This arrived in my email today. I've read it before; I've co-taught a class based on the book. Even so, it struck me today as a great passage:
In a world where we see death, violence, destruction, illness and sadness, the coming of Christ has transformed it as a place of hope. Our world is no longer a place to die; it is a place to live.
Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers. He moved to Kalawao, a village on the island of Molokai in Hawaii that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony. For sixteen years he live in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He build two thousand coffins by hand so that when they died, they could be buried with dignity. Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope.
--John Ortberg, God is Closer Than You Think
JtM was listening to a sermon this weekend concerning stewardship. One of the premises of the sermon was that church members should give in proportion to what they receive from the church.
I was doing reading for my Disciple class today -- back at it after a December break. Today's reading was in the end of 1 Kings -- the beginning of the "Elijah cycle."
As we were driving through our neighborhood today, I noticed a Christmas decoration that made me think. It was a cross, wrapped in Christmas tinsel. As we passed it tonight, I noticed that it was covered in white lights.
A couple of weeks ago I was preparing a sermon. One of the lectionary readings (that I did not use) was from Luke 3:7-18. In it, John the Baptist is speaking to the crowds, telling them what is to come (preparing the way), and they ask him, "What then should we do." So he tells them. His instructions are tailor made for each who asks -- the soldier, the tax collectors.
I was setting up a nativity scene in our living room this afternoon. The figurines in the set included an angel. I placed the angel in the stable with Mary and Joseph, and then I looked at the picture of the nativity scene that came with the set and saw that the angel was off to the side, with the shepherds.
I read a quote the other day that really stopped me:
God loves me because of who God is, not because of what I do or do not do.I knew that, but reading it written just like that really solidified it for me.
Going back to the issue of response to worship...
From RevGalBlogPals -- the Friday Five: So for this Friday Five, tell us five things about the traditions in your family. Think of:
Does it seem like I've been building up to a point in the last few posts? Are you wondering if I even have a point at all? I've been slowly, methodically working my way to a point. I promise.
Something else about worship that I wanted to mention. I think we are called to contribute and participate.
I'll bring You more than a songWhat do we bring to worship? Most importantly, we bring ourselves. Our gifts, our presence, our focus. We bring ourselves so as to contribute to worship.
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the ways things appear
You're looking into my heart
It isn't the action -- it's the intention of the one offering the action and the work of God that makes it worship.
Image: Holly; taken prior to our board meeting at the John XXIII Retreat Center.
What makes something worship?
I heard someone say yesterday that God's plan will happen with us or without us. He gives us an opportunity to participate, but what he wants to get done will get done. This morning, I read that God does not need us.
Labels: Old Testament
The following is the end of a sermon I am delivering tomorrow.
I’m going over the lectionary, planning a sermon for Sunday. My mind is working on the sermon, but also this, which probably won’t end up in the sermon:
His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.Luke 3:17
Labels: New Testament
We went to the high school band concert tonight. This is the jazz ensemble. That tall guy in the middle of the back row -- trumpets -- is G.
A few weeks ago, in this post, I talked about the idea of the second coming of Christ, and how the apocalypse scriptures can distract us.
Joyce, in her devotional in our office meeting today, read us the words to a Charles Wesley hymn, Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus:
Come, thou long expected Jesus,She read more than that, but as I listened, I was struck by a similarity to a contempory song I had just listened to as I baked on Saturday morning, Free by Ginny Owens:
born to set they people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
So when I am consumed by what the world will say,They aren't the same, of course, but as I listened to the one written in 1744, I was reminded of the one written at the just a few years ago. Our desires have not changed. The freedom we are offered through Christ remains the same.
It's then You're singing to me,
As you remove my chains
You're free to dance-Forget about your two left feet
And you're free to sing-Even jofful noise is music to me
And you're free to love,
Cause I've given you My love, and it's made you free
I have set you free
Free from worry, free from envy and denial
Free to live, free to give, free to smile
Last week was very busy. We met with a church agency, went to a funeral and attended a business reception. JtM counted the miles on the car last week -- 1200.
The Friday Five at RevGalBlogPal:
As a bonus -- one thing I would LIKE to not do in preparation for Christmas -- wrap presents after the 11:00 PM Christmas Eve service. How great would it be to actually be READY for Christmas morning before going to church on Christmas Eve. It would be great to come home and just go to bed, rather than wrapping into the wee hours of the morning.
I went to a funeral today for a sociology professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College. His son was talking about him -- part of what he said about his dad was that he was an Eagle Scout, and that he believed in leaving the camp site better than he found it.
I was reading the Cheesehead in Paradise blog this afternoon. The pastor who writes the blog preached a sermon based on a phrase she picked up at a conference: "Tripping Forward on Hope."
Two thousand years ago, Paul wrote a letter to the church at Philippi. He begins the letter with words of blessing (Philippians 1:3-11) for this young church. His words can speak to us, as well. Paul’s letter is quoted below in italics, interspersed with my thoughts regarding the dream of church (not italicized). This was my submission to the Advent devotional for today; I'm crossposting it here.