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Having one of “those” days? You aren’t alone…..

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Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

Devotional THought of the Day:
41  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby moved within her. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42  and said in a loud voice, “You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43  Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord’s mother comes to visit me? 44  For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness. 45  How happy you are to believe that the Lord’s message to you will come true!” Luke 1:41-45 (TEV)

2  John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3  “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” 4  Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5  the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. 6  And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’” Matthew 11:2-6 (NLT)

32  And John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and stay on him. 33  I still did not know that he was the one, but God, who sent me to baptize with water, had said to me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and stay on a man; he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34  I have seen it,” said John, “and I tell you that he is the Son of God.” 35  The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples, 36  when he saw Jesus walking by. “There is the Lamb of God!” he said. John 1:32-36 (TEV)

106    You wrote, and I well understand: “Every day I spend my ‘little time’ in prayer. If it weren’t for that …!”

As I was reading the 3rd reading about John the Baptist this morning,  (part of my daily routine) I thought of the other two readings.

John, before he was born, and while Jesus was even younger, recognizes the presence of God. (not to mention what happened to John’s mom must have been cool!)  Incredible experience!

Move to the second reading, and now John is in prison, he is having one of “those” kind of days. Miserable, depressed, anxious and afraid, he needs to be encouraged, he needs to remember that what he devoted his life to, actually was worth it.

A bad day to say the least.

A day where even he, a prophet, doubted the very prophecy he was meant to give.

John, who had pointed to Christ, who knew him well, who proclaimed he was Israel’s hope, doubted and struggled with trusting God.

Just like we do!

There is a lot of hope in this realization, that John the Baptist could have one of those days, and apparently more than one.  That he could be so caught up by his own situation that he needed to know God was at work, that God’s promises are true.

And God responded to his query, John wouldn’t die without knowing for sure Jesus was the Messiah, that John’s ministry was validated, it was good, it was needed.  That Jesus was still there, doing what John knew he would do, even when he didn’t know.

And Jesus is here for you and I, His promise is that we are never alone.  ( Read Psalm 139 sometime – David realized God couldn’t be outrun either)

Even when we struggle, even when we doubt, God is there…. and will respond to our cries, our cries of despair, our cries of doubt, even our cries of anger and frustration.  He hears you and I and responds.  As St. Josemaria notes, if it weren’t for those little times of prayer, where we listen, where we vent, …

This is the lesson of John the Baptist, the lesson that even the greatest stumble and struggle, and are ministered to by God.  For He hears us…and loves us.  AMEN

Does it help you to know the prophets and apostles struggled and doubted?  That they ahd bad days as well?
How do you feel when you realize God was there, working behind the scenes?  Can you accept that you won’t always be able to see Him at work?

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 397-399). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

More or Less – A Sermon on who we are during Advent

church at communion 2More or Less
Matthew 11:2-15

† Jesus, Son & Savior †

As we continue our journey through Advent, my you be blessed knowing that neither God’s grace, nor His presence will ever be far from you…

Some Concern

As we hear about John sending His disciples to ask Jesus if He is truly the Christ, the Messiah, the one Chosen and set apart to save humanity, there is both comfort and concern.

The comfort comes from knowing that John’s faith was challenged, even as my faith waivers now and then. Perhaps more often it is now rather than then.

It is not uncommon to know that feeling that leads to John sending out his people to ask.  Even though John knew in the womb that Jesus was the Messiah, even though John saw the Holy Spirit and Heard the Father’s voice when Jesus was baptized.  Even though we sing John’s song, the words he said the day after the baptism –

“There is the Lamb of God!  He who takes away the sins of the world!”

Now I can hear John crying out the words added to that liturgical hymn…. “Lord, grant me peace.”

That’s really what is behind his question about whether Jesus is the Messiah.  As John sits in the dark, dank jail cell, with breaks only to confront the man who is sinning, sleeping with his brother’s wife.

“Jesus, are you truly the Messiah or do I need to find peace somewhere else.”

It’s comforting to know I am not the only one to ask that… it’s concerning because if John’s faith couldn’t withstand the challenges of life,

how can mine…?

Compared to this greatest of the prophets, the man who testified about Jesus while in his mother’s womb…. Who are you and me?

And how can we have the faith to endure?
More Concern

As the gospel goes on, as we read the words St Matthew, the insignificance of my faith seems to multiply.

As John’s disciples leave, Jesus starts to praise John to the crowds.

John wasn’t weak and hollow like a willow reed.  He wasn’t spun around easily by life, or bent and broken by the storms.  He wasn’t a fashion plate, he wasn’t rich and famous, yet people flocked to hear him speak, which tells us he was not just a powerful speaker, he had a message that people needed to hear, and desired too, even if it was painful!

He was a prophet, and more than a prophet.

And people came to hear him, they couldn’t stop themselves.

Jesus says that as great as John was, and no who has ever been born is greater, he can’t be compared to the least in the kingdom of God.

Ouch.

What hope does that give us?

How do we compare to the prophets of prophets?

How can he who is so much more than us, and so much less than them… Hearing that, how do we know joy, on this third day of Advent?

Listening and Understanding

To understand this, we have to listen to Jesus,

He says, about John being the fulfillment of the promise of Elijah’s return, that those who have ears to hear should listen and understand.

Understand what?

That he is our Messiah. Just as He was John’s.

It’s the same answer, the answer to John, and the answer those who listen and hear.

Hear the answer to John again,

the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.*.’ ”

It took me a while to see it, but the answers are the same – and the challenge is seeing that Jesus is the Messiah.

Not just the He is here to save the world,

He is here to bring you and me, and every other broken person we know, into the Kingdom of God.

For those He heals and cleanses, the poor souls that hear the gospel, the good news, and cling to Him, they are the ones dwelling in the Kingdom of God.

They are those who are greater in faith than John the Baptist.  “They” includes you and me.

That’s you and me, for we depend on the promises of God, that He will never leave or forsake us, that He will let nothing divided us from His love.

You and I have been raised to life with Christ, we dwell with Him.

We dwell in God’s kingdom by His invitation, by His declaration.

So we are more, even as we see ourselves as less.

We need to know this, we need to count on the fact that we are children Of God.  We live in His kingdom, we can’t run from Him, because He abides within us.

He is here, he dwells with you, and though we can’t sustain our faith based on our observations, He sustains us anyway.  That is why He came.  That is why John/Elijah came and set up his ministry.

That is why Jesus points to his ministry, and the important prophecy about Elijah’s return, these all point to Jesus’ role as the Messiah.  They point to His role as the one God sends to restore His people, to give up His life, to redeem us from the bondage of sin, to make us pure and holy in the Father’s eyes.

As the Messiah – as He is lifted up on the cross, he draws us into the Kingdom of Heaven, we become its citizens, we become the children of the King.

We are there, secure in Him, our hearts, our souls, our faith, and trust sustained, even on the dark days, for it is about His strength, His power, His love…

Love that never fades…Love that provides peace, and comfort, and when we see Him providing that love,  we even know the joy that shatters the darkness. Love that we can see, through the word, as He reveals Himself in the sacrament, as He renews our spirits.

AMEN!

 

 

Prepare the Way!

Prepare the Featured imageWay! It’s All About Jesus

John 1:6-8, 19-28

 IHS

 May You Realize That Life is All About Christ, and As You Do, May You Realize His Life Is All About You!

The New Pastor

I’ve heard the story a number of times, there’s even a pastor who did something similar and posted it on youtube.  No matter who did it, it is a great object lesson.  It went something like this.

A church was waiting expectantly to hear a pastor they were thinking of calling.  He was supposed to come to town in time to preach at their evening service.   He was reputed to be an incredible preacher, a great pastor, and one who led churches through times of great blessing.

He wrote them ahead of time, telling them the message would be one to encourage them to love their neighbors.  Everyone was looking forward to it. 

That morning, a man was sitting outside the church, with a piece of cardboard with the words Leviticus 19:18b written on it.  He was unshaven, His clothes were filthy, his hair was messed, the letters on the sign were crooked. 

Some people didn’t even look at him, as they passed by.  Others looks, and muttered under their breath, A few walked up and tried to hand him a dollar bill, one man even tried to threaten him with calling the police – trying to scare him off the property.  He stayed there all morning – and ever as people drove by later in the afternoon, he was there.

That night though, to almost everyone’s relief, he wasn’t there.  The new pastor wouldn’t have to see him, and they wouldn’t have to feel guilty about treating him badly.

They were waiting for the message about caring for their neighbors.  There was excitement in the air…. But wait, up by the altar, the man they thought was deranged talking to the elders…..and his sign was leaning against the altar…. One person looked it up – Leviticus 19:18B….

Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord (NLT)

They had seen his message all morning – but they didn’t see it.  They heard this amazing pastor speak, but they didn’t hear him.

They would repent, ashamed and shocked by the message, and perhaps they were only more surprised, when they heard the pastor announce that he would take their call, that together they would learn to love God and their neighbor

it is a story not unlike the story of John the Baptist that we heard this morning.  For he too was not listened too by some, and we see that in the gospel today.

Why Couldn’t They See or Hear His Message.

Who are you the Priests and Levites ask John, not once, but five times.

Who are you, why do you act like a messenger from God, these messengers from the leaders of Israel ask. Men who most likely grew up with John, for his father was a priest as well.

Every time I see this passage, I wonder, why they couldn’t realize who John is.

Why couldn’t they get it? Why didn’t they hear his message?  Was it the odd clothes? 

We look at them, and ask those questions, but would we treat the odd looking guy in different clothes, whose life was very different from ours any better?

Would we try to drive off a pastor who was dressed like a bum and acted a little weird when we first met him?

Or might we check out the Bible passage on the cardboard sign he held?

Why Didn’t John Answer Them?

As odd as it is that they didn’t recognize John, John’s blunt refusal to consider their question is even odder.  Jesus would tell people that John was Elijah.  Did John lie? Did Jesus?

Why doesn’t he just say yes, I am Elijah, and over here – the Messiah, the Prophet you’ve been looking for?  That’s my cousin Jesus from Nazareth.

Why not just make it easy on them?

Why not just slap them upside the head, and say, “look – the answer to your question is here, right here, right before your very eyes?

The Answer:

I think we find the answer in the reaction of the crowds when they do realize that Jesus claims to be the Messiah.  They either try to kill Him, they try to make Him a king that will provide everything on their time schedule, when God is doing something far greater, far more eternal.

But God is about something else – about redeeming mankind, of reconciling everything together.

7  No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 8  But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8 (NLT)

Surely they wouldn’t have killed Jesus, if they truly knew He was the Messiah, they wouldn’t have sacrificed Him, and he wouldn’t have borne our sin.  They would have honored him, praised him, expected him to lead them in glorious battles, but that isn’t why he was born of Mary, that’ isn’t why he emptied Himself, and lived under the weight of being human.  

That is what John means when he says he is the one who cries out get ready for God to come!  A cry of despair, a cry of last resort, a cry for God to act, for only God can make the changes needed for people to be ready to in His presence.

if John admits to being Elijah, then the attention is on him again, and not on the message, the message people need to hear.

Are you ready for God to be part of your life?  Are you ready to be part of His?

John’s message has to be about our need for Jesus.  It can’t be, “look at me, I am Elijah!”

It has to be about Christ.

Without His Incarnation, His Birth, His life, Death, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension, we won’t be ready when it is time for us to be before the throne of God.   We simply can’t do the miracle of reconciling every relationship we’ve broken, every hurt we caused others, every time we’ve betrayed others, and been betrayed by them.

Yet that is why He came. That is the ministry of Christ! That is the work He accomplished, to make our lives, as bruised and battered as they can be, lives that are masterpieces because of what He does…

He needed to die, we needed Him to die! He needed to offer Himself for us, that our way to God would be made clear. 

And He did.

We know of Him, and His work, and that it was all planned…..

For John testified of his work, as we do, with our words and our lives.

For when we trust God at His promises, the promise of a Messiah, of a Prophet, of our Savior, and what He would do to save us… everything changes, and it begins to make sense. 

What changes the most?  We go from darkness to light, we go from questioning God to reveling in His presence, we know Him… He’s the pastor, who sees us at our worst, at the moments we aren’t loving, and says, I’ll stay, let’s walk together.

Therefore, knowing why He came, knowing He will come again, trust in Him, count on the promises He has made us, and live in His incredible peace…. AMEN!

http://concordiaradio.buzzsprout.com/

Prepare! Clear the Way for Jesus!

Prepare! Clear the Way for Jesus!

Mark 1:1-8
IHS

 My friends, my desire for us for this Advent Season is this: that from us is cleared away everything that divides us from God.  From knowing His Love, from adoring Him.  That is what God’s grace and mercy does, leaving us in His peace.

 Preparing for Christmas Shopping  – Rent a pastor!

It’s time for a Pastor Parker Parable, Advent edition.  As we prepare for the Christmas holidays, for the party’s, and as we buy gifts for people we love, I have an idea that might provide some insight into how the gospel works, using the idea of surviving the shopping, and the incredible crowds.  Here it is:

For a small donation to the elder’s benevolence fund, I will go shopping with you.

Let me explain how this is of a benefit.  I need four volunteers…. One lady and let’s say Dane and Bob and Chuck.  Did I say volunteers?  Well – you’re here, so you volunteered.  You three stand here, and pretend you are talking about football, or guns or even politics, and completely oblivious to what’s going on around you… Oh you are in the middle of a busy store…say Sears or Walmart

Now, over here we have Debbie, tired and weary of trying to find Tom just the right present.  She sees it over there, on the other side of the three guys talking, and there is no way to get through them.  You are out of luck.

But with the Pastor Shopping Assistant, this is problem is no problem at all.  There is an advantage to having a 6’2” pastor dressed in black with his collar.  You point out where you want to go in the store and I walk there, with you following behind.  I navigate through the three men, who aren’t sure they are moving because of the collar, because I am big, or because I look mean and ready to send them to hades, or to the woman’s lingerie section. But move they do…. And you get what you desired.

This is how a pastor can benefit you in your shopping, and the same benefit you get from time in God’s word, whether in a sermon, or Bible Study or personal time reading God’s word!  It’s the same thing we see as John preaches to the people of God and baptizes them as a sign of their repentance.

So the parable is this; pastoral assistance prepares for the appearance of Jesus the Christ!  The way is clear, there is a path to the goal
Getting through that which would separate you from Christ

In our lives, there is much to be cleared out, much that slows us down, junks that stops us from living life in the peace God has given us. It’s the stuff that in Peter’s reading will burn up in the end.

Very few of us are the John the Baptist types, who live off the most basic of things.

I mean, how many of us are willing to take cast-offs to wear, for that’s what he wore for clothes.  Or to eat whatever we came across, as we lived out in the field? We probably can’t find that much raw honey, but there is a good source of protein out there!  His life was pretty well prepared. The way for him has few obstacles…

John preached the message about clearing the crap that gets in the way of our relationship with God.  About clearing the way, making ready the path. He’s not talking about re-tarring the driveway at church, but getting rid of things like bitterness, resentment, anxiety, fears, and sin. He talked getting rid of our idea that we are right, and God just doesn’t know what life today is like.

We do that, when we don’t repent of sin, or when we allow others to think their sin isn’t a major one.   We do it when we make personal comfort our goal, rather than knowing we find our comfort in Christ.  We do it when we criticize others and gossip about them, rather than pray for their soul. We do it, when we don’t help those in need, or when our help is more to soothe our consciousness, rather than actually help them. This is the sin and unrighteousness that we hang on to, we protect, and we are don’t want to give up.   Though that makes very little sense.

All these things need to be cleared away.  Anxiety, fear, sin takes a straight road and turns into the spiritual version of Malibu Canyon road or trying to get one of the Black Friday super-specials.  On our own we stand a better chance of winning three consecutive state lotteries, than in being prepared for Jesus’ second coming.

We need to hear the word of God, we need to hear the John the Baptist, and be cleansed of our sins, of our idols, of the crap that blocks our way to Jesus.  We need to see His promises, we need to have the comfort He has promised, we need to know we are loved.

But there is so much that blocks us from Jesus, so much sin, so much anxiety, just so much!

How will we get it done in time?

Or will we give up and cling to the very things that poison our lives?  The things that stop us from being close to Jesus?
This is the stuff we need to get through, but it is so hard!

Is He there?
That’s where the word of God and the sacraments come into play.  Where a sermon or Bible Study that we are part of reveals Christ’s presence. When we hear the gospel  crushes that which stops us from our time with God.  Where it clears away the things that would block our access to God.   That’s how God’s word works, that is how the Holy Spirit uses it…to ready us for Jesus’s coming

Why else would people treasure it enough to wander out to the desert to hear him?  Why would they listen, what moved their hearts so much they admitted their sin?, Why would they run into the water, demonstrating that the Holy Spirit was at work in their lives, bringing them to repentance?

They gave up the game of being self-righteous, about pointing out the sins of others.  They acknowledged they needed God’s presence, and their lives were cluttered and blocked.  The crud washed away as promised, for and the word of God broke through, much as the 6’2’ 315 pound pastor can break through a crowd in a mall at Christmastime.

I want you to think about the ways Christ’s birth is declared in scripture.  A people living in utter darkness have seen a great life.  A time of healing a time of death being shattered by life, A day of the greatest rejoicing.

If that was true at Christ’s first coming to us, how much more will it be when He returns?

Hear again how Peter said in ( 2 Peter 3:8-14)


We are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.

It is the same concept, know that your life, your vitality is found in Jesus.  That His word reveals all that you need to see that the way is prepared, it has been planned, and for us, the way made sure at the cross, when Jesus died.  It is the blessing of having the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to us in our baptism. It is the blessing of having God’s word tell us of this, over and over again.

For the Spirit grants us repentance, and brings us comfort, and testifies to the promise of the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and return of Christ.

We need to know we have access to God the Father, that there is nothing that blocks us, no amount of crud, nor a temple curtain.  We’ve been invited to His feast, and He’s made sure we can know we are welcome.

Knowing that, we can have the peaceful, pure and blameless lives Peter encourages us to live in, for we dwell in Christ, He has claimed us, and He will get us home.

AMEN.

This News Strengthens Weak Hands Unsteady Legs and Racing Hearts

The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This News Strengthens Weak Hands

Unsteady Legs and Racing Hearts

Jesus, Son, Savior

As we experience the grace and mercy of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, may our hearts be calmed, and may we find ourselves strengthening others we encounter!

  The Kingdom of God is like.. Christmas Morning…

There was a rule in the house I grew up in, we were not allowed to have our feet touch the first floor of our house until 6:30 on Christmas morning.

Needless to say, by about 5:45, my sister Kelly, my brother Steve and I were crowded on the first step of the stairs, pointing out the presents under the tree, wondering which presents were for which of us.  Some of it was easy – if there were two boxes the same shape and size – one was Stephen’s, one was mine – my folks like to buy us the same thing. I think to see who would break the item the fastest?

At 6:31, my mom could be heard descending the stairs, a few moments more, my dad. That was the morning of instant coffee, for they were up late the night before, for we often didn’t get home from grampy’s until after 11.  Then they had to wrap presents, and get everything ready.

Exhausted when we woke them up, something always happened as they watched us rip open presents with the energy that only children can have.  They began to laugh and smile and enjoy themselves, despite their tired, cold, achy bones. A transformation occurred, as the tiredness somehow evaporated.  There is something about sharing joy that is transforming.

The coming of the Kingdom is like that!

The dramatic change of Isaiah’s desert and desert highlands is lost on most of us.  We can’t picture a place like Arizona suddenly looking like Yosemite, or the coastal redwoods of Santa Cruz.  We don’t see the area between here and Las Vegas all of a sudden looking like the Everglades.  The transformation is that incredible, as God comes among us.  Can we even begin to comprehend it?

We can understand the language found in verse three and four, about having the tired hands, and knees that just want to give out, and hearts that are so crushed, that they are racing because of stress and wear and tear they undergo.

We need this season of Advent to not just about to be about waiting – but to hear the news –that God is coming, that God is with us…. For then, as the King David says –

11  You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, 12  that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!Psalm 30:11-12 (NLT)

This week, the third of our advent journey, that is what we find joy in, the news of how the tired, weary and anxious are more incredibly transformed than parents were on Christmas morning!

What causes our weaknesses?  What causes our hearts to race?

It was once said that a pastor’s sermon should afflict those comfortable in sin, by comfort those afflicted by it.  Those who spiritually are tired, worn out to the point of stumbling, those whose heart races.  In other words, a lot of us in this place – are not in need of me ranting about the condition of the world, or of the sins that cause consequences in our lives.

We’ve felt them often, enough so that I can joke about needing to invest in whatever corporation owns Kleenex.  It’s why this place is called a sanctuary, a refuge – and why Sunday is our day of hiding in Christ and finding rest.

We know those Isaiah says need to be strengthened and encouraged and to lift our hearts.  Sometimes, like John the Baptist in the Gospel, we are the ones who ask – are you really there Jesus, are you really listening to us God?  Not because we don’t know – but we need to remember.

We need to know we have a real God whom cares for real people with real problems.

We need to hear God’s message, as we struggle in what seems to be a desert wilderness.

Be calm, be strengthened by this… Immanuel!

That is what advent is all about – this time where we recognize our need for God’s presence, where we try to imagine what going through this life would be like in ancient days.

Not talking about the days with black and white televisions, brownie cameras, pong video games and rotary phones.  I am talking about the days before Christ’s being born of Mary, when they knew of God, but because of Jesus not coming yet, they couldn’t quite understand the promises of the Messiah spoke of a hope beyond belief.  The hope of a desert suddenly growing plants and trees like a rainforest, the promise of ground cracked and dry, not just having enough water to become muddy, but to become a tropical paradise.

Lives that seemed dry and useless, become lives that are alive, as we bring people to Christ like freeways bringing people to LA.

Though we know Christ, and though we are learning more and more about His love, we still tire out like John the Baptist. We still lose focus on what God is doing here, Advent reminds us – that what is coming when Christ returns is incredible, a wondrous transformation even more radical than what happens when we realize that He has saved us.

That there will be a day when what we know is true in our lives, will be seen in all of creation! When everything is redeemed, when Heaven and earth is recreated, when there is no more sorrow or sadness or tears.

When God display His glory, His splendor, when life begins anew.

Not later, the change is now, if you look at it

It is with such a vision that we can revive hands and legs, and calms anxious  hearts.  This is the reason we have been entrusted with this news!

Because the truth of such a vision is that, we don’t have to wait for the transformation to begin.  It already has, the glory of God revealed clearly in ways that go beyond speech.

The Son of God, choosing to enter into this world, to come and abide with us, to restore us to the image in which we are created. To reverse in us the effects caused by sin’s brokenness.

That same Man, hanging there on a tree, paying for the sin of the past year, the sin of all creation, Our being united there in His death, so that we could rise with Him.

This vision of Isaiah that strengthens us, our weary hands, our wobbling knees and calms our hearts, that even though He has died, all the forces of evil couldn’t keep Him dead… He rose and is at the Father’s side… working on our behalf, our of love for us.

Because He was transformed from death to life, so are we. Get that, it isn’t that we will be.  We have been.  We have been changed, and we are no longer lost in the desert – we have become that highway in the desert.

As we become the highway for others in the wilderness, the work Christ does in us brings the water of life to others, and brings them to comprehend this transformation, as the Holy Spirit brings life into their barrenness.

Just as He has into ours.  We may not get it completely; we may not see the fruit and vegetation yet, but we knows His presence, and the promises that have been made sure as He has cleansed us in baptism – as He increases our faith in our times with Him.  As we pray, as He nourishes us with His word, and the promises like these in it. As He invites us to lay our burdens down, and as He strengthens us with His Body and Blood.

That’s why we become the road for others, so that they can learn of the healing, the restoration, what it means to be saved and rescued.

For Christ has come, and it changes everything far more than a parent’s weariness fades as kids unwrap presents..

That is the peace that passes all comprehension, but which we know guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

AMEN!

Look! There He is!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

Agnus Dei

Lamb of God
Son of God
You take away our sin
Lamb of God
Son of God
You take away our sin

Grant us peace!  Grant us peace!
Grant us peace! Grant us your peace!
Your peace

In a little less than an hour, those words , so familiar to Lutheran deacons, will be reintroduced to them with a new melody, as they kick off the afternoon session of their annual continuing ed conference.

They are the words we sing – after the words of institution, after the the passing of the peace, as we re-focus, and think about the Lord, and about His supper, and about why we find this feast to be The Feast.

When I got to my present church, this was when the pastor and the elders communed – while everyone else sang.  Now, we wait till after to sing, because I need the time to realize His presence, to examine myself and realize my incredible need for that presence, to comfort, to heal, to make me aware of His love, His mercy, His peace.  To welcome me to the feast where He is the host (and the double meaning of that word intended)

But I would advise you, to do the same – to take that time before communion, to stop and consider….

There He is!  There is the Lamb of God, the very one John the Baptist pointed out to His disciples.  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…. So let our cries go out to Him.  Lord – grant us peace, grant us your peace!!!!!

And as we leave every burden at the rail… as He takes them from us…may we walk away with a smile that betrays the fact that because He has invited us there…. we do know His peace.

Look – there He is… the Lamb of God… for you!

And so may you voice with Simeon – as you take and drink, as you receive His gift…

Nunc Dimittis

O Lord now let your servants depart in heavenly peace
For we have seen the great salvation of Christ our Lord

For-told by the prophets
fulfilled for all to see
A light unto the nations
and Israel’s glory

 All glory to the Father

All glory to the Son
All glory to the Spirit

The Great God Three in One

As it was in the beginning
Is now and shall ever be
Amen! Amen! Amen!

For you are His…forever!

Lamb

Lamb (Photo credit: freefotouk)

Share what you have.. and it is priceless…

Devotional thought of the day:

10 The crowds asked, “What should we do?” 11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” Luke 3:10-11 (NLT) 

Simple acts of love, really that is all John the Baptist is encouraging people to do, to show their love for God.  Jesus of course will clarify this, He will make it a clear call to love God, and to love our neighbor, by demonstrating that.

As I read this though, I wondered how John the Baptist would phrase this today.  Would he only talk about physical clothes and physical food, or because the people of God have a far greater treasure, would we be called to share something more valuable, priceless.

Even as we should share of our physical clothes, how much more should we share of our spiritual clothing…

 25 But now that faith has come we are no longer under a slave looking after us; 26 for all of you are the children of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus, 27 since every one of you that has been baptised has been clothed in Christ. Galatians 3:25-27 (NJB)

And the food – even as we share food baskets with those who have less, isn’t there also a desire that they share in a heavenly feast?  The one Paul talks of here?

16 The blessing-cup, which we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ; and the loaf of bread which we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 And as there is one loaf, so we, although there are many of us, are one single body, for we all share in the one loaf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (NJB)

We have been given the greatest of treasures, the greatest of blessings, something that is described a the light breaking through the darkness, that which brings hope to the darkest desperation, that which brings love, where the was only hate, life where there was only death.  Should we not share this as well?  Should we not love our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers enough?

I love the way the Roman Catholic Pope said it – in a picture a friend shared this morning on Facebook:  It pretty much sums it up…

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