May 22, 2015

Pentecost Sunday Poem

A Poem for Pentecost

A rushing wind the Spirit came!
Purge us from all that would defame,
     O Cleansing One.

Our sins lost in Thy holiness,
Let worthy lives our faith confess,
     O Sinless Son.

The gift of tongues the Spirit brought.
May our dull tongues by Thee be taught,
     Master of Love.

May words and deeds tell every land
The gospel we preach at Love's command,
     Lord above. 

The Spirit came in tongues of fire!
Now our cold hearts with flame inspire,
     Spirit Divine.

Give us a holy zeal for Thee
To labor for eternity,
     Our soul is Thine.

-Catherine Bernard Brown






Memorial Day Prayer

Eternal God, we remember today those men and women who have served their country. We remember those who endured with honor; those who suffered in patience; all those who sacrificed their life’s blood for the hope of a better tomorrow.

We pray this day, as well, for all of humanity; that God would guide us out of chaos and into unity; that oppression and envy would cease; and that heaven and earth would be joined together in fellowship with the almighty prince of peace, in whose name we now pray…

Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen. 



May 12, 2015

True Grit Theology

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to watch True Grit (the Coen Brother's version). And I watched it, of all places, at a drive-in theater! (Yes-they still exist).

As I drove down the narrow path over bumpy clay mounds in my four-wheel drive, something occurred—my mind became flooded with thoughts about the history of this particular drive-in theater, how it existed when the original John Wayne version debuted in 1969.

As I watched the sunlight disappear in the horizon, it was brief but it was the moment I connected the dots—that over the years it has taken a lot of time and perseverance to keep this classic example of Americana up and running—that over the years it has taken a lot of determination and unthinkable dedication to write down and pass along the ancient stories of the Bible so that anyone who wants to go out and purchase a copy today can easily have one—that all of the men and women of the Bible are in a special category—that the kind of person who would carry his cross, and the kind of people who are willing to pick up their own cross and follow—are the kind of people who have, I think—true grit.

"I only take one step at a time. That's why I was given two feet."  -Glen Campbell, 1969.


May 5, 2015

Fred Craddock - Today

"Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 
—Luke 4:21

“Isn't it interesting,” Dr. Fred Craddock points out, “that in Luke’s Gospel the first public spoken word of Jesus as an adult, apart from the reading of Scripture is today." 

The reign of Christ is today!  The time of God is today!  The “to the ends of the earth” mission work that was started back then… continues today!  

Today God is in our midst to proclaim freedom to those enslaved.  
Today God’s Spirit desires to give sight to the blind 
and insight to all of our blind spots.  
Today Christ is waiting to release and lessen our inward pain.
Today is the day to start managing our mood swings.
Today is the day to start controlling our runaway emotions.
Today is the day to start saying yes to life more abundant.
            Today God challenges us to move out of the shadows of fearful living 
            and into the light of total transformation.  
            Today is the day to make things right. 
            Today is the day to heal and forgive.
            Today is the day to seek justice while proclaiming peace.  
            Today is the day to start putting into practice the good news claim Jesus fulfilled.
            Today… sounds like a good plan… I’ll get started on it first thing tomorrow.


April 29, 2015

Obstacles

There are many different obstacles and unexpected challenges that occur in life.  Many can create a drain upon our energy.  Many can be downright overwhelming.   Alone we can be defeated.  But the good news teaches that we are not alone—there is someone who watches over us; someone who cares for us; someone who gives us the strength we need to carry on.

In one of Aesop’s Fables is the story of a fox that was captured by a lion.  The fox said, “You cannot eat me because the gods have made me the leader of all the animals.”  The lion did not believe him, so the fox said to the lion, “Just follow behind me and see for yourself if any animal challenges me.”  

Well, the lion agreed to this and followed directly behind the fox as the fox began walking through the forest.  To the lion’s amazement, it turned out to be exactly as the fox had said. Not a single animal they encountered challenged the fox.  In fact, every animal they met fled in sheer panic.  After several such encounters the lion finally agreed that the fox was the leader of all the animals, and thus, must let him go.

The moral of the story: It is easy to remove obstacles 
that oppose us when we have a lion behind us.
           
That is what John’s gospel comes along and reminds us of about Jesus Christ, the good shepherd.  That it is God walking behind us (and side-by-side with us)  who overcomes that which we are unable to conquer on our own.  That it is Christ who heals broken-hearts and saves lost souls; that it is the good shepherd who watches over us and brings comfort to his flock—us.          

See John 10:14-18

April 24, 2015

Walmart Christianity

From the florescent glow of the lights overhead I let my enthusiasm lead.  I let my hope escape.  My heart begins to pound.  I unload and prepare.  I pursue it.  Winded, I catch up with it.  It moves again.  It disappears over a dark ledge.  It plunges into the chaos of twisted plastic.

My emotions fly high again.  I grab hold of it.  I hook it securely with thumb and index finger.  I multiply it with numerous calculations.  Finally… I triumph.  And out the door I go after standing in line for twenty minutes at Walmart.

Wouldn't things be more exciting if we could replace the 
mundane moments in life with child-like enthusiasm?

"Unless you change and become like little children,you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3

                                                           Schaefferstown, PA, Easter Egg Hunt

April 20, 2015

Breathing Relationship

The relationship between Jesus and God the Father is so interconnected it is like breathing. Believe it or not God offers this same gift of connection to you and me, breathing love into us, and with this breath inspiring us to breathe love into others. 

“It is good for you that I’m going,” Jesus said, “because if I go, I can send you my Spirit, my breath.”  The Spirit is God’s breath, bringing us into deeper relationship with our Creator.

Our true identity, many scholars would agree, is not found in how we perform; is not found in what people may say about us or think about us; is not found in what you might think of yourself.  But found in Spirit: God’s Spirit living in us.  We are children of God, given meaning and purpose in life because we have a connection with God like no other.

The Spirit's home is not found in outer space... but in us!

May the breath of life at home in us continue to inspire us to receive God’s love, and to offer that love to others.

“Those who love me will keep my
word, and my Father will love them,
and we will come to them and make
our home with them.”
John 14:23