Lectionary Scriptures and Comments

Archive for May, 2011

Unity in Spirit 053111

Painting of Saint Peter by Peter Paul Rubens d...

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Psalm 93

Deuteronomy 5:22-33

1 Peter 3:8-12

Unity in Spirit 053111

Peter, or the scribe who wrote recorded Peter begins this morning’s gospel, and it speaks to the truth, and the effect of the Christian life. I’ve been contemplating what and how to tell people what the Christian life feels like. Certainly, we can feel when others are immersed in prayer, Bible reading and meditation, but it is difficult to say what the actual day-to-day effect is.

In 1 Peter 3:8 we read “…..unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” This is an amazing description, although it may have been meant as a prescription.

This is a good start.

Peace.

(brother) Bill

 

Psalm 93

1The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength. He has established the world; it shall never be moved;

2your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.

4More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the Lord!

5Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore.

Deuteronomy 5:22-33

22These words the Lord spoke with a loud voice to your whole assembly at the mountain, out of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, and he added no more. He wrote them on two stone tablets, and gave them to me.

23When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you approached me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders; 24and you said, “Look, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the fire. Today we have seen that God may speak to someone and the person may still live. 25So now why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer, we shall die. 26For who is there of all flesh that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and remained alive? 27Go near, you yourself, and hear all that the Lord our God will say. Then tell us everything that the Lord our God tells you, and we will listen and do it.” 28The Lord heard your words when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me: “I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you; they are right in all that they have spoken. 29If only they had such a mind as this, to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and with their children forever! 30Go say to them, ‘Return to your tents.’ 31But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you all the commandments, the statutes and the ordinances, that you shall teach them, so that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.” 32You must therefore be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn to the right or to the left. 33You must follow exactly the path that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you are to possess.

1 Peter 3:8-12

8Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. 10For “Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; 11let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Swimming with Paul 053011

The Missouri River at Omaha, Nebraska, USA Pho...

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Psalm 93

Genesis 9:8-17

Acts 27:39-44

 

Swimming with Paul 053011

 

Each of our three scriptures this morning are about water and disasters. In Psalms, we sing about being saved from the flood by God, in Genesis rainbows as a promise from God is remembered and in Acts, Paul and his fellow shipmates, prisoners and centurions swim and float to shore after shipwreck.

 

It is a time of great misery close with multiple tornadoes sweeping the skies, and floods wiping the Mississippi value. More floods are expected to wash down the Missouri River as rains from Montana surge down the river basin.

 

It is a time to help one, and pray to God for the safety and security of all. We particularly need to make children feel safe always, and care for those who do not have family in their area. (It is sad to see the numbers of elderly who were carried away by tornadoes while living alone).

 

Pray for our peace.

(brother) Bill

 

 

 

Psalm 93

1The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength. He has established the world; it shall never be moved;

2your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.

4More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the Lord!

5Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore.

Genesis 9:8-17

8Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Acts 27:39-44

39In the morning they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned to run the ship ashore, if they could. 40So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea. At the same time they loosened the ropes that tied the steering-oars; then hoisting the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. 41But striking a reef, they ran the ship aground; the bow stuck and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the force of the waves. 42The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none might swim away and escape; 43but the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, 44and the rest to follow, some on planks and others on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

Plato, Mind-Body Dualism and the Holy Spirit 052911

Raphael's "School of Athens"

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Sermon 052911

 

Su29   Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 17:22-31

Psalm 66:8-20

1 Peter 3:13-22

John 14:15-21

 

Acts 17:22-31

22Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ 29Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Psalm 66:8-20

8Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,

9who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

10For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.

11You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;

12you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

13I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows,

14those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

15I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah

16Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.

17I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.

18If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

19But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

20Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.

1 Peter 3:13-22

13Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you;

16yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. 17For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.

18For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

John 14:15-21

15”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Plato, Mind-Body Dualism and the Holy Spirit 052911

 

Let me tell you a story. Many years ago I was camping by the side of the Russian River in Northern California. I was hitchhiking around the country and ended up there somehow. I was thinking about the topic of today’s sermon, but the fact that today’s scriptures, and today’s sermon topic and my meditation and poetry on the riverbank of the Russian River didn’t occur to me at once. In fact, I’ve been reading the scriptures over and over again all week, and reading commentaries both new and old, and I was stuck. Starting early didn’t help. It was a last minute term paper kind of pressure that led me, maybe, to a final sermon direction, and we’ll hope there finally is a direction in the sermon.

 

All three of today’s scriptures are on this same topic: that is, the relationship or unity and disunity of the mind and body. In a moment we’ll discuss this mind-body dualism and how each of the three scriptures discuss this topic, but returning the my story, I was camping by the side of the Russian River and considering the relationship of mind and body, the same topic as today’s scripture.

 

In 40 some years I haven’t learned much. The topic is difficult so I’ll go slow, for my benefit.

 

The first scripture introduces the topic. The missionary Paul is talking to the Athenian elite. Acts 17:22-31 Greek philosophy was well known around the Mediterranean by this time, of course. It had been 600 years since the monumental advances in Greek and Western logic of Aristotle, Socrates and finally Plato, and Greek traders and merchants had carried Greek culture everywhere, so Paul knew he was speaking to Athenians in a language and pattern they could understand. Paul was speaking and reasoning like Plato, in a very Greek logic pattern (which was used by the Romans and is now the base of our reasoning used in law, in science, etc. The Greek culture is ours also.

 

One of the Greek cultural assumptions is that there is a mind and a body. The soul resides in the mind and relates to a perfect existence as a pure, but disembodied spirit that leaves the body. This is known as mind-body dualism, or as Platonic dualism.

 

But Jesus, and Paul were Jewish. The Hebrew conception is that there is no duality. The mind and body are one ‘thing’ so when Jesus died and rose again, it was as an incarnated being, a bodily being. In Acts 17:30 Paul turns the tables on his Greek audience by ending with ‘he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

 

Platonic dualism and Greek thinking comes up again in 1 Peter 3:13-22 when Peter (or the writer) makes a distinction between the Christian believer and ‘the world’. The writer is speaking to a Jewish audience, and the topic of Jewish purity comes up. The idea for Jews was that bodily purity and spiritual purity were the same thing, since there was not a mind-body duality—so, pure mind, clean bodily existence, and spiritual purity were all the same thing. There are hundreds of Jewish laws, in practice, about purity in Jesus’ time, and baptism had become a way to wash off the mental, physical and spiritual dirt all at once. Baptismal founts had become popular in Jewish settlements, and many houses had multiple baptismal founts.

 

This writer says Jesus was ‘put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit’, so he is really taking the Greek thinking side in the discussion over whether there is in reality a mind-body dualism, or a mind-body unity. Are the mind and body two things or one, and is a Christian and the world two things, or one? Are we in the world, but separate from it, or are we part of the world, embodied in it? This writer seems to say we are physically and spiritually in the world and part of it in our bodies, yet also speaks to the idea that Jesus’ spirit was alive after execution. The writer was probably in Rome when this was written, having gone there with Peter, in the early days of the Christian church and may have written this shortly before or after the crucifixion of Peter, which is legendary and not recorded in the Bible or elsewhere.

 

Then finally, we have the words of Jesus in John 14:15-21. Jesus says that God has sent ‘another Advocate’ (the paraclete, in Greek) to be with us forever. Since it says ‘another Advocate’ it makes it sound as though we have someone who will plead our case to God for us, like a lawyer in court, or a health care advocate, etc. But the opposite is true.

 

Jesus and the Advocate both bring the reality of God to us. Jesus did so as an human being, in flesh and blood and people saw him, ate with him, touched him and saw him bodily suffer and die.

 

The Advocate also brings God to us, but as the Holy Spirit, or ‘the spirit of truth’ which believers will given. The Spirit is the very beginning source of faith in God and Jesus, which the spirit brings to us from God.

 

This whole discussion of mind-body duality, or of believer-world duality is confusing. What do I believe, what do you believe? This problem isn’t at all resolved. A psychiatrist I worked with many years ago said the relationship of mind was not near resolved. What if, he said, it is the body that becomes mentally ill and is expressing it through mental illness? Mental illness is not necessarily mental. How exactly the mind and body relate to one another is not clear at all, if they are two things.

 

And maybe, when we are spiritual, maybe it is as an embodied human being. Our ‘souls’, our mind, our body and spirit may be just one unified existence.  This creates a new kind of existence for us, where we can’t say that our spirit is Christian while we exist as non- Christians in a non-Christian world.  The theologian Alan Watts once wrote that Americans use their body to take their mind out for a walk, like a sophisticated transport vehicle, or the mind takes the body out for a run, like a lease-trained dog.

 

I invite us to consider whether we assume a mind-body duality, and do we love God with ‘all our heart’ or with ‘all our hearts, minds, body, souls and spirits’? Is there a joy to be found as a believer by being an ‘embodied believer’?

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Peace I Give To You 052811

Noah sent out this dove

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My Peace I Give To You 052811

 

Sometimes, like this morning, I’m hesitant to start the day and rise again before dawn. But I’m lucky to have a few moments and can share a scripture.

 

Today, the words I needed to hear came to me ‘My peace I give to you’ Jesus says and it is sufficient for the day.

 

I pray this message comes to you also, that the peace of Jesus is being shared with us, right now.

 

Pray for peace.

(brother) Bill

 

Psalm 66:8-20

8Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,

9who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

10For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.

11You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;

12you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

13I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows,

14those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

15I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah

16Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.

17I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.

18If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

19But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

20Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.

Genesis 8:13-19

13In the six hundred first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and saw that the face of the ground was drying. 14In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.

15Then God said to Noah, 16“Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18So Noah went out with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19And every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out of the ark by families.

John 14:27-29

27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

28You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

Wheat, Bread and Rome 052711

Wheat Stalks

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This blog comes to you from the people at

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www.peacemennonitechurch.net

Scripture follow the meditation and thoughts.

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Psalm 66:8-20

Genesis 7:1-24

Acts 27:13-38

Wheat, Bread and Rome 052711

 

The daily scripture from Acts talks about Paul and his shipmates being thrown about in their ship, then finally surviving after Paul is visited by an angel of God.

At one point Paul, who is a prisoner being taken to Rome, throw the ship’s cargo—wheat—overboard to avoid sinking. A question one might ask is why was a ship from Israel hauling food to Rome? Jesus talks about the hungry and the poor often. Why didn’t the Jews just keep the wheat at home for themselves?

The answer is that Roman centurions and Roman officials were in Israel for the purpose of making sure the wheat reached Rome. Israel was a colony, and that’s why strong empires and nations have colonies—to eat their food, to take their resources. It is interesting also that Paul and the ship’s crew, including a centurion soldier all were hungry for 14 days, yet didn’t eat the wheat. Were they forbidden to eat Caesar’s wheat?

Underlying the story of Jesus is this reality—that Rome was taking their food, leaving them hungry and oppressed. Yet Jesus came as a nonviolent and peaceful leader, to lead them to God in the midst of horrible and persistent oppression under the colonial power of Rome.

Are we benefiting from the poverty of anyone, globally?

Pray for peace and pray for global justice.

(brother)Bill

 

 

 

 

Psalm 66:8-20

8Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,

9who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

10For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.

11You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;

12you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

13I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows,

14those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

15I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah

16Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.

17I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.

18If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

19But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

20Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.

Genesis 7:1-24

7Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. 2Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; 3and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth. 4For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”

5And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him. 6Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came on the earth. 7And Noah with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, 9two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. 10And after seven days the waters of the flood came on the earth.

11In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12The rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

13On the very same day Noah with his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons entered the ark, 14they and every wild animal of every kind, and all domestic animals of every kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every bird of every kind—every bird, every winged creature. 15They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.

17The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters. 19The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; 20the waters swelled above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.

21And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings; 22everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, human beings and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. 24And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days.

Acts 27:13-38

13When a moderate south wind began to blow, they thought they could achieve their purpose; so they weighed anchor and began to sail past Crete, close to the shore. 14But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster, rushed down from Crete. 15Since the ship was caught and could not be turned head-on into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven. 16By running under the lee of a small island called Cauda we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control. 17After hoisting it up they took measures to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they would run on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and so were driven. 18We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard, 19and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard. 20When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

21Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul then stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. 22I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ 25So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26But we will have to run aground on some island.” 27When the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the sea of Adria, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. 28So they took soundings and found twenty fathoms; a little farther on they took soundings again and found fifteen fathoms. 29Fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. 30But when the sailors tried to escape from the ship and had lowered the boat into the sea, on the pretext of putting out anchors from the bow, 31Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat and set it adrift. 33Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. 34Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.” 35After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. 36Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. 37(We were in all two hundred seventy-six persons in the ship.) 38After they had satisfied their hunger, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Earth Is Corrupt 052611

"The Blue Marble" is a famous photog...

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Psalm 66:8-20

Genesis 6:5-22

Acts 27:1-12

The Earth Is Corrupt 052611

 

God tells Noah in Genesis 6:12 that the earth is corrupt and in need of destruction, but with the destructive flood, all is new.

Do we carry this attitude with us? Do we think the earth is still corrupt, and only worth a second destruction?

Sometimes we forget that the earth is also green, the sky is often blue, and flowers and birds also fill our lives. Also, we do hear the laughter of children and the friendly words of friends. There is much that is good with the earth, and I think those who follow Christ would speak up and recall that even in the middle of so much earthly toil and trouble, we love this earth that God has brought us to.

Pray for peace, and a positive attitude.

(brother) Bill

8Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,

9who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

10For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.

11You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;

12you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

13I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows,

14those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

15I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah

16Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.

17I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.

18If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

19But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

20Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.

Genesis 6:5-22

5The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.

6And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

8But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord. 9These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth.

13And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. 14Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive. 21Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.”

22Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

Acts 27:1-12

27When it was decided that we were to sail for Italy, they transferred Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius. 2Embarking on a ship of Adramyttium that was about to set sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. 3The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul kindly, and allowed him to go to his friends to be cared for. 4Putting out to sea from there, we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. 5After we had sailed across the sea that is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. 6There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship bound for Italy and put us on board. 7We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind was against us, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. 8Sailing past it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea. 9Since much time had been lost and sailing was now dangerous, because even the Fast had already gone by, Paul advised them, 10saying, “Sirs, I can see that the voyage will be with danger and much heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said.

12Since the harbor was not suitable for spending the winter, the majority was in favor of putting to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, where they could spend the winter. It was a harbor of Crete, facing southwest and northwest.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Hear My Prayer, O Lord 052511

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This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO http://www.peacemennonitechurch.net Scripture follow the meditation and thoughts. Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/ Subscribe to our blog. Delivery daily by e-mail. Click the button on the left. Psalm 102:1-17 Proverbs 3:13-18 John 8:31-38

Hear My Prayer, O Lord 052511

Psalm 102:1 (below) is our title today, as we think and pray for all those in the Midwest caught in the black, twisting tornadoes sweeping the central US and moving east. Hear our prayer, O Lord. We particularly grieve with those families that lost loved ones,and we pray for the doctors, nurses, firefighters and rescue angels who are there in the name of Jesus to help those in need. Pray today for their safety and care, and pray for peace. If humankind has any hand in weather by global warming and climate change, let us change our use of the God’s earth to reverse our harm, and pray for peace as we do. (brother) Bill

Psalm 102

1Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you. 2Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call. 3For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. 4My heart is stricken and withered like grass; I am too wasted to eat my bread. 5Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my skin. 6I am like an owl of the wilderness, like a little owl of the waste places. 7I lie awake; I am like a lonely bird on the housetop. 8All day long my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse. 9For I eat ashes like bread, and mingle tears with my drink, 10because of your indignation and anger; for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside. 11My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass. 12But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations. 13You will rise up and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to favor it; the appointed time has come. 14For your servants hold its stones dear, and have pity on its dust. 15The nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory. 16For the Lord will build up Zion; he will appear in his glory. 17He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their prayer.

Proverbs 3:13-18

13Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, 14for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold. 15She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. 16Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. 18She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.

John 8:31-38 31

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” 34Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. 38I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.” The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Forgetting to Relax 052411

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Psalm 102:1-17

Proverbs 3:5-12

Acts 7:44-56

Forgetting to Relax 052411

It is simple advice the wisdom book of Proverbs gives us.

5Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
6In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

It seems simple enough, and feels so good to relax and let God guide our lives along straight paths, but so often we are not very good at letting this happen. We forget to relax and feel good in our own bodies.

Pray for relaxation today, the relaxation that only God can provide. Let God make the decisions today, and listen.

Pray for peace, your own peace and peace in the world.

(brother) Bill

Psalm 102

1Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you.

2Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call.

3For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.

4My heart is stricken and withered like grass; I am too wasted to eat my bread.

5Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my skin.

6I am like an owl of the wilderness, like a little owl of the waste places.

7I lie awake; I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.

8All day long my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse.

9For I eat ashes like bread, and mingle tears with my drink,

10because of your indignation and anger; for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside.

11My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.

12But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations.

13You will rise up and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to favor it; the appointed time has come.

14For your servants hold its stones dear, and have pity on its dust.

15The nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory.

16For the Lord will build up Zion; he will appear in his glory.

17He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their prayer.

Proverbs 3:5-12

5Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
6In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body. 9Honor the Lord with your substance
and with the first fruits of all your produce;
10then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine. 11My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12for the Lord reproves the one he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.

Acts 7:44-56

44“Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. 45Our ancestors in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors. And it was there until the time of David, 46who found favor with God and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the house of Jacob. 47But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands; as the prophet says, 49‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? 50Did not my hand make all these things?’

51”You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. 52Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. 53You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.”

54When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. 55But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56“Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

God’s Time 052911

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This blog comes to you from the people at

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Scripture follow the meditation and thoughts.

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Psalm 102:1-17

Exodus 13:17-22

Acts 7:17-40

God’s Time 052911

 

In our scripture from Acts this morning (see below) Moses flees Egypt and is a resident alien in Midian, where he had two sons. After forty years more Moses visits Mount Sinai and talks to God as a burning bush.

So, Moses had a life through young adulthood in Egypt, fled to Midian for forty years and had another life, then returned to Egypt to rescue his people. For the last period of his life he led his people to Israel, taking forty years.

Sometimes we think our life is a perfectly straight line, as one which has proceeded from birth to now, and that will continue pretty much the same way until death.

But in God’s time, this isn’t necessarily the case; in God’s time we can have a new life, as often or seldom as God ordains.

Don’t let yourself be stuck in a pattern. Ask God today what is his new plan for you?

Pray for peace, and pray for those who have lost loved ones in overnight storms, and who have no home.

(brother) Bill

Psalm 102

1Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you.

2Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call.

3For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.

4My heart is stricken and withered like grass; I am too wasted to eat my bread.

5Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my skin.

6I am like an owl of the wilderness, like a little owl of the waste places.

7I lie awake; I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.

8All day long my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse.

9For I eat ashes like bread, and mingle tears with my drink,

10because of your indignation and anger; for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside.

11My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.

12But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations.

13You will rise up and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to favor it; the appointed time has come.

14For your servants hold its stones dear, and have pity on its dust.

15The nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory.

16For the Lord will build up Zion; he will appear in his glory.

17He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their prayer.

Exodus 13:17-22

17When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, “If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt prepared for battle. 19And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, “God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here.” 20They set out from Succoth, and camped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. 22Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

Acts 7:17-40

17“But as the time drew near for the fulfillment of the promise that God had made to Abraham, our people in Egypt increased and multiplied 18until another king who had not known Joseph ruled over Egypt. 19He dealt craftily with our race and forced our ancestors to abandon their infants so that they would die. 20At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God. For three months he was brought up in his father’s house; 21and when he was abandoned, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22So Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds. 23“When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his relatives, the Israelites. 24When he saw one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25He supposed that his kinsfolk would understand that God through him was rescuing them, but they did not understand. 26The next day he came to some of them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you wrong each other?’ 27But the man who was wronging his neighbor pushed Moses aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29When he heard this, Moses fled and became a resident alien in the land of Midian. There he became the father of two sons.

30“Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 31When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. 33Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.’ 35“It was this Moses whom they rejected when they said, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ and whom God now sent as both ruler and liberator through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. 37This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people as he raised me up.’ 38He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us. 39Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him; instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, 40saying to Aaron, ‘Make gods for us who will lead the way for us; as for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

In His Name 052211

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Below are the scriptures and sermon for today, 052211.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Acts 7:55-60

Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16

1 Peter 2:2-10

John 14:1-14

Acts 7:55-60

55But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56“Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 58Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.

Psalm 31

1In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.

2Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.

3You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,

4take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.

5Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

15My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

16Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.

1 Peter 2:2-10

2Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” 8and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

John 14:1-14

14“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

4And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

In His Name 052211

 

It seems as if most of the important details of the New Testament cause us to confront a certain cultural pattern in modern Western religion, and frankly the pattern I see is often one that disturbs me.

Today’s verses from John, which we just red together is an example. In Verse 13 Jesus says ‘13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.’

 

These are powerful words and people interrupt them several different ways. I personally have one set of belief about these words, and I’m not at all sure my opinion is correct, or complete. I’m more concerned that my opinion is incomplete, even if wrong, since I’d like to live long enough to understand the whole verse, even if I ultimately get it wrong. I want a complete look at it.

One of the common interpretations of these verses is one used by charlatans and faith healers. They might cry out in their sales pitch that a person is healed and command the ill person to walk, to see or to speak perhaps.

Even if the charlatans succeed in a miraculous cure, we don’t trust them, and I almost distrust them more for having spoken ‘in Jesus’ name’.

This idea essentially believes that the words ‘in Jesus’ name’ are magic words. Sarcastically I could equate the words with ‘abracadabra’ or ‘hocus pocus’ or ‘shazam’. We end our prayers habitually with ‘in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen’. Does saying those words somehow make the prayer more effective or more powerful?

Even the Nazi Church, a twisting brought a compromise of Nazism and Chrisitanity who called upon Jesus to do things in his name when called upon. All sorts of things have been called for in his name, or done in his name including the execution of 9,000,000 Jews and other undesirables. And Hitler went on and on about his doing the will of Jesus and doing all this and more ‘in his name’ and establishing the Third Roman Empire (Charlemagne was the first, Napoleon was the second and the Nazis were the Third. In German this is translated as the Third Reich, rather than the third empire.

And a recent CD by singer Van Morrison sings ‘we can do it too, in his name’ in a song describing the miracles of Jesus.

But what does ‘in his name’ mean? If we would do something in a person’s name, we mean it is being done to honor that person or honor the life that person has lived. That’s what I commonly mean if I say I’m doing something in the name of my father and mother or family, or in the name of someone I admire.

The other meaning—that we’re calling upon someone deceased to use their power as a deceased person to control some human event—sort of like ancestor worship, where you call upon your deceased family to help you now–is less often meant, but that is the meaning of calling upon God to do something in Jesus’ name, or at least one meaning.

Another meaning, which I’ve read in several sources is that what is meant by the phrase ‘in Jesus’ name’ means.

We have to travel back in history to understand something—before Jesus the ruling passion of the world was greed, and only greed. As Thomas Hobbes describes life as ‘the state of war of every man against every man’ and the life of man as ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’.

 

Jesus really began the history of the world based upon the primary principle that love, charity and compassion should be the guiding principles of humanity in the kingdom of God. So, to do something in Jesus’ name means also to do something for the love of another—another individual, another group of people or abstractly, for another cause. Human life with Jesus becomes eternally valuable and we seek to protect and preserve life of individuals, at an expansive and expensive cost sometimes—all ‘in Jesus name’.

The advances we see in history after Jesus are phenomenal—notions of liberty and equality, fairness, social justice, compassion in one’s life, living a good life in love of others—we see all these ideas rising to become socially acceptable after the life and death of Jesus.

As the author Thomas Wolfe quotes in the frontpiece to his novel ‘You can’t Go Home Again’ , ‘compared the development and progress of makind to the reelings of a drunken beggar on horseback. What was important, perhaps, was not that the beggar was drunk and reeling, but that he was mounted on his horse, and, however unsteadily, was going somewhere. (This quote comes from or follows a quote from Martin Luther). “Human reason is like a drunken man on horseback; set it up on one side, and it tumbles over on the other” (And, as an aside, it amazing how many recent news stories there are online of people being arrested for going through a McDonald’s drivethrough while drunk on horseback, or going through a bank on horseback while drunk, or going into a bank while drunk on horseback.

So, although we have an history that appears to be wandering from side to side like a drunken man on horseback, humanity is progressing, and the course of that progress is broadly stated by Jesus, in words and in living. Within the past year, and also within the past 10 years there have been more peaceful revolutions around the world than in human history. The world knows that human violence is wrong, and that justice should prevail, and I trace these human goals back to the life and death of Jesus, and not before. The whole notion that there could be justice, and peace and a suffering free world are Christian ideas, and Christians have brought us ever closer to these goals.

So, when Jesus says we will do healing and miracles greater than he had done—maybe he also means that humanity if living in love will create a world where medicine creates cures people could not have dreamed of—it is true that some share these miracles more than others, and that humanity may also be creating diseases by its lifestyle. But the horse we are drunkenly riding does appear to move forward. I would maintain that when humanity seeks to heal and cure people, when law enforcement and social workers seek to protect the elderly and the young, when we all try to seek justice for people all over the world—we are doing so because humanity has adopted the doctrine of love of all existence, as Jesus taught and commanded us. We are collectively, doing this in Jesus’ name.

There is still however, in the verses from John when Jesus says ‘14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it’

 

We need to think about what all these verses from John mean, and I hope we can continue to do that, but this verse 14 measn to me that if we ask Jesus to do something ‘in his name’ (or in the spirit of Jesus’ teachings and commands) rather than for something purely personal and selfish, then Jesus promises to do it.

I want to emphasize that when we pray to God and Jesus, the first ones we are praying to for help is the angels God sends to us to help, and we are those angels! We are here to help one another, to help the poor and oppressed, to bring the Kingdom of God into full reality on earth.

Still, quite clearly, Jesus promises to do what we ask ‘in his name’. So, if we pray to ask Jesus to take revenge on our enemies, or to grant us a Mercedes Benz as Janis Joplin requests in the song. ‘Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz. My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends’ are less likely to be heard by Jesus than if we pray for help in protecting children, or protecting the oppressed, ending the wars of humanity, etc.

In conclusion, I don’t completely know what these verses mean—when and how should we call on Jesus? What is the complete meaning of what Jesus is saying? I just don’t know. But I am praying for insight into all this, and ask that we examine our own faith, to see what Jesus means.

Let us pray.

 

 

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