Monday Morning Meditation 4-27-20

1 Peter 5:6-11

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

This is part of today’s lectionary passage and I decided to use it in the morning prayer service.  It struck me deeply, especially where Peter says that, after we have suffered a little while, Christ will restore us.

That, my friends, is good news.  That is what we need to remember.  This situation will end, and God will restore us.  Maybe things will never be the same, maybe things need to change in a different way, but we will be restored.  By God. 

Please keep that in mind as we begin this new week of social distancing.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

 

 

Monday Morning Meditation 4-20-2020

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  Isaiah 43:1 

It’s not about being a Democrat or a Republican

It’s not about an evil socialist plot to take over the world

It’s not about an evil capitalist plot to take over the world

It’s not the fulfillment of misinterpreted prophecy

It is a virus

A very deadly virus

And it matters

On Friday April 17th, 49 people in Pennsylvania died of Covid-19.

On Friday April 17th, 8 people in Montgomery County died of Covid-19.

One of them was my mother.

Yes, she was elderly.  She just turned 88 on Monday the 13th

Yes, she was in a nursing home.

Yes, she had dementia.

But she mattered.  To us, and to God.

Every one of those 8 deaths in Montgomery County mattered to God.

Every one of those 49 deaths in Pennsylvania mattered to God.

Every person who has died of Covid-19 matters to God.

Every person on this planet matters to God and therefore every person on this planet should matter to us – the followers of the Risen Christ.

Please stop the political arguing.  Please stop unsafe protesting.  Please stop jumping on each other online because you disagree.

Use the wisdom God has given you.  Be safe.  Disagree but do so in a civil and godly manner.

Remember you matter to God.  And so does the other person.  Even if they disagree with you.

May God quickly end this virus,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 4/6/2020

Luke 19:41-44

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Jesus weeps over jerusalem

In my Aunt Marie’s living room hung a picture of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem.  I often wondered why Aunt Marie hung this picture, but lately, I’ve been thinking about it in a different way.

Is Jesus weeping over Morgantown, or Honey Brook or (insert YOUR town here)?  Do we hear Jesus reminding us of our doom when we turn from God?

Or are we just waiting for things to “get back to normal?”

While I am not one to fall prey to “prophecy mania”, I do wonder about Jesus’ thoughts on us today.  Will we make the changes we need to live simpler lives?  Will we just wait for the restrictions to be lifted and go back to our insane lives?  Will we try to be better?  Great questions that cannot be answered…yet.

But we can look to Jesus, we can envision Him crying over our towns and warning us to repent.

If only we would…

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 3-30-2020

Grief.  It is not just about the feelings we have over losing someone to death.  It’s about all the losses we experience through life.

Many of us are experiencing grief right now.  Grief due to being at home instead of school, or work, or even worship.  I felt an incredibly powerful wave of grief when I was at the church building last Thursday.  I was getting some more things to work on at home, and while carrying the box to my car it hit me.

I’m also grieving the loss of a vacation we had planned.  Last week we were supposed to be in South Carolina, but instead were still here.  Just like you.

And it’s easy to say “look at Italy, look at India, look at…” but that doesn’t help.  We still need to deal with our own grief.

So yes, it is okay to say you are feeling the impact of this crisis.  While some places have it worse, we still need to deal with our loss.

But we cannot stay there.  To overcome this crisis, we need to remember we are people of the resurrection, people of a God who takes the bad things and turns them into something far better.  Afterall, Psalm 30:5b says weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Brothers and sisters, we may be grieving a lot of losses right now.  And that is okay.  But remember, we will rejoice again.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

 

Monday Morning Meditation 3-23-2020

One of my “newer” favorite songs is “In Christ Alone”.  On one hand, I love the Celtic rhythm, it stirs my Scot-Irish blood.  On the other hand, there is a line that I’ve always sung louder and more powerfully.

No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

In this day and age I’m sure you can agree that there is great assurance in the line “no power of hell nor scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand…”  After all, we live in a time that is difficult.  Is this corona virus from Satan?  Is it a scheme of man?  Is it both?  We don’t know, but any way if we are in Christ, we need not fear.

But lately I’ve been thinking about the next part, “till He returns or calls me home here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

The Power of Christ.

During this crisis I’ve been thinking a lot about the Power of Christ. John 14:12-14 says, Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

We are facing a global crisis.  We are followers of Jesus Christ.  And Jesus says we can do even greater things than He did.  Jesus healed.  Jesus drove out evil spirits.  Jesus raised the dead.  Brothers and sisters, if we can do far more, than through our prayer, we can bring about the healing of this world.  Join me in prayer.  Lord Jesus, in your name and power we can achieve far more than we can imagine.  In your name and power, we rebuke this Corona virus.  Bring healing.  Bring hope.  And help us to believe.  Amen.

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 3-16-2020

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

On this surreal Monday of a surreal week we have only one recourse.  To be still and know that God is God.  We need to turn to God for our comfort and strength.

God knows it has been a trying time for many peoples and nations over the past few months and now we in the USA are experiencing the same thing.

We must not panic.  We must not scoff or ignore the warnings.  We must not hoard.  We must not blame ideologies.

What we must do is this; be still and know that God is God.

Keeping you all in prayer,

Pastor Bill

 

To view yesterday’s worship service and

special sermon, click:  Sunday 3-15-2020 Worship Service

 

 

Monday Morning Meditation 3-9-2020

I received an email to attend a church security workshop in New York.  It is one of many that I’ve received over the past few years as assaults on houses of worship have increased.  I have attended local meetings and webinars for this important topic.  Some of the many questions raised by these workshops include:

  • Should churches have armed security guards?
  • Should we lock all the doors except one?
  • What precautions do we use to keep the people safe?

In the end, there are a lot of complex procedures to create a sense of security.

Pastors have also been inundated with training, workshops, etc. for child safety.  Between clergy abuse scandals and the Penn State scandal, we have had to attend mandatory boundary training and create processes to assure all who volunteer with children have the appropriate three Pennsylvania background checks.

In the end, there are a lot of complex procedures to create a sense of security.

And now we have the Corona virus.  No amount of background checks, no locked doors, no security guards will protect us against a virus.  Rather we must protect ourselves.  We need to take those standard hygiene precautions that we should have  been doing all along, like washing our hands properly, staying home when sick, limiting our exposure to those who are sick (which is really hard for those who care for and visit the sick).

Right now, the church leadership is looking at options for the serving of Holy Communion (and I refuse to NOT serve the Lord’s Supper.  It is far too important to neglect).

In the end, there are a lot of complex procedures to create a sense of security.

Hopefully you’ve notices a commonality among these three issues.  We do what we have to do to be as secure as possible, but ultimately, we cannot guarantee 100 percent that nothing bad will ever happen.

I’m reminded of the Joseph saga in Genesis.  Joseph, as the youngest brother, is a real pain.  He tells his brothers, father and mother that in his dreams, his family will bow down to him.  The brothers decided to do away with him.  Joseph, through a series of events, ends up in an Egyptian prison, explains the dream of Pharaoh and becomes second in command in Egypt.

When he reconciles with his brothers, he says this: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

I do not believe God has sent us these viruses and problems to accomplish something, rather God calls us to use our faith to accomplish things in these times of crisis.

As you listen to the news, as you hear the panic, remember God.  Be still and know that God is God.  Have faith, take precautions and go out and live your life.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 3-2-20

Written in a question and answer format, the Heidelberg Catechism has been used to teach the faith since 1563. And the first question is one that I cling to throughout my day.

 What is your only comfort in life and in death?

  1. A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

We live in scary times when headlines continually tell us of bad things.  Wars, rumors of wars, earthquake, storms and the like are always present.  So too are the by-products of these things, refugees, homeless, pestilence, etc.

Today’s headlines are filled with the Corona virus and people are scared.  Many are cancelling both international and domestic trips, people are afraid to go out into public, many are already stockpiling food and water just in case something happens here.  Even churches are considering limiting the “passing of the peace” to a bow, or changing the Lord’s Supper, or even contemplating not meeting for worship.

While I think the Corona virus is dangerous and something we must take seriously, I cannot and will not enter into a “bomb shelter mentality.”  Rather, I remember that my comfort in life is that I belong, body and soul, to Jesus Christ.

Wash your hands frequently.  Limit contact with the sick (unless you are called to minister to the sick).  Use standard precautions.  Check in on those who have compromised immune systems.  Pray for all infected and all who battle this virus.

And be like Jesus.  Rest in His eternal arms while you be a Christ-like presence to those around you.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

The Theology of Psychology

Brain science has shown that it takes more than thirty days to change a negative behavior into a positive behavior.

In plain words, if you want to eat healthier, it takes a little over thirty days to make those changes.  If you want to exercise more, it takes a little over thirty days to make those changes.  And so on.  It takes that time to create neural pathways in the brain that lead to automaticity.

If you play an instrument or a sport, think of it this way:  in order to get that guitar chord, or piano hands, or grip on the baseball bat, you need to practice the correct way over a period of time.  Usually thirty (plus) days.

In the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament), we often hear the phrase “forty days”.  In Hebrew, forty days can mean either forty literal days, or “a long time” (longer than a month).

Now, put together the brain science (thirty plus days) with the Old Testament (forty days) and what do you get?  The time it takes to create a new and positive habit.

Enter Lent.  Lent is the forty-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter (except Sundays, which are “beyond time” as they are all celebrations of the resurrection).  Lent is the perfect opportunity to begin good habits.

Want to eat better?  Start on Ash Wednesday and keep going until Easter.  Want to exercise more?  Start on Ash Wednesday and keep going until Easter.  Want to pray more?   Hopefully by now you get it.

The Season of Lent can be more than a time of giving up something we like.  It can be a time of changing our lives by creating better mental, physical and spiritual habits.  We can use this natural time in the church calendar to begin a better life.

As we approach Ash Wednesday, take some time to consider what positive changes you want to make.  Write them down.  Create a goal.  Vision yourself achieving that goal.  And go for it.

May God bless you abundantly this Lenten season.

Pastor Bill