Monday Morning Meditation 10-26-20

The Golden Rule.  We all know it.  How many of you remember a poster of it in your elementary school?  How many of us have said it to others, or taught it to our children?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

We can find it in Luke 6:31, Do to others as you would have them do to you, and we can find it alluded to in other passages, both Old and New Testaments.

But did you know that the Golden Rule is not a specific Judeo/Christian concept?  A similar teaching is found in nearly every world religion including Native American religions, indigenous religions, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam and more.  Here is a short example:

Buddhism Do not offend others as you would not want to be offended.

Islam None of you are true believers until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.

Confucianism Tzu-kung asked, “Is there one word which can serve as the guiding principle for conduct throughout life?” Confucius said, “It is the word altruism. Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.”

Sikhism I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.

Taoism Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.

Jainism One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.

Aboriginal Spirituality Chief Dan George We are much alive as we keep the Earth alive.

When you stop to consider nearly every world religion has this same philosophy, it must be a universal truth (and I believe that God is responsible for this truth for a reason).

We are a week away from the general election in the most tumultuous political years ever with a lot of anger (on both sides).  So, I challenge each of us.  During this last week of politicking as we prepare to go to the polls, practice the Golden Rule.  No matter who your neighbor, friend or family member is voting for, practice the Golden Rule.  And after the election, practice the Golden Rule.  Afterall, you would want someone to practice the Golden Rule with you, right?

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Examples from:  https://medium.com/@leoserafico/the-golden-rule-of-different-religions-and-philosophies-1b58b8b55f80#:~:text=%20The%20Golden%20Rule%20of%20Different%20Religions%20and,what%20you%20love%20for%20yourself.%20%20More%20

Monday Morning Meditation 10-19-20

The Book of Psalm is one of the most incredible books in the bible.  It is not a book of church doctrine, or even theology.  Some of the Psalms are poetic thoughts, some are prayers, some are songs of praise, some are lamentations.  And some are all of these things.

The Psalms (and this is probably their most important value) give us permission to lament, to walk in our grief and pain, and to shed a tear at the events of our lives.  The Psalms can easily become our prayers.

Today, Psalm 6 seems to resonate with me:

Psalm 6:1-6

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger  or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?

Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.
Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?

I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.

Now it is important to know that most of these Psalms of Lament end in continuing praise of God – but it is also important to know that if you are not there yet, God gives you the opportunity to feel your sorrow.  Just know that the Lord hears your cries, the Lord knows your pain.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 10-12-20

Luke 15:22-25

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So, they put out, 23and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?”

Yesterday I said, “how can it be October 11th already?” Someone answered, “because it’s 2020.”  I don’t know about you, but I am tired.  This year has been exhausting.  Yet, on the other hand, I wake up early most every day.  Today my wife and I both work up an hour earlier than the alarm.  It seems there is always so much to do.  Last week we all took a day off together – and are now paying for it as we are completely behind. 

Add the stress of the ongoing pandemic, the political situation, the racial tensions, the economic crisis and you know the rest – you are living it as well. 

Jesus was tired too.  And Jesus did the right thing – he took a nap.  In the middle of a storm, Jesus takes a nap because he was tired.  When the disciples get “a little anxious” (actually, as some of them are experienced fishermen, the storm must have been pretty bad) they wake Jesus.  And Jesus does that typical Jesus-y thing – he stops the storm.

Perhaps sometime this week, during whatever storm you are going through, you should stop and take a nap.  Then let Jesus do His thing.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 10-5-20

The post was on our neighborhood Facebook page, but I really did not need to read the post.  I could tell by simply walking outside and breathing.  Skunk.

It happens a lot in our neighborhood, we have skunks living in the woods and they often come up towards the houses.  We also have lots of dogs.  Put them together and you have days and nights of the pungent aroma. 

As I breathed it in, I pondered a bit.  What is the reason and purpose for a skunk?

It reminded me of a hike we did on vacation.  We were hiking at Hawk Mountain, going over a very rocky and difficult part of a trail.  My wife was about to put her foot into a crevice when she saw the rattlesnake.  The 4-6-foot rattle snake.  And it was heading towards our daughter.  Without thinking, I leaped over the rocks and got to her.  What is the reason and purpose for a rattlesnake?

When I think of certain creatures (for me it is rats), I wonder why they exist?  But then something comes to mind. 

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.  Genesis 1:24-25

God saw that it was good.  God’s creation is good and beautiful and God’ has a reason and purpose for the creation of all, including skunks and rattlesnakes. 

Thanks be to God for a beautiful creation.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 9-28-20

May he grant your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans.  Psalm 20:4

What is your heart’s desire?  Do you know anymore?  It seems like this year has dashed many people’s desires, has created such turmoil within us that it is hard to say what our heart’s desire.

I am not just referring to Covid-19, although that is such a huge factor.  It has been a year of political turmoil, showing a nation much farther divided than many of us have realized.

This year brought out a lot of racial division – that we knew was there, but again, much more magnified.

The wildfires on the West Coast have been much more devastating this year.

And I could go on.  2020  is one for the record books. 

Yet even with the turmoil, troubles and crises, we have a rock to stand on.  We have a God who loves us.

No matter how this year ends up, we can turn to God for support, we can look upon God as our comfort.

May you know the love of God today and always.  And may God grant you your heart’s desires.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 9-21-20

Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed. Luke 1:1-4


Today’s daily lectionary gospel reading is in Luke, the above passage and then it skips to chapter 3 setting up Jesus’ birth.  Luke is a Greek physician.  He is not a Jew, but a gentile.  He is educated and trained as a doctor.  Now I do not know the scholastic requirements of a physician in Jesus’ day, but knowing the Greco-Roman system of education, we can assume Luke is well educated in the sciences.

Science.  It is a word we hear often today.  And for some strange reason, there is a tension between science and faith.  This is a topic I would like to explore further (perhaps a video series), but for this Monday Morning Meditation, I’d want to say this:

Science is not opposed to faith.  And faith should not be opposed to science. 

Luke was a physician (a man of science) who made an investigation utilizing the scientific principles of observation, investigation and experience.  He spoke with witnesses, he observed Paul in action and accompanied Paul on mission trips.
Luke the Physician, a scientist, writes a gospel about Jesus.

And he is not the only person of science who are believers.  There are plenty (and that may be the series I want to do).

I understand how a scientific person might not be a person of faith, but I fail to comprehend how people of faith can deny science.  After all, God created science, didn’t He?  And careful observation of nature reveals much about both science and God. 

As you start out this new week, take some time to carefully observe things around you.  Experience God’s wonderful creation.  Be a person of faith and science.  Just like Luke.

May God bless you and keep you this week,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 9-14-20

“…weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5

Some of you might be familiar with the lectionary readings.  Actually, there are two, a daily lectionary and the Sunday lectionary.  The Sunday lectionary readings are split up into a three-year cycle that alternates between Mathew, Mark and Luke (with John sprinkled in through the year), as well as the Old Testament, Psalms and Epistles. 

The daily lectionary is a two-year cycle that offers readings from the Psalms, Old Testament, New Testament and Gospels every day.  It is a great way to work through the bible.

What I have noticed is that the daily lectionary cycle for this week takes us through those last days of Jesus’ life in John’s gospel.  I find this interesting because when we last met in the sanctuary, we were in the middle of the Lenten season – heading towards Jerusalem and those last days of Jesus’ life.  And now we are planning to resume in person worship on Sunday.

In a way, we’ve come full circle.  But isn’t that what God does all the time anyway?  Return us to Him?  We might veer off course, but God calls us back.  We might have times of crisis, but God brings us back.  We might feel gloomy on this overcast Monday morning (especially after yesterday’s Eagles game), but God brings us joy.

As you go through your Monday, consider how God always bring you back.  And give thanks, even if the skies are gloomy.

Peace,

Pastor Bill