Day 256 | Monday, 30 November 2020
Day 256 | Monday, 30 November 2020
We have reached the end of another month with today’s thoughts. Some of us may still be eating Thanksgiving leftovers and enjoying them a bit less than we did on Thursday. I found the meditation of Giving Our Best – on Our Daily Bread with a reflection on giving God our best not our leftovers.
Malachi 1:8-14; 8 If you bring a blind animal to sacrifice, isn’t that evil? If you bring a lame or sick one, isn’t that evil? Would you bring it to your governor? Would he be pleased with it or accept you? says the Lord of heavenly forces. 9 So now ask God to be gracious to us. After what you have done, will he accept you? says the Lord of heavenly forces. 10 Who among you will shut the doors of the temple so that you don’t burn something on my altar in vain? I take no delight in you, says the Lord of heavenly forces. I won’t accept a grain offering from your hand. 11 Nevertheless, from sunrise to sunset, my name will be great among the nations. Incense and a pure grain offering will be offered everywhere in my name, because my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of heavenly forces. 12 But you make my name impure when you say, “The table of the Lord is polluted. Its fruit, its food, is despised.” 13 But you say, “How tedious!” and you groan about it, says the Lord of heavenly forces. You permit what is stolen, lame, or sick to be brought for a sacrifice, and you bring the grain offering. Should I accept such from your hands? says the Lord. 14 I will curse the cheater who has a healthy male in his flock, but who promises and sacrifices to the Lord that which is corrupt. I am truly a great king, says the Lord of heavenly forces, and my name is feared among the nations.
Giving Our Best By: Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread
“He will purify . . . and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness. Malachi 3:3
“We stared at the piles of donated shoes as we entered a local homeless shelter. The director had invited our youth group to help sort through the heaps of used footwear. We spent the morning searching for matches and lining them up in rows across the concrete floor. At the end of the day, we threw away more than half of the shoes because they were too damaged for others to use. Though the shelter couldn’t stop people from giving poor quality items, they refused to distribute shoes that were in bad condition.”
“The Israelites struggled with giving God their damaged goods too. When He spoke through the prophet Malachi, He rebuked the Israelites for sacrificing blind, lame, or diseased animals when they had strong animals to offer (Malachi 1:6–8). He announced His displeasure (v. 10), affirmed His worthiness, and reprimanded the Israelites for keeping the best for themselves (v. 14). But God also promised to send the Messiah, whose love and grace would transform their hearts and ignite their desire to bring offerings that would be pleasing to Him (3:1–4).”
“At times, it can be tempting to give God our leftovers. We praise Him and expect Him to give us His all, yet we offer Him our crumbs. When we consider all God has done, we can rejoice in celebrating His worthiness and giving Him our very best.”
Reflect & Pray: “Why are you sometimes tempted to give God your leftovers or damaged goods? In what ways will you give Him your best today?”
“Mighty God, please help me place You first and give You my best.”
Lord our God, as we come to you today perhaps still recovering from our Thanksgiving celebration, let us remember that our best is to be given to you because you gave your best to us. Lord, hear our prayers. Amen
Day 255 | Sunday, 29 November 2020
Day 255 | Sunday, 28 November 2020
The assigned Scripture readings for this the first Sunday in Advent are: Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 and Mark 13:24-37.
24 “In those days, after the suffering of that time, the sun will become dark, and the moon won’t give its light. 25 The stars will fall from the sky, and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Human One coming in the clouds with great power and splendor. 27 Then he will send the angels and gather together his chosen people from the four corners of the earth, from the end of the earth to the end of heaven.
28 “Learn this parable from the fig tree. After its branch becomes tender and it sprouts new leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that he’s near, at the door. 30 I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.
32 “But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the angels in heaven and not the Son. Only the Father knows. 33 Watch out! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming. 34 It is as if someone took a trip, left the household behind, and put the servants in charge, giving each one a job to do, and told the doorkeeper to stay alert. 35 Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at daybreak. 36 Don’t let him show up when you weren’t expecting and find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert!”
When we read texts like Mark 13, it’s so important to remember to be on our best reading behavior. First, fearsome as the texts are, we have to remember scripture itself is God’s word to us meant to inspire joy and love, not fear. Second, and most importantly, scripture is always about Jesus, and the church being joined like limbs to a body with him as its head. We see these things about the sun and the moon and the stars being darkened and immediately we’re thinking of natural disasters, signs and wonders, all kinds of natural fireworks. When this passage is spoken by Jesus, in a book, the Bible, that’s all about Jesus, designed to lead us, Jesus’ body, closer to our head, who is also Jesus. If our reading is about when the world will end or scaring some poor hormonal teenager or telling our political enemies they’re going to get it, something has gone very, very wrong. On the other hand, if we read the text with reference to Jesus, even if we get things wrong, we’re still in the right universe.
There’s another key rule for reading scripture that this passage will not let us forget. Scripture is always about Jesus’ return. There’s a relentless, forward-looking posture to Christianity.
We Christians have to admit these sorts of passages have put us on some of our worst behavior. Believing Christ is coming soon, many of us have done foolish things, given up everything, told others they’re off to unpleasant places – neither of which is suggested here. On the other hand we’ve overreacted against that by thinking Jesus isn’t coming at all, growing cold, not minding if we’re arrogant or selfish, but just going on as usual, unconcerned about the poor or God’s coming judgment on our sin. Mark 13 was written for us: “Beware, keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come.” The secret here, it seems to me, is like the secret with good cooking. You have to use heat, or the thing won’t cook. But if you use too much, or don’t stir enough, your food will burn and the feast is ruined. As Christians we have to keep the heat on – Jesus is coming and bringing his judgment, a foolish thing or two is not out of the question. But we can’t keep it on too hot or we’ll burn up, or burn others out. A 2000-year slow boil called church. Who knows when the Lord will decide it’s time for the banquet, at which all have a place, the poor at the end, the haughty at the end?
Day 254 | Saturday, 28 November 2020
Day 254 | Saturday, 28 November 2020
Continuing the Thanksgiving theme for another day, I want to share with you a Hymn written by Jane Marshall in 1980. It is titled “What Gift Can We Bring”.
I used Psalm 65 on Thanksgiving Day. Here it is again only this time from The Message.
An Affirmation of Faith: Abundance and Blessings
(Genesis 1:11-12, 29; Leviticus 27:30; Philippians 4:12-13; 2 Corinthians 9:10-11)
“We believe that God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so.
We believe that the earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.
And we believe God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food."
We affirm that all tithes from the land, whether the seed from the ground or the fruit from the tree, are the LORD'S; they are holy to the LORD.
We believe that in our Lord we can know what it is to have little, and we can know what it is to have plenty, because we can do all things through him who strengthens us.
We believe that he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply our seed for sowing and increase the harvest of our righteousness, and that we will be enriched in every way as we cultivate the fruit of the Spirit called generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us.”
Day 253 | Friday, 27 November 2020
Day 253 | Friday, 27 November 2020
We hope that everyone had a good Thanksgiving Day even though it may have been much different from previous years. As the Virus continues to affect more and more people in our country, it is more and more difficult to keep positive. Although we are blessed and have much for which to be thankful: however, the pandemic, the unemployment, more families struggling with needing food; the stress on doctors, nurses, support staff, first responders; the loved ones who were not here this year to observe Thanksgiving; the lack of compassion from many politicians; the uncertainty about the near future; the missing of family gatherings during this season and beyond – all weigh on our hearts and souls.
Below are two passages that are key to the hymn that follows. I want to focus on being thankful as well as being mindful of our circumstances this year.
Mark 4:26-29 The Message
26 Then Jesus said, "God's kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man 27 who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows - he has no idea how it happens.
28 The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. 29 When the grain is fully formed, he reaps - harvest time!
Matthew 13:36-43 The Message
36 Jesus dismissed the congregation and went into the house. His disciples came in and said, "Explain to us that story of the thistles in the field." 37 So he explained. "The farmer who sows the pure seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects of the kingdom, the thistles are subjects of the Devil, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, the curtain of history. The harvest hands are angels.
40 "The picture of thistles pulled up and burned is a scene from the final act. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, weed out the thistles from his kingdom, 42 pitch them in the trash, and be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven, but nobody is going to listen.
43 At the same time, ripe, holy lives will mature and adorn the kingdom of their Father.
"Are you listening to this? Really listening?
Hymn “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” words: Henry Alford, 1844
1. “Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home; all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin. God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied; come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.”
2. “All the world is God’s own field, fruit as praise to God we yield; wheat and tares together sown are to joy or sorrow grown; first the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear; Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.”
3. “For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take the harvest home; from the field shall in that day all offenses purge away, giving angels charge at last in the fire that the tares to cast; but the fruitful ears to store in the garner ever more.”
4. “Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring thy final harvest home; gather thou they people in, free from sorrow, free from sin, there, forever purified, in thy presence to abide; come, with all thine angels, come, raise the glorious harvest home.”
God of Grace and God of Glory, on your people pour your power – grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour; grant us courage, for the living of these days. Be present at our tables, Lord, be here and everywhere adored. Bring comfort to all those who suffer and surround us with your hope, peace, love and joy. With thankful hearts, even in the midst of uncertainty, receive our prayers. Amen
Day 252 | Thursday, November 26, 2020 - Thanksgiving
Have a Blessed Day from Doug & Judy
Psalm 65 CEB (assigned for Thanksgiving Day)
“God of Zion, to you even silence is praise. Promises made to you are kept—you listen to prayer—and all living things come to you. 3 When wrongdoings become too much for me,
you forgive our sins. 4 How happy is the one you choose to bring close, the one who lives in your courtyards! We are filled full by the goodness of your house, by the holiness of your temple. 5 In righteousness you answer us, by your awesome deeds, God of our salvation—you, who are the security of all the far edges of the earth, even the distant seas. 6You establish the mountains by your strength; you are dressed in raw power. 7You calm the roaring seas; calm the roaring waves, calm the noise of the nations. 8 Those who dwell on the far edges stand in awe of your acts. You make the gateways of morning and evening sing for joy. 9 You visit the earth and make it abundant, enriching it greatly by God’s stream, full of water. You provide people with grain because that is what you’ve decided. 10 Drenching the earth’s furrows, leveling its ridges, you soften it with rain showers; you bless its growth. 11 You crown the year with your goodness; your paths overflow with rich food. 12 Even the desert pastures drip with it, and the hills are dressed in pure joy. 13 The meadowlands are covered with flocks, the valleys decked out in grain—they shout for joy; they break out in song!”
“Give thanks to God, for God's creation is amazing. The sun warms our day, the moon lights our nighttime way. The earth is filled with bounty, a cornucopia of plenty. Give thanks to God, for God's love is everlasting, a constant source of comfort, a companion in hard times. God is my strength and song, so my heart is filled with praise.”
A Prayer of Confession for Thanksgiving
“Wondrous and generous God, you have blessed us with gentle rains, glorious sunsets and sun-warmed days. You bless us with loving families, kind friends and caring churches. Let us receive these gifts with thankfulness and humility. We cannot earn nor do we deserve such generosity, but we graciously open our hearts and hands to receive.
Forgive us when we are hardhearted and tight handed, when we don't let your goodness flow through us, when we hide our talents and turn away from the needs of the world.
Release us, Holy One, from fear, and create a contagious spirit of giving that touches the world with hope. Amen.”
A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day
“God of peace and plenty, with awe and wonder we thank you for the beauty and abundance of our land and its people. Our ancestors came from many lands, for many reasons, but by your mercy they found grace in the wilderness. Your grace has supplied Our Daily Bread without fail. We thank you. Your grace has provided the raw materials of success, as well as the wit and will to use them. Thank you. By your sheer grace we can indulge ourselves in loveliness, steep ourselves in learning, renew ourselves in leisure and rest in safety. Thank you, Lord.
“You have freely blessed us with more than we could ever earn. You have sustained us in bounty we do not deserve. Our people have abused the land, robbed the heritage of indigenous peoples and imagined ourselves to be the source of our own blessings. Despite all this, you have promised to love your people with an everlasting love, and so we are bold to seek your mercy.
Help us respond to your infinite grace through generosity to those in need, understanding for those in dismay, courtesy toward those who oppose us, forgiveness for those who wrong us and compassion toward all who need us. As we gather with family and friends (perhaps not this year), help us speak freely and naturally of your gracious love so that our holiday table may abound with thanks as well as with food. Through this time of Thanksgiving and rest, lead us to continue in thankful living and giving, for the sake of him who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”
Day 251 | Wednesday, 25 November 2020
Day 251 | Wednesday, 25 November 2020
Isaiah 12 Hymn of trust
“You will say on that day: “I thank you, Lord. Though you were angry with me, your anger turned away and you comforted me. 2 God is indeed my salvation; I will trust and won’t be afraid. Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my shield; he has become my salvation.” 3 You will draw water with joy from the springs of salvation. 4 And you will say on that day: “Thank the Lord; call on God’s name; proclaim God’s deeds among the peoples; declare that God’s name is exalted. 5 Sing to the Lord, who has done glorious things; proclaim this throughout all the earth.” 6 Shout and sing for joy, city of Zion, because the holy one of Israel is great among you.”
Giving Thanks Always By: Amy Boucher Pye, Our Daily Bread
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Isaiah 12:4
“In the seventeenth century, Martin Rinkart served as a clergyman in Saxony, Germany, for more than thirty years during times of war and plague. One year he conducted more than 4,000 funerals, including his wife’s, and at times food was so scarce that his family went hungry. Although he could have despaired, his faith in God remained strong and he gave thanks continually. In fact, he poured his gratitude into “Nun danket alle Gott,” the song that became the well-loved English hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.”
“Rinkart followed the example of the prophet Isaiah, who instructed God’s people to give thanks at all times, including when they’d disappointed God (Isaiah 12:1) or when enemies oppressed them. Even then they were to exalt God’s name, making “known among the nations what he has done” (v. 4).
“We might give thanks easily during harvest celebrations such as Thanksgiving, when we’re enjoying an abundant feast with friends and family. But can we express our gratitude to God in difficult times, such as when we’re missing someone from our table or when we’re struggling with our finances or when we’re locked in conflict with one close to us?
“Let’s echo Pastor Rinkart, joining hearts and voices as we give praise and thanks to “the eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore.” We can “sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things” (v. 5).
“Reflect & Pray In times of hardship, how do you turn to thanksgiving and praise? What role does God through His Holy Spirit play in this?”
“Father God, I thank You for Your amazing work in my life. You love me unendingly, more than I can even express.”
Hymn – “Now Thank We All Our God” words: Martin Rinkart, 1663; trans. Catherine Winkworth, 1858
1. “Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands an voices, who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices; who from our mother’s arms has blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.”
2. “O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us, with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us; and keep us still in grace, and guide us when perplexed; and free us from all ills, in this world and the next.”
3. “All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given; the Son, and him who reigns with them in highest heaven; the one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore; for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.”
Day 250 | Tuesday, 24 November 2020
Day 250 | Tuesday, 24 November 2020
Matthew 6:25-34 Worry about necessities
25 “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? 27 Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. 29 But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. 30 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith? 31 Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Taught by Turkeys By: Adam R. Holz, Our Daily Bread
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”
“Do you know what a group of turkeys is called? It’s called a rafter. Why am I writing about turkeys? Because I’ve just returned from a weekend at a mountain cabin. Each day, I marveled at the train of turkeys parading past our porch.”
“I’d never turkey-watched before. They scratched fiercely with spectacular talons. Then they hunted and pecked at the ground. Eating, I assume. (Since this was my first turkey-observation time, I wasn’t 100 percent positive.) The scrawny scrubs in the area didn’t look like they could sustain anything. Yet here were these turkeys, a dozen of them, all of which looked delectably plump.”
“Watching those well-fed turkeys brought to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Jesus uses God’s provision for seemingly worthless birds to remind us of His care for us. If a bird’s life matters, how much more does ours? Jesus then contrasts fretting about our daily needs (vv. 27–31) with a life in which we “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (v. 33), one in which we’re confident of His rich provision for our needs. Because if God can care for that rafter of wild turkeys, He can certainly look after you and me.”
“Reflect & Pray Where have you seen God provide for something that you were worrying about? How might remembering and reflecting on His provision in the past help you not to be anxious in the future?”
“Father, sometimes I get scared. I worry. I struggle to trust. Thank You for Your care for me. Help me to remember Your provision in the past so I’m better able to trust You with future fears.” Lord, hear our prayers. Amen
COVID-19 update: number of cases in the county has increased to 1,510 as of 11/23 at 4:45PM with 149 active cases, 1,191 in isolation or quarantined, 398 in zip 14701, 38 in Lakewood, 328 in Dunkirk and 302 in Fredonia. There were 47 new cases over the weekend.
Day 249 | Monday, 23 November 2020
Day 249 | Monday, 23 November 2020
From The Church Mouse
Before I tell you about Lady Bugs, I want to tell you about the feedback I received about the issue of the Mouse dealing with the Fisher. According to a friend, who is a retired Biology teacher from Fredonia, they have two Fishers living in Canadaway Creek. Karen also sent a picture of the Fisher that was photographed walking down the street near the Reg Lenna Theater….toothy grin and all. Can you believe that? So, keep your eyes peeled, because you never know.
I wanted of write about one of God’s tiniest creations: The Red Lady Bug.
Remember these? They have up to 16 black spots. They were everywhere when I was a girl, but I haven’t seen any in a very long time. Ladybugs (also called ladybirds and lady beetles) are a type of beetle that usually have a red, oval-shaped body with black spots. The most common color of ladybugs is red, but some types of ladybugs have yellow, orange, grey, or even pink body. The majority of ladybug species are harmless and are good for your garden. Also, you don’t have to worry if you see a native species of ladybird (ladybug) in your home. They don’t bite and they don’t carry disease.
The reason we don’t see our old time Lady Bugs is that they have been replaced for the most part in our area by the orange variety, the Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis).They can have many spot patterns. They vary in color from yellow to red-orange or even black, but it always has lines that curve inward to form an “M” or “W” pattern behind the head. The ones I see here are the red-orange variety.
Which ones are better for us? Both insects are predators of aphids that feed on plant juices and damage vegetable, flower and tree fruit crops. The native ladybug only eats soft-bodied plant pests like aphids or insect eggs that are laid on leaves. This is usually the type of ladybug that is collected and sold as a natural pest control for gardeners. Asian lady beetles prefer aphids but will eat other ladybug species and will infest fall fruit like grapes, apples and raspberries. I think you can tell that I consider the Asian lady beetle an aggressive species, and that we need to help our old-fashioned native Lady Bug to return to us.
How can we attract native Ladybugs? You might have some luck if you stop raking leaves. Ladybugs like to overwinter in leaf litter, unlike the Asian lady beetle which prefers your warm house. You could also put in aphid-loving plants to attract the native species, but the Asian lady beetle will be drawn to the same plants. You can also buy ladybugs, but there could be Asian lady beetles mixed in, and most will fly away if there is no available food source.
The best plan of action is to remove the Asian lady beetles when you see them and offer the native species a safer environment. If the Asian lady beetles are inside, vacuum them up using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, or sweep them with a broom into a dustpan and dispose of them. If they are outside and you are positive they are Asian lady beetles, you can pick them off and dispose of them. Make sure you are not removing native ladybugs!
The Lady Bugs we like and miss are available for sale on-line as a safe alternative to pesticides, so don’t be surprised if the crazy Church Mouse doesn’t approach you in the spring to take up a collection for Lady Bug Restoration.
Day 248 | Sunday, 22 November 2020
Day 248 | Sunday, 22 November 2020
The assigned Scripture readings for Christ The King Sunday are: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100; Ephesians 1:15-23 and Matthew 25:31-40.
Matthew 25:31-40 Judgment of the nations
31 “Now when the Human One comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.
34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
WHERE IS JESUS? The “early” church would struggle again and again with the person and presence of Christ. And out of their wrestling would come the four Gospels and the letters that make up the rest of the New Testament.
One of the purposes of Matthew was to show the Jewish people who Jesus was. Another reason he wrote this Gospel was to teach the young struggling church exactly what it would mean to follow their Lord. So, Matthew laid his case out in Matthew 5–7. These are the teachings of Jesus and out of them would flow all he would say and do. Matthew ended those words at the end of his seventh chapter by giving the parable of the house built on rock or sand. Those that will endure, Matthew said, are those who not only hear the words of Jesus but act on them as well (Mt 7:24).
So, Matthew gives us the setting of the last parable he has Jesus speak. Jesus sat down with his disciples on the Mount of Olives. When he gave those last words, he must have stared out (down?) at the city of Jerusalem. Listen to what he told his reluctant followers there at the end. I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was a stranger, I was naked, sick, and in prison. His followers protested, of course. When did we see you hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, or in prison? And Jesus left no doubt as to what he meant: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
In today’s Gospel, the problem is seeing. People simply fail to see Jesus when he stands right in front of them in the needs of others. In a way, they not only failed to see Jesus but also failed to see their neighbors as nothing less than the claim of Christ upon their lives.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of the Christian life is the challenge of seeing Jesus when he appears, as he appears, before us. We sometimes complain that God is elusive, difficult to know, silent, and evasive. Perhaps we ought to confess that the problem is on our side – we are those who tend to say, even when face-to-face with God– “Lord, when did we see you?”
Lord, take us by the hand today and show us what you would have us do. Every day we are besieged by the hurting problems of this world. We confess that often we simply tune out the troubles of the world in order to survive. We wonder how you were able to move through the madness of your world without sometimes being crushed by the too-muchness of it all. Most of us have not learned to do that. So bring us back today to our real purpose and our real task. Sometimes the needs are under our own roof, sometimes down the street – often in far away lands with pinched starving faces we will never see. Show us the least of these. Show us how to reach out even as your son, Jesus did. Amen.
Day 247 | Saturday, 21 November 2020
Day 247| Saturday, 21 November 2020
Let my whole being bless the Lord! Let everything inside me bless his holy name!
2 Let my whole being bless the Lord and never forget all his good deeds:
3 how God forgives all your sins, heals all your sickness,
4 saves your life from the pit, crowns you with faithful love and compassion,
5 and satisfies you with plenty of good things so that your youth is made fresh like an eagle’s. 6 The Lord works righteousness; does justice for all who are oppressed.
7 God made his ways known to Moses; made his deeds known to the Israelites.
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful, very patient, and full of faithful love.
9 God won’t always play the judge; he won’t be angry forever.
10 He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin or repay us according to our wrongdoing,
11 because as high as heaven is above the earth, that’s how large God’s faithful love is for those who honor him.
12 As far as east is from west—that’s how far God has removed our sin from us.
13 Like a parent feels compassion for their children—that’s how the Lord feels compassion for those who honor him.
14 Because God knows how we’re made, God remembers we’re just dust.
15 The days of a human life are like grass: they bloom like a wildflower;
16 but when the wind blows through it, it’s gone; even the ground where it stood doesn’t remember it.
17 But the Lord’s faithful love is from forever ago to forever from now for those who honor him.
And God’s righteousness reaches to the grandchildren
18 of those who keep his covenant and remember to keep his commands.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. 20 You divine messengers, bless the Lord! You who are mighty in power and keep his word,
who obey everything he says, bless him!
21 All you heavenly forces, bless the Lord! All you who serve him and do his will, bless him!
22 All God’s creatures, bless the Lord! Everywhere, throughout his kingdom, let my whole being
bless the Lord!
A Hymn that reflects this Psalm is “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” words by Joachim Neander, 1680
1. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and Salvation! All ye who hear, now to his temple draw near; join me in glad adoration!
2. Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigning bears thee on Eagles wings, e’er in his keeping maintaining. God's care enfolds all, whose true good he upholds. Hast thou not known his sustaining?
3. Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee; surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee. Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, who with his love doth be friend thee.
4. Praise to the Lord, who doth nourish thy life and restore thee, fitting thee well for the tasks that are ever before thee. Then to thy need God as a mother doth speed, spreading the wings of grace o’er thee.
5. Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him! All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him! Let the amen sound from his people again; gladly forever adore him.
Lord, today let our whole being bless and praise you! Amen
Rev. Douglas Knopp, Pastor Emeritus