Friday, November 29, 2013

What time is it?

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers. (Romans 13:11)
Someone I deeply love and admire has a very annoying way of waking up in the morning. My wife has a clock radio alarm on her bedside table set to sound off at o'dark thirty. That's alright. But what is annoying is that the clock is intentionally set 10 to 15 minutes too fast. Somehow, she feels, this will allow her to take advantage of hitting the snooze button not just once, but several times before she finally decides to greet the morning. I much prefer living in the prevailing time zone.

What time is it where you are?
Maybe, however, I should allow this time-challenge to remind me that we indeed ultimately live according to God's time and not our own. Sure, we try to measure time, track time, save time, keep time, pass time, etc. Tick tock! Yet, God's time is different.

Chronos is a Greek word from which we get the notion of chronology, the measurable, quantitative idea of time. Kairos, on the other hand, is the Greek word for time that refers not so much to quantity as it does to quality. It is God's time, which is a gift to us at all times. See, you know what time it is!  It's not so much about us, but about God. The thing is, God desires that we cooperate in the Divine vision and mission.

So, whether we set our clocks (our time-quantitative devices) forward or back makes little difference in the great scheme of things. What really matters is that we wake-up! It matters that we come to realize that we live not for ourselves:
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. (Romans 14:7-9)  
So, this coming Sunday we begin a new year with the season of Advent. During these weeks before Christmas, the Church holds up this time as one in which we are to engage not only in anticipation of Christ's birth, but in an intentional period of preparation. Making room for Jesus in the blur of our sometimes cluttered life calls us to marshal our collective effort. As a community of faith, we do well to challenge ourselves with these words:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dearth by the glory of God the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  (Romans 6:3-4)

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First Sunday of Advent
December 1, 2013

Prayer of the Day
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. 
By your merciful protection save us from the threatening dangers of our sins, 
and enlighten our walk in the way of your salvation, 
for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and forever.  Amen

Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:36-44

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Post image for thanksgiving at the ranch

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am extremely grateful for all the understanding, 
care, support, and encouragement you have shown 
to me and my family during these months of transition.  

In many and various ways you have been a blessing. 
Praise be to God!  And thank you!

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Day of Thanksgiving
November 28, 2013

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God our Father, 
your generous goodness comes to us new every day. 
By the work of your Spirit lead us to acknowledge your goodness, 
give thanks for your benefits, 
and serve you in willing obedience, 
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 100
Philippians 4:4-9
John 6:25-35

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thy Kingdom Come

Image of Christ from the the great Deesis mosaic 
from the Upper South Gallery in Hagia Sophia, 
the Church of Holy Wisdom, in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey).

Somehow the annual observance of Christ the King Sunday gets overshadowed by our national celebration of Thanksgiving. Don't hear what I'm not saying. It is right that we should give God our thanks and praise. Thanksgiving is a great holiday . . . one for which I am thankful. Oh that we wouldn't exile gratitude to the island of one day in 365. Maybe we could let thanksgiving infect the rest of our lives. Maybe it could catch on as an attitude that pervades and informs our everyday life. It's gotta be about more than eating too much turkey and falling asleep in front of the TV broadcasting live from the Packers and the Lions football faceoff or "timely" reruns of Ralphie's longing for a Red Rider B.B. gun in 1983's A Christmas Story.

Now, back on track, let's consider that this coming Sunday is the last Sunday of the Church Year. On it we confess that Christ is King. Have you ever taken the time to contemplate the implications, the ramifications, the tectonic scope of this simple three-word claim? It is a rather bold declaration, don't you think? 


One of the earliest confessions of faith in the Church was Jesus is Lord.  We hear and say that today so casually. Yet it was (and is) a monumental statement. The major implication of saying Jesus is Lord is Caesar is not. 

Christ the King Sunday is a day to celebrate the Lordship of Jesus and also a fitting opportunity for us to inventory our allegiances. What/who is in first position in our lives? Clarity on this matter will free us to grow, repent, believe, and live!

Over the next couple of days, take a few moments to read and meditate on the various scriptural passages (listed below) assigned to Christ the King Sunday. Forward this post to a friend or family member, please. And finally, pray for the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit in our life together.

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Christ the King
November 24, 2013

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God our Father, 
your generous goodness comes to us new every day. 
By the work of your Spirit 
lead us to acknowledge your goodness, 
give thanks for your benefits, 
and serve you in willing obedience, 
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. 

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 100
Philippians 4:4-9
John 6:25-35
Christ Crowned with Thorns, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1510 

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Click on the link (upper right part of this page) to the Saint Luke Lutheran Church website for updated information regarding the Living Fully and Dying Well series on Sunday Mornings at 8:45.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The End

I was driving my car recently when I noticed a sign along the side of the road that posed the following question: When you die are you prepared to meet God?

I tend to think too much. So, I thought about this question . . . a lot . . . maybe too much. Not only did I think about this road sign and its question, I also came up with other questions. Here they are:

  • Do I really have to wait until I'm dead to meet God?
  • Is this sign's message supposed to scare me into good behavior?
  • Am I supposed to live in fear of a judgmental God who is going to clean up the floor with me at the end?
  • When it comes to preparation, isn't there a better way to live? 
  • And finally, and let's just say it, isn't there a more optimistic, joyful way to live with the time we have been blessed with before we croak?

So, now that I've had time to think about it, let me share that I would respond to this roadside question with this:  I reject the premise of the question. Do you have another? Is that the best you got? Are you trying to scare me into loving God!? 

We all know the song that boldly confesses:  Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!  Let's put that on a road sign somewhere. Let's share that message with others. Let's share our own  experience of God.  Here is one of mine:

I live in gratitude today because I have been encountered by a God that took the initiative to meet me in the midst of my unprepared life here and now. And I'm not special. God wants to do that for everyone.  That's the message of Jesus.  That's the message of the incarnation -- it's what we celebrate at Christmas. God came down already, in the flesh, took on our nature and our lot  . . . in Jesus for you and for me, once, for all. In short, its not the end, but rather a beginning.

Take a moment (a few moments) to read over the lessons for this coming Sunday.  They sound like the end is near. And it would be easy to use them to encourage fearful existence. But, as you read, listen carefully to the voice of Jesus. In these ominous sentences are words of promise and hope. What do you think?

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26th Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, November 17, 2013

Prayer of the Day
O God, the protector of all who trust in you, 
without you nothing is strong, nothing is holy. 
Embrace us with your mercy, 
that with you as our ruler and guide, 
we may live through what is temporary without losing what is eternal, 
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Malachi 4:1–2a
Psalm 98
2 Thessalonians 3:6–13
Luke 21:5–19

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rejoicing Spirits

Have you ever been in the position of having something really exciting and positive to share with others?  Have you ever felt like you just couldn't wait to tell the good news?  

Just this past Monday evening there were two meetings going on simultaneously at St. Luke. The Worship and Music Committee was in one room and the Social Ministry Committee was in another. Each was about their business. I had the opportunity to be in both meetings (no, not at the same time!)

In the Worship and Music Committee meeting, we discussed the probability of launching a monthly worship service to be held on a Sunday afternoon once a month at 4:00 PM.  The point of this ministry would be reach out to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities along with their families and friends. There was a great deal of openness and excitement about this possibility. So, plans care to continue the conversation and work toward that goal.  (Stay tuned for more details!)

Meanwhile, down the hall, the Social Ministry Committee was meeting to review the many and various ways the congregation participates in and supports ministries that take place in the community, region, and world. Again, there was a great deal of passion and excitement in the room. So, I shared with this committee what had just been discussed in the Worship and Music Committee meeting. It was encouraging to see the crossover in mission and the sharing of passion.  In other words, it was one of those Holy Spirit moments when it was clear God is up to something in our midst!  So, stay tuned and remember these committees and the work of the church council in your prayers. In the meantime, know that you are in my prayers, because we're in this together!

Rather than asking how we can help people with disabilities, Henri Nouwen teaches us, "The more important question is, how can people with disabilities give their spiritual gifts to us and call us to love?"

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Continuing . . . this Sunday in the Fellowship Hall at 8:45 AM

Living Fully, Dying Well is an eight week session:  How can you take the fear of death and turn it into something profound and positive? What is the alchemy that allows someone within a metaphorical desert to turn around and see a flower?  Tina Staley, LCSW

Most of us try not thinking about death until the moment we come face to face with it.  But when we have the courage to accept our inevitable mortality and contemplate it actively -- as a spiritual practice -- we open the door to living fully, joyfully, and in complete presence. 

Living Fully, Dying Well is an investigation into the challenge each of us faces: to embrace all of life from the beginning to the end.

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Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, November 10, 2013

Prayer of the Day
O God, our eternal redeemer, 
by the presence of your Spirit you renew and direct our hearts. 
Keep always in our mind the end of all things and the day of judgment. 
Inspire us for a holy life here, 
and bring us to the joy of the resurrection, 
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Psalm 17:1–9
Job 19:23–27a
2 Thessalonians 2:1–5, 13–17
Luke 20:27–38

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