Archive for June, 2010

God First = Love First

Monday, June 28th, 2010

There are two major themes in this week’s readings. The first theme calls us to ask the question, “Am I making God the number one priority in my life?” In the first reading (1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21) God asks the prophet Elijah to anoint a successor – Elisha – for himself. When Elijah called Elisha to serve as his apprentice or attendant, the response from Elisha was “Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.”

In the Gospel reading from Luke  (Luke 9:51-62) Jesus is also reaching out to a man and says to him, “Follow me.” The man responds to Jesus by saying, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” 

Although the responses from Elisha and the man whom Jesus called seem fairly reasonable, especially by today’s standards, their response was not, “I will happily follow you. Here I am, Lord!”  They responded with, “I will God, but first I need to……” 

How often are you and I called by God or presented with an opportunity to be Christ to another and we think to ourselves, “That would be a great thing to do….if I had more time” or “As soon as I make a little more money or get that job or go for a run or (insert the excuse of choice).  Don’t we always seem to have really good excuses to put-off love and service in the present?

Jesus is asking us to make God first in our lives – every day.  In each conversation and in every action we can ask ourselves, “How would Jesus respond?” or “What would Jesus do in this instance?”  That’s how we make God first in our lives.

The second major theme for us this week is Love  and comes from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Galatians 5:1, 13-18).  In this letter, Paul is reminding the Galatians to focus on the Spirit of Christ within them and to not be enslaved by the flesh.  I really like the definition of flesh because in the past, I thought that Paul was talking about sexual temptations.  This definition of flesh means any form of selfishness.  L-O-V-E is the opposite of selfishness.  Flesh and selfishness are the exact opposite of God who is love.

By focusing on God’s Spirit which lives within us, we have the strength to overcome our flesh’s temptations – overconsumption of alcohol and food, lust, pride, greed, envy,  etc.

Love is the opposite of selfishness. We best express our love as Jesus did – in service to others.  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

In summary, let’s make God first in our lives. We do this best when we’re actively serving and loving others!

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Clothed with Christ

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

One of this weekend’s readings is from Paul’s letter to the Galatians (Galatians 3:26-29). As usual, Paul packs a lot of content into about 10 lines.

The first major topic is faith. Have you given that subject much thought lately?  As Christians, most of us have inherited our faith because it was our parents’ faith. 

What is it that we believe as part of Christian faith?  We believe in a man named Jesus who lived 2000+ years ago. We believe that he was sent to earth by his Father (God) to live with us and teach us how to love God and each other.  We believe that he sacrificed his life and was resurrected from the dead. We believe that we too will have to suffer along our earthly journey, but do it happily in imitation of Christ.  Like Jesus, through our faith in him, we know that we will be resurrected from the dead and will live with him forever.

Our faith allows us to live each day of our life confident in today and hopeful of the future – no matter how difficult today may be!

The second major concept in this reading comes when Paul says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

When we have clothes on we’re surrounded with cloth.  When we’re clothed with Christ, we’re surrounded by Jesus.  Like many of us identify ourselves with the clothing style we choose, to be clothed in Christ means that our identity comes from Him. Our differences are gone because our attention is on our commonality in Christ.

Within the world of marketing, identification with a particular brand mean a lot.  What different images do you think of when envisioning Nascar, Bentley, Starbucks and Walmart? 

What words do you think describe the brand Christian

When we choose to be baptized (or confirmed), we become part of this universal body of people who believe in  God the Father and Creator, his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit who is with us at all times. We take on the clothing of Christ by the way we think, speak, act and serve. 

We are constantly clothed in Christ when living in accordance with what he taught us while on earth.  Love.  Forgive. Do not judge. 

This clothing seems to fit perfectly!

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Each Day Gets Brighter

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Enlightenment comes at us on a daily basis when we’re aware and seeking it.  This weekend’s readings caused high wattage light bulbs to go off several times for me.

In the first reading from the book of Samuel (2 Samuel 12: 7-10, 13), Nathan the prophet is chosen to deliver a message from God to King David.  God says, “I anointed you king of  Israel, I rescued you from the hand of Saul, I gave you your lord’s house and your lord’s wives.”   God is trying to tell David that he’s been given so much, yet he still found it necessary to be greedy and selfish and go and take what belonged to someone else.

What God is saying to David is, “how could you?”  He sounds like a parent speaking to a child (I could hear myself speaking to one of my kids). After gladly receiving everything that David was given by God, he still wanted more.  David became infatuated with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, and conceived a child with her while Uriah, one of David’s most loyal soldiers was off at battle.  As if this is not bad enough, David then had Uriah arranged to be killed “in the line of battle” to cover up his less-than-worthy actions.

God is saying to David, “how could you commit adultery and murder after all that I’ve given you?”

God is asking the same question to us today, “how could you?”  When are you and I selfish and greedy? When do we ignore God’s love and generosity and go off desiring more without considering the impact of our actions on others?  That was light bulb number one for me.

In the second reading from Paul to the Galatians (Galatians 2:16, 19-21), Paul is reminding the mostly Jewish converts to Christianity at that time that salvation comes about through faith in Jesus – not by holding on to a promise of salvation as the result of clinging to the old laws of diet and circumcision.  Paul tells them that if the laws were good enough to bring about salvation then, Christ’s death was in vain.  In short, Paul is advising them (and us) to  love Jesus, have faith in him and keep his commandments.

God sent his only son to live with us, teach us and die for our sins.  He is the way to salvation. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the dietary laws or circumcision, but they should not be the focus of our life and our faith.  Our eyes and ears should be paying attention to Jesus.

Paul also says something amazing in this same reading. He says, “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.”   Light bulb #2 for me.  It is the life of Jesus who is alive and present in Paul!   It is the same life that exists inside of you and me when we welcome Jesus into our life and have faith in him and his word.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Reasons to Worship Together

Monday, June 7th, 2010

With our very busy lives, regular attendance at church can sometimes takes a back seat to other activities.

In order to justify our actions, we start to ask questions like, “Do I really need to go to church every week?”  After missing several weeks in a row, we might start saying, “I’m a really good person and my relationship is between me and God, so it’s not necessary for me to go to a physical building.”

This weekend was the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  In the first reading from Genesis (14:18-20), the priest Melchizedek blesses Abram (who will later be called Abraham) over a meal of bread and wine.  Within the Christian church, we see  this ancient rite as a prefigurement to Jesus’ Eucharistic meal.

In the second reading from 1Corinthians (11:23-26), Paul tells us exactly what the risen Jesus told him directly.  Paul says, “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for youDo this in remembrance of me.’” Jesus did the same thing with the cup and goes on to say, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”

Jesus is very clear when speaking to Paul and to us when he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”  It sounds to me like this is something that Jesus is asking us to do on a regular basis.

Is Jesus attempting to bring us together as a community?  Yes.

Is he asking us to remember that he literally sacrificed his body and blood because of his love for us?  Yes. This was a choice freely made because of his love for us.

In the reading from Luke’s Gospel (9:11b-17), we hear the very familiar story of Jesus and the 5 loaves and 2 fish that Jesus turns into enough food to feed about five thousand people and still has enough left over to fill 12 wicker baskets. Jesus not only wanted to nourish the crowd with his Words, but he desired to nourish their bodies too.

We’re called to  worship together for many reasons:

  • We come to church on a weekly basis to be nourished with the Word of God.
  • We come to be physically and spiritually nourished with the bread and wine – the body and blood of Jesus.
  • We come together to be united within a small community of believers who are a part of the universal Body of Christ.  Unity.

When we’re together, we’re complete.  When isolated from others and from God, we’re incomplete.  Like the physical body has many members, the universal Body of Christ has many members too.  Each of us is an extremely valuable member of this body!

The opening line from today’s reading from Luke says, “Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured.”  We provided the bread and fish, but it is God who creates the abundance to feed the crowd and still has more left to give.  In every aspect of our lives, we must contribute something, but it is God who gives what we lack.  God will provide us with what we need when we admit that we need help and want to be healed.

As humans we’re hungry for something that many of us are not satisfying with regular food (regardless of how much we eat) and regular words (regardless of how much we read).  We’re  hungry for spiritual food and spiritual words –  the Word of God. It is only through God that we are satisfied and complete.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.  This is the food and Word that satisfies.

Come together to be nourished. Come together to nourish others.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.