Sunday, February 22, 2015

February 22nd Reflection by Bill Lynch

Mark 1:9-15
 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

"...he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending..."

Sounds so much like the curtain torn apart at Jesus crucifixion! In Jesus baptism we already have God in the form of flesh with us, and now we have God in Spirit descending upon this world onto Jesus. God in flesh, God in Spirit, God in Creation... all at one in the world God created. God has become one with what God created  in the beginning. Through the baptism of Jesus we have a completion of God among the created.

Yet also as the curtain to the Holy of Holies was torn at Jesus death on the cross; the creation becomes open to heaven. Humanity and earth are open to God. A completion and a defeat of sin, death and the devil. And God is pleased.

Yes, God is pleased, not due to any action I have taken or ever could have taken. Rather, God is pleased because now what God has created, God has saved and made one with God.

But here in this passage of Scripture; Jesus receives the Spirit and is thrown into the wilderness for a long time to deal with Satan. If it were I dealing with Satan, I would lose the battle. But, thanks be to God, Jesus dealt with Satan in my place and defeated sin, death and Satan. All out of love for me, for you and for all people.

And in this is the kingdom of God... near... believe it!


When Jesus comes to be baptized

Lord, thank you for this gift of love. Love that carries me to my death in baptism to new life in you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, February 21, 2015

February 21st Reflection by Bill Lynch

1 Peter 3:18-22
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

"He descended into hell." Or, maybe you prefer to hear it put "He descended to the dead."

Christ suffered for our sins to have this privilege. A privilege? Well maybe more a mission or God's plan. God loves us so much that God suffers for our sins and comes to us even in our death. God comes to us in our sin. God comes to us in this fallen world and in our fallen lives to save us. Yes, Jesus was put to death in order to gain the privilege, the opportunity, complete the mission, of making proclamation to all the spirits in prison and to proclaim a life that brings a huge change... a new life... to all of us who are dead.

In and through our baptism we are claimed and named Children of God. We are chosen and called and brought up in a new life. We come out of the water in death to new life in Christ. We open our eyes and our spirits to hear Jesus proclaim to us something new and something different. Jesus died and rose that we too may die and rise to new life in Christ.

Think about it... just think about that awhile... "He descended into hell... He descended to the dead." For me, for you, for all, past, present and future.

Here is our King - David Crowder Band
Lord, give me pause... real silent pause... to think about how you descended into hell... descended to the dead. May I realize that that was for me. Yes, dear Lord, you wait patiently.... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February 18th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
‘Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

 ‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 ‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 ‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Face it and be humble. Humility is a trait to be desired. Having hope in something other than yourself is a great place to start.

You are a child of God. God loves you. Both of these statements are true. But they are also true of all humanity. God created all that exists. All we have is a gift from God. The good, the bad, all of it is a gift from God. How can the bad be a gift from God? When you fast it hurts. You are weakened in one sense but strengthened in another sense. You realize what gifts God has given you and you appreciate God's presence in those gifts and in your life that much more.

So, today. as we remember the words... remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. Let us feel the grit of the pain that came shortly after the celebration of the palms on Palm Sunday as we rejoiced in Jesus trip into Jerusalem those many years ago. And let us remember the sacrifice that Jesus paid for all humanity. All of us... not one is left out in this sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross.

Yes, we feel the grit and see the dark ash of palm leaves mixed with that same baptismal oil and a different kind of cross is placed upon our forehead. A black cross that reminds us of death and pain yet salvation and love.

That's how the bad can be a gift from God! What God has done for you and for me and for all the people of this earth yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever has changed from bad, to good and gracious love. Not through what we have done. But through what God has done.

So we seek to know God. We seek out God with thankful yet penitent hearts. We remember yet we live out the hope. We wander in the desert knowing the hope of God will be before our eyes.

Even as we feel that mixture of the ashes of joyous palm leaves and the oil. Let the grit upon our foreheads become the oil of our baptism in eternal life through Jesus our Savior.

Chris Tomlin - I Lift My Hands

Lord, as I remember let me live out the hope you have prepared for me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, February 16, 2015

February 16th Reflection by Bill Lynch

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,
‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
   and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Now is the time. Today is the day. Accept the grace of God through Jesus. For Jesus became sin for you and for me. Jesus, who did not sin, became the sin that you and I had been born into and have become all wrapped up in, to give his life, in our place. Jesus became my bloody and ugly sin. Jesus took on my sin and your sin so that we could live forgiven in this world and the world to come.

Yes, through Jesus we have eternal life in our one life here in this place, to continue life with Jesus in eternity. So the time is now. The time is today. The place for eternity is here. Whatever may come our way we can live out salvation through God's gracious act in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Through death we come to life and through life we can live to die.

It won't be easy. We will still suffer. We will face many hardships but whatever we face we know that in salvation we live forever in the hope of Christ and the promise of life. Yes in this contrast we may have nothing but have everything.

So live your eternal life here and now. Proclaim Christ and his glory to all the world. Show the love of Jesus as you live out your eternal life beginning now. Boldly live life in service to God knowing the grace of Jesus dwells in you and frees you to proclaim this gift offered to all people.

Now is the time. Today is the day. Accept the grace of God through Jesus.

Jesus Messiah - Chris tomlin

Lord, as I live out this eternal life you have given to me, may I show your glory to all those you give to me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, February 15, 2015

February 15th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Mark 9:2-9
 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Have you seen the bright light shine through the candle? Perhaps the candle was inside a container with decorative colors. Have you seen the bright light of the candle shine through all of the colors of the candle container?

Have you ever sat in the dark and watched the light of the candle? That light appears, and is, very bright in the midst of the darkness.

Have you been to the homeless shelter and heard the stories told by the homeless and seen the bright light shine through the one speaking? Have you been to the prison and heard the dreams of a prisoner and seen the bright light shine through the prisoner? Have you been to visit someone in the hospital and heard the hope of healing and then seen the bright light shine through that very same person speaking as they lay in the hospital bed?

Have you seen the bright light shine through the one working at the food pantry? Have you seen the bright light shine through that person delivery Thanksgiving Baskets to the needy? Have you seen the bright light shine through the one serving at the soup kitchen? Have you seen the bright light shine through the one teaching?

Have you seen the bright light of Jesus at your door with Moses and Elijah and someone else? Have you heard the voice of Jesus invite you outside to play?

Have you ever thought of the light of Jesus shining through you? Shining through your flaws and sinfulness to make a beautiful array of colors to those who you see Jesus in you from the inside out?

We may not have seen a transfiguration like Peter. We may not have seen the Light of Jesus in the midst of the cloud as the Israelites witnessed in the desert.

But we can see the bright light of Jesus shine through so many people in our world today.

Look around and you will see the Light of Jesus shining. Look around and you will see the Light of Jesus making the flaws of this world beautiful. Look around and you will see the bright Light of Jesus making something wonderful from the inside out of a friend, a stranger, a fellow disciple.

Just look around and you will see the Light of the Transfiguration.

Look to the saving and gracious Light of Jesus and you will see life... eternal life. Life that only God could grant through Jesus.

Just look and see!

"Shine Through Me" Music by Rev. Michael Gott

Lord, as I look to you each day, may your Light shine through me in all that I do and say... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen