Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Reading: Psalm 104: 24-34 & 35b

Verse 24: “How many are your works, O Lord! In your wisdom you made them all”.

Here in south central South Dakota it looks a little gloomy this morning. It is overcast and breezy and a little cool. Outside my window I can hear the chorus of many birds filling the morning air. Along the front and side of the house flowers are blooming, bursting forth with color. The leaves on the trees are vibrant colors of green and the lush grass sways rhythmically in the gentle breeze. The world outside testifies to today’s opening verse: “How many are your works, O Lord! In your wisdom you made them all”. Thanks be to God!

If one steps outside my little corner of the world, the diversity of God’s creation grows exponentially. God’s creativity and wisdom brought us thousands of kinds of birds and thousands of kinds of fish and animals and trees and crops and flowers and… and… and… God designed a world that nourishes itself with rains and floods and cleanses itself with fires. He created the seasons not just to bring us variety but also to guide patterns of life. Our world is really an amazing place, all under God’s loving care. As verse 30 says, “You send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth”.

As creatures if this creation, as stewards, we play a role in helping to love our earth and all its creatures. Verse 31 reads, “May the glory of the Lord endure forever”. May it indeed! To this end, may we each play our role well, caring for all that God has blessed us with this day. May our praises to God give thanks for this gift of life all around us and may we rejoice in God’s creation today!

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A New Thing

Reading: John 2: 13-22

Verse Fifteen: “He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area.”

Today’s passage is one of those instances where we see Jesus is mad. He creates a big ruckus in the temple by driving out all the merchants who sold animals for sacrifices and the money changers who exchanged coins so that people could pay the temple tax.

Although there was certainly corruption in these two systems, they did help facilitate worship for many of the pilgrims who came to the three yearly festivals. For some pilgrims it was impractical and for others it was just easier to buy a dove or sheep or cow once they arrived at the temple to offer the sacrifice. Many of these pilgrims were from foreign countries and their own coins with earthly images could not be used to pay the temple tax.

So it seems odd at first that Jesus would disrupt something that is helping people to practice their faith. Maybe it was because they were taking advantage of a captive audience. Maybe it was because they were inside the temple courts instead of outside of the sacred space. Maybe it was because the people were simply going through the motions instead of giving up an animal that really meant something to them. Ultimately, though, I think it was because they were continuing a system that must change. Jesus came to be the new system. He came to be the final, perfect sacrifice for all humanity. Jesus came so that people would have faith based on a relationship rather than on the rule-keeping, works-based system that had evolved.

Sometimes in our churches we also hold onto practices and traditions that are antiquated or are not serving their purpose anymore. When change is suggested it is met with resistance and questioning. Yet when we get stuck in some of our ruts, church feels stale, old, dead. It has ceased to be vibrant and life-giving. Yes, some traditions and practices still have great value and are great pieces of how we worship and grow closer to God. But not always. So may we trust into the Holy Spirit and seek the new thing God may be worked in our midst. Amen.

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Living and Vibrant

In our worlds I think we appreciate and prefer the routine.  We are creatures of habit.  A slight variation or small twist is okay now and then, but in general we like the predictable.  Life is more manageable when we know what to expect at work, at home, at church.  We have our role and we fill it.

In our faith I think we also prefer the known.  On Sunday morning we sing, pray, read a little scripture, hear the message.  And we pass the offering plate!  In our private faith lives we have our own routines – maybe time with God in the morning or maybe it is time before going to bed.  Even our prayer life is probably predictable to a large extent.

While we prefer the comfort and predictability found in the routine, it can become too comfortable.  We can show up, punch the clock, and go through the motions – at work, at home, at church.  And in each of these places, when we are too comfortable with the status quo, we can miss the opportunities that God places before us.

Sometimes God is disruptive – a major event or a person or situation we cannot avoid happens into our life.  But more often He is quiet – it is a person we could normally pass by or it is a line from a reading or the sermon that catches in our mind.  Instead of moving on and ignoring that tug or nudge, stop and engage that person.  Instead of just letting go of that line, wrestle with it.  Allow God to be a living, vibrant part of your life.  Allow this to become your new ‘normal.’  He is an amazing God who has amazing things for His children.  He will not disappoint.