Author Archives: loganpres

About loganpres

We are a PC(USA) congregation in Audubon, NJ.

September 21, 2020

John 4:32 He told them, “I have food to eat you know nothing about.” (The Message Bible)

He is Jesus; them are the disciples. Do you ever wonder what it was like to be Jesus? Communication between human beings is difficult and miscommunication common. How much more difficult must it have been between a most unique human being, Jesus, with regular folk. What was Jesus getting at by telling his disciples this. Was he asking them to look more deeply at him, to try to understand what he was doing and why he was doing it? Was he challenging them to look beyond the physical to the spiritual, from the temporal to the eternal? Can he really have put all that into such a short sentence? I think he might. As humans, we just don’t know what we don’t know. Humans looked at the stars for centuries never imagining that they were all little suns millions and trillions of miles away. It is not easy to look beyond the initial impression but often there is more than meets the eye. The disciples were missing something critical about Jesus. Is it possible you are missing something too?

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September 21, 2020

John 4:32 He told them, “I have food to eat you know nothing about.” (The Message Bible)

He is Jesus; them are the disciples. Do you ever wonder what it was like to be Jesus? Communication between human beings is difficult and miscommunication common. How much more difficult must it have been between a most unique human being, Jesus, with regular folk. What was Jesus getting at by telling his disciples this. Was he asking them to look more deeply at him, to try to understand what he was doing and why he was doing it? Was he challenging them to look beyond the physical to the spiritual, from the temporal to the eternal? Can he really have put all that into such a short sentence? I think he might. As humans, we just don’t know what we don’t know. Humans looked at the stars for centuries never imagining that they were all little suns millions and trillions of miles away. It is not easy to look beyond the initial impression but often there is more than meets the eye. The disciples were missing something critical about Jesus. Is it possible you are missing something too?

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September 14, 2020

John 4:19, 20 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

This is spoken by a Samaritan woman Jesus encounters at a well and the mountain she speaks of is Mount Gerizim. Wikipedia tells us “The mountain is sacred to the Samaritans who regard it, rather than Jerusalem‘s Temple Mount, as having been the location chosen by God for a holy temple. The mountain continues to be the center of Samaritan religion to this day, and most of the worldwide population of Samaritans live in very close proximity to Gerizim” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Gerizim). Every religion has its holy sites and many individuals have sacred places where they find God to be more present in some way shape or form. Jesus makes the claim that worship that matters happens “in Spirit and Truth.” God’s primary residence, claims Christianity, is not in any particular building on any particular piece of land. Rather it is in the lives of God’s people. Where do you worship in Spirit and Truth?

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September 7, 2020

John 4:10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.” (The Message Bible)

I have read certain authors who maintain that desire is the key to spirituality. One of my favorites tends to focus on the blind man who comes to Jesus only to have Jesus ask him “what do you want me to do for you?” In this story from John, Jesus seems to be saying “what you desire is right before you if you could only understand that.” So many of our desires are sinful and selfish that we can forget that desire itself was part of the way we were created by God. We get hungry and thirsty every day. It is the way we are made. We desire intimacy and companionship and justice and beauty. Our problem is that so often we look to our own powers or the promises of the culture to find fulfillment for these desires rather than looking to God. If we really knew the generosity of God and who Jesus really is maybe we too would be asking him to fulfill our deepest desires. What do you most want? Where are you looking for it?

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August 31, 2020

John 3:24 (This was before John was put in prison.)

They didn’t have parentheses in the first century language in which this gospel was originally composed. It is the understanding of the English translators that this was sort of a side note. What I find interesting is that, unlike the other three gospels, the story of John the Baptist being arrested and executed is not told in this gospel. Yet the writer assumes his readers will know that story. One sometimes gets the feeling that this gospel is trying to “set the record straight” concerning aspects of Jesus’ life, ministry and meaning. Not that the others were untrue, but that the writer felt there might be a better way to talk about it all, at least a way that would connect better for some people. I keep coming back in my mind to the verses near the end of the gospel that read, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (30, 31). It is as if the writer is saying, “You know the story but do you know its significance?” Well, do you?

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August 17, 2020

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”

John loves the word “life.” He uses it 41 times in this gospel. How does life start. Kids, go ask your parents. The short answer is that you are born. Birth and life are obviously interconnected and Jesus is connecting them here. What does it mean then to be born, achieve life, through water and the Spirit? Water could be baptism. Jesus was baptized. John the Baptist has been mentioned several times in the first two chapters. The early Christians found baptism important. So, it could be baptism. You get baptized in faith and the Spirit becomes part of you and you have life, you are born. But sometimes in the Hebrew culture water means the fluid that gets physical life going. Kids, go ask your parents. So, maybe Jesus is saying life is all about the physical and the spiritual, wrapped together, intertwined, forming the kingdom of God. How did you get to be who you are? Where did God enter your life and when did you become aware of it? Do you think of your physical self and your spiritual being as separate things? What do you think it means to be born of water and the Spirit?

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August 10, 2020

ohn 2:24, 25 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

I found these two verses interesting for two reasons. First, it echoes Jesus’ words in chapter one to Nathaniel, “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you” (48). Jesus knows people in general and individuals specifically, including you and me. Second, Jesus was experienced as somewhat private (would not entrust himself). In the other gospels Jesus talks about parables kind of like this; “The disciples came to him and asked, ‘Why do you speak to the people in parables?’ He replied, ‘Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them’” (Matthew 13:10, 11). Jesus knows things we don’t and he isn’t telling everybody everything. We all know those we would describe as a “know it all.” Maybe there are those who would describe us that way. It just isn’t true. We don’t know it all. As a point of faith, we believe Jesus had a different frame of reference than we do. Perhaps we need to learn to humbly trust him.  

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August 3, 2020

John 2:3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

We all know what Jesus is going to do. He saves the day by somehow producing wine from the contents of nearby water pots. Who hasn’t hosted a gathering and feared that they were under supplied? Usually after a party or cookout or holiday dinner we are eating leftovers for an extended period of time because we got way too much to begin with. But what about our emotional and spiritual supplies. This story talks about running out of wine. In our culture we more often refer to running out of gas. Jackson Browne had a popular song that connected with many people titled “Running on Empty.” Yes, you should google it. As the pandemic wears on you may feel your reservoir drying up. At first there was adrenaline whether that came from fear or novelty or the “being in it together” nature of the event. But that was a long time ago now. Where do we go to get renewed? Hey Jesus, they (we) are out of wine. What can you do about it? 

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July 27, 2020

John 1:46 But Philip said, “Come, see for yourself.” The Message Bible

Phillip had encountered Jesus and was all excited. He “went and found Nathanael and told him, “We’ve found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It’s Jesus, Joseph’s son, the one from Nazareth!” (45). Nathaniel blows him off saying “can anything good come out of Nazareth!” Phillip could have responded several different ways. He could have gotten angry with Nathaniel saying “you never take me seriously!” He might have gotten vindictive with him saying “you’ll find out but then it will be too late.” He could have silently sulked and walked away. Instead he offered an invitation that was also a challenge: “Come, see for yourself.” Rulers in days gone by were sometimes given the title “Defender of the Faith.” Does God really need us to defend him? I don’t think so. But aren’t we glad when we want to share something good with someone we care about? “You’ve gotta see that movie!” “Come on over and we’ll watch the game.” Check out that restaurant- best meal I’ve ever had.” When it comes to Jesus, maybe you are still in the process of coming and seeing for yourself. What are you seeing? Is it exciting enough to share?

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July 13, 2020

John 1:33, 34 “I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

The speaker is John the Baptist and here we find a further illustration of what the author teased earlier in 1:6, 7: “There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.” As different as this gospel can be from the other three, here we find a close connection. The others describe the Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove when he was Baptized by John. Here we seem to have John the Baptist’s perspective on that incident and the comment from God that sealed his understanding of who Jesus is. Maybe your experience wasn’t as dramatic, but we all come to a point of decision about Jesus. Is he a good teacher or an enlightened prophet or a religious psycho with a martyr complex? John’s conclusion (both John the Baptist here and John the author of the gospel) is “that this is God’s Chosen One.” Who is Jesus for you?

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