Tuesday, December 27, 2016

St. John the Evangelist Day - December 27

Hi guys! Because of the lovely weather we're having, I'm afraid I won't be at the church this evening for the Compline service at 7. Please do celebrate at home - if you don't have a prayer book, you can find it online at http://www.bcponline.org/, just go to Daily Offices, and Compline. In the alternative, you can find a variety of daily office services from Nashotah House (they sing better than I do!) here: https://www.nashotah.edu/daily-offices. Take care, and I'll see you Saturday!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Advent 23

Today's advice is to watch the sunrise, but since I'm a bit late posting today's blog, I'll suggest doing it tomorrow morning - we're getting closest to the shortest day of the year - it's not too much of a hardship to get up in time to watch the sunrise.  For people in Montana, that's about 8:30 a.m.

The Biblical guidance for today doesn't actually exist, so, while listening/watching the attached, take your Bible out, open it to any page and read the first four verses that catch your eye.  What's the message?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Advent 22

The Birth of Jesus the Messiah  (Matthew 1:18-25)

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

This is the fourth Sunday in Advent.  Hope, Peace, Love and Joy are the candles lit today.  Let that be your filter in how you look at things today.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Advent 21

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and strengthens the powerless.
30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
    and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.

Today's message:  Feel energy!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Advent 20

From John 1:35-42:  "The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter)."

Interestingly here, Simon Peter recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, but it will not be for another three chapters before Jesus confirms that that is, indeed who He is, to the Samaritan woman at the well.

The advice from the Advent calendar today says to contact an old friend.  Do it before it's too late.  So while this plays, contemplate who you're going to contact, how, and what you'll say:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Advent 19

A little over a week ago, we were asked to make a happy (or joyful) noise.  Today, we're asked to sing a new song.  Psalm 98 says:

Praise the Judge of the World
A Psalm.

1 O sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
    have gotten him victory.
2 The Lord has made known his victory;
    he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
    to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
    the victory of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
    break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
    with the lyre and the sound of melody.
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
    make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.
7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    the world and those who live in it.
8 Let the floods clap their hands;
    let the hills sing together for joy
9 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
    to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with equity.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Advent 18

The advice for today is, "Do something new!"

"From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.  Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come."  (2 Cor. 5:16-17)

So there's your challenge - do something new, something different.  We are being renewed in Christ - show the world!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Advent 17

Today's goal is to look to the light in the heavens, and appreciate all that God has given us.  Contemplate the Psalm as you watch this visual meditation:

Psalm 8
1     O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is thy name in all the earth!
Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted
2     by the mouth of babes and infants,
thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
    the moon and the stars which thou hast established;
4 what is man that thou art mindful of him,
    and the son of man that thou dost care for him?
5 Yet thou hast made him little less than God,
    and dost crown him with glory and honor.
6 Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands;
    thou hast put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the sea.
9 O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is thy name in all the earth!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Advent 16

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."  (Heb. 13:2)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Advent 15

Matthew 11:2-6
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”

Today, we light three candles on the third Sunday in Advent - The theme of the day expresses the joy of anticipation at the approach of the Christmas celebration. This theme reflects a lightening of the tone of the traditional Advent observance. This Sunday was also known as "Rose Sunday." This custom is reflected by the practice of including a pink or rose-colored candle among the four candles of an Advent wreath.

So, there are two weeks left - are you ready for the Messiah?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Advent 13

Today seems to be a good time to "reach out", as our Advent Calendar reminds us.  While the Bible verse at Genesis 31:49(b) states, "The Lord watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other", it's definitely not said between friends or people who want to ensure your safety.  This is said between Laban and Jacob, and basically drew the line in the sand between them - they made an agreement, and then parted, hoping to never see one another again, but requesting that the Lord ensure the agreement would stand the test of time. 

So, the advice to "reach out" here may be indicating it's time to put aside grudges, forgive someone, let God heal old hurts and reach out a hand.  Think about it.  And don't take the quote out of context as so many do to be something positive - it wasn't positive when it was said.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Advent 12

The advice today is to Listen Carefully.  We're always told the story of Jesus around this time of year.  Today, I want you to focus on the one who came to make straight the path:

Today, read the story of the announcement to Zechariah...

Dedication to Theophilus
From the Book of Luke, Chapter 1
1 Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

8 Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10 Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Advent 11

A Psalm of Thanksgiving.

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come into his presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he that made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him, bless his name.
5 For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

So today, make a joyful noise!  Here's an example:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Advent 10

Today's message is to "Give in Secret", with the hint found in Proverbs 19:6:  "Many seek the favor of the generous, and everyone is a friend to a giver of gifts."

Think about what a gift is - maybe we can look at the greatest Giver of Gifts:

Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent 9

"Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." (Romans 13:11-14)

Today's advice is to "Get Up Early".  So, whenever you get up, make a plan for the day, and ask yourself, "Are you ready for the Messiah?"  I had someone ask me that, as opposed to the rather more common, "Are you ready for Christmas?"  I really like the change the one word can make in your whole attitude.  I plan to adopt the question for my own.

Are you ready for the Messiah?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent 8

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  (John 1:6-9)

Today's reflection at church had some interesting questions for us to think about:

What are the edges of your life that need your attention to really start growing?

What are the parts of you that feel unfinished and vulnerable, that you are afraid to let out into the light?

Did you ever think that you might need the fierce storms of your life?

We are told by John the Baptist to “bear fruit worthy of repentance.” What does that mean to you? 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Advent 7

Matthew 25:35 says, "[F]or I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me."

Andy  Grammar is a young man I've watched grow up - his dad, Red Grammar, shared his love of music with his son, along with his love for the world and God's people.  So, the challenge today is to figure out how you can help feed those in your community who are hungry, following Christ's statement a few verses after, in Matthew 25:40:  "‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[g] you did it to me.’"

In Troy, we have the Food Pantry, and plenty of  other opportunities in local food co-ops, and Bountiful Baskets allows you to donate baskets of vegetables and fruit for $19.50.  Join together with friends, and see how you can help.  Wherever you are, take a look for local food pantries, co-ops and programs that help us feed the hungry.  Our sister church in Eureka, St. Michael's and All Angels, has a soup kitchen once a week, with homemade bread made by Rev. Pattiann Bennett.  See if any of the churches in your town need some help with cooking or serving or baking bread.

Don't forget that nothing stops you from inviting people home for dinner as well.

And let's not forget, feeding the hungry can also mean helping to feed their souls - invite them to church with you!  If they enjoy singing, Troy has an All-Church sing once a month - help them get filled with the Spirit.

Feed the Hungry.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Advent 6

Today's thoughts come from 1 Samuel 3:1-10:

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Today's task is to "hear" the spirit.  But just as our First Amendment rights from the Constitution define freedom of "speech", it has come to mean freedom of expression.  So in hearing the spirit, pay attention around you.  Is there something in particular out of place?  Has God give you a sign, and you have merely to listen to get the message?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Advent 5

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." (Deut. 30:19-20)

We always have a choice - free will, God calls it.  We don't have to choose God and His gifts, but we do have to be aware of the consequences of not doing so.  Deuteronomy lays it out pretty clearly:  life and blessings versus death and curses.  Now to some of us, that may seem like rather a no-brainer.  But others look at what's involved in choosing life, in agreeing to obey God.  There's responsibility involved in choosing life.

What's your choice going to be?