Commitment

Posted by on Feb 28, 2021 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Commitment

Good morning, friends!!! Hope you have enjoyed the warmer temperatures this last week and the bright sunshine! We see the gradual approach of Spring. Dear Lord…as we move into the second Sunday of Lent in 2021, please help keep us safe and well so that we can live out our commitment to you to be your disciple here on earth. As you know, it isn’t always an easy task, but you are with us being our shield and armor and along with the Holy Spirit leading and teaching us. Thank you, Lord, for accepting us into your family and kingdom.On this 2nd Sunday of Lent, our gospel lesson comes from Mark 8:31-38. This passage is the first one in which Jesus predicts his suffering and all he will experience. It is interesting that at this point in the educating of the disciples, Jesus tells them that his role as Messiah cannot be separated from suffering, death and resurrection.In the verses just before this statement by Jesus, He had asked the people who they thought he was. Peter declared he was the Messiah and asked the disciples to not tell anyone about this. Peter declared this just after several incidents in which they had seen Jesus heal a bind man as well as feel a large group of people. The Israelites were waiting for the Messiah to come to them and free them from Roman rule, etc. Here, we see Jesus speaking openly to those listening to him what would happen to the Son of Man. Peter took Jesus aside and asked him to not speak that way. I’m sure Peter as a human was concerned about what the ramification of such statements would be both for Jesus and for the disciples. It was clear that Jesus pronounced himself as the Son of Man. Now…Jesus rebuked Peter who was being tempted to ask Jesus to do something so that he will not have to experience what he has just told them about.. He was also telling Peter to put his mind on spiritual things…not totally human things. Actually, “Satan” was different from Peter who was really acting like a spokesman. When do we find ourselves saying something that we know within minute we shouldn’t have said…because we weren’t reflecting the fact that we are one of Jesus’ disciples? This was what was true with Peter who was hoping his statement would change Jesus’ prediction.We also need to remember that in this culture, the cross is a sign of cruelty, something only criminals will experience and not a pleasant sign to think about. The Romans used crucifixion to further their control over the people and the people in Galilee had seen many, many people crucified. It wasn’t a popular sign for people to consider.So, when Jesus said that the people must take up their cross and follow him…I cannot imagine what fear and distress would have entered their minds. What Jesus is really asking of the people is that they commit to following him and live for others and not for themselves. He is offering them the chance to become part of his family and taking on the name of “Christian” as our name.Jesus goes on to tell the people that they need to deny any self-centeredness in their lives and not have their minds set on human interests. Jesus also continues by saying that those who take up the cross and commit to following him will lose their current life, but will gain eternal life. They will gain access to the world to spread God’s word to all people. They...

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We Are the Sign

Posted by on Feb 18, 2021 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on We Are the Sign

Dear Lord…as we look at your words to us this first Sunday of Lent…speak to us. Thank you for the signs you give us that you are in our lives. Thank you for the forgiveness you offer us as your children who you have giving the mission of making disciples in this world, but often fall short. Help us realize that we are the sign of your promises to all people.Our gospel for this first Sunday in the season of Lent is from Mark 1:9-15. We have considered this reading a few weeks ago when we looked at the meaning of our baptism and reaffirmed our baptism with each other. The other reading we will be considering today is from Genesis 9:8-17.One of my favorite movies is “Evan Almighty”. This is the movie that puts into pictures a man in supposedly current times who God asked to make an ark. It always makes me realize that God is always with us….guiding and protecting us. What the evil one of the characters did for his own pleasure was to build a dam that was not built to specifications and was in danger of producing a flood if there was a hard rain and destroying homes and lives. We saw God portrayed in several scenes talking with the man who God wanted to build the ark. God appeared to the wife when she wasn’t willing to stay with the man. We saw the children helping build the ark, the animals also helping and we learned at the end that what had been exhibited by all were “Acts of Random Kindness.”What we see in the verses from Genesis is the promise God made to Noah when the ark had saved Noah and his family from the flood. God promised to never do this again and stated that he would remember his promise (covenant) with the appearance of a rainbow after a rain or storm. Don’t we all LOVE to see rainbows? We, also, remember this promise God made to Noah and to us. It was the sign to remind all that God promised life to all and would not destroy everything again.Now…to the gospel reading. We see Jesus being baptized by John…and the voice Jesus heard from God, ”You are my beloved Son, in whom I’m well pleased.” As soon as Jesus heard this, Mark writes that he went off to the wilderness for 40 days. God’s statement about Jesus really began his earthly ministry. So, Mark hints that by going off to the wilderness for 40 days, Jesus was preparing himself for that ministry…as when he returned from there, he began calling his disciples and proclaiming the good news.I find it interesting that Jesus went off by himself for 40 days…and we are to begin looking at ourselves during Lent to see what we can add to our lives to grow as God’s disciples. We are asked to repent, which is really changing one way of acting to one that reflects our promises to follow what God wants us to do. There will be times when we will be tempted, as Jesus was…but remember that God is always with us protecting us. He never leaves us or forsakes us.Jesus was concerned with helping people who were in need as well as being healed. Jesus had left the family who raised him to do the work God had designated for him that began at his baptism. He took the 40 days to train and prepare for his ministry. So, you ask…what about the “sign”? Jesus was the sign that God is always...

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Follow, Listen, Tell

Posted by on Feb 17, 2021 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Follow, Listen, Tell

Dear Lord…we are going to be looking at your Transfiguration this week. You come to us in so many ways…through friends, through smiles, through words spoken by others as we are listening and learning. Be with us as we continue to work as your disciples…we have chosen to be your followers. We are also being asked to listen to your words…as we read your words in the Bible. You also speak to us in our own thoughts and direct us. Help us know your voice, listen to you and then tell others about your love and forgiveness. Today, we are celebrating Jesus transfiguration. This event took place just about six days after Jesus had told his disciples about his coming death and resurrection. As usual, Mark has a lot of things that we will be unwrapping as we consider these verses from Mark 9:2-9.It is important for us to remember that for the gospel writer, Mark, the coming of the Kingdom was not predicting the end of the world, but that it is an ongoing process where God’s words and God’s will are being made known to the world and told to others.This section of Mark begins just six days after Jesus has told the disciples about his pending arrest, death and resurrection. Can you imagine the feelings of those followers when they heard this? How would you have reacted to being told that the teacher you have been following for 3 years will be arrested, beaten, crucified and then resurrected? It could have been hard to believe and an instance of now wanting to even think about it.Notice that Jesus took only Peter, James and John with him to the high mountain. These were probably his three “core” disciples, who He knew would help the other continue in their mission, and this experience would eventually be clear to them.As they all approached the high mountain, Jesus suddenly was clothed in white robes…an indication of righteousness and heavenly existence. Not only did he appear in the white robes, but he changed from within as he was talking with Elijah and Moses. Elijah was an indication of the Law and the Prophets were indicated by the presence of Moses. It is the first time that both the disciples and we…as followers….see Jesus as both human and divine. The fact that Jesus was the Son of God is reaffirmed by the voice of God, saying “This is my Son, the beloved, listen to him.” This was spoken after Peter, who had rejected Jesus’ words about his impending arrest, death and resurrection in the previous chapter, suddenly, in the awe of seeing Jesus, Elijah and Moses together, wanted to build a temple to each of them. He is thrilled with the display of heavenly glory. He was positive that the Kingdom of God had come.Look at the important aspects of this transfiguration. This even happened on earth where Jesus will reign. He is the kingdom of God come to earth. The disciples experienced this event almost like a dream…an altered state of consciousness. God speaking to them assured them of Jesus’ divinity and told them to listen to him. Twice now, Mark has used God’s words to declare that Jesus is the Son of God…first at his baptism and now at his transfiguration.It is important for us to realize that the disciples saw the human Jesus who ate with them, washed his hands, washed their feet, taught the people about what was coming…as well as the divine Son of God. We, too, are seeing this in these verses. We, too are created...

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Authority and Change

Posted by on Feb 1, 2021 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Authority and Change

Dear Lord….Thank you so very much for your guiding hand in our lives. Thank you for creating us and choosing us to do your work in your world. We know it’s not an easy task and it wasn’t easy for you, either. You understand us and are always with us to help us. Be with us as we continue to maneuver through your world.The gospel lesson for the 4th Sunday after Epiphany is from Mark 1:21-28. Within the first chapter of Mark’s gospel he has included many events in the life of Jesus…with little detail. Much of what he has written has very subtle backgrounds.In this passage, Jesus and his followers have moved to Capernaum, an area north of the Sea of Galilee. By this time, it may be assumed that many people have heard of Jesus, where he came from and who he worked with. What is interesting about the beginning of this section is that Jesus is teaching from his own authority, not from the self-seeking rabbi’s. It is amazing to the people he’s talking to because they were aware of the fact that Jesus and Joseph were carpenters and here he is, teaching the people with authority. The authority he is teaching with is God’s authority. Jesus’ authority was recognized by the demon who had possessed one of the people present. This demon stated that Jesus was the Holy One and accused Jesus of coming to destroy “them”…possibly mistaken originally for people…and not only for demons. However, the words of the demon-possessed person as well as Jesus’ action of rebuking the demon, causing him to come out of the person only confirmed Jesus’ God-given authority. All of these actions only confirmed Jesus’ authority from his teaching in the temple to the declaration and destroying the unclean spirit and to the crowd’s reaction to what they had seen. Here was a man who was human, but was able the actions of a demon-possessed person, heal that person who was obsessed and teach in the synagogue. Can you imagine seeing all of these things happening at the same time? What would you think when you saw the demon coming out of the man…and the man collapsing on the floor. It wasn’t stated, but I would expect that this person would have been cared for by some of the people in attendance. For me, there would have been no question as to who Jesus was and by what authority He was working and teaching. We, too, would have been shocked.Jesus was asking the people to keep silent about what they had seen. Jesus did not want to have the self-seeking praise that most teachers in the synagogue had. He wanted his actions to be seen as humble and caring for the people…not himself. He expected no favor from the actions…no praise, no repayment. How different! Do we sometimes expect thanks, repayment, praise for our actions? How many times do we act for other people just because we know it’s the right thing to do?We, too, are being challenged to stand against the evil in our world. How many things can you think of that were true evil…such as the happenings at Columbine, Sandy Hook, other things? There are so many other ways we are challenged to stand up against the wrongs in the world. We have the power and authority of Jesus with us and with all of us who had accepted Jesus as our Savior. In the baptism ritual, we went through a couple of weeks ago, we answered this question, “Do you accept the freedom and power...

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