pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


Leave a comment

Hands and Feet

Reading: Luke 14: 12-14

Verse 13: “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed”.

The list Jesus suggests in Luke 14 is not all-inclusive. Do not think that because you do not know or encounter anyone on this list, that you are off the hook. This is a general list of who was marginalized by society in Jesus’ day. Back then there was no government assistance, no shelters, homes, or places for the blind… Add to this the Jewish understanding of sin causing said ailments and conditions, and these were the people who lived on the fringes, who had to depend on the kindness of strangers to survive.

In my last community there was a sizeable homeless population. There were lots of opportunities to serve a meal, to help out financially or with other donations, to even engage personally. In my early years my involvement was helping to cook and servr a meal at the shelter or giving someone on the street a few dollars. As opportunity arose I began volunteering one afternoon a week at a day center for the homeless and thr economically disadvantaged. This connected me in a new way to those living on the fringes. In turn, I was able to invite someone to lunch instead of just giving them the $5 they were asking for. Maybe that is past your comfort zone, but there is a place to start.

Maybe you do not have homeless persons in your community. But there are certainly opportunities to give to those in need. Perhaps you cannot give monetarily, but we all have time. In my new community there are no homeless people, but there are many struggling financially. For these, help with an electric bill or with a little food or clothing are opportunities for ministry. For those who are gifted accordingly, helping someone to budget and understand money can make a huge difference.

There are many other ways to minister in every community. On Saturdays, during visitation time, folks from church go to the jail and hang out and color with the children whose moms or dads or grandparents are visiting a loved one. Our youth decorate Christmas cookies with the residents of assisted living centers and then make them Valentine’s cards later in the year. There are many ways we can be the hands and feet of Jesus. How can this happen in your community?

Prayer: Lord, help us all to see the opportunities to serve those on the edges. Lead us to be your hands and feet. Show us how to build relationships as we minister to those in need. Amen.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

The Blood

Reading: Exodus 12: 1-11

Verse Seven: Take some of the blood and put it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses…

After many years of slavery in Egypt, God is about to free His chosen people.  He has heard their cries and has sent Moses to free them.  Nine plagues have hardened Pharaoh’s heart but the tenth will set them free.  It will become a touchstone moment for the Israelites.  This event is so important that God resets the calendar to zero to begin the next stage in the history of His people.  It is an event that continues to be celebrated yearly in Jewish homes.

God gives specific instructions for this night – select a lamb or goat without defect and care for it for four days in your home.  Slaughter it at twilight and roast the meat over a fire.  Do not boil it or eat it raw.  Eat or burn all of it.  Eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.  Eat it in haste – with your cloak tucked in and sandals on your feet and staff in hand.  Be ready when Pharaoh relents.  And the blood.  “Take some of the blood and put it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses”.  Take the blood from the sacrifice and use it to mark yourself as mine, says God.  Celebrate the meal exactly this way.  Trust in God and the plan He has laid out.  Trust and follow the plan.  Know that God is with you and will go with you wherever you will go.  Every year Jews celebrate the Passover, remember God’s promises, and look forward to continuing to live in His promises.

The same imagery and message come on the cross.  Remember the blood of the Lamb.  Remember how Jesus bled for you and for me.  Celebrate the blood that washes away our sin and marks us as holy and pure in God’s sight.  And remember the promises: the cross is because I love you.  I will be with you always.  I will never leave you or forsake you.  I love you.  Thanks be to God for His everlasting promises of love and grace.  We are and always will be His.  Thanks be to God.


Leave a comment

Fruitful Practices

Reading: Acts 2: 42-47

Verse 42: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.

The early church practiced some things that made it a strong and vibrant church.  These practices helped those in the community of faith to grow stronger in their own faith and they also attracted others into the community.  They first devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.  In this the people got to know Jesus more and more.  They deepened their understanding of Christ and His call upon their lives.  We continue this practice to this day.  We gather in our places of worship to hear the Word proclaimed.  We also study our Bibles and read devotionals and books to deepen our personal relationship with Christ.

The early church also devoted themselves to fellowship.  They spent lots of time together discussing their faith and sharing their lives with one another.  It was a way to build relationships with each other and to support and encourage each other.  It was also a way to talk about their faith – both the challenges and what God was doing in their lives.  We continue these practices today as we gather after worship, as we meet together for coffee or lunch, as we come together in small groups to study and serve God.

Early followers of the Way often broke bread together.  The breaking of bread was partly meal, partly communion.  Only in the latter church would communion be separated out and come to resemble what we practice today.  The common meal together was like an old-fashioned pot luck.  All brought what they could to share with each other.  In this early setting, the church would also break bread to remember the gift of Jesus on the cross.  Many of us will do so today as well.

Lastly, the early followers prayed together regularly.  They would spend time together as a community in prayer.  They would know each other well from the times of worship and fellowship and meals.  So prayer time was intimately connected and very powerful.  We experience this at times in worship but most often experience it in our small groups that have developed a deeper level of care and trust.

“And daily the Lord added to their number those who were being saved”.  Through our practices of faith and because of our community of faith, may the Lord increase those who are being saved.