Monday Morning Meditation 1-25-21

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

Good morning.  Did you know you are wonderfully made?  Yes, you reading this right now.  The Creator of the Entire Universe has made you, and you are wonderfully made.

Have you ever just stopped to think about this?  Have you ever pondered that fact that you are not only a creation of God, but a wonderfully made creation of God?

The Psalmist did and reflects on that in Psalm 139 (and others).  So sometime today take a moment and reflect.  Maybe as you meditate upon this fact, you could write something about yourself that reflects God’s creation.  Perhaps you could write a song, or a poem, or just a few lines.  Then give thanks to God for God’s wonderful creation…you.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 1-18-21

39Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41And many more believed because of his word. 42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” John 4:39-42

This passage comes from the story of the woman at the well.  A Samaritan woman. 

When Jesus meets with her alone, it could be considered scandalous – for Jewish men would not meet with an unrelated woman alone, nor would they associate with Samaritans.

But Jesus breaks those rules – they are not of God, rather were barriers placed by humans, and when He breaks them, look what happens.  The woman returns to her village to proclaim the messiah, they invite Jesus to come and they learn from Him.  This village of Samaritans become followers of Jesus – because Jesus chose to reach out to them.

On this day we set aside to honor the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the civil rights struggle, we should remember what Jesus did, and always does.  Jesus reaches out to those others deem different.  Jesus reaches out to those others deem unclean, or unworthy, or any other negative connotation.  Jesus loves.

On this Monday of inauguration week, let us look to Jesus as our model.

Peace

Pastor Bill

The Great Seconds

With all the division in our nation, at the suggestion of a congregation member, I want a meaningful dialogue with people of all faiths and traditions on “The Great Seconds”, the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independance (all people are created equal) and the second Great Commandment (love one another as you love yourself) – from the Judeo-Christian background. If you want to take part in meaningful dialogue after viewing, please contact me at revbillwisneski@gmail.com.

Monday Morning Meditation 1-11-21

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion. For there the LORD ordained his blessing, life forevermore.  Psalm 133

Unity.  Something that has been missing for a very long time in our nation.  It seems like I’m constantly talking about divisions between people.  And at times it seems like our nation will never heal.

But we always have.  No matter what happens, we have the capacity to overcome the divisions, work together and heal.

This is the same for the nation, for businesses, for industries, for the church and for households.

It takes prayer and it takes work.  And honestly the most important work is prayer.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land

(2 Chronicles 7:14).

Join me today in prayer for unity in our nation for the hard work needs to be done.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 1-4-21

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. Isaiah 60:1

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

Since New Year’s Day, it has gotten darker in our neighborhood.  Many have turned off their Christmas lights.  Some of us will keep them on until January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany when we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men (although we did that in worship yesterday). 

This shows the great dichotomy between secular and sacred Christmas.  In secular Christmas the decorations routinely go up the Friday after Thanksgiving (although many started earlier in 2020), the Christmas carols begin to play through November, and everything stops right after Christmas day.  The radio stations return to their regular format and you stop hearing about Rudolph, Frosty and Santa.

Sacred Christmas, however, really begins Christmas Eve when we light the Christ Candle and continues through 12 days until January 6th.  Yet even that can be extended – the Vatican does not remove the Nativity until February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation (Luke 2:22-40) 

Personally, I find it interesting that many of the major world religions and cultures have a celebration of light around December (Hanukkah, Diwali, Christmas and Kwanzaa as examples) but then we take the lights down during January – which tends to be dark and cold.  Last year I left up a string of white lights through January as a reminder that we are to spread the light.

And that is really the point here, it is not about when you put up or take down your Christmas decorations, rather about being the light of the world, as Jesus calls us (Matthew 5:14-16) and as the light of the world, we are to shine brightly.

As we begin a New Year, be the light.  Be the one who is different, who shines when others are dim, who sheds positive light when others are down, who spreads joy instead of despair.  Be the light of Christ, share the light of Christ.

May God bless us all in this New Year,

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 12-21-20

Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted.  Matthew 5:4

The Longest Night

In the northern hemisphere, December 21st is the shortest day, the day the sun sets earliest, and the first day of Winter. 

Many churches have taken this opportunity to hold either a “Longest Night” or “Blue Christmas” service, a service of recognition of loss and comfort for those who mourn.  These services are designed to allow anyone who has suffered a loss in the past year to grieve before the Christmas celebration. 

2020, of course, adds a new perspective of loss.  Even if you have not lost a loved one, you are most likely grieving the loss of social contact, the loss of community, the loss of togetherness. 

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one since last Christmas, may God bring you comfort.

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one to Covid, may God bring you comfort.

If you are grieving the loss of “normalcy”, the loss of social contact, the loss of your community, may God bring you comfort.

While December 21st is the longest night, the light is coming.  We celebrate the light coming into the world and, as the Apostle John said, the darkness did not overcome it.

Although we mourn our various losses, the light will shine once again (and is in fact already shining in the darkness).  We will overcome, we will survive, we will again have life and have it to the fullest.

It is a promise of God.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 12-7-20

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9

The early church grew through small groups and house churches.  The Apostle Paul started many of these churches, leaving pastoral leadership in place as he traveled on to his next location.  The church began to grow and become more formalized, however the Greek term ecclesiola, which means “little church”, was used.  No matter how big the universal church would become, the leaders recognized the little church – the family – as a place for learning and growing in the faith.

At some point the term fell out of use but in recent years has been rediscovered, mostly through our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters.  The term used today is the Domestic Church, and it is the primary vehicle for growing in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.

Do any of you take lessons such as voice, dance or a musical instrument?  If you only attend your one-hour lesson each week, will you become proficient?  Of course not.  Our daughter must practice her piano daily in order to grow as a pianist.  The same goes with her voice.  She cannot just attend her weekly lesson and not practice. 

We must do the same with our faith.  Sunday worship is of utmost importance.  Attending worship (even online) is highly advisable as worship is where we come together to lift our concerns before a loving God, where we gather to give God thanks and praise, to corporately admit our sinfulness and receive God’s forgiveness.  And even if we are doing online worship, it is still gathering with the church throughout time and space.  If you are not participating in worship – in person or online – get on board.  You need to do this.

And then you need to practice what you learned in that service throughout the week.  Parents and heads of households – you have a special responsibility to teach your children.  You can use the sermon as a starting point and live it through the week.  Show examples to your children, show examples to your neighbors.  Be the Domestic Church so that you can be the Body of Christ.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 11-30-20

Advent is a time of waiting.  But what exactly does it mean to wait?  There are different definitions that offer a complexity to the simple word “wait”.

We all know what it means to wait for things.  I often take the train when I travel to Philadelphia and have to wait at the station.  We wait in car line to pick up our children at school or an extracurricular event. We wait for someone to finish getting ready so we can go somewhere.

Then there are the unhealthy waits – waiting for the “right time” to start the exercise program, or to have a hard conversation.  This type of waiting tends to be more about procrastinating or avoiding something.

But biblical waiting is different.  Over the past few Sundays, the Gospel lessons were all about waiting for Christ’s return.  Jesus would tell these stories of waiting and watching, combining the two words.  And this type of waiting is more of a time of preparation.  To wait expectantly means you works towards that event as you anticipate it.

Think about having a child.  You must wait nine months – but you do not go about your business as usual, rather you prepare.  You create a space for a crib, you get baby furniture and clothing.  You start to consider changes in schedules.  You rest (and we know the importance of proper rest).  This waiting is filled with action and contemplation. 

This is the same waiting Jesus calls us to.  When we wait or keep watch, we continue to prepare for Him by doing those things He calls us to do.  And each of us have different gifts, talents, and abilities, but all are from God and all can be used for God. 

During this time of Advent waiting, prepare yourself to receive Him again.  Make Advent a time of prayer, contemplation, rest, and action.  Consider one thing to do each week that might make a difference for another.  Try a new way to pray, or an additional time of day for meditative prayer.  Learn a new (for you) song or hymn.  Contemplate on the words to some of the traditional Advent hymns.  Practice random acts of kindness. 

And wait with anticipation for God.

Peace,

Pastor Bill