Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31st Reflection by Bill Lynch



Luke 4:21-30

Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.” ’ And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

Reflection
I'm amazed at Jesus! He comes home and reveals himself as the Messiah. I understand the reaction of the people to a point. How can this be? They know this guy, his family and his life too well. How can he be the Messiah? I'm sure they are a little upset about the way he answers the question about being Joseph's son. Couldn't Jesus have just said Yes?

But, no, he goes on and tells them how they will act and things they will possibly say. Jesus, don't put words in our mouths! Jesus, instead of just saying yes to the question of being Joseph's son, goes on to tell about Elijah working miracles with a woman of another race. Jesus! You could have just said "Yes" that you were Joseph's son, but you went on and made the people mad at you. Why!?

The people were so mad they wanted to kill you. They took you to the edge of the hill to toss you off! Why! Jesus why? Why do you act this way?

I'm amazed at Jesus! Then you somehow... someway... just pass through the crowd. You made them mad as hell and you don't even seem to defend yourself and somehow you pass through the crowd that wants to toss you aside and you pass through. Not even a sign of revenge in you. I'm amazed at Jesus!

Jesus, your will and your way is so different. Maybe there is something to you after all.

Prayer
Father, I look to the Son and ponder the way he acts among us. You sent your Son to be with us and to save us. But Jesus is so different yet so much the same. Jesus, continue to reveal yourself to all the world that we may learn of your steadfast love... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30th Reflection by Bill Lynch



1 Corinthians 13:1-13
The Gift of Love

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Reflection
Just take the passage above and for this instance, whenever you see the word "love" replace that word with Jesus. You can do all sorts of wonderful things with your life but if you don't have Jesus, you are nothing but noise, you are nothing and you gain nothing.

Then the description of Jesus is appropriate also. Jesus endured all things for you, for me and for all people. Jesus came to grant life out of death.

Jesus never ends. Jesus' resurrection from the dead made eternal life available to all. Eternal life in living with God in union. We won't know this fully yet. Only in part can we understand. For we can have faith and hope, but the greatest of all is having Jesus.

Jesus is love. Jesus is God's love in the flesh.

Prayer
Jesus, instill your love within me that it may overflow into the place you set me. May all see you and love you and one another... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Psalm 71:1-6
Prayer for Lifelong Protection and Help

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
   let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
   incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
   a strong fortress, to save me,
   for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
   from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
   my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
   it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

Reflection
Psalm by Bill Lynch

It's been a hard life, Lord,
   a long hard life.
I look for you to sustain me,
   and seek your safety.
I'm in need of a Savior,
   for you are my only hope.
You are my base, my constant love,
   you know me inside and out.

From birth you cut me free,
   free from my mother to live.
Your care was constant,
   loving and always present.
You fed me with the manna,
   the Bread of life from you.
I will always praise and honor you,
   today, tomorrow and forever.

Prayer
Lord, you alone sustain life. You give life and you grant salvation. It's everything in a gift. I give you thanks for your constant care and love and praise your name... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Jeremiah 1:4-10
Jeremiah’s Call and Commission

 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’
Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,

says the Lord.’
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
‘Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.’

Reflection
Jeremiah meets God in the Word. The Word springs to life and comes to Jeremiah. God unites with Jeremiah in Jeremiah's call. The Word unites with Jeremiah and it is not about Jeremiah at all. It's about the Word coming to Jeremiah even before Jeremiah could be aware of anything, even before his birth.

God chooses us and prepares us. God chose Jeremiah and prepared him for just this moment. God sends us as God chooses, not as we choose. This passage is such an expression of putting yourself behind yourself and realizing what God has planned and prepared for you to do in this situation. God meets us in his Word. The Word made flesh in Jesus. God comes to us in Jesus and prepares us, not because of anything we have done, but because God can.

Deliver the Word on God's terms not my own. When we put ourselves and our pride and our ego away, God uses us to deliver his Word on God's terms not our own. God has something to say and uses us to say it. God presents us with lives in our life and gives us the Word to say. It's not our special wisdom, but rather what is profound is that it doesn't involve anything special about us. It's what is special about God. God cherishes us for sure, but it's when we give in to God that God delivers his Word to us and through us. We give our lives over to God out of the love God has shown us in our Word. We give ourselves joyfully and willingly.

It's God's Word. It's about God, not my mouth. So in this giving of God to us and God's coming to us in Word we give all the glory to God.

Prayer
God, when I think of what you said and did with Jeremiah, I am humbled. I am humbled that you come to us with your Word. You come to us in Jesus as flesh and blood. You come to us in the bread and the wine. You come to us and prepare us for something special. You love each one of us as something unique and special that you choose to work through us and in us. Take my will and do with it what you would choose. Place your Word in me that I may joyfully shout it out to all the world... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 27th Reflection by Bill Lynch


3rd Sunday After Epiphany 
Luke 4:14-21 (NRSV)
Jesus reads the prophet Isaiah 

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. 

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 
'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 
because he has anointed me 
to bring good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives 
and recovery of sight to the blind, 
to let the oppressed go free, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 

Reflection
This fishing trip was one of the best I had ever been on. The guys were great and the wives were having a blast. We took a yacht out that day into the Gulf. Everyone was involved with conversation and laughter. The  wives were tanning and the men were fishing. Our captain was a great host of the party.

The day was sunny and pleasant, but as the afternoon became late we noticed some clouds towards the direction of land. We were heading back after a wonderful day and our captain was trying to avoid the rough waves of the storm. A wrong turn and the waves were tossing the yacht back and forth and up and down. It seemed as if danger was certain. As the captain pulled back and went deeper into the Gulf away from the storm, evening began to fall. At least the waters were a bit calmer than before, but we were heading away from land.

Our captain did his best to keep us in calm waters and he did, but within several hours we realized that he was lost. Our captain kept us in calm waters but had no idea where we were or where we were headed. The radio on ship was not working properly. It hadn't worked before we left land. The captain knew it needed repair but didn't think we would need it for an afternoon fun trip. Now we needed it and it was of no use.

Unbeknownst to us in the Gulf, some of our friends had missed us and reported our delay in coming back to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard took what information they could gather from friends and family and began to enter this information into SAROPS (Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System). This system took into account the information gathered from friends and family about the boat, the waters and the currents, the weather and the winds, major Gulf currents and gives a list of prioritized results.

Then C-130 planes were dispatched, cutters and helicopters were deployed for rescue.  

On the yacht, it was afternoon of the following day. The yacht had been damaged to the extent that it was taking on water and beginning to sink. Rafts were deployed and we got into the rafts. As we drifted away we could see the yacht go down. 

Soon we heard a helicopter nearby somewhere. We could see it in the distance. Yes, the helicopter saw us! We were saved! On the return trip to land we were told by the pilot and crew what was happening behind the scenes with this rescue. We were made aware of the planning that went into our rescue. We listened and were amazed at how our lives had become the focus of so many caring and loving people. Our fun cruise turned into a cruise that involved so many people, friends, family and Coast Guard. We weren't in this by ourselves after all. We were rescued through the love of so many people.

Even one life saved is worth the effort, the communication, the planning and all the resources available. One life saved. One life saved. So many times, as in our case many lives are saved. Rescued through the love of others. Why all this effort, we asked the pilot of the helicopter? For him... it was because his life was saved through the caring of the Coast Guard. His one life. He had a decision to make about what he would do with his one life saved. He decided to listen to the Spirit of God that day he was saved. So in great joy, the helicopter pilot gave his life to the Coast Guard that day and he gave his life to God. This pilot listened and believed in a God that would send the Coast Guard to save his one life. His question to us was... what will you do now that you have heard about your life saved?

Prayer
Lord Jesus, we hear the Word you have spoken this day. We realize why you were sent for us. You're, so close and familiar to some and so unfamiliar to others. You have spoken the Word of the prophet. That Word is you. You are the anointed One, the One to set us free, the One to save us from sin, death and the devil. I hear your voice and I believe... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26th Reflection by Bill Lynch



O for a thousand tongues to sing My dear Redeemer's praise
Author: Charles Wesley (1739)
Tune : AZMON


O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great Redeemer's praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
to spread thro' all the earth abroad
the honors of your name.


Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease,
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life and health and peace.

He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
he sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed for me.

To God all glory, praise, and love
be now and ever given
by saints below and saints above,
the Church in earth and heaven.

Text: Bill Lynch
The Lord has put his Spirit near,
Lord Jesus to be praised.
The scroll unrolls and we do hear,
how you come to us and save.

You speak you live out the Good News,
you tell it to the poor.
You open up the prisoner's views,
and open wide the door.

The blind will see the Word made flesh,
and walk beside you Lord,
Your kindness makes us wholly fresh,
you forever are Lord.

Praise to the Word eternal God,
our Savior and our King.
Let all creation hear you God,
throughout the world we sing.

Prayer
Jesus, open all of our senses that we may come to know you will and way for our lives... today... tomorrow and forever. --- Amen


Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Luke 4:14-21
The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry

 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth

 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

Reflection
He unrolled me that day. He unrolled me and opened me up. I was exposed to his eyes. Exposed and made known in front of all those people present that day. And then he cast his eyes upon a few of the words written upon me. He read the Word. The Word read the Word. The Word made me known to those present. The Word spoke of anointing. The Word spoke of release. The Word spoke of sight to the blind and freedom of the oppressed. The Word spoke the Word that day.

I was opened to his eyes and his mouth spoke the Word. The Word flowed from me through the Word and into the hearts and minds of those present that day. How would they take it? Would they get, that in their presence the Word spoke the Word?

He unrolled me that day. He unrolled me and opened me up. I was exposed to his eyes.

Prayer
Jesus, as I hear your Word, as I see your Word, may your Word become active through your love in my life... today... tomorrow... and forever. ---Amen

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Luke 4:14-21
The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry

 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth

 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

Reflection
Picture the scene. Jesus returned home. He had been teaching and was healing in the surrounding country. It was the Sabbath day and Jesus was handed the scroll of Isaiah. Passages would have been read slowly over a few years during the service. Isaiah would be a well known text to those present at the synagogue. Jesus unrolls the scroll and begins to read a familiar passage.

The passage Jesus reads reflects what he had been doing in the surrounding countrysides of that day. Jesus likely sat down to preach and tells the people that the scripture has been fulfilled. How do you take that? Does Jesus mean that he has fulfilled this scripture? Does he mean that God has fulfilled the scripture some time ago? Is this hometown boy saying that he is the Messiah? Or is he telling each of us that when we were anointed our task was to take the good news of God's favour to them? If you could have heard all of the questions in the minds of those listening that day, how many and how wide a variety of questions would you hear?

Today when we read through the Bible, look for Jesus. Look for Jesus in the Old Testament, in the Law, in the Prophets, in the Songs. Look for Jesus. This hometown man is present throughout the Bible. Jesus is present in the words of these writers. Jesus is on the minds of all of us as we pass through time and space towards eternity. We ponder a God that would come so close to us. We are amazed that God would care enough to be with us in the cycles of life. And it's hard to believe that Jesus is present in our lives with us, just as he was present to those people in that day at Nazareth.

It is amazing and it does raise questions of doubt. Ask the questions and go for the answers. You will find Jesus close and involved in your everyday life. You will find Jesus in your doubt. You will find Jesus in the ordinary and the extraordinary. You will realize that Jesus is present in Word and Sacrament and in your life.


 Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

Prayer
Jesus, I feel you standing in the temple of my heart telling me, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." May I always hear and see you on every step of my life... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 23rd Reflection by Bill Lynch



1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
One Body with Many Members

 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.

 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Reflection
Boy, if that ain't the truth! I have Crohns disease. When my bowels suffer my whole body suffers. I'm off this day because of this and my whole body is suffering. There are ways to endure with doctors and medication, but I need the help of all to make it through. So you learn that as one body, you can't do this thing on your own. I not only need the help of the rest of the parts of my body but I need help from outside of my body also.

It's sort of like this passage says, each one of us is a unique loved Child of God. We each have a relationship with Jesus and walk and follow him. Yet at the same time each one of us has a relationship with one another. As a Church we look to one another to exist together. God desires for us to live together. So we live together not all being the same. Rather we live together being very different from one another. What is the same, is the Spirit of God that is in each one of us gathering us together as God's Church to live and heal together. When one of us hurts the rest of us come to that one to comfort, love and sustain that one. And when that one is through the rough times, we all celebrate in love for one and for all.

"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it."

Prayer
Holy Spirit, we need you. We need you both as individuals and we need you corporately. Jesus, you have shown your love for us and how to love each other. Father, you gave your Son to die for our sins. As we live one alone, may we live One together in the grace you give... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22nd Reflection by Bill Lynch



Psalm 19
God’s Glory in Creation and the Law

To the leader. A Psalm of David.

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 hidden 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 for ever;
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.

Psalm
by Bill Lynch

Lord you are wonderful in all ways,
   you created light and brought it for all to see.
You created life and filled the earth,
   I can see the trees sway with your breath.
Look at the birds and how they fly,
   simple yet wondrous with joy.
I see the mountains and wonder how,
   how did they rise from the earth.
The stars and moon at night light the way,
   they show your endless majesty and power.

Father, I see the Law you have given,
   I am convicted in all of it's ways.
I see the order you bring to guide your people,
   yet I fail to obey as you instruct.
Yes, I know that your Law is perfect,
   you fulfill your law through Jesus.
Known and unknown sins are taken upon him,
   they are put aside in his death.
Yes, your Law is fulfilled in Jesus,
   new life springs eternal in resurrection.

To all creation I witness your glory,
   day and night I sing your praise.
You are God of all life and creation,
   your love fills all that you have made.
Lord Jesus, God in flesh is mighty,
   Savior of all that God has made.
Holy Spirit, mighty in your inspiration,
   you put to action God's plan.
All creation sings glory to God,
   glory for all and in all and through all.

Lord, lead me as I follow you,
   guide me in a blameless life.
Correct me in the midst of my sin,
   show me your will and your way.
You alone are my guide and salvation,
   to you alone I turn day to day.
Hear my plea and my prayer each day,
   take me through the troubles of this life.
May I bring glory and honor to you each day,
   that all may know you are God.

Prayer
Lord, creator of all things and giver of life and law, teach me and hear my prayer of repentance. Save me, dear Lord that I may witness to your glory... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21st Reflection by Bill Lynch



Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen’, lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’

Reflection
I heard it said recently that if only God was more direct, we could understand what was desired for us to do.

How do we know what God wants us to do? The people in this passage struggle with this question as well as people throughout the history of the Church struggle with this question. What are the concrete details of action we are to take as God's children?

So, we turn to the law. In the law we find ourselves guilty of not doing what God wants us to do. We find we are guilty and fear the judgment that we are due. We find ourselves guilty of sin and bow before the Lord and repent of our failure. We stand in need of forgiveness.

But God has come to us and is with us and forgives us. Forgives us so that we can continue in his will and his way, filled with the joy and strength. Through forgiveness we go out in joy to love God and to love one another. That's how we know what God wants us to do. Time after time we are presented with opportunity after opportunity to serve God and serve other's in the love of Jesus. God shows us what to do and presents the situation for the Holy Spirit to move in and through us so that we are joyful to do his will.

This is a holy day... today... go in joy and serve in love.

Prayer
Lord, as I come to hear your Word and to understand your will, forgive my sin as I repent to you. Lead me out in the freedom and the joy only you can give to love and praise you and to love and serve my neighbor... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20th Reflection by Bill Lynch



2nd Sunday After Epiphany 
John 2:1-11 (NRSV)
The wedding at Cana 

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Reflection
It's a miracle! Yes, it is! God came into the midst of what may seem to be some small trouble at a wedding feast with compassion to save the party. It's a miracle! God came into this party and kept it going. Mary saw the issue unfolding and asked God in Jesus to intervene. Mary asked Jesus to step into what seems to be a trivial situation to help out. 

Jesus was not the center of this party. Jesus was a guest. Jesus was a guest invited into the lives of a couple gathering to celebrate their marriage together. Jesus was not the center of this party, but Jesus was invited as a guest with the trust that he would not overshadow the couple's wedding feast. So, Jesus came to the party. 

Jesus came into the lives of the people at that party, but he came first to the servants. He came into the lives of those behind the scenes in order that the party may continue in joy. Jesus offers himself and shares himself and his power with those behind the scenes. The servants responsibility was to trust in Jesus' word. The servants were to believe in the words of Jesus and carry out his command diligently.

This is a miracle available to every Child of God. A miracle that God offers to all people. Jesus comes into our lives in the run of the day events and works behind the scenes with us. Jesus comes into our lives and offers a solution. A solution that needs belief, trust and obedience to carry out the will of God. Jesus comes to save us in the small things of life and in the great things of life. Jesus comes to us in the midst of our poor calculations and in the midst of our sins and he works with us. Yes, It's a miracle! God comes to us and invades our life with love and salvation. God comes to us and offers grace in the midst of sin. Do you believe in Jesus? Will you trust in God's Word? Will you be diligent? It's a miracle! Yes, it is! The results are amazing!  Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, come into the smallness of my life and save me. Save me from myself, sin and evil, that I may live with and for your... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16th Reflection by Bill Lynch


1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Spiritual Gifts

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.

 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Reflection
There are some things that stand pat in the differences we have in the Church. A couple pointed out in this passage jump out. They are obvious. The same Spirit, the same Lord, the same God. Just observe the number of times the Spirit is mentioned. We are gathered together around Father, Son and Spirit. We are different and unique and loved Children of God gathered around the Same.

The gifts the Spirit freely grants to us, spring to life individually just as the Spirit chooses for them to come to life. We gather together in the oneness of God. And in this gathering we declare with one voice, "Jesus is Lord!"

Prayer
God, as I gather with ALL your saints on earth and in heaven, may each and all of us proclaim that Jesus is Lord!... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Psalm 36:5-10


Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
   your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
   your judgements are like the great deep;
   you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
   All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
   and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
   in your light we see light.

O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
   and your salvation to the upright of heart!

Psalm
by Bill Lynch

Lord, you shook me up and brought me to my senses,
   you have made my world all brand new.
I once was lost to the depths of sin and death,
   but through your waters, you brought me through.
Into new life you have claimed me and named me,
   and now I live for you.

I rise now to a new world,
   now that you have granted me new eyes.
I see your majesty and power in all things,
   for you are the God of all that is right.
Your grace abounds throughout all creation,
   and the beauty fills my senses.

Your love is wide and deep,
   higher than the highest mountain and deeper than the sea.
The bread you offer goes beyond filling the body,
   to filling the soul and mind and spirit to overflow.
The river of life flows eternally in my soul,
   for you are Creator, Redeemer and Spirit.

Prayer
Father, Spirit, Redeemer, you have created and sustain all life. Wake me up in the realization that it's all about you. Unfold your plan for me this day that I may walk in your will and your way... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Isaiah 62:1-5
The Vindication and Salvation of Zion

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
   and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
   and her salvation like a burning torch.
The nations shall see your vindication,
   and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
   that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
   and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
   and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
   and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
   and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
   so shall your builder marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
   so shall your God rejoice over you.

Reflection
"As a baptized Child of God...sealed by the Holy Spirit... marked with the cross of Christ forever." Over and over these words were spoken as people came forward for communion. At our baptism something of a mystery happens. More than a mystery a miracle happens. We are given a new name. We are proclaimed to be a Child of God. At the time we don't know what we will be as a new Child of God, but we can rest assured that God has something for us to do. We will be gifted with what we need to fulfill this purpose.

And then we begin to seek God. God comes to us in our baptism and we are filled with the desire to be in communion with God and we seek him. We delve into deep prayer. We want to know what God wants from us. We wrestle with God and seek purpose. We reach out in our doubt and seek truth. We go to God for the answer to life's questions. We seek his Word. We read his Word and get confused. We turn to other's to find out more and more about God. We go on a hunt for God. And prayer goes deep.

We look around and see one messed up world that we live in and wonder why? But, finally we see that the answer does not lie within ourselves. The answer lies within our need for a Savior. We discover that we need God and God has already come to us in our baptism. God has made himself known in the prayers and the Word and the Sacraments. God's mystery unfolds before our eyes in the life, ministry, teaching, healing, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Our eyes are opened to Jesus in the Old Testament and the New Testament, the letters and the Psalms and even the apocryphal books. Jesus appears all around us in so many ways we are overwhelmed by God's presence with us in our lives and in the love displayed to all people in this world.

In our baptism, God shows his love for us even beyond anything we can understand. And God declares a new name for us. One that reflects himself in us... Child of God... sealed by the Holy Spirit... marked with the cross of Christ forever.

Prayer
Lord, continue to call and gift and baptize your children everywhere... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 13th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Baptism of Our Lord 
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 (NRSV)
The baptism of Jesus 

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

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

Reflection
Larry was a bit of a wild child. Even as he was growing up he seemed to go against the grain. In school there was always one detention after another. The teachers said he was acting out. Why, no one could ever understand. Larry came from a family that loved him and cared for him fully.

Larry grew to be a large man, strong and healthy. His huge muscles along with his six foot four frame, made his presence known in any place. Larry had out-grown that wild child of his youth and was now a very thoughtful and loving man. Although still single, the women came to love Larry.

Larry did not grow up in a home that went to any kind of church. So, the Wednesday before Larry went on a date with his new found girl, Mary, Larry was told that he would have to attend the Wednesday service together with her before they could have their date on Friday evening. Larry thought that wouldn't be a big deal at all. So, off Mary and Larry went on Wednesday.

That was the beginning of a new life for Larry. A new life not only with the love of his life Mary, but also a new life with another love of his life. And so it took place, that Larry, one Sunday decided to be baptized with Mary at his side. Big ol' Larry had realized that he was a child once again. A child of God, a brother of Jesus and a fellow disciple in Christ with the Church.

Larry was baptized that day and a new prayer life had begun. A prayer life that would lead Larry to live in the Church and live for God. Larry loved Mary and God. Larry was a new born child of God.

Prayer
Lord, take us as we are and use us as you will... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12th Reflection by Bill Lynch



When Jesus came to Jordan
Author: Fred Pratt Green (1973)


When Jesus came to Jordan
to be baptized by John,
he did not come for pardon.
but as God's Holy One.

He came to share repentance
with all who mourn their sins,
to speak the vital sentence
with which good news begins.

He came to share temptation,
our utmost woe and loss,
for us and our salvation
to die upon the cross.

So when the Dove descended
on him, the Holy One,
the hidden years had ended,
the age of grace begun.

Hymn
Text: Bill Lynch
KING'S LYNN

We want to live for Jesus,
and come as children do.
We need for you to bless us,
and give us life a-new.

Here at the font of water,
we lay our body mild.
For you are God our Savior,
accept us as your child.

As we live and grow in you,
send us your Spirit Lord.
That we reflect love as you,
and you may be adored.

Father, Son, Holy Spirit,
you bless us with new life.
In the Church you do we fit,
to use this gift of life.

Prayer
Lord, you have graciously baptized me in your holy name. Be with me as I live for you and use the gifts you have given. May my life bring you glory and honor to your name... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen




Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

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

The Baptism of Jesus

 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

Reflection
So there we were that day. I was the perfect covering for Jesus. He had been wearing me for a few days now and we wandered together to see this man named John. I didn't know what was about to take place. John was speaking to the people about Jesus and Jesus walked right into the water with John to be baptized. I was wet from the waist down and John took hold of Jesus and put him in the water. All of him and me too. As Jesus and I came up out of the water, I clung to him for my life.

This was a big deal. Jesus had been baptized, and so had I. But as we came out of the water, I clinging to Jesus, he began to pray. Then the most amazing thing happened. A dove descended from above. Not just an ordinary dove. This dove was the Holy Spirit of God. And then a voice saying that Jesus was God's Son.

I just clung to Jesus that day. Even after Jesus came out of the water. I clung to him for dear life. Only to be separated years later at the end of Jesus' ministry did I lose my grip on Jesus. At that was to fulfill prophecy. All I can say to you and anyone else is to cling to Jesus. He is your salvation.

Prayer
Lord, in baptism may we cling to you for dear life... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January 10th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

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

The Baptism of Jesus

 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

Reflection
John was preaching repentance and hope. The crowds came to John to hear how they needed to repent and get ready, but it didn't end there. Get ready for what? There was the hope involved in the getting ready. When we get ready we anticipate something. When we get ready we expect something. Did the people get ready for John perhaps? Or someone else?

As we prepare ourselves and get ready, we also set ourselves to offer ourselves to whatever we are getting ready for. We lean forward and are ready to accept. We are open to the message or the gift or the vacation or whatever it is that we are preparing ourselves for. We get ready. Here John is telling us to get ready for someone that is more powerful than he is. We are getting ready for someone that is fantastic and amazing and even a bit to be feared because of judgment. Are we ready?

John shouted out to individuals to repent and prepare themselves for something greater. Jesus came not so much in fear but in the love of God for the Church. Jesus came to show us how to love one another and become God's people. John came to the individual but Jesus came to the Church. Sure, Jesus comes to each one of us but it's not to end there. Jesus comes to us to gather us together and give his love to all of us. Jesus comes into relationships and drives us to one another in love.

Jesus is baptized and is praying. Jesus was with God in prayer. Jesus was one with the Father and one with the people he was with in baptism. Jesus prayed and the unity of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon him and all those baptized throughout time. In prayer Jesus first sought God, not some thing or some magical healing or some list of stuff, but Jesus, in prayer first seeks God's presence.

In our baptism we seek God. And through the presence of something we can understand in the earthly element of water we receive the heavenly promise and gift of the Holy Spirit, poured out upon us for life. We receive new life and gifts abundant to use for a purpose that God will set before us and give to us. After baptism we pray and we acknowledge everyone's baptism. We acknowledge the presence of God and are gathered together as one in the unity of the Holy Spirit. In our baptism there is that individual element of relationship that is moved into the corporate realm of relationship that unites us with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit along with God's Church on earth and in heaven throughout all time.

In our baptism we become the fuel for that fire that John speaks of. Our lives scream with passion and joy for what God has done for us. Just as John spoke with fire in his words, God gives us the life to live in that same passion to declare to all the world what God has done through Jesus Christ our Lord and our Savior.

Prayer
Lord, in our baptism you come to us and set us on fire... individually and as your Church... and you gift us and call us and send us in love to all the world... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

January 9th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Acts 8:14-17

 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Reflection
Magic and miracles. In magic we are in control. We create a diversion and cause the audience to see or feel or hear or experience something that leads them away from reality. In magic, we are in control, and if our "trick" is discovered all of our control is lost.

In a miracle, God is with us. God comes to us and invades our world. God comes to us and inhabits our hearts. In a miracle, God is present with us. In our baptism God is present with us. God comes to us and gives us grace and love and new life. This is not a magical diversion of water. This is a miraculous event in which an earthly element is combined with a promise and the heavenly presence of God with us.

Peter and John laid their hands on them, not as a magical trick, but in a miracle of God's presence and the people received the Holy Spirit. Right before the eyes of those present. God is present in our baptism. God is present in his children. It's a miracle! Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Lord, open my eyes to my baptism each and every day that I may live out the miracle of grace and love that you freely gave to me in a miracle years ago. You are what makes miracles... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

January 8th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Psalm 29
The Voice of God in a Great Storm
A Psalm of David.

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
   ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
   worship the Lord in holy splendour.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
   the God of glory thunders,
   the Lord, over mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
   the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
   the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
   and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
   the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,
   and strips the forest bare;
   and in his temple all say, ‘Glory!’

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
   the Lord sits enthroned as king for ever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
   May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Reflection
Psalm by Bill Lynch

Before me sits the jet engine.
   Quiet yet full of power.
God's voice is in this engine,
   in the engineering and construction.
God's hand is in this engine,
   in the skill and love of creativity.

Women and men gather before the engine.
   They lay their lives in God's hands.
God's voice is in this gathering,
   in the plans and places of humans.
God's hand is in this gathering,
   in the conversation and relationships.

The engine begins with a small gathering,
   of air that God created.
God's voice is in the gathering of air,
   the same air that gives life to all.
God's hand is in this air,
   as the air begins to move.

The air begins to compress in the engine,
   God's air is gathering power.
God's voice is in the compression,
   as the engine begins to scream.
God's hand is in the compression of air,
   air pulled in tight and together.

The compressed air is ignited,
   the engine comes to a roar.
God's voice is in the ignition,
   his voice is heard and his power is felt.
God's hand is in the ignition,
   when air springs to life in it's power.

Hot gases exhaust from the engine,
   the thrust produced brings power for flight
God's voice is in the exhaust,
   loud and wonderful is the sound.
God's hand is in the exhaust,
   his creation is brought to life.

The engine powers the jet for flight,
   the birds begin to scatter.
God's voice is in the flight,
   all people praise the God of creation.
God's hand is in the flight,
   the birds proclaim God's glory.

The peace of the flight is felt,
   the clouds gather below.
God's voice is in the peace,
   the sun shines brightly here.
God's voice is in the peace,
   praise God for all things created.

Prayer
God, as I look around in nature and all of creation, I see your touch. I hear your voice. I see the movement of your hands and can do nothing but praise you for your glory and power and might. You are God and you give life to all things in all places. You are amazing!... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen



Monday, January 07, 2013

January 7th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Isaiah 43:1-7
Restoration and Protection Promised

But now thus says the Lord,
   he who created you, O Jacob,
   he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
   I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
   and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
   and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
   Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my sight,
   and honoured, and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
   nations in exchange for your life.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
   I will bring your offspring from the east,
   and from the west I will gather you;
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up’,
   and to the south, ‘Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
   and my daughters from the end of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
   whom I created for my glory,
   whom I formed and made.’

Reflection
I was talking to my grand-daughter, Kaiya, yesterday about her recent birthday. How old are you? Five! She answered with an excitement in her voice. Did you have cake and ice cream? Yea! Each answer was with a new found excitement. She was living life to the fullest. She was excited with every detail of life. Life is a new discovery for her, a gift given to find out anything and everything new and wonderful. We too, have been graciously granted new life. New life in Christ by the grace and presence of God. God gathers us in and shows us what is wonderful. God is with us always and it's exciting and new each day.

God is grace. A grace that is willing to call you by name. A grace that is willing to love you as one precious in all ways. God is grace and his love is beyond human judgment. As humans it's so easy for us to judge one another. If we don't look the same, act the same, or even believe the same and have the same opinions; we judge one another. But God sees beyond the judgment and into the person as a creation. God sees a child so wonderfully created that he wants that errant child to be all the child can be. God wants to work with us and love us to death. God is grace. It's obvious in this passage that God is grace and he means it.

God is present through all things. God is with us in the good times and the bad. God even goes into the midst of the fire with us. Even to the point that God would become flesh in Jesus and come into this world and do what we couldn't do on our own. Jesus came and gave his life for our sin. God loves us this much that he gave himself for us to show us the love that he wants us to have for him and for one another. This is the love and grace that God demonstrates in Jesus.

God gathers us in. God gathers us together as his Church. God fills us with his Spirit and gives us everything needed to accept and carry out his call in this place. Will we be bold enough to trust God and take the step to go out and do what he has called us to do? That's the faith that Abraham and so many that have gone before us have demonstrated with their lives. God calls us and gives us a purpose. As we carry out the call we are filled with the joy of the Spirit and rejoice in all that God has done for us and through us.

God is grace and God is present through all things and God gathers us in.

Prayer
Open my eyes, Lord, to all that is new and wonderful. Fill me with your love that I may love those you give to me this day in action. Go with me into this new life and teach me all along the way... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, January 06, 2013

January 6th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Epiphany of Our Lord 
Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV)
Christ revealed to the nations 

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.' "

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Reflection
We were such a small colony of people, but we had discovered how to live on this distant planet. We were originally from the planet P-3, but had to move to P-4. We weren't sure if we could survive those years so long ago, when the environment changed drastically cold. It was millions of years back we are told, but some of the historians here with us on P-4 say it may have been billions of years ago. In any case we know for certain that we came from P-3, so we have always kept a watchful eye on P-3 just to see what may be happening to our home planet.

Something significant did take place on P-3 one morning. We aren't sure if there is any life that survived on P-3, but we have been able to send a few probes that have come within 53 yags of P-3. It was impossible to see anything at this distance, so it's still a mystery to us if any life survived the cold.

The morning of the bright light led us to believe something was taking place. You didn't even need a vision enhancement device to see the bright light in the sky. It was as if this light were shining back and forth from a solar source far away and connecting to P-3. This source so far away seemed to be the source of all light. I couldn't tell if the source of light was from P-3 or the other point in the sky. It raised such excitement among all of the people on P-4. Maybe there was life just like us still on P-3! Our hearts were warmed with this exchange of light going to and from P-3. Warmed in an unusual way. Warmed to the core of our beings. Our hearts were warmed to the point of knowing that something heavenly was occurring on P-3. Something that was calling us home to P-3 from P-4. Our hearts were warmed to the point of the feeling that God must be coming to P-3.

It took about C3 for us to gather the materials and come up with the plan to send a few people back to P-3. It was a dangerous expedition, but it had to take place. If God had come to P-3 in that light we saw, we had to let the people of P-3 know that there was people on P-4 that needed that warmth and light also. The launch was successful and the communications with our three travelers was working just fine. It took C2 for our travelers to reach P-3.

Upon the travelers arrival, they discovered abundant life on P-3. Life had flourished and was awesome on P-3. The travelers found the one point of the light and it was God! It was God in a strange form. It was God in the form of a baby with a man and his wife. Our travelers were told through some mysterious ways to return to P-4 and let the people know that God had come for them to save them. God was present on P-3 and had come into the universe to save all people from evil and death. God in the form of a baby! God's Light shining brightly throughout all space and time. God was with us!

It's no wonder that all of us felt this warmth in our hearts and throughout and within ourselves. The travelers stayed long enough on P-3 to give the gifts we had sent and returned. They were joyful and our entire colony on P-4 took comfort that God was here. God was here with us in the love and Spirit of knowing that God had come in our form to our people and had come to us also.

Now as we look into the sky, we not only see that great Light shining and reflecting back and forth to P-3, but we also see that great Light shining to P-4 and back to P-3. A Light that forms a triangle and a twinkle throughout the universe announcing the coming of God to all people. A Light that shines in the darkness. A Light that enlightens everyone everywhere. A Light that is the Light of all people that darkness can not overcome. This Light had come to all the universe and warmed all with love. A Light that united all the people P-1 to P whatever. We have seen God!

Prayer
God you broke in and gave us Light. You shine your love on all hearts that we receive your Light. God in flesh and a great Light. A Light that brings the warmth of heavenly love to earthly people. A Light in Jesus our Savior. We come to honor, praise and adore you, for you have come to us to rescue us and save us from the darkness of our sin. May we be the vessels of your love to all the universe and to all those you give to us to reflect that Light of love you have placed within us. You are our Savior, you alone... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, January 05, 2013

January 5th Reflection by Bill Lynch



As with gladness men of old
Author: W. Chatterton Dix
Tune: DIX (Kocher)


1 As with gladness men of old
did the guiding star behold;
as with joy they hailed its light,
leading onward, beaming bright,
so, most gracious Lord, may we
evermore your splendor see.

2 As with joyful steps they sped
to that lowly manger bed,
there to bend the knee before
him whom heaven and earth adore,
so, may we with willing feet
ever seek the mercy seat.

3 As they offered gifts most rare
at that manger rude and bare,
so may we with holy joy,
pure and free from sin's alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to you, our heavenly King.

4 Holy Jesus, every day
keep us in the narrow way;
and when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed lives at last
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds thy glory hide.

Hymn
Author: Bill Lynch

Jesus born in Bethlehem,
wise men from the east did come.
Where's the baby to be born,
King of Jews and Lord of Lords?
In the east we saw a star,
we have traveled from afar.

When King Herod heard the news,
of this baby King of Jews,
he sought to find Jesus too,
for a ruler he was too.
Go and find this Child of God,
for I'll worship him as God.

And the wise men left that place,
t'wards the star before their face.
Jesus Christ they went to see
and before him bent the knee.
They did worship Jesus Christ,
knowing not he'd pay their price.

God did in a dream them warn,
don't reveal the place he's born.
Go back home a different way,
Jesus in your heart will stay.
Glory to our God they sang.
Jesus Son of God and man.

Prayer
God, it's awesome that you would come to us in flesh. It's awesome that you would shine so brightly that all the world can find you. It's awesome that you sacrificed in our stead. It's awesome the life you give. It's awesome the healing you bring. May all people live their lives for you in the hope and faith and love that only you can give... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Friday, January 04, 2013

January 4th Reflection by Bill Lynch



Matthew 2:1-12
The Visit of the Wise Men

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
   who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’

 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Reflection
The time had come just as I was told. I was told that some day my time would come and I would shine brightly. I would shine not due to my own light, but due to the light from within me and the light that reflects from me. I was told that when the time was just right the bright light that came from within me and through me would point to something that all things would want to see. I was told all of this by my Creator. That time had come and boy was the Light great.

I could see everything below me. The Light in me shown so brightly at the time decided by the Creator, that I could see clearly all of the happenings on the earth that was many thousands of miles below me. I could see the birth of a Child in a small town on earth. I could see the progress of some men travelling from east on this earth. These men were following the Light coming from me. I was like a big spotlight that shown on the most important thing that would ever happen in the universe. So, these men followed that Light until they arrived where the Child was living.

Then I saw these men give gifts to the Child. They worshiped the Child. The men knew something great had taken place but really didn't understand the full impact of it all. But I could tell even from this great distance of mine that they too had received a Light that would shine from within and reflect out. They too had seen the Savior and there time had come just as my time had come and the Child's time had come, at just the perfect moment.

Even from this distance of mine, I could see it. All who saw this Child had a glow of Light from within their hearts that shown from within. And the Light of this Child reflected from these people throughout all the world. The Light that was life and love bringing deep joy to all people.

Prayer
Lord, may your Light shine brightly from within me and through me that all the world may come to you and believe in you as Savior and King... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, January 03, 2013

January 3rd Reflection by Bill Lynch



Matthew 2:1-12
The Visit of the Wise Men

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
   who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’

 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Reflection
Bethlehem, the house of bread. What an appropriate meaning to the town that God would choose to come to and be born in flesh. Just as the manna came from above and fell to the Israelites in the wilderness, God has sent Jesus from above to fall among all people. Bethlehem, the house of bread. How can you not recall communion and the body of Christ that is taken and eaten and comes into the center of your very being and becomes a part of you in such a close manner. "This is my body given for you."

Contrast Jesus and our Bread of Life with Herod. Both kings but in striking difference. Herod a king of power and might in an earthly sense, compared to Jesus a king of love and humility in a heavenly sense. A contrast that puts on display the heavenly and the earthly thinking of a king. The differences brought forth by the Holy Spirit's indwelling in Jesus. The purpose of life in contrast. One gives life and the other takes life.

A sign in the star was given to the wise men. A sign from above. A sign far above. A heavenly sign that points to Jesus. Sometimes I think the star lit so brightly not because of the stars great light, but because it was a heavenly being reflecting the light of Jesus now on earth. We are given a heavenly sign to follow. We are given Jesus to draw us in and a sign to follow. As we search for Jesus we find Jesus has found us and attracted us and is always near us. We too reflect the light of Jesus and point to him as Lord and Savior.

Yet, we are not of the Chosen People. We are of the foreigners. We are coming to see Jesus, a Jew of the Chosen People. We come to see Jesus and Jesus comes to us that we may believe and become Children of God. God loves us too! Jesus was sent for you and me too! We come to worship and offer our humble gift of our very best to Jesus. Not that Jesus needs us, but that we need Jesus. Jesus is our King and we choose to stay with him rather than return to that old king of sin and death. Jesus brings life and light for all people. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Jesus, you are my Light and my life. I come in worship to praise and honor you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen