Wednesday, November 26, 2008


As humans we strive to have recognition in our lives and often that comes from being given or having achieved a status to have gained a title. A title is just what it is a title. It is not our identity, it is not our existence and it is not always fitting and proper to whom we really are in this world. If we can learn to accept, that we are what we are and not rely on names or titles to define us. then we will surely be open to understand that which God has placed in us. Titles place both expectations and limitations on people. God does not have titles for his children. There are no distinctions in His love for us based on names or titles; there is no less an expectation for all His children to do His will because of a title.

The evidence is quit clear, once you understand the base concept. Look at the world around you and observe the actions of all the people you meet or know. Does one need to have the title of “Leader” to be a leader of people? Does one need to have the title of Stephen Minister to care for people in need? Does one need to have the title of Teacher to train and be a mentor to people? Does one need the title of Pastor to minister and share God’s love and hope for His creation?

Some times those who have earned and have been granted a title feel a burden to live up to the expectations of that title. Often times, those expectations are either self imposed or have been planted by others who have defined the role and responsibility on their terms or at least on earthly terms for those who carry that title. This then can limit and this then create boundaries for those who God has chosen to be what He created them to be.

Earthly definitions of who we are and how we are to respond by designation of our title can lead us to hide and to hold ourselves back from who we are to be by His design. I have been blessed to have been taught by those who are not “Teachers”, I have been blessed to have been cared for by people who are not “Ministers”, and I have been fortunate to have been counseled by those who are not “Counselors”.

We are who we are because that is who God made us to be. When we can open ourselves up to accept that earthly titles mean nothing in God’s kingdom, then and only then can we be free to be His creation.

Could we start again, please?

I’ve been living to see you,
Dying to see you, but it shouldn’t be like this.
This was unexpected, what do I do now?
Could we start again please?

These are the words from a song in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. In the production the song is presented by Mary, Peter and James shortly after the arrest of Jesus.

Put yourself in those days and you are a direct witness and follower of Christ. From the religious teachings of your youth, you know that God will send the Messiah and yet while you were with Him, you doubt and do not yet see Jesus as the Son of God. Then upon His capture your mind suddenly races and you recall all that He has done, all that you have witnessed and you begin to see that things add up differently then you expected. Now you begin to realize that He had been with you along.

Can you image the emptiness and the sorrow that you would feel to have learned that Christ was right in front of you the whole time and you never saw Him for who He is? How unexpected. Could He really have been standing next to me? How could He ever forgive me now? So, now that you see and now that you know, you ask, could we start again, please? A sincere and honest request yet how great the fear and how vast the emptiness they must have felt. A simple request and a simple prayer, could we start again, please? How many times have each of us felt this way and in the same way petitioned God to make it so.

Journey ahead 2,000 years and what do we see today? Do we see God’s presence in the world? Christ is with us today. Do we see Him? Or better yet would we know Him if you saw Him? He is among us. He is living with us and He is presenting Himself to us. But, for us to see Him, we have to open our hearts, open our minds and open ourselves and enter into a relationship with Him. When we cleanse ourselves from the distractions of the world and when we use the tools of our faith, then we will be able to enter in to that relationship. This opens our eyes and ears and will allow us to see Him in our daily lives, as He walks among us. We will see the glory of His grace, receive the beauty of His mercy and feel the calm of His forgiveness.

We all have been living to see Him and perhaps also we have look right passed Him. We know that by His redemptive love and through our faith that we will see Him when we pass. Let us not wait for that moment. Let us look for Him and experience His presence today. He lives within the hearts and minds of all His children. Open your eyes and see His love, His healing strength and His will being done through those He has chosen. Live to be with Him, live to do His will and live to experience the glorious gift of His presence that He freely gives to you.

Could we start again, please?

God answers this prayer with every day He gives to us. Because of the gift of His son and through His resurrection He is alive and with us today. We are given the opportunity to discover His presence every morning we wake and we are given the opportunity to start again.

Jesus is the Son of God

In order for man to understand who the Son of God is, He gave a brief encounter to a few of the chosen so that they may comprehend the gift that He was about to give, the life, death and the resurrection of His only Son. On the day of the Transfiguration of Jesus, God shows to us His full understanding of what He created in us. Through our imperfections and our sins He knows our short comings. He knows that man can not absorb the magnificence and the meaning of this gift. So, He chose to provide a clear picture so that man can see the truth. That Jesus is the Son of God, our future and our Savior. He knew the difficulties we have in understanding the Spirits call and our inability to accept fully the teachings that come from the Spirit. So He chose a visual process to gain our attention to show us the truth. As humans, our nature is to only believe in what we see. Until our eyes actually see and or our hands actually touch we choose to be skeptics. God knows this is about His creation and that is why He provides a visual for those He has chosen to carry the message forward for all to hear and for all to accept. Jesus is the Son of God the Father, Jesus is our Savior, the gift of light, our salvation and the example of the life that is to come.

Today, we can still see that which the apostles saw. We first need to shed ourselves from the trappings of traditional worldly views and open our hearts and minds to see the glory of His gift in each of us. Jesus is with us. Each day He brings a visual and physical presence of His life. We just don’t see it for what it is. We give credit to those things that are more tangible, more accepted and easily explained as being from the world. But, they are not. In every action of love, every action of care and every action of forgiveness, God shows us His Son. It is hard to believe and it is harder to accept that Christ resides inside each of us in both a spiritual and physical sense. We are afraid of the truth. We, with our worldly view refuse to see it as such. For if this is true, our accountability for our actions, decisions and life may be unbearable for us to reconcile. But if we have true faith, then we know that His love, grace and forgiveness will save us from ourselves. If we have the courage and strength to look beyond this world then we will see the light of the Son of God in those around us.

A simple issue

It really is a simple issue. When you eliminate all the baggage, all of the worldly circumstances and teachings that cloud our judgment, it really is easy and it really is simple. Placed in each of us is His love, His mercy, His grace and forgiveness. We are our own worse enemy. We, by our logical and earthly perspective, in a way become a vehicle for evil to escape. We allow that which is pure to be contaminated by our own pursuit to quantify, categorize and control events, people and things around us so we can understand. Yet, in our essence there is purity and only when we shed ourselves of the logic, the teaching and the earthly perspective can we feel that which God has created.

It is pure. It is simple and it is Love. Love forgives all, love soothes pain and love is the basis for growth. When spiritual growth comes from love it can never be taken away. It will be with you always and it is something that you will share.

Christ is whole when we share His love with one another. He is risen when we extend our hand in support of someone in need. He is merciful and ever present with those who have opened their hearts and minds to what has been given to them. We are all called to seek the freedom that has been placed in all of us, the freedom to love. We are called to be His children.

However, in our humanness we have built shields to protect us from the fallen world around us. But in those shields we often hide ourselves from God’s will and desire for us to serve in this world. Yet, there is no shield that we can build to save ourselves. Thankfully, there is no shield that we can raise to keep Him from loving us. But it is by His grace alone, that we are to be saved from our sins and from our own mortal shame.

He will guide us, if we only have the courage to follow that which He has placed deep in our hearts, His love. For some, this comes easy to understand, yet for others, it is a difficult reality to accept and then it may even be harder to embrace and to follow. But still, it is very basic and very simple, He is among us and He is in us. How much easier can it be? By our nature, we are suspect of that which we don’t understand. But it is as simple as a newborn’s cry and it is as pure as a new mother’s tear. If only we can remember this and keep it alive in our hearts each and every day so that we may experience His hand in everything that we do. What a blessing we will have. Amen.

A magical moment

A magical moment. That is what it is like when you experience the presence of Christ in you as you come face to face with another person who is in need of His love. It really isn’t magic but is in fact the spark of the Holy Spirit working in you and at that moment in time and at that exact point in space where you touch and hold that person’s hand you feel and have within you the Love of Christ. It is by your touch that you bring His life forward as a gift. A gift of comfort, a gift of safety, and a gift of freedom, that can only come from God himself. By that touch the hand that you extend is not yours but Christ’s. You are chosen. You are the one who brings His face to the world and to guide others unto the pathway of His grace, His mercy and His forgiveness. If not for you, then who else? You have been called, you have been given the strength of the Spirit, you have been shown the glory of His presence in that which you do. Have faith and have confidence that He is right beside you now, just as you have always known and as He always will be. This is just the beginning. There is more that He has in store for you. Be patient, be strong, and be confident in all that you are doing. God is with you. God is with us and God will shine his light for us to follow in His will and in His time.

Where to begin

Where to begin? How about, why am I here? That seems simple enough. But the fact is I don’t know why I am here, only that I am, and that I am beginning to understand that it is my role, my function, my time to be present and to speak about the things that God has put forth in my mind, in my heart and in my voice. I have no justification for why He chose for me to say these things. Certainly, I have not lived the purified life of one who you would regard as someone to follow and or to imitate. I have tried for many years to find validation for my thoughts on spiritual matters and I have yet to find the answer. I am not a biblical scholar nor am I a trained and educated minister. By all earthly measurement, I have no qualifications at all to be speaking to you or anyone through this document about the things that I write. What I am beginning to understand, is that God is working in me, through the Holy Spirit, to compel me to action on some level for what he has equipped me to do for Him. I am starting to see that it is the Spirit that gives what God designates for each of us to have and then places it in front of us to act on or to use in our lives. Who am I and why am I here? Is it even a question that I can answer? The reality is that I don’t know. I have fear that my materialistic and humanistic perspective is providing me with ambition of self determination and promises of achieving something that I am not designated to attain. If I respond on what it is I feel, how do I know that it is God’s calling for me? Perhaps the truth is that no human can ever know what God actually wants and is doing inside of him. Perhaps the best you can do as a person is to simply UNDERSTAND. How foolish is it to think, I or any of us really can lay claim to God’s desire for his individual creations. The best we can do is to open the shells that we have acquired throurgh the preparation of worldly institutions and self proclaimed teachers and simply listen, UNDERSTAND and respond to what God has placed in each of us. His desire for what we are to do, our talent, our uniqueness, that which makes us different and allows for the greater whole to grow and to survive. We prevent ourselves to be who we truly are. We give in to either societal definitions or suppress our own value because we are not worthy to be who God has design and created us to be. We must work to discover the joy, freedom and the love that abounds when we open ourselves to be people of God’s calling. Acting through the true power of the Holy Spirit and guided by the Love of Christ in our hearts, we must work to break the boundaries that prevent us from being what we are created to be. A child of God.

God's will be done

Everything that happens, happens for a reason. This has been said by many people to many people as a way to console or as an easy way to find acceptance to that which we have done or that which we could not control.

God is with us. He is with us as we do His will and He is with us when we make mistakes. He has granted us free will and He knows that we are capable and but also likely to fail in meeting His desires for our actions in this world. God also has a sense of humor about Him. He is amused by our belief, that we can control our destiny.

Our destiny is in His hands not ours. It is not for us to control but for us to openly obey His will and direction for our lives. God has created us in His image. He has given us a purity of spirit that we must continue to discover. The world around us is troublesome and it is hard at work attempting to pull us from Him. We can not allow ourselves to be caught up in the turmoil and the derisive actions of those who believe that they have control over the destiny of people. We are His and because we are His, no one, no nation and no other entity can take us from Him. He is and will be forever with us. We are His. We only need to let go of ourselves and to trust His will, to discover the grace and peace that He desires for all to experience. When we open our hearts and open our minds in prayer, He will guide us.

He has also given us free will so that we can experience the world around us through His eyes. When we use the tools of His creation, the talents and the abilities that He has blessed us with, we will then feel His presence. The gift of free will is given to us so that we can contrast and compare a world that is at one with Him versus a world that is alone and devoid of His presence. He has done this so that we can understand who we are and that which we are to be. Through this comparison, we can see the blessing of His work in us and in those He has chosen. As we look for theses examples we will see that His mercy and His love shines like a sun itself. The emotional and physical experience of His presence in the world strikes us with a clear understanding of who we are and how we are to conduct our lives. Without this comparison, we would not be able to fully grasp the magnitude of His glory and accept the gift of His forgiveness.
God chooses those He wants to be the examples of His presence. He guides those that He selects to be His messengers and to carry out His will. The glory comes when we learn that we are all chosen. What we don’t know yet is how He plans to use us or when we are to be called upon to do His work.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sermon April 20 2008

Peace, mercy and grace be with you this evening/morning.
As you may already know, Pastor Jane had a family emergency to attend to this week. The loss of her Aunt Hilda in Pennsylvania required her to alter her schedule so she could travel and prepare to lead the funeral service held on Friday. As a truly dedicated servant of our Lord this week, she hurriedly planned and coordinated the arrangements so that she could return to us in time to lead worship and preside over communion. As we gather tonight/today let us be united with her and support her through this difficult time. With the events of the week unfolding Pastor Jane asked if I would be interested in preparing and delivering the sermon for this weekend. And with that, I am honored and blessed to be with you tonight/today.
In preparing me to prepare a sermon, Pastor Jane said to remember that it is by Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection that we are able to gather in worship. And that through His sacrifice and His subsequent victory over death that we are, who we are. All we have and all that we will have, all of who we are in body, mind and spirit and all that we are to become, has and will be given to us through Christ Jesus.
In the Gospel text for this week, Jesus makes this clear for us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
As faithful people of God, we know that Christ has risen and that He provides us with the certainty of eternal life with Him.
We also, should remind ourselves, to not wait upon that time, but to seek Him now and every day. In this Gospel we are offered an opportunity to examine our relationship with the Risen Lord.
Jesus offers a direct challenge to all of us in this passage, to open our eyes and see Him, to open our ears and listen to Him, to open our hearts and feel His love and to open our minds and believe in Him.
A challenge for us to assess our relationship with Christ risen and to assess God’s will for us in our community. As He says to Phillip, “Have I been with you all this time, Phillip, and you still do not know me? Can you picture the bewildered look on Philips face at that point? I can’t help to think that as the moments passed and Phillip looked deeper into the eyes of Jesus he began to see with his eyes and feel in his heart, that he was in the company of God.
Today, would we know Jesus if we were to encounter Him? By that matter have we already seen but not recognize Him? Take a moment and look around in this chapel/sanctuary, do you see Him? Do you feel His presence? I want for you to allow me to walk down a path with you over the next few moments, close your eyes right now.
Take a few deep breaths and relax. Now I would like for you to picture the names and faces of those in this congregation who are currently in need of God’s presence in their life.
Those who are grieving a loss, those who are suffering from illness, those who are experiencing financial difficulty and those who feel the pain of loneliness.
Allow yourself to see as many as you can, and let the faces run through your mind one after the other, pausing to recognize their particular need. Can you see them? As you see each person can you feel them touching your heart?
Now, keeping your eyes closed a little longer think of the people and the ministries that serve those who are in need, here at Bethlehem. Focus on those who make gifts of themselves to help touch the lives of those in need.
Picture the names and the faces of those who make and deliver meals to those who cannot prepare meals for themselves, picture the people who continually pray and the care they offer by lifting these people up to the Father in prayer for healing and help.
Think about the individuals who find time in their busy schedules to make visits in homes, care facilities and hospitals.
Picture those who serve as Stephen Ministers offering their time to meet and care for those who need Christian love and support.
Think about and picture those who provide support at the drop of a hat to any one of us who is in need.
Can you see them? Now, please open your eyes, and I invite you to look around again. Do you see some of the same faces that we just mentioned?
Do see people among you who care deeply for the people of this community?
And now, do you see Jesus in this room?
Can you feel His presence with us?
I pray that you can, because, He is in this room and He has made His presence known to us through the gift of this gathering.
Our challenge in this Gospel doesn’t stop there however; Jesus gives us instruction for our lives. In verse 12 He states “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and in fact will do greater works than these…”
Can this be true? Greater works than Jesus? How is it possible? Yet, it is possible, because Jesus makes it possible.
He says, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
Jesus makes it possible by entering into us and giving us the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of the Father to do His will. At some time in our life, we all have been asked this question, If you were given three wishes and the opportunity to have them granted, what would your wishes be? And I suspect some of the answers that we have all given or have heard from others would sound like these; I would end world hunger, or I would pay off all my debts, or I would find a cure for cancer. Right, we have all been there, haven’t we? But in order for those wishes to be granted, we would first need to respond and act on that opportunity.
If we were given that chance, would we act? My guess is that we all would. I don’t know how you would use your wishes or why you selected those choices that you made but I am certain that you in fact would use those wishes.
In a similar way Jesus is offering us an opportunity, to use the gift of His sacrifice and His love so that we will do great things for His church and for His people. All that is needed, is for us to trust in our faith and believe that He is the Son of Man and one with the Father. He tells us directly that “If in my name you ask for anything, I will do it.”Like with the granting of wishes are we willing to act on the challenge that is presented to us by Jesus?
Are we confident in our faith and seek the Lord to be present in our lives so that we can do his will?
If we know and believe that Jesus is one with the Father and that through Him and by our belief and faith in Him, we can do great things, then we should actively seek Him in all that we do.
In order for that to happen, we need to work to recognize and work to remove those things that hinder and block us from entering into a deeper relationship with Him.
We should look expectantly to find Him present with us each and every day that we live.
We should look for Him in all that is around us and when we find Him, take time to enjoy the grace of His love, the mercy of His forgiveness, the power of His presence and to seek His guidance and His desire for how we are to conduct our lives in His world.
If we seek we will find, if we ask we will be answered, if we act we will solve and if we love we will be loved.
Jesus tells us that we will be granted the power and given the strength when we follow Him and serve. Are we prepared to do God’s will and to serve Him? I want to show a brief video that I am certain is an answer to prayer (run video)
The meek shall inherit the earth. And how is that possible? Because God will reach down and choose an unexpected servant and give them dominion over their environment and circumstances. Just like He did with J-Mac, on that day.
There is no doubt in my mind that what took place that day was an answer to prayer.
There is no doubt in mind that God was present in the gymnasium.
There is no doubt that this was just a small sample of His power and maybe most importantly a gift, the gift of His presence for all who witnessed this event.
And for those who were seeking Jesus that day, they found Him.
Christ is alive in each of us. We are challenged to allow Him to fill us with His glory and to faithfully abide in His love and to gracefully share that love with all we meet.
We are challenged to let the beauty of His face shine through us by our actions and by our Faith.
And now let the grace and understanding that comes from Christ Jesus shine upon and give you peace.

Sermon November 10 2008

Grace Mercy and Peace given to you from God our Father. Amen
I am thankful to be back in front of you this evening/morning. As some of you may be aware, I have been going through a process of discernment to learn for what service God is calling me forward. It has been a long and fruitful discussion with our Lord, Pastor Jane, Dawn and other family and friends to date. By the looks of things, these discussions will continue and that there appears to be more for me to understand about my life, my faith and my commitment to the community of Christ.
In preparation for this sermon, I was compelled to speak to the Gospel reading for today, the parable of the lamps and the bridesmaid. I struggled at first or for that matter, the second and third times around when reading this lesson. At first look, it was all too easy for me as the reader to focus on the lack of compassion from the five with plenty of oil and the fact that they were not sharing with those who did not have enough. This seemed to go against most all of what we think about when we consider Jesus’ life and teachings and our help and care for those who are in need. Sharing the bounty of our labor with those who struggle or do not have proper provisions is the usual par for the course in such teachings.
So then, why did the 5 wise not share their oil? After all, the other 5 (the foolish) were merely caught up in the excitement of the moment and made a quick assumption that the bridegroom would arrive shortly. Was the lack of compassion some harsh judgment or cruel way to define themselves as better than the others and more deserving? After all they had their oil and they would be able have light to see the bridegroom and the bridegroom would be able to see them. This seems to be supported later in the parable when the foolish 5 were shut out of the feast altogether and not allowed to take part in the banquet. I read this over and over again and I kept thinking, I must be missing?
As I continued to review the Gospel lesson, another thought crowded thinking and covered my mind’s eye, the phrase “and then the door was shut”. I thought to myself, that’s it, it’s all over? The event arrived and festivities would take place without them. They have missed the feast. And to make matters worse for them they were shunned again as they shouted “Lord, lord, open to us”, and he replied “Truly I tell you, I do not know you”. My first reaction was wow, it is it, it really is over for the other five? This was very troubling for me. I asked myself, is there no forgiveness for them? No second opportunity?
So, at first glance that statement of being shut out seemed to overpower and loom heavy on me as the reader. One slip, and in a moment of excitement, you rush forward but don’t think to bring an ample supply of oil, and then, it is over. How were they to know just how much oil would be needed? Or, how long would they be waiting for the bridegroom to arrive and what compelled the other 5 to grab hold and take more oil for their lamps? But then for the 5 foolish the wait was too long and all of their oil was consumed, and all is lost. So you can see where I struggled with this verse.
As I continued in prayer and study about the content and context of this verse a different understanding began to emerge in my thoughts, God was telling me to look deeper into this scripture and by deeper, to not just scan the surface and expect to find inner meaning of this parable. He was also telling me to not lose site of the forest while looking at the tress. As I sat back, I began to look at the printed words and tried to be open for a different perspective. As I read and listened for guidance, I felt God begin to pull my thoughts away from the specific words and the specific phrases and as He did, I began to see this scripture differently, the phrases began to take on new meanings for me.
It is with this new perspective that I want to talk with you today. As my mind drifted back, I began to question the significance of the oil. What kind of oil is this and why was it so important? After all in darkness surely any light, even the dimmest light will brighten an area well enough to see more then shadows. So, why was the light of 5 lamps not sufficient for all ten to be seen by the bridegroom? There must be something else at play in this parable.
5 wise but not 5 who share, this quit a different angle than most of the stories that Jesus relates to His disciples. How did they know how much oil would be needed? The story doesn’t really say for sure how much oil they carried or if the 5 wise each carried an equal amount. Did the wise really have some insight as to how much oil would be needed? It seems unlikely, with the limited facts available. I needed to move beyond the oil and as I did I began to resolve that the oil may not really be oil, but rather symbolic something other than fuel for their lamps. A likely interpretation is that the oil represents their faith and faith that the bridegroom, representing Jesus, will see them and know them when he arrives again. I am certain many of you had already drawn yourself in that direction or to that conclusion. This is a common position for most commentaries on this verse in scripture.
So, if this is true, that the oil represents faith, then certainly it is understandable to see that the 5 wise could not simply give away their oil, for faith does not come from others but from within our own hearts and our souls. So we need to excuse the 5 wise for not sharing their oil, because they had no option, it simply was impossible. In fact it would be wrong for us to compare the wise and foolish and make any distinction that one is better off than the other. As easy as it is to say one group should have been prepared, it is also easy to say the other should have been open about their faith and have helped to prepare a path for the other. In either case, judgment is not ours but in the hands of God.
The focus of this scripture therefore does not rest in either the 5 wise or with the 5 foolish but instead on God’s mercy and His desire to have us draw close to Him. In what first presented itself to me as a strong, powerful message of preparation, obedience and a stern warning to be alert or risk being left out, slowly but distinctively became a prayer of love, a prayer of hope a prayer of optimism and an invitation to welcome Christ into my life, so that He can welcome me into His feast.
Jesus is inviting us to open our hearts and our minds to Him. As the 5 foolish shouted “open to us” and the lord replied “I do not know you”. Then the question that came to my attention was, how would the Lord know who I am? Have I invited Him into my life?
How do we get to know one another? We converse, we share fellowship, we share experiences, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we allow ourselves to be loved, we share our time and talents and we may even share the fruits of our labor. In short, we spend time with one another. So, how do we get to know Jesus? Or for that matter, how does Jesus get to know us? Have we invited Him into our inner circle of friendships, do we spend time in conversation, listening and talking to Him, about our lives, our needs and our weaknesses?
The statement “I don’t know you” is not a harsh reprimand but an invitation, an invitation that can be easily answered, an invitation that when accepted, will make available to us in the Feast that is Christ Jesus. To help me understand the importance of this message I had to let go of the notion that the only time that I would see Jesus would be at the time of His second coming, and that would take place sometime in the future. I needed to listen to His call and understand that there is way a to see Him and to be with Him. I needed seek and find Christ and His continual presence in my life each and every day. I needed to get to know Him and I needed and still need to, reveal my true self to Him, so that He will be able to say, I know you.
We are all invited to the feast of the Lord, and that feast is here, right here in this room. Today, as we gather for worship we are guests that have accepted His invitation to be present at His feast. When we commune together we are invited to be seated at His table and to share in His life, His body, His blood and His spirit. So, in this scripture are we to believe that the 5 foolish are to be cast out forever? Is this really the lesson that Jesus wants us to learn from this parable? Or is He telling us not to just look to the future and wait in anticipation for the feast to come, but rather is He inviting us to participate in that feast today.
There is a funny thing about words on paper is that without sufficient adjectives to describe the emotion, the body movement and the volume used to speak a phrase and or quote, the meaning is then left to interpretation. Let’s try an experiment with the term “I don’t know you”. This phrase if said like this “I DON’T KNOW YOU” gives you the listener what kind of insight to my intent? Angry and rejecting right? But when said like this “I don’t know you” implies what? Maybe, I am looking for clarification, maybe if you tell me more about yourself, I will have confidence that I may be able to have trust in you. We don’t know for sure which was the tone the Lord used in this parable and but it is easy to assume that it was the former rather than the latter tone. But for me, as I continued to work on this verse, the message was coming through to me as an invitation, an opening of an opportunity to allow Jesus to see and know me. I saw a compassionate Lord, who was looking down at an unfortunate few and giving them an understanding of how they can prepare for reconciliation and redemption.
Jesus, is looking to know us. He is asking that we get to know Him today and not in some time in the future, the time is now. Jesus is saying to His disciples in this parable, I am here and with you now. Let’s get to know one another starting today. There is no reason to wait, get to know me while I am with you so that I will be able to say, that I know you when the time arrives.
The time is Now, right here and right now.
Jesus is not in some distant location, slowly making His way forward on a journey to find us. He is not a stranger waiting for us to bump into Him or someone we seek, only in a time of our own desperation. He lovingly longs for us to hear His call in this parable and join Him in the joy of His Grace and to join Him, in the peace that is His forgiveness. Invite Jesus into your heart, prepare a place for Him and seek to find Him in all that you do. Spend time with Him and learn how He is calling you to service.
Feel His power, His presence and His love, through the examples that He brings forward to you each day and in your interactions with others in this world. As you will see when you invite Him into your life, He will make Himself known to you. It may or may not be obvious to you at first but surely, when you prayerfully seek Him with an open heart, you will find Him. I believe that Jesus is telling us not to anticipate but to participate. Participate in His feast this day and every day.
To seek and find Jesus alive in our life today and every day that we are on Earth is truly living a life of preparation, for when you invite and allow Jesus to stand next to you, the gates of heaven will be open for you on that last and final day. Amen

Help! Please?

Whether we acknowledge it of not, this is the calling of many of our teenagers in America right now. In the aftermath of yet another rage filled suicide in Omaha, Nebraska we are confronted again with the reality that we have not provided enough support, enough love and enough hope for our teens. It is all too easy to dismiss this case as just another troubled individual who took matters into his own hands as a means to ease his pain. And be it all too easy to say that no one could have predicted such an outcome. As I look back into the last 18 months or so, I reminded that the incident in Omaha could have easily taken place here in Northwest Indiana. I am reminded of at least 3 teenage suicides and or attempted suicides in Porter County alone recently and that number could just be all that I know about by mention in the newspapers or among the members of the community. There is no simple answer as to how we can prevent such events from happening, only questions. The sadness and loneliness that a teenager feels as they learn about the difficulties that life brings is not uncommon. Most people can relate to a time in their past when as a teenager they struggled to understand the meaning of life’s hardships. Be it relationships that failed, loss of a loved one or any form of family crisis. Most of us have felt the absolute void and emptiness that creeps upon you, when you are young and don’t know where to turn for help or what the future may hold. As I write this, I stop to talk to my son as he leaves for his events of the day and discover that just 2 days ago a classmate died from what many are saying was a possible suicide. The strangest thing though is we may never know the truth as in many of the recent case in our community. The media out of respect to family and friends does little to communicate these situations and that is very understandable. However, the unfortunate results from lack of discussion and knowledge is complacency in our society and the inability to recognize the gravity and the pervasiveness of the problem that is right in front of us. We must open our eyes and seek opportunity to provide comfort, support and hope to all our youth in the community. I urge that as a community, we take a stand and look to create opportunity for our teens to find assistance and to look hopefully to the future. We must provide the pathways that can be easily found and then easily followed so that anyone who is experiencing pain or longs for love and acceptance will be able to quickly find hope and help emanating from a community that is rich in love for one another. In society, we talk about providing a future for our families. Unfortunately, the majority if not all the time we talk about providing for the future, it is in reference to financial matters rather spiritual matters. The future is in God’s hands and we must provide a future for our families by laying the foundation of faith in our lives. Rooted in faith we are better equipped to help our youth. Rooted in faith God will provide the assistance, love and support for all his children. Rooted in faith our future is guaranteed by the forgiveness of Christ. When any of God’s children suffer, so does He. It is why he sent his only son to be among us, to save us from ourselves and from the sins of the world. Through Christ we are saved and through Christ we are called to save our youth and open up the path for His love to be shown to all who are burdened.