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Archive for October, 2009

Luke 14:1-6   The Message

 1-3 One time when Jesus went for a Sabbath meal with one of the top leaders of the Pharisees, all the guests had their eyes on him, watching his every move. Right before him there was a man hugely swollen in his joints. So Jesus asked the religion scholars and Pharisees present, “Is it permitted to heal on the Sabbath? Yes or no?”

 4-6They were silent. So he took the man, healed him, and sent him on his way. Then he said, “Is there anyone here who, if a child or animal fell down a well, wouldn’t rush to pull him out immediately, not asking whether or not it was the Sabbath?” They were stumped. There was nothing they could say to that.

Healing on the Sabbath is one of the things that Jesus was continually getting into trouble for doing.  It seems obvious to us—of course one would/should heal on the Sabbath.  However, it was not so obvious in the first century, at least not to the Pharisees who sought to live out the laws of Torah to their best ability.  Jesus however, understood the law a bit differently—the law was there to help humanity not to keep humanity under its thumb.  Hence, for Jesus it was obvious—of course you’d heal on the Sabbath, you’d heal whenever you could.

The time is always right to heal and to help others.  John Wesley said that we should “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”  This is how Jesus lived his life as well—doing what he could whenever he had the opportunity to do so.  How can we possibly go wrong taking John Wesley’s advice and following the way Jesus lived?

God of grace and mercy, you have done more than just give us the law, you became human—flesh and blood to show us how to live by the law as well.  You brought us grace because we can’t adhere to the law and follow it on our own; we need you to live life your way.  Help us to have the courage and strength to do all we can for whoever we can whenever we can.  Amen.

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Luke 13:31-35

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ 32He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me,* “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when* you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” ’

It’s hard to imagine that the Pharisees were trying to protect Jesus.  Perhaps they were or perhaps they were trying to scare him into submission, scare him into keeping his mouth shut and to stop healing on the Sabbath.  But Jesus was prepared either way, his message was not only for Herod but for the Pharisees as well, he would not, could not be intimidated by fear tactics.  Jesus was following God’s will no matter who happened to be threatening him.

Jesus had work to do.  That’s what Jesus was concerned about—the work that God had sent him to do.  There was nothing that humanity could dish out—be it the Pharisees or Herod—that could stop him.

If only we could act and do ministry with the same dedication, the same passion.  What could you, could we, be brave enough to do if we knew that we would succeed?  What if we truly believed that we were completing God’s mission for our lives?

Holy One,   impassion us with your quest.  Place your will inside our hearts and light them on fire.  Help us to brave the world and trust fully in you, so that we can live and do the risk-taking mission that you have called us to.  Thanks be to you, Holy One, amen.

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Luke 6:12-16 NRSV
Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Just for clarification, a disciple is a person who follows. Therefore all Christians should be disciples; we are those who follow the ways and teachings of Christ. An apostle is a delegate—someone who is personally sent out as a representative of sorts. Jesus’ apostles are the 12 listed here—they were personally sent out by Jesus himself to heal and teach on his behalf. We are all called to follow Christ but Jesus personally asked the apostles to go and do his work.

It seems that whenever Jesus has a big decision to make he goes and prays (what a fabulous example for us to follow!). If there is something he must decide, he turns to God so that he follows God’s will. Jesus constantly turned towards God, listening for God’s voice.

We too need to listen for God’s voice in our lives. Prayer can be hard. It’s difficult to know what to say. It’s difficult to sit in silence trying to fend off our own thoughts. So often we think there is a specific way we must pray. I’ve yet to learn a “correct” way to pray; rather the point is that we do pray. Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer as an example of prayer.

There are many ways for us to pray. Some of us pray while drawing, singing, even dancing; others of us pray while we walk in the mornings or evenings. There is a discipline called Lectio Divina in which one prays as they read a short piece of scripture. The scripture is read and re-read while listening for a word, a thought inspired by God.

For those of you, who are close to Mound City on Wednesdays, drop by the church anytime between 11am and 2pm, and you can pray in the sanctuary. I’m usually around (unless, I’m grabbing lunch) and am happy to come and pray with you. I’m also happy to teach you to pray with Lectio Divina, the Rosary, or with art anytime—just give me a call or email me and we can set up a time to meet.

Holy One, it can be scary or even difficult to approach you. We don’t know what to say, it can be hard to be silent and listen for you. Sometimes in our silence, our own thoughts invade and they are difficult to keep out. We ask you for patience—yours and ours. Be patient with us as we try to pray, we ask for patience so we can settle into the silence and listen for your voice. Thank you Lord, for this gift of prayer in which we can communicate with you. We pray through the Holy Spirit, amen.

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