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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Garden pictures of God's great creation John 1:9

Today I was overwhelmed by the beauty of my fall garden. This summer in Oklahoma was extremely hot and dry. I watered and watered, thinking I would lose many of my perennials. Thankfully, the loss was minimal. This mum was planted last year in the fall. It has bloomed beautifully. The one shiny yellow flower reminds me of Jesus, a lone light in the dark world. John 1:9, NIV, The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
And the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. 
These are my Oklahoma roses. They are a smaller rose, seem to grow wild. This bush has been whacked and cut and pruned and it still comes back every year. It has been covered in disease and dried. I have cut it down almost to the ground, but it still blooms. May our lives do the same. 
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:5

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reformation Day

Above is the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany, where Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses on that day 494 years ago.

Oct 31, Reformation Day, celebrated by Protestants all over the world. October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 Thesis to the Wittenberg Door. This would be the equivalent of posting the Theses on a popular facebook page today. He protested certain practices of the Roman Catholic Church, thus, "PROTESTant." 

The work is not done. John Wesley (1703-1791) said in his sermon "On the Church" that differences must be allowed to exist in the church or continued reformation will not happen. Advancement of the church depends upon our toleration of each other's differences. 

We don't all have to have the same opinions. We know what we agree upon: The Trinity, The incarnation, the resurrection. Let us seek unity among all Christian churches, even in our diversity. We do not have to be one denomination to work together for the cause of the Gospel.

Jesus turns everything upside down, Proper 26A, Ordinary 31A, Pentecost +20, October 30 2011, Matthew 23:1-12

11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12 NRSV

Jesus criticizes the religious establishment in this passage. He points out those with privilege who show off their knowledge and even their clothing. Servants? Who wants to be called a servant? 

Our Example became a servant (Philippians 2:5-11). 

Matthew 22:34-46, Proper 25A, Pentecost +19, October 23, 2011,

34When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:34-46 NRSV 

Just two commandments after the Sadducees had learned all 613 and could quote them all by number back to Jesus? 
Sure, love God, love neighbor. But who is my neighbor? That is answered in Luke 10 by the parable of the Good Samaritan.The one who shows mercy is the neighbor.
Perhaps the hardest commandment of all is loving the neighbor when the neighbor is not lovable, showing mercy to those who do not show mercy. Yet this is the benchmark of Christianity, the "hinge" upon which all hangs.