Monday Morning Meditation 8/8/22

35On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”Mark 4:35-41

I could use a nap.  I know, its Monday morning, I just woke up, but honestly, I need a nap after a long drive through bad weather, with little time to rest.  Add to that so many things happening, and guess what?  I am tired.  And I bet you are too.  We have all been through extreme “stormy weather” the past few years and here Jesus gives us a simple instruction – take a rest in the storm for God has our backs.

We might not have the power to stop bad weather, but we can still say with confidence and faith “Peace, be still” to the storms in our lives.  We have permission to stop and rest, to get away from the problems, even if only for a few moments.  This goes hand in hand with Sabbath rest, not just a day off to catch up on things, but true rest.  The better rested we are, the better we can deal with the problems of the day.

As you travel through this week, take those moments. If things are getting out of hand, rebuke them, say Peace! Be still! Then take a nap. 

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 8-1-22

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:1-5

The opening of John’s gospel takes us back to Genesis 1 as God began creating.  It also takes us forward, reminding us that the Light of the World is not overcome.

We live in a dark world today.  There are wars (and rumors of war), disease (yes Covid is still a big issue), division and more.  It is enough to want to hide in the sand and pay no attention to current events, however that is not our call.  We need to know what is happening so we can better minister to this broken world.

And the good news is that we do not do this alone, for the Light of the Word is with us and that Light will never be overcome.  As you enter into this new week, embrace that Light, be empowered by the Light and show your light as well.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 7-25-22

23One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 25And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”Mark 2:23-28

What do you need for sabbath rest?  God knows that we need rest, and a sabbath day is not just a day off to do errands, laundry, food shopping and the lawn work.  A sabbath rest is a day to spend with God, family and friends. 

But Jesus makes it known that the sabbath serves us, not the opposite.  We should not put excessive rules on the sabbath, rather we should allow sabbath to be the gift it is.  Do you need to do a couple of things before your rest?  Do them then rest.  Do you need to eat?  Of course, cook, eat and then rest.  The important thing is to find that rest on a regular basis.

God knows that we need rest and that is why God created the sabbath.  We need to take advantage of this gift, finish our work and rest.

Peace,


Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 7-18-22

8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8-10

Our society has become increasingly hostile.  It seems everything is based on “us vs. them” with no discussion in between.  There seems to be no attempt at understanding the other person’s point of view because it must be wrong.  This is not just a political thing, rather it goes across all of society, including the faith. 

Yet here is Paul, a man known to argue his point without mixing words, writing to the church about the basic commandment, love.  We are to love one another with servant love (from the Greek, Agape), the love that carried Jesus to the cross.

Could you imagine our nation if our politicians loved this way?  Could you imagine our business culture if executives loved this way?  Could you imagine our neighborhoods if everyone loved this way? 

As you begin a new week, try to find a way to express servant love to someone – especially if they disagree with you on some topic.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation (Tuesday Edition) 7/12/22

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

Have you ever known somebody needed prayer, but did not know why?  Just pray for them; Did someone’s name come up in your mind for no reason?  Just pray for them.  Even if you do not know what is going on or why, there is a reason for you to pray.

One day I received a text from my wife saying “pray for me and the family I am about to visit”.  Not knowing anymore, I took the time to pray – and somehow the Holy Spirit took over.  I do not know what I said or thought, only that God invites us into God’s work.  Later on, I found out the seriousness of the situation and the prayers were much needed.

Prayer is very important and the more we pray, the more we do. If you do not know what words to say, if you do not know what to pray about, just remain in God’s presence and let the Spirit guide you. 

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 6/27/22

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

After rebuking the people for turning from God, the Prophet Isaiah utters these words to the people of Israel.  They were words of comfort then; they are words of comfort now.  The God of the Universe has called you, has called me by name and that is incredible.

Think about names.  We all want people to remember our names.  As a “newbie” in a new ministry setting, I am trying to learn names and eventually I will (but please forgive me as this takes time).  But whether I remember your name or not, God does.  God knows you and God knows what you can become.

Isn’t that incredible?  The creator, sustainer and redeemer of the very universe knows you personally.  If you are feeling alone right now, know that God knows you by name.  If you are hurting, know that God knows you by name.  If you are in need, God knows you by name.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 6-20-22

The Start of Something New

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:13

It was a very busy day as we arrived at the church building.  We went to the office where I picked up everything I needed, then went to the sanctuary.  As we greeted folks, I reviewed the service and prepared myself.  It was my first day in the pulpit at the new ministry.

While the service flow was different and I was unsure of who did what, it felt comfortable.  I am, after all, a preacher and stepping into a pulpit is as normal for me as it is for a quarterback to line up behind the center or an actor stepping onto the stage. Between services was a reception and I will admit, I did not get everyone’s names (that will take some time).

But what I did get was an eagerness to move forward, to do something new.  This congregation wants to embrace whatever new God is calling us to do.  Change can be scary (trust me, I know, I’m in the middle of a huge transition) but God is always doing a new thing with us and with God we need not fear change. 

Trust in God, especially in transitional times and God will always provide.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Saturday People

So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mark 15:46

Humanity tends to live in Saturday.  We had a great celebration, but then a lot of bad stuff happened.  Right now, there is a war in Europe which has decimated a lot of people.  The war in Ukraine has added over 4 million people to the already horrific refugee crisis in the world.  We have been living with a global pandemic – one that keeps rearing its ugly head, and even if we do not care anymore, it is still there, still making people sick, still taking lives.  Our nation is politically polarized at a point I’ve never experienced before.  Where we could once disagree and even argue politics, now it is at a point where you either keep your mouth shut, or you run the risk of being insulted and attacked over your views. 

The violence in our nation is terrible.  We have more and more shootings, the Philadelphia murder rate seems to go up every year and people seem to much angrier over the smallest things.  There is little understanding, little compassion.  We live in Saturday.

But today is Sunday – today is the Day of Resurrection – a day that means far more than jellybeans and chocolate eggs.  If the resurrection is to mean something to us, then we need to move on from the emptiness of Saturday and look at the empty tomb.

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:4-8

Monday Morning Meditation 3-21-22

I lift up my eyes to the hills —from where will my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and for evermore. Psalm 121

The biggest movie on the planet right now is The Batman.  At the end of the weekend, it grossed just shy of 500 million dollars at the box office, and that would have been much higher except many theatres in China are closed due to Covid.

Most people that know me know I am a big Bat-Fan.  I grew up watching reruns of the Adam West tv show and read the comics as a kid.  Batman appeals to me because he is a human with no superpowers, rather he has honed himself mentally and physically to be Gotham’s protector.

There is only one problem.  In our world, filled with war, strife, racism, hunger, poverty and the rest, Batman is not going to provide help.  He is, after all, a literary creation.

So where do we turn for help?  The psalmist knows – we call to the Lord, the very Creator of all Creation. The Lord will provide us help – as long as we turn to the Lord.  God will be our protector and keep us from evil, provided we seek God instead of evil.  And when we truly turn to God, truly rely on the Lord, guess what happens?  God will use us to take care of those problems of the world.  Maybe you and I cannot end the war in Ukraine, but we can certainly relieve some of the suffering.  Perhaps we cannot end world hunger, but we can feed those around us. 

Take some time this Lenten season to truly reflect on God and remember from where your help comes.  Turn back to the Lord, seek the Lord and allow God to guide you.  Who knows, you might be called to minister to someone and become their superhero.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 3-7-22

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  Matthew 5:9


It is hard to look at pictures from Ukraine as the devastation is unimaginable.  I try to keep up with the news, but often it is hard.  There are already over 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine (adding to an already inconceivable refugee problem around the world) and there are innocent people being bombed as they flee their homes.

Will the peacemakers please stand up?

It is so hard to decide what to do.  Yes, we need to pray for peace, for safety for the Ukrainian people and changed hearts among leaders (especially Russian leaders).  We need to pray for the Russian people as well, as many are being suppressed in their opposition to the war.

However, prayer is not enough.  Yes, prayer is powerful and can change things.  Prayer is something we should all be doing.  We need action to accompany our prayers, and the action should be informed through our prayer. 

How can you be a peacemaker in your home, in your school, in your workplace, in your church for peace begins with each of us in our daily lives?  Pray about this, then put it into action.  And while you are at it, pray about how you can bring a little bit of peace to Ukraine. 

Peace,

Pastor Bill