When I was eleven, my best friend Eric was killed when a neighborhood boy brought out his Fathers’ Colt 45 pistol to add to the play. Playing is an essential exercise in learning to dealing with life, but in this case it also became a horrific experience in how close at hand death can be. This tragedy for was for me an unimagined and savage introduction to life and death. At the time, I couldn’t imagine how to continue life with hope and joy. I’m sure that neighborhood boy playing with his Father’s gun, felt like his life ended that day as well.
When All Saints Sunday comes along I remember Eric with a mixture of emotion; some sadness for what could have been and wasn’t some prayer for the mercy and hope that entered my life since that tragic day, and some thanksgiving for the power and long suffering faithfulness of God who loves us, in and through and in spite of the suffering in the world.
Since that fateful day, I have learned to engage life and make connections and interactions really matter. I have sought to engage people who suffer in ways that really matter. I have sought to live life hopefully and urgently because death is a real experience, and it is not all there is to say.
I now have confidence that death isn’t the last word. It wasn’t for me. I really believe it wasn’t the last word for Eric. I pray and hope that for that neighborhood boy, death is not a last word for him either. God’s work of living hope since these events has helped to shape the life of faith I love and celebrate.
Remembering the Saints, is also about remembering how God has nurtured them in faith and nurtured our faith through them. I invite you to bring the names of people who have powerfully shaped your faith and hope in the activity of God for life and good. We will celebrate them and the long sighted goodness of God, together this Sunday at Good Sam. I will certainly bring Eric’s name as I give thanks for the hope, strength and resilient faith that God gives to those who are in Christ. Join us this week for All Saints’ Sunday.
I had a music teacher once who said, “play it like this…” and then he played it. When it my my turn the music didn’t come out quite like I heard it in my head or like my teacher had shown me. “It does sound right when I play it” I said. “Well, you have to practice it to play it right.” said my teacher. I guess if it was simple we would all have beautiful music flow from our lives.
Knowing the good is one thing, doing the good is another. But it’s even more complicated then that. Knowing what the good is in some situations is quite difficult. Worse than that, the nature of evil is to pull us away from the good, to confuse the issue and to spread disinformation. If you haven’t read CS Lewis “Screwtape Letters,” it is worth the read.
Real freedom comes with the truth. But in a world of self deception and disinformation and down right evil misrepresentation it can be very difficult to see clearly what is really true and really good. Even the Law and laws in general don’t really get us to behaving in true and right ways.
I just don’t seem to drive right at the speed limit if I can get away with 9 miles/hour faster.
Into this world, Jesus, comes with a vision and a hold on what is true and right in a way that the world doesn’t have. Those who sustain their connection with Jesus have a view to what is true and right that sometimes convicts us but always has the power to free us and to restore us to the good that God has always intended us to have.
It’s hard to give freedom to those who don’t know they need it, or don’t know they don’t have it.
Perhaps this is a good description of why the Word of Life that comes with Jesus is so important to keep near us.
What is true and good always does come from God to those who are open and hungry to receive it. It comes as beautiful music to our ears and resounds in our hearts. Always the true and good come to us as stirring hope. How we can stay near to this font of life and hope that comes with Jesus is alway the question. Sometimes, it even flows from our lives before we realize it. Welcome to the ongoing life of the reformation. Embrace it!
Sent from my iPad
Perhaps it is obvious that when Jesus says “the last shall be first and the first shall be last” (Mt 20, Mk 9 and Lk 13) He wants to hold up the virtue of not being first, as well as the mindset of not needing to be first. What might not be so obvious or clear is that when we put ourselves forward (vie for first in line, etc) there is a certain kind of recognition that comes with that activity (think “running for president”). But when God uses us and for God’s reasons and God puts us forward – the work and recognition take on a whole different playing field. The glory of waiting and watching for God’s lifting up – while we serve happily behind the scenes is much more like Jesus, much more like the character of God and much more like God working in us than anything we might try to gain for ourselves.
Is this good news in your life right now? Is it a truth you really don’t want to hear right now? What would it look like to grow into this way of being this week, for you? Would it change life at work or at home or among your friends? Could this be a simple way of inviting God to be the prime mover in our lives at home, work and beyond?
Mark 10:40 (click to read the text)
:… for whom it has been prepared.”
Finding the Work of God that lies before you… is first about finding the work of God within you. Growing up, all I wanted to be was an oceanographer. Since then, I have discovered a greater truth in me: I am a Servant of Christ, and it is as a pastor that I sail through the mysteries and structures of God’s goodness.
James and John seem to be caught up in the excitement of their faith. Surely Jesus will sit at the right hand of God in the Kingdom. This is an exciting thing, and for them, at this moment, it is also a chance to further their own sense of ambition. Occasionally you can run into ambition in the church. In a small church were the Pastor is a big fish in a small pond, or in a mega church were the world seems to be drawn to a charismatic leader. It surely is natural to want glory and honor and recognition. But this is not what Jesus does with his gifts or work and when we are well grounded in our faith it is not what comes out of our hearts and actions.
The real Glory of God, and our true and best honor, is being exactly who we were created to be and accepting the invitation to excel at that gift with all humble determination. When I was young, all I wanted to be was an Oceanographer. To study the depths and currents and mystery of our global waters really fueled all my passion and curiosity.
The thing is, that is not where God’s working and calling and invitation has brought me.
So now, I explore my avocation in and around my Sailing, but I express my acceptance of God’s activity in my life in my call to ministry. It is what has brought me to you, and Shannon and Sara. For all of these I humbly thank God for the Glory of God’s abundantly perfect ways.
Where do you go for…?
When I moved to this great State, I learned quickly where lots of things were. Learning where to go for what – is sometimes a challenge. Do you know where to go to have your car licensed in the State of Maryland (boy that is an adventure). Do you know where to go for a Marriage License? How about for food that is affordable for your food budget? Where do you go if you don’t have much money for food?
More personally, where do you go for a listening ear? Where do you go for grace and mercy when you need those? Hebrews talks about the Throne of Grace that we can approach boldly. How do approach the Throne of Grace?
Here are some options, though be aware that some of them take a little practice and forethought:
- Sacrament of Baptism
- The Meal of Holy Communion
- The Scriptures
- The Pastor
- Another Brother or Sister in Christ
While you are thinking of all these, please don’t forget that for someone else, YOU just might be the “Throne of Grace” that they need for drawing near to God (who is ready to touch their life with Grace and Mercy). Please be ready to dispense this important gift of God to those who come to you. They may not know where else to go!
Pastor Mitch Watney
I was dreaming the other day, about the kind of hurdles I have faced in my life; education was easier than finding my place in the church, what I wanted to do was easier than where was the right place for me to do it. As I reflected upon the questions that have been my journey in life, I began to wonder about the questions that my daughter Sara will face. What will be her hurdles and how can I be a gift to her as she faces them?
These were on my mind as I read the Gospel for this Sunday (Mk 10:17-31) about the young man who approached Jesus and asked what He must do to inherit eternal life? Jesus pointed him to the commandments that are for us all to keep and the young man said with great eagerness, “All these I have kept since my youth.”
In that moment Jesus sees his real heart and invites the young man to come and follow him (to be his disciple), but first to let go of the things that might stop him or get in his way (the real question to “What must I do to inherit eternal life!”) This seems to be about the hurdles in life that are this young man’s own personal hurdles. It shows, perhaps, that Jesus perceived the young man correctly, because this invitation proved too much. Indeed it did prove to be a hurdle for him at this point in his life. His possessions really could stand in his way to following Jesus and perhaps to receiving eternal life.
What, in our own hearts, would keep us from taking the invitation to follow Jesus? That is the real questions. Even the disciples of Jesus begin to think about all that they have left in order to be followers of Jesus. Certainly, each of them had their own hurdles in faith and in life. It occurs to me that Jesus himself is certainly a great resource and aid in hearing, learning and discerning the hurdles that get in our way to following and receiving eternal life. I for one hope to be quick to come and ask about the nature of my hurdles, that with Jesus help, I may face and over come.
As we head toward Sara’s Baptism, I know we are seeking that same support and guidance for her, in facing her hurdles in life and in faith. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory in Jesus. AMEN!
I remember quite vividly when I began my conscious journey in Christ, I felt all alone in it. It was like it was up to me to find my way all on my own. Not long after that I found others who were also journeying in Christ. Many of those conversations were filled with encouragement and discovery for me.
Since then, I have also had other moments when I was sure I was all alone in my faith journey. Seems like in the times I have felt those feelings the strongest, right then, God brings another “conversation” or another friend to encourage me along in my journey.
Now Days, especially as I look back over my years of journeying in faith, I really couldn’t have been all alone, because always when I need it, the next person or encouragement comes along. Perhaps that is one of the ways God taps us on the shoulder, as if to say, “I’m walking with you and planning the journey ahead.”
Oh Lord, teach me about this journeying in faith. Help my find in the mentors and partners who bring along the way your sustaining presence. In every relationship I have, allow me also to give your welcome and peace.
May you find Christ in Community,