Tag Archives: luke

Jesus Teaches and Calls us to Him

READ
Luke 24:13-35

REFLECT
Jesus has something to teach us, perhaps this is why it took him so long to reveal himself on the Road to Emmaus. All that Jesus wanted the two disciples in the story to know about him and what he wanted those at table to know about him was of utmost importance and it needed time to be told. Had Jesus revealed himself prematurely the revelation would have likely become a distraction for those he wanted to inform. Yet Jesus did reveal himself, and he chose to do so in the breaking of the bread.

Today’s Gospel account tells us two things: firstly, Jesus wants us to know about him. Secondly, Jesus is telling us where we can find him – where he is certain to be with us, without question. Thus, we are to study the Word and engage with him in prayer and we are to come to the table of the Lord regularly so that we might be in constant corporal and spiritual  communion with him.

So much for the idea that one can be a Christian and never engage with the Word, never pray, never attend worship, and never commune.

PRAY
Lord God, by the power of your Holy Spirit, keep us ever desiring to know more about you and about the precious gift that is Jesus Christ. Help us to seek you in Word, worship, prayer and the sacraments, increasing our faith and drawing us into closer relationship with you. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

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Proclaim Salvation!

READ
Luke 2:15-21, Luke 22:22-32

REFLECT
It is funny how people like to use words to obfuscate, to skirt around things they not like. Take this upcoming Sunday – what some like to call the “Naming of Jesus.” Pretty bland is it not? It says really little about Jesus we do not already know.

We already know he is “Emmanuel – God with Us” and Jesus or Joshua in the Hebrew means, “He saves.” Both of these names tell us who Jesus is and what he will do: God will be with us and will redeem us through His Son.

This coming Sunday was traditionally known as the “The Feast of the Circumcision of Christ.” It is a shame we downplay this in favor of the naming. Perhaps for certain segments of the church Jesus’ circumcision is “too male” and  an uncomfortable reaffirmation of Jesus masculinity.

Focusing on the circumcision has significance: it is the first instance of Jesus’ precious blood being shed. The shedding of this blood tells us two things – firstly, Jesus is fully human – affirming that Jesus is “with us” in all aspects. He fully shares our humanity. Secondly, he is (at this point through the faithfulness of his parents) obedient to the Law and the will of God.

Of equal significance and something left out of the lectionary reading for this Sunday is the witness of Simeon and his subsequent song:

“Lord, now you are letting your servant[a] depart in peace,
    according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
    that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

Simeon affirms the salvific mission of Jesus and his messianic personage. Additionally, his proclamation does not limit the redemption Jesus will bring, for he is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” The knowledge of God and salvation are available to all and through this salvation God will be glorified.

PRAY
Gracious and Merciful God, we give you thanks for the salvation you have brought to the whole world through your Son Jesus. We know that some will reject this gift, yet we also know we are to extend this gift to all. Help us to be givers of your Word and help us to be like Simeon so that we might boldly proclaim salvation in Jesus name – AMEN.

Remembered, Known, Loved

READ
Luke 23:33-43

REFLECT
It is nice to be remembered. Who has not felt really bad when their birthday has been forgotten? Who has felt really good when someone you haven’t seen for years remembers your face and name when passing on the street?

No one wants to be forgotten, which is probably why we have tombstones and monuments and other such things. This probably why we name things after people – not just to honor them but so who they were and what they did can be remembered.

The thief on the cross wanted Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom so that he might be with him (lot of pronouns there – but you get the idea). This is good. But what is even better is this: Jesus remembers His faithful not just in His Kingdom, not at some latter time when the Kingdom is fully realized. No matter where you are or what you have going on in your life Jesus remembers you now. He knows you now. He is with you now.

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. As such the Word of God was with God in the beginning and through Him all things that were made were made through him. From the beginning to the end you are known and remembered and most importantly loved.

 

PRAY
Lord Jesus, I give thanks you know me and that you are my king. Keep me steadfast in your way so that I might realized, at last, eternal life and joy with You in Your kingdom and be with me all the days of my life from now until then AMEN.

Monkeys Grabbing Nuts

READ
Luke 21:5-19

REFLECT
“As for these things that you see, the day will come when not one of these stones will be left upon one another; all will be thrown down.”

Why is it that many Christians do not listen to Jesus? I am not speaking specifically about what Jesus tells us to do or not to do to be faithful to Him; I am speaking about the life lessons he gives us and how they apply to the church.

In this passage from Luke Jesus is speaking of His death and resurrection, but he is also telling us about the transient nature of the material world. All things have a beginning and an end. Everything dies. This includes church buildings and congregations. When they either outlive their purpose or for lack of desire not longer will fulfill their purpose (The Great Commission and Greatest Commandment) they will cease to exist. Yet, people will put the greatest amount of effort into keeping “the living dead” alive. Why? The reasons are varied but they usually are some variation of fear, self-centeredness and the big one LACK OF FAITH.

This reminds me of a story I heard about a monkey, a box and a nut. Whether this story is factual is not important because it is true. It goes like this: a person made a box with a hole just big enough for a monkey to slip its hand in the box. Into this box the person placed a nut. The monkey reached in to get the nut, but grasping the nut the monkey was no longer able to pull his hand through the hole and was trapped. Yet, the monkey would not let go of the nut and so he was caught.

So I ask you, the Christian out there, the congregation out there: what nut are you holding onto that has you trapped and why will you not let it go? Are you no smarter or faithful than a monkey?

PRAY
By the power of your Holy Spirit, O God, we ask that you would help us to let go of the things that keep us from doing your will. Help us to release these things from our grip so we might serve you in proclaiming the Gospel and in serving our neighbor. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN.

One of These Things…

READ
Luke 18:9-14

REFLECT
“One of these things is not like the other. One of these things doesn’t belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the other by the time we finish our song?”

Sesame Street.

Who can remember this song that taught kids how to differentiate between things. In this case Bob and Susan were helping Grover tell the difference in the size of circles.

In the Gospel message from Luke 18, the Pharisee could quite well be singing this song because he was sure that one things (he) was not like the other (the tax collector). But just like our circles, while there may have been some outward differences, there was no substantial difference between the Pharisee and the tax collector. Both were sinners and both needed forgiveness. The major difference, however, was one knew he was sinful and humbled himself and the other did not.

In this respect there is no difference between people. All are sinful and have fallen short of the glory of God. The “saint” needs as much forgiveness as the “sinner” because in the end – as Martin Luther said – we are all simultaneously  “Saint and Sinner.” We are saints because we have been forgiven and made clean by Christ and we are sinners because we fall short of the glory of God and always need His forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

PRAY
Heavenly Father, help us to live lives of humility  and help us to recognize our sinful nature and our need for you in all things. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN.

The Squeaky Wheel.

READ
Luke 18:1-8

REFLECT
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” or as my friend Tony likes to say, “It ain’t a problem ’til its your problem.” Truer words were never spoken.

Often in this world people do not willingly do the things that are right – usually because they take some amount of effort or they distract from what they would rather be doing. No one likes added work. In corporate and government realms no one want so upset the apple cart. People like to maintain the status quo.

By training dogs a good part of my life I have learned a lot about people. If you want to overcome the negative behavior in a dog you have to do one of two things (maybe two of two things). The negative consequence must outweigh the pleasure the dog derives from the unwanted behavior and/or what you replace that unwanted behavior with must give the dog more pleasure than the unwanted behavior. People are no different.

The judge in Luke 18 received a positive benefit from ignoring the woman who sought justice, until her nagging (which was no doubt how he saw it) overwhelmed the positive effect of ignoring her. At that point doing what was asked gave a greater benefit to the judge than ignoring her because he could get to life as he desired it.

How fortunate we are that God does not answer our prayer because He wants to shut us up. He answers them because He loves us. However, he does answer them in his way and in his time. Just like the woman in the gospel account we should continue to petition God to help us and have faith He will. The follow up is to graciously accept His answer knowing that He knows best and has our well being in mind.

PRAY
Merciful God, you are the perfect judge. You are all wise, loving and just. Hear our prayers and help us to have faith in you, to pray always and to trust in your wisdom and love. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN.

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

READ
Luke 17:11-19

REFLECT
What have you done for me lately?”

That is a phrase that brings back a lot of memories of the 80s. Yeah the Big 80s: moussed hair , Wayfarers  and Members Only jackets. Though I enjoyed that time of my life moussed hair was not my thing; I didn’t wear Wayfarers because everyone else did; I did have a Member’s Only jacket – which if still in existence is being worn by a 90-year-old guy someplace. Funny how fashion changes.

Regardless, that line brings back memories – even if I was/am not a Janet Jackson fan. I think Eddie Murphy got far better mileage out of the line in his comedy routine.

However, the line is good and fits perfectly the gospel text of Jesus Cleansing the Lepers The Lord does something miraculous and life changing for the lepers and nine of the ten do not thank him. Only one is grateful. Are we not that way? Do we really have gratitude for the way in which Jesus changes our lives, makes us clean and no longer untouchable by God? Or do we just say, “What have you done for me lately?”

PRAY
Lord Jesus, we give thanks you cleanse us daily and make us whole in the eyes of God. By the power of the Holy Spirit we come daily to the baptismal promise made by you that if we repent and ask in faith you will forgive us our sins. Help us to appreciate what you have done for us and help us to see this as more than enough so that we will never ask, “What have you done for me lately.” AMEN.

God Doesn’t Give Gold Watches.

READ
Luke 17:5-10

REFLECT
People really are full of themselves and, sadly, Christians are often overflowing with this fullness. Somehow Christians – and what I really am speaking about are church members, as opposed to disciples- think that faith and following God ends after Sunday worship or at some self-appointed age of retirement. They think they have somehow made the mark, earned the points and can now coast along. You have probably heard this is some form or another, “I am too old to…” or “I have done … long enough. Let someone else do it.” I do realize that as people age there are things they cannot do or not do as well, but ministry never ends. There is no retirement party and no gold watch. There is always something to be done for the Kingdom.

How interesting it is that many Christians can muster the time ,strength and effort to do things for themselves and for their friends and family but are completely devoid of time, energy, ability and talent when it comes to helping others. They can build and fix at home but will not fix a stranger’s porch. They can bake and cook for family and friends but will not prepare a meal for the homeless.

Often people fall into the habit of living their Christian life vicariously through others – often their pastor. However, as John the Baptist said to the Pharisees and Sadduccees , “Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.'”  People must produce good fruit and not rely on the fruit of others.

It is all a matter of faith and motivation and to be honest a pastor cannot give you faith, cannot strengthen your faith and cannot motivate you. As one of my faithful and very energetic parishioners said the other day, “that has to come from within” and “God is talking to you but are you listening.”

So, are you listening? Can you hear God calling you to greater faith and motivation? Will you respond?

PRAY
Holy Spirit, increase our faith and empower us to do the work of God’s Kingdom in this world. Help us to not be lazy or self-centered but motivate us to do for others the things we would gladly do for ourselves. Help us to never think we have earned the right to do nothing or think the nothing we do is something in the eyes of God. AMEN.

Rejected… like Christ

READ
Luke 4:21-30

REFLECT
Have you ever felt unwanted, rejected? Have you ever been made to feel like an outsider? It hurts so much more when you are rejected by those closest to you – by those whose acceptance and approval you want the most.

This week’s Gospel reading – and all the readings of Epiphany – are aimed at one thing: revealing who Jesus is as the Messiah. There are, however, many other things we can take away from these scriptures and all Scripture. The Bible is a multifaceted book that hides its wisdom in simplicity – its wisdom is hidden from “wise” of this world, yet revealed to the “foolish.”

Sure, we see Jesus revealed as the Messiah, but we also see Jesus rejected by his own people. They are all amazed at his teaching until someone lowers the boom and says something to the effect of “Hey I remember you. You’re Joe’s kid.” Suddenly all the greatness of his teaching is forgotten and when he confronts their short-sighted haughtiness they become enraged and want to kill him. TALK ABOUT REJECTION to the “nth degree.”

In our lives we often face rejection. Sometimes the greatest rejection is by the ones we love and is the result of our following the ways of God rather than the ways of the world. Family and friends would rather have us they way they want us – the way that makes them comfortable. Often this is out of fear – fear they will lose us or fear our new life might confront their way of being.”

Like Jesus we can draw strength on the faithfulness of God. He will preserve and deliver us when we chose not to live for the world, to accept rejection and live for Him. The crowd attempted to throw Jesus to his death but God allowed Him to pass through them and through their raged unscathed – after He had confronted their unbelief. So too will God preserve us and deliver us through the tumult when we follow Him in faith.

PRAY
Heavenly Father, your ways are not the world’s ways, but the world’s ways are so tempting. Preserve me, O Lord, and give me faith to follow you. Comfort me when the world rejects me for doing your will and help me to embrace your will, act as you would have me and not allow the desire to be accepted corrupt me desire to follow you, AMEN.