Luke 23:33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there.
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus says a few things from the cross. He utters a prayer, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” The two criminals being crucified with Jesus also speak and he answers one of them. When we read these in the Bible we often voice them as casual conversations, just everyday talk. But, of course, they weren’t that They were the last words of a dying man gasped out in agony. How hard it would have been to say anything in such a condition. Yet that may have made them most memorable. When people speak from their pain we tend to pay more attention and give the words greater consideration. The phrases recorded in Luke spoke of forgiveness and paradise. When you speak from your own personal pain, of what do you speak?
Luke 17:17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?”
Are you willing to act on your own for God? We know next to nothing about this group of ten lepers but we do know that they were together at the time Jesus went by. We might assume that they stuck together because they were all each other had having been excluded by society because of their common affliction. But when their common thread was broken by their healing, what were they to do. Only one came back to Jesus. We don’t know where the others went but the one that went back to Jesus went alone. It is scary to go alone. To break with any community or affiliation group is a difficult thing. It is much easier, safer, and comfortable to stick with the group. But when Jesus heals you, in whatever way that may be, do you follow the others away or turn back to him? This week, how will you go against the current to return to Jesus and say thank you?
Genesis 1:26, 27 God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” (The Message Bible)
Today is November 11- Veterans Day. Today was chosen because it was the official end of the first World War in 1918. Seventeen million people died in that war. It was thought to be the war to end all wars at that time but that didn’t quite work out. What is worth dying for? There is no honor in dying for greed or because of anger or for more “stuff.” You have to die for something valuable if your death is to have honor. The passage above says that human beings have such value. Created in the image of God and blessed with life they are the “crown of creation”, beloved by God, of infinite worth. That means you and me and the people down the street and the many billions of folks you don’t know. Infinite value because we reflect the image of the infinite God. So, thank you veterans. You too, are of infinite value!
2 Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
This is it in a nutshell! If the death and resurrection of Jesus means anything it is this. The idea is that humans, including you and I, were created to be in relationship with God or, if you prefer, loving children of God. The big statement of faith in the Old Testament comes in Deuteronomy 6:4 & 5: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Jesus was in some unfathomable way this holy, creator God coming to us as a person. Because of what he is and did we should no longer see ourselves as the center of our lives but learn day by day to give our lives over to him. This is a big step but we are offered help. We only get it right seldom and partially, but even at that it is wonderful. This week, how will you “no longer live for yourself but for him?”
Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Many of you know what a CROP Walk is. For those who don’t, it is one of those fund raising walks where people ask others to sponsor them and the donations go to deal with hunger issues. CROP stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty and the relief organization is Church World Service. Most of the people who donate don’t care how far we walk or even if we walk. This year it rained and only a few of us made the trek. Did it matter since people would most likely give their money anyway? I think so. Without the donations it would have been a self-serving activity, a Sunday afternoon walk with friends. But without the walk we would have lost a connection with those who must walk to deal with their daily need for food, water and other necessities. In a very small way it helped us participate, if only symbolically, in carrying someone else’s burden. This week, how will you carry a burden and fulfill the law of Christ?
Romans 12:4 we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. (The Message Bible)
Why can’t we have Christmas the whole year around? So asks the song I found on YouTube. It seems to be on the Hallmark channel. It will be here in less than three months now. Given the above words from Romans maybe we should be celebrating Christmas the whole year around. At Christmas we claim and celebrate that God became human in Jesus- what we call the incarnation. Paul says above that this still the case but instead of a single human body Jesus is present in the collective flesh and blood of all those who trust in him. You are Christmas through your faith in him. While you are putting out Halloween decorations remember that it is already Christmas. What do you need to do this week to be your part of Jesus’ presence in the world?
John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
This is Jesus speaking to the woman at the well. If you are not familiar with the story go back and read it starting at John 4:1. The verse before this, verse 23, reads “an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” What do those two words, spirit and truth, mean to you? There have been lots of things written in lots of scholarly books and you can look them up if you like. As I read it this time around it struck me that spirit looks inward to the depth of my being while truth looks out to something real beyond myself. Jesus spoke this all to a woman who by the default of her culture and historical setting was assuredly not a scholar. Yet Jesus expected those words to resonate with her and with readers throughout the ages. How do they resonate with you? What does it mean for you to worship God in spirit and truth? Is that something you want for your life?