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Archive for May, 2017

Being Witnesses

You are witnesses of these things.  And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”  Luke 24:48-49 (NRSV)

The ascension of Jesus is a rather strange image to our 21st century minds.  Maybe if we were great Star Trek watchers, we might remember “Beam me up, Scotty!”  I was always pretty fascinated with the whole molecular transference in that series.

However, the story of Jesus ascending into heaven is quite amazing, not because he was lifted into the heavens as much as the commission he gave his disciples.  Whether or not Jesus was actually taken into heaven and disappeared into clouds is what we tend to see and focus on for this particular Sunday, but the lasting effect of his returning to be with God did at least two things.

First, he returned from the earthly confines to his place in the heavenly realm after having brought the presence of God-in-the-flesh to earth.  And secondly, he left behind people whom he had trained for three years to carry on his work of sharing God’s love and spreading the Good News that God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy is for all people.

After the ascension, the disciples didn’t just stand there looking (as Acts 1 reports.  In Luke’s gospel (interesting that the writer of Luke was probably the writer of Acts, also!), the disciples returned to the temple to praise and worship and bless God.  They were actively involved in worship.

As the disciples grew in experience and knowledge, as well as being inspired by the Holy Spirit, they were sent out into the world.  They didn’t stay put; rather, they dispersed to other parts of the world as they knew it to proselytize and invite others to hear the message of God’s redemption and love in Jesus, the Christ.

Ascension Sunday is a reminder that we are counted among the disciples, as well.  The original commission may have been for the first century followers of Jesus, but even in the 21st century, we are called to be witnesses to our faith in our words and actions.  We become the invitation to know Christ because of the wonderful works God has done in our lives.

Ascension Sunday reminds us that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are also called and sent forth.  We are also asked and expected to carry on the work of Christ by bringing compassion, kindness, hope, healing, and love to the world.  And we are called to worship our God together as the Body of Christ.

How does that look in your life?

In what ways do you share your faith?

How do you share it every day?

The Greatest is Love

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13:13 (NRSV)

Inevitably, when I meet with couples to officiate at their wedding, they choose 1 Corinthians 13 as the scripture passage.  It’s a great choice.  It’s also not about marriage – at least not only marriage.  Ultimately, it’s about relationships beginning with God’s love for us and how we are called to live that love out in our own relationships.

We can even go one step further.  The description of love here in 1 Corinthians 13 comes in the middle of Paul’s teachings to the Corinthian church about how they are called to be the Body of Christ and to use their gifts to further the work of Christ in the world.  Having this teaching smack in the middle of a church that is divided over who is better than someone else or whose gifts are more important is a brilliant way to teach about what the love of Jesus really is and how we are to model it in the church and in the world.

Of course, this is not an easy prescription to follow!  Think about it:  “Love is patient (first major challenge!); love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

Oops – how many of us can say that we have followed these teachings?  Well, Jesus did, and that is the goal for us.  Maybe if more marriages, friendships, families, churches, countries, governments, or whomever we might name incorporated the love of God as described in this passage, we would have a much better world.

The Church of Jesus Christ can be an example for promoting harmony, good will, conflict management, and bringing the Light of Christ into the world wherever they are.  “Love never ends” happens because God’s love is eternal and the source of all love, kindness, compassion, and caring.

Maybe we should read this passage every day and keep a diary about how we are doing.  Or maybe it would be good to have a yearly bible study on this chapter in 1 Corinthians as a reminder to the church folks that we carry the responsibility to bring Christ to the world through our own choices and the way we share God’s love with others.

In what ways have you shared God’s love?

Where can you be more consistent?

How will you keep working at it?

“M” is for “Mom”

As we approach Mother’s day, I am reminded that this has developed into a commercialized event, just as so many other holidays have.  My blog this week is a reflection on what is underneath the gifts, flowers, going out to dinner, and so forth.

I love Mother’s Day, and even though my own mother is no longer living here on earth, I miss her.  As I was growing up, I never saw her a my role model, but there is something that happens when we age and begin to see our mother’s in a different light.

When Alzheimer’s Disease began to slowly make her disappear in personality and functionality, I began to write to her on my computer.  In that writing, I was able to work through a lot of my issues that surrounded my feelings about her, and I began to see the marvelous and beautiful person she was.

My mother was also beautiful outside.  We have pictures of her from high school and early adult years that make her look like a movie star.  She was always beautiful outwardly, and my dad always said that he married the prettiest girl in the school.  Even when she could no longer comprehend things, he would tell her that he loved her and how beautiful she was.

So, the struggle I had was more about not wanting to take on some of her issues, such as lack of self-esteem, avoidance of conflict in unhealthy ways, and readily taking the blame for things that weren’t her fault.  I have spent years of my adulthood working through NOT doing those things, do I think my issues focused more on the adverse ways I perceived my mother.

As I wrote to her (even though I knew she would never read the letters), I began to recognize the positive influence she had on me.  Her gift of music was imbedded in my life, and she had a beautiful singing voice which I was fortunate to inherit that ability from her.  Her faith was such an inspiration, and her dedication, commitment and love for her husband and children was powerful.

I was very blessed to have the mother God gave me, and I know that there are many people who would long to have had that relationship with their mothers.  Hopefully, there were and are people who have been like a mother to them.  For some children, their father is both mother and father, and vice versa.

This Mother’s Day, I celebrate the gifts of mothers and mother-figures who enrich our lives and bless us beyond understanding.  My hope is that those who have had issues with their mothers can forgive them and find the positives they can take away from the relationship.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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