Monday Morning Meditation 1-17-22

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.In fear and amazement, they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:22-25

This is one of those baffling passages, or at least for our sensibilities it is baffling.  There is stuff going on, there is a crisis, there is action that needs addressing and Jesus is sleeping.  Mark’s gospel tells us he slept in the stern – the very back of the boat! The disciples are, of course, worried – we all would be, there is a crisis after all.  But Jesus takes a break.

One of my favorite pastoral books is called “Rest in the Storm”.  Based upon this gospel narrative, it is a reminder that we need to take breaks.  God has regulated this – a Sabbath day of rest (and that is not supposed to be a “day off” when you get caught up with the laundry and errands), periodic celebrations and even times of rest for our fields. 

This pattern is important for all of us.  We need time off of work and school to spend with family and friends, time to do the shopping, cleaning and yard work, and time with God.  Our daily devotions are important for this, but then we also need to find extra time to be alone with the Lord.  And we need time to refresh even in the midst of crisis.As this gospel story progresses, Jesus simply handles the situation.  While we do not have the power to stop storms, sometimes we need to take a break before handling the issues.

As you travel through your week, make sure you take the down time necessary to recharge.  And then rely upon the Lord to handle all the stuff.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Morning Meditation 1-10-22

1I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
2Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
3Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.

4One generation shall laud your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.
5On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed, and I will declare your greatness.
7They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

8The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.

10All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your faithful shall bless you.
11They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power,
12to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

Psalm 145

Today is a new day.  For what are you thankful?  Today is a new day, what one thing will you bless the Lord for?  It is Monday morning, the traditional day of “Ugh” as we begin a new week.  It is easy to complain.  It’s cold, it is the beginning of a new work week – a time of drudgery for many.  For kids, the new school week and if your household was like mine, getting up was difficult this morning.

I can sit here and tell you all the bad stuff about today, all the work, all the frustrations of not getting things done over the weekend, all the problems in the nation and the world – and I’m sure you can do the same.

But what works of the Lord shall we proclaim today?  What shall we say of the glory of the Kingdom?

As you begin your day and a new work/school week, consider these questions.  Ponder these questions.  Take a couple of minutes and just think about these questions.  Then make known to all people God’s mighty deeds – or even the little things God has done for you just today.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 12-20-21

Luke 1:26-38

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

            Mary’s story is perhaps one of the most astonishing in the bible.  There are many stories of people who said yes to God, but not like this.  Many were called to move from one place to another for God’s purposes.  David was called to slay Goliath – and received accolades for that act.  But Mary could face shunning from her family and village, or even death by stoning.  Yet Mary said “yes”.

            Has God asked something of you?  Did the request mean a significant change in your life?  If so, how did you respond?  What about those little things God asks of us daily, such as helping those in need, caring for the poor, sheltering the homeless and many other things?

            In this season of giving, let us all consider the words of Mary and see if we can respond the same way.  “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 11-22-21

Psalm 62:1-2

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.

It is Monday of Thanksgiving week.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  I get up, make breakfast and start preparing for the meal.  We turn on the Thanksgiving Day parade and spend a quiet morning together. 

Whether it is just us or we have family over, it is a wonderful day.  Friday (black Friday according to the retailers), we purchase a tree from a local tree farm, and start to decorate for Christmas.  It again is a wonderful day of family life. 

Before any of this happens, however, is anything but peaceful.  As my wife and I are both clergy we each have multiple services to prepare before we can take time off and, of course, our daughter has homework to finish.  The days before a holiday can be quite hectic.

I’m sure things are similar for many of you, no matter what your occupation.  In today’s world, taking time off comes with a price, and that is unfortunate.

However, we can find those moments, and that is the point of Monday Morning Meditation – to take a moment before everything gets crazy and sit in silence before the Lord.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.

I pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration, and that you can give yourself a moment for your soul to wait in silence.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 11-15-21

1Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! 3If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? 4But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. 5I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. 7O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. 8It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

Are you in the depths?  In a way, we all are right now, with conditions constantly in flux, the holidays fast approaching, supply lines disrupted, prices rising, and the rest.  Honestly, you do not need me to remind you, do you?

This morning, listen to the Psalmist.  In the depths, he cries out to the Lord, his soul waits for the Lord.  And, he remembers the most important part – “For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.”

Steadfast love – a love that never changes (even if we mess up), a love that is consistent, constant and overwhelming.  You are loved.  Remember that.

As you enter into this new week remember these things.  Hope in the Lord, for God loves you and will redeem you.  Even if you are in the depths.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Thank You

Our utmost thanks to all who have honorably served the United States military.

Thank you for sacrificing part of your life to defend our freedom.

Thank you to your families who shared your gifts with us as you served.

Thank you for all you have done for our nation, our communities and our lives.

May God bless you abundantly!

Monday Morning Meditation 11-8-21

Matthew 14:22-36

22Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, 36and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

This passage always amazes me. Peter gets out of the boat.  He has the faith to try, but when the wind kicks up, he shows fear.  Sometimes I think Jesus got a little rough with Peter – out of all the apostles, at least Peter tried and of course he was afraid.  Have you ever been on rough waters when a storm kicked in? I do get what Jesus is saying – “I’m right here calling you to me – do not let anything stop you from coming to me, not even your fear.”

When was the last time you stepped out in faith and tried something different, difficult or even nearly impossible?  As you go through this week, keep your eyes open for those opportunities and step out in faith like Peter.  Maybe you will stumble, maybe you will succeed, maybe you will do both.  But you will not if you stay in the boat.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 11-1-21

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:  “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

Revelation 7:9

In the greater church, November 1st is the Feast of All Saints, a day to remember all those who now reside with God (both those we know and those we are unaware of).  It is often a day to remember our departed loved ones.

In Mexican tradition, it is Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.  It is a day to honor those who have passed on and is celebrated with parades, food and special cookies called Sugar Skulls.  The celebrations are intended to remember that those who have passed are still among us (the biblical “Great Cloud of Witnesses”).

Other traditions around the world have similar beliefs (and most are around this time of year). 

There is something to these celebrations – death is not the answer, rather a gateway to the next life.  While it is always sad when a loved one dies, and we should mourn their loss, we also can celebrate their life and legacy, as well as their continuing influence on us.

So whether you celebrate with a Mexican sugar skull or not, take some time today to remember some loved ones.  Give God a prayer of thanksgiving for their continuing influence on your life and consider how you want to influence others.

Peace,

Pastor Bill