Your Call…Luke 10:25-37

Here is a parable that should be falmilar to most of us. First let’s set the scene. The Red or Bloody Way…The Jerusalem to Jericho Road, got its name because it was well known to be dangerous for travelers. Jerusalem sat on a hill 2,300 feet above sea level. Now the Dead Sea near which Jericho was, is 1,300 feet below sea-level; and the road descended that 3,600 feet in little more than 20 miles. There were many sharp turns and narrow passages which provided excellent hiding places for bandits. Imagine some of those old western movies with those old roads descending into the canyon below, those twists and turns were often called switchbacks, they closely resembled what we are talking about here today. The plight of this traveller we read about in the scriptures is not unusual for those traveling this road. It is interesting to note that even as recent as the nineteenth century travelers were paying the local Sheiks money to ensure safe passage. So here we have the scene…A dangerous road, populated by bad people and extremely difficult to traverse.

Next the people involved… a traveller who either did not know the stories about this road, which is highly improbable or maybe he was just careless for it was common knowledge that few traveled that road alone. People would get together and form a convoy, knowing there was safety in numbers. Next we meet the priest. Priests were divided into courses each course served in the temple two separate weeks in the year. When priests were not on duty most of them stayed in Jericho. The Priests reaction of passing by and not even checking to see if the man were dead or alive was not the result of his not caring but one of misguided priorities. When not serving in the Temple the priests were free to go about their ordinary duties and routines. The time they were called to serve in the Temple was the highlight of their lives. To touch a dead body made them unclean and they would not be allowed to serve their time in the Temple. The Temple ritual was more important than the fate of this man. Thirdly, there was the Levite. Little different line of thought here. He went over and took a quick look at the man and then moved on to the other side of the road. At play here was the fact that the Levite knew sometimes these bandits would use a decoy to draw people close so they could jump them. He chose his personal safety because of the risk involved…When have we considered personal needs over the needs of others? This next one was the Samaritan and they were hated by the Jews. This is another blog in itself but it will do to just take note of the fact that this was a quarrel that had been going on for some 450 years. He may not have been racially a Samaritan, in those times the name Samaritan was used by orthodox Jews in reference to anyone who were lawbreakers or renegades from the orthodox Jewish religion. So it is possible that he was no more than a businessman who traveled the road on a regular basis, he was a commercial traveller. That would explain why the innkeeper was willing to take the injured man in. He knew the traveller would be back through and would take care of the bill. A traveller of this type would have been viewed with suspicion, hence, in the parable he becomes a familiar figure…the hated Samaritan.

There are some questions we need to answer. The first of course has been the subject of many a sermon…Who is my neighbor? The answer is “anyone who needs your help.” To the Jew this would have been a difficult lesson and answer. I have sought many ways to explain this but the simplest would be that anyone other than a Jew was not worthy of consideration. Jew or Gentile, that being the defining factor determining their actions toward others. As Christians we are called to serve all people, period! The other question is just what is expected of me? Various commentaries always list pity. Pity is an emotional response and perhaps James states it best as too what is a proper response. We of the faith do God’s will only when that faith is put into action.

This Parable puts it straight and to the point. We are responsible for all in need. When we become so entangled in routine and doctrine that the church, ourself and connivence comes before God’s children, the church is dead to that which it is called. Our faith and the strength of our very Christianity will not be judged on our social standing but rather on our willingness to help.

See You Next Week

Life is Good

jk

Resource Material: Barclay, William. The Parables of Jesus (The William Barclay Library) (p. 79). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.

The Shut Door

We return once again to the Parables, This one found in Matthew 25: 1-13. Often referred to as The Parable Of The Ten Bridesmaids we find a much needed lesson in why the maintenance of our faith is so important to the covenant granted to those who believe. It is important that you pause here and read the above verses before you continue on.

The covenant through the blood of Jesus Christ and the Cross extends to those who believe and call upon his name that hey shall be adopted into the family of God and are entitled to all the rights and benefits given through the covenant. The Jewish custom concerning marriage contained three stages. Each requiring a set number of customary actions deep in tradition.

A- The Engagement

B-Betrothal

C- Marriage

This is a parable about being prepared, looking and waiting for that moment. It applies to us this day for we have had centuries of hearing the word, studying it and opportunities to live it. We have more than any generation had full display of God’s truth and in many instances we have squandered that and at are at risk of the door being shut. It will be no ones fault but our own. We can go back in time and many of us can remember a test in school we didn’t prepare for and understand that the time of the test is not the time to start preparing for it. There is the belief that we learn best in our youth but the Grace of God and the truth of the word are always available to those who follow these wise words.”Seek and Ye shall Find”. We must prepare for the opportunity or the door will be shut. There is another thing that we best learn from this parable. Salvation is not a group activity. Each of us will be held accountable for our actions. There will be no door pass, each of us will stand alone and be judged. We must prepare and be on the watch. For those that did not the door will shut.

Are you on fire for the Lord?

Life is Good

Jk

The Tares Among the Wheat …Matthew 13:24-30

Last week we took a look at the hearers of the Parable. This week another parable which is usually called the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. Tares are a weed referred to as bearded darnel and were almost impossible to tell from the wheat. It could also be poisonous, harmful to those who ate it. It had to be separated from the wheat and once more Jesus uses real life actions that would be recognized by the listeners to teach the twelve. After  speaking to the crowds Jesus went into the house and was approached by his disciples, asking him to explain the parable of the weeds of the field. As we noted last week the disciples were confused and frightened by the attitude of the people and of course felt threatened by the opposition of the Pharisees. Also with these things happening there seemed to be a gradual closing of the doors to the synagogues. You till the ground, prepare the soil and plant the seed but still somehow no matter how hard you toil there always seems to be weeds. These tares that had intertwined with the wheat… the harvest would require that they be separated from the wheat. Once separated it was tied in a bundle in the field, collected and put in the fire. The disciples were worried about the kind of people that were coming to Jesus. Many of these people the world would look unfavorable on, the whole of their lot very unsatisfactory in their behavior and activities, they would hardly stand up to a closer look. The disciples too looked for a new Israel that would conquer their enemies, and set the moral integrity of the people to a higher calling. Even the Scribes and Pharisees found the company Jesus kept to be questionable. The disciples were waiting for Jesus to sort out this mixed crowd who followed him. Jesus is painting a picture in words using the weeds among the wheat to capture their attention. Jesus welcomed all people and the disappointment of these men that Jesus had not yet made a weeding out of his followers was joined by the Pharisees who showed their disgust that he had yet to do so. It was these factors that perhaps led Jesus to tell them this parable.

Evil is among us everywhere and it not always easily recognized, much like the darnel among the wheat. There is the chance we will make the wrong decisions when we harbor intolerance and a critical spirit guides our hearts. Picture the darnel as the evil sinners among us and the wheat as the good people that they have come among. We are told in Matthew 7:1 … “to judge not, that you be judged not”. I believe that as a people we are not very good at distinguishing between good and bad. We must be patient in our actions toward others, there is the comfort of knowing that the harvest will come. We have often heard “in God’s time”, it is inevitable that God’s judgement will come. Just like the harvest used here as an example of the separation of the darnel from the wheat, so shall the sinners be separated from the good, in time, by God’s judgement.

The takeaway from today’s Pew. Be patient, in God’s time his will be done. Know that the harvest will come.

Life is Good

jk

Reference Material: Barclay, William. The Parables of Jesus (The William Barclay Library) (p. 38). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.

“HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR….”

Our study to this point has made note of the good ground. The soil being deep enough and soft here, the seed could find nourishment and there would be no weeds to keep it from a healthy growth that would bring forth an abundant harvest. The parable is for the hearers of the word and we can put them into two groups of hearers. It is easily understood there will be those who hear the word and do something with it but the word also has an impact on those that preach it. As with all things biblical there are always differences of opinion. Some say that a parable is too detailed for most of the hearers to grasp the lesson within, some say the interpretation of the parable comes from the preachers of that day. Someone had to recognize that sowing of the seed and it growth depended on other factors and those factors could be compared to different human characteristics and so, why not Jesus? We must acknowledge that in some ways a parable can be a warning and the fruit of the message depends on the heart of the hearer. If the hearer has hate in their heart and are determined not to hear the truth then they will not hear and accept God’s word into their lives. So who are the hearers that are warned in this parable? Some are those whose minds are shut to the word. No seed can be planted there for their minds are like the hard ground that has been tamped down by the many feet walking by. There are people who refuse to think things out or think them through. They grasp every new craze that comes along or a phrase I like to use, they are at the mercy of the program of the month. Their emotions are easily captivated by the loudest or newest social or cultural action of the moment. There are those that have so much going on in their lives that the most important things get pushed aside. Then there are people who are like that good ground Jesus speaks of. Their minds are open, they are willing to hear and willing to learn. These are people of humble hearts and whose minds are always open and they are prepared to hear. They are never too proud or busy to listen. These are the people who understand, they get the message and most importantly, they take what they hear and put it into action. They have three things that are important to living a Christian Life. They listen, they understand and they obey.

The Parables are told in such a way that they were meant to have an impact on those who listen but there was also an impact on the inner circle of the disciples. Now what follows maybe a bit hard to understand but this was a time of bitter disappointment and discouragement in the lives of these disciples who were closest to Jesus. Let’s take a closer look. To these men Jesus was everything. Now things were happening that confused and frighten them. They were having very little success, yes the crowds kept coming but so few heard or accepted the message and left with little change in their lives. Many came just to see and experience the healing powers of this man, Jesus. The sad thing is that after all this time the church experiences such, those that come to receive but don’t stay to give. The doors of the synagogue were closing and his bitterest critics were the leaders of orthodox religion, they were out to destroy him. Here they were facing a situation were whatever they did brought nothing but hostility and even worse little if any change in the crowd. I am sure that there were times of deep disappointment for these men but in the last analysis there is a clear lesson……the harvest is for sure! Those of us who have planted a garden know that not all the seeds bear fruit but we know there will be a harvest! This is a parable of encouragement to those who sow the seed, the word, the good news. Our world today is one of instant gratification, people seek quick results but the sowing of the seed and sharing the word of God requires patience, prayer, hope and in many instances it will be years before there is a harvest.

Two things we can take away from this week’s blog. There will be a harvest, will you be a sower of the seeds? Faith will unlock the truth within the Parable. 

Stay Safe, Stay Well, Keep The Faith

Life is Good

jk

 

The Turning Point

Times change and there is no better example of that than the changes brought upon us by this virus. We are having to change the way we go about our daily routines and for those of faith, all communities of faith, we are tested to maintain our beliefs and stand firm in our commitments. For the Christian the lack of fellowship is heavy on the heart. The encouragement and strength of coming together as one in praise and prayer is an important part of staying the course, so to speak. Even Jesus found himself in a position that brought about change in his earthly ministry, more accurately a turning point.

Things were changing in the synagogues and Jesus was reminded daily of the opposition to his teaching in them.The  scribes and Pharisees and elders watching every action and  word, seeking to turn them into an accusation that would give them the opportunity to challenge his teachings. They had not completely shut the door to the synagogues and there was always a warm welcome from the ordinary people but Jesus was not a man of wait and see and he sought other directions and ways to do the Father’s will. He would soon be shut out of them and it is a sad thing to imagine Jesus being banished from the church of his day. Jesus would not be stoped from bringing his invitation to all men and women. Even as the doors were closing he took the Temple to the outdoors, teaching in the open air, village streets, roads or by the lake side; even into the peoples homes. As Christians we can learn from this that we too must always find a way to pass Jesus’ message on.  It is in the 13th Chapter of Matthew that we see Jesus starting to use his characteristic way of teaching in parables. This isn’t the first time he had used this method in his teachings. Jesus would use things that people were familiar with to tell a story, thus creating a truth in pictures. These were the first use of what was to become a fully developed and vivid way to bring the message to God’s people. My view of a parable is that of a short story, with a message within and the hearer is challenged to find that message. Jesus was a master of the short story. With Jesus there were advantages to this method of teaching.  A parable is effective for many reasons, a few we consider here. A story well told always sets truth to the front and in concrete. A great story of here and now, that which is familiar, will take us to there and then. We must be careful because most of us are a bit lazy and prejudice blinds us from seeing the truth. The one great teaching virtue of the parable is that it compels interest, so much so, that it enables and compels us to discover truth for ourselves. The wonderful thing about a parable was it was spoken, not read, allowing the hearer to feel the full impact. Not necessary for a long study or pulling truth out of a commentary, like a flash in the night it brings to the darkness of the mind a flash of light and the virtue of truth. That then in short was the one most important fact about the Parable. One undeniable truth that stabs you in the heart the moment you hear it.

One commentary I often use challenges us to amass as much detail as possible about the life in Palestine. To understand the things in their lives so that we can go back in our minds to that time and those people and what they were thinking and visualized as Jesus spoke to them. The Parable of the sower found in Chapter 13 of Matthew is an example of using the spoken word to paint a picture of truth, let’s break it down. Here Jesus presents a picture that anyone living in Palestine would understand. They go from the actual here and now to the picture Jesus has painted in his words to the then and there.

The Sower – In their minds eye they can picture the sower sowing the seed. It was something they have always seen. There were two ways the seed could be sown. One you and I may have done at one time or another. The sower could walk the ground while throwing the seed out, that is called broadcasting. If the wind, even a slight wind were blowing, some of the seed could be caught up and blown into all kinds of places, even completely out of the field. In Palestine the ground to be sown was laid out in long narrow strips, separated by ground that was used as a common path and was beaten down hard by the feet of many passing by. The second way was to tie a sack of seed on the back of a donkey, cut a hole in one corner of the sack and walk the donkey up and down the field. With the hard ground between each strip, some of the seed would fall there when crossing over to the next strip. Now about that ground, the stoney ground. This was common in Palestine which for the most part was composed of a thin layer of earth resting on a shelf of limestone rock. There would be enough dirt for the seed to germinate but the rock would not allow the roots to set and thus no growth. Then Jesus came to the thorny ground which is hard to judge as most of us that have planted gardens in the past know. You can prepare the soil and ground and all looks well but lurking below that newly tilled ground are the roots of weeds and other vermin that can kill a young plant. Weeds grow faster than most seeds you plant the result is that the seed and the dormant weeds grow together but as noted the weeds grow faster, thus stoping the seeds growth and it will die out. Many times I have heard the phase good ground and here  within this parable Jesus paints a picture that all who heard would understand.

So, we can safely say that second observation of this parable is the hearers. Next week we will pick up there and continue our study of this particular parable.

Stay Safe, Keep The Faith and Remember,

Life is Good

jk   

Source: DBS

Psalms…And A Prayer For This Day

Sweden’s Dag Hammarskjold, who traveled the world as Secretary -General of the United Nations always took these three items with him as he traveled. A copy of the New Testament, a copy of the Psalms and a copy of The United Nations Charter. Psalms presents to us God’s claim upon the whole world and speaks to God’s will that there be justice, righteousness and peace for all peoples and nations. In the twentieth century the predominate approach to Psalms has been historical but we are reminded by the writings of J Clinton McCann JR. that there is also a theological side to the Psalms. It is not my intent at this time to delve into a study of Psalms but some background information is always good. Sometime in future blogs I will return to this rich source of God’s will for his people.

My concern this day is the evil that hides no more but instead challenges the good of this life and leads to the loss of hope in better days to come. It is the evil of the hate of a few toward the good of many. Jesus turned the world upside down while the evil of this day turns it inside out. In considering the theology of Psalms we must start with the very first verse, of the very first Psalm, whose very first word of consideration of these powerful writings, a word that sets the standard definition of human happiness as one of being thoroughly God centered, Happy…

Psalm 1: 1-2

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,

or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;

2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,

Best translated people’s happiness comes from their complete orientation of living their lives for God and are always open to God’s instruction.

Psalm 12 speaks to us across all this time as the very foundations of our nation are under attack and the prevalence of wickedness is at the forefront of the behavior of many. There is the plea for help amid this human corruption, the deceptive speech, and actions that hurt the poor and the needy. There is a lack of good people who are now being marginalized by the lies and false claims of others, claiming to care, while all the while their evil continues to destroy all that is around them. It is a plea for God to deal with the evil that surrounds us and those who would exalt such vile behavior. But as we read this Psalm verse five leaps off the page…There is the assurance that God has heard the plea of his people and he will lift up and protect his people.

  (NRSV)Psalm 12   Plea for Help in Evil Times

1 Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;
the faithful have disappeared from humankind.

2 They utter lies to each other;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,

4 those who say, “With our tongues we will prevail;
our lips are our own—who is our master?”

5 “Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan,
I will now rise up,” says the Lord;
“I will place them in the safety for which they long.”

6 The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure,
silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

7 You, O Lord, will protect us;
you will guard us from this generation forever.

8 On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among humankind.

Life is Good

Jk

Sources : New Interpreter’s Bible Volume IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ecclesiastes….Reflections Of Qohelet…Teacher…Preacher

I was drawn to this Book which resulted in this weeks blog because of the obvious human sorrow of the writer. We today are in a time of great vexation and now more than ever we need God in our lives. jk

The last few weeks we have dealt with some books of contentious thought and this week is no different. Ecclesiastes is a book that is many things too many different people but seems to hold a majority of thought, or consensus that most believers find to be baffling and to some even wrongheaded. From the get-go there were strong efforts to exclude it from the list of sacred books and even now it has a very small place in liturgical practice. In Jewish liturgical practice it is of greater use only because it is one of the five scrolls that are read at the festivals. It is said that this book encourages conversation because of its grasp of the truth. That, however is quickly walked back by those who say its value is it serves as a dark background against the shining light of the gospel. There is a wealth of information available about the book of Ecclesiastes, extensive and easily available. The one question that is asked in most commentaries….Who wrote Ecclesiastes or better yet who is Qohelet in Ecclesiastes? This question after all this time has not gained a solid acknowledgement that it was Solomon. Is he Qoheleth, the teacher and in turn the Preacher. The following is from gotquestions.org  :  All in all, there seems to be no solid evidence against Solomon’s identity as the Qoheleth, and a fair amount of circumstantial evidence supporting it. The most common conclusion, therefore, is that the Preacher of Ecclesiastes is Solomon, the son of David. There is no end to the uniqueness of these writings. Qohelet speaks of toil and life as practically one and the same. People find themselves in a world devoid of the presence and friendship of God, leaving them to fend for themselves on hard ground, living a life in constant toil that only ends in death. The name of this book signifies “The Preacher.” (Matthew Henry) …So let’s begin here. The wisdom of God comes to us through the words of Solomon. Some write that here close to the end of his life he recognizes his sins and follies, perhaps we might think of these writings as the book of his repentance. Whatever the view we choose it is painfully clear that the vanity of the world cannot make us happy and the vileness of sin is sure to make us miserable. All that we consider or have created cannot satisfy our souls. Our happiness will be found only in God. Those teachings and doctrine that come from God and lead to the heart of Christ, they alone matter. Follow now as we break down this 1st Chapter.

In Ecclesiastes 1: 1-3,  Solomon shows that all human things are vain. Solomon returns from a broken and empty world and begins to address his bitterness and disappointment, along with the lessons he has learned. ‘If there is any value in my words let those who accept this warning turn and live and go on to warn others’. I think here I might inject the fact that most of us value our stuff too much.We are vain in our attempts to accumulate. We labour hard for this stuff and fail to realize that all the wealth this world has to offer will never be enough to make us happy, our vanity will never allow that.We never seem to know when enough is enough. The lesson the Teacher imparts to us is that it cannot satisfy our soul, nor can it atone for the sins of our soul. The wealth of the world will be of no use in death and the judgement of the soul that is to come. As we move to vv. 4-8 we are told that all things never cease to change. Just as there is never any rest for the sun, the wind or the flow of a river, the soul of man will find no rest if is not from God. We are a sorry lot. Even as we grow weary we still seek that which we have not yet attained. In vv. 9-11 The Teacher laments that men’s hearts are as corrupted as they were in days past. Their desires, pursuits and complaints remain the same as in years gone by. We might have expected them and even ourselves today, given the state we find ourselves in, to seek happiness in the eternal blessings. It is even noted here that the things and the people who were thought to be great are remembered no more. We close out this chapter vv. 12-18 noting this quote from Matthew Henry’s commentary, “Solomon tried all things, and found them vanity.” He, Solomon, is weary in mind and body. He could get no satisfaction from his sins and past follies and found them no good to others. As he pursued knowledge and wisdom he began to see the wickedness and misery men inflicted on each other. These revelations only served to increase the lament and mourning that tortured his soul.

We would do well to hate and fear sin, which has been the source  of our vanity and misery. We must learn to seek and value a relationship with Christ. It is here we will find rest, knowledge and love in the service of our Savior.

 Please read Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 and thank you for coming by the Pew this week.

Life is Good

jk

Source Material: NIB Volume 5.    Matthew Henry Commentary 

Proverbs..Wisdom… The Upside of Knowledge

In biblical studies wisdom literature designates certain books of the OT and NT as well as selected books from the Apocrypha as being under this umbrella. With this in mind and with the situation we face as to the virus and racial unrest in our world, one would hope and I recommend a good dose of wisdom, lots of it. The wisdom I speak of is the wisdom of God. Wisdom is a good thing, it is found throughout all the ages and comes from all races and ethnicities and because it is of God it is available to all. I repeat myself but it is worth the time and space….Knowledge is an acquired value that comes with study, experience and time. The Wisdom of God has no boundaries and is a gift of God.

Biblical wisdom is a tradition that raises questions of values, moral behavior, the meaning of human life, and the right conduct. From a theological perspective for some it could represent the fear of God but again the reasoning could be in a willingness to  submit to the will of God, such action being the beginning of wisdom. Through wisdom God gave order to chaos; and since humans have life and prosperity by conforming to the order of creation, seeking wisdom is a wise path to take for a successful Christian life.

Wisdom cannot be described in a single brief definition there are other aspects to be considered. Having knowledge is a practical way of understanding how the world works, made even better by having the wisdom of how and when to apply wisdom.The French have a term for wisdom…savoir-faire. It is important to know how to act or do, rather than to know. This is a hard one for us of ordinary thought but consider it this way. There are a lot of things we know even when divorced from the action itself. Practical knowledge comes from involvement and that involvement creates a wisdom gained of experience. We must consider that human wisdom has limits. The book of wisdom focuses on divine wisdom which, Solomon intensely prayed that it be given to him. Wisdom as a human task and a divine gift is reconciled when acquired through experience and obedience and given by God. God’s wisdom is an object of constant reflection in the Bible.  There is  intimacy between wisdom and God to be found in Proverbs 8: 22-36. 

I could have just given you the scripture reference but I wanted to be sure you were able to read it.

Proverbs 3 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Trust and Honor God

My child, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments;

for length of days and years of life
and abundant welfare they will give you.

Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.

So you will find favor and good repute
in the sight of God and of people.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.

In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body.

Honor the Lord with your substance
and with the first fruits of all your produce;

10 

then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.

11 

My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,

12 

for the Lord reproves the one he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.

Despite the fact that by all standards we are perhaps the best educated people to inhabit this earth we lack the most important and freely given gift that our creator has for us. Wisdom…The Wisdom that comes from God, the true wisdom that comes with the humble recognition of our limits and of God’s transcendence that makes all life fuller. Even in today’s turmoil, life can have a clear direction and goal that a Godly person can attain. There is a divine energy that occurs between people when they are in tune with God and with God’s purposes. Earnestly and prayerfully seek that great gift of wisdom….God’s Wisdom.

God Bless..Life is Good

jk

Resource Material: The New Interpreter’s Bible Volume 5

Church Matters

I am not sure how long it has been but it would be safe to say it has been a few “Months of Sundays.” The new slogan of note is followed by the word Matters. Society in general is big on slogans and often short on substance. We get into debates over the content or context of the slogan, and heaven help you if you do not get the context correct in which it is used. Example…Black Lives Matter…All Lives Matter, both convey a message of affirmation of worth. But even these have at times become embroiled in the issue of race. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a clarion call to Life, all life. It is important that people of the faith community fellowship among one another and with God as his people in Holy Unity. We should strive to come together through a closer bond with God and one another. The Church must foster love for one another and love for God. One important role of the Church should be to recognize that many people carry burdens from life due to the changes and chances of life itself. As a Christian it is our duty to get them on their feet again.

Those who would find fellowship with God are committed to a life of goodness which reflects God’s goodness. The New Testament scholar C. H. Dodd writes: ‘The Church is a society of people who, believing in a God of pure goodness, accept the obligation to be good like him.’  None of us are perfect and never will be but it is of good and sound practice to aspire to a life that seeks to make us aware of our obligations, work to fulfill them and seek penitence when we fail. We will soon realize that the closer to God we come, the terrible reality of sin is clearer to us. Ephesians  5: 15-21 we learn some things about the early church and its gatherings. It was a happy church, a singing church, whose love of God was put forth in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. The joy and happiness within the church brought people together. Church is a place of thankfulness. Here among believers we are encouraged to give thanks for all things that God has done for his people. It is here that we come to know the wonder of God’s love for all and are aware of the joy of fellowship in his name.

People of the early church honored and respected each other because they saw others through Christ’s eyes and recognized the dignity of everyone. Home life in the early church was heavily influenced by Christianity. These verses from Colossians 3: 16-17 suggests the way to remain in the love of Christ is to allow him to be a part of our emotions, by accepting his leading we cannot go wrong.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Church Matters, more now than ever, the coming together to praise and glorify God as many but of one mind and spirit is a powerful part of who we are. Even in the times before the early church Jews who could not muster the number needed to have a Synagogue where they were living, would seek out a place where they could come together even in a small number. Even the early church, who were at the start largely populated by Jews who had accepted Christ’s call with the added number of Gentiles who had heard the word and accepted Jesus Christ, sought places to come together and worship and fellowship.

Consider this…The many ways we have to do church in these days of digital aids can and never will be as powerful as the in person fellowship that can only happen when two or more, come together face to face in unity to praise Jesus Christ and worship our God, our creator and salvation.

Life is Good

jk

What Can We Do?…. The Answer My Friends Lies In A Prayer…

A Christian Perspective

A short blog this week. Too many words are being written and too much being said. We all need time for quiet reflection that we might seek the peace that only comes from God. As we search for ways to come together as a nation I offer these words for your consideration. We will find no peace or justice in this world when every conversation begins with condemnation and is preceded by a long list of injustices to race or ethnicity. We must learn to value people. How do we do that? You may find it hard to believe but the first thing we have to do is accept the premise that if our conversations begin with the usual notation of race or gender, we are confronted by what is and we need to move on to what can be. Where there is true peace we will find love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy. I have had a hard time this week finding the right words to express my feelings, finding my faith being tested and trying not to become discouraged. There are several of you from different parts of the world who stop by the Pew every now and then. I want you to know how much I appreciate the vastness of our faith community. I fear for my country and for her people, I see the freedom we have slowly slipping away and even more disturbing the evil that destroys the goodness of people through fear and intimidation. I share this with you because you and the faith communities within your countries have seen destruction and persecution and yet have prevailed in the faith. Please pray for the USA, its people and for our faith to prevail and continue to praise God as a nation of believers who serve the better good. 

I shall pray this prayer every day and find strength and comfort in these words.

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.