Aloha Friday Message – March 23, 2012 – Fifth Friday in Lent

1212AFC032312 – Catholic Letter Series

Read it online here.

KJV 1 Peter 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

NIV 1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone– rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

NAB 1 Peter 2:4 Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, 5 and, like 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.

Aloha nui loa, Beloved. Today we are going to look at a beautiful letter attributed to Peter, also called Cephas (KAY-phus) which means Rock in Aramaic and is also a Greek word for rock Κηφᾶς.

In this letter, Peter gives us many beautiful images, draws many examples from Old Testament writers, and presents a wide array of topics that address many aspect of life in the early Church. The one I chose for the open in this message is one of my very favorites. In this he makes a connection between Christ, “the stone which the builders rejected,” and believers who have become “living stones,” that is to say like Christ in that they are to be Holy, submissive to God, and to build a holy dwelling which will be a Holy Nation serving God. The word for “living” used here is ζῶντα zaonta {dzah’-on-tah} from za,w zao {dzah’-o}. za,w is the verb “to live,” and ζῶντα is “living.” But it carries a much deeper connotation that being “merely alive.” One example is in the term “living water.” This is water that has “vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul.” It is living that is fresh, strong, efficient, active, powerful, and efficacious. We come to Christ as living stones animated with the same capacity for holiness found in the Apostles because that holiness comes from and through Christ. What a mighty image that brings to mind!

Peter tells us Christ was “chosen by God and precious to him.” Christ, the Messiah is “called ‘elect,’ as appointed by God to the most exalted office conceivable.” And we are called to that same life as his servants. We are called the elect, the chosen because “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4) This word is ἐκλεκτός eklektos {ek-lek-tos’} and it denotes the best of its kind or class.

As living stones, we are to be built into a “spiritual house,” a family for generations, offering up ” spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” WOW! That is such a powerful statement, because it describes not only our calling, but also the fulfillment of that calling.

In 1 Peter 1:8-9 Peter tells us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” What is that inexpressible joy and how do we feel it? How do we recognize it? It is the power of his love as delivered to us in and through the Holy Spirit that makes our hearts and minds leap for joy as we raise hearts and hands and voices to praise god for his generous love, unfailing promise, and awesome presence in our lives.

In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter tells us the reason God has fashioned us a living stone. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” God is Light. We are called to live in the Light, to let our Light shine, to be the Light shining in the darkness. In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

There are dozens of power-packed images like that in this single short letter. Scholars generally agree that it was written by Peter, with help from Silas (who may have been a “professional writer,” helping Peter achieve a very polished Greek text which might have been a bit out of Peter’s reach normally). The letter is addressed to churches planted by Paul and his fellow sojourners in Asia Minor: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. That may have been the order in which a courier might have delivered the letter to those churches.

The letter mentions persecutions, suffering with Christ as we daily take up our cross, even dying under persecutions for the Gospel and for the joy we have of being so close to our Savior and God. I looked at several analyses of how this letter is put together, and here is a listing based on those reviews:

 

  1. 1 Peter 1:112: The JOY we have in knowing God loves us so much he provided a Perfect Sacrifice for our salvation – his only begotten son.
  2. 1 Peter 1:132:3: God’s love should inspire us to v-be some much like him that we strive mightily to be holy as he is holy.
  3. 1 Peter 2:412: Israel, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was the People God chose to be distinctly his own, the People of the First Covenant. Despite the many times they ignored that, God honored his promises, and not only made Abraham the father of many nations, he also us part of Abraham’s descendants through Jesus sacrificial suffering.
  4. 1 Peter 2:13-23: We can share in, identify with, and submit to persecution and suffering with Jesus and for the Gospel. Whenever we do so, we die a bit to ourselves and to the world, but we also glorify God.
  5. 1 Peter 2:2425: Jesus’ expiation (The complete reconciliation of God and humans brought about by the redemptive life and death of Jesus) of our sins is a powerful, awesome, incomprehensibly valuable gift – it is a gift given through the Grace of God, and that brings us back to the “Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls – our Creator, God. How can we begin to measure how grateful that can make us feel?!?
  6. 1 Peter 3:17: God is community as the Trinity. He established family as a community through the sacrament of marriage. Husbands and wives can honor this sacred vocation by honoring one another, loving one another as God has loved them. Dishonoring one’s spouse is point-blank dishonoring God.
  7. 1 Peter 3:822: This passage begins, ” Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” Peter goes on to say that under no circumstance or persecution and suffering should we seek to harm those who bring about that persecution and suffering. If we suffer for doing what is good, that is so much better than suffering for doing evil!
  8. 1 Peter 4:111: The World wants us to be like them, and constantly entices us to live “in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.” They make fun of us for being “religious nuts,” but when Judgment comes, they will have one hell of a time coming to them. As for us, we are to ” keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (theirs and ours). Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another. Jesus blood cleansed you of your sins – the ways you have hurt yourself, your community, and your God; is blood also cleansed the sins of those who hurt you, hurt your community, and offend our God. His sacrifice covers all completely, permanently, eternally.
  9. 1 Peter 4:1219: “No matter how you struggle or strive, you’ll never get out of this world alive.” And struggle and strive as we might, we will always be facing situations where our suffering persists. Rather than wail and gnash or teeth, we can rejoice because are blessed, in that suffering when “the Spirit of glory and of God rests” upon us. ” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
  10. 1 Peter 5:16: When the World sees us acting this way – joyous in serving, joyous in suffering – they will want to know more about our joy and more about our shepherd. Those who are chosen for servant- leadership through the gifts of God will serve gladly, equitably, humbly – as did Christ. I probably will never be easy, but Peter tells us ” after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
  11. 1 Peter 5:714: God will do all these powerful and wonderful things to and for us because of his intense, eternal, infallible LOVE. No matter what Satan tries to do to us to destroy our relationship with God, that relationship is always restored when we reconfirm our alliance with God and rejoice in the wonder of his uncompromising love and care.

Share-A-Prayer

M&PC wrote to tell us, “We are praying for whole world for peace, safety, and wellbeing everywhere.” What an excellent prayer intention. Maybe you can add it to your list of intentions. So many places around the world are experiencing terrible weather, terrible acts of evil, terrible acts of violence. Pray that Peace will rule the planet, and let it begin with you.

Please continue to pray for the family of Baby Cheyanne. She lost her battle with multiple health problems. It has been so difficult for Mom and Dad, and for the whole family. They know Cheyanne has found 100% healing in the Light of His Glory and Love. The loss of that sweet child, however, was a hard blow. Pray for them to return to the joy they anticipated the moment she was born.

Pray for those who suffer for their faith. You would think that “in this day and age” religious persecution – even to the point of martyrdom – would be nonexistent. But it is not.

Pray for everyone who suffers poverty, injustice, hunger, loss of work or loss of income; for those who suffer through illnesses like cancer, mental illness, chronic disease, acute or chronic pain; pray for those whose family are falling apart and for those whose families are just beginning or just beginning to heal.

Finally beloved, pray for one another. You know there is a Daily Intercessory Prayer List. Whenever you pray the MBN prayer, that short prayer includes all of the intentions in the Intercessory prayer list – over 100 now.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

chick

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Aloha Friday Message – HOSANNA! – Sixth Friday of Lent

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Happy Hosanna Friday, Beloved!

Today I am thinking about Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. What a wonderful story is there. We’ve heard it before, maybe seen it enacted in a movie or a play, and we have a pretty good idea of the events. I want to look at some of the characters and symbols in this story. In Matthew it goes like this:

Matthew 21:1 When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them here to me. 3 And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, ‘The master has need of them.’ Then he will send them at once.” 4 This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: 5 “Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.

7 They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. 8 The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. 9 The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

And in Luke 19 we have these details:

29 As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. 30 He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.'” 32 So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?” 34 They answered, “The Master has need of it.” 35 So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. 36 As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; 37 and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. 38 They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

In Zechariah 9:9 we read: Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. So the fact that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey was, in part, a fulfillment of scripture. But there’s more. In Jesus day, and in many Eastern cultures, a donkey is seen as symbol of peace. A king who rides in on a donkey is coming peacefully. A king who rides in on a horse is coming in war. It is also significant that the colt Jesus’ disciples borrow is one that has never been ridden. Here the King of Peace is so gentle and so humble that even a young colt never before ridden submits to Jesus’ presence. Instead of bucking him off, the colt meekly carries a full-grown man. It is interesting to me that the disciples who went to fetch it did so without question, and then they put their own cloaks on the back of the colt to make a more comfortable seat. I think it might have also been more comfortable for the colt! And you know, I think that colt’s mama walked next to him on that journey. Read it again and see if you think so, too. But how did this come about?

How did the owner know it was OK to lend his animal to Jesus’ Disciples? The gospels don’t say, but as often as Jesus traveled through that area, he sure must have had more friends than just Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Since this must have been shortly after Lazarus was raised, maybe the guy who owned the colt had told Jesus, “If you ever need anything at all just let me know. It’s yours!” Just speculating about that is kind of fun, but really, we don’t know exactly what happened in that part of the story.

Jesus was in Bethany, close to Bethphage (“Place of new – or unripe – figs”) somewhere perhaps around the Mount of Olives. He gets on the colt in Bethany – about 2 miles from Jerusalem, and heads into town. On the way people who have seen him, who know him – some intimately, some only be reputation – get excited about seeing him, and they begin to remember Zechariah 9:9. They start pulling down palm fronds and laying them on the path in front of him or waving them in the air. The palm was a symbol of victory – even Holy Victory. In addition people were laying their cloaks down in the road and letting the little donkey pass over them. A similar event is reported in 2 Kings 9. [They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”] Elisha had just anointed Jehu (“Yahweh is He”) as King of Israel, and had ordered him to go avenge the murders committed by Jezebel’s forces when she had the prophets slaughtered. The king, Ahab, had permitted this, and Jehu was told to destroy Ahab as well.

Spreading cloaks or other object to “pave the way” was a common demonstration of respect for the dignity and power of a person – a King, a general, even a prophet. So now we have Jesus on a baby donkey (my mind keeps hearing the Christmas Carol “Little Donkey, Little Donkey, With a heavy load,”) and everyone is shouting and happy and cheering and dancing and running ahead and coming back and just going nuts over what Jesus is doing. He is finally defining himself as the Messiah, the Ruler of Israel, The Son of David! And, they surely thought he was about to kick the Romans out of town as the Rightful Ruler.

But, he was on a donkey, not a horse.

Can you imagine what’s going on in Jesus’ head? He’s going to Jerusalem in just six day to celebrate Passover for the last time. Then he will die a most horrible, terrifying, painful death. And he will be forsaken by his Father. On the way into town he looks out over Jerusalem and sheds tears because of what they have missed out on while he was with them, and then He just goes into town and busts up … Not the Romans! The Temple!!

Whoa! That was a surprise! And from there on, things sort of unfolded into The Last Supper, The Garden of Gethsemane, the pavement at Gabbatha, and finally Golgotha. In less than a week he went from “Hosanna” to “Crucify him!”

Now you know a little about the story. When you are holding your palm branches Sunday, think about that little donkey and what a privilege it was to carry Jesus. Beloved, you can carry him too; in your heart, not on your back. Spread out your best things for him and invite him to have a seat. Carry him wherever you go and once in a while, just for the sheer JOY of it, shout, I said SHOUT, “HOSANNA!!”

Share-A-Prayer

• A special request from WT to pray for J. Joseph who was admitted to the hospital in her continuing fight with cancer. Pray for hope, healing, and health.
• Our MBN friends I Haiti report that many of the children and the workers too are ill. Sounds like a virus is sweeping through their numbers. Pray for return to health, and that the many new infants they have with them can stay hydrated and be strong enough to recover.
• Thank you for your prayers over the past few weeks. Please go back and look at the prayer requests from the beginning of Lent. I believe as you take the time to look at them, God will move your heart to make a special effort to embrace one or more of those requests.
• Thanks for the family of EW for sharing the news that E had gone to meet his Lord. He was – and still is – a remarkable man. You might remember him here.
• Thanks also from KV who reports prayer has been working for her and she feels pretty darn good!

Thanks everyone. Next week the message will be about Good Friday – sort of. Please watch for it on a computer screen near you!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

chick

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Aloha Friday, August 10, 2004 – The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

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Aloha, dear friend! Another week comes to an end. For so many people, this has been a week of severe testing – Florida, Iraq and Afghanistan, Sudan and Indonesia. For some it has been a struggle in their own homes, and for others a deeper struggle in their own bodies, or their hearts and minds. How are we supposed to respond to all of this? It is, in all honesty, overwhelming.

These difficulties are so prevalent that we can sometimes feel – and see – hope is defeated. Not so. If you look at the terrible and difficult things that are happening in the world and in our lives, it sort of follow that old Pareto rule, that 80/20 thing. Pareto’s rule states that a small number of causes is responsible for a large percentage of the effect, in a ratio of about 20:80. Expressed in a management context, 20% of a person’s effort generates 80% of the person’s results. The corollary to this is that 20% of one’s results absorb 80% of one’s resources or efforts. And we could extrapolate that to say that 80% of the things that try our spirits are caused by 20% of the things that happen. Or maybe even that 20% of the things that we view as catastrophic are natural physical events – like volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, lung cancer, plagues of locusts, and the like. The other 80% might be spiritual like war, terrorism, pornography, crack and speed, infidelity, hopelessness, depraved indifference to human life from the moment of conception to the moment of death, and so many other things that often make being alive more difficult than it should be for so many millions of people.

What can we do about all this? Perhaps we can choose to live a spiritual life at home, at work, at school, at play, and even (incredible!) at church. Here’s a little quote from NIV Bible:

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Well, at least there shouldn’t be. We find ourselves confronting those “unwritten laws” that say living a spiritual life is not acceptable; we are out of touch with reality if we believe such things really make a difference. In the world’s views, that is. In God’s view, these things ARE life. And they’re not so difficult to live with either. In a recent article that appeared in THE CATHOLIC HERALD the diocesan newspaper for the Diocese of Honolulu, Fr. William J. Byron, SJ, had this to say about these seven gifts of the spirit:

Love is service and sacrifice.
Joy is balance at the center of the soul.
Peace is good order.
Patience is the ability to endure whatever comes.
Kindness is attentive regard for the other.
Generosity is the habitual disposition to share.
Gentleness is courageous respect for other.
Self-control is a voluntary check on the appetite for success.

We are created in God’s image, and part of the heritage of that image is the gift of self-determination. If we choose to remember what these things actually mean, we can bring that choice, that spirituality into our lives, our world, our 80/20 mix. Here’s the thing: It’s also true that 80% of the good things in this world come from the 20% of our spiritual gifts we share with each other. Today I challenge you to go for 21%. Print out this note, or cut and paste Fr. Byron’s examples into another document you can print out and hang on your wall (I made a really pretty one with fancy lettering and images). It’s just a reminder, but it’s also just a way to change the world and maybe even the future population of heaven.

Love in Christ,

Chick

PS: Here’s a bonus just for you. http://m11.t3media.net/t/15274/8554348/694/0/

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Aloha Friday Message – January 24, 2020 – Put that back!

2004AFC012420 – Put that back!

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    Isaiah 9:1-2 1 But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined.

In the Hebrew texts and various translations, these verses are numbered 8:23 [9:1] & 9:1 [9:2]

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) Today’s Key Verse is referred to in the Gospel reading for January 26th, the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. For Catholics around the world, it is the first celebration of Word of God Sunday. Pope Francis has frequently encouraged Catholics to become better acquainted with the Bible. Honestly, not many Catholics are fully aware that the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist are based in Scripture. Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC← Check it out!) is jam-packed with Scriptural references and passages of Scripture. It is my belief that this heightened exposure to Scripture will greatly benefit all the faithful in Christ – Catholic and non-Catholic alike. It’s time we put the Bible back into our daily lives, and it is vital that we do that in a very open and deliberate way. It is an integral part of God’s Plan that all should know about the Gospel – and how we received it. To understand that a little better, let’s go back to the roots of today’s Key Verse and see what happened before that time, and then we’ll take a look at what’s happened since then. Hmmm. Where do we start?

Well, it’s always best to start at “In the beginning.” You know the stories – God made the universe. He put a Garden in the middle of the dry land of the Earth, and covered the Earth and filled the seas with every sort of creature. He put a man in the Garden, and then added a woman. A deceiver came along and convinced the man and woman they could do a better job of creating Paradise than God did. They blamed the snake, so God condemned the snake but made Adam and Eve a Promise that it would all be put back in place as it should be. After he found out, he took them away from the Tree of Life, told them that the World would now know Death, and kicked them out of the Garden. They had some kids, Cain and Abel. Cain murdered Abel, so he got booted out of his home, and received an indelible mark as a consequence of his sin.

Cain got a mark that protected his earthly life, but it didn’t do much for his spiritual life. The First Sacrifice by Abel ended up in the first murder by Cain. Blood was shed in the sacrifice of Abel. Cain shed the blood of Abel and tried to deny it. The shedding of blood – in birth, in sacrifice, in sin – leads to exile, but in that exile, there is always the hope of MERCY. It is Mercy that will put us back into the Original Righteousness with God first known by Adam and Eve.

Thousands of years followed and the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve at least followed through on the command to be fruitful, and multiply, and subdue the Earth. Families became villages, villages became countries, and countries became kingdoms. For a long, long time lots of nasty stuff went on, and then God decided to hit RESET and wipe out pretty much everything except for a handful of people and a massive menagerie of animals. Life was pretty good for a while, but then that deceiver was back and put things all out of whack again. He took a Persian from Ur named Abram and moved him to the east end of the Mediterranean promising that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars. Abram was an exceptional leader and warrior, and having defeated the evil enemies he encountered in the place where God placed him, he shared his victory with the King of Salem – Melchizedek. The place of their meeting eventually became Jerusalem. Centuries passed and David made Jerusalem the capital of his kingdom, a kingdom devoted to God.

More centuries passed and again God’s people turned against him. Here’s an example of what they did:

Isaiah 8:19-22 19 Now if people say to you, “Consult the ghosts and the familiar spirits that chirp and mutter; should not a people consult their gods, the dead on behalf of the living, 20 for teaching and for instruction?” surely, those who speak like this will have no dawn! 21 They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry; when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will curse their king and their gods. They will turn their faces upward, 22 or they will look to the earth, but will see only distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be thrust into thick darkness.

2 Kings 17:7-18 This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They had worshiped other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had introduced. The people of Israel secretly did things that were not right against the Lord their God. They built for themselves high places at all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city; 10 they set up for themselves pillars and sacred poles on every high hill and under every green tree; 11 there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. They did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger; 12 they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this.” 13 Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the law that I commanded your ancestors and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” 14 They would not listen but were stubborn, as their ancestors had been who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 They despised his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their ancestors, and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false; they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do as they did. 16 They rejected all the commandments of the Lord their God and made for themselves cast images of two calves; they made a sacred pole, worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17 They made their sons and their daughters pass through fire*; they used divination and augury; and they sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. 18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight; none was left but the tribe of Judah alone.

*”pass through fire” – the sacrifice of infants by placing them in the arms of Moloch to be burned alive on a white-hot iron idol of the false god.

The People saw “distress and darkness” because they sinned greatly against God and were conquered by the Assyrians. That conquest started in “the land of Zebulon and Naphtali” around the Sea of Galilee (called the Sea of Chinnereth then). They were exiled, blood was shed, they were marked for destruction, yet there was the Hope of Salvation; they just continued to fail to hold onto that Hope. Again, centuries later, at the very place where that doom and gloom first started, Light came into the World (See John 1:1-5) to dispel the darkness. The goal was to put things back to the way God made it. It required exile (“his own accepted him not”), and the shedding of blood. Jesus started his ministry in “Galilee of the Gentiles,” a region where the Jewish population was a minority, but also a cosmopolitan region where people were open to hearing and doing new things – and a region in which God’s plan was first set in motion during the reign of King Hoshea – about 732–724 BC – which was the beginning of the collapse of the Davidic Kingdom. God’s plan was to place a King on the Throne of David – a Messiah who would put back Honor, Obedience, and Glory to God’s Kingdom. That Messiah’s name was “Salvation,” and like his ancestral predecessor Melchizedek, he would be a Priest Forever. How do we know this? It’s like the song says – The Bible tells me so!

We are familiar with these accounts in the Bible, but do we know how to string them together to make it possible to follow God’s plan? We hear The Word every day (and mostly on Sundays), but do we recognize it, do we attend to it, do we hold it in our hearts and minds, and through it know our God and what he has done for us? We need to put the Bible back in everyone’s hands, hearts, minds, and souls, and THE SOONER THE BETTER!! Why is it important to put the Bible back where it belongs as quickly as humanly possible? Because, in Matthew 24:14 we read 14 And this good news [Gospel] of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come. Remember, “It’s always good in the end. If it’s not GOOD yet, it’s not the END yet.” That means there is still HOPE of SALVATION, and we have that hope because we have God’s Word on it – the B-I-B-L-E. Take it back out of the bookshelf, take it back off the coffee table, take it back into every moment of every day, and the exile will end, no more blood will be shed, Hope will come to fruition, and we will be back where we started – in Original Righteousness, walking in the Garden-Made-Anew, and walking there with our Creator. We’ve seen a Great Light, the Great Dark is overcome. We, too, have an indelible mark given in Baptism, and it protects our Eternal Life. Grab your Bibles, Brothers and Sisters! We’re going to a MEETING – a meeting with the Lord!! AMEN? AMEN!!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 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.

Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

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Aloha Friday Message – January 17, 2020 – A Forever-First Ranking by God!

2003AFC011720 – A Forever-First Ranking by God!

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

John 1:29-31 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb* of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
* Ἀμνὸς (Amnos) [am-nos’] a sacrificial lamb used for sacrifice; a young sheep without blemish, as a type of innocence, and with sacrificial connotation, especially a one-year old lamb.

May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Today’s message sort of picks up with the continuation of the story of the Baptism  of Jesus. You will remember (I hope) that last week we looked at the word Οὕτω[ς] (houtō and houtós) {hoo’-to[s]} like this, in this way, thusly. Today’s Key Verse happens shortly after that episode in Jesus’ and John’s life – perhaps as soon as the next morning after Jesus returns from the Temptation in the Wilderness. We are all also (hopefully) familiar with the expression, “The Lamb of God.” It is an integral part of the Eucharistic Prayer. The expression is based on John’s proclamation and prophecy about Jesus in today’s Key Verse. Just before we hear the Lamb of God, the Priest breaks the Host and deposits a small piece in the chalice saying, “May this mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to all who receive it.” Then all pray the Agnus Dei / Lamb of God. We can look at it in Latin to get a clearer idea of how the liturgical prayer is formed

Latin English
Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
miserere nobis. have mercy on us.
Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
dona nobis pacem. grant us peace.

After we pray this together, the Priest elevates the fractioned host and chalice and says, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, happy are those who are called to His supper.” If we look to a literal translation of the Latin Liturgy, it says “Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccáta mundi. Beáti qui ad cenam Agni vocáti sunt.” Directly translated, that means, “”Behold the Lamb of God, behold him, who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are they who are called to the supper of the Lamb.

The use of a sacrificial lamb is described quite clearly in this passage from Leviticus 4:32-35 32 If the offering you bring as a sin offering is a sheep, you shall bring a female without blemish. 33 You shall lay your hand on the head of the sin offering; and it shall be slaughtered as a sin offering at the spot where the burnt offering is slaughtered. 34 The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 35 You shall remove all its fat, as the fat of the sheep is removed from the sacrifice of well-being, and the priest shall turn it into smoke on the altar, with the offerings by fire to the Lord. Thus the priest shall make atonement on your behalf for the sin that you have committed, and you shall be forgiven. (When the sin sacrifice is for a leader or a community, the animal used was a goat, hence the term “scapegoat” for atonement and acceptance – one to carry off the guilt of others.) This daily (morning and evening) sacrifice was for the atonement of the whole nation of Israel. In a way, it was a reinforcement of the Passover sacrifice which had procured Israel’s release from Egypt. Men carefully chose animals with specific characteristics – pure, without blemish, as one who is innocent – to be offered to God as a “sweet savor” before the Lord. (See Genesis 8:21) all of this prefigures the sacrifice of Christ as the Lamb of God; the Old Testament prophecies about him consistently point to his birth, life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven at “the right hand of God ”

We find a prophecy about the Lamb of God in Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Reformatted for clarity. I urge you to see Isaiah 53 in its entirety, especially the Complete Jewish Bible [CJB]) In this passage, we learn two important aspects of Jesus’ life and mission. Jesus would be the Man chosen by God to be the sacrificial Lamb killed to atone for sin, and he would be the Suffering Servant as described in Isaiah 42:1–4, Isaiah 49:1–6, Isaiah 50:4–7, and especially in Isaiah 52:13–53:12. Who of us can read these passages and not weep with Love for the God who saved us through the death of his only-begotten Son?

    Now, it happens that this same passage is the one being read by the Ethiopian eunuch the Apostle Philip was sent by the Holy Spirit to teach. You can find this story in Acts 8:26-40. If you’ll look at that passage you may notice that in some translations verse 37 is missing. In verse 36, the man says, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized? Some ancient manuscripts contain this for verse 37: 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” This is sometimes cited as evidence one should believe before being baptized – Jesus’ message was indeed “Repent and believe the Gospel.

In Matthew 24:14 we read 14 And this good news [Gospel] of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come. In addition we read in the “Great Commission” (See Matthew 28:16–20), 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. Being made Disciples means learning about Jesus’ life and learning about the Gospel.

There are more parallels that evoke this image of The Lamb of God in the Gospels about what God set forth in the Old Testament for atonement and what happened to Jesus in his Passion, particularly in the Gospel of the Apostle John. You may recall that when Jesus was condemned by Pilate, it was noon on the day for preparation for the Passover. (See John 18:28 and John 19:4) This was the same hour when the Priests would start the sacrificial slaughter of the lambs for the day of Passover. You may also recall that in John 19:36 we learn that Jesus’ legs were not broken. This parallels passages from Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12 where God commands that the legs of the Passover lamb shall not be broken. More importantly, Jesus – as the chosen  Lamb of God – was chosen by God and not by men to be the sacrificial offering. Think back to Abraham, Isaac, and the trip to Mount Moriah. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son, reasoning in faith that God could even restore Isaac from death. As Abraham and Isaac went up the mountain, Isaac said “Father, the wood and fire are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham replied, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” I recall once hearing that read in church, but hearing it differently. I heard, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering – my son.” Instead, the animal God provided was a ram whose horns were caught in a thicket. The Lamb that God provided was a Man who was fastened to a cross and held to it by LOVE. It was the LOVE of God that gave us the Son of God. It was the LOVE of God that gave us the Lamb of God. It is the LOVE of God that gives us Him “who takes away the sin of the world!” This Perfect, unblemished, holy, living, willing, innocent, venerable sacrifice was not sacrificed only for Passover, not only for Israel, but for THE WHOLE WORLD.

Now we have learned a little about John’s declaration, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John’s next statement is After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me. This almost sounds like a riddle worthy of Frodo Baggins, but it is, nonetheless, a profound theological statement. John knew that Jesus – Yeshua ben Joseph – was the Messiah, the Son of God, God made flesh. As God, Jesus was, and is, and will be eternal; therefore he existed – “came before” – John. He is ranked ahead of Jesus chronologically because he was – he existed, came into being – before John. This is a tricky phrase even in Greek because it’s in a weird tense: Second Perfect, Active Voice, Indicative Mood – γίνομαι (ginomai) {ghin’-om-ahee} → genonen. The best way for me to understand it is to think of it as meaning coming into being in a continuum of time, a manifestation that suggests motion from one state of being to another. Think of it as more than “to be” in the sense of “becoming.” Jesus is I AM. The Godhead all-inclusive is “always becoming Always.” I AM always is, always was, always will be I AM. Not only does Yeshua ben Joseph rank ahead of John chronologically, he also ranks ahead of John in acclamation of Glory. John had realized that this was his reason for coming to baptize for repentance, as well as his reason for announcing the imminence of the True Messiah, the Living Son of God. Jesus was the ONLY – and therefore of course first (and last) Son of God. The same can be said of our Mother, Mary – he was her first and last child. The Apostle Paul tell us he was the “firstborn of all creation” (See Colossians 1:15) “firstborn  from among the dead” (See Colossians 1:18) so that he might have “first place in everything.” Seen thusly (← Check it out!), Jesus is always becoming Always in All Ways and All things. He is God, revealed to us by the testimony – the martyrdom – of John. In God Eternal, he always ranks first among the Living because he creates the Living when creating Life which is the Way and the Truth.

Belovéd, is Jesus First always and all ways in our lives?

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever

— at your service, Belovéd!
Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

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Aloha Friday Message – January 10, 2020 – Do it thusly

2002AFC011020 – Do it thusly

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    Matthew 3:15 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way*to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

*  οὕτω[ς] (houtō and houtós) {hoo’-to[s]} like this . . .; in this manner, in this way (fashion), in accordance with this description (i.e. corresponding to what follows); in keeping with; along this line, in the manner spoken; in this way, thus(ly)

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. This coming Sunday, many churches around the world will be celebrating The Baptism of The Lord. Sometimes this event gets confused with other events in Jesus’ life. Some folks think it has something to do with last week’s celebration of the Epiphany. Some think it might be concurrent with the visit to the Temple at the Purification of Mary. A few believe it happened when Jesus was an adult, and they are right. Just for the sake of clarity, let’s look at a timeline based on what we read in the synoptic Gospels. Remember, there are no precise dates given there, so everything happened “around [this year].” Here is a sequence of some of the important events before Jesus started his ministry:

  • Birth – At Bethlehem during the lambing season
  • Circumcision – eight days later
  • Presentation – on the fortieth day after birth – Purification of Mary and Jesus’ presentation at Jerusalem
  • Visitation of the Magi – Jesus was not yet two years old
  • Massacre of all male infants under age 2 “in and around Bethlehem”
  • Flight to Egypt – around age 2
  • Herod the Great dies – Jesus is around age 4, and then
    • Herod Archelaus {ar-khel’-ah-os} takes over Judaea, Idumaea, and Samaria
    • Herod Antipas takes over Galilee and Peraea
    • The non-Jewish areas (except Samaria) were assigned to a third son, Philip, to Herod’s sister Salome, or to the province of Syria
  • Joseph is counseled by an angel that it is safe to return home
  • The Holy Family settles in Nazareth to avoid living in the territory ruled by Archelaus – Jesus is perhaps age 5
  • Lost at the Temple – around age 12
  • John the Baptist and Jesus begin their ministries around 27-30 AD. No precise date is known
  • John BAPTIZES JESUS
  • John proclaims Jesus is “the Lamb of God.”
  • Jesus retreats to the desert for 40 days of preparation and temptation (See Mark 1:12-13)
  • Jesus calls Andrew, Peter, Phillip, and Nathanael as Apostles
  • Wedding at Canna and Jesus begins baptizing, preaching, and teaching.

   Now, another thing that brings us to wonder “why did he do that?” is Jesus’ insistence that John baptize him. After all, he is the Messiah, and John knows that. He is The Son of God, and both Jesus and John know that, too. So how can a mere man who is unworthy to carry Jesus’ sandals (or tie or untie them), a man sent as a Prophet in the Spirit of Elijah, or a man who is lesser because he is mortal and his cousin is immortal having existed since before creation and who was present at Creation – how can this mortal man we worthy to Baptize the sinless Son of God as a sign of righteousness? Jesus in effect tells him, “This is the way Dad wants it done, so let’s just do it.” The key to understanding that well is in that little phrase in this way.

I’ll put that note about our Key Verse here for us to use again: οὕτω[ς] (houtō and houtós) {hoo’-to[s]} like this. . .; in this manner, in this way (fashion), in accordance with this description (i.e. corresponding to what follows); in keeping with; along this line, in the manner spoken; in this way, thus(ly). To what does “thusly” or “in this way” refer? The answer to that question will help us understand why Jesus insisted on John’s cooperation: The importance of a spirit of obedient submission to the will of The Father. “We need to do this together. Both of us need to do what God is expecting of us. It is the proper thing to do to complete every aspect of righteousness. Your responsibility is to baptize. My responsibility is to let you.” This construction occurs fairly often in Scripture. We’ve looked at demonstrative pronouns before (this, that, these, those), so now let’s look at what could be called a demonstrative adverb (another name for conjunctive adverb). Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They tell us something about the why, where, when, and how. Demonstrative adverbs are words that indicate choice (hence, ergo, thus[ly], then), or time (now, then, soon), or direction (here, there, yonder, hither). In the passage we are studying, “like this” refers to what precedes it – “let it be so now (baptize me),” and leads to what follows – “to fulfill all righteousness.” You might think of it as a proposal for action “under these circumstances.” Let’s take a quick look at a couple of other passages where this construction is used.

1 Corinthians 7:7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

1 Corinthians 7:17 17 However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. Here it is in the KVJ 17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. The key words here are as and so. Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV) If we look at this same verse in the New International Version (NIV), it reads like this: 17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.

Now this is congruent with – corresponds to – what Jesus is saying to John as they stand in the Jordan: Let’s do this because it takes care of that. You might now be saying, “Okay, old man, you’ve spent a lot of words explaining something that’s not very interesting. Why?” Here’s why:

Take a look at what Paul wrote in his letter to the Hebrews. Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones. Paul knows what he’s talking about because he understood what Jesus was saying. Instead of being subject to THE LAW, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection freed us from THE LAW and all the “silly little things” the Scribes added on to make it even more complicated and convoluted. Jesus calls his disciples to find rest and peace in the simplicity of obedience to his “Law of Love.” John 15:10“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” Want more evidence? Try this:

Matthew 5:18 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. What does God command in his law? THIS:

Deuteronomy 11:1 1 You shall love the Lord your God, therefore, and keep his charge, his decrees, his ordinances, and his commandments always.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.

Exodus 19:5-6a Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.

John 14:15 15 If you love me, keep my commands. New International Version (NIV)

That is the importance of “as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” God gave us something to do that “leads to all righteousness:” We are to Love and Obey HIM. There is the answer (← Check it out!) to “What do you want to do?” Do this to get that. Act thusly to accomplish it. Why did Jesus insist that John baptize him? Because by doing so, he demonstrated the correct answer to the question “WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?” The correct answer is ALWAYS “Do the right thing, do what is “just and merciful, righteous and humble.” (See Micah 6:8 again.) Jesus chose to be baptized in his adult life as the beginning of the consecrated life God intended for him. From that moment forward, his face was ever set toward Jerusalem and suffering, death, and resurrection. Belovéd, we must all choose that which leads to all righteousness, for that is what God created us to accomplish; however, we must also perceive and comprehend the wisdom that this goal is accomplished only with him, in him, and through him in the Power of the Holy Spirit. It is in this way – οὕτως – that we know and love the Lord our God. Perhaps we will not be the ones who hear a voice booming from the heavens saying “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

I fully expect, though, that we shall hear a gentler, more tender voice one day telling us, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (See Matthew 25:23) We are part of the testimony of Spirit, Water, and Blood. IF we will simply do as he says, we shall surely enjoy what he gives – YOLOF. And why is that what I believe? I believe it because of the most famous use of the word οὕτως:

Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν Κόσμον …
THUSLY FOR LOVED GOD THE WORLD …
For God SO loved the world …

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 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.

Passages marked NIV are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Passages marked AKJV are from The Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible (‘the KJV’), the rights in which are vested in the Crown in the United Kingdom, is reproduced here by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Message – January 3, 2020 – A King-Size Dose of Reality

2001AFC010320 – A King-Size Dose of Reality

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     Matthew 2:10-11 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Welcome to the New Year, the New Decade, and the New Email Home for our Aloha Friday Messages – at least I hope it will be our new home. I have had a difficult time setting it up – so many security restrictions! You should have already received a message New Year’s Day giving this new email, so hopefully you’re prepared to stay on the mailing list. Today we’re going to once again pull back the fog that often accompanies this story of the Magi – the Three Wise Men, or the Three Kings – and talk about what this would have meant to the folks hearing it for the first time in the First Century AD. Let’s start with that word EPIPHANY.

This Sunday is Epiphany Sunday. The actual date assigned to this event, the Epiphany of the Christ, is January 6th. Epiphany isn’t a common word like sin or salvation. It comes from a Greek word for manifestation or appearance – it means “showing forth.” For many Christians, Epiphany refers to the demonstration – the word most often used is “manifestation” – of the divine nature of Jesus and is marked by a feast day Jan. 6. It is celebrated in many churches on the Sunday closet to that date on the calendar. The Epiphany of the Christ refers to the event we all know about (or think we know) – the visitation by the Three Kings of the Orient, the Magi. We have our little Nativity Scenes set out on the coffee-table or the mantle, and there’s a little shed with the Holy Family, some shepherds, some farm animals, and three guys in extra-fancy clothes standing next to some camels. Those are the “Three Kings.” But why Three and why Kings? And why are they called “MAGI?” Let’s find out!

    First, let’s dispose of the image of the Wise Men at the stable and the manger. Notice those first four words in verse 11 up there: 11 On entering the house. Nope, not a stable, not a manger, so no swaddling clothes – all of that was for the shepherds – who really were at the first Nativity. The Wise Men came later – we don’t know how much later – but Mary and Jesus were already in a HOUSE. Joseph is not mentioned as being with them (although he was there when the shepherds showed up). The Magi followed some sort of astronomical (and perhaps also astrological) sign in the sky – the Star of Bethlehem. What or who are Magi?

The root word is Magus (Plural Magi): A Zoroastrian Priest in the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastriansim (← Check it out!); the term carried a connotative meaning of a man with supernatural or magical powers – a sorcerer or magician. They were – and are (← Check it out!) deeply involved in astrology – (← Check it out!), and like many ancient cultures were also keen on astronomy – tracking the movement of the moon and stars along with the cycles of the sun and seasons. Were there really three of them? Actually we don’t know. Pious tradition has it that there are three “kings” because there are three gifts. Why do we call them kings instead of just sorcerers, astrologers, or magicians? These Old Testament texts led to the interpretation of the magi as kings:

Psalm 72:10 10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the Isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.

Psalm 72:15  15 Long may he live! May gold of Sheba be given to him. May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all day long. (Please take a moment to see Psalm 72:10-15 to understand this in context.)

Isaiah 60:6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

In these passages, we see the Three Gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold is something we know about, but in the Bible it is often described as “the gold of Ophir.” Ophir –אוֹפִיר {o-feer’} was a land or city in southern Arabia in Solomon’s trade route where gold was traded for goods and from which much fine gold was given to Solomon (and Israel) as tribute and as gifts from other nations like Seba and Sheba. When used to describe gold, it indicates very fine, pure gold. Given as a gift to the Holy Family to honor Jesus then Newborn King, it bespeaks his royalty as a Son of David as was Solomon.

Frankincense  (← Check it out!) Frankincense was used to a great extent in ritual burials for embalming corpses. It was considered an offering on behalf of the dead. It also helped to cover the odor of the dead body. It was often used in conjunction with myrrh and even cinnamon and cassia for those purposes. It was used as a perfume, a flavoring, as incense, and as a highly-valued item of trade because it was so rare and costly. Given to the Holy Family, it signifies recognition of Jesus’ deity, the recognition that he is the Son of God, and the eventually eternal ruler of the universe.

Myrrh has a very fascinating story. We will look at it in Hebrew and Greek because it is so meaningful in Bible history. Myrrh (Hebrew) – מֹר־ (mor) {mōr} is an Arabian gum from the bark of a tree, used in sacred oil and in perfume. Myrrh is mentioned 7 times in the Song of Solomon as a romantic perfume. (See the Complete Jewish Bible version of Song of Solomon 5:1-5.) We’ve already mentioned it was used in embalming, and it is of course mentioned in the New Testament at the beginning and end of Jesus’ earthly life. In Greek it is listed in the account of the crucifixion as wine mixed with myrrh (or another name used was “gall”) σμυρνίζω (smurnizó) {smoor-nid’-zo}→from σμύρνα (smýrna) {smoor’-nah} “myrrh” properly, mingle with myrrh (smurnizó), a bitter herb given to help deaden the pain of criminals sentenced to crucifixion. Wine mixed with gall was commonly offered to dying criminals as a pain-deadener. This cheap wine (sour wine was the common drink of Roman soldiers – sour wine in Latin is vin egar – vinegar! It was routinely given to people condemned to brutal execution. Here are some passages where we can see these uses:

Mark 15:23 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.

Matthew 27:34 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.

In closing, Belovéd, it is also useful to get a grasp of the geography mentioned in the account of the Epiphany because it shows the recognition of “the whole wide world” – the world known at that time – that Jesus was the King of EVERYTHING; EVERY TIME, PLACE, PERSON, AND SITUATION. Here are some of those important geographic locations:

Tarshish – Probably Tartessus, a city and emporium of the Phoenicians in the southwest coast of Spain, represented as one of the sons of Javan; however there is also a very clear description of a place called by the same which was built and used as a port on the Red Sea (← Check it out!) by Solomon! It was to and from that port than many of the fabulous treasures were delivered to him.

Tema – some 250 miles south-east of Edom, on the route between Damascus and Mecca, in the northern part of the Arabian peninsula, toward the Syrian Desert; the modern Teyma’.

“Sheba” and “Seba” are distinguished by the writer of Genesis (Genesis 10:7), and appear not even to have been very near the one to the other. Sheba was in Southeastern Arabia, and was known to the Greeks and Romans as the country of the Sabaeans. Saba was in Africa, on the Middle Nile, and the Sebaeans (סְבָאִים) are closely connected by Isaiah with Ethiopia and Egypt (Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 45:14) (← Check it out!)

Midian – No boundaries can now be assigned to “the land of Midian.” It included territory on the West as well as on the East of the Gulf of `Aqaba (Exodus 4:19). It lay between Edom and Paran (1 Kings 11:18). In the time of the Judges their district seems to have extended northward to the East of Gilead (Judges 8:10) – in this passage “children of the east” is a translation of “Kedemites, descendants of Ishmael who lived in the Middle Euphrates region.

Sometimes in researching these messages, I come across a delightful surprise. Such is the case with a hymn – a childhood favorite and one which my Dad dearly loved – to the point of tears at times. It’s called “Out of the Ivory Palaces.” (↔ Music Link) and it is based on Psalm 45:8-9  … your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad; daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir. Please enjoy all the information links I have provided for you. It is my sincere hope that when you celebrate The Epiphany of The Lord, you will find that this information resonates in your heart and mind. The reason is simple: Because I love you – and you know for certain HE loves you even more! How? We know whom we have believed (↔ Music Link), and know he will be our Savior who gives us YOLOF. The reality is that he is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Almighty, the Everliving God, El Shaddai-Olam, Creator, Savior, and Ruler of all that is seen and unseen. That is definitely a King-Sized reality!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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Aloha Friday Message – December 29, 2019 – We’re outta here!

1952AFC122919 – We’re outta here!

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

     Colossians 3:12-13 12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! We made it! This is the final week of 2019. In just a couple of days, all the “20/20” jokes will start. Of course, for those of us “of a certain age,” the old joke work just as well. We still laugh at them because – well, because somehow they are new (again) to us! You probably remember this one.  (← Check it out link!) This is the drawing of “The Flight to Egypt” as seen by a kindergartner. That’s Mary, then Jesus (halo and all), then Joseph seated in the plane. And of course, the guy up front in Ponchus, the Pilot.

It’s easy to understand how a kid would think of it that way. Of course, we know better – maybe. Just why did Joseph get orders to pack up and take Jesus and Mary to Egypt?

We remember there was that terrible day (maybe several days of terror actually) when Herod the Great ordered the murder of all the male children under two years old in Bethlehem. John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ were born toward the end of his 37 years as king. It was the rumored that the “New King of The Jews” would displace him. Ἡρῴδης (Héródés) {hay-ro’-dace} is the name associated with this king (the titular name is based on a word for “heroic”). He was extraordinarily cruel, paranoid, and thought nothing of executing anyone he perceived to be a threat – including his own wife and the two sons she bore him! This is the man whose decision to murder scores of innocents put the life of Jesus – and his parents – in harm’s way. Herod was, as we say these days, a real piece of work.

Herod was a brave warrior and skilled in that kind of life. He was well educated and shrewd in his dealing with others – in a very paranoid way. He was infatuated with Roman customs, Roman society, Roman politics, and especially Roman taxes. He added to the burden of taxes his subjects had to bear from Rome by adding more on top of that. His murderous reputation was exceeded only by his disdain for his opponents. The Jewish people were totally fed up with him, yet feared to go against him; his reaction would be violent and costly. Herod was also a builder – he built pagan temples and amphitheaters in Greek cities – some within his “realm” and others even outside his sphere of influence. He restored may old cities and even created new cities – all to impress Emperor Augustus. He rebuilt Strato’s Tower, an ancient Phoenician settlement on the Mediterranean, and created a large artificial harbor called Caesarea Maritima (not to be confused with Caesarea Philippi). He undertook a tremendous restoration of the Temple, the Temple Mount, and planned a retaining wall. None of this was enough to make his people forget what a horrid man he was. Because Herod was so evil, getting the Holy Family out of the Holy Land was absolutely essential for their survival. Herod would continue to pursue them until he himself died. But wait, there’s more.

In this Sunday’s readings, the Gospel says, “He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the Prophet [Hosea] might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son.” Now, Matthew would not mention that if it was not important, so what makes that important? Let’s take a look at what Hosea said: Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. You may remember we’ve talked about “types,” or “foreshadowing.” These figures – literary devices – look ahead and back at the same time. In this prophecy, Hosea is referring to that actual historical nation Israel. The Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who was called Israel) went to live in Egypt at the time of Joseph. In fact, quite a number of Hebrews moved to Egypt, and the nation sort of incubated and grew up there for a few hundred years. Then God sent Moses to call his child – the nation of Israel – to come out of Egypt and to go back to their homeland. Their development took place in Egypt. They went from “childhood” to “manhood” in Egypt. This is a type or foreshadowing of the life of Jesus. He spent a significant part of his childhood in Egypt. Egypt, for Israel, was a place of bondage, of sin, and of great difficulties. To be “called out of Egypt” is to be called out of a arduous situation into a less demanding life, a life of blessing. The Holy Family stayed in Egypt and waited for God to provide that blessing of returning home; God’s plan was to bring his Son’s family out of Egypt.

Then an Angel of God came and told Joseph, Jesus’ foster father, that it was safe to return to their homeland because Herod was dead. As their journey progressed, they learned that Herod Antipas, the  son of Herod the Great and Malthace, and he was a chip off the old block – a real stinker like his dad. He was a real loser, too. He decided he didn’t like his first wife, so he went after the wife of his brother Herod Phillip; her name was Herodias (lots of “-herod-” names in this story; remember, Herod translates roughly as “hero.”) It was this illegal marriage which John the Baptist condemned, and Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias were very angry about that. It was at Herodias’ urging that John was beheaded. She was afraid of him. Herod Antipas was curious about John, and later about Jesus. That curiosity was thwarted when the Chief Priests had Jesus arrested. All of this fits well into the narrative of Israel being formed in Egypt and then called out to establish the kingdom as God had foreseen it. Why did it happen that way?

It happened that way because that history is what laid out the highway for the entry of the Messiah. Jesus’ birth, growth, development, and entry into ministry was foreshadowed through Israel  by their birth, growth, development, and entry into God’s service. God always has a plan, it’s always the right plan, and it always works the way he planned it. God established Israel as a family, as the descendants of the Patriarchs. He provided a place for them to mature their family. He provided a place for the family to inherit and to rule as their own land. He planned that family would be the basis of community. It is in community that we learn to know, love, and serve God. God is Community, and we are created in the image of God. Our family should be an mirroring of God’s family. Now that we know why God called his Son’s family out of Egypt, I’d like to pull a short excerpt from Sunday’s second reading see what simple guidelines we find for being a family like the Holy family. Let’s turn to

Colossians 3:18-21 18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart. Notice how the passage emphasizes an appropriateness of everything depending on and matching the relationship of Creator and creation, of God and Family, of what is proper as it exists in God’s plan. In years past, and in some situations even more so in the Culture of Outrage, the phrase “wives be subject to your husbands” still rankles some of us. The sense in which it is properly used here is based on ὑποτάσσω (hupotassó) {hoop-ot-as’-so} – in Strong’s Concordance this is 5293 hypotássō (from 5259 /hypó, “under” and 5021 /tássō, “arrange”) – properly, “under God’s arrangement,” i.e. submitting to the Lord (His plan) to submit to one’s control; to yield to one’s admonition or advice. Thus “fitting” belongs with “in the Lord,” and not to “subject” (or submissive). This is expanded in Ephesians 5:24-25 24 Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her …. In Colossians 3:23 the Apostle Paul gave another example of the proper order of things when he says 23 Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters.  Even the Apostle Peter stated this was proper and appropriate saying in 1 Peter 3:1-2 1 Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that, even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

Husbands are admonished to love their wives gently and in the way that God loves us in Christ. These ideas have been badly misappropriated for millennia because men took to the idea that women were to be inferior slaves, and women naturally – AND RIGHTLY – resented that. The reverse came about in the late 20th century and there is still a great deal of angst about the subject these days. Nonetheless, what God has planned is still what is proper, and for either gender to misconstrue his plan is the true source of the problem.

In this passage from Colossians, children are commended to the parents for proper rearing – in gentleness and fairness lest they become discouraged. I’ve told you before about Mrs. Wright and Ephesians 6:1-2 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord,  for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” — this is the first commandment with a promise:“so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (See Exodus 20:12)

And finally, in this short but powerful passage about the ideal family, the Apostle Paul writes 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart. Here the Greek word used is ἐρεθίζω (erethizó) {er-eth-id’-zo} – stir up, arouse to anger, provoke, irritate, incite, embitter, exasperate. This can happen in two ways – the absentee father or the overbearing father. Neither is acceptable in God’s plan because God is never absent nor is he ever overbearing.

Now that we have a better understanding of “called out of Egypt,” and the importance of a God-centered family life, we can better understand how our families can confront and endure the hardships this evil, material, and often godless world imposes on our lives. We are called out of Egypt, Belovéd, to set up a family life that echoes, mirrors, and follows the life of The Holy Family. As we celebrate that beautiful family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph this weekend, let us joyfully celebrate the Hope that comes in living as a family that follows God’s plan for community in the way HE intended.

Reminder: Watch for a new email address soon. I seem to have a pretty flat learning curve (well, alright it’s actually downward sloped) on that. So now, for 2019, we’re outta here. Let’s get the heck out of Egypt as well, OK?

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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Aloha Friday Message – December 20, 2019 – Here’s your sign!

1951AFC122019 – Here’s Your Sign (Originally posted in part under Aloha Friday Messages at http://www.aloha-friday.org – The Moon Beam Network – 1651AFC121616)

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

     Matthew 1:22-23 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the Prophet*: 23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

* Isaiah 7:14 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. That is God is with us.

Romans 1:7b Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou ʻŌmea! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Belovéd! It’s a little early – I’ll probably tell you that again soon – but it never hurts to start early this time of year. It seems like the hedonists have decided they should get a jump on the competition by having “Black Friday” up to a month in advance and then run all month long. It’s not so important to remember the meaning of Christmas; what’s important is to make the first sale. There is just such an unprecedented, huge, disgusting tidal wave of Worldly distractions this year! There are still those among us who cling tenaciously to the Spirit of Christmas – not to the exclusion of concurrent celebratory events like parties, skits, gift-giving, caroling, alms, and church-going – but really it’s almost as bad as when Ahaz got that prophecy about the Virgin. Do you remember Ahaz? Let me tell you a little about him.

Ahaz was a king of Judah. He was a contemporary of the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah prophesied against four Judean Kings – Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Of these, Ahaz was the wickedest one of them all. Sometimes people get him mixed up with AHAB who was a king of Israel and was the husband of Queen Jezebel. Ahab was a corker, that’s to be sure, and he did a lot of evil things. He was active during the time of Elijah – the middle of the 800’s B.C. Ahaz, on the other hand, lives during the time of Isaiah – around the middle of the 700’s B.C., or around 100 years later than Ahab. Here’s the introduction he got in 2nd Kings:

2 Kings 16:1-4 1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, King Ahaz son of Jotham of Judah began to reign. Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign; he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had done, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even made his son pass through fire, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. He sacrificed and made offerings on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.

He reigned for about 16 years. That phrase, “ He even made his son pass through fire.. ” indicates that his male infant was sacrificed to Moloch by being burned alive on a white-hot iron idol of the false God Moloch. He took up the practices of the Peoples surrounding him and forsook the God of Israel. He abused and desecrated the temple and its sacred vessels and candle stands. He erected a profane altar to Syrian and Ammonite gods. Because of the evil he did, his kingdom was subjugated by the Assyrians. And yet, it was to Ahaz that the prophecy of the birth of Jesus was made. He tried to get out of hearing it by protesting “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” It was way too late for that! (See Isaiah 7:10-14)

And so it was that centuries later, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would play a significant role in the birth of the Son of God, Emmanuel.

Wait a minute. The prophecy says “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” So why did she name him Jesus? Ah, the key to that riddle is in this little word call. (See Matthew 1:19-25) This verb is קָרָא (qara) { kaw-raw’} and it does not mean the same as the verb name. In this case, and in many other places in the Bible, “call” does not mean to name but rather to proclaim. It names a characteristic or characteristics of a person, place, or thing. Adam “called her woman because she came from man.” Her name was not “woman;” that was what she was proclaimed to be. “God called the dry land earth;” that was its nature and eventually became its name. “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve because she was mother of all the living.” We can see, then, that Jesus was called Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel (also spelled Immanuel), the Messiah, the Christ, and the Anointed of God – but his name was Jesus – YEHOSHUA. He got that name from Joseph: Matthew 1:25b and he named him Jesus.

Despite all of the wickedness Ahaz did in his life, it was he to whom the prophet Isaiah gave the news of a Savior of whom the Herald Angels would sing, “which is Christ the LORD.” That can be a source of hope and solace for us in these evil times when Satan has such a grip on the whole world. God can go into the dark and dismal hearts and minds around us and make everything bright and joyful. How can God to that? Because he is called Emmanuel, the Promised of Ages, the King of Glory, the Morning Star, God of Peace, Author of Life, Our Refuge, Our Strength, Our Rock, Our Salvation, The Good Shepherd, The Holy Infant, The King of kings and the Lord of lords, The Eternal, The Everlasting, The Almighty, The Dawn of Justice, The Branch from the Root of Jesse, Son of the Virgin Mary and The Only Begotten Son of God, Lover of All Mankind, The Way, The Truth, and The Life, and his name is Jesus, the Christ of God. And he is here. Μαρανα θα! Μαραν αθα! Maranâ thâ’! Maran ‘athâ’ – Come Lord! Our Lord has come! Just look for his sign in your heart. It’s the bright and joyful area right over there.

When you see these, you know what to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you see this, you know what’s going to happen to the almond tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you see red clouds in the western evening sky you, know there will be fair weather.

 

 

 

 

 

And when you see this in the morning, you expect a storm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sign precedes a different kind of storm.

 

 

 

 

 

And when you see this happening in our time – be ready to meet the Lord: Wars, insurrections, nation against nation, famine, horrid disease, imposters of Christ, earthquakes, famines, plagues, Jerusalem surrounded by armies, a New Temple, families divided, innocent lives lost, great distress on the Earth, men’s hearts will fail, signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. One-third of the stars* will be swept from the sky, and then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. (See Luke 21:7-36) Seriously, read it, then study it. There’s your sign. Act accordingly, please Belovéd.

*This may refer to world leaders, “political stars” elevated to prominence and then swept away.

The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD —
a painting by David Roberts (1796-1849).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And when you see this happening in our time – be ready to meet the Lord: Wars, insurrections, nation against nation, famine, horrid disease, imposters of Christ, earthquakes, famines, plagues, Jerusalem surrounded by armies, a New Temple, families divided, innocent lives lost, great distress on the Earth, men’s hearts will fail, signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. One-third of the stars* will be swept from the sky, and then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. (See Luke 21:7-36) Seriously, read it, then study it. There’s your sign. Act accordingly, please Belovéd.

*This may refer to world leaders, “political stars” elevated to prominence and then swept away.

This is Advent. We have had three lessons so far on waiting. This is the last Sunday of Advent, and Christmas is just a hoot and a holler away. There is not much to wait for at this Christmas – or is there? Are we ready to testify? Are we ready for HIM and his coming New Advent? Are fully aware we trust him? Are we up-to-date on his mercy?

Here are the links for the Mercy Series I mentioned:

Aloha Friday Message Mercy Series and Mercy Series – Part 1 of 4

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

WATCH FOR A CHANGE IN EMAIL ADDRESS COMING SOON!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 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.

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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The Todd Family 50th Annual Christmas Letter – 2019

1950+AFC121919

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) Let’s begin with the obvious: This is WAY too late for Christmas! It’s more like an Easter letter. What happened anyway, no Christmas letter? The answer is: LOTS AND LOTS OF STUFF! Let us describe for you some of the stuff that went on.

In our last letter, we mentioned that Crucita was busy planning a BIG party to celebrate our 50th Anniversary in April 2019. That was a major success, thanks largely in part because of wonderful friends who became our “Wedding Planners” – Lynn Campbell and Cheryl Monis. Our actual anniversary was April 19th, but we celebrated a week later (4/27) with a beautiful Matrimonial Mass in the afternoon followed by a luau at Smith’s Tropical Gardens on Kauaʻi. We even managed to perfect a “dance step” so we could lead off the dancing at the celebration. It was called “The Lean.”

Crucita has been shining as the President of the Kauaʻi Chapter of the Hawaiʻi State Teacher’s Association – Retired. She’s been active with two Teacher Retirement groups for several years now, and she’s on the go quite often to Oʻahu and other locations on Kauaʻi for meetings. Of course she still makes time for repairing the house (resident carpenter), clearing the yard (resident gardener), and running the household (Minister of Finance and Executive Chef). Recently she also became the new owner of a Hyundai Kona! Our Sonata literally died in the COSTCO gas station and we had to junk it.

Timothy filling in as her “Home and Garden” assistant. But he’s up to more as well – he landed a choice gig at the premiere resort on Kauaʻi. He has gigs 3-5 nights a week, plus he’s been playing with the Choir for our 9:30 Mass at St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Kapaʻa. He has regular engagements at a couple of establishments around our island and has even traveled to the mainland. It’s been quite a year for him, and things are looking to pick up again this year with the possibility of some high-paying Mainland engagements. Try checking TimToddViolin.com frequently.  He’s looking into a “vehicle upgrade,” too.

Maria Cereza who is still in a small community in Tennessee. Her sons now 16 and 13, continue to do well in school winning recognition for their academic achievements. Cherie’s work situation continues to be a struggle. She’s had a very tough year – tough, but rewarding. We hope she will be able to get out of TN with the boys and find a more settled life.

Chick’s 2018-19 was less challenging than 2017. Recuperation is now “complete,” and mobility is much improved. The focus for 2018-19 was to keep up with the weekly Aloha Friday Messages through email and online, and Terrific Tuesday messages, and weekly Stewardship and Family Bible Study postings for our Parish bulletin and Facebook page. Somehow writing a Christmas Letter just didn’t make it to the Top Ten, so (per usual) we’re running a bit behind in the News Department.

We continue to be as active in our Parish as our energies allow, and stepping back from some of those responsibilities has helped a bit. Chick’s OA makes standing still difficult and the vertebral compressions in neck and thorax make ¡Ai-YA! a frequently-used phrase (know-whada-mean?)  It’s been great, though, to have Timothy at Mass with us! Dad gets around better with the help of his “mule” Mephibosheth (a cane), and Crucita seems to be simply indefatigable.

Come visit soon if you can. We’re also on Facebook (surprise!). Be sure to check out http://www.aloha-friday.org and to join the Moon Beam Network. I moved the Subscription link to it’s easier to find. To sum it up, we’re doing pretty well, and still crazy in love (for 50+ years!). Well, there you have it. Now we know it’s not quite Christmas, nonetheless we offer our traditional Christmas blessing:

May Hope and Peace and Joy and Love
Be yours in the coming
of the Christ Child

Merry Christmas!!

&

Happy 2020!

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever

— at your service, Belovéd

Carry Me …

THE REAL REASON FOR THE SEASON. (↔ Music Link)

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

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Aloha Friday Message – December 13, 2019 – The Power of Patience

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

   James 5:7 Be patient,* therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.

*Μακροθυμήσατε (Makrothymēsate) from μακροθυμέω (makrothumeó) {mak-roth-oo-meh’-o} to persevere, to be patient – I am longsuffering, I have patience, I am forbearing, I have perseverance. James uses this word in a way that is unusual when coupled with the image of a farmer waiting for crops to come in. He directs the Church to wait as God waits – with divine longsuffering. In the six verses before today’s Key Verse, James is describing how the rich have abused the poor, thinking they could set aside the wages owed to their workers thereby enriching themselves even more through fraud. James urges his flock to be patient in these trials because “the coming of the Lord is near.

Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.

“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is ‘timing.’ It waits on the right time to act, for the right principles, and in the right way.” ― Fulton J. Sheen

In today’s world, feelings are more important than truth. The World takes delight in shaming and persecuting us; nonetheless, we can – and must – endure in firmly declared and patient Truth. DO we want to be liked more than we want to be truthful? How easily we have forgotten that nothing, nothing in this World is worth dying for? Only that which is beyond the muck and smut of the World is worth dying for because only those things are worth living for if we are being truthful.

All of us know we will die in this life on Earth. All of us know we will live an Everlasting Life beyond our life on Earth. NONE of us know with absolute certainty what the condition and surrounding of that Everlasting Life will be. All of us know we will get to that point of transition eventually. Many of us want to “die young and put it off as long as possible.” Some of us are ready to leave at less than a moment’s notice. Between this present moment and that coming moment, what shall we do? What can we do? What may we do? What must we do?

The answer comes in one of those very-familiar four-letter words: WAIT. It is true that some of us do things that will, in effect, “hurry-up” that Big Change of Address – usually it involves excessive use or consumption of Worldly possessions, perhaps even to the point of abuse. The list of “Worldly Good Things” that can kill you seems interminable and has grown longer (and more ludicrous) every day. Many times we think we can substitute those things for God. We make gods of celebrities, material things, feelings, beliefs (whether right or wrong), luck or fate or “destiny,” and even things which don’t exist like Leprechauns and unicorns. We try to find something for which we can live, for which we can do something that will give value to our lives. Among the many things we do not do is WAIT. Waiting seems to be cowardly, or stupid, or simply unproductive. There is an old adage which seems to motivate many of us: “Don’t just stand there! DO SOMETHING!” What if I told you that – since that is what the World expects – it is backwards? In more moments that we’d like to admit, the truth is we should be saying “Don’t just do something! STAND THERE!” That seems counterintuitive in “this day and age.” And that is exactly why this chiasm (or chiasmus ← definition) actually makes sense. We must be patient. We must wait. We must not run headlong into death in ignorance. We should make our waiting worth something. We should wait actively. Wait? What does that mean – wait actively? How can patience be active? To understand that let’s look at some additional Scriptures about waiting and patience.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.

Job 6:11 11 “What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?” New International Version (NIV)

That last quote from Job carries an important clue about waiting. We wait because we have HOPE. If you think about it, there’s no point in waiting unless we are waiting for a purpose – a someone or something – that we can reasonably expect to be given. And if we are waiting for a purpose then we are not just passively letting life roll by. That’s like being a living speed-bump – you just lay down and let everything run slowly over you! No, Belovéd, we wait with active readiness – “CONSTANT VIGILANCE.” That way, no matter what comes our way – for good or ill – we are prepared to deal with it, and our preparation usually includes a surplus (that surplus is the direct evidence of God’s generosity). We are patient, then, because we have HOPE. Where or what is the source of that HOPE? Well, dearhearts, I know you know the answer to that! Behold! “I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.” (See Psalm 119:11)

So what Word have I hidden in my heart that defines hope for me?

Jeremiah 17:7-8 Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.

Psalm 39:7 “And now, O Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you.

1 Timothy 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5: 3-5 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Romans 8:38-39 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For me, that is hope. When I look around the world and see loved-ones suffering; innocents being murdered, persecuted, tormented, and terrorized; natural disasters overwhelming the great and the small alike; the oceans, the lands, and the very sky above us polluted and dying; then I turn my eyes toward Jesus, and I see HOPE.

I can’t think of anyone or anything better to wait for than God! My HOPE is to spend my eternity with, in, and for him as intimately as possible. The most intimate parts of our lives center on Love: God, family, friends, country, the Eucharist. We are vigilant because we want what we have and it is – or should be – enough. If we grow impatient and let our vigilance lapse, we may miss out and be caught unprepared – like the people in Noah’s time, we might miss the boat. Instead, as the wise virgins who trimmed their lamps and brought extra oil, if we are patiently, selflessly, continuously well-prepared; if that for which we have prepared does not come, we have a surplus. We run into a problem when  we start to believe that we don’t deserve God’s Good Gifts and therefore he will withhold them from us. LIES, and all lies are not of God. The World tells us plenty of lies when it comes to patience and waiting. Some of those lies sound pretty convincing – they are the “PC version” of Scripture. I confess, I use them, too; but as I become more aware of what they actually do to my patience, I am discerning better choices. Instead of actively waiting in hope, we say “I’m just going to let God tell me what to do.” That way, if things “go sideways,” it’s God’s fault, not ours. Or maybe we just sit there on the fence rail and figure we’re safe if we don’t commit to one or the other course of action. That isn’t active waiting; that’s hiding in plain sight. If we’re not moving, growing, producing, then we are useless. “But hang on there, Chick! Didn’t you just say ‘Don’t just do something! STAND THERE!’?” Yes, I did, but I did not immediately say what we should be doing as we stand. Standing is a form of waiting, or readiness for action. Sitting on my butt and moaning about the World is not waiting. It is self-indulgent pessimism, and I want no part of that. There are better ways.

There are some simple things each of us can do starting today that will help us sharpen our skills in discernment. We can begin with acknowledging that God does not and will not withhold from us what he set aside for us at the moment of creation. He has created each and all of us to be like him, but with special emphases on what he plants within us. If we sit around waiting for a telegram from God to tell us exactly what to do, that isn’t waiting and that isn’t patience. Rather, we should thank God for giving us body, mind, and spirit that we can offer up for him to use. Then, share our Gifts to the World – don’t sell them, don’t count them, don’t be prideful in them – just share them as liberally as we received them. THAT is active waiting. Note, though, that we are called upon to be discerning. We’ve mentioned 3-D discernment before (← Check it out!).

3-D Discernment is  Discernment that is Direct, Deliberative, and Descriptive. Direct in the sense that it is confrontational as when Jesus spoke directly to the demon that was oppressing someone. Deliberative in that it weighs the evidence of Good Fruits versus Corrupt Fruit. Descriptive in that it lays out in no uncertain terms where the errors are and defines them so that only a demon or a fool would walk into those traps again. I encourage you to reread 1839AFC091418 – Discernment and Discrimination. There is yet another part of waiting we usually forget in our selfishness. Someone is waiting for us.

Isaiah 30:18 18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Yes, Belovéd, God is waiting for you, waiting for me, waiting for the World to wake up and declare that HE is God. Isaiah 48:9 For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, so that I may not cut you off. Isaiah 45:22 22 Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. Why will – why does – God wait for us? He waits so that everything he has put into us has a chance to come to fruition so that in our Salvation, he may be exalted. God made all things with the potential to grow. Knowing that, let’s go back and look at that farmer James mentioned.

The farmer starts with seed – he bought it or grew it himself – and he places it in the soil. He cares for it with irrigation and weeding. He waits for it to grow. He knows what to expect because “this is the way it works – plant, grow, harvest.” Now, we know it would be a fool who goes out on the sunny afternoon of August 15th to sow a field of wheat and waits until September 26th to harvest. What will he harvest? NOT MUCH! God plants, the spirit tends, the Angels harvest, the Lord judges. That’s how it works. Waiting is part of the process; vegetating is not. The full season of maturation is required for a full harvest. The farmer plants in hope of a harvest, and he assists in that hope by taking action as the crop grows. “Be still and wait upon the Lord” does not mean “sit down, shut up, and watch.” It means to confidently trust that God knows better than we do. Isaiah 30:15 15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. (New International Version (NIV) How many thousands of years did God wait for the World to be ready before Jesus came to us? For 2000+ years, we have waited for his return. God is waiting for our return. Are we ready yet? Or will we be like the foolish virgins who did not come prepared? If you listen carefully, we might hear him calling our names. (↔ Music Link) When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, (↔ Music Link) are we going to be listening for HIM (↔ Music Link) or will we be listening to our own little selfish selves? I am waiting for Jesus, and as long as I’m waiting, I’m trusting that loving you is a major part of what he has given me to do. Let us wait on Him together so the Lord will renew our strength. (← Check it out!)

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 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.

PASSAGES MARKED NIV are from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

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Aloha Friday Message – December 6, 2019 – It’s the Same Old Story

1949AFC120619 – It’s the Same Old Story

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

   Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Can you believe it’s December already? It is often said that as we age life seems to go by faster and faster. When we were kids, summer was always too short (well, for most kids, but not for me – I wanted to be back in school). It seemed to take forever to have another birthday. Church service was lo-o-o-o-ong, and coffee-and-donuts after was short. We never wanted to go visit my parents’ friends, but when it was time to go home hours later, we threw a fit and wanted to stay. Does any of this sound like a familiar story? I’m sure we all have memories like these – memories of time dragging along, time spent with our chums – or later on with our romancer. As we get older, we find genuine pleasure and sometimes gales of laughter in the time spent retelling some of these memories with or about family, or perhaps with longtime friends, or new acquaintances. In our house – the Land of the Todd Tribe in Denver – a lot of those story-telling events occurred with people we knew at Corona Presbyterian Church. Mostly they were stories about things people had done, or places they had gone. Sometimes, though, they were about moments of trial or danger, or stories of faith, and even at times stories about the Bible and how it affected our lives.       My very first “public speaking experience” was one of telling a Bible story – the story of Jonah and the Whale. In the Old Testament, the word for story is מִדְרָשׁ (midrash) {mid-rawsh’}, so I told the midrash of Jonah in front of several hundred people while standing on the dais at Corona Presbyterian. You can find out more about that disaster here. I loved reading, and I especially loved telling and retelling the stories I read. Most people these days don’t know anything about Tanzy and Bobbles on Fable Island, or The Water Nix. I could recite Simple Simon top to bottom, knew the stories of Siegfried (I called him Sig-FRIED like French Fried), Beowulf, and Reynard the Fox. Gulliver and Sinbad were favorite stories along with Saggy-Baggy Elephant, Babar, The Little Train that Could, Bongo the Bear, Lassie, Aladdin, the Velveteen Rabbit, “Br’er Rabbit,” and on and on. I loved the stories of Jonah and The Great Fish, Moses and the Bush, Jacob and the Angel and the Ladder, David and Goliath, Jonathan and David, the Nativity Story, Jesus in the Temple, Psalm 138, and all the Gospel Parables and accounts of Jesus’ preaching, teaching, healing, dying, and rising. By now, all of you know that much of my past centered around the hymns and Gospel songs we sang at Corona. I’ve put bunches of those links in previous posts, so let’s talk about the story behind the posts and the stories about the stories.

These posts are the stories of my story with Jesus and his Church. It is a way for me to testify about how God has shaped my life – given me my life. Sometimes I get to share your stories – especially your prayer requests (which is one of the main reasons we have this outlet on the Internet). Music has always been a top activity in my story. From marching around the room to Big John and Sparky with Yehudi to the 12-inch 78 rpm records my Gramma gave me to the coral-colored transistor radio I got in the seventh grade to the Children’s Choir and Sunday School, and Concert Choir, the Folk Song Club, my guitar and dulcimer, always, always, always there is music, music, music. That strange little guy in the back right-hand corner of my brain is always playing something. If there is music coming from any source, I cannot help but listen to it. That is especially true if it is music in related in any form or fashion to His Story the story of Jesus. So, Belovéd, I’m going to risk sending you into the listening booth. If you’re at work, you might want to find your ear-buds; however, if you are at home or at the beach or in the mountains, go ahead and PUMP UP THE VOLUME.

Tell Me the Old, Old Story (↔ Music Link) From the Corona and Two-by-Two days

Tell Me the Stories of Jesus (↔ Music Link) I still sing this one when I need pepping up

I Love to Tell the Story (↔ Music Link) I like the traditional arrangement better than the contemporary, overly orchestrated versions

Tell Me The Story Of Jesus (↔ Music Link) A close relative of my pep-up song

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (↔ Music Link) Gramma’s favorite was The Old Rugged Cross

Shadrach (↔ Music Link) I sang Armstrong’s version for years.

Blessed Assurance (↔ Music Link) This and Jesus Loves Me are great ways to start your day, remember?

I don’t want to take up much more of your time, but I do want to make a point related to today’s Key Verse:

His Story can be, should be, would be, could be part of our story if the Spirit of God is within us (See Romans 8:9). So what I write is because whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.   "Our Hope is in the Lord..."I’m not going to take up any more of your day because I want you to give as much of it as you can (and Belovéd that means 100% of it) to God. Play the music. Find more music. Send me links to your favorites. Let me know what you felt listening to this handful of my favorites. This is a short-short post with a long-long message. Tell the story for others to hear, hear the stories others tell, and make The Greatest Story the Story of Our Faith in God and each other. I love you, Jesus loves you more, and that should be good enough for everyone.

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Aloha Friday Message Mercy Series

Mercy Series – Part 2 of 4

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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Aloha Friday Message – November 29, 2019 – Ready! Set! WAIT!

1948AFC112919 – Ready! Set! WAIT!

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    Matthew 24:42, 44c – 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day [or hour] your Lord is coming.44b for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. I was thinking back about the various series we have done over the years. It was tempting to go back to the Aloha Friday Message Mercy Series and reissue them in edited and updated form. That was contrary to the guidance already in heart and mind for this post – the idea of watchful waiting during Advent. Advent means coming, a beginning, a dawn, a start, an anticipated arrival of an important person, event, or object. For Christians, and especially Catholic Christians, it is the season of reflection, discernment, and anticipation for the birth of Jesus – Christmas.

“But everyone loves Christmas, and we all look forward to it. We know ‘Jesus IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON,’ but there is so much more to anticipate with joy!” Yes, that is certainly true. We all have more than one reason to look forward to Christmas; not all of us, though, are ready for the Season of Advent. This particular season of Advent is the beginning of Cycle A of the Liturgy.

Cycle A is essentially a process of preparing us for baptism and for understanding the principals behind our baptismal vows. Most of the Gospel readings are from the Gospel of Matthew. The first Sunday of Advent (which is the first Sunday of the liturgical year) uses Matthew’s account of Jesus’ warning to be vigilant because we will not know the day or hour of his return. Matthew’s Gospel covers Jesus’ ministry with emphasis on compassion and forgiveness – Mercy. Its focus is on the early Christian community among the Jews. Matthew portrays Jesus as “the New Moses,” leading his people out of the wilderness of sin and into the Promised Land of The Kingdom of God. Matthew makes sure they (and we) fully understand that Jesus is a man, a Jewish man, a son of Abraham and Israel who is the True Son of God. In this Gospel, Jesus’ followers frequently beg him for mercy. Jesus takes the Jewish leaders – the Scribes and Pharisees – to task for failing to show mercy. In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us, his Disciples “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (See Matthew 5:7). Because of this theme of compassion and mercy leading to forgiveness, I’m going to include a link at the end of every Aloha Friday Message during this Advent season for Liturgical Year 2020, Cycle A (← Check it out!) that will take you to a previous lesson on Mercy that is posted on the Catholic 365 website.

There you have it, the background for the four Sundays of this Advent season. For each Sunday we will follow our customary practice of choosing a key verse from the readings, amplifying the meanings and background of that passage, and then – at the end of the message – there will be a “supplementary link” to allow us to reflect on the importance, the effects, and the reality of God’s Mercy in our own lives. We all know (or should know) that it is only the Mercy of Grace that makes it possible to be prepared for the return of Christ. As we prepare to welcome Christ the King coming as a baby during Advent, we also prepare – at least in our hearts – for the day or hour our Lord is coming, “for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” For the past 2000 years we have been waiting. During the first century after Jesus established the Church, people really believed that his coming back was imminent – during their lifetimes. Hence, the Apostle Paul frequently warned the early Church to stay vigilant, to be faithful to the Apostolic Gospel, and to be ready … to WAIT. That is what we are told to do – to watch and wait. Let’s take a quick scriptural survey of WAIT.

Psalm 10:2-11 The Psalmist cries out to God about how evil people always seem to prosper and even though they say “there is no God,” God sees them and gives them ample time to repent and claim his Mercy. Take a moment this week to read that passage and see if it doesn’t sound like what we hear in the news almost every day.

Psalm 27:14 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices. (Follow up with that passage from Psalms 10)

Psalm 130:5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

Psalm 59:9 O my strength, I will watch for you; for you, O God, are my fortress.

Psalm 130:5-6 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.

And finally, Psalm 123:2 As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us.

We wait with “constant vigilance” for the coming of Jesus first as a baby in a manger, then as the King of Kings ascending the Throne of the Cross, and now – today and until “as long as it takes” – we wait for the day and the hour he will return in Glory. Let the evil one prosper and scoff. WE know how to wait and why we’re waiting. Here’s why:

2 Peter 3:3-9 First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.
   But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you*, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. * Some translations read “on your account,” or “for your sake” and YES, he is coming back!

We can find that ability to wait patiently in watchful waiting by knowing he is coming back – not just returning – coming back – and bringing judgment with him: They should also be strengthened by the assurance of his foreordained parousia*, and by the fruits of faith that they have already enjoyed (Hebrews 10:19–39).

*This word is παρουσία. The word parousia is found in the following verses: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:2, Philippians 1:26

He’s not waiting for someone else. He’s not waiting for everyone else. He may be waiting for anyone else, but the bottom line is, he’s waiting for me, so I’d best get my act together, right? And here’s the thing: I know – really, really know it’s worthwhile and doable because Not one promise from God is empty of power, for nothing is impossible with God! (See Luke 1:37) Not even me, because I have a great reason to wait. Jesus is coming. You know, He just might be on that Slow Train Coming (↔ Music Link) ’cause This train (↔ Music Link) is bound for Glory, and Belovéd I got my ticket to ride! You’ll find me at the depot waiting, watching ’round the bend.

Here are the links for the Mercy Series I mentioned:

Aloha Friday Message Mercy Series

Mercy Series – Part 1 of 4

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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