Monday, March 31, 2008

Jesus in the Old Testament

Tremble, O Earth, at the presence of the Lord, who turned the hard rock into a pool of water, and flint stone into a flowing spring. (Ps. 114, ELW)

It is still snowing in Minnesota. This should not be particulary shocking to anyone who has lived here for long, but it's getting annoying. We can finally see the grass and it gets all covered up again! It's a gentle reminder that I'm not in charge of the weather. I asked the two 4 year olds that I picked up from preschool today, "who said it could snow?" One of them answered without a pause "Jesus."

Jesus can calm the waves and quiet the winds, I guess he can send snow on Easter Sunday. God who created the heavens and the earth can hold back the seas, make the stones cry out, and turn the rock of Christ's Tomb into a one-way street to salvation.

That same God has written your name in the Book of Life, knows every hair on your head, and has plans for you that are good, very good. God watches over your goings in and your goings out, your smiles and frowns, your work and your play.

Thanks be to God!

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's not just me..

Paul writes to the Corinthians: Whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out His special favor on me...It makes no difference whether I preach, or they preach. The important thing is that you believed what we preached to you.

Listen to lots of good preachers and you will hear truth from lots of different voices. All of whom are speaking by God's Grace, of God's Grace.

Just a reminder to us preachers that we are interchangable, the important thing is the Word, and the reception, not the preacher!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

No more Dead Ends

But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.'

Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

The Wednesday after Easter, we can still read the Easter Gospel and be encouraged that Christ goes ahead of us, always.

No matter how often you think you've hit a dead end, and there is no where to go except back, remember that Christ has gone ahead of you, so there must be somewhere to go!

I don't pretend to say that there won't be any bumps in the road, or that life will always be as smooth as a brand new highway.

For the last 6 months or more, there has been road construction at my favorite I-35W exit. As the workers tear down old bridges to build new ones there are "road closed" signs all over. It gets to be a bit of a pain at times, when it is hard to see around the big piles of dirt. Slowly and surely, though, there is progress. One new span opened last November. A new stoplight makes turning in and out of the YMCA much easier. New trusses promise another new span soon. Then with all new lights and everything the intersection will be much easier and safer to navigate.

God may not be in the road construction business, but God is in the life construction business. Sometimes stops and new starts, endings and beginnings, nights and new days are part of life. If we listen to the angels, "Christ has gone on ahead of you" and will meet you and be with you in whatever life brings. This month's layoff may give opportunity for a new career. Next week's funeral will bring sadness, sorrow, and a reminder of hope. Yesterday's road closure may bring a new, smoother, safer road.

Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thanks be to God!

Ever feel like life is an uphill climb with no end in sight, and you have a toddler sitting on your shoulders?

Last May, the kids and I went to Delaware Gap National Park. We climbed Dingman's Falls and the steps just kept going up and up and up. Miriam was one and she did her best to keep climbing, but then I had to carry her part way up.

We just kept going, and going and going. And then we got to the top, and it was all worth it. Eastern Pennsylvania is just gorgeous in late May, and back home in Minnesota it was still very grey. At the top, I know I said " Thanks be to God" for all of it: getting to the top, and seeing God's beautiful creation.

The Wednesday in Holy Week readings have a great deal of "just keep going" messages.
Is. 50:7: "Because the LORD helps me, I will not be dismayed...and I know I will triumph!"
Ps. 70:1-2 "Please God, rescue me! ...May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace"
Heb. 12:1 "Let us run with endurance the race which God has set before us"
Jesus needed those encouragements, as much as we do. He knew that his path didn't end in a beautiful waterfall, but death. He knew that the top steps were marked by the betrayal and denial of his best friends, not the smiling faces of super-fast sons. And Jesus did keep going. For us, for our salvation.
Thanks be to God!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The house was filled with the fragrance.

John 12:1-11: the reading for Monday of Holy Week, 2008.

Mary, in this case presumably Lasarus' sister, bring the big bottle of expensive nard to anoint Jesus. Mary was the one who sat at Jesus' feet and listened while her sister fussed over the soup. She broke the bottle and poured the whole thing on Jesus' feet.

The house was filled with the fragrance.

What fragrance is your house filled with this week?

Corned Beef? (it is St. Patrick's Day today)

Hot Crossed Buns?

Wiggly Children? (if it's Spring Break)



Jesus fills our heats and minds with Hope, even in the midst of fear and darkness.

The housing market is on the edge of collapse.

The stock market is not far behind.

The church budget is way behind.

Nothing is certain anymore.

Except Death, and Taxes.

Except that Death has been defeated, and we don't have to fear death any more. Christ rose from the dead so that we will have eternal life. Even though our mortal bodies must die, at least that gets rid of the taxes!

May the fragrance of Hope in Eternal Life fill your House.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Clay Pot kind of day

Ever had a clay pot kind of day? It's grey, cool (32f) and Friday. The readings for the Friday before Palm Sunday are Psalm 31:9-16, Job 13:13-19 and Philippians 1:21-30.

The Psalm selection is especially depressing, and the first place I found the clay pot reference, in fact the psalmist declares that " I am as useless as a broken pot."

Job is almost never uplifting, and here he's railing at his friends for trying to argue God's side, and not doing a particularly good job. He calls them clay pots, full of ash.

Even Philippians today is rather grim: 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. Paul is sure he will stay alive to do God's will, but somehow finds strength in suffering and struggling for Christ.

Clay pots are utilitarian, cheap and breakable.

On a clay pot kind of day I feel useless, cheap, and broken.

Then I remember the Genesis passage telling me that God molded human beings out of the clay, into God's own image.

Most of my favorite serving bowls are clay pots.
Utilitarian, yes, or perhaps Useful. As in full of uses.
Not exactly cheap, but not as expensive as silver or mass produced china. I like to find my pots in the potters studio, where I can see the wheel and the kiln in the background. Those pots carry the image of their maker with them.
Breakable, yes. But, then I have an excuse to go visit the potter again.

You are UseFull! God has good plans for you, sometimes carrying cookies, sometimes holding the scraps to go to the compost. Some days the table is set for a festival, other days it's just family. Even a holey pot can be life saving when it filters water. You are made for the glory of God.

You are not cheap! You do have your maker's image etched in your very being. Let people know where you came from, who make you, who moves you. You are not mass-produced, you are beautiful in your individuality.

You are breakable. For we have all fallen short of the glory of God. But Christ, as the potter, re-makes us and shapes us into something that will not break in the eyes of God. Over and over again, Christ makes us new.

You are Good Clay Pots!

Thanks be to God.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Even the rocks shall sing His praises

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." from Revelation 11:15-19. March 7, 2008.

Are you singing that in your head, or, with your voice?

It is from the last piece in Handel's "Messiah."

If you have ever learned the whole thing, or even parts of it, I suspect it rings in your ears when you hear or read the bible passages that Handel used as lyrics.

We can't help but sing God's praise. The earth and the sky break forth in song, so do we.

What's your favorite praise song?

Amazing Grace?

Blessed Be the Name?

or something else?

Sing, and be glad!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Do you believe I can do this?

Wednesday, March 5.
Matthew 9:27-34
vs. 28: Jesus asked the two blind men, “Do you believe I can make you see?”

Do you believe God can do this?

Give sight to the blind

make the lame to walk

heal the leaper

feed 5000 people with five loaves and two fish

rise from the dead

sit at the right hand of God

If we believe all that, why is it so hard to believe that God is doing any of it today?

I know a girl born blind who can now see.

I've see the lame walk after knee or hip replacement

My own father is a cancer survivor

God is still working miracles

Don't forget to ask

"Can you heal me?"

And be ready to believe