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 – February 15, 2019 – Come Back Again

1907AFC021519 – Come Back Again

   Jeremiah 17:5-6 Thus says the Lord:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a barren bush in the wasteland
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in lava beds in the wilderness,
a land, salty and uninhabited.

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.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Happy Valentine’s Day! How wonderful it is to have someone in your life who loves you enough to put up with you. Do you know why? Because that’s the way God loves every single one of us! No matter how badly we mess up, or how often, whenever we come back to him and say, “I’m sorry. I’ll try to stop that,” he just keeps forgiving us. Oh, it’s true, he’ll let the consequences of our missteps take their course – maybe toned down a bit – but he’s always got his arms open to hug us and his hands filled to bless us. I confess I am amazed at how many people I see in just my narrow sphere of contacts who stalwartly ignore, deny, and even renounce him. Let’s see what The Word holds for this weekend.

In the weekend’s readings, we learn about the hope we have in the Goodness of the LORD. We know God takes care of everything we need, and yet so many times we reject his blessings and choose to do it ourselves. Jeremiah tells us that when we turn away from the Lord like that we are “like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth.” In the same way, the Psalmist tells us we are blessed when we do not choose to follow “the counsel of the wicked, or walk in the way of sinners, or sit in the company of the insolent.” Blessed instead are they who hope in the Lord. St. Paul tells the Corinthians that it is unwise to disbelieve that Christ has been raised from the dead because “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.” Finally, in “The Sermon on The Plain,” Jesus reprises some of the same themes heard in the Beatitudes found in the Gospel of Matthew: Blessed are the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the hated. God will give you all that you need to be fulfilled. As good stewards, we willingly serve the Lord and know that he rewards all of his “good and faithful servants” with the best of all he has. It is remarkable to see how often we reject his best and embrace what remains – our mess.

In the daily torrent of information washing over and around us every waking moment, we have little control over what others say and do. Everything we say and do can be a target for angry dispute by just about anybody else – and sometimes the results are ridiculous. Say the sky is blue and someone will argue that it really isn’t blue and we only believe it is because we have a bias against orange. Give a meal to a hungry homeless person, and we are labeled as a racist because we didn’t feed someone of another ethnicity even if no person of other ethnicity is present. There just isn’t any way to be right any more. How can this be? How is it that any person can tell me I am wrong if only because they are right? It sort of reminds me of what parents often tell their kids when the kids challenge them with the eternal “WHY?!” What do we answer moms and dads? “BECAUSE I SAID SO!

We should be in authority over our children, but – honestly – that just doesn’t seem to be happening as it should any more. We have abused and misused the inspiration we are intended to draw from family to the point that our global society is more favorable toward killing unborn – and now even just-born – infants, “euthanizing” sick or dying adults, murdering masses of people because they are “different,” and destroying our planet to amass more wealth and power. We have polluted everything from our air, land, and water to our heart, minds, and souls. It is the latter pollution that threatens us most – and for far too many people, concerns us least. We’ve wrecked just about every ecology there is.

When we talk about ecology, we usually never think of the ecology of the soul in the same terms as God does. There is a book called The Ecology of the Soul – Peace, Power and Personal Growth for Real People in the Real World by a guy named Aidan Walker. Honestly, I can’t recommend reading it – or even looking for it. It’s mostly New Age claptrap about finding all the answers by looking inside yourself. He does have at least one thing in proper perspective – though poorly described – when he says, “any belief is intuitive.” We’ve presented this idea here before, but from a non-humanistic point of view. Walker’s writings preclude the presence of God, so right off the bat he leaves me wondering. “Hey, wait!” you might say. “Aren’t you doing what you were griping about just a moment ago, finding something wrong with another’s point of view just so you can ‘be right’?” You could say that; you could even believe that; however, if we make a start at explaining Life and leave God out of it, there’s no way to “be right.” Without a Divine Creator – which every world culture, every religion, every “spirituality” expresses a belief in some form – there is nothing left but superstition, imagination, and nonsense. Am I saying that Walker and his ilk have muddied their vision of Truth? Absolutely, because they deny that there is A Truth. I usually bring in this quote when discussing Truth, so – even though you may have heard it or read it previously – I ask you to read this quote (emphasis added) from Frank Peretti carefully:

“There is no way for you to know whether what I am telling you is True, unless you know what the Truth is. And there’s no way for you to know what the Truth is unless there is a Truth that you can know! You’ve got to have a Truth that is True, whether you believe it or not, boom! It’s True whether you like it or not, boom! It’s True whether you even know about it or not, boom! It’s just TRUE! Objective, external Truth that stands in and of itself. The bible talks all about that; from cover to cover it talks about the Truth. And the Lord says, “I am the Lord thy God, I declare what is true, I declare what is right.”

Here is The Truth:

Isaiah 45:18-19 – 18 For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): I am the Lord, and there is no other.

19 I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, “Seek me in chaos.” I the Lord speak the Truth, I declare what is Right. We as a World Culture have settled on the “Politically Correct” invention of Relativism – “What’s true for me may not be true for you. There is no universal moral standard by which to judge others, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others even when it runs counter to our personal or cultural moral standards. There cannot be any single objective standard for moral judgments on any matter.” Pontius Pilate sort of hit the nail on the head when he asked, “What is Truth?”

As humans, we find it easier, for some reason, to define Truth by listing all the things it isn’t. Unfortunately that perpetuates a lot of “knowledge” that isn’t true. One would think that attaining knowledge is the first step to obtaining Truth, but (watch out now) we know that isn’t True because we know there is knowledge that isn’t true – fake news for example. In human terms Truth has to be supported by objective verifiable facts and in accordance with reality. Well, the fact is that Truth is in trouble because we no longer believe in external objectivity; objectivity has become a personal possession that I, that you, that we take hold of and rearrange in whatever manner pleases us at the moment. In doing so, we deny the Unity of Truth – moral, religious, scientific, philosophical, Truth and so on. Going back to Walker’s idea that religion is “intuitive,” we can once more visit what the Apostle Paul said about the ubiquity of the knowledge of God among and throughout his Creation:

Romans 1:20-25 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

God created the Universe – and he himself is not the Universe – and so whenever we break, defy, deny, ignore, and/or mock the Rules of the Universe, we are WRONG, and everything that is WRONG is not the Truth! In our hearts we know it is wrong to murder children in the womb; to destroy priceless history because it didn’t come from our culture; to blame people for mistakes made 10, 50, 100, or 1,000 years ago despite the objective Truth that the mistake was a learning opportunity that resulted in a better understanding of what IS true. God is always pleased when we admit we are wrong and repent – we turn around and come back to him. God is not pleased when we hammer another person with their own past for the sole purpose of personal aggrandizement by public denigration of others. That’s not standing up for the Truth. That is hindering truth, and that is wrong. You and I can believe whatever we want, but our belief is irrelevant as to whether or not what we believe is True. Everyone has experience in believing a lie; so, too, has everyone experience in believing what is True. One must ask, then, why do we believe in lies?

It is the sinfulness, the pollution if you will, of human nature to try to restructure Truth to fit our own desires. Eve and Adam thought they could be more like God if they knew the difference between good and evil. The Truth is that they became less like God through their disobedience. We can think of truth in many of the same terms we use for Love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a: Truth is patient, kind, not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude or selfish or irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in sinning, but rejoices in the Truth. It bears all, hopes all, endures all; Truth never ends. Truth never changes. Truth always prevails. If we want to know Truth, we have to learn Truth, and to learn Truth, we must consider truth: Philippians 4:8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I am going to close this with a list of references about Truth. It is my hope that you will actually use all these references. In this table, there are many Bible passages that are “worthy of praise” because they are honorable, just, pure, commendable, and excellent. Think on these things and Truth will out. Come back again to God who alone is Truth. Trust God, not humans.

 

Job 34:12 Psalm 52 Psalm 53 Jeremiah 7:28
Ezekiel 13:3-9a Matthew 22:16 John 1:17 John 4:23-24 *
John 8:31-45 Romans 1:18-25 Romans 2:5-10 2 Thess 2:7-12 *
1 Timothy 6:3-7 2 Timothy 4:3-4 * Hebrews 10:26-31 2 Peter 1:19-2:17 *
James 4:1-10 * Please read at least these four important passages.

 

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.

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Aloha Friday Message – February 8, 2019 – Get Going!

1906AFC020819 – Get Going and Go where I send thee! (↔ Music Link)

Read it online here, please. (And be sure to use that Music Link up there!)

Mark 16:15-16 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”

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 me begin by saying how much I look forward to making these little messages for you. I think it’s one of the most satisfying things I do on a regular basis – more fulfilling even than cooking and eating (and that’s saying something!). As I looked ahead to this weekend’s reading, I remembered that not long ago I shared with you my delight in the collection of readings for this week. All four are among my most-cherished scriptural treasures! In addition, as I prepared for this week, our family had a unique experience. In our Parish, we are “making a big deal” about National Catholic Marriage Week. Crucita and I believe it is so important that married couples – and especially couples planning on getting married – understand that sacramental intent and value of Matrimony. We had a wonderful celebration with members of our church community and Crucita and I were selected as one of two long-married couples to address the audience that night. We will be hitting number 50 in April. The other couple will be reaching their 57th in March! I’ve posted our presentation online so you could see how Crucita and I chose to start our marriage as a Christ-centered commitment to each other and to God through the Vocation of Holy Matrimony. You can see that presentation here.

As always, I want to encourage you to use the links I put in (that music link at the top is a classic in Television History). There are several GREAT music links. Use them, please? So, there’s the latest news. Let’s get going with the Good News. I confess a substantial amount of this comes from a previously published message, but I also proclaim that my excitement and joy over the content has only grown and the content is improved!

    This Sunday is one of my favorite Sundays because it has so many of my favorite passages. We start out with Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!

I always liked that. It was, in a special way, part of my decision to give my life to “Full Time Christian Service” at age 10 at Camp IdRaHaJe – which is an abbreviation for “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” (↔ Music Link) Later – in high school – I thought I had a calling to the Ministry in the Reformed Church in America. Long story short, one thing led to another, the Draft happened, and that idea faded away in that form, but persisted in a way God had chosen for me before my mother knew me. (Think about last week’s Key Verse.) The message for that calling was “Preach my Word.” Once I was in the Air Force, I was led to my conversion in the Catholic Church. Just two weeks after my first fully Catholic day, I married the love of my life – Crucita – and not long after, the message in the call became “Teach my Word.” I’m still working on that directive.

The Psalm this week is Psalm 138. It is my all-time-favorite Psalm. The first two verses are filled with wonderful praise:

Psalm 138:1 I thank you, Lord, with all my heart;
    in the presence of the angels to you I sing. New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

I like that part about singing in the presence of the Angels. It reminds me of Psalm 22:3 which says that God “inhabits the praises of his people.” The rest of the Psalm is so reassuring. God will surely hear the cry of the suffering.

The Epistle for this Sunday is one that steadies me with grateful conviction. It is a continuation of the readings from 1 Corinthians, this time in chapter 15, just a few pages over from where we were last week in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul is describing how he received the Gospel, “as to one born abnormally,” when Jesus met him on the road to Damascus. 1 Corinthians 15:10 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. This verse always reminds me that I have not yet worked as hard as I should, or as hard as I can, on behalf of the Gospel. I am what I am by the grace of God, though, and he constantly challenges me to be a better steward of the many, many gifts he has presented me in my life. There is absolutely no logical reason why he should be so gracious to me; and yet, the Gifts he showers down are beyond my understanding.

    As we move to this week’s Gospel from Luke, we take a look at Luke’s version of the calling of the fishermen – Peter and the Sons of Zebedee, James and John. He’s directed Peter to cast his net in deep water for a catch. Peter gets a little snarky and says, “We’ve been fishing all night, but if you say so, I’ll do it.” And when he hauls the net back, it’s so full he has to call the bar Zebedee brothers to help him bring it in. Peter – and everyone else (except Jesus of course) – is astonished at the size of the catch. Peter is so spooked he says, “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Then we read in Luke 5:10b-11 Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. That is the basis for the wonderful Bible chorus “I will make you Fishers of Men.” (↔ Music Link) More importantly, is demonstrates how to best respond to a call from The Master: … they left everything and followed him.

By the time Jesus was ready to ascend back to Heaven, the Apostles were better prepared to follow Jesus’ next instructions. Instead of “follow me,” his new command was what we read in Mark at the top of this post: Mark 16:15-16 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”  (YOLO-F again) You may remember it as “proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” However you remember it, the important thing is that we are to go “into all the world.” It is also important to remember that it is we who do the going and God who does the sending. Belovéd, we often forget that order of events. We are all sent to proclaim the Good News. That duty is inherent in our response to his call – “Follow me.” Will we? Will we follow him? I will follow him (↔ Music Link) because by the grace of God, I am what I am.” And what am I?

I’m a people-catcher. One of my most joyous avocations is the desire and ability to look for and to find exceptional people and then GLOW on them! I got caught up in his net of Love, and when he asked “whom shall I send,” the Love in me and around me said “Me! Me!  Pick me!  I know!” That’s a more contemporary version of “Here am I; send me!”  It’s plain to me that I’d Rather Have Jesus Than Anything, because he did pick me; and then he sent me. I want you to just take a moment to look at these words that are translated as send:

John 20:21 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent* me, so I send you.”

* Jesus was sent as in ἀποστέλλω (apostelló) {ap-os-tel’-lo} from apó, “away from” and stéllō, “send”) – properly, send away, i.e. commission; (passive) “sent on a defined mission by a superior;” to bid something to be carried to another. Jesus sent the Apostles as in πέμπω (pempō) {pem’-po} – I send, transmit, permit to go, put forth. In Romans 10:15 (see link below), Paul uses apostelló. We are sent – yep, that’s a “we” meaning you and I – we are sent that they might believe. It is vitally important, then, that we know what we believe. How do we learn that? By feasting on the Word. It is my privilege and joy to send along these little “travelers’ snacks” along The Way.

But what about that last phrase in the quote from Mark? Isn’t that kind of a downer? Why would Jesus say, “but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”? Let’s take another look at The Most Famous Bible Verse in context: John 3:16-18 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” THAT is why we are sent; that is the urgency with which we are charged. The Apostle Paul sums up that responsibility very nicely in his letter to the Romans:

Romans 10:14-17 14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are *sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 16 But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. What have we heard? Is it the voice of the Master? Are we worthy of being sent?

All three of the persons in today’s readings felt they were unworthy, argued they were incapable of doing what God required of them. All three of them were willing, however, to “let go and let God.” We are often reminded over social media, in homilies and sermons, and in our own observations of day-to-day life that “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” As Catholics are reminded daily, we need only accept The Healing Word as we paraphrase Matthew 8:8Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. I can hear my Savior calling, (↔ Music Link) and I’m asking you to walk along with me through the Garden. Can you hear him? It’s not just me he wants. He wants everyone, especially the unworthy. It’s a LOVE thing! Where in your life is there someone waiting to hear the Word from you, children? Go, children! You are sent! (And as you saw in that video with Tennessee Ernie Ford, going can be a LOT of fun!) Come on, let’s say it together:

Here am I! Send me!” (↔ Music Link) LET’S GET GOING, THEN!

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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A Speech for Valentine’s Special Celebration

A Speech for Valentine’s Special Celebration

On Friday, February 1, 2019, Crucita and I were 1 of 2 couples invited to speak to a small gathering of couples who had been married or were planning to marry. This is what we told them:

Good evening. I am Crucita Todd,

          And I am Chick Todd

This April 19th we will have been married 50 years.

          When we got married, the people who knew us thought it would last only 6 weeks.

Actually it’s already been 2,597… long … weeks.

 We met in the Air Force 11/4/1968 I proposed on 1/4/1969. Actually, I proposed three times before she said yes. We were married on April 19, 1969 in Chapel 2 on Lackland AFB.

During that “courtship period,” we agreed that we would have a Christ-centered marriage. Both of us grew up in strongly Christian families. My parents were deeply religious and they shared that with all their children and grandchildren. I was the youngest in their family. I recall as a shild that my dad would go to clean the church, and he took me with him. My job was to dust the pew, so from an early age, I learned to serve. For years – even up through high school – my parents prayed the Rosary every evening, and of course I was part of that too – and so was anyone else who happened to be in the house. We had special traditions like Las Posadas that we shared every year. My parents gave our entire family a great example of committed Christian living.

My parents were also very committed Christians. They were active in many groups in our church and led their 6 children to get involved also. We went to church several days every week – Sunday morning Sunday school at 8:30, then Church Service at 9:30, the Evening Service at 5:30, then Wednesday night prayer group; and as we grew older, there were youth groups, and Bible camps. We knew that every hour of every day belonged to Jesus. Between the two of us as we started our marriage, we already knew the value of Christian living and a Christ-centered life. That would mean that Christ was always going to be part of our relationship.

We knew we had to be fully committed to something outside of us and larger than us.

 We knew that Matrimony is a Covenantal Vow, a sacrament which is a promise to God & to each other & the World, including the Church.

The promise is to give and receive faithfully

 between the three of us – for and with each other. There are always three3 persons in everything we do.

Some people don’t understand that. I once had a student who asked me, “Well doesn’t that get crowded in bed?”

And that’s an example of an important aspect of a long and happy marriage: HUMOR.

He … WE … are always telling the same old

                    BAD JOKES. BUT WE STILL LAUGH AT THEM!

We choose to live our lives as not Confrontational (hands →←), but always Looking upward and going onward (hands↑↑)

We are not “friends.” We are coworkers in the Kingdom because we are OF THE SAME FLESH. And that’s the part where children come in. You have to have some romance and do the work of making babies.

In article 1601 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”

We make it a point to never forget that Matrimony is a sacrament Established by God as an integral part of his Plan for all humanity. It’s the way the Universe works. It’s the way children become citizens of The Kingdom.

In our house, we were “pregnant for 9 years” Before we adopted our son, Timothy. We prayed for a child, and God answered our prayer just as he answered Hannah’s prayer.

 We got that little boy, and turned around, and THE FOUR OF US – including the Lord – asked for a little sister. God granted that prayer, too.

Because our children came into a Christ-centered MARRIAGE, that means they became part of a Christ-centered FAMILY.

 For the FIVE US OF US then, that became a Christ-centered LIFE.

That kind of life requires consistent – meaning constant and correct – ongoing catechesis.

When we have our children baptized, we must pay attention when the Priest or Deacon tells us that we will be responsible for our child’s catechesis. WE must be the first teachers of our Faith. To do that well, WE will have to know our faith well enough to teach it.  That means more than just fulfilling our Sunday obligation. It means being a *MARRIED *CATHOLIC *Christian *EVERY DAY of your life.

And doing that so well that your kids know your commitment to Holy Matrimony is 100% real.

Yes, sometimes, that’s inconvenient. Sometimes it’s unpleasant, and sometimes even dangerous.

 But if you always have Christ to be part of everything you do, then getting through the tough stuff is certainly worthwhile and doable.

And there are lots of things you can do to make life richer and sweeter for your Sweetie. You need to go out and have fun together – dinner and a movie, or go to a concert or play, or even you kids’ school programs.

You can bring home some flowers. Get a nice present, go for a walk or drive just to be together. And married people can and should have sex “once in a while.”

When we were both working, we did try to help each other with the chores; or when one of us had a tough day we’d listen and share about that. And we never tried to change each other. I would never have minded if he “went out with the guys.” I just needed to know where he was. And he let me do what I wanted to do as well – school activities, for example. I went to Mexico for a whole semester to study. Later, I took care of the house and kids while he worked full time, took call at the hospital 14 miles away, and worked on his Masters Degree all at the same time.

We have always tried to do things in a way that played to our strengths, not our weaknesses – to what we have in common rather than our differences. It would be hard to find two people more different than the two of us. She like to be outside, I like to be inside. She likes the graphic arts, I like the performing arts. She loves the water, I hate being wet. And when it comes to money …

He doesn’t get any. That’s the thing. If one of you is good at finances and the other isn’t, that person – regardless of gender or role – should take charge of the finances.

It’s not a good idea for me to have money because I either spend it or give it away; and the way I spend it it’s like giving it away so NO MONEY FOR YOU! I get a little stipend once every quarter from a long-standing investment. I get to use that to finance my hobby – making earrings. That’s good enough for me – and I usually end up giving them away, too!

We take care to be respectful to each other, too. During our various jobs across the country we’ve know couples whose relationship includes mocking each other. Teasing and joking is one thing, but mockery is some bad ju-ju! We try to help each other rather than compete with each other.

For example, I make it a practice to have her coffee ready every morning when she wakes up, and to turn down the covers every night before we go to bed. There is an aspect of self-preservation in that, too, though, because without her morning coffee …..

Sometimes whether we like it or not, or even plan for it, it’s necessary for married couples to live apart – not because you can’t get along, but just because that’s simply what it takes to take care of your family. It is the little, practical things like that have added to the longevity of our 50-year marriage. Fifty years sounds like {whispered} and seems like a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ng time.

 But remember a day is as a 1000 years For the Lord,
so if he can stick with you through it all,
you should be able to do that also, with HIS help of course.

Be good to each other in ways that help strengthen the bond of Matrimony.

 And all you men, do not underestimate the intrinsic value of the phrase “YES, DEAR.”

Don’t you “yes-dear” me!

Yes dear.

You always have to have the last word don’t you?

           NO DEAR!

Well, this time you don’t.

          (whispered) YES DEAR.

And when things get really annoying – AND THEY WILL

 Remember Ephesians 5:25-27. 25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil.

Keep Christ in the center of your life, and …

 You will have a marriage that is greatly blessed,
and the devil will stay in …
well, you know!

THANK YOU!

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Aloha Friday Message – February 1, 2019 – Anchored in Love

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.

   Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

   1 Corinthians 13:4-6 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

   Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Much LOVE to you, Belovéd! Can you believe it? One month of 2019 is already gone! It’s getting difficult to keep track of things when time is just a blur. We hope that those of you who are enduring extreme weather are finding comfort in the warmth of the love shared among all your loved-ones near and far. Love does indeed warm the heart and soul and at times even the body. Love is … well, let’s look a little more closely at some ideas about Love.

   The key verse today is from the Old Testament reading for this coming Sunday. The Lord is telling Jeremiah that he received from God, before he was even conceived, the blessing of the Gift of Prophecy. God had a plan for Jeremiah and that plan was part of the same plan we looked into last week: A Saviour will restore us into the presence of God. And why did God make such a beautifully Perfect Promise that required such brilliant plan? His plan is Anchored in Love – love for all of his Creation – and he wants to restore the Love we had together with him before sin shattered that perfection. Belovéd, we are also part of that plan, that covenant of Love, and that means God has given us gifts to use to help complete that restoration of Perfect Love.

We sometimes don’t want to know about those gifts because when we acknowledge them we also have to acknowledge that they are given to us to be used.

God made us as part of his plan; we have to do our part. Still, it’s often not easy, especially when working with those who are familiar to us. God sent Elijah to a gentile woman and her son in Zarephath to provide for their future and sent Elisha to instruct Naaman the Syrian, another gentile, on how God wanted him to be healed. Two questions might be asked about these accounts. The first would be “why gentiles?” In retrospect, the answer is easy to discover: God wants everyone to be anchored in his love. In fact, he chose the Nation of Israel to be an exemplar of God’s Love and Blessing.

Let’s take a look at verse 8 in this passage from Deuteronomy 7:6-11 It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. In this passage God tells Israel he did not choose them because they were a large nation, or a strong nation, or a wise nation. He chose them because he loved them. Belovéd that is why God has chosen you and me – all of us; HE LOVES US.

The second question that might come up is, “why not his own people?” Even people who have never really explored the Bible in depth know that Israel had a special relationship with God, so why did God give blessings and advantages to the peoples of other nations? I believe God blessed others to show Israel that they too could be blessed if they would only keep their part of the Covenant: To love and obey the Lord their God. Israel had been given so many advantages – fertile land; physical, military, and spiritual strength; just and clear laws; and – greatest of all – the mercy of Salvation was to come through them. They failed over and over to do that, and God showed them over and over that he could still be merciful if and when they could be obedient. Let’s look at a verse from Sunday’s Gospel to get an idea about how the stories of these gentiles were a lesson to all of God’s people.

Luke 4:25-28 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.*

* Rage in Greek in this verse is θυμοῦ (thymou) {thoo-mo} from θυμός (thymos) {thoo-mos’} → venting of rage, wrath, intense emotional outburst. If we look into these stories with the eyes that Jesus’ audience may have had, we see a common thread. Both the widow and Naaman resisted the instructions given them by the prophets Elijah and Elisha – but – they [1] repented and [2] obeyed and were thereby blessed. Nothing else would work – only repentance and obedience. God’s chosen people did not always choose repentance and obedience; instead, they tried the DIY approach. Rather than relying on God, they believed The Law was all they needed. But without Love, which was the foundation of the Law, the law was useless. Remember what the Apostle Paul said in “The Love Chapter.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-6 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

The truth is, we cannot do it on our own. We need God, and that requires Love – love for him and for each other. Consider the following passages about loving God and each other:

Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

We are experiencing such a wave of deliberate discouragement! There is so much conflict, so much rage and fury (θυμοῦ), that loving one another seems nearly impossible; indeed, for some, it seems completely undesirable and objectionable. We are created and commanded to live and love as community. Like Israel, we are not keeping that commandment as well as we should!

James 4:1-5 Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

What is “friendship with the world?” It is espousing whatever is contrary to God. That doesn’t sound like much of a big deal until you really think about it. God designed the Universe to work in one certain way – HIS way. When we decide to do it OUR way, we are telling God he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Is that really what you want to tell God while you struggle through your life on Earth? I should hope NOT! That is not what God’s Law – and the Promise that goes with it – commands. God shall judge, we shall not.

Romans 2:1-5 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

Romans 2:11-15 11 For God shows no partiality. 12 All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 When Gentiles, who do not possess* the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them

*ἔχοντα (echonta) from ἔχω (echó) {ekh’-o} to have, to possess, to hold e.g., in one’s hand,  grasp.

This is a good definition of “natural law” which everyone has. We all know that wrong is wrong, but we still do it because we feel justified in and of ourselves to do wrong; but, we also know in and of ourselves what is right and still we choose to do wrong. How can we possibly believe – or even imagine – that we, sinful as we are, we can deliver just judgments against our neighbor? Think about it; does our righteousness “exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees?”

There is a storm in our nation, in our world, and – Belovéd, if we will but confess it – in our own hearts and minds. There is an anchor to hold us in the storm. Make fast the anchor line by joining hands together rather than raising fists against.  Repent of anger and conflict and be obedient to Love.

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

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

Be a bridge. (↔ Knowledge Link)

“Love Can Be A Bridge” (↔ Music Link)

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Aloha Friday Message – January 25, 2019 – One Perfect Promise

1904AFC012519 – One Perfect Promise

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.

Luke 1:37 37 Not one promise from God is empty of power, for nothing is impossible with God! ~~ The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com

Isaiah 61:1-2a 1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

   Luke 4:14-15 14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned* to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

*ὑπέστρεψεν from ὑποστρέφω (hupostrephó) {hoop-os-tref’-o} From hupo and strepho; to turn under (behind), i.e. To return (literally or figuratively) – come again, return (again, back again), turn back (again) return, turn back; go home; turn from, abandon (2 Peter 2:21)

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.

Today’s key verse is from the Gospel reading for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. In this passage, we see that – at the beginning of his ministry – Jesus was “knockin’ it outta the park.” He has returned to his home town, Nazareth. He got up to read from the Scroll of the Prophet Isaiah “where he had grown up, and went according to his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.” Here is that passage for your inspection:

Luke 4:16-21 16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

     18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

This is one piece of the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to Adam and Eve – call it the Adamic Covenant – and it is this One Promise that is the entire focus of everything God has ever done. He always knows what he’s doing, he always knows what we need, and his promise is to always meet that need – to be reunited with him.

From this Adamic Covenant, time passed and God continued to strengthen and “fill in” the end result of his One Promise – restoration of our relationship with him. The pattern looks like this:

     Adamic (salvation will come) →  Noahic (all righteous people can hope in salvation) → Abrahamic (Abraham’s descendants will be the source of salvation) → Mosaic (The Law will be the guide to salvation) → Messianic (fulfillment of the law will be salvation). Only in Christ is the law fulfilled. Salvation comes to us through Jesus because in him, and only in him, is the law fully satisfied. Jesus made this abundantly clear in Matthew 5:17-18 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 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. Each phase of this progressive revelation of God’s Covenant with humanity introduces more details to help us understand his Plan.

  • In Adam, all share the same end: Death. But there is hope for restoration of Life.
  • In Noah, death is still inevitable but the righteous can expect restored Life.
  • In Abraham, death will continue to prevail, but the source of our expectations will be a descendant of Abraham.
  • In Moses, we are given a process for gauging righteousness which strengthens our expectations for Life: The Law and eventually the Prophet who guide us in The Law
  • In the Messianic Covenant, The New Covenant, The Law is fulfilled in Christ when our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. (See Matthew 5:20) Salvation is ours through the Grace and Mercy of God in Christ Jesus.

Jeremiah gives us evidence of how God’s Plan to fulfill his Covenant would come about:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. The New Covenant makes The Law to be “not too hard,” and “not too far away,” but in our mouth and our heart. (See Deuteronomy 30:11-14). When or how will this all come to pass?

There are successive covenant expansions, but only One Promise supported by every step in the covenantal progression: A Saviour will restore us into the presence of God. Now that I am an Old Man, I find that my patience for many things is either waning or missing altogether. I know and understand that this One Promise is the warp and weave of the whole fabric of my life. You’ve seen this phrase in many of these posts: Maran atha! Marana tha! Our Lord has come! Come Lord! This happens whenever I forget the best lesson I learned in Navajo Country. Wait patiently in patient waiting.           Huh? Here’s what I nean:

Hebrews 6:15 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise.

James 5:7-8 Be patient, therefore, belovéd, 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. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

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 patient 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! Not even me.

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 18, 2019 – Do what he says.

1903AFC011819 – Do what he says.

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 2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we take a few moments to look at Jesus’ first recorded miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana in Galilee. It is the conversion of water to wine – and not just a glass or two of wine! John tells us “Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.

The Greek word used here makes this measure quite impressive. The word is μετρητής (metrétés) {met-ray-tace’} – a measure equivalent to about 39.39 liters or 8.75 gallons. The Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV) describes the jars as “containing two or three firkins apiece.” A “firkin” in terms of size, is equal to 9 imperial gallons, which is 10.8 US gallons; 2-3 firkins then would be 21.6 to 31.8 gallons and average of 26.7 gallons. SIX of those would come to just over 160 gallons of first-class wine!

When Jesus sent the servants to the wine, the headwaiter was amazed at the quality. Not only had Jesus supplied in quantity, but also in quality! That is how he does everything when we do what he tells us. And there’s something else, too. He used just simple things even at a BIG wedding.

Do whatever he tells you.

The wedding was nearby Capernaum where Jesus and his family and disciples had moved after he started his ministry. (See Matthew 9:1 and Mark 2:1) His mom had just said, “They are out of wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” He called her אִשָּׁה (ishshah) {ish-shaw’} – woman, as the first Adam had called Eve. (See Genesis 2:23 – 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman [אִשָּׁה] for out of Man [אִישׁ] this one was taken.” It was a respectful way to address his Mother. Simple questions are wonderful when followed by simple words and simple actions. “Do whatever he tells you.” The servants did what servants do – they served by obeying. They had simple things around them – stone jars, water nearby, and they fetch it. The top off the stone jars as told in the simple command, “Fill the jars with water.” The filled them to the brim – they did their part to the best of their ability. Then Jesus did his part to the best of his ability – and the miracle happened. He made 160 gallons of water into 160 gallons of wine. (We don’t know if it was Chablis or Merlot – or even what color or taste it had – because that is unimportant.) Ordinary things done in ordinary ways become extraordinary when we do what he tells us. Remember last week and John’s hesitancy to baptize Jesus? Matthew 3:14-15 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 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. John did what Jesus told him, and John beheld the Trinity and the one about whom he said “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (See John 1:29) Jesus Disciples soon learned that Jesus would show them many signs that testified to his Divine Nature. We could probably draw up a group of 7:

  1. The Wedding Feast Feat, changing water to wine – John 2:1-11 “Fill the jars with water”
  2. Healing the royal official’s son at Capernaum – John 4:46-54“Go. Your son will live.”
  3. Healing the man paralyzed for 38 years at Bethesda – John 5:1-15“Stand up, take your mat and walk.”
  4. The Loaves and Fishes and the 5000 fed – John 6:5-14“Make the people sit down.” and then “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”
  5. Jesus walks on water in the Sea of Galilee – John 6:16-24“It is I [I AM]; do not be afraid.”
  6. Healing the man blind from birth at Siloam John 9:1-7“Go, wash in the pool of Siloam”
  7. The raising of Lazarus – John 11:1-45 – “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” and Take away the stone.” and then, “Lazarus, come out!” and finally “Unbind him, and let him go.”

There are other passages we might recall such as

  • “Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” John 8:11
  • “Stretch out your hand.” Matthew 12:13
  • “Give me a drink.” John 4:7
  • “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Mark 1:15
  • You give them something to eat.” Mark 6:37
  • And especially this one: “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” Mark 9:19

None of these are especially difficult. They are things any of us could do any time on any given day. We seem to want to make it far more complicated – because we are unworthy of Jesus’ love and help. Do you remember the Centurion whose servant was ill? Recall these passages from Matthew 8:5-13The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.” And the servant was healed in that hour. (This is the verse that led to my notes on The Healing Word.) Being worthy has nothing to do with doing what Jesus tells us. One need only Trust and Obey (↔ Music Link) – simply do what he tells us. Why? The answer is here in John 14:21  21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Belovéd, how has he revealed himself to us?

He has spoken to us. First, he speaks to us in our hearts; sometimes we call this “using common sense.” We know what is right, we know what is True, but we don’t listen when our hearts tell us we have gone astray – or as I like to say, we ignore the voice of that little old man in the back of our head, the one who is always so irritatingly reasonable and correct. God has shown us he also speaks to us through Scripture. Here are some examples of the kind of common-sense guidance available there:

  • Ecclesiastes 10:2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of a fool to the left.
  • Isaiah 30:21 21 And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
  • Jeremiah 6:16 16 Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.
    But they said, “We will not walk in it.”
  • Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”

Our “natural heart” carried the intentionality to be good before sin entered the World. Our “human nature” fights that at every turn if we are not listening to The Word. We are called to believe, as the Apostle Paul said: But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? […]So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. (See Romans 10:12-17) That requires listening, and intentional effort to hear and understand. Intentional effort is based on CHOICE. WE CAN CHOOSE TO LISTEN. We even have parables – short, simple allegorical stories that convey deep meanings – which Jesus uses to help us listen: Matthew 13:13 13 The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ Jesus is quoting this passage in his answer:  Jeremiah 5:21 21 Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but do not see, who have ears, but do not hear.

All of this depends on our willingness – our intentionality – to try HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD. (↔ LEARNING Link) Will we listen? Will we hear The Logos, the Living Word of God? Can we stop yelling at that annoying little old man to shut up and leave us alone? When Jesus speaks The Healing Word, will we accept the miracle he would love to place into our lives? Will we ever learn to “Do whatever he tells you” and not be afraid? What is there to fear in doing that which is good? NOTHING! That is why we remember Jesus saying in Luke 12:32 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Listen. Trust. Obey. Be blessed! “Do whatever he tells you,” and Philippians 4:7 shall be yours and All Will Be Well (↔ Music Link).

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

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Please pray with us here
Ephesians 3:20-2120 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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 11, 2019 – Aloha Friday Flock of Doves

1902AFC011119 – Aloha Friday Flock of Doves

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.

   This coming Sunday, many congregations around the world will be commemorating The Baptism of The Lord. The incident is recorded in all 4 Gospels. It is a significant event for several reasons, but for today I want to focus on that moment when the Holy Spirit goes to Jesus just as he comes up from the water. Our Key Verse for today is from the Gospel of Luke, but it is helpful to see all four versions of this remarkable moment in Jesus’ life. Here is a Gospel-parallel presentation of that moment:

 

Matthew 3:16-17 Mark 1:10 Luke 3:22 John 1:32-34
16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

All citations from New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE). Links above also display public domain King James Version (KJV).

   There is a dove described in all four Gospels. If you look at each of them separately, it is a little difficult to sort out just who saw the dove. It seems perhaps only Jesus saw it in Mark’s account. In Luke’s account it could have been Jesus only, or Jesus and John, or Jesus and everyone. It’s something to think about. John’s Gospel quotes John the Baptist’s testimony. He had been promised a sign – ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ John states flatly, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him …” If we make a construct of the content of all four Gospels, it seems clear that at least John and Jesus saw the Spirit descending like a dove. Now, is it as a dove or like a dove? Honestly, I don’t think we know, because the Greek word used in all four Gospels is ὡσεί hosei {ho-si’} which means as, like, like as, or even as. This word might make a difference if we understand the differences between as and like. I could say, “As your friend, I am sharing my thoughts with you.” (I am your friend.) Or, I could say, “Like your friend, I am sharing my thoughts with you.” (I may or may not be your friend, but your friend and I have something in common). If the Spirit descended like a dove, there was a similarity between the movement of the Spirit and the movement of a Dove. If the Spirit descended as a dove, it was a dove – as Luke testifies. (See Luke 3:22 here for several translations) Does that mean then that the Holy Spirit was momentarily incarnate? One could hardly accept that but, again, it is something to think about. In my heart and mind, a dove landed on Jesus and those who witnessed it (John and Jesus at the very least) understood it to be the Spirit of God which echoed the image of the dove released by Noah in Genesis 8:8-12. Whether we say “as” or “like,” the event itself represents God’s announcement of an imminent change: The beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It’s not the first time a dove showed up as the end of one era and the beginning of another.

In the Flood story, the return of the dove with an olive leaf in its beak is a sign that the Earth has passed its crisis and is being restored. It is the promise of the start of a new world. In Jesus’ Baptism, it is the start of his ministry which is also the start of The Kingdom of Heaven. The dove of the Ark is a messenger of sorts because it shows Noah there is hope that his ordeal is coming to an end. At Jesus’ baptism, the dove is also a messenger of hope for us; but for Jesus the message is that his ordeal is starting. With the start of his ministry came also the start of his persecutions, the accusations against him, the misunderstandings of his mission, and ultimately his passion, death, and resurrection. Immediately after his baptism in water by John, Jesus – in the Power of the Spirit – goes into the desert for an extended trial of fasting, discernment, and ultimately complete submission to the entirety of God’s plan for Salvation – a plan that includes a very violent death for the man called Jesus of Nazareth. That whole series of events began with a dove.

As I reflected on the role of that dove, I wondered where else in Scripture a dove was part of the story. We’ve already recalled the story of Noah and the dove (although we left out the work of the raven Noah sent out). I looked for other places where a dove is mentioned. Here’s a list of those places (not including the quotes from Genesis and the Gospels already presented which are the only New Testament references I could find):

Psalm 55:6

Psalm 68:11-13 (a very interesting read!)

Song of Solomon 2:12-14

Song of Solomon 5:2-3, 12

Song of Solomon 6:9

Isaiah 38:14

Jeremiah 48:28

Hosea 7:11 (not too complimentary for the dove!)

The word dove is a term of endearment in the Song of Solomon (also called Canticles). Doves are thought of as clean and delicate birds that will not nest in damp or dirty places. They often nest in the rock crevices around the mouth of a cave or under the overhang of a cliff. Thus, they rest in safety because where they live it is hard for pursuers to capture them. (See Psalm 55:6) In Psalm 68, the dove is described as having wings of silver and gold. This song, a romanticized description of God’s protections of Israel against her enemies, was meant to be sung as a sort of positive encouragement for Israel. Even before the army forms up and attacks, as they hunker down in their camps and lay low, God foresees their victories and the richness of the plunder which they will take. In Isaiah, three birds are mentioned – a crane, a swallow, and a dove (or a swallow, a thrush, and a dove). The dove’s cry is always taken to be plaintive and mournful whereas the cries of the other two are chattering and noisy. Isaiah’s imagery conveys that he was so demoralized by the circumstances of Israel’s condition that – instead of being vigorously able to defend himself – he can only moan and sigh, groaning with sorrowful mourning like a dove. In Hosea, Israel is again represented as a dove – Hosea uses the name of the largest Tribe in Israel, Ephraim to represent the whole nation – but in this prophecy, the dove flits from one place of danger to another, first to Egypt, then to Assyria, like a dove it has been easily deceived and lacks discernment. He is telling Israel they just don’t make sense. They commit the sin of idolatry knowing full well that it deprives them of God’s protection, but still they brag about being idolaters! Israel was like a dove trying to escape being caught by a hawk and instead flying right into the nets of the bird-catcher, or which goes to the fields to eat the corn spilled there without noticing the net set to capture it.

Of all these images of doves in scripture, I certainly enjoy and appreciate the presence of the dove at Jesus’ baptism. It isn’t the symbol of the Holy Spirit there; it is the Holy Spirit. There are valuable lessons to be learned through understanding the other places where doves are mentioned, especially as representing peace, love, and quiet confidence. For me, though, the image I most relate to is the one in Hosea. Beloved, how often do we go out to gobble up what we perceive to be a bounty of pleasure and wealth only to be caught up in the nets of sin? It is true that, as the song says, “On the wings of a snow white dove he sends his pure, sweet love,” (↔ Very Cute Music Link) it is also true that it is easy to fall prey to evil because we are not as watchful as we should be. Think now of Matthew 10:1616 “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Also remember Isaiah 59:11. 11 We all growl like bears; like doves we moan mournfully. We wait for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. Let us pray, therefore, that the Holy Spirit will descend on each and every one of us while he seeks a gentle landing place that is welcoming and safe so that he will remain on us, in us, and with us. We may be assured that, clothed and permeated with the Holy Spirit, God will also look on us as his Belovéd child with whom he can be well-pleased.

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

Thank you for all the prayers you have offered for those who asked for your help! You really do make a difference! 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 Message – January 4, 2019 – A Star is Born

1901AFC010419 – A Star is Born

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    Matthew 2:2 […]“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Welcome to a new year of shining a light on The Word. We will begin by taking a look at the back-story of today’s Key Verse which give us an account of the famous Star of Bethlehem. It obviously held meaning for the Magi, for Herod, and that meaning grew from its purpose. Was it merely an arbitrary conjunction of two or more light-sources in the vastness of the universe, or perhaps a phenomenon created by God for one specific moment in time? Was it a comet, an optical illusion, a bending of space and time? We will never truly know until all creation is remade. Is there a plan for everything, a unifying explanation of all the things we do and do not understand about God and his Universe? Many are convinced that there is no such systematization of physical reality and discount all spiritual and metaphysical explanations for the existence of anything – themselves included.

Let’s look back and what inspired these resolute travelers to journey into foreign lands in search of someone whose existence apparently held deep meaning to them.

In our Key Verse, we see the word “magi.” It’s often translated as “wise men.” Traditionally we consider the envoys to be a group of three, mainly because of the list of three gifts they bestow of Jesus and his family: Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We don’t know their country of origin, the exact reason for their interest in the “newborn king of the Jews,” their names, or their physical characteristics. We have lots of pious ideas about all of that, but the bottom line is we don’t know for sure. We are, however, pretty sure they didn’t show up with the shepherds at the stable by the overflowing inn where Jesus was wrapped tightly in cloth and nestled in a feed trough. The passage that describes them consulting Herod, King of Judea, about how to find this baby is found only in the Gospel of Matthew. Herod, of course, doesn’t know, so he asks the chief priests and the scribes who tell him the prophecies say Bethlehem (house of bread), so he sends them in that direction. Then we read that the star “preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.” (See Matthew 2:9) They were thrilled as they entered the house and “saw the child with Mary his mother.” (See Matthew 2:11) There is no mention there of Joseph, shepherds, angels, and a menagerie of animals. It was just Mary and Jesus and some pagans from somewhere east of Judea who were referred to as “the magi,” two or more persons with the moniker Magus. What’s a magus?

They were followers of a very ancient religion called Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, was an ancient prophet from the region which is what is now southwestern Afghanistan or northeastern Iran. His writings represent what might be called the first monotheistic religion based on the belief that there is only one God. In his writings there were two distinct persons, very much opposite, that held control over all creation and life. They were called Ahura Mazda – he is omnibenevolent (absolutely good), and Angra Mainyu who is his opposite and therefore “omnimalevolent” (absolutely evil). His writings have influenced several religions (and heresies!), and include the Mazda-Yasna, a system based loosely on the principles of goodness, truth, and fairness. The magi who “discover” Jesus and Mary were probably of a sect of Zoroaster’s followers who believed that the Abrahamic covenant was an integral part of Ahura Mazda’s perfect plan for eliminating evil forever. Their arrival holds a very important and specific meaning, later expressed through the teachings of the Apostle Paul: Salvation was coming to all nations under one God:

Romans 3:29-31 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. These pagan magi were gentiles – not Jews. They came to do homage to the newborn king of the Jews, and were thus the first representatives of the gentiles to worship God Incarnate, Jesus, the Christ of God.  That is why we call this Feast Day Epiphany – it is the “showing forth,” the manifestation in Time of the Second Person of the Godhead, Jesus. This is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham when Abraham took Isaac to be a sacrifice in Genesis 22:17-18 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice. That blessing for all nations is, of course, Jesus who will be “a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Who in the World is that?

We need to go back to the early days of Abraham, when he was still Abram, and a terrible battle in the valley of Siddim. We can look at these passages for more information:

Genesis 14:18-20 18 And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
maker of heaven and earth;
20 and blessed be God Most High
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything.

That crosses back to Psalm 110:4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
 The Apostle Paul writes of this encounter in Hebrews. Hebrews 5:5-10 Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,

“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.”
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Paul finishes up in the seventh chapter of Hebrews with an astute analysis of God’s fulfillment of his plan of salvation tying it all to Abram’s encounter with Melchizedek. Truly, that plan was consummated when Jesus pronounced, “It is finished.” But, for us Belovéd, it all began there, in the presence of Abram, Melchizedek, Lot, and El Elyon – God Most High. Bringing the whole story full circle is the fact that Abram and his family came from “Ur of the Chaldeans,” a city in Ancient Mesopotamia which today corresponds to present day southeast Iraq and about 150km NNW of Basra:

Abram and his family originated in the same part of the world that Zoroaster inhabited. Perhaps the Magi who came to see the newborn king of the Jews also traveled from that region following a star that hovered over a location somewhere around Bethlehem – the House of Bread – and gave Jesus’ family things they would need later in life when the World came to realize that the King of Kings is the Bread of Life and The Rising Dawn – the Morning Star, The King of Nations, and Emanuel (See the O Antiphons). Peter calls him the Morning Star: 1 Peter 1:19 19 So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Jesus’ birth was heralded by Angels who sang “In the highest heaven, glory to God! And on earth, peace among people of good will!” (See Luke 2:14 CJB), illuminated by a star sent by God to welcome the gentiles and all persons of Good Will, the Lilly of the Valley (↔ Music Link), the Bright and Morning Star, and honored and adored by three Magi from the traditional land of Abraham’s birth. There is certainly meaning in that for all of us. What can we do in this life that will “show forth” that meaning for others and grant them the Epiphany of Faith that will put the Light of the Gospel in their hearts and minds?

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd! (And seriously, go read Hebrews 7.)

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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Aloha Friday Message – December 28, 2018 – Locked Out!

1852AFC122818 – Locked Out!

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.

Luke 2:49 49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  The Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV) reads 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”

¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!) Christmas day has come and gone, but it’s still the Christmas Season! Christmas lasts until the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2, 2019. Between today and then, we have the Octave of Christmas – that ends on January 1, 2019 with the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God – and continues through The Epiphany of the Lord. That celebration focuses on the appearance of Jesus before the Magi, and in rare occasions, as well as the Baptism of Jesus as an adult by John in the Jordan River. Normally the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on January 13, the octave day of Epiphany. In some churches there is also a “Season of Epiphany” which begins on January 6 and continues until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. All of these events are part of an ongoing open invitation to come together as community and worship together. No matter where you go to church, if you are a Christian of any sort, you are called to be with your fellow Christians to share in the Sacraments and fellowship, the Κοινωνία of The Church. Koinonia {koy-nohn-ee’-ah} means fellowship, association, community, communion, distribution, contribution, or to communicate. This word partially describes the way we share in the life and mission of the Body of Christ, and also hints at how the Holy Trinity is a single community of Three Divine Persons. It is included in our prayers – “graciously grant some share and fellowship with your holy Apostles and Martyrs” and in our Scripture readings from Acts 2:4242 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

We who have been claimed by Christ are called – actually, commanded – to be with and for each other:

John 13:34-35 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

We are part of the Church:

Acts 11:26b So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.” Christian means people of Christ.

Jesus was in the habit of going to the synagogue:

Luke 4:16 16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. This was his training from childhood. Mary and Joseph were surprised that Jesus was not with them. When he asked his parents how they could not know he would be at the Temple, he was surprised they did not understand he couldn’t be anywhere else. The word we have for “did you not know” is οἶδα (eidó) {i’-do} ~~ be aware, behold, consider, perceive as in I know, remember, appreciate. It is used first as a physical statement of perception “I see ____.” Then, it is also used as a metaphorical expression for mental perception. “I see what you mean.” “I see why you say that.” Beyond that it is also applied to a spiritual form of perception which entails comprehension of a principle or manner of conduct, to discern what is actual, or distinguish between proper and improper. That must have been one of those “AH-HA” moments that often comes up in parenting. “Ah. He’s the son of God. Surely he must be at his Father’s house tending to his Father’s interests!”

We come together as a community to share the Love of Christ – the Love he himself gave us to share with others:

Philippians 2:1-2 1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. This means we don’t go to church to do our own thing; we go to be part of “Christ’s thing” which is to love God completely and to love each other in the same way Jesus Loves us. We are to do that, we are to live that, and we are to be that all the time everywhere in church or not. In fact, we should be more focused on living a life of charity and fellowship outside the church. Inside the church we get powered-up through fellowship, sacrament, and participation (unlike fencepost Christians who just show up but never offer up). But like the bandleader said, “85% of the gig is showing up.”

We sometimes hear it expressed as, “Ya can’t win if ya don’t play.” So many of us have at times given up opportunities to share in the EXTRAORDINARY benefits and graces of Christian fellowship! It is as if we have locked ourselves out of that communion of the saints by giving all kinds of excuses for not sharing our lives with others. I’m going to give you a list of excuses people use about not going to church; however, instead of saying “church” or “fellowship,” I’m going to use something more common: Eating.

A lot of people always have a good excuse for not attending their church each week. If you take those excuses and apply them to eating, they might look like this list:

 

  1. I was forced to eat as a child.
  2. People who eat all the time are hypocrites; they aren’t really hungry.
  3. There are so many different kinds of food, I can’t decide what to eat.
  4. I used to eat, but I got bored and stopped.
  5. I only eat on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter.
  6. None of my friends will eat with me.
  7. I’ll start eating when I get older.
  8. I don’t really have time to eat.
  9. I don’t believe that eating does anybody any good. It’s just a crutch.
  10. Restaurants and grocery stores are only after your money.
  11. I eat better when I am alone in the mountains, or on the golf course.
  12. I don’t need to be fed when I eat. I get everything I need without putting myself through that.
  13. Eating is the opiate of the people.
  14. I’ve had so many negative experiences with eating, being fed, and learning to prepare food that I just have lost interest. I mean what’s the point? It all ends up in the same place anyway.
  15. Eating isn’t going to get me any closer to heaven than I already am.
  16. I don’t need to eat with a bunch of people who are frauds about food! They don’t really know what eating is all about, the hypocrites!

Now, if you think about substituting koinónia – fellowship at church – for “eat,” the excuses sound pretty lame, right? Please also recall that God can and will shut the door behind the Saints and against the sinners: Genesis 7:16 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in. Hollywood’s misinterpretation notwithstanding, no one could open the door thereafter – none could exit and none could enter. Communing with the Saints (i.e., the redeemed of God) is how we can stay on the better side of The Door.

Belovéd, the point here is clear; there are no excuses for missing out on God’s great Gift to us, his Church on Earth. We can come up with all the “reasons” we want, but there are no excuses. When we do make excuse after excuse, we are locking ourselves out and throwing away the key. Matthew 7:21-23 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’” If you cannot muster the will to go to church, it’s highly unlikely you will ever prophesy, cast out demons, or do other deeds of great power in the name of Jesus. And HE tells us even if you do these things, even if you warm the pew every Sunday, unless you do the will of Our Father, you will not find that key to unlock your passageway to Heaven. And what is the Will of the Father?

To repent and believe the Good News: Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” See Also 2 Peter 3:9.

To be filled with the Holy Spirit: Luke 11:13 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! See also Acts 2:38.

To be pure: Matthew 5:48 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. See also Matthew 5:8.

To be thankful: Psalm 118:1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! See also Psalm 26:7.

To accept suffering: Matthew 10:22 22 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. See Also 1 Peter 3:17 and Matthew 5:10-12.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Actually, it would be a lot if one had to do it alone; but we do not have to be alone – we have each other, and together – when we rely on and fellowship with the Church – we find strength upon strength. The door is unlocked and opened because we went there and knocked; the “key” is being there. All of this requires awareness, perception, and understanding. We need a nearly-continuous flow of “AH-HA moments,” and a great place to access that kind of resource is – you guessed it – The Church.

Don’t lock yourself out. The key in the door is our presence in Church, together. AMEN.

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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Aloha Friday Message – December 21, 2018 – The End of it All …

1851AFC122118 – The End of it All, 2018 Advent Series #4

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Matthew 24:36  36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Nineteen-month-old Jenna waddled over to Liz, her mom, and raised her chubby arms. “Mama carry me.” Liz scooped her up in one practiced motion, stationed Jenna on her left hip, and went on with fixing breakfast for Jackie, her brother, and John, her husband. Jenna snuggled against Liz, stuck out her left hand, and said, “Um!” “Use your words, sweetie,” her mom said as she transferred a corner of toasted bread from Jackie’s plate to Jenna’s outstretched fingers. “Um! Um!” Jenna mashed the toast into her mouth and held out her hand for more.

*-+-*-+*-+-*-+*-+-*-+*

Frank left the betting counter in the sports bookie lounge grumbling about “not fair,” and “it wouldn’t kill you,” as the bookie shook his head in disgust and disbelief saying, “I can’t believe he actually expected us to carry him until next game! What does he think we are, Chase-Manhattan?” Frank turned and glared at him, and then banged his way through the door and out into the sleet and rain which effectively hid the tears he shed because once again, Christmas for his wife and kids would be pretty stark. He’d make it up to them, though. Yes. He would.

*-+-*-+*-+-*-+*-+-*-+*

James was absolutely worn out. He and his older brother Eddie had been walking for days it seemed. Even though James knew it had only been three, or maybe four, hours, he was barely able to take one step after another. Eddie had said they should stay put and wait for someone to find them, but James started crying and wanted to go look for the rest of the Eddie’s Scout Troop. James had been invited along to explore joining Troop 561 as a Tiger Cub, and now he was sure they wouldn’t accept him. He tripped and fell suddenly, and Eddie reached to pull him up. James, angry because he was embarrassed, growled, “You don’t have to carry me, Eddie. I can make it on my own!”

*-+-*-+*-+-*-+*-+-*-+*

Many years ago, a score of centuries in the past, a Messenger named Gabriel spoke to a teenager named Mary and said – in effect – “God has a request for you. He says, ‘Please, carry me.'” Mary said, “Whatever you ask, I will do. Whatever you do, I will accept.” And so she carried Emanuel in her virginal womb, and all her life she carried God’s Son, and our Brother through adoption, Jesus, in her heart and after his death, she once again carried him in her arms.

*-+-*-+*-+-*-+*-+-*-+*

Do you remember what happened on December 21, 2012 – or rather what didn’t happen? That was supposed to be the end of the world. If you are reading this, and if you are all in one piece, then the world did not end – for you at least. There are hundreds of thousands of people who will die today, and it is the end of the world for them. For you and me, it is perhaps the end of an era, or even something more mundane – the end of the week. Tomorrow we’ll do laundry, clean the garage, maybe have to shovel snow out of the driveway, and try to finish up our Christmas shopping. Sunday, we’ll go to church – you will won’t you? – we’ll listen to the sermon and try to remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season even if we never did find a music box for Aunt May. But today as we cart our gifts to relatives’ houses or to the post office (too late!), and as we remind ourselves to take the turkey out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator, we easily forget; we have another request pending: “Carry me.”

That is the end of it, Beloved; Carry me. WE all remember the masterful work originally written by Mary Stevenson in 1936 called Footprints in the Sand. We remember that when there was only one set of footprints in the sand, that was when Jesus was carrying us. A good and true image of how God works in our lives to protect and sustain us, this story of Footprints in the Sand is often a source of comfort in times of trial.

But, we are also called to be “Christ-Bearers.” Mary came to be known as the Θεοτόκος, Theotokos, {theo-to’-kes} God-Bearer. I am, you are, we are also called to be Theotokos in accordance with the measure of Grace which God has given us to carry the Word, the λόγος – Logos – the Christ, for God’s words are Spirit and Life, and God’s Word of Life is Jesus whom Mary carried in her womb until he was born alive as a human, and then in her heart as he became and remains resurrected and alive. Now he also asks to be carried in our hearts. Can you, can I, can we carry him with the love, the faith, and the eternal commitment and purity Mary had and has when she carried him in her womb and in her heart? Perhaps, if we are very, very blessed (Blesséd are you among women), but even if we cannot match Mary’s fervor or her measure of the Graces of Faith and Obedience, we can make room for Jesus as she did:
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown, (↔ Music Link)
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity:
Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for Thee;
Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus, come,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

And that is The End of It All, Beloved. Simply say “Yes” when God says to you, “Carry me.” It is not a question. It is not a command. It is sort of a request. Most of all, it is an instruction. It is simply, “carry me.” Everything else, anything else, is suddenly secondary. Will you take a moment now, please, and imagine the moment Mary looked out the window at Jesus rough-housing with Joseph. Mary calls out, “All right you ruffians! It’s time for dinner. Come in and wash up.” Joseph rises and extends both hands to Jesus saying, “Come on, Yeshua, it smells good in there. Let’s see what your mama’s gotten ready for us.” Jesus runs and skips over to Joseph and tackles him around the knees saying, “Aw, Abba, let’s wrestle one more time!” “No, son, we need to get inside. Come on. Let’s go.” “OK, Abba. Carry me?”

And Mary smiles as she turns away from the window. She was the first one ever, in all Eternity, to be asked by God, “Carry me?” She helped carry him to Jerusalem those first six years. Although she did not yet know then, from ages seven through age eleven he would carry himself. At age twelve, he would turn back to the Temple as he began to understand more clearly, “I am here to carry God my Father into the presence of these my brethren.” A little tear touches the corner of Mary’s eye just as Joseph ducks through the low door with Jesus over his right shoulder – the same shoulder upon which Jesus would later carry his cross. But today, for Mary and Joseph, carrying Jesus was just part of living, just part of loving him and loving each other.

There is nothing else to do. If you carry him, you will have room only for him, strength only for his instructions, love only in his Love. He will become in you The Word of God, and that will be Spirit and Life. It is the End of It All because it becomes Eternal in God when the world comes to Judgment.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a … reward.

But what about the times you need to be carried? Will Jesus still lift you to carry you across the sand? And is that sand by the beach, or is it in the desert? Yes, Jesus will carry you and through the miraculous Mystery of the Incarnation, you will also carry him, Emanuel – God-With-Us. You will be in this World, but not of it. Even if the World does end, you will not, and that is the Truth; remember YOLO-F. You will receive your Eternal Reward, and that is the Truth. As Frank Peretti has said, “There has to be a Truth that is fixed and objective and separate from you, it has to be true whether you believe it or not, it has to be true whether you like it or not, it has to be true whether you have ever heard of it or not… it’s just true.” The truth is that when you carry Christ, you carry Truth.

LIGHT ≡ GOD ≡ LOVE ≡ TRUTH ≡ WAY ≡ LIFE ≡ FOREVER

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

I’ll be back again just before Epiphany. Meanwhile

May Hope, and Peace, and Joy, and Love
Be yours through the coming of
The Christ Child

Carry Me …

Isaiah 49:15 15 Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. God will always love us the way he loves Jesus. Romans 8:38-39For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 When this …

… became this, 

 

 

 

 

 

 

then God remembered every promise he had ever made, and that is definitely worth our remembering and celebrating! It is so important that we also remember that at the end of it all there is an Eternal Celebration, an Everlasting Banquet of Love.

YOLOF → HEHappily Everafter!

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