Posts

The World... Today

Text: Romans 15:13

Theme: Hope

Reflection:
How have you responded to the news lately? Have you paid attention to what is going on locally? Nationally? Internationally?

This weekend, I have spent more time watching the news and following the news online, than I have in a long time. In most images, I see people with anger, exhaustion, and frustration. I pray for them, and a weary world in which hope seems to be fleeting. As members of the body of Christ, we are called to usher in hope and love, given to us by an unconditional-loving God, to be shared with the world.

Today, this hope looks beyond words of "thoughts and prayers," although that is a good initial response. While we cannot pray, by name, for every individual, community, and country that needs prayed for, but we will pray to God for healing for the family and friends of Ahmaud Arbery who was killed while running in Georgia. We will pray to God for healing for the family and friends of George Floyd, who was killed wh…

You Are...

Text: Acts 1:6-11

Theme: Identity

Reflection:

Who are you?
How might you answer that question to a stranger?
How might you answer that question to a loved one?

In the Acts text for today, we hear of Jesus' final encounter with his disciples before he ascends to heaven. Thursday was Ascension Day; a festival in the season of Easter where we remember that Jesus ascends to the Father, and the Holy Spirit is promised upon Jesus' followers. I find the turning point in this text to be verse 8, where dialogue ends, and the the instruction is given; you will bemy witnesses... Jesus makes it quite clear that the work of bringing the good news of Christ does not end, but continues through these disciples.

Like the disciples, in order to know who we are becoming, we first ought to know who we are. Which brings us back to the question; who are you? In God's magnificent creation, each living thing is created with a unique identity-- there is NO ONE else like YOU in the world. There are…

New Creation

Theme: New Creation

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Reflection:
Here in Southern Illinois, we are cruising through spring and anticipating the heat of summer. School is out for summer (yay for teachers, kids, and parents of homeschool kids). Recently, I have noticed the increasing amount of time our family has spent watching the birds eat at the bird feeder; we sit, watch, scream whisper to "come" without scaring the birds. What is even more stark, is the growth of the trees, the grass, and the container garden plants that are growing.

This spring has been like no other spring in my lifetime. We have spent far more time at home than ever before, and our calendar has had fewer appointments than ever before. Our family has slowed down-- in this stillness we have made more meals together, eater dinner as a family every night, and spent time appreciaing the beauty of God's creation.

This focus text today is 2 Corinthians 5:17. You, and me, are a part of a new creation-- yesterda…

Devotion

Text: Acts 2:42-47

Theme: Devotion

Thanks be to God, Epiphany is led by a council who continues to see the importance of daily devotions. In a world where there are devotions with many different emphases, written by many different authors, from a variety of faith organizations, the world of daily devotions can be overwhelming.

Perhaps the word devotion has been watered down. The daily devotions I follow have been short stories, tied to a brief scripture passage, that focus my attention on what God is doing in the world now. Rather than an act of orientation and dedication, daily devotions can become an item on a checklist. "I did my devotions for the day, what is next?"

This Acts passage from the fourth Sunday of Easter begins with early Christians and how they were oriented to their world. We weren't there to observe their "lived out devotion," but it is safe to say that the way these followers of Christ acted were a response to transformation that happens in …

Newness of Life

Text: Isaiah 43:16-19

Theme: Being Made New

Have you thought about what the world will look like after Covid-19 has passed? This time of social distancing will end, and with some modifications and changes, we will go back to a "normal" life. However, this new normal, will not be like life before Covid-19. The normal we knew is not the normal we will know.

The world in which we live is always changing. Think about the phases of the moon, the growth and blooms of trees and flowers. The wrinkles on your hand. The only thing constant in this world is that there is always change.

I am reminded of a quote from Heraclitus:
"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river, and he's not the same man."

With all this in mind, whether we feel it or not, we are people of change.
-When you were born, the entire earth changed.
-When you were baptized, your life, for eternity, changed.
-When you come to the rail for Holy Communion, you leave changed.

Looking Back

Text: John 20:19-31

Theme: Easter Discipleship

When you hear about the disciple, Thomas, what do you think? How do you feel?

Looking back into history, it is easy to judge and second guess historical figures. It wouldn't be odd to question Thomas and his questions; how could he NOT believe Jesus has come back to the disciples? What is wrong with him?

Thinking about the disciples, and their reactions to the resurrection, says a lot about how we understand God, humanity, and faith. Since my time in seminary, I have been more gentle with those first disciples, trying to use empathy and understanding to get to their worldview. Thinking about the situation in which they find themselves (locked together, away from others), fear must have been a primary factor. Their friend and leader had been killed. Were they next? What would happen if they were brought to "trial?"

As a student of history (I have learned a little bit, and I have lot more to learn), I like to consider the fact…

Easter Blessings

Text: Matthew 28:1-20

Theme: Plus One

Blessed and joyous Easter, family and friends, near and far!

This is a big day in our church, and in our world. Pain has not ceased to exist, nor has death received it's last person. In some ways, our world doesn't much seem changed. Covid-19 still sickens people at an incredible rate, and many people continue to die of this disease. In neighborhoods, houses of worship, restaurants, and more, alternative and creative ways to be together continue to exist outside of face-to-face gatherings. Yet, it is right and holy that we celebrate Easter this day.

The gospel text from this morning is the first portion of the last chapter of Matthew. For the sake of devotion and worship of God, I encourage you to read all of chapter 28, because the rest of the chapter reflects the persistence and pursuance of God, through God's Son Jesus Christ. Matthew continues to show us the intersection of the way the world words, with the way God works.

We read o…