Thursday, January 26, 2017

Broken Branches

Micah 6:1-8
1 Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. 2 Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel. 3 "O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! 4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. 5 O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the Lord." 6 "With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" 8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

I look out of my second floor office window and I see broken, separated branches clinging to the tree from which they have been separated. Life no longer flows to these broken branches from the source of life that the tree has to offer. Yet... these branches cling to a Y in the tree. They cling only to be blown and separated at some time. Perhaps the wind will not blow them loose and the leaves of life will no longer be present in the dead wood of the broken branches.

The broken and separated branches are witness to my thoughts on scripture. These very branches see me through the glass of the window, pondering God's meanings in scripture. Broken branches that hear my cry to God... why of Lord? What dear God would you have me do after this reflection on your Word. Broken and dead branches that hear my prayers for family, nation, friends and myself as I walk through this life. Dead branches that are there as I question what God would have me offer to him, the creator of all things.

In the passage above, God has the people witness to the mountains the controversies that God's people bring before God. Not unlike the dead and broken branches that are witness to the goodness God has freely given me. God has brought me forth from my sinfulness and given me life. God has taken me in, as an illegal alien, into his family and chosen me and marked me with the cross of Christ forever. God accepted me in my broken, dead and separated state of being and God made me wonderful in his sight.

The broken, dead, illegal alien that I am has been redeemed. What does God want from me? I see it above... God wants me to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with him and those he graciously gives to me in my life. Me... the broken... the dead... the separated branch that I see outside the window of this second floor upper room. God has saved me and requires me to love the separated, the illegal alien, the dead, the broken, the neighbor that God will give to me. In this I am deeply humbled. Yes... God has promised to graft me in to his life giving eternal life of love for all creation.

Thanks be to God that hung on that dead wood of a cross, broken wood, separated wood, yet wood that only Jesus could bring to life in his suffering, death and resurrection. God has made that dead and separated wood the symbol of the gift of eternal life through Jesus. Yes! Thanks be to God!

Lord, lead me as I humbly do the work that you require... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Rejoice and be Glad

Matthew 5:1-12
1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The squirrel came down out of the tree. One squirrel was followed by another squirrel. Both scratched on the surface of the lawn. Both squirrels were looking for some food on this warm January day. Following the squirrels closely behind was the robin. The robin? In January? Yes, the robin on this string of warm January days. Was the robin confused? Maybe but the squirrels were followed by the robin anyway. The robin scratching on the surface of the lawn in the exact locations that the squirrels had just scratched.

From my vantage point of a second floor home office; I didn't witness any food for any of these animals being brought up from the earth. Just the same, all continued in the search. Robin and both squirrels came to the earth in search of food to eat.

As disciples of Jesus, we too come to him. As disciples of Christ, we follow Jesus in search of food. We come to Jesus looking for the Word he gives to us. We listen and we take in his words. Yes, we follow Jesus away from the crowds to the mountains. We follow, we listen, we learn and we act out in the will that Jesus gives us.

It's food that we don't appear to be taking in but later through our actions the sustenance and the fruit of the food that Jesus feeds us becomes apparent in how we love those that are the crowd. Jesus feeds us the knowledge of the blessing. The blessing of those in the crowds in the foothills and the plains below the mountain.

As the squirrels come down followed by the robin to partake of some food that I cannot see. We, as Jesus' disciples, come down from the mountain to the crowds. Filled with the love of God. Fed by the fruit of love.

God blesses us as his disciples. God has made us holy and sends us to those people in the crowd, maybe the crowd itself, of which God blesses and makes holy. May we take that blessing, that being made holy, freely given to us, to those God presents to us and to the crowds.

 Yes, we come down in love for God and in love for those blessed people in the crowds that God gives to us each and every day.

Lord, you abundantly bless those in the crowds... the poor, those in mourning, the meek, the hungry, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted and the reviled. Yes... you bless them with your love and salvation. May I, being fed with your Word, go into this world and meet the people that you present to me with your love and your blessings... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It's all about the Light

John 1:29-42
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, "After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." 32 And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God." 35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" 39 He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed ). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter ).

It's not about me...
Nope... this life is not about me. It's not about how good of a Christian I am... it's not about if I have the correct interpretation of Scripture... it's not about what I think... it's not about what I do or say... it's not about how I may disgust someone else... it's not about how I bark into the wilderness... it's not about the clothes I wear... it's not about the food I eat... it's not about my self-esteem... it's not about how I think and judge other people... it's not about how I think you ought to live your life... it's not about my opinion... it's not if I'm liberal or conservative... it's not if I'm Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Baptist... it's not about me!

This life is about Someone else.  This life was given to me. I am physical and I am spiritual. God made me wonderful but it's not about me. It's all about God... it's all about Jesus. John was sent into this world to point to the Light. John was sent to point to Jesus. It's not about me or John or you or anything or anyone else. It's all about Jesus.

The Light comes into the world...
I was born into this world. God came into this world from heaven. God came to all of us as a Light to lead us to salvation in Jesus from sin, death and the devil. Without this Light we are lost forever and damned eternally to hell.

So we hear John. We look, We see. We see God's Light in Jesus and see the source is from outside ourselves yet somehow mysteriously from inside ourselves. A Light that permeates the physical and opens the spiritual. A Light that brings the Holy Spirit. A Light that comes into the world, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A Light that is God. Light of Light.

What are you looking for?...
I seek... I long for... I desire with all my heart this Light. This Light that will lead me and guide me and call me and gift me with all I need in order to point all the world right to this very same Light. I'm looking for what the Light would have me say or do or act. Yes... I'm looking for the Light to shine brightly through me to all the world so that all I do is to the glory of God.

Nope... it's not about me... it's about the Light!

Come and see...
Jesus... where are you staying? A cry all Christians must ask at some time, And Jesus says... "Come and see..."

So I come to see. I let the Light in as I see. I open my eyes to look out into this world. I let the Light in as I open my eyes from my own selfishness and let the Light come in so that I can see.

It's not about me or how "right" I think I am. It's not about me or how wise I think I am. It's not about my opinions or how I judge. It's not about what I think of how another person is handling their life, their religion, their decisions, their very being. Nope... it's not about me. It's the Light that shines outside of me and into me and through me.

It's about the Light that Jesus has called me to come and see.

Jesus, as I open my eyes to see your Light may all my selfish desires be blasted away by your glory.

As I humble myself and uncurl from all of my self-righteousness to your glory. May I let your Light shine in and through me.

It's all about you after all. Lead me so that my life may reflect your Light to a dark, selfish, power-hungry, hateful world. We need the Light... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen