Monday Morning Meditation 6-21-21

23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26

For God all things are possible.  This was on a plaque hanging in our living room growing up which was a good reminder that no matter how difficult things were, God was with me, God would guide me through (as long as I allowed God to do this).

With God, all things are possible, even getting through difficult situations.

With God, all things are possible, even healing in our nation.

With God, all things are possible, even reconciliation between hostile people.

With God, all things are possible, even the church recovering from a pandemic.

With God, all things are possible (insert your situation here).

As you travel through this week, lift your burdens to God in prayer, remembering with God, all things are possible.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 6-14-21

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

It was only a couple of days, yet it was restorative and healing.  Our brief time away also revealed how exhausting the past 15 months has been.  On Monday, right after lunch, we decided to take a little time to read or watch TV before going back to the beach.  Two hours later we awoke. 

Everyone needs to take time away from the rigors of life, time to refresh, time to rest and time to refocus.  It is hard to continually ride the wave of life without stopping to reflect, and as Jesus said, He will give rest.

The life of a follower of Jesus should not be so busy running around that we lose sight of Him, rather it should be filled with time of rest, time that He can tend to our spirit.

As you travel through this Summer, take time for rest and allow God to refresh you.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” Genesis 1:20

Mourning doves are amazing birds.  They mate for life and return to their nesting place year after year.  We have had a pair of mourning doves in our yard who have returned many times.  As mourning doves can have up to six broods a year, our neighborhood is filled with that melancholic cooing.  In fact, lately this spring the cooing starts before my alarm clock.

While we always love to see the doves on our deck, their return this year has been extra special. Things are getting better here (yet we continue to pray for those nations still in grave battle with Covid), and the return of the mourning doves reminds me that God is still in control.  Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.  Appreciating nature is a great way to examine God’s works.

As you travel through this week, stop for a moment, look around at the beauty of nature and give God thanks.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 5-17-21

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8

These parting words from Jesus, just before His ascension reiterate both the call of all followers of Jesus and the promise of the Holy Spirit to empower that call. It is a fuller description than what Luke writes in his gospel (You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Matthew’s gospel gives us the Great Commission – to go out into all the world teaching about Jesus, and again promises an eternal presence.

As followers of Christ, we all have the call to bear witness to Jesus in many aspects of our lives.  Some preach, some teach, some can simply talk about Jesus.  We all have a story to tell, and we are all called to share that story.  Fortunately, we need not fear doing this for God will empower us in our ministries, and God will be with us. Always.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 5-3-21

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
    and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25

Did you bring a blessing to someone yesterday?  Is there someone you can bring a blessing to today?

So often we go somewhere to be enriched, or blessed, or entertained, or a combination of these.  This includes a worship service.  We go to get something.  But did you bring something for another?  Did you leave a part of yourself for another?

This morning while on my weekly Presbytery Zoom call, I mentioned how I was struggling with the meditation this morning.  Another pastor chimed in, saying he also writes a Monday meditation and has been stuck as well.  He gave me a word of comfort and promised to pray that the meditation would come. 

I was blessed by attending the call.  I also blessed another by offering some support and shared some resources. 

Who can you bless today?  Who can you refresh or nourish tomorrow?  Whoever brings blessing will be enriched.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 4-26-21

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

One morning last week it hit me hard.  The morning started as it always does, I got up, checked messages, made breakfast and ate with the family.  There was a nagging feeling in my soul – I needed far more than my morning prayer routine (and don’t you just hate the word “routine” when it comes to prayer?).  I told my wife I needed more time in prayer that day.

 It was one of my days to drive our daughter to school, so I dropped her off and headed to the church office. 

As soon as I arrived at the office, I had tons of work to do including finishing up the sermon and liturgy for Sunday, review the mail, finish some administrative work and make follow up calls to a few sick members.  The nagging feeling grew and as I was about to head up to the sanctuary, I received another prayer request, one of deep concern for a member.

At this point, I knew everything else could wait, in fact nothing else could be done without the prayer time so I went into the sanctuary, put on some reflective music and began to pray.

On this particular morning, I slowly read the daily scriptures, sat in silence giving God the space to speak to me, allowed the Lord to refresh my soul, and then began to lift up the prayer requests.

“…apart from me you can do nothing.”  Those words of Jesus are so true.  Most of us have lots to do every day and it is so easy to get caught up in those “to do” lists.  Yet prayer time should never be on a list.  It should not be one chore of many that needs to be accomplished then checked off.  It needs to be viewed the same as breathing – something we must do to live. 

Have you thought much about breathing?  We usually do not, and we usually breathe in a less than effective way – quickly taking short breaths.  But the most beneficial breathing is to breathe deeply and slowly, allowing each breath to be calming.  Prayer is the same.  We can always do short, quick prayers – and there is a place for them – but truthfully, extended time in prayer is far more important than many of those tasks we do. 

As you go about your new week, spend a little more time with God.  Breathe deeply and slowly as you read scripture.  Say the Lord’s Prayer s-l-o-w-l-y and deliberately.  Offer real time to God and see what happens.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 4-19-21

15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep…”  John 21:15-17

This passage from John is one of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.  Not sure of what to do next, Peter and the apostles decide to go fishing when Jesus appears. They are overjoyed to see him but I can imagine Peter having a little trepidation, after all he did deny knowing Jesus three times between the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus.

Yet Jesus does not berate Peter, Jesus does not cast Peter aside, rather He asks him a simple, yet at the same time hard question “do you love me?”  Peter felt hurt at the third time, but perhaps Peter did not immediately realize the significance.  In Matthew 18:21 it is Peter who asks Jesus “how many times should I forgive?” and Jesus gives the theological answer “Seven times seventy”.  In Judaism, the number seven signifies perfection and ten signifies completeness, so Jesus calls us to forgive perfection x (perfection x completeness). 

In plain words, Jesus has forgiven Peter completely and perfectly, reinstates him as an Apostle and gives him the charge to “feed my sheep”, to feed the word of God to the people.

Jesus does not give up on anyone, rather He offers forgiveness and purpose.

Today, as you go about your work, take some time to reflect on this and give thanks.

Peace, Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 4-12-21

Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37They were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence. Luke 24:36b-43

It is over one week since Easter Sunday.  For many the decorations came down over the weekend and little thought is placed on the ancient call “He is Risen, He is Risen, Indeed!”  It’s time to get back to “normal life”. 

On one hand this is regretful, especially if we are not living as people of the resurrection.  If “He is Risen” is only for Easter Sunday, then we need to reexamine our hearts and perhaps ask God for guidance on how to live the resurrection daily.

On the other hand, there is a natural flow between things.  We have grand celebrations such as Christmas and Easter, and we have the daily grind.  Or as Ecclesiastes said it: “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.” 

Jesus exemplifies this with his resurrection appearance.  He asks for something to eat – a normal daily occurrence.  Not a grand meal, not a celebration, just something to eat.

Yet even this is different for this is the Risen Christ asking to eat with his followers, something special to celebrate in the ordinary-ness of the day.

As you eat today, picture Jesus eating with you – how would that change your meal?  As you go through the “everyday-ness” of this week, picture Jesus with you, at your job, at the school, even as you vacuum the house.  Reflect on your daily life with Jesus present.

And live the resurrection.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 3-29-21

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:10-13
 
We are where we are.  As I reflect over the past year, I have come to appreciate where we are.  A year ago, our Presbytery requested that all in person activities ceased (and requested is a nice, mild word).  Because of the situation, we did what was right. And it was only for a “couple of weeks”, or so we were told.

As the weeks progressed, we started planning a drive-in prayer service, and that was the best we could do.  In September we reopened live worship, with many limitations.  Again, not the desire, however the best we could do.  With a huge upswing in infections and great caution, we made a difficult decision to shut down through December and January.   As Lent began, we have reopened live worship with some restrictions.  Throughout this time, I have considered a scriptural response.

Paul reminds us to be content in all circumstances.  I add to that using Paul’s words from Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”  While we are still under restrictions against singing in worship, we should rejoice that we have live worship.  We have returned the bibles to the sanctuary and we are opening up more seating in the sanctuary.

While there are still cautions with this pandemic, our church is moving forward and that is reason to rejoice.  Instead of lamenting where we are not (such as singing in the sanctuary), I ask you to join me in celebrating where we are.  

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 3-22-21

Have you ever gotten stuck with prayer?  You know you need to pray; you even know who to pray for, and your desire is to spend that time in prayer.  But you are stuck.  The words just do not come.

Maybe you are overwhelmed with grief or anxiety, perhaps you are so stressed by your situation that you just cannot say anything.

It is okay.  Just sit in silence before the Lord and let God handle it.

Paul tells us in Romans 8:26-27 that the Holy Spirit will help.  26Likewise 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. 27And 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.

God wants us to pray, not because God does not know what is going on, rather that God wants the relationship.  When we bring our prayers to God, it helps us through the connection as well as verbalizing our needs.

Yet if we are stuck, in those times when we just cannot figure out what to say, the Holy Spirit will step in.  These are the times when we can stay in God’s presence, soak in God’s light, and find God’s healing for these are times of growth.

Peace,

Pastor Bill