Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Third Wednesday in Lent - 27 February 2013

2 Chronicles 20:1-22
Luke 13:22-31
Psalm 105:1-15 [16-41] 42

You might want to read all of the passages that are a part of the daily reading for February 27th.  Today let me focus on something I heard PD [Pastor David] say on several occasions.  Christ Lutheran is a special place, a unique congregation with 23 countries represented.  It doesn’t take long in doing ministry here or worshiping here or just being in the office and the fullness of the special nature of this congregation just spill out.  The following passage from Luke might have special meaning for this unique congregation.
29And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
30And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

This is a congregation of welcome.  Simultaneously it is a congregation that represents the world and our unique neighborhood.  This Lent, we may want to spend some time reflecting on what it means to be both the ministers and the recipients of ministry.  For we receive as much from the new people who walk into our doors, as we give.  The hospitality that we have received is returned to the new people we meet.  The call before us is to be the ministers of this Church of God. Lent may be the time for us to determine how we fulfill God’s call.  Today I will pray for our mutual discernment.
What would you like to pray for?

Rich Stewart

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2nd Wednesday in Lent

Wednesday, February 20, 2013  Phillipians 3:17-4:1
17  Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.  18  For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears.  19  Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things.  20  But our citizenship  is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  21  He will transform the body of our humiliation  that it may be conformed to the body of his glory,  by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.  4:1  Therefore, my brothers and sisters,  whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
The apostle Paul traveled constantly after his calling by Christ Jesus, making disciples from Jerusalem to Rome. Paul also wrote letters to the congregations he began. Philippians is one of his best—teaching new Christians to pray, preach, teach and live. Paul makes the risky claim that members of the congregation should imitate him, knowing that he is not perfect, but also that righteousness is solely from God.  Do you remember the old question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” We thought we were supposed to deprive ourselves and please God by suffering. Why not instead give up the bad things we say or think or do? Gordon Lathrop, professor emeritus at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, suggests that we really should call Lent a “joyful fast.” Isn’t that what Paul is urging the Philippians to do in these verses?
Dear Lord, help us give up sadness, meanness, envy, hatred, cynicism, cowardice, false witness and the like, so that this Lent may be a joyful fast. Amen.

Is there anything you would like to do for someone else inside the church?
Is there something you would like to do for someone or something, outside the church?
What more could you do, if you could find the time, to lead in the church?
What do you need to give up to spend more time with the family?
What questions do you have?
Rev. Rich

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ash Wednesday Devotional

We start with Ash Wednesday, and the Devotionals will be posted on the Facebook site late on Tuesday.  So you can read it at the FACEBOOK site Christ Lutheran Community Church Upper Darby or you can find the devotions posted on Pastor Stewart’s Blog, “SNAPSHOTS IN LIFE”.  My prayer is that one might find their own path for a discipline of renewal in their journey with God.

Try a slow reading of Joel 2 the first lesson for Ash Wednesday.  See what you might be called upon to do as a God follower or just as a God searcher…

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near-
2:2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come.
2:12 Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
2:13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
2:14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD, your God?
2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly;
2:16 gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy.
2:17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep. Let them say, "Spare your people, O LORD, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'"

Some words that I will be pondering today:
"Return to me," God pleads to his people through the prophet Joel.  Twice in this passage he begs, "Return." We all tend to stray from God.  We get too busy with many things.  We drift off in other directions.  God's Lenten call is "Return to me." He doesn't plead, "Return to the church" or "Return to the Bible," but "Return to me." This will involve both the church and the Bible, but we can't stop with them.  They are avenues to God himself.  He wants a Person-to-person relationship.  He wants a two-way love, heart-to-heart.

God tells how he wants us to return to him.  'With all your heart" is his first request.  This return is no place for half-heartedness.  It's all or nothing with God.  Jesus taught that the first and great commandment is, 'You shall-love the Lord your God with all your heart." God specified "fasting" next.  This fasting is not to reduce weight, but to grow closer to God.  Fasting is common in Lent, when it takes the form of some self-denial in order to give the saved money or time to God and to others.  The positive side of fasting must be accented. 

Share your thoughts and prayers in the comments.  Rev. Rich.