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.