Pondering for Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Advent: Year 2

Morning, Psalms 26 and 28; Evening,  Psalms 36 and 39;
Amos 7:10 to 17Revelation 1:9 to 16Matthew 22:34 to 46:

“Then Amos answered Amaziah, ‘I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” (Amos 7: 14 and 15)

Amos reminds me of me. He was a blue collar preacher. He was dedicated to a life of sycamore trees and sheep.  He was probably poor even by that day’s standard of wealth. But like John the Baptist and others, he was an empty cup that God could use, even though it required him to traverse to Israel.

I retired from the Marine Corps and followed my then priest’s instruction to inquire if God has a call on my life. God did. And I am so thankful. While Amos was a dresser of sycamore trees and a herdsman, I was an aircraft maintenance manager for East coast war planes, fixed and rotor wing. I was, and am, so blue collar, like Amos. But God has made use of my emptiness.

 As you read this blog, please understand, God is not done with you. It matters not if you are blue collar, a business professional, or health care professional like Luke from whom we have a Gospel report; if you are open to God and not full of yourself, God wants to partner with you for holy work. There is plenty of work yet to be done. It is the Lord’s Work; and therefore, it is holy work. Are you in? Thank You Lord Jesus.

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Monday, December 6, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Monday of the Second Week of Advent: Year 2

Morning,  Psalm 25; Evening, Psalms 9 and 15;

Amos 7:1 to 9; Revelation 1:1 to 8; Matthew 22:23 to 33:

(Edited and republished from December 9, 2019)

“This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb-line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘See, I am setting a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel;
I will never again pass them by.” (Amos 7:7 – 8)

This plumb-line that the lord is setting in the midst of us is the perfect upright angle with which we are to judge our own moral character.  A friend of mine once said to a congregation that it was hard for him to achieve something he has not seen.  But once he as seen someone do and be the better person, then, he too could aim for that, knowing it is possible.

We don’t all have the same level of good judgment at the same time. But I believe the ability to make better and better decisions is an evolving skill.  I believe patience with our understanding helps us to be better decision makers.  We must first want to do the right thing; the right thing has to be more important than “my” thing.  Getting even is not the right thing and it is against the Lord’s plumb-line; it clearly shows us to be off kilter.  Also, we should not try to make ourselves look good by pointing out the faults of others.  It would be better to point out how we have challenges that we are aware of and are working on, than to point to the short comings of others. 

Our Lord Jesus is the perfect Plumb-line.  We can’t be Him but we can continue to work towards perfection. In trying to perfect our character we become that plumb-line for someone else to emulate. Remember however, we are not doing it to be copied (even though that would make the world a better place).  We are working towards that never ending road to perfection from which we will not regress or return. We will just keep comparing ourselves to His Perfection, that Plumb-line, that some may not know even exist.

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Sunday, December 5, 2021

Eucharistic Readings for the 2nd Sunday of Advent: Year C

Baruch 5:1 to 9 or Malachi 3:1to 4;  Canticle 4 or 16; Philippians 1:3 to 11; Luke 3:1 to 6

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.” (Luke 3: 1 and 2)

While all of the human, self-proclaimed, official authorities ruled over their positions with arrogance and intimidation, having their cups full, full of themselves, they could not be of use for the Lord, who needed someone who emptied themselves, like John living in the wilderness. God passed over all of the filled cups, those who held human titles, to come to a wilderness preacher who was more concerned about the spiritual welfare of his community than what they thought of him.

Just so, God still needs those of us who empty ourselves of all obstacles to grace.  John emptied himself and then used Isaiah’s words about straight pathways to further show that removing human obstacles is the same as creating space for our Lord Jesus to enter our hearts.

John preached a baptism of repentance. Today, we as a community, follow our Lord Jesus as he handed himself over to John the Baptist to be baptized. He, who had nothing to repent of, set for us the example of Baptism as the only initiation into the Christian family, the submission of our lives for the cleansing of our souls regardless of any thought of innocence or guilt. We must be completely vulnerable before God.

Today we have made this a communal act by bringing our infants into the household of God through baptism. We lift up our infants and young ones, completely as innocent as was the adult Jesus, and yet handed himself over as an example of what is expected of us. This we do in accordance with His teaching. We do this as the community of Christ. It is our prayer then that our baptized ones will complete our communal prayer by coming before our bishops when they reach the age of decision and affirm for themselves their Christian walk through confirmation.  This only happens if they learn to live a life of love and service through our Church teachings. The ultimate lesson is to keep the cups of their souls empty in order to be filled and made use of by God.

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Saturday, December 4, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Saturday of the 1st Week of Advent: Year 2

Morning, Psalms 20 and 21:1 to 7; Evening,  Psalms 110:1 to 5 and 116 and 117;
Amos 5:18 to 27Jude 17 to 25Matthew 22:15 to 22:

(Edited and republished from December 7, 2019)

“It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 19 to 21)

I believe every human being has the Spirit of God in them, but many do not rely on it.  I think this is what Jude means when he talks about worldly people devoid of the Spirit. He goes on the say that such worldly people cause division among us. Laziness and blaming others for all the bad that happens to us is easy and infectious and makes us feel that we are not responsible for the way we are, how we feel or what we say and do.

Jude continues, “But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith.”  Having and relying on our faith is so important.  With our faith we strive to see our Lord Jesus in all people. The good secret we have is that we can, and should, look for our Lord Jesus in people who do not profess Christianity as well as those who do. See if you can discover a Christ-like quality in a non Church-person or someone who is of a faith other than Christianity, or even no professed faith at all.  If you do see a loving Jesus quality in such a person you can always say to yourself, “That’s awfully Jesus of you.”  Just don’t say it out loud.  Remember it is you who are looking for our Lord Jesus in the other, not them.  I’m thinking they have him and don’t know it. So part of our faith should be the search for our Lord Jesus in others regardless of what they may or may not believe.

Finally, Jude says to “pray in the Holy Spirit.”  Remember that when you pray you are responding to God who is already praying, you are not initiating the prayer.  God has already done that.  All any of us has to do is just relax and let the Holy Spirit pray through us.  “Oh what a relief it is.”

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Friday, December 3, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Friday of the 1st Week of Advent: Year 2

Morning, Psalm 16, and 17; Evening, Psalm 22;
Amos 5:1 to 17Jude 1 to 16Matthew  22:1 to 14:

“All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, upon those who are noble among the people.” (Psalm 16:2)

We need to appreciate good people more.  It seems all the news goes to the negative folk in our communities; to the mass shooters, the crooked politicians, and today, the smash and grabbers.

We need to show appreciation for the godly that are in the land, those who are courteous in the store and in traffic. We need to take a moment to award those who, while they do not agree with the majority on an issue, will behave as if the opposing view was their own.

We need to give thanks for good parents, and for me, good fathers who raise children who are not biologically theirs, and care for their mothers.  This is what Joseph, the human father of Jesus, did. And yet, we have no words from him.

There are plenty of people who are trying every day to do what is right in the world. Let’s reach out and compliment the goodness of people who go unnoticed. They bring harmony to our communities and are standing right beside us as we witness those who do wrong and get all kinds of attention. If we honored those among us who live godly lives, perhaps more people would be inclined to be the same, the godly people God is making them to be.  Let’s do this this weekend as we enter our Sabbath time.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done” (Genesis 2:1 and 2). So, for this evening and tomorrow day my friends, Shabbat Shalom.  

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

What is Shabbat? Intro to the Jewish Sabbath – YouTube

Pondering for Thursday, December 2, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Thursday of the First Week of Advent: Year 2

Morning, Psalm 18:1 to 20; Evening, Psalm 18:21 to 50
Amos 4:6 to 132nd Peter 3:11 to 18Matthew 21:33 to 46:

“I called upon the Lord in my distress
and cried out to my God for help.

He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling;
my cry of anguish came to his ears.” (Psalm 18: 6 and 7)

These words from Psalm 18 are just another affirmation of my long standing belief that God’s ears hears tears.

God, our loving Creator, has hardwired her humans to resort to crying when sorrowful or distressed.  When it happens, a signal is sent straight to God where God decides what, and when, divine action will occur. Crying is universal prayer. It matters not what the crier believes, or does not believe. We, all of us, are God’s own.  God fashions us as God wants. And so it is, when we cry, God is brought near.

We should not want to be sorrowful or in distress, but sometimes it happens. It happens through natural disaster, disease and human evil and sin. It happens and it causes hurt in our lives. These are times we must hold fast to our faith in God, no matter what.

Our Crying makes the place where we are, holy ground. I have come to believe that while God may not “fix” my woes in this life, there is another life that I hope to reach wherein the same God reigns. Yes, as the hymn goes, “Our God Reigns.”

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Wednesday, December 1, 2021

(Edited and republished from December 4, 2019)

Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Week 1 of Advent: Year 2

Morning,  Psalm 119:1 to 24; Evening, Psalm 12, 13 and 14;

 Amos 3:12 to 4:5; 2nd Peter 3:1 to 10; Matthew 21:23 to 32

“But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.”  (2nd Peter 3: 8 to 10)

Peter reminds us that the time we experience is nothing like that with God.  God knows no time.  God is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega.  Words like fast and slow have no value to God, God does things in God’s time (Kairos).  Peter also shares with us that God does not want any of us to perish.  We have a universal God.  A God who loves everybody, even the people we don’t like.  This is something we are going to have to get over. God loves people in the other skin color, in the other political party, in the other country and so on.  We have a universal loving God and we should be as well.

The last part of our 2nd Peter passage for today is the hint of accountability.  Peter says “and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.”  My beloved, disclosed is not destroyed.  Disclosed means revealed!  I had a military leader once tell me that forewarned is forearmed.  This means that if we know something is going to happen we have time to make it right before that time comes.  How do you want your report read out loud in that heavenly court?  Think about that.  And remember that we are dealing with a God who knows no time.  God could bring us to accountability right now! Are you ready?  Forewarned is forearmed.

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Tuesday, November 30, 2021

(Edited and republished from December 3, 2019)

Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Week 1 of Advent: Year 2

Morning, Psalms 5 and 6; Evening, Psalms 10 and 11;                     

 Amos 3:1 to 11; 2nd Peter1:12 to 21; Matthew 21:12 to 22:

“First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  (2 Peter 1: 20 – 21)

This is one of the readings that I have read at our Education for Ministry (EfM) graduations.  We have a Holy Eucharist with our graduation.  We want the Holy Spirit to be present with us.  After four years of study, graduating participants stand before the gathered community, some of whom are also graduates of EfM, and express what EfM has meant for them.  It is always a moving experience.

A big component of EfM are the Theological Reflections.  This is a time of deep pondering of what the Holy Spirit is really saying to us.  The message of the Holy Spirit can be in accordance with the words of scripture or the words of scripture can be a catalyst for where the Spirit wants us to be. It is prophetic.  And “no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 

The Bible should be read within prayer.  One’s reading of the Bible should be in the context of believing that God has made all things good (including us), and loves us more than we can imagine.  In this way we will see, even words of war and wrath, in a merciful way.  The prayer we pray will help us to see where God is in the readings.  We should not pry into the Bible but rather pray into the Bible. If a person doesn’t pray into the Bible, he or she shouldn’t even bother reading the Bible.  The prophetic message comes through the words in the Bible riding on the faith of the reader.

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Monday, November 29, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Monday of 1 Advent (revised and republished from December 2 of 2019)

Morning, Psalm 1, 2, and 3; Evening,  Psalm 4 and 7;                         Amos 2:6 to 16; 2nd Peter 1:1 to 11; Matthew 21:1 to 11:

“His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”  (2nd Peter1: 3)

St. Peter proclaims that God has given us all that we need for both life and godliness.  The life part we share with all living creatures.  We all breathe and consume and grow.  What makes humanity different is that we also have all that we need to live our God-given lives in a godly way.

Perhaps the first thing that we should recognize about God is that God is the Creator.  Notice the big “C.”  We humans then, created in the Image of God and being godly are created creators.  Notice the little “c.”

God is Creator in all ways.  Most of us are creators in specific ways.  Some of us are creators in just a few ways or maybe only one way, but it is the godly part of us and we should not deny it.

Also part of the godly part is the implanted love of God that is in us but too often denied.  This love part was modeled for us by God in the person of our Lord Jesus. And we have it “through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

When I read these words attributed to Peter I realize that God, acting in our Lord Jesus Christ, was still at work in Peter who denied Him three times.  When we deny our gifts we too deny God who created us and gifted us.  Our life’s search should be to discover our hidden talents.  All of us have a godly part within us. If we have life (check your pulse) then we have love and a godly gift.

Let me say that it is through love that your godly gift is discovered.  Don’t resist the urge to just let go and let God.  Experiment through love of the many and manifold ways that you might express happiness.  The rest of us are waiting to see what God has given you.  We are waiting in this Advent time of expectation to see something new born in you.

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Sunday, November 28, 2021

Happy Church New Year and welcome to Year C of our Eucharistic Lectionary and to Year 2 of our Daily Office.

Eucharistic Readings for the First Sunday in Advent: Year C

Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Luke 21:33)

Our Lord Jesus informs us that this fragile earth, our island home, will pass away.  This earth is our spaceship of life as we know it now.  But we have an invitation to board the Love ship of God.

Just like everything that we design and make, eventually breaks down, so too God has engineered an Escaton Day (End of Days) wherein creation as we know it, ends.  The only thing that continues to have life is the Word of Christ.

We can live in His Eternal Word. But it requires some effort on our part. First and foremost, we must simply believe the words of our Lord Jesus. All three of the Synoptic Gospel accounts has an “End of Days” revelation. The John account has its own Revelation that closes our Bible.

With our belief, we must put forth action.  We must live lives of service to others modeling our love for our neighbor, regardless of their beliefs or unbelief.  We are to love them, not judge them. This is a tough calling.  Christianity is not for the faint of heart.  We know that we will individually pass away. Now we are informed that this earth, this planet we live on and that provides for us, will also pass away.  Now is our opportunity to adjust to the love-life of Christ Jesus and his words for us, which are eternal and will never, never, never pass away. Advent is a time of expectation. Let us look for Christ to come.

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John