Second Chances

…the word came a second time (Jonah 3:1-4:11); Get up and go! If you’ve ever been where Jonah’s been, a second chance is like breathing a full breath of new air. Your thinking has changed. Your heart has surrendered The only thing on your mind is gratefulness. There’s no room for growth in the “belly of a whale.” The victory that is in life itself is cause to do God’s will and obey the passion of God’s Word within us. Get up… go.. and proclaim… the message!  Be all that God has called you to be.

Resurrection And Life

‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’  John 11:1-27  Jesus knew that Lazarus was going to die. Lazarus was in a tomb four days before Jesus returned to Bethany at the request of his sisters. I remember years ago my mother and aunt came up from Baltimore on their way to see their Aunt Florence. She was the oldest sister of their father and the last remaining sibling of five. They didn’t expect her to live past the year and wanted to be with her and asked if I wanted to go with them. Like a story out of Mark’s Gospel, immediately I changed my plans for the day to make that journey with them. My Aunt Florence had a lot of stories to share. She was the woman who loved and cared for everybody’s children including her own. Her house was always open and heart never judged. My own mother the youngest of five was the same way. On March 13th of this month, she would have been 68. My mother literally spent a lifetime in social service. She taught, healed and cared for people she didn’t know like they were family. She saved the preaching and rebuking for her three children. When she became ill it wasn’t long before things went from bad to worse. Nevertheless, I remember very clearly the point at which I knew her struggle was coming to an end. I was at her bedside everyday. People who new her from everywhere came to be with her because she had helped them in some way. Each person had their own story. Even as she was passing away, something new was being revealed about this woman I called Mom and nothing would me the same after she died. Because of those stories she lives. Because of those stories I am able to strengthen myself. Because of those stories I too experience a resurrection and glorify God every day.

Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. John 11:1-27

Are You Able?

But Jesus said to them, …‘Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ Mark 10:35-45

How many times had Jesus and the disciples sat down at a meal together feeding invited and uninvited guests? How many times had Jesus walked away from crowds trying to kill him? How many times had Jesus quieted the arrogance of the Jewish leaders simply by using the Mosaic Law as his defense? If the “cup” was only full of these kinds of experiences, we’d all be able to drink of that cup. But we know that the cup isn’t always so full. Sometimes it’s half full and other times it’s down right out empty! When James and John answered that they were in fact able to drink of that cup, my guess is they had absolutely no idea of what Jesus was referring. I think Jesus knew as well that they didn’t really know, but I believe what he heard in their answer was that they were not only able but willing. Even in hindsight of the reality of the disciples request, Jesus’ confirmation of their willingness, is a confirmation to all of us today who are yet still willing (even as we sometimes fail), to drink of that same cup. The life to come may not be about prominence. But the good news is that when God calls us in this life, through Christ we are already able, and our willingness to drink is what moves us towards that spiritual reward.

Mark 10:35-45  They replied, ‘We are able.’ So Jesus called them and said to them, …whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’ 

Psalm 91:9-16

Those who love me, I will deliver;
   I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
   I will be with them in trouble,
   I will rescue them and honour them.
With long life I will satisfy them,
   and show them my salvation. 

Born To Create Change

John 12:20-26 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

It’s no mystery that there are times when something has to die in order for something different to emerge. By the same token, whether we like it or not, our birth creates change for someone or some situation. Yet throughout life we resist change for various reasons, but they all fall under one category, fear. We are afraid that we are going to lose something or that we will inherit something of which we are uncertain that we want. Of course I am not solely referring to physical death, but also things that simply need to end. This includes the things we want in our relationships. Jesus knew that his (physical) end was inevitable. He understood that with the separation of his body from the relationship he had with his disciples, was the expectation of the glorification of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit for all who believed. What might we be holding on to in our relationships that is keeping us or the other person from blossoming into the person God has called us to be or simply experiencing something greater that God has intended? How do we know when it is time to change? Perhaps when we begin to ask these questions is the beginning of knowing when change needs to take place.

Job 42:1-2 Then Job answered the Lord: ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Rock Opera

Just finished watching “Jesus Christ Superstar” Awesome Musical based on the Rock Opera! Purposely told through the perceived eyes of Judas Iscariot, practically every fear known to man portrayed from every voice in this story of the Gospel and if truth is to be told within us we can find a bit of our selves in every voice. The musical begins with a frustrated Judas in red and just before Jesus is raised on the cross, Judas descends from above dressed in white yet with the same frustrations, still not understanding that to live one must die. Although we may suffer some of Judas’ frustrations we don’t have to live that way. Believe , Jesus has already paid the price. He has given us Pentecost (gift of the Holy Spirit) to help remind us. Let the Spirit of God sing out.

Acts 2:1-21 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 

Is Baptism Necessary?

Today we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. For us, Baptism is the sacrament by which one is initiated into the Christian faith. It is the rite of the church that symbolizes the washing away of the old self, behaviors and beliefs, and the beginning of a life in Christ as a new creation. Many of us (including myself) who have taken this crucial step in our journey find that the old self isn’t necessarily washed away like the dirt from our clothes in a washing machine. It’s more like a process by which we learn what behaviors are self-destructive and which ones help us to live into Christ’s baptism, according to God’s Word. The process isn’t perfect nor is it full proof. Some days we find our selves putting on the old self, kind of like putting on dirty clothes, which of course has nothing to do with what is in our heart. It just means that others aren’t able to see the “new” you; the Christ, that God intended people to see. The rite itself is just the beginning. It is the first day we begin to understand the need to separate our selves from the darkness that is in the world. It is in fact a daily process that involves the entire community of faith and not merely a one-time miracle event. It may help to remember something my maternal grandmother once told me. If you wash your underwear out every night you always have a clean pair. Is baptism necessary? For me both figuratively and literally I say unequivocally yes.

New Creation; Baptized into Christ; Separating the Light from the darkness