Friday, May 30, 2014

May 30th Reflection by Bill Lynch

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Hang in there always seemed like useless and insulting advice to me. It always seems like it's the last thing the person can think of to say to you. The last bit of advice when all else has failed. But when I hear this advice coming from God, I get it. Jesus did "hang in there" for you and for me. Jesus knows the subject matter of which he speaks. God intentionally became flesh and blood in order to know us and to be like us so that he could love us deeper than anything. A "Hang in there" from God means it all to me.

If I know a friend has been through the experience that I am enduring, the "Hang in there" brings with it a compassion and a caring. But if I know that the friend has never experienced what I am enduring the "Hang in there" seems to take on little meaning. I would rather that they just sit and listen and learn.

And this is where the humility comes in. Am I willing to receive the love and compassion and help of another person when I'm enduring a situation in life? Or do I just walk away from the offering of help from a friend, neighbor, Christian?

I think Jesus came into this world and "Hung in there" for each of us. For each of us so that we would humble ourselves and realize that we can't do this on our own. We need Jesus to "Hang in there" for all of us. We need to realize that we need the help and salvation of Jesus as he "Hangs in there" for all the world. We need Jesus and we also need each other.

Sometimes it's easier to give and dole out a "Hang in there" than it is to receive the love and compassion of another person's help when we are in trouble. Yes, I think first we must become humble and realize that we need the help of other's and the ultimate help of Jesus "Hang in there." We must be able to receive the love of God through Christ Jesus in order to give the love of God from within ourselves. We must receive Jesus "Hang in there" love before we can live to give that love to all the world.

So? So, now what? "Hang in there." Receive the love of Jesus as he "Hung in there" for you and for me and for all the world. Then live to give that love to all that God gives to you each day.

"Hang in there!"

Thanks be to God!

Not a song, but rather an emphasis on God's great "Hang in there."

Lord, I receive your wonderful gift of life. I give you thanks for "Hanging in there" for me and for all people. May I live the life you have chosen for me to live and give that same love to all you give to me... today... tomorrow, and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35
To the leader. Of David. A Psalm. A Song.

Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
   let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
   as wax melts before the fire,
   let the wicked perish before God.
But let the righteous be joyful;
   let them exult before God;
   let them be jubilant with joy.

Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
   lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds—
his name is the Lord—
   be exultant before him.

Father of orphans and protector of widows
   is God in his holy habitation.
God gives the desolate a home to live in;
   he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
   but the rebellious live in a parched land.

O God, when you went out before your people,
   when you marched through the wilderness,

the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain
   at the presence of God, the God of Sinai,
   at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
   you restored your heritage when it languished;
your flock found a dwelling in it;
   in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth;
   sing praises to the Lord,

O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
   listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
Ascribe power to God,
   whose majesty is over Israel;
   and whose power is in the skies.
Awesome is God in his sanctuary,
   the God of Israel;
   he gives power and strength to his people.

Blessed be God!

As this week unfolds and we draw our eyes upward towards the heaven and see Jesus rising into the clouds, we recall his presence with us. We remember the times that God was by our side. Even throughout history God has always been with his people. Leading them out of slavery. Giving them kings when they didn't need human kings. Permitting his Word to be proclaimed through all the prophets. And in the coming of Jesus, his birth, his ministry, his healing, his teaching, his suffering, his death, his resurrection and his gracious gift of life freely given to all people. Yes, as this week unfolds and we come to look to the heavens to see the risen Christ ascend into heaven to sit by the Father in all glory...  we gaze... yes we remember... yes we worship our God.

We reach out heavenward with our arms outstretched to touch once again the robe of Jesus as he ascends into heaven. We open our arms, our hands, our hearts to feel his presence close once again. He was just with us and walking the dusty roads by our sides and now he is disappearing into the clouds out of our sight. How the memory of all the acts of God come to us strongly and clearly now that we see Jesus ascending to the Father.

Our minds wander to that promised time when we will see Jesus return once again in the clouds. When Jesus comes back this sinful place in which we live to take us home with him to the Father. How our minds pretend that this day is only moments away and each time we look to the clouds we think we see the image of Jesus returning. How richly do we feel the presence of Jesus saving grace in our hearts and in our lives.

Yet, it's not quite time yet. It's not that day yet. We wait, yet somehow we feel Jesus' presence so closely that we can smell him, and feel the cloth of his robes in the clothes of those near and dear to us, here and now.

Yes, how we feel Jesus and hear his voice in the homeless person, in the addicted, in the hungry, in the preachers and teachers of God's Word all around us. How we see Jesus presence in the Bread and the Wine and in the servers of the soup kitchens and in the nurses and doctors that care for our every human need. How we hear the compassion of Jesus in the counselors and in the friends that take the time to hear our every fear and pain and problem in life. How we know the presence of Jesus in spouses and daughter and sons and relatives as we gather together in family. Oh... how we know the presence of Jesus in the men and women with whom we gather together at churches and sanctuaries and coffee shops and pubs all over this world to discuss God's Word and the life saving actions that Jesus has done for all the people.

Yes, we look to the heavens and see Jesus disappear into the clouds, yet we know his presence and his Spirit is still with us and in us and among us so strongly. We are left here to spread this Word... this life saving Word... this Word... this Command... this Law... this Love of God that God has come to us to stay with us because God loves us too much to let us die in our sin.

What a contrast of feelings. From illness and weakness and death to life in Jesus. What a contrast as we see Jesus ascending out of sight, our feelings of his presence are so close we burst forth into spontaneous praise and worship of God. Yes... as we see Jesus disappear into those clouds we know the Love of God and sing with One voice.

"O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
   listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
Ascribe power to God,
   whose majesty is over Israel;
   and whose power is in the skies.
Awesome is God in his sanctuary,
   the God of Israel;
   he gives power and strength to his people.

Blessed be God!"


Lord, as I gaze towards heaven and see the clouds of this day, I feel your presence in your people and in your creation and in your love. May I eternally proclaim to all you give to me the Love you have shown to all the world... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Acts 1:6-14
 So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’
 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

When O Lord, when? We all want to know when. When is Jesus coming again? It seems to me the answer here is plain and simple... Don't worry about it! Don't put all of your time and effort in trying to figure out when Jesus will come again. Don't spend a bunch of your writing, typing, talking or preaching, trying to place some great emphasis on when Jesus will come again... that's the Father's work... OK... enough of that already!

But... we ARE told about the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will come upon us as his disciples, the Holy Spirit will come to us, gather us, enlighten us and keep us in the one true faith. Sound familiar to some? Luther's explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles Creed puts it this way...

What does this mean?
I believe that I cannot by my own
  understanding or effort
believe in Jesus Christ my Lord,
  or come to him.
But the Holy Spirit has called me
  through the Gospel,
enlightened me with this gifts,
and sanctified and kept me in true faith.

In the same way he calls, gathers,
  enlightens, and sanctifies
the whole Christian church on earth,
and keeps it united with Jesus Christ
  in the one true faith.

In this Christian church day after day
he fully forgives my sins
and the sins of all believers.
On the last day he will raise me and all
  the dead
and give me and all believers in Christ
  eternal life.

This is most certainly true.

Greg Havey, one of my students in a High School Sunday School class I taught years ago would say that the answer to all questions was "Pray and go to Church." According to this explanation and this passage, perhaps his answer would be correct. Jesus ascends into heaven, the Holy Spirit comes to us and we gather together. We don't just gather together to comfort and console one another, although that is one reason, but we gather together to seek God's will and God's way and God's purpose for our lives individually and as a Church, and we gather to worship and praise our God as one people.

And yes... we will go out! Go out from our assemblies empowered by the Holy Spirit to witness to what God has done for all the world in Jesus Christ... Savior... King... Ascended One... Redeemer of all the world. Yes, we go out and tell, so that all the world may come to believe in the Love of God shown through the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of all the world.

When will Jesus come again? Who cares? I don't have time for that! God the Father has that all figured out. I know that I must go and tell about Jesus life saving gift to all in my world.


Lord, as I go out this day, may all I meet come to see your saving grace in my words, in my life and in Your Love... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25th Reflection by Bill Lynch + Some comments from me!

Just a note... from me... Bill,

It's been a considerable amount of time since my last post. I have been ill, went on vacation and ill again. Crohn's disease can drag me down at times to a point that I feel I can barely continue just to hold a job. But that has everything to do with the fact that I know that God walks right by my side through the ups and downs of life both physically and spiritually.

I strongly support the concept of at a minimum following one of the Bible reading plans I have mentioned in the past. Even when times are low and some things just seem out of reach, these daily readings come to mean so much in the daily living of life and the call and direction that God may be calling. The calling at times is just to rest and the at other times is to get up and go!

Here is a copy from a previous post of the Bible reading plans I have used in the past that have blessed my life. Please consider using one or another you may find. I haven't checked out the links recently, but I'm sure a Google search could be of use also:

Now, on to a few Bible Reading Plans I have used. I started with reading five chapters a day beginning to end. To me this was gruesome. It was more of a chore than a joy. Then I moved to a classic plan which was much better --- but for the past few years I have loved the one I am currently using --- This gives you 25 days per month. I enjoy the five or six days of grace and each day you will read Old Testament, Letters, Psalms, and Gospels. This has been my favorite plan for years.

I'm not sure if I should continue the email list unless I receive some feedback that I am not intruding upon the vast amounts of email that I'm sure people receive. So, I would ask you to kindly respond to if you desire to be removed from the email listing. No offense will be taken. I will continue to post to Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest. Pinterest has been a bit of an experiment for me (in other words... I don't know what I'm doing!).

Now, on to the good stuff!

John 14:15-21
 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

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

I visited Graceland yesterday! Before you get too excited that maybe I saw Elvis... I didn't. This was Graceland Cemetery in Sidney Ohio. I lived in Sidney until the age of seven and then my family moved to Middletown. I was in the middle of 2nd grade at the time. Of course we visited Sidney often for Thanksgiving and so many other times. My mom really missed living in Sidney and she really missed her close family so Saturday trips were not uncommon.

When Sue and I visit Sidney we always stop at the Spot, a local diner in the middle of town. Drive around to see the house on Washington Street and usually visit Graceland. This being Memorial Day weekend, we stopped by to visit all of the grave sites we could find of all the relatives who have died. Most of my family, at least on my mother's side were Lutheran. So we include a drive by of St. Johns Lutheran Church where I was baptized.

Today's Scripture reminds me of the faith of all of my relative who have died. It reminds me of how even though I don't see them physically, they are ingrained into my life. They are part of who I am and how I am, even if they wouldn't admit to that!

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he assured the disciples, and that includes me and many of you also, that there would be the Advocate with us forever. The Spirit of Truth. Jesus is Truth as well. So in this, we can rest assured that God is always with us.. with us in life... with us in death... with us forever. God does not leave us alone... in pain... in suffering... in illness... in poverty... in addiction... in loneliness... in sin... in anything. God does NOT leave us alone!

In this presence of God, which sometimes even takes the form of relatives, of people, of nature, of the Word, in the Sacraments, and in the lives of those disciples who witness to the Truth, we experience Love. And in this experience of Love; we see Jesus.

So as Sue and I visited the grave sites of many relatives at Graceland, as we toured the small town of Sidney, as we ate Old Fashioned Cream pie at the Spot, we were one in spirit with so many other disciples, past, present and future in the Love of God. Yes, we experienced the presence of Jesus and the Truth that only God could reveal in the lives of those past and present and those yet to be.

The Spirit of God moves and the Love of God spreads... even at the grave sites at Graceland... what an appropriate name! All due to the love of God in Christ Jesus and the gift of the Advocate the Holy Spirit that transcends all time and space... Yes, God has revealed Love and will continue to reveal himself to all people throughout all time.

Thanks be to God!

Here is a song by Chris Tomlin that reminds me of the impact that the Love of God and the Holy Spirit has on the lives of all Jesus' disciples, past, present and future. Oh, how I long to sing in unison and in parts this song of Awakening before the Throne of God in praise to the One Truth and Love.

Come Holy Spirit come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

May 8th Reflection - Sometimes it's Silence! - by Bill Lynch

1 Peter 2:19-25
For it is to your credit if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, where is the credit in that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.
‘He committed no sin,
   and no deceit was found in his mouth.’
When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Reflection - Sometimes it's Silence!
This is some tough message! Especially for those of us who live in the United States as Christians. To think that we are persecuted by any stretch of the imagination to the extent that persecution is mentioned in this passage would be just imagination. We are not persecuted physically or mentally or on purpose to the point that we suffer hardship, if any, unless it is hardship that we exaggerate in our own minds.

Yet, in other countries of this world, I do read about persecution. I read in the news about Christians captured and tortured for their faith and some even put to death, especially in some African counties. I have heard speeches from the very captives themselves at Global Mission Events about the experiences they had to endure and it was shocking when I compare their situation to any type of persecution that I have faced in the United States.

So, I keep this in the back of my mind. I am an advocate for those who are really persecuted for their Christian beliefs, but what really hits home for me in this passage is the notion of how my words in response to a debate on my Christian beliefs can harm rather than do any good.

When I look upon how Jesus responded to those who accused him, I am humbled...

"‘He committed no sin,
   and no deceit was found in his mouth.’
When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly."

How many times, when I was challenged for my beliefs and for many other things as well, have I responded with like verbal abuse? How many times have I gone on the defensive and played vicious offense in response to something I didn't agree with? How many times have my words hurt the other person?

I'm guilty and we all are guilty I'm sure. I've seen it happen all around. I've seen this type of abuse come from the mouths of people you would least expect. And this is the sin that we can come to realize and repent of in mass. We all are guilty and must look to Jesus as our guide, our example, our Savior. Jesus' example of how to handle persecution and even disagreement is our guide to how we can also act if we but slow down our anger and tame our tongue.

So, for me, this passage points out a sinful, selfish, sin in my life that I can reach out for forgiveness and pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and change in my life. How about you?

How I need the Holy Spirit to tame my evil tongue when I speak hurtful words and words full of revenge. This song reminds me of the changes needed in me as I seek forgiveness and change.

Lord, slow my thoughts down, ease my anger, when I am challenged for my faith. Forgive my harmful words spoken and acted out. Place the correct loving words into my mouth that need to be said or take away those words that are useless and harmful. Lead me to see your will and your way in what I say and what I do... today... tomorrow... and forever.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

May 7th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Psalm 23
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
   He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
   he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
   for his name’s sake.

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

You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
   my whole life long.

We all suffer from something. No one gets a free ticket from pain or sorrow or loneliness. We all suffer in some way because we live in a fallen world. We were born into a fallen world of sin and death. But this fact doesn't mean it's the end of us.

We all also live in community with one another. We gather together as sheep in the pasture. We come together in our own fears and pains to be individual yet in communion with one another. And in this community we are led.

We are led to the waters for restoration of our bodies and souls. We are led to the table to commune with the One who has created each and all of us and cares for all and each of us. We are blessed by the One who carefully takes care of our needs and anoints us with the touch of love and salvation.

And we are led to the realization that even though we all suffer from something we are all and each loved by the One. The One who came to feel exactly what it is like to be a sheep. The One who lived and died in our place in order that this fallen, sinful world would not be the end of it all. The One who will come again to lead us to eternal life where there will be no more tears or death or pain. The One who took all of this upon himself and rose again in order that we might believe in the One whom the Father loved and in that love gave to all people to follow. Yes, even as Jesus is in heaven, he gave us his Spirit so that the One may still be present with us until that final hope is fulfilled, and all throughout space and time, will gather in communion and worship the One... the only One.

As sheep we gather and as sheep we follow and as sheep we listen and as sheep we are loved by the One. And as sheep each and all... we "shall dwell in the house of the Lord
   my whole life long."


Lord, when I'm fallen in the pain and the illness that is in this world, may I look to the flock of sheep and to you my Savior and Lord for the hope of eternal restoration. Use me this day to bring this same hope to another sheep in your pasture through the love you have taught. Guide my words and my actions... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

May 6th Reflection - Come Together - by Bill Lynch

Acts 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Reflection - Come Together
We will come together in times of crisis. It seems that the news shows this more and more as developments are instantly available for all of the world to witness. We see women and men banding together with one voice as we protest the taking of girls from a school in Africa. We see people coming together to help each other as tornadoes strike in the southern United States.

People come together to help one another when in need. The early Church was much the same. People came together after the resurrection of Jesus to live with one another and to help each other along as they were rejected by society and family and friends.

But as we look to the Church today, we see people leaving one another over differences. We see people coming together in unity over differences and leaving those who they once would commune with in the same space. We see people in need avoiding the Church all together because the world has lost sight of the Savior and many think it is all a story or a myth of old.

Yes, it seems today instead of coming together at the feet of the crucified Christ and falling to the feet of the resurrected Jesus we divide over political disagreements or opinions or loosely held convictions. Where is the Holy Spirit in all of this? Where is the common meal in all of this? Where are the generous hearts of the people praising God in all of this? Where are the people being added day by day to the Lord's number?

What's wrong with this world? What's wrong with the churches? What's wrong, that causes all of the division. We multiply yet their are those that have their minds set to divide! It all must stop. The Church is so much larger than any one of us or even all of us. The Church is so much more than we can imagine. God is so much larger than we think and God is so much closer than we realize.

As I reflect on the ministry, the suffering, the death and the resurrection of Jesus; I witness a man and yes more than a man, the God, that came into this world not to divide but to multiply and gather. Jesus gathered disciples and taught them to give. Give away their very lives and occupations to follow him... and him being God. Jesus healed the suffering and gathered the people together in crowds to hear God's Word spoken. Jesus was the Word in flesh for all people to see and hear... not only in that space and time... but throughout all space and time. Yes, Jesus came to gather us at the foot of the cross to witness the sacrifice for all the sin of this world. The sin that divides and separates and condemns. Our sin... our evil... We are gathered at the foot of the cross to witness our sin and our evil die upon that cross and be carted off to the tomb forever.

Yet, that wasn't the end. Jesus rose again. He couldn't be held by the tomb but rose again to multiply. And then he ascended into heaven with a promise to come again. But until that time we would be given the Holy Spirit to lead and guide and give us the gifts that we need to continue to speak this Word to all the world in order that all people would have a chance to believe and multiply and come together as one.

We have all we need. We have been given more than enough by God. We must take this Word into all the world and offer this salvation. Not in order to project some agenda of our own... not in order to put people in the pews of our church or on the numbers of a denomination... but in order for people to be able to see the risen Savior of all the world. In order that all people may come to be disciples of Jesus and live eternal life in and with God here and now.

Forget about the multiplying and give up on the dividing, let's just spread the wonderful Word of a Savior... yes the One God that came to grant forgiveness of sin, and free us from the fire of hell to bring us to the resurrection of life with God. Jesus wants us to be with him forever. Jesus' love is that great that he wants all of us to live eternal life with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit forever and ever.

No, we don't need to multiply and we certainly don't need to divide... we need to see the risen Jesus and come to him and follow him and believe in him and be his and his alone as Jesus leads us through this life of sin and death into a life of eternal hope and joy in God.

And yes we come together. We come together in the unity of God to commune and care one for another. We come together to learn. We come together for the girls in Africa, we come together to rebuild after the storms, we come together to comfort those who mourn, we come together to feed the hungry, we come together to visit the prisoner, we come together to set the homeless back to a life they can live, we come together to read to the children, we come together to love one another, we come together to go out from the pews of our churches and serve and live out the love of God day by day. We come together to praise and glorify God our Savior, our Creator, the One who sustains all life. Yes...

"Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved."


Lord, may your Word simply and truly and honestly spread through your disciples that all the world may come to you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, May 02, 2014

May 2nd Reflection - Open your eyes! Open your heart! - by Bill Lynch

Luke 24:13-35
 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

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

Reflection - Open your eyes! Open your heart!
A walk... A new friend... A Bible study... An invitation... A meal... A Communion... A vision...

How wonderful this passage is to me. I love to walk. I'll walk the dogs by myself, I'll walk with someone else and sometimes I walk with someone else while walking the dogs. Once in a while, I'll walk by myself. But in this passage a couple of friends meet up with Jesus and take a walk.

During the walk these friends don't realize that it's Jesus that joined them. But as they give an account of the happenings of the day, which just happen to be the biggest happenings since creation; Jesus opens their minds to the Bible and all of it's prophecy and meaning.

As the two stop for the evening, Jesus was going to go on, but they ask Jesus to stay with them. They invite Jesus to pause with them in life and spend some time together. And Jesus does just this. Jesus takes time to have a meal and as the "Bread of Life" breaks the bread, and the minds of the two are opened, and the hearts of the two are opened to realize that this is Jesus! This is the Savior! This is God in their presence.

At the breaking of Bread... we see Jesus! As the Bible is opened... we see Jesus! As we form in the Communion of all the saints... we see Jesus! Yes... even at the invitation... we see Jesus!

And then... then... Jesus is gone! Jesus vanished! Jesus disappeared!

So what is left? We are left to ponder the greeting along the road... the meeting of a stranger who was Jesus. We are left to think about the breaking of the bread... the meal with one another... the communion of souls together. Yes, we are left with the vision of Jesus firmly etched into our memories and burning within our hearts. We are left with the Savior with us even though Jesus has vanished.

I think we are left with the Holy Spirit to remind us of Jesus' presence in our lives, in our hearts, in our spirit and in our mind. Jesus is with us walking along our side... maybe not physically at all times... maybe not in a form or the flesh we recognize... but Jesus is with us and all around us and within us.

We are left with hope. Even in the midst of this world of pain, illness, death and sin that we still live in and walk in and have conversation in, we are left with the hope of the resurrection of Jesus. A resurrection that didn't come easy. A resurrection that was preceded by rejection, pain, suffering and even death. Yes, we are left with hope in the resurrection of Jesus and our own resurrection, because of Jesus.

We are left with Jesus! Without a doubt! Just look around! I've seen Jesus in the prisoner... in the homeless... in the sick... yes... we are left with Jesus! We are left to see with our own hearts the resurrected Jesus, the resurrected Messiah, the resurrected Savior. We are left to see with our own hearts. We are left to see God!

No doubt about it.

open the eyes of my heart lord sonicflood

Lord, open my mind to your presence. Give me the assurance I need that you are always there. Because you are! Even when I don't realize it, I find you are here with me. I give you thanks and praise and glorify you for your presence in my life. Open the eyes of all people to see your loving, saving action and grace that all may come to believe in you as Savior and Lord... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, May 01, 2014

May 1st Reflection by Bill Lynch

1 Peter 1:17-23
 If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.

 Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

We weren't saved by human standards, like the paying of a debt. We were saved by the blood of God through Jesus as a sacrifice. A salvation that came to us when we were at the end of it all. The end of ourselves and the end of our time.

This passage reveals God's love that is so deep that God planned for a way of salvation before the foundation of the world. Sure, we have a choice. God has given us the freedom to act. But now God has revealed in Jesus a choice for salvation also. God has revealed the Truth in Jesus for all the world to be able to make this choice.

I remember from catechism days, Luther's explanation to the Second Article of the Apostle's Creed...

“I believe that Jesus Christ -- true God, Son of the Father from eternity, and true man, born of the Virgin Mary -- is my Lord. At great cost he has saved and redeemed me, a lost and condemned person. He has freed me from sin, death, and the power of the devil -- not with silver or gold, but with his holy and precious blood and his innocent suffering and death.”

Reciting this in front of the confirmation class and Pastor Bergdall set into my mind just a hint of the depth of the love God has for me and for all people, past, present and future. That God would come through eternity and become flesh in order to save me... a lost and condemned person. What love! And with his holy and precious blood and his innocent suffering and death at that!

How deep the love of God for me, for us, but also how deep the love and trust I now have for God. A trust that as I see my perishable body age and decay and die; I can rest assured that through Jesus' resurrection, I still have a spirit that will live in the love and life of God with Christ Jesus my Savior. And the hope and trust that some day... some day... there will be that wondrous resurrection of the dead to follow Jesus into his Kingdom. And all of this has begun here and now. All of eternity with God is available and present here and now and forever to those who believe and follow Jesus. Thanks be to God!


Lord, what a great cost you have paid for me and for all people. May we all come to see and place all of our trust and hope in this great Love that we become your disciples and follow you in trust, faith, hope and deep faith in what you have already done for us... at a great cost to Jesus. You are God, Father, Savior, Advocate.. today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen