“…and they were both very old.”

November 30, 2021

Luke 1:5-10

Doctor Luke starts his “orderly account” of the historic events of his day in his letter to his friend Theophilus not by talking about Jesus but by setting the context.  Our stories are embedded in and connected to the stories of the lives of others.  To understand that God is on the move, we first learn that Herod is king. Then he shares that there is an old priest, Zechariah, and his old wife, Elizabeth, also of the priestly lineage of Aaron, who are childless.  This is no small thing even as today it is not a small thing.  Infertility casts a shadow on our sexuality, on the state of our marriage, and ultimately questions of future lineage and inheritance.  We all have burdens we carry.  What is your burden?

         Perhaps infertility is not your “challenge.”  Some carry the shame of divorce, of disease, of ethnicity or even the poverty of coming from the “wrong side of the tracks.”  I doubt few of us do not have skeletons in our closets that color our understanding of ourselves. 

         The Christmas story does not tell of a God entering a pretty social scene to do his miracle but of a God that loves to work with ordinary, flawed, broken people like us.  We might consider ourselves too old, too barren, too this or too that for God to use but I suspect God loves to work in the lives of people like you and me.

         The second thing I note is that Zechariah is going about his normal duties and Elizabeth is supporting him in his role. Barrenness did not trump faithfulness.  Zechariah wins the “lottery,” the rolling of the dice, is chosen “by lot” to be the priest who is to burn the incense.  Nothing extraordinary there.  Burning of the incense was taking the prayers of the people to God and interceding for forgiveness.  Zechariah is in a state of prayer for his people.

         So let us ponder our prayers and the “wish list” that is so commonly talked about at Christmas.  Perhaps you have something you have been praying for and it just isn’t happening.  But that does not mean that God is not working out a plan.  It is in the midst of our stories that God acts and perhaps that means he must first get another player organized.  Who do you identify with in this lead up to the Christmas story? Zechariah?  Elizabeth?  Or perhaps you are the John who will be the answer to their prayers. 

         During Advent we celebrate that God is always on the move, orchestrating events in life that we may not see or understand but that give us hope – the theme for the first week of Advent.  Take a moment to thank God for how he is working in your life, even if you don’t see it right now.  He is there!  And he cares!  He has a plan!  Blessings.

“an account”

November 29, 2021

Luke 1:1-4

Yesterday started Advent, the four weeks before Christmas that anticipates the coming of Christ – past, present, and future.  Often churches use the theme of “hope” for this week because prophecy gives hope to the past, the present and the future.  The past was not random but predicted.  The present is known and we are not alone .  And the future will have the downs and ups but there is a God who travels with us.

         Yesterday was the first Sunday of the church year.  The slate is clean and we are starting to go through the Jesus story again and pondering from a new perspective.  Who is this God we worship?  We will look through the eyes of Luke this year.  Often if you read the introductions to books, the author will summarize in about one sentence their purpose in writing the book and the message they hope the book presents.  Luke, the author, was not an apostle but a doctor who is writing a research paper summarizing “an orderly account” for his friend Theophilis. Some theorize that “theo” meant “god” as in the word theology and “philis or filio” refers to “brother” as in fraternity.  So he may be writing to a brother in faith an orderly account of the events unfolding around the reports of the life of Christ, first hand research with people who were there at the events as they unfolded.  This is CNN before CNN came to be!  Remember there was no Bible at that time.  Luke wanted Theophilis to have certainty about what he had been taught.

         As we step into this Advent season, I think it is good to stop for a moment and reflect on what is our goal, our purpose.  What drives us as we go through this season?  Is my goal to impress, to entertain, to inform, or how am I through my actions and words bringing hope to the life of another?  Gifts need not be material “things” that please.  I’ve tried sending my grandchildren pictures of their father at their age with an affirmation. A kind word or a phone call or a gift of cookies can also be encouraging.

         Hope helps me feel that I am not alone.  The Christmas story we share this season is an account of how we are united in God as family.  That gives hope. Knowing my beliefs that rule my life are valued is also important.  “You are valued!  You are kind.  You hold potential for the future!” are wonderful gift words to receive.  What would you like to hear this Christmas?  What account would encourage you as you face the future?  May you give and receive an affirmation today!

“O Come, O Come…”

November 27, 2021

A 12th century favorite hymn welcomes the Advent season, the four weeks before Christmas that starts tomorrow.  Yes, Advent is filled with gift shopping like the Magi – what gift can we give to that special person…as well as the obligatory gifts.  Music fills the air like the angels singing to the shepherds.  Hallmark has how many stories about the magic of the season – the census sending Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, an Innkeeper who found room with his animals, and foreigners arriving to worship.  The Nativity story also acknowledges the loneliness of childbirth in a strange place, the fickleness of government policies, and the stresses of refugees seeking a place of refuge for their family.  Monday we will start looking at this epic story as told through the eyes of Luke.  This time of the year, in spite of all the stresses there are, has its own rhyme and rhythm.

     The Nativity story was predicted 600 years before that baby’s birth when the Jews were in the Babylonian Captivity.  The “three wise men from the East ” knew the prophecy!  As I turn on the news every night, I wonder how much longer we will wait for Christ’s return as our world groans under the weight of human sin.  Perhaps the story then and now is not that different.  In any case, the hymn has each verse dealing with a different prophesized title for Jesus: Emmanuel (God with us), Lord of might, Rod of Jesse, Day-spring, and Key of David.

     As we go through the hustle and bustle, we can rejoice that the docks are not backed up for God. We do not need an improved communications grid.  We are always on his radar.  His shelves are stocked, ready to bless – build relationship with us!  Tomorrow we light the first candle of the Advent wreath, the hope candle that comes from prophecy’s anticipated fulfillment.  Blessings as you enter the season.

“The Day After”

November 26, 2021

The day after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday.”

         When I hear the term “the day after”, I think back to young adult years when the phrase would be a way of talking about the hangover from drinking too much the night before.  Perhaps after all the food and fellowship of Thanksgiving, people feel a similar let down and headache!

         Another theory says that on Sept. 24, 1869 two men had bought up the gold market in the USA hoping to raise the price of gold and make a big profit but the scheme became known, the market crashed, people’s lives were ruined.  It sounds similar to the start of the Great Depression.

         A likely explanation tells of suburban people mobbing the streets of Philadelphia in the 1950s as they and tourists flooded into the city before the Army-Navy football game on Saturday.  Likewise along came shoplifters.  Besides police working long hours and plus the sudden flood of people brought a sudden flood of problems, a black Friday.

         One of the most common explanations is that as Black Friday approaches that sales begin in anticipation of Christmas and retail stores that operated in the “red” all year, would find their books begin to turn a profit which was recorded in “black.”

         In any case, many will be coming off the high of eating good food, experiencing good fellowship, and relaxing with family, friends, and possibly TV.  Many will go shopping.  Others will work to help the shoppers.  The verse that comes to mind to encourage us may be

Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

As we head into the business of Advent and the coming of Christmas, my devotions have focused on

T for Turkeys,

H for Hands,

A for Attitudes of gratitude,

N for Neighbors,

King for Kings,

S for Sweet and savory,

G for Gravy,

I for Inspiration,

V for Voices,

I for Intentions,

N for Nuts, and

G for Grace – aspects of the holiday that make it special.

May we will be able to give thanks for that which lies ahead!  The coming of the Peace Child that walks through the hussle and bussle of preparation, of dealing with the nuts in our life, and the one who adds sweet and savory moments – makes our hearts cheery in the midst of that which could crush our spirits and who is with us so we can operate not in the red but in the black.  Blessings!

“G” is for Grace

November 25, 2021

“For health and food and loving friends

For everything thy goodness sends

We thank thee Heavenly Father


That was our family grace before each meal in my biological family.  I carried it into my marriage family and even today say this grace.  I have heard almost the same grace said by people from a Norwegian or Swedish background and my family was English.  We will bow our heads today and give thanks. Hopefully. 

         It reminds me of the scene in the movie “Blindside” when the family grabs food to watch the football game as the kid from the other side of the tracks who lived with them sat at the table.  The family realizes the social awkwardness and joins him at the table and they bow their heads and give thanks.  We bow our heads to show humility, I think.  In Kenya, when a Maasai child met an adult, he would dip his head and the elder would put his hand on the child’s head and bless the child.  Nice!

         One of the blessing for me this year has been the discovery of a new singing artist.  New to me anyway.  His name is Don Moen.  He does praise music that comforts my soul when I feel bedraggled.  Let me share a song with you that is appropriate for Thanksgiving.

         This month, my husband and I have faced health challenges due to aging.  The next song has deeply blessed me.  I pray it blesses you this Thanksgiving.  Have a happy Thanksgiving! The grace of the Lord be on you!

“N” is for Nuts

November 24, 2021

“Are you nuts?” is an expression that developed in the middle of the 19th century possibly because our heads have a shape similar to a nut or possibly because our head is hard on the outside and the important stuff is inside.  The phrase can be referring to crazy ideas, actions, and even an institution, “nut house,” for someone with mental illness. 

         So why focus on this phrase in relation to Thanksgiving?  Nuts are the special treats that are put out at occasions like weddings, Thanksgiving, and Christmas meals.  They are not the main course, the meat and potatoes, but are a special treat that bring variety and if still in the shell, a challenge to eat.  I suspect nuts were more important to the original pilgrims that lived closer to nature than they are to us today.

         “I’m nuts about…” can also be an expression of love in a positive way.  It can be used to refer to someone or something you really care about and are willing to go to extremes for.  It could refer to “falling in love” but equally can refer to a grandparent being nuts about their grandkids and doing all within their power to help them grow up. God was nuts about his creation.  In chapter one of Genesis, after each outburst of creativity, God sat back and said, “It is good!”  He is so crazy about us that he walked through death to redeem us.

         In fact, we have many idioms using “nuts.  Merriam-Webster defines “nuts and bolts” as “the working parts or elements” of some gizmo.

         Some people may consider Thanksgiving “nuts”, crazy spending money on food for relatives we often do not see, while others go “nuts” preparing an extravagant meal for those they love. But what are the “nuts and bolts” of Thanksgiving?  I would propose that we take a moment and stop worrying about all that calls to us and spend time working on our attitude of gratitude for the God who holds our lives, for the people whom we dearly love and even those who are a bit crazy and test our patience – this God and these people are part of our safety net in life.  Stopping to say “thank you” is the “nuts and bolts” for facing tomorrow.

 1 Thessalonians 5:  “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets,[e] 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.”

Maybe nuts are not your thing for celebrations but I pray you are blessed with joy as you prepare.  Blessings.

“I” is for Intentional

November 23, 2021

Thanksgiving is an intentional holiday.  The date is arbitrary, set through history finally by FDR as the 4th Thursday in November.  The narrative of the historical events are being reevaluated in the court of public opinion.   There are no heroes or sheroes that most of us remember, perhaps Squantos.  In fact we know little about the original event although we have built up historical narrative about it, created school plays starring our beloved children, written poems, and sang songs.  As much as Thanksgiving being “inspirational” and marking the turn to the Christmas season, it is an “intentional” event when we try to slow down, focus on family and friends, and cultivate an attitude of gratitude for the blessings in our life.  That can be hard and painful for many.

         Intentional means to me that I set my will to do something, not because of the rewards or because of my feelings but because I know somewhere in my being that forcing myself to slow down and thank, is good for me and for the world around me.  Those early pilgrims set their wills to leave the known and step into the unknown.  The early settlers put all their goods in a wagon and headed West.  The first astronauts stepped into space machines trusting them to take them to the moon and back.  Each day we step into our futures with no guarantee of the outcome but committed to the adventure of the day.

         One of the beautiful foundational beliefs of the Christian narrative is the intentionality of a God determined to bless his creation and rescue us from ourselves.  Each day the sun rises, not because we are good and deserve it but because nature speaks to a guiding presence many are unwilling to recognize.  Paul tells us in Romans 5:8, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”  John says almost the same thing in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  If we choose to love God because of benefits, that is understandable, but his intentional involvement in our lives is voluntary.  He could have set the clock running and walked away.  He could sit far off and laugh at our mistakes and let us undermine ourselves.  Thanksgiving is a time when we remember that God intentionally involves himself in our lives as we are willing and ready and is the Good Shepherd, perhaps Good Farmer, leading us to the fruitful harvest.  I’m glad he cares for me and for you.  I pray you are intentionally developing a relationship with God!  Blessings as you prepare for Thanksgiving.

“V” is for Voice

November 22, 2021

Whose voice would you like to hear this Thanksgiving?  Thanksgiving is a time when we pick up the phone and call a parent far away, or perhaps a sibling across the country and for some the voice of an important person away with the military.  Maybe you sit back and connect with a friend.  Just hearing the other’s voice, warms the heart. 

         Probably those first pilgrims had trouble voicing language that was understandable to the indigenous people.  Growing a common language for communication is hard work.  My husband and I worked translating a spoken language into a written language.  Voice is important.  You know the childhood game of whispering a message around a circle and how distorted it can become if the voice does not speak clearly.

         “Listening a person into voice” is a way of saying that a person is patient and allows the other to search for the right words to express the experience they have been through – good or bad.  The “Spoken Word” is an art form that allows youth and older people to put their experiences into poetry that is read aloud to audiences.  Having voice, is having presence, is granting power and prestige to someone.  It gives the power of vote and opinion.

         When voices join together, choirs are formed, music written and many blessed.  When voices are joined together as in marches where chants are voiced, it creates an audible vote and weigh in on political issues.  As a mother of twins, I quickly learned to turn to the other twin and ask for his side of the story to give him voice in the face of accusation.

         God spoke in creation, “Let there be light!”  God spoke out of a burning bush to Moses.  God spoke out of a cloud at the baptism of Jesus, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.”  Jesus spoke and Lazarus came out of the grave.  Jesus’ voice healed people.  Voice is important as books are now being written to give voice to the indigenous people’s side of the Thanksgiving story.

         In John 10:27 the apostle shares about Jesus being the Good Shepherd.  “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.”  We will recognize his voice.

         I pray this Thanksgiving a beloved voice will speak affirmations into your life, that voices will be raised in prayers of thanksgiving for the good that did bless our lives this year, and that we will hear God’s voice speaking to us and leading us to green pastures.  Blessings.

“Christ the King” Sunday, 26th Sunday after Pentecost

November 21, 2021

First Reading: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

9As I watched,
 thrones were set in place,
  and an Ancient One took his throne,
 his clothing was white as snow,
  and the hair of his head like pure wool;
 his throne was fiery flames,
  and its wheels were burning fire.
10A stream of fire issued
  and flowed out from his presence.
 A thousand thousands served him,
  and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
 The court sat in judgment,
  and the books were opened.
13As I watched in the night visions,
 I saw one like a human being
  coming with the clouds of heaven.
 And he came to the Ancient One
  and was presented before him.
14To him was given dominion
  and glory and kingship,
 that all peoples, nations, and languages
  should serve him.
 His dominion is an everlasting dominion
  that shall not pass away,
 and his kingship is one
  that shall never be destroyed.

Psalm: Psalm 93

1The Lord is king, robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty    and armed with strength.
  The Lord has made the world so sure that it cannot be moved.
2Ever since the world began, your throne has been established;
  you are from everlasting. 
3The waters have lifted up, O Lord, the waters have lifted up their voice;
  the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.
4Mightier than the sound of many waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea, mightier is the Lord who dwells on high.
5Your testimonies are very sure,
  and holiness befits your house, O Lord, forever and forevermore.

Second Reading: Revelation 1:4b-8

4bGrace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
  To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
7Look! He is coming with the clouds;
  every eye will see him,
 even those who pierced him;
  and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.
  8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Gospel: John 18:33-37

33Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”


Queen Elizabeth 1 famously said, “I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.”  Turn to your neighbor and share how you would describe a king.

PRAYER: Lord, May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, my Rock and my Redeemer.


We have come to the end of the liturgical church year.  Next week we start Advent and tell our faith story looking through the eyes of Luke.  But today we stand in Pilot’s palace and listen to the trial of that babe in Bethlehem who has grown to be a man and is being brought to trial.  Who is Jesus and what has he done?  Is he a king?  We say today is “Christ the King” Sunday but what does that mean?

          Somehow this trial feels a bit similar to cases being described blow by blow on our news today.  Is Steve Bannon guilty of defiance of a congressional summons and hiding information pertinent to January 6?  The trial of Kyle Ritttenhouse is having closing arguments as I write this sermon.  Did he act in self-defense or did he entice the victim into the confrontation?  Then there is the continuing debate about who is guilty for global pollution and what should be the penalty?  My head spins listening to the news each night and listening to the cases being tried in the court of public opinion. I suspect Pilot might have had similar feelings.  The Jews have come to Pilate wanting him to crucify Jesus, that is to say they are accusing Jesus of treason, a capital offense deserving death.  We know the Jews can kill Jesus because later they stone Stephen.  There are many things in their laws that can result in death by stoning.  But John specifically says that prophecy is being fulfilled. The Messiah will die a horrible death. The Jews must have claimed Jesus was calling himself King of the Jews.  The Jews don’t want just death.  They want death on the cross by the Romans.  Crucifixion is a public death by public law for public offense.  Pilate turns and confronts Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

Are you the King of the Jews?

         Jesus turns the question back to Pilate and suddenly roles are reversed.  Jesus is questioning Pilate.  “Who says so?”  Who actually called Jesus King of the Jews?  Who is accusing? 

         I looked up where Jesus was first called “King of the Jews.”  Do you remember who first called Jesus “King of the Jews”?  Jesus did not use that title for himself.  It was the wise men who passed through Jerusalem those decades before and asked Herod in Matthew 2:2, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  Did you catch that?  Kingship and worship are connected.  Herod did not call his politicians to answer the wise men but called his priests.  Herod called his priests and teachers of the religious law and asked where the Messiah, the Christ, was to be born.  They quoted Old Testament Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

         Who says Jesus is King?  Prophecy and prophecy known by the wise men.  Prophecy predicted Jesus’ birth as a King.  Isaiah 9:6 also predicted the birth and a whole list of titles.  In fact, many believe going back to creation and the entrance of sin that the arrival of Jesus would crush the head of the serpent even as the serpent would bite his foot.  Foreigners, the wise men, called Jesus “King of the Jews” and now the Jews have claimed he called himself a king.  Our psalm today declares that from eternity “the Lord is king” and nature rises up like waves of the sea to acknowledge him.  Our religious history is full of clues to this claim.

         But ultimately it does not matter “WHO called Jesus King of the Jews.” It matters what you call Jesus.  What do you call Jesus today?  This is Christ the King Sunday and we are all accountable for whether we acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, and the Sent One from God, our Savior, and Our Lord or do we see him as one of the great Gurus like Buddha or Mohamed or Confuses.  Who is Jesus to you today?  Is he your king?  We have journeyed through a liturgical year welcoming Jesus during Advent as the prophesied one who will come again, whose life we studied during Epiphany, with whom we walked to the cross during Lent, and whom we celebrated as resurrected and ascended during Easter season.  During Pentecost we focused on how he changes lives even today.  So now we come to Christ the King Sunday and we bow.  Who says Jesus is King of the Jews?  Christians confess Jesus was not only “King of the Jews” but he is also our King, the Son of God, who rules our everyday actions and who will rule our lives for eternity.  “Who says so?”  We say so!

         Pilate now responds with a question for Jesus.  “What have you done?”  Has Jesus done something that has brought about the legal accusation and has he thus lost the right to claim self-defense. Is he a victim of “the system?”  Is he a victim of a mob or is he guilty as charged?   What set this process in play?  We know his death was prophesized, though “lamb of God” was not so understood by the disciples.  That may not make Jesus, himself, the prophesized one, though.  The disciples were excited about a Messiah to overthrow Rome, but maybe they were wrong.  The Passover feast, the snake raised on the pole by Moses, the scapegoat  killed for sin all pointed to a death but sometimes it is not easy to draw a line from A to B.  Do his actions convict him?  As we traveled through the Liturgical year we could have predicted a confrontation as spies were sent to listen to Jesus teach.  Others were engaging Jesus in trick scenarios.  If a woman were married to seven brothers, to whom would she be married to in eternity.  Really???  They asked about paying taxes?  All these encounters built up tension but his actions of teaching and healing do not necessarily point to kingship. John shares the beginning of the plot to kill Jesus in John 11 when Jesus raised Lazarus from death. 

         “Then, the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the     Sanhedrin.  ‘What are we accomplishing?’ They asked. ‘Here is this      man performing many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone    will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away        both our temple and our nation. (John 11:47,48)’”

         What did Jesus do?  He threatened the security of the religious system.  What does Jesus do today?  Jesus threatens the rule of culture in our lives and threatens those structures in which we place our trust.  If we acknowledge Jesus as “Christ the King” today we face a new political and spiritual authority in our life!  Ouch.  We do not jump to our feet and say “AMEN!” to that. 

         Do we really want to live forgiving that guy who cuts us off in traffic?  Do we want to live sharing our wealth with the church? Or the government? We do not want to give up sleeping in on Sunday morning to listen to a possibly boring sermon.  We do not want to share the truth of our lives, those personal spiritual moments, with others who might laugh at us and reject us.  The temples of our lives will be threatened.  Health, wealth, and prosperity may be false idols that faith does not guarantee.  In fact, we might have to experience persecution, torture and death.  We don’t mind youth programs and fun events and great praise music for our faith but when it comes to living by the rules of the kingdom Jesus is King of, we begin to feel a rub.  

         Jesus assures Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world.  It is in eternity that we will truly see Jesus ruling as THE King.  Jesus returns to prophecy and his mission statement.  “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”  The truth is that Jesus is the Messiah that God and Scripture prophesized.  God says so.  What has he done?  He has preached, healed, freed, and resurrected those needy people who came to him.  We know he has died to demonstrate that he is the King who will walk with us through death that has no eternal power over us.  What has Jesus done?  He has acted as God and threatened the Romes of our lives.

         Jesus closes our text today with the identification card of those who live in the Kingdom he, the Christ, reigns over.  “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  Now that is a mouthful.  Jesus is not claiming to be “King of the Jews.”  He is claiming to be king of “everyone.”  That is you and me, not just the Jews.  It includes people from all tribes and nations who come to him. Jesus is bigger than the U. S. American government,  the U.N., and the global summits we hear about today.  I also feel a tear coming to my eyes for it does not say he is king of the perfect, the good guys, those who do good for he was the king of the thief on the cross who pleaded, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus said, “TODAY you will be with me in Paradise.”  Our deeds do not qualify us because it all depends on what Christ did on the cross.  It depends on his actions…for “everyone who belongs to the truth.” And what did Jesus say?  “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

         “Listens.”  This is an active, present verb!  Salvation is not like our drivers license that we keep in our wallet.  It is not a decision we made at camp in our youth.  It is a relationship.  Listening is different that hearing.  Listening implies to me a two-way conversation that I am actively involved in.  I think it is more than putting in our prayer requests as if we were at McDonalds, our Christmas gift wish for what we would like God to do.  If I am truly listening, I am willing to submit my will to the other.  It does not mean I always obey making the other a dictator but it does imply I am open to the other’s wisdom for issues in my life.  I open my heart to Christ’s kingship in my life.

         “My voice.”  To me that implies it goes beyond obedience to the commandments.  Just loving my neighbor and doing good to others is not the same as listening to Christ’s voice in my life.  Going to church can be like going regularly to Thanksgiving family feasts but we know that meal does not guarantee relationship or love of family as many families have deep issues and conflicts but gather for events.  Listening implies an openness and relationship.

            I go back to the quote by Queen Elizabeth the 1st,  “I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.”    Jesus stood before Pilate as a humble human being, not at all looking like a king.  Jesus did not embody anything our world would consider kingly.

         But he had “the heart and stomach of a king.”  God proclaimed that Jesus was the embodiment of all it meant to be God.  He had the heart, the love of his creation and would even walk through death for it.  He had the stomach, the guts to do that which was so contrary to human thinking and admiration.  He would walk through death for “everyone..”  And unlike Elizabeth, he would not just be “King of the Jews” but would be the Christ, the King of everyone who belongs to the truth and listens to his voice.

         WHO SAYS SO?   We do!

         WHAT HAS HE DONE?  Saved us broken people in a broken world.

         We need a savior and a King.  We listen to his voice as truth. 

Christ is our King!  AMEN!

“For the Beauty of the Earth”

November 20, 2021

Why do we sing?  Sometimes it expresses our dreams, our aspirations or our woes.  I often turn to music when I am down.  I am aware that this Thanksgiving many will be grieving the loss of loved ones who died too soon from Covid.  Others will look at the “feast” and realize it is not like memories of childhood and is limited by financial squeezing in our economy.  Others will not gathered with loved ones because of “spacing.”  Environmental upturn is affecting others.  Hopefully most will gather and enjoy the gift of now.  I chose a hymn this morning that is sung at Thanksgiving that is a bit more neutral in its wording but which affirms the beauty that we see in spite of our troubles.  The sun rises and sets.  Nature even in its rough times is beautiful.  Not all love us but we have our “peeps.”  The Church with all its warts and faults is still a place of community and seeks to serve the world.  And we know some day justice will be restored by a God who cares and walks with us.

Folliot Sandford Pierpont, author of the hymn is said to have been inspired walking around the fields near his hometown in Bath, England, about1855ish.  When the pressures of Thanksgiving and the approaching Christmas season seems to loom large, going for a walk in nature, breathing in fresh air, and perhaps listening to a song often raises our spirits.  Thank you, Lord, for those gifts!

“For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.”