Saturday, May 24, 2008

Galatians 3:23-29 - God lives in community

Scripture: Galatians 3:23-29

Summary: We are all children of God. It doesn't matter if we are Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, we all belong to Christ.

Thoughts: This past Sunday was Trinity Sunday. The Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) has always been one of the pieces of the Christian faith that I had to believe totally on faith. I have a Masters Degree in Mathematics and it is difficult to be told that 3 equals 1. I can't comprehend it. But I can understand that the Trinity is a community. That God lives in community in the Trinity. And so God sets an example for us to live in community, with God and with all other humans, and with creation. No exceptions.

Prayer: God the father, please remind us that you created the world and we should care for it as we would our own offspring. God the son, help us to remember that you came to earth to tell us about the coming of the reign of God, or the dream of God. And God the spirit, help us to always be awared of your presence and all that we can do with your help. Help us to awake each day determined to advance the dream of God so that this world will be a place where all can flourish. Amen.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Acts 16:6-10 - Taken where you do not want to go

Scripture: Acts 16:6-10

Summary: This scripture is about some of Paul's travels. He wants to go to several places that the Holy Spirit will not let him go. Then he has a vision of a man from Macedonia pleading for him to go there. Paul goes because he believes that God has called them to proclaim the good news to them.

Thoughts: God refuses to let Paul go to several places that he thinks he should go. And then God sends him somewhere he wasn't planning to go. What I like about this story is Paul's response. He doesn't seem to question what God is trying to tell him. When will I get to the point that I know for sure that it is God telling me where to go or not to go? How do I discern the source of the voice telling me that I need to go somewhere? Sometimes God's voice is very clear to me. Other times, it's not until I look back on the decision that I see God's hand in my choice. I long to be like Paul and have more certainty in my life. But, certainly, Paul wasn't always clear either. I need to learn to give it time and space.

Prayer: Please God, give me a better ability to discern your will in my life. I pray, as I do almost constantly, to be able to hear and see and feel your will for my life more closesly. Give me the quiet space to be able to discern more clearly. Amen.

Monday, April 28, 2008

John 21:18-19 - Taken where you do not want to go

Scripture: John 21:18-19

Summary: Jesus tells Peter, when you were younger you went wherever you wished. But when you grow old, someone else will take you where you don't want to go. Then he told him, "follow me."

Thoughts: I have days I don't really want to follow Jesus. Days that I'm much too busy doing the things that I need to do. There's no time to take for the person who is hurting and needs to talk after church. There's no time to read the Bible, no time to pray. This is probably the area that I am the worst at. You can see this by the frequency of this blog. This semester has been the busiest semester I have had in years. And my Bible study has suffered because of it. If only I could remember that the day flows better when I have taken time to read God's word, to pray, and to listen for God. Because I want to be willing to go where I don't want to go. Somedays I do follow Jesus and go where I don't want. I took a job that I didn't have time to take. And I have never regretted it. I see God in the eyes of those youth every time I am with them. And I am better for it. I want to make those kind of decisions more often. The blindly following Jesus kind. I want to follow, even to those places I don't want to go.

Prayer: Help me to follow you, oh Lord. To take time to read your word and meditate on it. To take time to pray and to listen for your answer. To be willing to take that path that seems so hard. I am so weak God. Give me strength to follow you, as a lamb follows the shepherd. Amen.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Galatians 5:22-26 - Love Makes the Difference

Scripture: Galatians 5:22-26

Summary: The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Let's live by the Spirit and be guided by the Spirit.

Thoughts: Sometimes we get so caught up in loving God and following Jesus that we forget the Spirit and the gifts that we receive from the Spirit. Not to say that God and Jesus are not important, only that the Spirit is equally so. How much better would our lives be if we spent time each dayfocusing on the gifts that the Spirit brings to us. I know that I could definitely use more patience, for example!

Prayer: Holy Spirit, I know that you are with me always, but often I am not listening to you. Open my heart so that I might hear your nudgings more clearly. Amen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

John 11:28-37 - Love Makes the Difference

Scripture: John 11:28-37

Summary: This scripture occurs after Jesus' friend, Lazarus, dies. His sisters Mary and Martha send for Jesus but he dies before Jesus gets there. In the reading, Jesus arrives at their house and Mary tells him that if he had been her Lazarus wouldn't have died. Everyone is crying and Jesus begins to cry too. Then they ask if Jesus could not have kept him from dying. It is here the reading ends. Most of us know that next in the story Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, but this is not in today's reading.

Thoughts: Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus as if they were his own family. He was sad that his friend had died and sad that his other friends were grieving that loss. Just as Jesus loved Lazarus and his family, so God loves us. And in response to the love of God, we are called to love one another. Mother Teresa tells of nuns that come to help her in Calcutta and when they left they said "I have received much more than I have given and I can never be the same person again; because I have touched Christ, I have understood what love is. What it is to love and to be loved!" It is often through contact with the least of these that we are led to really understand God's love.

Prayer: Loving God, may our love for You, and for all of humanity, continue to grow in the presence of Your love for us. Amen.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Luke 5:1-11 - From Fear to Courage

Scripture: Luke 5:1-11

Summary: This is the story of Jesus calling 3 of the disciples, who were fisherman. First he asks them to take him out in the boat where he preaches to the crowd. Then he has them let down their nets. The catch is so big they need help to bring it in. Then they leave everything and follow Jesus.

Thoughts: When Jesus tells them to let down their nets, Peter says that they have been fishing all day and caught nothing. But then he says that if Jesus tells him to, he will let down the net. Peter doesn't want to waste time continuing to fish when there have been no fish all day long. But Jesus spoke with such authority that Peter was willing to try one more time. This is what I want to change in my life. I want to be willing to put down my net one more time, even if I haven't caught anything all day. Especially on those Sundays when nothing seems to go right at church and all day you have been battling technology that isn't working, or youth that have a 30 second attention span. And then all of the sudden, Jesus tells you to let your net down one more time. And you take a moment to talk with your youth about accepting diversity. And they hear you. They get it. But not because you let the net down any differently. But because the Holy Spirit touched their hearts. Because it's never what I have done, but what God has done through me.

Prayer: Please continue to remind me that I am not the one who saves people. Only God can do that. But sometimes God can use my words to reach those people around me. Let me be willing to let down my net one more time, even when it seems hopeless. And let me listen well enough to hear the command from Jesus to let down my net. Amen.

Monday, April 14, 2008

John 20:19-23 - From Fear to Courage

Scripture: John 20:19-23

Summary: After Jesus' resurrection, the disciples have locked themselves in a room for fear of the Jews. Jesus appears in the midst of them, saying "Peace be with you." Then he breathes on them so that they receive the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts: Peace be with you. This is the first thing that Jesus says to the disciples when he appears before them in the locked room. He knows that they are afraid of the Jews. They are afraid of falling prey to the same group of people who crucified Jesus. But Jesus comes to them and tells them twice, to have peace. Our lives are never going to be easy. Becoming a Christian doesn't remove all the problems from our lives. But it does give us someone who will face those problems with us. Jesus gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives, to help us live in the dream of God, rather than the nightmare of earthly desires. Through the gift of the Spirit our lives can be transformed, and we can begin to transform the world around us.

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, come. Abide in us and remind us daily of Jesus' words: Peace be with you. Amen.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Luke 24:13-27 - Jesus Meets Us On the Way

Scripture: Luke 24:13-27

Summary: This is the story of the walk to Emmaus. Two disciples are heading to Emmaus and they meet a stranger who explains to them everything that happened with Jesus. When they reach Emmaus they ask the stranger to stay and eat with them. When he breaks the bread they realize that it is Jesus and he disappears. Then they say to each other, weren't our hearts burning within us while he talked to us?

Thoughts: OK, it's been almost 2 months since I've blogged. I knew it would be a busy semester, but nothing like this! 10.5 hours of classes in seminary and a 20 hour a week job plus other jobs are overwhelming me! But here I am finally. So... This scripture reminds me that the risen Christ walks beside each of us, every day. And as Reuben Job says, he is "awaiting our invitation to stay with us, break bread with us, interpret life for us, give us hope, and share in our thanksgiving." What more could we ask for but to have Jesus by our side each day to help us with our daily trials? We have only to invite him to join us. And finally, let's don't forget that Jesus was made known to these disciples in the breaking of the bread. This is one reason that I never pass up an opportunity for communion. I want to break bread with the risen Christ.

Prayer: Lord, open our eyes so that we might feel your presence with us on our daily journey. Let us share a meal with you and then share a meal with those on the margins. Help me to remember always to share what I have. Amen.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hebrews 4:1-11 - Come and Rest Awhile

Scripture: Hebrews 4:1-11

Summary: This scripture encourages us to enter into God's rest, much as God rested on the 7th day of creation.

Thoughts: The scripture says "let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it," speaking about God's rest. I don't know about you, but I could really use some rest! I'm behind in my reading for all of my classes and I have 2 conference retreats to plan for in the next 2 weeks! I'm stressed and feeling like I don't have 5 minutes to rest and reflect. But Reuben Job says "Decide today to establish a way of life that includes time for daily prayer, reflection, and regular worship in a congregation." I'm already doing the regular worship thing every Sunday. My church is awesome and feeds me. But I'm not taking the time each day to pray, reflect, and listen for God. God wants to spend time with me even more than I want to spend time with God. So why is that not happening? It's because I'm not making the time. So maybe, in this season of Lent, you and I can find the time to give to God. Because even just 5 minutes with God each day will feed us in ways we can't even imagine!

Prayer: Steadfast God, you are there, waiting, patiently, for me to make time for you. You, who have given me everything, long for some time with me each day. Let me be willing to make that time for you so that you might feed me. Amen.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Psalm 63:1-8 - The wisdom of seeking God

Scripture: Psalm 63:1-8

Summary: The main point of this scripture is that praise is due to God. God forgives us and delivers us.

Thoughts: I missed a week of blogging so I'm going to cover last week's topic today and do this week's later in the week. This psalm talks about the wisdom of seeking God in a sideways manner. Rather than telling us why it is important to seek God, the writer tells us why we might want to seek God. Those who live in God's courts are happy, God forgives sin, God delivers us, God is awesome. All very good reasons for seeking God. I just got back on Saturday from Fredericksburg, TX where I attended a service celebrating the life of my aunt Lois. Although Lois was not perfect (none of us really are!), she did make the decision late in her life to really study the Bible and theology. She attended a few classes in seminary. And she was studying the Bible using the Interpreters Study Bible (all 12 volumes!). She took her faith seriously and she was constantly seeking God. Am I taking it seriously this call to seek God? Am I wise, as my aunt was, in structuring my life so that I will have time to seek God? Or am I putting off those things that help me seek? Honestly, when my day fills up, it is often my Bible study time that gets neglected. These next few months, until May, are going to be very busy. I need help challenging myself to keep up the Bible study and prayer time. I need to seek God with more vigor.

Prayer: Lord, remind me daily how critical it is to my health, physically and mentally and spiritually, to seek after you constantly. Amen.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Matthew 2:13-18 - Dangerous Journey

Scripture: Matthew 2:13-18

Summary: After Jesus is born, an angel tells Joseph to take Jesus to Egypt because Herod wants to kill him. They go to Egypt and Herod kills all children under 2 years old.

Thoughts: First let me say that I am sorry for taking a month off! But I am going to attempt to blog at least a couple of times a week now, so here goes... So often the Christian life is discussed only in terms of the gifts and benefits that come from being a Christian. But it is also a dangerous journey. If we truly live as Jesus did, striving for the reign of God, we will make those in power angry. So being a Christian could make life more difficult for us, rather than making it easier. So why would anyone choose this way of life? Because, first, the promise of the fulfullment of the reign of God, where no one suffers and all have the same opportunities is worth striving for. Second, with God's help anything is possible. We can't do it on our own. But with God behind us, we can do anything!

Prayer: This is a dangerous journey that we have undertaken Lord. We often feel unable to continue. But you make it possible for us, not only to make it through, but to push ever forward. For you are a steadfast God, ever with us. Amen.