You've Already Heard It, But . . . We have already heard many of the wonderful, and sometimes hard-to-digest, stories that Jesus told, and we have tried to understand their true meanings - the substance of his preaching and teaching. But it was in this long sermon called the Sermon on the Mount where we might have discovered that some of Jesus' explanations concerning the old Law, referred to as the Law of Moses, were, and are, very difficult to put into practice.
Having that 'I got it!' light come on in our heads after struggling to understand a new concept can be a wonderful experience. However, a revelation concerning something that we thought we already understood can make us scratch our heads in wonder. We finally realize that there's more to this than we thought.
Do you remember when you first learned long division? At first I found it a really tough concept. Not only was the terminology confusing - dividend, divisor and quotient – but, placing the digits in their proper order was also a bit of a struggle. Then, once I understood why these digits needed to be placed properly, only then did the concept become clear to me. Did that mean that I always came up with the right answer? Not at all! It was so easy to make a mistake in any of the many steps that it took to solve the problem correctly - the division, the subtraction, or the multiplication.
Then, along came fractions. That was a whole other concept to learn. And today, with calculators, computers and all kinds of technology to help us solve problems quickly, we don't really need to worry about all the steps it takes to solve a problem – technology solves it for us! But, how easy it is to forget if we don't practice all those steps! And we'll soon find out when we have no electricity, or when our devices crash, that maybe we should have kept practicing, just in case!
Of course, once we take the time to review the various steps, it all comes back to us – right? Maybe, after a while, and after checking the rules. After all, we've done it before, and we've already heard the explanations and examples from our teachers, but . . .
Jesus said, in so many words, 'You've already heard it, but . . .' as he explained in detail the true interpretation of some of the old laws, what we call the Ten Commandments. These listeners that were with him that day had not only heard, but had memorized and had put into practise these strict rules and regulations. That was the Law that must be obeyed! And they were probably pretty sure that they understood what it meant to 'do the right thing' by following those laws.
In today's reading from Matthew's gospel we noticed that Jesus picked only specific commandments to explain – some that seemed, on the surface, to be self-explanatory. 'Thou shalt not kill', Thou shalt not commit adultery', etc., seemed clear enough. But were they as black and white as the listeners had thought? All of a sudden, it seemed that there were more steps to obeying these laws than the people had understood. What an eye-opener as Jesus explained the true meaning of some of these rules - according to God's kingdom!
Whether Jesus was referring to the commandments about murder, adultery, lying or taking an oath, here was new information being revealed that they had never heard before – not explained as Jesus was explaining it!
However, while giving these particular explanations to the crowd of listeners, why do you think Jesus would use this terminology: 'if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out'; 'if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away'? Also, when Jesus referred to swearing oaths, or making promises in particular, he said, 'no need to promise using words connected with God or anything that belongs to God'. Just let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no'. A smart lady once informed me that 'no' is a complete sentence. And, I remember my daughter's response to my grandsons, once she had said 'no' and they kept on asking, she said, 'said no; meant no'. And that was the end of it.
Jesus referred to our physical body, like the eye and the hand, etc., when discussing breaking the Law. Why do you think he did that? I read somewhere that maybe it meant that we are much more concerned about our physical bodies than we are about our Spiritual condition. Should we be asking ourselves, 'was it the fault of any part of my physical body that caused me to sin in the first place?' If I am attracted to another person in a certain way, can I blame my eye – either left or right – for getting me into trouble? If I steal something, was it really my hand that caused me to do such a thing? Or, did it come from within me? Or, as Flip Wilson used to say, 'The Devil made me do it!'
Do you think that Jesus was trying to explain to them, and to us today, that our physical condition is far less important than our Spiritual condition? If we pay attention to Jesus' words concerning these commandments, we notice that he used the words, 'in his heart', which could also read, 'in her heart'. Wouldn't that mean that that's where the trouble starts?
So what really needs to be cut off, or out, and thrown away? Certainly not the heart! Could the answer be that we need to be concerned with thethoughts and the imaginings of the heart, and maybe to become more aware of where these thoughts can take us? That's just my take on the situation; now, I'll leave you with your own interpretation of Jesus' explanations.
I'm sure there are times when you and I feel close to, as well as far way from, the Kingdom of God. I feel expecially close when I'm inspired, when I feel God is speaking to me, either through his Word, or through another person. It makes me more aware of everything and everyone around me, and causes me to be grateful, even for the little things. However, when I feel that I've said, done, or even thought things that I believe do not deserve his forgiveness, that's when I feel very far from God's Kingdom. That's when I realize that there is a constant struggle for space between good and evil inside us.
I think we can understand why these listeners might have been confused as they heard Jesus' explanations. In their minds, wasn't he supposed to be their deliverer – the new king who came to replace the Roman Empire; to set up his kingdom and rule. Wasn't his reign supposed to release them from the clutches of their enemy?
So, why all this talk about the Laws of Moses and what they really meant? No one had ever explained them in this way before. Was this Jesus' explanation concerning what was required in order to belong to this Kingdom of God that he preached about?
Apparently, Jesus expected his followers to be people of integrity; individuals who were trustworthy, faithful, and loyal to their God.
Paul took these messages of salvation and shared them with the citizens of the town of Corinth, making it clear that, like a gardener in his field, even though he planted the seed, he was in no way responsible for any of their Spiritual growth. Like the gardener, he could nurture, but the actual growth was entirely to God's credit. Some seeds might sprout and grow to be strong, healthy plants, producing fruit; whereas other seeds might just wither and die.
We try to be worthy disciples as we plant the seed by spreading the good news of the gospel in God's garden. But we remember that we did not create the seed. Neither can we make it grow. Quoting from the Hymn of Promise:
“In the bulb there is a flower, in the seed, an apple tree; in cocoons a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free! In the cold and snow of winter there's a spring that waits to be; unrevealed until its season – something God alone can see.”
We've already heard it, but - still the struggle between good and evil continues, evil thoughts and deeds originating in our hearts – it's something God alone can see. Amen!
Rev. David's Blog - Feb. 14, 2020 Salt Shakers
You are like salt for all mankind, Jesus says in the Sermon in the Mountain in Matthew (5:13). In the translation, The Message, this verse reads:
Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavours of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
Those are powerful words and an unusual image. Last Sunday at Wesley United Church in Bedford, rhythm shakers were created for the children attending the baptisms of Jack Blake Pelletier (Gasser) and Quinn Ann Marini (Soles). As we sang they were invited to shake the toilet paper rolls filled with rice. They went further and most were shaking their whole bodies vigorously in the pews and up the aisles. I commend the worship committee who made a huge effort so that all the children attending felt part of the service, including activity bags and a veggie and juice pause during worship. We always make the effort, in both pastoral charges, to welcome children, not only at baptism, but into regular Sundays when they attend. Their spontaneous participation is wonderful and inspires us all.
Shaking to the rhythm of life, music and a radical welcome into the family of God, I loved this experience and the image of whole body shaking. Our children were human shakers! Their joy was infectious and it was fun to live this in the generations: babies, young children, adults, grandparents.
For me, the teaching of Jesus names us, his followers, as salt shakers. Just as our children last Sunday, to shake with Life, and to do so both within and outside our celebrations, in the everyday of our living. Our lives are salt, inviting others to taste the joy of belonging to God’s Family and of living relationships with Jesus and each other. This is our mission, to live this radical hospitality, the welcome and fun of celebrating unconditional love in our gathering for worship and shake that joy and exuberance vigorously into the everyday of our lives, giving the taste of faith to all whom we meet.
Salt shakers? Are you ready?!
Use this song by composers Steve Angrisano and Tom Tomaszek (More Voices # 209), sung at the end of Emmanuel’s worship last Sunday. Shake with its rhythm:
Go make a diff’rence, we can make a diff’rence. Go make a diff’rence in the world. We are the salt of the earth, called to let the people see the love of God for you and me. We are the light of the world, not to be hidden but be seen. Go make a diff’rence in the world!
To which we, as salt shakers, say: Thanks be to God, Amen! - Rev. David
Rev. David's Blog - Feb. 7, 2020 The Freedom to Question
I look out the window at the falling snow and feel a long way from Cuba this morning.
On this Friday school has been cancelled in anticipation of a winter storm that has already “shut down” Montreal. Winter is firmly present and staying around for another few months.
When you come back from a vacation in the south there is such a stark comparison between the regular routine here and the one lived there. I experienced sunshine’s warmth every day, slept to the sound of the waves through open patio doors, walked on pristine beaches with the company of pelicans gliding alongside me. Food was prepared, the bed made up, people were friendly and my greeting of “hola” was always met with a smile.
R & R, long exploratory walks, reading with a Kindle my son lent me, living in the moment each day: vacation and retreat. In my journal I chose to write questions, dozens of them, that led on a journey of introspection, self-actualisation and deep meditation. I wanted to listen deeply, in silence, and be receptive to whatever would emerge. I have found in recent years that the asking of a good question can open understanding and help reframe the journey of life and faith. In the tradition of my youth there were answers, quotes from the Bible, affirmations only. Questions were not encouraged. Questioning in my time away was my way of checking in with a new decade, ministry goals and feeling my emotional and spiritual pulse.
As I walked along the beach with feet in the sand and the ocean’s cooling waters the words from Lamentations 3:22-23 spoke to my spirit:
The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise, the Lord is all I have, and so I put my hope in him.
I have always enjoyed the powerful poem Footprints in the Sand that reminds us that we are not alone, especially in the times when God carries us through deep loss and need. The backdrop of my questions is a relationship with God that is deeply personal, strong and steady. It is the security of God’s faithfulness that frees me to question. Questioning is an essential part of growing and learning. And all questions are permitted. These words of scripture are the basis of a well-loved hymn that sustain me every day, in every circumstance, whether in the sunshine or winter’s storm, in the South or the North.
Great is thy faithfulness, God our Creator; there is no shadow of turning with thee; thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; as thou hast been thou forever will be.
Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed thy hand has provided-great is thy faithfulness, ever to me! (VU 288, Thomas Chisholm, 1923)
I am returning to the routine and obligations of the everyday rested and ready to face any challenge in days and months ahead. Let us be rooted in relationships that free us to grow, to question and learn.
Blessings on each of us!
It's good to be back. - Rev. David
Message - Karen Lackey Ryan - Feb. 2, 2020
At Christmas eve, on the way to midnight mass, (nearly midnight),
almost across the street from the church, whose doors were open with lights shining and a greeter at the door, I was approached by a woman who took the opportunity to beg for money. There was something incongruous about the timing and the meaning of the evening. What was she doing begging at that hour? Why did I not invite her to church? Choices, choices, choices.
To me the church is a resource. But the violations of trust that have occurred over the years have turned people away from the church. That Christmas eve, the church was full, the priest was welcoming, the soprano was exquisite. For me, it was a nourishing social and sacred event, an easy choice.
Since Eve, and then Adam, chose to eat that apple, we have been wrestling with the effects of self-will. To do or not to do? “This choice, or that choice?” That is the question. The Bible is full of stories and consequences for the people of Israel and ourselves when we disobey, when we make the wrong choice, when we choose less than Good/God. When we doubt our worthiness to receive God’s love. When we are afraid even to ask.
As Joshua 24: 15 tells us, 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…
witnessing the suffering of friends and family, observing the inequalities and injustices experienced by peoples of the world, in awareness of the unequal distribution of resources that causes so much hardship and grief around the world, (which is basically never-ending) the question arises, “Is life difficult and then we die?” And, Why do we make such limiting choices, especially when there are other options? In psychology, heredity and environment are the answer to almost every question of why we are as we are. Our DNA defines us, and our environment conditions us. But, every day, along the way, we each make decisions based on prior experience and preferences, education, or lack of thoughtfulness, the avoidance of pain, the influence of friends and culture, cost/benefit analysis, or simply because we feel like it. Of course, not everyone is born with the silver spoon in their mouth, or bestowed with social and financial benefits. We have to make do with what we have. The less we have, the more pain filled and derelict our heredity and environment, the less food, water, shelter and safety we have, then the less possible it is to appreciate the beautiful and the spiritual. Or is it? Is it a question of the chicken and the egg? Is it a question of heredity, of environment? Is it a question of choice? Is it a question of rising above our circumstances? Is it a question of belief and faith? Seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness and all things shall be added unto you? The Beatitudes are beautiful, but also confusing, and at first glance, not much comfort. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Just how poor do I have to be? Exactly what kind of poverty is this? “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”Then, where exactly is the kingdom of heaven? Luke 17: 20, 21 gives us the answer, 20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”[a In the KJV version, “the kingdom of heaven is within you.” According to the online version of Encyclopedia Britannica, the kingdom of heaven is: “in Christianity, the spiritual realm over which God reigns as king, or the fulfillment on Earth of God’s will.” The Beatitudes refer to mourning, meekness, endurance of suffering, and bearing insults on behalf of Christ. It seems that we will be rewarded only if we endure suffering! We are blessed if we can bear the burdens of sadness. Although we are assured that the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers will have their reward, the price can seem too high. Before we feel too sorry for ourselves,1 Corinthians 10:13reminds us that, 13 No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. It is too easy to believe that the Beatitudes, and the entire message of Christ call us to suffer. There are stereotypes of the Christian as sober and serious, kind and giving, but no fun. Some of us may have the idea/belief that we have to suffer to be good. There are ideas that life is full of punishment, because we are inherently bad, and then we die. There are many who believe that too much good is bad luck. We don’t totally trust that we live in a world of plenty, a world of the providence and care of God. We are supposed to be the children of God, creatures in a God given world, people saved and forgiven! We talk and sing a lot about joy; Are we truly joyful and thankful? Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying that, “Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Personal responsibility again! Choice! In my December reflection I quoted Joseph Campbell as recommending that we, “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” Choice is a great freedom, but also a burden and a great responsibility. It is preferable to have all the answers, to not have to consider, reflect, doubt, be vulnerable. Or, to not think, but follow the latest trend, the latest expert, the latest spiritual leader who promises peace without pain, and flower strewn pathways…This can lead us dangerously close to dictatorship and disaster. In whom can we put our trust? In Christian spirituality, suffering is walking with Christ and, therefore, redemptive and transformative. Fredric Heidemann.There issuffering and lack, and we are expected to endure, Walking with Jesus through thick and thin. When I read the Beatitudes the image that comes to mind is the empty vessel, the empty cup, which can only be filled with the essence and qualities of God. I am that empty cup, that needy person, looking for the water and food that nourishes and satisfies. I must ask myself what I want. Do I want the water and substance that satisfies my soul? Or not. I must empty myself of all that is not God to make space for the Godly, which is Love and Forgiveness. Is this the price that I am willing to pay? Isn’t this the ultimate choice? The question that we must answer day by day, and at the end of our days? What is my choice? Who do I serve? This is a spiritual process, a spiritual reality. The choice to do spiritual work. I believe that Christianity is the rejection of revenge, the transformation of suffering and hardship into endurance, perseverance, and even joyfully creative living. Through Christ, in Christ and with Christ we learn to find meaning in suffering, and joy in our daily lives. God calls us to have life and have life abundantly. Let us have the courage to choose life.John 10:10
Cynthia's Blog - Jan 31, 2020
Rev. David will be back with us on Sunday (Groundhog Day!) but kindly filling in for him today is guest blogger, Cynthia Reynolds. You were introduced to Cynthia in the last two issues of the newsletter and met her in person last Sunday. Today we are pleased to share with you Cynthia’s blog. « « « » » »
Sunday we read from Matthew’s gospel [4:12-23] about Jesus calling his disciples to him. We are told that Jesus was taking a stroll by the sea, wind in his hair, the hum drum noise of fisheries in his ear, that there he came across two sets of brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John. To the four men Jesus called out, and he asked them, ‘follow me’. The fishermen left everything they had to follow Jesus, to, as the famous line is written, ‘catch people’.
When we hear the story of Jesus calling the first disciples, we often examine in what ways we ourselves are called by him and how we answer the call to follow. Perhaps two other important questions could be asked about this story as well.
1. Why did Jesus call these specific men, Peter, Andrew, James and John to his ministry? How did he come to the decision that they were the ones who should follow him out of all the people along the shore that surrounded him that day? In life, each one of us are constantly having to make decisions about who we surround ourselves with, whether for fun socially or for work and projects. How do we come to make these decisions? When it came time for Jesus to pick his ‘team’, what did he base his decisions on... did he think Peter, Andrew, James and John were winners? Did he think they would be fun to hang out with for a few years?
These fishermen were not called by Jesus because they had a certain résumé, or because they had bright personalities, but Jesus still chose them for a reason, a reason perhaps we will never know. Yet it is a question that by asking sheds light on our own decisions that we in life make. What do we base our decisions on when we are gathering certain people together? In the building of teams in our lives, are we seeking to create unity, aware of the divisions and biases that may influence our choices? Maybe that’s why Jesus asked these men to join him, he thought that they would be good at helping him create a new team that would seek to include the unlikely souls of the world. Or maybe he thought they needed to learn how to do that.
2. Why did Jesus need to call disciples at all? He is Jesus, he is divine and powerful and curing and healing people left and right. He could have gone on preaching and performing miracles without disciples, and the crowds would have still gathered around him. Perhaps calling out, ‘follow me’ was not done for him but us. We needed and need community, not so much for his sake, but for ours. Jesus in this story started to catch people not because he couldn’t fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy of bringing light into the dark on his own, but because he knew we couldn’t.
Let us never stop thinking about what it takes to create relationships with others, and what those relationships mean. Let us ask ourselves where in our lives do we need to team build, and how can this team further the cause of Jesus’ ministry to bring light to the darkness? May we be open and conscious of those reaching out to connect to us in their efforts to create community. In life, we make decisions to both offer our hands and accept the hands of others. Such decisions are God’s love in action. Let us give praise to God who not only called out to each one us, but who also taught us how to call out to others. Amen. - Cynthia Reynolds
Messae - Frances Jones - Jan. 26, 2020 Moving On
Most of us have been involved in a move of some kind. Some people have changed locations several times, while others have stayed in one place all, or most, of their lives. Jesus' family was no stranger to moving – having to relocate in some cases for their own safety.
After Jesus was born, we know about the great danger for young boys anywhere in the jurisdiction of that dominant ruler, King Herod, who had heard by way of the wise men that a new King had been born in the town of Bethlehem. That sounded like a threat- to him and his kingdom. No way would he allow a new king to replace him and take away the power that he held! So, out of jealousy and cruelty, he ordered all boy babies around the age of two and under to be killed, wiping out any chance of this new king growing up to become supreme ruler.
Fortunately, Joseph was warned in a dream to move to Egypt for the safety of the family; so they uprooted and relocated. At a later date, Joseph was warned once again to relocate – this time to the land of Israel. However, because King Herod's cruel son had taken over the throne, Joseph still feared for Jesus' life. Once again, by divine intervention, Joseph received yet another message to relocate the family; this time to the town of Nazareth, where their safety would be assured. So we have seen that Jesus was no stranger to moving on.
What I found interesting about these incidences was the fact that Joseph was the one who received messages from God, that he was the one who was the object of Divine intervention, not once, but several times. One time, before he was able to accept Mary's miraculous conception, and then all of these times after Jesus' birth, in order to ensure his safety. What does this reveal about this individual named Joseph? It seemed to me that his ears were open and in tune to hear God's voice, and that he must have had a genuine relationship with his Lord. There's no doubt that God chose Joseph to be Jesus' earthly father for a reason. He was a good man, totally devoted to the security of his family, especially to this new Holy Baby.
From that time up until the time of our story that we read today, Jesus had grown up in the town of Nazareth, had been baptized by John, had spent many days and nights wandering in the wilderness preparing for his ministry, and had faced and overcome numerous temptations. And now he was ready to seriously begin his mission for which he was sent.
Unfortunately, Jesus had just heard the horrible news that his good friend and colleague, John the Baptist, had been arrested in Galilee. Like me, do you find it a little interesting that Jesus would now head straight for that area? Moving on from the security of his town of Nazareth, Jesus went directly to Capernaum, by the Lake.
I read that this area by the lake was called the Galilee of the Gentiles. That would mean that it would have a diverse population – people from various ethnic backgrounds, not just Jewish. Was Jesus about to experience something brand new, something entirely different from his growing-up years in Nazareth?
One source informed me that this area in Galilee was very active – trading and fishing, etc., and that their dealings with Gentiles made them more open to new ideas than the Judeans. So, would Jesus be a part of this new community both as an insider and an outsider?
Jesus wasted no time calling his helpers. Simon and his brother, Andrew were the first two to be approached, followed by two other brothers, James and John – all fishermen.
What I have always found fascinating was the fact that these individuals, whose livelihood came from fishing, just dropped everything that day and followed Jesus when he appraoched them to follow him. Of course, that didn't mean they were on holiday, or that they suddenly became idle.
These were regular guys, hard-working fishermen, humble labourers with no credentials, with no diplomas or certificates, and with no letters after their names indicating an esteemed degree. But these were the individuals whom Jesus called – not just to follow him for a while, but to take on the responsibility of being able to continue his mission, of sharing the message of repentance and forgiveness; of love and life. They would now become full-time students, learning the true meaning of what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus.
I wonder how many times Jesus scratched his head, or furrowed his brow in anguish, as he interacted with these men, trying to teach them, not only about Spiritual things, but about humility and compassion. These men whom Jesus called had individual strengths for sure, but they also had their weaknesses. Some spoke up before thinking, others were self-centred and self-promoting. Humility didn't seem to be a part of their vocabulary.
These would-be disciples had so much to learn! But Jesus never gave up on them in spite of their shortcomings. He just continued teaching, preaching, and healing. Hopefully, they would learn by example, as he continued to preach just as his friend the Baptist had preached - “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near:” And, whether Jesus was teaching his followers, speaking to the religious elite, or to the political authorities, even to the outcasts and the downtrodden, his message was consistent – always sticking to the same message; emphasizing the need for love and compassion, forgiveness and assurance.
* * * Consistency brings us to Paul's message to the people of Corinth concerning some divisions that seemed to be present among them. They were quarreling over which leader they would follow. Apparently there were several preachers in the area and the people were dividing themselves into groups; some preferring one leader over another leader.
It made me think of all the churches that are presently in the area. People have a tendancy to relate better, or to respond more positively, to one type or style of worship than another. It probably originates with how we were brought up. What we are accustomed to.
Orders of service and styles of worship differ from one church to another; however, what's the message that is being shared? When they, or we, say 'all are welcome', does that really mean ALL? Jesus' example definitely meant ALL - from the woman caught in adultery to the so-called 'unclean' lepers. Jesus lived his message of “all are welcome”. He took people as they were and only made them better human beings. It makes me think of a song that contains some of my favourite words: “Take, Oh take me as I am Summon out what I shall be. Set your seal upon my heart. And live in me.” (John L. Bell, Hymnal for Worship & Celeration)
So, in our worship services, whether we prefer rigid formality or a more relaxed, informal type of worship where spontaneity is encouraged, what do you think is the most important thing for us to gain from worshipping together? It is definitely a time to reconnect with neighbours; we enjoy an inviting social hour and of course we share a message. As we are moving on into this new year – this new decade - let our message be consistent, as Jesus' message was always the same – to love unconditionally – both God and our neighbour.
Here in our place of worship, we see that the cross is empty – not because it has lost its power - but because we serve a risen Christ – a living God! Therefore, our messages remain those of grace, of pardon, and of unconditional love. Throughout this new year of 2020 let us be reminded each day of what the Lord requires of us. It's the same message as it was yesterday, and the same as it will be tomorrow: “To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. (Micah 6:8)
Frances Blog: Jan. 24, 2020 With Rev. David on vacation, we are delighted to introduce to you guest blogger, Frances Jones. Well known in both pastoral charges (Cowansville and Bedford), Frances is part of Emmanuel United’s team of lay worship leaders. Today, however, we are pleased to welcome Frances to the Blogosphere! « « « » » » What Do You Want?
'What do you want'? How many times do we really consider this question? In this material world that we live in, there are probably lots of things that we think we want. We have much, but we always seem to want more.
Let's consider this question as members of the Christian community. Is there something in particular, something on a personal level that we are looking for?
In John's gospel we learn about a fisherman named Andrew who seems to be seeking for something in particular. I'm not sure if he really knows what he wants, but, as a man of faith, he is definitely a seeker of something more than he already has. Andrew had heard the outspoken John the Baptist preaching about the need for repentance because of the imminent arrival of the long-awaited Messiah. But, something happens when the Baptist shouts, 'Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world', as Jesus walks by them. This fisherman experiences a new revelation of this Promised One – a portrayal of innocence and sacrifice.
“What do you want?” is Jesus' question to Andrew, the fisherman. Is that a question he may still be asking us today? As a group of worshippers, what is it that we are seeking? Individually and personally, what do you and I really want from a relationship with our Lord?
Let's pray: Christ, also called the Lamb of God, and the Light of the world, walk in front of us leading the way, and beside us as our companion as we journey through another year. Teach us to be channels of peace; to bring hope where there is despair; joy where there is sadness. Lead us to serve as you served; to love as you love. Amen
What do I want? The words of a very meaningful song explains: “Take, Oh take me as I am summon out what I shall be. Set your seal upon my heart. And live in me.” John L. Bell, Hymnal for Worship & Celebration
We are often ready and willing to express our wants, but what if we turn the question around and ask our Lord, 'What do you want?’ Maybe we need to be reminded of what God requires of us: - to do justice, - to love kindness, - and to walk humbly with God.