joyful reason would we have than to love God by serving others. So, ol buddy ol pal... we better get with it and suprise a few people!

Your Warm Friend,
Alfred Alpaca


Lord, may we serve and love all creation by loving others as you have loved us. --- Amen

March 16th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Ephesians 1:7-14 (NRSV)
We live to the praise of God's glory
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory.

All things are in Christ. All things from beginning to eternity. The mystery of it all is in Christ. We have life in Christ and we exist in Christ. We are united in Christ, Jew, Gentile and all people. It is through God's love for us that Jesus was sent into this world to gather us together as one. We are gathered to hear the Word and witness to the truth that is in Christ. We receive the gospel and accept Christ as the one who fulfills all the Law and Commands. We are sealed through the promise. Once a seal of circumcision and now a seal of baptism as a show of an earthly element, the Word and the promise of God. We are sent with the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us along life's way to proclaim the glory of all that God has done for us through and in Christ.

As we live in Christ we are being gathered together with those throughout all time along with all things on heaven and earth. All in Christ and to the glory of the Father through the Holy Spirit. Wow! In Christ! Thanks be to God!

Jesus, gather, empower, seal and send each and all of us in you that we may joyfully proclaim to all what you have done... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 15th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NRSV)
Blessed be God, who chose us in Christ
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

A couple of things come to mind to me in this passage. I have always liked, wondered and pondered names of churches that contained "in Christ" or "in Jesus." The second thought is the mystery of divine election.

The Church does exist in Christ. As a church Christ is the center, the cornerstone and even the Head. So, as a Church we do exist in Christ. We are chosen and hear the gospel and respond to the message in faith. We exist in Jesus who has taken us before the Father to be his Chosen People.

It's no wonder that Paul breaks out into a litany of praise in this passage. It's fantastic to know how special and unique and loved we are as we exist in Christ. We have been elected and confirm our election with praise and thanksgiving for all God has done. Thanks be to God!

Jesus, I rejoice in being in the Church and in Christ, chosen, elected, called and sent to praise your loving acts of kindness today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 14th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Mark 11:15-19 (NRSV)
Jesus cleanses the temple
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, "Is it not written,
'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'?
But you have made it a den of robbers."

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
I notice in this passage how Jesus takes action then teaches. He puts things in order and cleanses the temple of people trying to just make money from Jews who need certain coins to offer and animals to sacrifice to God, then he teaches us about the temple.

We can apply Jesus teachings about the temple building to the temple body as well. We also should be a house of prayer to God. We were made to worship and honor God. In this way we keep the temple of our bodies and spirits clean. But the real cleansing comes through and in the acts soon to follow in this passage. The ultimate cleansing for our own temples comes in the acts of Jesus suffering, death and resurrection. This is the cleansing we so long for and it is given freely to us. Thanks be to God!

Jesus, I give you thanks for cleansing the temple, in so many more ways than one. --- Amen

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 13th Reflection by Bill Lynch

2 Chronicles 29:1-11, 16-19 (NRSV)
Hezekiah cleanses the temple
Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty five years old; he reigned twenty nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done.

In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east. He said to them, "Listen to me, Levites! Sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and carry out the filth from the holy place. For our ancestors have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God; they have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the dwelling of the Lord, and turned their backs. They also shut the doors of the vestibule and put out the lamps, and have not offered incense or made burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel. Therefore the wrath of the Lord came upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he has made them an object of horror, of astonishment, and of hissing, as you see with your own eyes. Our fathers have fallen by the sword and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger may turn away from us. My sons, do not now be negligent, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence to minister to him, and to be his ministers and make offerings to him." ...

The priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and they brought out all the unclean things that they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord; and the Levites took them and carried them out to the Wadi Kidron. They began to sanctify on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the Lord; then for eight days they sanctified the house of the Lord, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished. Then they went inside to King Hezekiah and said, "We have cleansed all the house of the Lord, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the table for the rows of bread and all its utensils. All the utensils that King Ahaz repudiated during his reign when he was faithless, we have made ready and sanctified; see, they are in front of the altar of the Lord."

When we fall away from God and move towards sin and selfishness our temple becomes unclean and disgusting. In this reading the people had fallen away to idol worship and many other sins. The king wanted to change this, so he began with the cleaning of the temple. It reminds me of the upper room in which Jesus and his disciples had the Last Supper. The room was made clean and put in order. We too clean our rooms in the presence of Jesus. We put things in order because we know the wonderful acts that Jesus has done for us. We clean our upper rooms for one another to bring comfort to our friends. We clean our upper rooms and temples to welcome one who is important.

Lord, please come into my temple or my upper room this day. I am delighted with your presence. --- Amen

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12th Reflection by Bill Lynch

1 Kings 6:1-4, 21-22 (NRSV)
Solomon builds the temple
In the four hundred eightieth year after the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord. The house that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits wide, across the width of the house. Its depth was ten cubits in front of the house. For the house he made windows with recessed frames. ...

Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold, then he drew chains of gold across, in front of the inner sanctuary, and overlaid it with gold. Next he overlaid the whole house with gold, in order that the whole house might be perfect; even the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he overlaid with gold.

The Temple wasn't intended to be a church like we think of today. A church for a congregation to gather anyway. The Temple was intended to house God. No wonder the materials and design were of the best human abilities of the age.

But the Temple then could never come close to the Temple that God sent us in Jesus. In Jesus body, his suffering, death and resurrection; we have graciously been granted entry into the temple of Jesus body the Church and Jesus into the temple of our body, part of the Church. We are slowly becoming one with Jesus and one another. Now that's a beautiful Temple! Thanks be to God!

Beautiful Savior, I look to you and give my temple to your Church... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Good Gifts - Jenny Jug

Mark 14:12-16 (New Revised Standard)

12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" 13 So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, "The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there." 16 So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.


Jesus, we are honored when you use us to unfold the Gospel to all people. Use us to love another as you love us... today ... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen
Gramps told me it was Thursday evening. It was usually only the women that carried us around, but for some reason this time it was a man. Jesus told these men to follow the man that was carrying Gramps. Follow Gramps to where the man was taking him. Now Jesus had an arrangement with the owner of this big upper room to use that evening. This upper room that Gramps entered was tidy, in order, and everything was in place. A clean upper room for what must about to be one tremendous occasion. Some disciples stayed in the upper room with Gramps and prepared the food for the feast.

Funny thing about this feast, all around town the people in their homes were preparing meals all around a lamb as the main course. These disciples didn't have a lamb prepared. Gramps thought that was the weirdest part of it all.

Gramps also told me that years ago the people would eat the feast standing up, but now since they were no longer servants and weren't in a hurry, they would eat it sitting down in that funny reclining position. During supper there was some argument that took place and Jesus made one of the guys upset enough to leave.
The party present surrounded Jesus and he broke bread and served some wine. Apparently Jesus was leading on like he was the lamb to be slain. But Jesus left some hint in his conversation that he would be resurrected from the dead. It left all the disciples pretty upset and confused.

Now as Gramps recalls, he had a relative years ago, when this Jesus guy turned the water inside of him into some really good tasting wine. It was another party too, and Jesus brought life back to that party by loving and caring for the people present to make the best wine ever tasted.

So Gramps thought that this might be something on the same lines. A party with some wine and bread, with Jesus who brings new life to people that has fallen into sin. Gramps wasn't sure what he might be carrying now; perhaps he had the wine. But the whole idea of all of our ancestor’s experiences was that we contained water that brought new life. It's still that way today. We baptize, we wash hands before this great communion, and we are an earthly element in the restoration of new spiritual and new life.

Through the years they began to make us out of plastic and other materials, but we do the same thing. We bring water that sustains life to people in so many ways. We have to be durable for long times and long trips. I have so many relatives today that are needed to bring life to so many people. They have this program called Good Gifts where disciples can give something called money so that more jugs can be created and more of that life giving water can be moved from one place to another for giving new life to those who don't have it. You can be involved with the giving of new life too. Just like Jesus used Gramps and so many others to bring the new life you too could do something like that.

What a better response could you have than to care for those who need that water? After all Jesus gave himself as the lamb that night just for you. I would be honored to carry some of that water for you.

Follow me,
Jenny Jug


Sunday, March 11, 2012

March 11th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Third Sunday in Lent
John 2:13-22 (NRSV)

The cleansing of the temple
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." The Jews then said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty six years, and will you raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

How we take our offerings and what God desires of them and turn them into forms of monetary and individual gain appalled Jesus. This was the temple of God and human acts of selfishness were taking place rather than offerings from the heart to honor and praise God. This temple had turned sour.

Jesus, knowing the sacrifice required, wanted to show that the real temple of his body would be slain and rise again to glory. Through Jesus each one of us will make up the Temple of God. Each of our bodies as individual temples will house God and be reunited with spirit to the Spirit of God.

And it's this that we slowly begin to grasp, after the events of the resurrection. We see the Word of God revealed. Just as today we see the Word revealed to us slowly and meaningful for daily living. Thanks be to God!

Lord, show me how to maintain a clean spirit and mind as I dedicate myself as a living sacrifice to you this day. --- Amen

Saturday, March 10, 2012

March 10th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Psalm 19 (NRSV)
The commandments give light to the eyes
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Have you been listening to the news about the sun lately? It's up to something fascinating with solar flares and sun spots. It's causing wonderful night skies in the north with the Aurora Borealis. God's work not only through nature but through God's divine Word. As we observe nature and the handiwork of God, it's as if, God is showing us tiny peeks at awesome power and creativity beyond what we can fathom.

Then we turn to the Word and see Jesus revealed in it from beginning to end. Jesus revealed in his saving grace to bring light into our lives and recreate us into something new that is free of sin, death and the devil. We witness Jesus light and as it travels to us, in us and through us, we wonderfully light up the sky with a host of beauty in the night sky.

Yes, it's all about God and how the Spirit is active in this world, even as we await the fulfillment of God's plan today. So we proclaim with joy... "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

Beautiful Savior, may your light shine through me today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, March 09, 2012

Good Gifts - Nancy Net

Mark 1:16-20 (New Revised Standard)

16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

Yoo hoo! Over here. Come on over here. Someone is calling your name. Just get up and go. Leave where you are and what you are doing and come on over here. It's better over here anyway. You get to meet me! Yoo hoo! Over here. Come and see me. I have some good news for you. I can give you protection too. Come over here!

Years ago there were these fellas that used nets to catch fish. They were pros at this thing. They would cast those nets into the sea and draw in fish good enough to feed so many people. They made a living doing this. Fish is some good eatin' so I've been told. One day while these guys was casting their nets a man named Jesus came by with his own kind of net. Jesus asked them to pack it up and follow him. Jesus had some nets that would catch people.

There are all kinds of nets, nets for fish, butterflies, hair, volleyballs, tennis, and me, a mosquito net. Nets come in almost all shapes and sizes. I'm used for preventing mosquitoes from getting to people. The mosquitoes bite the people and the people get sick and die. It's a horrible thing. It's a job I just love to do, because the mosquitoes can't hurt me and I give people life. Especially the young ones. I like to watch those little babies and get them to give me a smile every once in a while. Now that smile can make your day.

People need nets badly in some areas because of the mosquitoes. Hey! I have an idea that I'm sure Jesus would love. He talked about fishing for people, well on one side of me is people and the other side of me are those nasty mosquitoes. This thing called Good Gifts allows you to give money so those mosquito nets can be made for people that need them to live. You give the money and together we will fish for people! Sometimes I amaze myself. But, I'm not the first to think of this whole thing.

I think that's what Jesus meant. When Jesus catches the people in the net on the inside is love and life and on the outside are all those things that bring death and sin. This new net we get can show the love of Jesus on the inside and keep the mosquitoes of death on the outside and we can give those little babies a goofy face and raspberries too for a laugh or two. How about it?

Don't waste any time. Get up and go give just like those guys called disciples years ago. You are disciples today so go. Get with it!

Your protective friend,
Nancy Net


Jesus, wrap us and all you give to us this day tightly in your net of love and grace that we all my bring joy and new life to your Kingdom. --- Amen

March 9th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Acts 7:30-40 (NRSV)
God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai
"Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 'I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, 'Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.'

"It was this Moses whom they rejected when they said, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge?' and whom God now sent as both ruler and liberator through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, 'God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people as he raised me up.' He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us. Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him; instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, saying to Aaron, 'Make gods for us who will lead the way for us; as for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.'
God shows up anywhere and everywhere it seems. God is not too choosy about where he goes or who he chooses. We tend to see the Biblical Characters in a light that raises them up, and rightly so, but we forget sometimes to see them for the humans that they really are like. They are like you and me. In many ways almost exactly like you and me.

But God is closer than you think. God will come to you in places you least expect it. Yes, come to you! God chooses you also. You are precious in God's sight. When asked to do something, you have received an honor. Don't take it lightly. Just as mentioned in the past few reflections, turn to God first,  not to your own means. Turn to God and pray about that service God has requested. Check it out with a few other's. Search it out in the Word and at Church. Then decide. This can be done quickly. It's not like this needs to take days or months. It can also be done slowly. You will know how much time to take. And expect some push-back from God.

God is closer than you think and loves you more than you could imagine and wants you to be his disciple in the unfolding of new life in this world for all people. It's a joyous journey of faith, hope and love. Have fun with God and be bold to play with Jesus, Moses, Elijah and someone else in God's Kingdom every day of your life.

Lord, you come to my door each day with your friends and mine; let's go play! --- Amen

Thursday, March 08, 2012

March 8th Reflection by Bill Lynch

1 Peter 2:4-10 (NRSV)
You are God's own people
Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:
"See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."

To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
"The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner,"
"A stone that makes them stumble,
and a rock that makes them fall."
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Once you were not a people,
but now you are God's people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

Here we consider the corporate aspect of our faith. We are built together, stones though we are, we are brought to life as living stones through the corner stone of our faith in Jesus. As we gather as a church we come alive and begin to imitate Jesus upon whom we are connected.

Lord Jesus, bring us together as your Church that we may do your will in the way only you would have it done... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Good Gifts - Chelsea Chick

Matthew 23:37 (New Revised Standard)

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! "

He loved his young so much. He wanted to protect them from all harms. But his desires to love and protect only seemed to cause his young to question him. Is this guy for real? Is this love for us or is it to take over what we have spent years to construct, to plan, to organize and to build? We put much into this to get along with the local government and still be able to live our lifestyle as we please. Maybe this guy is trying to deceive us and take us away from our God and lead us somewhere God would not wish for us to go?

But this guy, Jesus, he really did love his young. He loved them so much that we wanted to gather all of them under his wing and protect them. But he didn't have any wings that I can see. It's almost like Jesus wanted to be a chicken for a day to protect his chicks. That wasn't going to happen. After all, even if this Jesus were God, why would he want to be a chicken?

Reading this story got me to thinking. If Jesus loves his people so much, why don't the people love one another that much too? Instead, they turned on him and killed him. They killed Jesus on a cross! But that wasn't it for the Chicken Man, I like that image! In a few days, he surprised the whole bunch of them early in the morning. A few of my relatives were there that day poking around in the dirt looking for that first worm of the day. You know the early bird gets the worm. Anyway, this Jesus rose from the dead and surprised them all. Chicken Man wins in the end! Yea! Cluck...cluck...cluck...

So a bunch of his followers finally got the right idea. Jesus showed them more love than could ever be shown for fellow people. He gave his life out of love for them. The disciples or his sidechicks as I like to call them, caught on and started spreading this Chicken Man love. Jesus lives on through all of them in Spirit and by the words he gave to them.

Ok, that gets me back to what I was thinking. You and my sisters could get together on this love thing and work out a plan. This Good Gifts thing allows you to purchase a bunch of chicks, that's me and my sisters and a whole bunch more, we could be sold to some people who need to eat and take care of themselves. Your love would help another person feed a family and have a job too. Just like Chicken Man, oh that's Jesus to you, loved his people, you could love people too just like Chicken Man's sidechicks did. And the real chicks get to show that life giving love to all. Deal? OK! Give some money!

Flapping lovingly for you,
Chelsea Chick

Jesus, you set the example of all examples for all creatures. May we all come together in love to help and love one another and take each other under your wings... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen