Sunday, August 31, 2014

August 31st Reflection by Bill Lynch


Matthew 16:21-28
 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
 Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

 ‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’

Reflection
What's your frame of mind? How do you set your goals? What is the focus of all of your ambition and action? What's your vision? What's your purpose? What's your mission? I've heard all of these expressions so many times through my life. Especially in the corporate world. They always began with the "your" aspect before they proceeded to the "our" aspect of thinking.

It seems to me in this passage Jesus isn't thinking about "your" as in himself, or even "our" as in Jesus and us. Jesus is thinking more on the lines of "all" and the "other" aspect of frame of mind, goals, focus, vision, purpose and mission. That's a change from the worldly thinking that is common to most of our culture.

Jesus encourages the setting of the mind on divine things and not on human things. Most human things seem to have a beginning and an ending with decay in-between. But divine things don't have a beginning or and ending and seem to have all growth in-between.

With this in mind we all can afford to give up the human which begins, decays and ends, to focus on the divine which does not begin and grows into eternity forever. Yes, we can deny ourselves just as Jesus stated. We can take up the cross and follow Jesus. For if the end of human things in death... why not take up the divine frame of mind, goals, focus of ambition and action, vision, purpose and mission? Jesus is going to show all creation the way to do this. Jesus is going to lead all the "human" towards the "divine." Through Jesus alone can we proceed from the "human" to the "divine." All through the intense focus that Jesus is about to display for all humanity to see throughout all time from this scripture passage forward.

I guess that's where Jesus states... "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." That statement applies to "all" before the beginning and after the "end." We "all" have been graciously given this opportunity through Jesus birth, life, ministry, healing, suffering, death and resurrection. A wonderful divine gift given to all!

What's your frame of mind? How do you set your goals? What is the focus of all of your ambition and action? What's your vision? What's your purpose? What's your mission?

I think it's time to change. I think it's time to change my frame of mind from the "human" to the "divine." I think it's time we all approach our love for God in Christ Jesus with active love for God and for the "other"... all the "others" that God chooses to set in our lives.

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rTlhRO0E8k

Prayer
Lord, when my frame of mind slips into that "human" aspect of living; forgive me and lead me towards your gracious frame of mind in the "divine." Help me to think of the "other" as I live this life loving you and all you give to me... "all" those you give... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 30th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Romans 12:9-21
 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Reflection
I can remember so many discussions in a Saturday Morning Men's Group about how to deal with loving the other guy you just can't stand. I can remember the awareness we all had that even "that other" guy was created by God and loved by God enough that God sent Jesus into this world to save "that other" guy as well as ourselves. I can remember the struggle we all go through with caring and loving the enemy. It's easy to love the guys in our Saturday Morning Men's Group. We all know one another and share our lives and emotions. We all understand the differences in each other and even our differences in beliefs that we can't understand in one another. Yet we agree to accept one another anyway.

But, oh how difficult it is away from the Saturday Morning Men's Group to accept the differences of "that other" guy! Yet we struggle to do such in our lives.

It's not about us, it's about God's love for all the people of this world in which we live.

This passage seems to speak to me about this subject and drive home the need to not give up our faith but continue in the faith that God has instilled in us and take that faith and love of God to all that God gives to us each day... even "that other" guy.

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrGZmTlOCr4

Prayer
Lord, help me to see your love for "that other" guy that I too may live out a life of love for him through what you see and not through what I judge... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Exodus 3:1-15
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

 Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’
 But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.” ’ God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”:
This is my name for ever,
and this my title for all generations.

Reflection
God turns our heads. We can't help but to stop when we recognize the presence of God. Just as Moses saw the angel of God appearing in the burning bush; Moses couldn't help but to stop and see what this occurrence of a bush burning yet not being consumed by the fire. It reminds me of what King Nebuchadnezzar saw in the furnace when he had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown into the furnace. They weren't consumed by the fire! And look! There appears a fourth person walking in the midst of the fire!

Oh, how God turns our heads. God turns our heads to see his angels in so many places if only we stop to look and see the fourth person. I've seen the eyes of Jesus in prisoners in reform. I've seen the eyes of Jesus in the homeless taking all the steps available to them to gain housing and employment for themselves and their family. I've see the eyes of Jesus in the sick person in the hospital bed living in the hope of a God that will love them now and through death. I've seen the eyes of Jesus in the eyes of spouses mourning the death of their loved and loving husband or wife. I've seen the eyes of Jesus in the eyes of a friend that lost a son to a tragic accident. I've seen the eyes of Jesus in the eyes of a young child finally able to go across the monkey bars alone.

If not the eyes of Jesus then the voice of angels speaking and and caring for me through actions in my life and my own situations of joy and pain. Yes, God turns our heads. And in the turning of our heads, God proclaims a name of I AM. Yes, God is! God is present in all the places of our lives. God is present with us and calls out a name of I AM.

God turns our heads and open our mouths to proclaim the glory of God as our own I AM and the I AM of all the world. God moves our hands and feet to actions of love for our neighbor. Neighbors of all sorts that God gives to us daily. God calls us and gifts us with all that we need to love those God places in our lives no matter who they are, no matter what race or religion or anything else that makes them peculiar from ourselves. All because God loves all of creation and sent Jesus to this earth to defeat the evil powers of sin, death and the devil that attempt to separate us and all people from God.

Yes, God turns our heads! Pay attention. Stop and look and see and then Go in his great and glorious name... I AM.

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vnqb7Vn4AEE

Prayer
Lord, open my eyes that I may see you and go in active love to do your will... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Jeremiah 15:15-21
O Lord, you know;
   remember me and visit me,
   and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.
In your forbearance do not take me away;
   know that on your account I suffer insult.
Your words were found, and I ate them,
   and your words became to me a joy
   and the delight of my heart;
for I am called by your name,
   O Lord, God of hosts.
I did not sit in the company of merrymakers,
   nor did I rejoice;
under the weight of your hand I sat alone,
   for you had filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain unceasing,
   my wound incurable,
   refusing to be healed?
Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook,
   like waters that fail.

Therefore, thus says the Lord:
If you turn back, I will take you back,
   and you shall stand before me.
If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,
   you shall serve as my mouth.
It is they who will turn to you,
   not you who will turn to them.
And I will make you to this people
   a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you,
   but they shall not prevail over you,
for I am with you
   to save you and deliver you,
says the Lord.
I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
   and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

Reflection
Jeremiah is one to complain and complain to God boldly and loudly. Likewise God will return the response boldly and loudly.

We all tend to complain. I complain and you complain as well. The pain of living can be sharp and on-going. A pain that never seems to cease or go away. Yet, you look around and see people who are not in pain and live joyful lives. Why? Why do some people suffer and other people endure pain?

It's been like this throughout history. But the key, it seems to me, that God is suggesting, is that with God we can endure the pain. With God we can focus. With God and not on our own can we live this life of pain and this life of joy. For in our perspective, we only see a part of it all. In God's perspective the pain and the joy all are part of life. If all of life were joy, I'm sure I would find the pain. I would find something to complain about and I would complain boldly and loudly to God just as Jeremiah.

This is not to ignore the reality of pain or lessen the complexities of pain. Pain is real and our endurance lasts for only so long. Then we must turn to God. And yet this turning to God is just what God seeks and waits upon. God wants a relationship with us in the midst of pain and in the midst of joy.

Therefore, thus says the Lord:
If you turn back, I will take you back,
   and you shall stand before me.
If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,
   you shall serve as my mouth.
It is they who will turn to you,
   not you who will turn to them.

Oh, how we resist the turning back to God. But God will always take us back. Especially when we realize that we need God with all of our life.

One thing we can rest assured throughout all of our bold complaints...

for I am with you
   to save you and deliver you,
says the Lord.

That's God! That's my Savior!
Thanks be to God!

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPkh1Cgbh4U

Prayer
Lord, hear my bold cry from the midst of this ongoing pain and suffering. As I turn to you, I look for your deliverance... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 24th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Matthew 16:13-20
 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Reflection
Who do people say I am? Who do people say you are? I guess the answer to this question could vary widely. The answer would vary according to the audience that the question was being posed. The answer to this question would vary depending on the location that you posed the question. If I were to ask some people that did not even know me this question I would get a completely different answer than if I were to ask this question to friends, to family, to co-workers, to competitors, to those that loan money. to people in the church I attend, to people in churches I don't attend, to people in Egypt, to people in Middletown, to people in my neighborhood. This list goes on and on to what answer I could expect from this question.

First Jesus asks, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" Then Jesus makes it personal, "But who do you say that I am."

We are judged by our words and our actions. We are judged by what we say and what we don't say and by what we do and what we don't do. All kinds of people judge by word and action our motives every day. Sometimes we are approved and many times we are not approved. The judgment is based on the values of the one judging and the values of the one being judged. Sometimes the judgment is based on appearance and sometimes the judgment is blind to appearance. Who do people say that I am and who do you say that I am? What a question!

I could just stand up and quote Scripture...
“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God..."
(Luke 12:8)

But that is hollow and leaves the hearer wanting the answer to the question... Who do you say that I am?

For sure, as a Child of God, I certainly acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. I see the proofs in scripture and through the history of the Church. How could I deny this as a follower, as a disciple of Jesus? But for me to recognize Jesus as the Messiah; I tested the Word and researched his actions. I looked at the Gospel and evaluated and asked all the questions. I still do this and will always question and evaluate. But none of this draws me to the firm conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah. It couldn't. I can't understand how this could be and will never understand this as a result of my own power of thinking. I can only accept this through faith.

After all... even if I were to ask "people" or even you or even friends and family; "Who do you say that I am?" the answers would vary so widely that no conclusion could be obtained. So, how am I to expect to be able to answer who Jesus is by my own reasoning or strength.

And this brings me to Luther's question to the meaning of the Third Article of the Apostles Creed.

Third Article Apostles Creed 
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of 
saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life  
everlasting. Amen. 

What does this mean? (Luther's Explanation)

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 his gifts, and sanctified and kept me in true faith.
In the same way he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Chris‐
tian church on earth and keeps it united with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
In the Christian church day after day he fully forgives my sins and the sins of all
believers.  Only on the last day will he raise me and all the dead and give me
and all believers in Christ eternal life.

This is most certainly true!

So, who do you say Jesus is? How do you come to say that Jesus is the Messiah? For me, this involves the love of God, family, and above all else God's Word and God's action in Jesus coming down to me and to all people to live and give his life for me, one who does not deserve to be saved, yet out of love God chose to save me and all people.

The audience, the location or any of those other situations mentioned above fade when I call Jesus Messiah. For God sent Jesus not just for me but for all the people of creation to bring all creation into a harmonious relationship with God once again... just like God always wanted it. Jesus my and your Messiah that comes to us and calls us and gathers us and enlightens us and brings us into the one true faith... day after day... fully forgiving my sins and the sins of all believers.

"For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven."

Who do you say Jesus is? Do you believe what you say? Why?

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwJzTV1uurU

Prayer
Lord of all, I believe... I don't know why I believe, but I believe! I believe that you are the Messiah. I believe but I don't understand. I believe because you alone are the one who came down from heaven to rescue me and save me from sin, death and the devil. You alone are the one who came down and gave your life that I might live. I believe because you have brought me to this time and this place and blessed me, called me, gathered me and enlightened me with the one true faith. Yes, Lord of all, I believe. May my words and my actions proclaim my belief in you in all I say and do day by day in your Kingdom... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August 23rd Reflection by Bill Lynch


Romans 12:1-8
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Reflection
Forget about yourself and get over it! We have work to do and don't have time to fool around with those who always want attention shining upon themselves for one reason or another. Let God take over in your life and let your mind change from what is worldly to what is eternal with God. After all, everything you have and every skill you possess didn't come from you or even your own hard work, the core of your very being came from a loving God who created you and all that exists. So get over yourself and look to the gifts God has given to you to use to glorify God in the Kingdom.

When you decide to get over yourself, you will find your self-esteem does not need to be handled with such care that almost anything can destroy you. You don't need to be all caught up in your own confidence. You can live a confident life knowing that God loves you so much that Jesus gave his life for you in order that you may live with him eternally in God's Kingdom. You can live out your life confident that the gifts and skills God has graciously given to you to use are for a reason God has planned for you to give to all the people in God's Kingdom.

So, don't get all caught up in your own self-esteem. If you only worry about your own status you are no good to anyone else. Stop thinking of yourself and think of the other person. Just as Jesus gave his body to death, we are to give our bodies to death and live the resurrected life that Jesus has been resurrected into on our behalf. Jesus did all of this not because he thought he needed to better himself, or that he thought that his skills needed to be polished. No, Jesus gave his life out of love for you. It wasn't about Jesus for Jesus... it was about God's love for you and for me. So, emulate Jesus and give up your body... yes your life... to live out the love of God for the love of all of those God chooses to give to you.

So... forget about yourself and get over it!
"...but be transformed by the renewing of your minds..."
We have work to do in God's Kingdom!

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldiEOAtlTKU

Prayer
Lord, forgive me when I get all caught up on myself. Show me the way to give my life to live out the love you have graciously given to me in the freedom of the resurrection of Jesus... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 20th Reflection - Fun - by Bill Lynch


Psalm 138:1-8
Of David.
I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
   before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down towards your holy temple
   and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
   for you have exalted your name and your word
   above everything.
On the day I called, you answered me,
   you increased my strength of soul.

All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,
   for they have heard the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
   for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
   but the haughty he perceives from far away.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
   you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
   and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me;
   your steadfast love, O Lord, endures for ever.

   Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Reflection
This is post number 3001. That's hard for me to believe. I haven't posted every day and every once in a while I lapse for several days due to one reason or another but post 3001? I saw this and had a hard time wrapping my mind around the number. Prior to this I "posted" on my own in emails and prior to emails I "posted" to the computer and prior to the computer I "posted" to various notebooks. I've never thought of counting the posts. Never has this entered my mind. I really didn't think of emailing or blogging until requested to do so for some reason or another, that I can't even remember, from friends. But post I did, in one form or another. I posted out of joy and fun not to pile up posts but to rejoice in the Word of God and God's presence in the posts of life, the ups and downs and ins and outs. Posts that just seemed to take place because of what God has done not because of what I have done. Posts that take me back in my memory...

It all takes me back to the time I remember seeing Mom reading that little white Bible with a zipper on the coffee table. That's how I remember it but somehow I'm not sure about the details of that Bible. Does it really matter? It seems there were a few glossy pictures in it somewhere. I remember seeing Mom all alone reading that Bible. She didn't know I was watching, or at least she didn't let on like she knew I was watching. Seeing this inspired me to love reading the Bible. It inspired numerous conversations with Mom on Sunday afternoons about what she or I had read in the Bible that week. We even had a whole bunch of heated arguments over the Bible and what this or that meant. Arguments that would end with a challenge causing both of us to dig deeper to prove our point! Those were fun arguments! Fun in that most every Sunday "Bible" conversation would end with a challenge. Fun challenges... really fun and sometimes funny. The funny ones were the best ones. Times we could tease each other about being too Roman Catholic, too Baptist, too Pentecostal or whatever, but never too Lutheran. Fun in a way that would stretch our conversations with one another and stretch our conversations with God throughout the week.

The psalm above reminds me of that "fun." The thankfulness of what Mom and I had in common. We could talk and argue with one another and talk and argue with God and have fun the whole time. Fun and thankfulness.

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
   before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down towards your holy temple
   and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
   for you have exalted your name and your word
   above everything.
On the day I called, you answered me,
   you increased my strength of soul.

Fun with the Word made flesh. Fun with the Word made spirit. Fun with the way that God could look upon and participate with two people who were not kings, who were not rich, who were not high and mighty. Fun with Mom and I who could sing and rejoice in the Word of God both in the Bible and in our common faith in Jesus. Yes, Mom and I had fun with one another, in each other's presence and we had fun with Jesus presence right there with us on those Sunday afternoons. A song of a different kind we sang. A song with the Word that came into our presence. To the one observing from the outside we appeared to be in a fight. But to Mom and myself... we were having fun.

All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,
   for they have heard the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
   for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
   but the haughty he perceives from far away.

Those Sunday afternoon arguments, agreements and challenges even in the midst of old age, illness and loss, brought joy and fun. We had fun and I still have fun as I think of Mom, Dad and so many others who have gone before and who are to be in the future that will join us in that everlasting feast at the Table in heaven. I think of this fun as all of these people and friends and relatives join me each Sunday as I take the bread and the wine, the body and the blood and celebrate a foretaste of the feast to come. Fun with the Word... fun with the bread and Body... fun with the wine and Blood... fun in the sacraments... fun in the hearing of the Word... fun in the singing of praise... fun in the going and fun in the doing of God's work in this place. Fun in the steadfast, everlasting, love of God.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
   you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
   and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me;
   your steadfast love, O Lord, endures for ever.
   Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Yes, those Sunday afternoons with Mom were fun, challenging and a song of praise to God. Fun with Mom and fun with the Word. Fun that will never stop... Let the conversation, the arguments, the challenges and the Word continue on and on... way beyond post 3001... way into eternity.

Song
Just for the fun of it...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygzu4KPMVfs

Prayer
Lord, as I live a life of ups and downs, or rejoicing and of sadness, of pain and freedom; may I live that life in common with those who love you, that all the people will hear the song of joy and thanksgiving that only you can give, come forth in unity from the mouths and the actions and the living of your people. May we all point to Jesus in this everlasting life you have graciously given... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 19th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Exodus 1:8-2:10
 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, ‘Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labour. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, ‘When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.’ But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?’ The midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.’ So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.’
Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. ‘This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,’ she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Yes.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, ‘because’, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’

Reflection
There seem to be so many messages in this passage. First I noticed that the more faithful the Hebrews were to God the more that God stood by them even in the tough times. A bit of a stubborn attitude seems to go a long way here, even if it is in a negative direction at times.

God has blessed the Hebrews, just as he had promised Abraham. The people were strong and multiplied. The Hebrews multiplied to the point that the Egyptians began to fear their numbers. The Egyptians feared that the Hebrews would side with the Egyptian enemies at some point. So, in answer to this problem, the Egyptians enslaved the Hebrews and made the world of the Hebrews hard and laborious.

Even this action did not squelch the fears of the Egyptians. So next the Egyptians decided to control the male Hebrew population by killing all the males at birth. The passage really doesn't tell us if this worked but it suggests that it didn't by telling the story of how Moses was saved from death. Before we move to the story of Moses salvation in the waters, I would like to suggest that one thing we can draw from the enslavement of the Hebrews was their faithfulness to God and God's faithfulness to the Hebrews, even in the midst of persecution formed a tight relationship between God and his people.

This faithfulness reminds me of the Iraq Christians who have held to their faith even in the midst of severe persecution. In the United States and most of the West, Christians are not tested like this for their faith as Christians. Maybe we are made fun of from time to time but we are not threatened by death for our beliefs. As the Hebrew baby boys were threatened by death for their faith in God, so too are the Iraq Christians and the Egyptian Coptic Christians threatened by death for their faith. I think it's important that we stand not only with Christians but with all people that are threatened by death and persecution for their beliefs. God did not create humans to fight and kill one another. This we must oppose on all levels. Yet we can rest assured that in this rally for life in the face of death, God will walk with us just as God has always walked with the weak and the persecuted and the ill and the poor and the homeless and those in any kind of need.

Now think of Moses. Even how Moses was selected by his own people to be set aside for salvation. And salvation came through the midst of the waters. Moses mother saw that he was a fine baby and set him aside for three months. Then he was hidden in a vessel that could stay in the reeds of the water.

How has God set you aside for life? How has God saved the people through the floods of the days of Noah? How has God gifted each of us with past, present and future lives walking in the presence of a saving and gracious God? How has God come to each of us through the Savior Jesus to grant eternal life with God in a relationship of love and life? Oh, how God loves us so much to be with us in and through the waters of our baptism that we may walk in new life with God eternally.

Yes, just as Moses was drawn out of the water by Pharaoh's daughter; we too are drawn out of the water and gifted with an eternal relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are each and every one called and gifted and sent into this world in which God has set us to proclaim the Gospel and the love of God in Christ Jesus. We are sent into all situations, good or bad, happy or sad. Yes we are sent with the power of God by our side to proclaim life in the face of death. We are sent to proclaim salvation in the face of the cross. We are sent to tell all the world of the resurrection life of God in Jesus that all people may know that they are loved by a gracious God who comes to save. That's our God!

So the question becomes... whose are you? God sees you as a wonderful child and has selected you to be God's own. God brings you through the death of the waters and pulls you up to eternal life with God. God gives you blessings even in the midst of painful situations and leads you in joy and hope to be with God, forgiven through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the company of the Holy Spirit to live eternally with God. You belong to God because God loves you.

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuJWQzjfU3o

Prayer
Lord of the past, present and future; may I always look to you as my Father, my Savior, my Guide in life's situations. As you have drawn me out of the water; lead me to do your will in the way you would have me do it with the people that you give to me in this life... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Isaiah 51:1-6
Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness,
   you that seek the Lord.
Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
   and to the quarry from which you were dug.
Look to Abraham your father
   and to Sarah who bore you;
for he was but one when I called him,
   but I blessed him and made him many.
For the Lord will comfort Zion;
   he will comfort all her waste places,
and will make her wilderness like Eden,
   her desert like the garden of the Lord;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
   thanksgiving and the voice of song.

Listen to me, my people,
   and give heed to me, my nation;
for a teaching will go out from me,
   and my justice for a light to the peoples.
I will bring near my deliverance swiftly,
   my salvation has gone out
   and my arms will rule the peoples;
the coastlands wait for me,
   and for my arm they hope.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
   and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens will vanish like smoke,
   the earth will wear out like a garment,
   and those who live on it will die like gnats;
but my salvation will be for ever,
   and my deliverance will never be ended.

Reflection
Look back in time every once in a while. Look back first to your parents and then grandparents and uncles, aunts and cousins. Look into the family into which you were born. Look at the lives and the struggles and the joys of the people past.

Now look to the present. Look to your blessings and your struggles. Look to the way your life has taken shape. Look and reflect upon those that have blessed you and the gifts you have given. See the love of God in Christ Jesus. Recall how God has come to you and is with you all the day. Think of the present as it relates to the eternity of the past and the eternity of the future that God has in store for you this day.

And look to the future. Imagine those yet to come after you. Imagine their thoughts and joys and sorrows as they look back upon your life so that they can learn to live in their present and prepare for their future. Yet always look to the presence of the love of God in Savior, Creator, Spirit, Parent. God is always there.

Yes God is present to those past, present and future. God will not abandon God's creation. God will come and mold and shape and form what God has created into what God desires. We are part of this creation of God. We are part of the Savior, Creator, Spirit, Parent. We are part of God and God is in each of us. Look and listen... the Word is present.

Yes, Isaiah states God's Word clearly:
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
   and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens will vanish like smoke,
   the earth will wear out like a garment,
   and those who live on it will die like gnats;
but my salvation will be for ever,
   and my deliverance will never be ended.

Past - Present - Future --- God

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTY-UKgLlXs

Prayer
Lord, as I look to the past and live in the present may I see you in all. May I live in the hope and joy of you always in my future... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 17th Reflection - Have a Seat at the Table - by Bill Lynch


Matthew 15:[10-20] 21-28
[Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, ‘Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.’ Then the disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offence when they heard what you said?’ He answered, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’ Then he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.’]
 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

Reflection
Sit! Beg! Lie down! Roll over! Abe did all of these tricks. Then... Speak! Shake! More tricks. Tricks all for a piece of what was being eaten. A left over piece at that. A small morsel of the whole that I had already eaten most of in the first place. It was only a taste. But for Abe, the taste was more than enough for all of these tricks to play at my feet.

Jesus had wandered far away from the house of Israel. Far to the north in the land of the Gentiles. Jesus had come into their territory. The Gentiles had not come to the house of Israel, Jesus came into the territory of the Gentiles. It's kind of amazing that the woman even knew much about Jesus but somehow she knew enough that she treated him like a king.

The woman called out to Jesus as Lord and as king (Son of David) and she even fell to her knees as a sign of respect for Jesus' power and glory. Yes this woman knew Jesus but it seems that Jesus didn't want much to do with this woman.

And then... the woman begged! Sit! Beg! Lie down! Roll over! Yes, it seems this woman begged like my grand-dog Abe would beg for just a small piece of the food that I eat. The woman begged at the feet of Jesus for even a crumb of blessing from Jesus. And the woman didn't beg for herself. She begged for the healing of her daughter. This woman displayed love for her daughter enough to first, find out about Jesus and second, to fall at Jesus' feet and beg that Jesus offer a crumb of healing for her daughter.

This woman, an outsider to the house of Israel, knew more about the identity of Jesus than it seems even the disciples knew. This woman knew that Jesus was the Savior, the Messiah. The only Savior that could help her daughter in her illness. This woman who was an outsider to the house of Israel knew Jesus and had faith that Jesus could heal.

As Jesus enters the Canaanite territory of my life, of my heart, of the very core to my being; will I treat Jesus as a king? Will I see Jesus as my Savior? For I am an unclean man. I don't deserve a crumb.

But look and see what Jesus has granted to you and to me... outsiders... unclean... not of the house of Israel... Jesus has granted you and me not just a crumb. No.. Jesus doesn't just offer a crumb or a tiny morsel... Jesus offers himself to me and to you. Yes, Jesus offers us a place at the table. That everlasting eternal table of life where we all gather together as one... Gentile, Jew, clean and unclean to taste the body and the blood... the bread and the wine... the love of God in the Savior Jesus. Yes, we are offered a place at the table in eternity with all those that Jesus came to save.

Have faith! Have hope! Jesus has come! Come into your territory for you, to love you to death. Thanks be to God!

Song/Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVkih8oVULU

Prayer
Lord, come into this place. Come into my heart. Come into the core of my being so that what is in the midst of me is not rotten but pure and clean and living in the hope of life in you. As I kneel at your feet this day and proclaim your power and glory and love may I take just a morsel of your love and spread it all over the world in which you have placed me so that all you give to me may see and know your saving grace... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, August 16, 2014

August 16th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

Reflection
In just a few sentences Paul states it all so clearly. God loves all of the people. God does not abandon any of us. It's not that God leaves us but rather that we run from God and hide. We run and hide just like Adam and Eve. We run in hide because of the shame of our sin. We run from God because we know that what sin we have committed is our doing and not any of the works of God.

But God does not abandon us. Rather God comes searching for us and finds us and offers us life. Sure, we may be disciplined. We may feel the pain of our sin, but that is not because of what God did. We feel the pain of separation from God because of what we did. But God does not abandon us. God hunts us down to love us into eternity.

And then when God finds us, God calls us and gifts us and gives us all the blessings that we need to love God and serve God in God's Kingdom from now and into eternity. Our lives move along in this world with the love and blessings of God and into eternity with the love and blessings of God. This is for ALL the people. Not just the ones that we think God loves but for ALL the people because God loves ALL that was created and shows mercy to ALL the people.

So, don't take it upon yourself to judge the "other." For we all stand before God only by God's grace. Rather take it upon yourself to love the "other." For God shows mercy to you and me and to ALL. Live in the hope and blessing and calling and gifts of God in the love of God in Christ Jesus, for God chooses to be merciful to all.

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CSVqHcdhXQ

Prayer
Lord, forgive my sin and sinfulness. May I live in your forgiveness and love that I may forgive and love all you give to me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 12th Reflection - Resurection Happy! - by Bill Lynch


Genesis 45:1-15
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, ‘Send everyone away from me.’ So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

 Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come closer to me.’ And they came closer. He said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, “Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.” And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father how greatly I am honoured in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.’ Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.

Reflection
Sometimes things happen in our lives and we can't understand why until after another event unfolds. This is what happened to Joseph. Why did his brothers betray him and sell him into slavery in the first place? I know the obvious reason. The brothers were jealous of Joseph but sometimes I think God sets up another reason for things that happen. Or perhaps God doesn't set up other things to happen. Perhaps God let's our decisions, which always impact each other, to run the course. Perhaps God uses our decisions to walk with us and to lead us and guide us towards God so that the result is that God journeys each of our lives with each of us, yet doesn't control the outcome but influences our reactions through our faith in God.

All of this thinking seems to turn into a slippery slope. Does God have control or do we have control? Maybe there is a little of both. With Joseph, I'm not sure I think of God as controlling. God was blessing Joseph along the way and things happened. Through God's blessings, Joseph was able to redeem his relationship with his brothers and his family. Joseph was in a position to bless his brothers as well along the way.

Just yesterday I watched an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, which I record to watch, of an interview of Pharrell Williams. The reporter was trying to guide the interview towards why the song "Happy" was such a success and attribute the special talents of the musician to the reason. Pharrell kept leading the discussion away from himself towards the blessings he had received in life through the presence of key people at key times such as his High School music and band teachers. Even attributing his success due to certain situations that occurred that set up just the right string of events in his life to lead him towards a blessed life as a musician. Pharrell pointed out that some blessings took place because of hard knocks and failures. It seemed to me that Pharrell always pointed away from himself and towards the blessings of people and situations of life. I wonder if Joseph felt this same way? I think we all are in this situation as well.

God blesses us in life. We make decisions that may result in the hard knocks and other people make decisions that cause us to get caught up in hard knocks as well. But the reverse takes place too. Some decisions by ourselves and others results in some of the good things of life occurring to us. But in both the good and the bad we have God by our side loving and teaching and leading us all of the way. Like Pharrill we point away from ourselves and towards God and the blessings God richly provides in our lives in the good times and in the bad times. God is the reason and we can look back from the resurrection and see the wonder and the joy of the cross.

Yes, not only do we live this life of the ups and downs but God lived this life also in Jesus. Looking back from the resurrection the cross is lovely. Looking forward from the upper room the cross is torture. How blessed can we be today that we know of the resurrection of Jesus. We know the result and can live out our lives in faithfulness to God and in love to God and all the people God created and placed in our lives. We too live the resurrected life in the hope of Jesus return to finally make all things new and the way God intended. What hope! What blessings!

As Joseph called his brothers closer and closer may we live out our blessings in life in love for God and one another as we live our lives from the resurrection hope of Jesus Christ our Savior. That's a reason to be Happy!

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM

Prayer
Lord, may my eyes always give the credit and the honor and the glory to you alone. You provide the blessings and the love I need to live in the hope and faith of the resurrection. May all the blessings you have given to me spill over into the lives of those you give to me that all people may see your saving grace in the resurrection of Jesus... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11th Reflection - Get outside the box - by Bill Lynch


Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
Thus says the Lord:
   Maintain justice, and do what is right,
for soon my salvation will come,
   and my deliverance be revealed.

And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
   to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
   and to be his servants,
all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,
   and hold fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
   and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices
   will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
   for all peoples.
Thus says the Lord God,
   who gathers the outcasts of Israel,
I will gather others to them
   besides those already gathered.

Reflection
Oh, how those inside the Church love to pick and choose who is in and who is out. What sins put a person outside and what acts keep a person inside the Church. Well, this is So and So's Church... the Church is much bigger than you think.

This realization hit me one time during a Churchwide Assembly in Chicago at the Navy Pier. Yes, it hit me. I was struggling with my own sin and the sin of some inside the church I attended and it hit me. I was feeling "out" because of what I had done and because of decision other's had made. It seems the lines had been drawn between in and out. Lines drawn by all parties involved. Yet, as I worshiped and as I looked around to what I was seeing right before my eyes, at this Churchwide Assembly, the obvious took place. The Church is much bigger than what I thought.

I saw people from congregations all over the United States. I saw people of which I had one big thing in common. That big thing in common wasn't the denomination. It was Jesus Christ. We all had Jesus Christ in common. The lines were dropped. We had Jesus Christ in common not because of our love or our actions or anything we could ever do... we had Jesus Christ in common because God chose to love us in and through Jesus Christ. God's love was way way more than what I had bottled it up to be. God's love was far beyond any bounds that I could draw or anyone else could draw. The lines were wiped clear and all God's creation was open to this common profession of Jesus Christ. Yes, God's Church was much bigger than I could ever imagine.

So, I stop when calling a local congregation someone's church. It's not that way. It's God's Church, which is much bigger than you think. God's Church proceeds beyond the doors of those people trapped inside serving their own needs, to a Church that goes out into the world to serve and love all of the people in all of their needs. God's Church is held together with Jesus Christ as the focus. Jesus who went out to the people of the day and healed the sick and fed the poor and loved all of the people, not just the one's who fit the mold of what those who chose to draw lines and keep some in and force other's out. Jesus is God's love of all of the people.

In the scripture passage above that is what the prophet is proclaiming to the people that think they are in... God's love is much bigger than you think. Not only did God save the exiles and return the faithful ones, God also erased the lines and permitted those who were not of the "Chosen People" to be loved by God as well. God didn't draw the lines of in and out... we did!  God's Church is bigger than you think.

So why do we try to restrict God's Church and God's love. See the Church and how big it is! Open the doors wide to those that aren't inside the Church to the love of God in Christ Jesus. Get out of that box and go to all of the people that God loves. Open up that worship service to include and invite the bigger world around the local congregation. Open up to the sinners in the love of God. Open up to the sick and the homeless and the lost so that they can see and live and believe in the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Let that Church overflow as it was intended to overflow with the love of God in Christ Jesus. A love that reaches out and all around this world to all the people of creation. Yes, God's Church is bigger than you think. Thanks be to God!

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j44-l71jTFI

Prayer
Lord open my eyes to see beyond myself and my prejudices and my line drawing and my sin and my secrets to see the wideness and the bigness of your love in Christ Jesus and your Church. Open my feet and hands to go out and serve those outside, that the outside will become the inside as we all become the love of God in Christ Jesus... today... tomorrow and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, August 10, 2014

August 10th Reflection - Let us pray... - by Bill Lynch


Matthew 14:22-33
 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

 Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Reflection
It seems all Children of God love to pray. In one form or another we pray. Jesus went up on the mountain to pray. I've done this myself. I remember hiking by myself on a trail all alone with no other hikers present. Oh how the thoughts and prayers come to you when you can hear your breathing and feel your own heartbeat. There is the feeling that it's just you and God. At least this was my experience. Then I sat on a fallen tree trunk to rest. Yes, I prayed. I prayed to God and not to nature. Yet nature and the trees and the small animals and even the insects also seemed to me to be joining me in prayer to God as I sat on that fallen tree trunk.

I've heard a term in the past about the "thin" places where we encounter God. This was one of those moments of the "thin" place. A place where I felt close to God for some reason beyond myself. Just as the quiet sound of the wind in the trees, the birds, the small animals and a crackle of something in the twigs of the forest surrounding me. Myself and nature in that "thin" place with God. Upon my return I felt refreshed and renewed but ready to return to the action of the valley and the city and the family and the routine of life. Yes, I think all Children of God love to pray.

But Jesus commands us to get into that boat. Jesus commands us to get in and go out to sea while he goes to the mountain to pray. Why? Why do I have to get into this boat without you Jesus? Why? I want you to be with me! I want to go to the mountain and pray with you! Why make me get into this boat and go out on the water away from you? Why, Jesus, why?!

This past week was a time of prayer for myself as well. But this type of prayer was not the "mountain" type of prayer. This type of prayer was the prayer from the boat battered by the waves far from the land. I've been to the "mountain" type of prayers many time and to the "battered boat" type of prayers many times as well. This past week as has happened several... really many times since the doctors have discovered that I have Crohn's disease was from the wave battered boat. A prayer of doubt and fear...a prayer of silence and waiting... a prayer of separation from Jesus. A prayer that cries out in fear and pain, wondering if I am all alone in this life. What's the purpose of this type of living? Why must I go through this? Why do I doubt myself and God all at once? What worth could I ever have in this state of being? A cry that longs for the sight of the Savior walking on that water approaching my little boat battered by the waves of doubt and fear and pain and loneliness. That period of waiting and looking and not seeing anything at all from my little boat. Have I been left to drown in my despair? All, still a prayer though. Yes, I think all Children of God love to pray.

And then Jesus comes. Yes, slowly he comes. Jesus comes without fear and confident that all will be just fine. Jesus comes through the slow healing and recovery. Jesus comes in the words of a book recommended almost a year ago by a friend and pastor. Jesus comes as I recover and feel good enough and my sight is clear enough that I can read the Bible. Jesus comes as I begin to write these reflections once again. Jesus comes to me in the sound and the presence of people who care enough to help me along and guide me when I'm down. Jesus comes in the hand of one reaching out to me telling me to leave that battered boat and walk on the water of faith reaching out to my Savior. Yes, I think all Children of God love to pray.

We pray from the mountains to the valleys to the midst of the storms on the sea. We pray in the hope of a Savior who has not left us behind but has joined us in life as one of us. We pray to a God that loves us so much that God comes to us as we are in flesh and blood and in spirit to lead us back to him. We pray to Jesus who is born and lives and heals and comforts and forgives and dies upon that cross for our sin. We pray to a God that would have Jesus rise from the dead to lead all of God's Children to heaven with him in eternity. We pray a resurrection prayer of new life when Jesus will come again to make us and all creation as God intended for it to be right from the beginning. We pray in hope. Yes, I think all Children of God love to pray... and why not?

See the Saviors hand reaching out... hear the teaching on the mountain... see the Light of the world shining brightly at the transfiguration... look at the empty tomb... eat the breakfast of fish with Jesus... receive the bread and the wine of Jesus body and blood in amazement... feel the water on your feet as the Savior washes... notice the life-giving water of baptism on your head... feel the grit of the cross of ashes on your forehead... observe the texture of the oil of the cross on your head at baptism... see the Light of Christ shine brightly in the darkness of the Easter Vigil or on Christmas Eve... see Jesus in the eyes of the prisoner, the ill, the homeless, the least...

We pray in hope. Yes, I think all Children of God love to pray... and why not?

Thanks be to God!

Song
"Just Reach Out Your Hand To Jesus" by Larry Jackson. Performed by REMNANT

Prayer
Lord, as I reach out for your hand upon the sea and on the mountain top I look to you and see your face shining brightly upon me. I see the faces of all people looking to your hand and into your face as you graciously and freely and lovingly offer salvation to all... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, August 09, 2014

August 9th Reflection - Hey all y'alls! - by Bill Lynch


Romans 10:5-15
 Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that ‘the person who does these things will live by them.’ But the righteousness that comes from faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ down) ‘or “Who will descend into the abyss?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?
‘The word is near you,
   on your lips and in your heart’
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’

Reflection
What am I to do? I'm to open my mouth or even present my words to proclaim Jesus Christ resurrected and living and ascended into heaven all for all y'alls! You can take it to the bank and believe in Jesus! I have been given the good news. I don't know why but I have been given the good news!

I have been blessed with a mother and a father that took the promises they made at my baptism to heart and brought me the learn the Ten Commandments, the Creeds and placed a Bible in my possession that would enable me one day to make these same promises to God. I was given a chance for some reason or another to believe. Yes, it was the feet of those who bring the good news, in my mother and father, that blessed me with the chance to hear the good news. Then it was up to me and where God would lead me.

So what about other y'alls? What about the y'alls that didn't have a mother or father that brought the good news into your life? Perhaps... just maybe... if you are reading this, even I can be the feet of one who brings the good news to you? Perhaps... just maybe... if you continue to read and take this in, you too will dig and dig and go out deeper and deeper and discover Jesus in y'alls life and in y'alls daily walk.

God didn't come into my life just for me! No, God came into my life because God chose to love me and save me and take me to live the resurrected life in the here and now. And I'm not the only one that God chose. God chose all y'alls as well! God doesn't care if you are Jew or Greek or rich or poor or round or shaped like a stick or purple or even Martian. God cares for all of creation and loves all of creation enough to start up an eighth day of resurrected life for all y'alls.

God created all that exists in six days so to speak and rested on the seventh. I'm not talking about 24 hour days, how could I limit God to time? But during this time, these seven days, I chose to sin. I chose of my own accord to sin. God didn't make me sin and no one else made me sin. I sinned! I'll bet all y'alls have chosen to sin too! But God had a plan for this. A plan right from the git go. A plan right from... maybe even before... the beginning. God has a plan and put that plan into action. God created in the period of seven days right up to the coming of Jesus... and then the eighth day... now until Christ returns and then... and then... eternity.

God came to this place and to all y'alls as flesh and blood in the form of a baby that became a man that lived and suffered and died for the sin that I and all y'alls would choose to do. God came in the form of Spirit and flesh. The Spirit was there at the beginning along with the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ. It's beyond what I can understand but I'm not God either, so I don't expect to understand.

In Jesus, God put to death sin. God didn't want us to be tricked into sin by our own thinking or even by the devil. God wanted a world much different than what I and all y'alls have made this to be, so he sent Jesus to begin that eighth day of creation... that day God came to the world... that day that Jesus healed and taught and walked with women and men... that day sin died on the cross... that day that goes on and on when we in unity with all y'alls live the resurrected life until Christ comes again. Yes that wonderful eighth day... that wonderful Sunday... that day that Jesus rose from the dead in flesh and spirit. A day of wonderful mystery and great promise to me and all y'alls.

That eighth day... that day of Jesus resurrection permits us... gifts us... graces us with the ability to live a life of faith free from the bondage of sin. We still sin... me and all y'alls still sin and we look to the cross to see the freedom Jesus gave us from sin in his death. We look and repent and seek to do God's will here and now but we still live in the hope and the joy of the coming of Jesus once again. We live out the joy of that wonderful Sunday that falls on the eighth day of creation. A day that God loved me and all y'alls so much that God sent Jesus into this world to give me and all y'alls eternal life.

Look at my feet! There, you now see the one who brings the gospel to you... the good news... the wonderful eighth day... that Sunday in which we all live until Jesus comes again.

Now go and believe! Go and be feet to another y'all. Go and dig deep. Go and row out to the deep water and plunge in deep. Go and you will see Jesus all around you and in every time and place that you could ever imagine.

Y'alls will see Jesus in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, in the Creeds, in the Ten Commandments, in baptism and the Lord's Supper, in the Word proclaimed, in all places and throughout all time. It's the eighth day after all. Expect to see Jesus all over the place. Expect the Holy Spirit everywhere. Expect creation to change and mold itself into what God intends.

Yes! It's the eighth day... that wonderful resurrection Sunday that lasts from when the Word became flesh until Jesus returns again. Go look and find it out on your own. I know all y'alls will see God and believe! I know that you will be the feets to other y'alls too! Thanks be to God!

Song
The song is called "hooleh!" from Yiddish slang meaning something like "forget-all-your-issues-just-radiate joy".

There are also number of Yiddish and Hebrew words. Yiddish is so rich and excruciatingly difficult to translate, but here's an attempt.

- "tantz tantz" is yiddish for "dance dance"

- "takeh takeh" is yiddish for a myriad of things including "indeed", "is that so?!", "really?", "really!"

The Hebrew phrases at the beginning of the verse are taken from the classic "who knows one" that are sung at the Passover seder.


Enjoy.
(source http://www.videostatic.com/watch-it/2014/03/10/8th-day-hooleh-chaim-marcus-dir)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO-tj1UtUDM
Echad ani yodeiya
This time do me one favor
Mitzvah lihyot bi'simcha

Shnayim ani yodeiya
When you share it that's the flavor
Mitzvah lihyot bi'simcha

This whole world spins on divine,
Nothing you can do when it's dancing time.

Tantz tantz, tahkeh tahkeh
Hooleh, hooleh, hooleh
Tantz tantz, tahkeh tahkeh
Heilikger hooleh.

This joy is blind to color
A dark day’s like any other
Mitzvah lihyot bi'simcha

You can dance the heavens open
Just enough to slip some hope in
Mitzvah lihyot bi'simcha

This whole world...


Tantz tantz...

Prayer
Lord, open my eyes to the joy of the resurrection. Open my heart to receive your Word. Open my mouth to proclaim the gospel you have graciously given me to proclaim. Open the ears of those who hear your Word that they may receive the love and hope you have to give... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

August 6th Reflection by Bill Lynch


1 Kings 19:9-18
At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He answered, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’
 He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He answered, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.’

Reflection
Have you ever faced a problem or a situation where you were at the end of yourself? You feel all alone and have exhausted every resource that you know of to help with the issue. You have done everything you could imagine to do and have finally turned to God. You have finally turned to God for direction because your own solutions are gone. And then... and then... you don't think that God is going to answer. You don't hear God's voice. All that you hear is noise and the sounds of the earth before you. You naturally fall silent in the presence of God.

I've been at this point in the past. I can remember sitting in the office at the Austin Road campus of Epiphany Lutheran Church and feeling just this feeling. I was at the end of myself and I was all alone with an issue I could not solve. All I could do was fall silent. In some ways Elijah was in this position too. He had done all that God had told him to do and his enemies were now seeking his life as well. Elijah was at the end of himself and needed to hear God's voice.

When in this position it's time to stop it all. It's time to stop and listen. And don't expect the answer to come just because you decided to stop and listen. God will direct you and it may not be what you expect or even what you desire. God will direct you and it may not be on the time table that you desire to have set. The silence can be overwhelming. The noise can be distracting. The rocks falling all around can seem like chaos and you may think that this is the end.

It's in these moments that you begin to realize just how much you need God to save you. You can't save yourself. You couldn't ever save yourself and thinking that you could is just plain sinful. So, you wait... you listen... you wait for salvation. You realize your need for a Savior. You realize the depth of what God has done for all people through Jesus. You realize that you are not in control. You realize that you are the created and not the Creator. You realize your place and you gladly seek to love and serve God with all of your heart and mind and strength. You really really want God.

At the end of yourself... that is just what you need. You NEED God. But first you must stop and listen. You must get over yourself and stop and listen. Listen to the Word. The Word made flesh in the Savior Jesus Christ. You get to the end of yourself and there is God! All in the silence of the Church... all in the silence of the opening of the cave... all in the still small voice comes the saving grace of God into yourself. All when you finally reach the end of yourself.

Thanks be to God!

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbNK50T35wY

Prayer
Lord, you give me pause at the end of myself and I hear your great and awesome voice with power and glory and might through Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. I hear your voice through the whisper of the Holy Spirit. I hear your voice in the Mother the Father of all creation. I hear your voice at the end of myself... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen