Advent: History, Mystery and Majesty

 

Advent is about the church’s faith that all of life –past, present, and future—is lived in the presence of God.  Advent is about trusting the promise even while waiting for the promise to be kept by God.

In Advent, the church celebrates Christ’s coming in history, mystery and majesty.

In history: We celebrate God’s surprising historical entry into the world in the birth, life and death of Jesus of Nazareth.

In mystery: We celebrate the resurrected Christ’s mysterious presence “wherever two or three gather” in Christ’s name.

In majesty: We celebrate the promise that one-day Christ will come in majesty, wiping away every tear and emptying every grave.

Adapted from a commentary on Psalm 25 by Rolf Jacobson on Working Preacher.com

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Hearts Up! Heads Up!

First Sunday in Advent, 2015 Psalm 25 & Luke 21:28

Ps. 25:1, Lord my God, to you I lift my heart.  Luke 21:28, Stand upright and lift your heads, because your time to be set free is drawing near.

Nations stand helpless, not knowing which to turn.  People in terror at the thought of all that is coming on the world.   Those words might describe our reaction after tuning into the news or opening the newspaper, and maybe they do. Moreover, the latest and loudest political rhetoric is not aimed at our better instincts, but to our frustrations, mistrust, fears, prejudices, and our self – centeredness.  In other words, it’s aimed at that old sinful self that needs to be drowned daily in our baptism, so that a new person emerges to live before God in uprightness and purity forever.

However, descriptions of helpless nations in perplexity, of people in terror of what the world is coming to, come to us right out of the Gospel of Luke, spoken by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Next, Jesus says something unexpected, “Then we will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great might.” Just when we want to duck and run Jesus says, “Stand up straight and lift your heads, because your time to be set free is drawing near.”

This is the first Sunday in Advent, which directs us to Jesus coming at the end of time, as king of the universe, no longer the babe in a manger, no longer the man on the cross, but as the Son of Man, the risen Lord whom death and the grave could not contain, who ascended to the right hand of God, the Father from whence he will come to living and the dead.  This first Sunday of advent when we begin a new church year we think of the coming of our Lord at the end of time to lead us to the fullness of eternity.

On this first Sunday in Advent its, Hearts Up! Heads Up! All the Day Long.

  1. The author of Psalm 25 tells us what he did, “To you, Lord my God, I lift up my heart.”

Lewis Smede who wrote a book entitled, “Standing on the Promises” says that hoping for others is hard, but not the hardest.  Praying for others is hard but not the hardest.  The hardest part for people who believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ is in “living the sort of life that makes people say ‘Ah, so that’s how people are going to live.’”  An article in our synods paper the “Reporter” describes the work of our partner church in Germany among the flood of refugees.  When asked how American Christians should approach Muslims with the Gospel, one refugee said, “Let them see (how you live) and (let them) ask questions.”

So how do we live our daily faith life?  Martin Luther has some practical help for us.  Before turning on the news or reading the newspaper or booting up our computer or pecking on our I phone, Luther tells us to begin our day in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Then continue with a prayer of thanksgiving for having kept us through the night.  Praying further that our heavenly Father would also keep us from sin, and every evil during the day so that all our doings may please our heavenly Father.  He concludes with a request for the protecting presence of His holy angel so that the evil foe have no power.  Then go joyfully to your work singing a hymn.

Makes sense to put our trust in the Lord, in whom is the hope for our eternal salvation, to help us get through the day.  In other words asking help from that realm which as Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “Is not of this world.”  Put our trust in Jesus Christ who rules in that out of this world kingdom which is our destiny held in the hope of our faith. Regardless how overwhelming the reality of the world confronting us as we go out into our day,  there is an even greater reality, the reality of the word of the Lord of which Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” We serve a higher throne where sits the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end the One is, was and ever shall be. The one who came into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and will come at the end of time in power and great glory.

  1. It would be wonderful if our days were as Van Morrison sang,

When you don’t need to worry there’ll be days like this
When no one’s in a hurry there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh, my mama told me, “There’ll be days like this”

When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there’ll be days like this.

But the song allows that not all days will be free of worry, free of the Judas kiss, free of puzzlement.  Having begun our day lifting our hearts to the Lord we keep them lifted up as the day progresses, lest having made a good start to our day we lose our way.

Sometimes our days can be more than we can understand, sometimes we are overwhelmed.  Sometimes we can feel trapped. Betty, a now 80 something year old woman, said one time during a Sunday morning Bible Class that she had been trapped in a job, with low pay and a tyrannical boss.  But in order to feed her family she could not quit.

The psalmist asks the Lord to teach him, “Teach me your ways.  Lead me by your faithfulness…for you are God my Savior.”  Because all the paths of the Lord are loving and sure.  Eugene Peterson paraphrases the psalmist, “If I keep my eyes on God, I won’t trip over my own feet.” The psalmists noonday prayer continues, “turn to me and show me your favor…Relieve the troubles of my heart…let honesty and uprightness protect me; in you Lord is my hope.”

I remember a district convention in the 80’s being held in Appleton, Wis.  A noisy thunderstorm passed through the area and knocked out the electricity for a time.  We were all sitting calmly in the dark in the convention hall, when a young man from the hotel, sounding rather desperate, came in and loudly called out, that everything was okay and we shouldn’t worry and no great damage had been done in case we were worried about our families.  Henry Simon our district president then said, “The Lord of the church is the Lord of the weather.  We will continue.”

So it is when we live out our day keeping our hearts and heads up, not only waiting for Christ’s return, but looking for how he is present in our world and daily lives.

  • When we come to the evening, our day ends as it began.

Luther says, make the sign of the holy cross in the name of the Triune God.  Thank our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ for keeping us during the day and asking for forgiveness of all sins where “I have done wrong.”  The words of the psalm make a fitting prayer, “Remember, Lord, your tender care and love unfailing, for that is your character from eternity to eternity.  Do not remember the sins I committed this day, nor the offences of my youth which can still haunt me.  Rather remember me in your unfailing love in accordance with your goodness.  Relieve the troubles of my heart and lead me out of my distress.”  After commending ourselves, all we are and all we have, into the Lord’s hand for safe keeping; let go and let God handle things.

So we wait in hope from morning to evening for our King to come that we might share in His peace in heaven and glory in the highest with him now and forever.

 

Amid Flood of Refugees

 

A lengthy article in the LCMS “Reporter” tells quite a different story of what is happening in Germany involving the flood of refugees in contrast to the shameful hysteria being heard in the United States.

The following are excerpts from the December issue of the “Reporter.”

Rev. Thomas Seifert is pastor of Paul-Gerhardt Gemeinde (congregation) in Braunschweig, Germany.  “It’s such a chance as a missionary – you say, ‘oh what beautiful times’- they are coming in crowds,” said Seifert.  “’Go therefore and make disciples of all nations’- it’s easy to do when they are coming to you.”

Seifert’s efforts are part of SELK’s (Self-standing Evangelical Lutheran Church).  Other sites where the growing mission work in in refugee camps is occurring are, Berlin, Leipzig, Hannover, Dusseldorf, and elsewhere in Germany.

“A lot of people in Germany are claiming that we are losing our base, we are losing our foundation and beliefs if we welcome (these refugees),” Bishop Hans-Jorg Voigt said,”But I say we lose our roots and our Christian faith if we do not welcome them.”

When asked how American Christians should approach Muslims with the Gospel, the refugees agreed that demonstrating their Christian faith through the way they live in contrast to Islam.  “Let them see and ask questions,” one refuge said.

Rev. Kevin Robson, LCMS Chief Mission Officer, said, “Acts of terrorism, the darkness of humankind in rebellion against God’s goodness, the utterly fallen nature of a sin-corrupted creation-in Paris and in countless other places around the world-these are the contemporary symptoms of a great war being waged against Christ and His bride, the suffering Church.  In these last days the only source of genuine, eternal hope is this Jesus in the middle of it.”

David’s Song of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day, 2015, Psalm 65

Remember what Benjamin Franklin wanted as the national symbol? It was not the bald eagle, but the turkey. It seems that 200 plus years after the fact he has won the day. It is a Turkey Day here, a Turkey Day there, everywhere a Turkey Day. One is left with some confusion. Is it turkey day or Thanksgiving Day?

David in Psalm 65 offers us a song that removes any doubts whether the emphasis should be on turkey or thanksgiving. He writes, “Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion.”

Indeed, we can say, “You, O God have drawn us here so that we might offer a sacrifice of Thanksgiving.” What do I have to offer to the Lord for all his benefits to me other than a sacrifice of thanksgiving? Because Jesus sacrificed his body and shed his blood on the altar of the cross, the author of Hebrews writes, “let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God.” Thus, we sing, “Come, ye thankful people come; come to God’s own temple, come; raise the song of harvest home.” Whatever thankfulness and

praise we bring, whether within our hearts or in our hands or to serve to guests is to be an offering of thanksgiving that glorifies God.

We have more reasons for offering thanksgiving to God. God has drawn us here to meet us with the promise that he will hear our prayers. When a child says, “I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” before drifting off to sleep, God hears that prayer. God hears not only our united hearts and voices here in the sanctuary, but also our individual petitions, which we might only be able to express with sighs, and groans.

God draws us here to forgive our sins. The Hebrew in Psalm 65 also allows us to say that our iniquities and transgressions have drawn God here that he might hear our pleas for forgiveness. Through Jesus death and resurrection God atoned for all the times we get bent out of shape (that’s what iniquity means) using religion and God’s name to serve our own purposes and force our own will on someone else. Jesus took the termination of life we earned when we rebelled against God’s manual of right and proper behavior.

Despite our transgressions, God still has chosen us and drawn us to himself. For the blessings we receive from God, just to have the goodness that comes with being here, we owe endless thanks and praise.

However, David moves on in his song to sing of the strength of the creator. “By his strength he set the mountains in their place.” The ancient people had a very down to earth view of things. They could picture God in their minds eye as the master of a huge landscaping project, picking up the mountains and establishing them solidly in their place. The seas and their roaring waves were the most uncontrollable force the people could think of. Yet, God in the creation placed boundaries for the seas to keep it from flooding and destroying the land. Of course, humanity doesn’t think it has to respect those boundaries. We build where we want to build and expect creation to cooperate with us. We put under the plow that which should not be plowed.  I think of the 120 acres of the hilliest ground in the whole township that my grandfather August Glaubitz homesteaded back in 1884. And cover with asphalt and concrete that which should be used for producing crops and food. I’m thinking of the vast expanse of bottom land along I-255 being covered by warehouses.  At some point creation pushes back and we are dismayed only to redouble our efforts not to change our behavior, but to make creation behave according to our will. However, God is God of all that he created. He is the hope to the ends of the earth. He is the Lord not only of the seas and the land, but also of humanity, so often in tumult and roaring, like the seas and their waves, smashing up against one another. God governs, rules and ultimately controls all that is.

God also has shown his power and might by being our savior from sin and ourselves. He is the “saver,” the God of our salvation. Indeed, the Hebrew word used here for “saver” is the word from which our Savior received his name, even Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ. He is not only our savior he is the hope for the ends of the earth. He, who had strength to set the mountains in their place and keep the seas in their place, also has strength to save all who dwell on the earth. Shortly, in the season of Advent, we will once again hear the words spoken to Joseph by the angel, “do not fear to take Mary as your wife…she shall bear a son and shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Thirty three years later, Jesus said shortly before his crucifixion, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself.”

David sings that such deeds of creation and salvation cause the morning to go out in joy as well as the evening. The whole day is filled with joy because of God and what he has done. Praise and thanksgiving are due to God from our hearts and hands and voices from the time we get up in the morning to the time we go to bed at night.

David thanks God for the harvest and produce of the land. He is the Provider of what we need to sustain our body and life. I have always liked Jesus approach to matters. When he raised the 12-year-old daughter of Jairus, he said to the dead girl, “Child, arise” and she got up at once. Then Jesus directed her parents to give her something to eat. That must have been some thanksgiving meal, turkey or not. One of the appearances Jesus made after his resurrection took place on a beach in the early morning. The disciples had been out fishing and when they came in they discovered Jesus had made them breakfast. A Thanksgiving breakfast with grilled fish and all the trimmings.

David then sings of the gift of water through which God enriches the earth. Water enables the grain to grow. The valleys decked themselves with amber waves of grain. God produces such a bountiful crop that the wheels of the heavy laden cart dig ruts in the road. The cart is so loaded with grain that some even spills off on the rough road. Then the ruts themselves become irrigation channels for God’s river of water to replenish the fields.

Then the farmer, to whom God had given such a bountiful crop, would bring part of that crop to the worship sanctuary as a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. The same would be true of the owner of the vineyard, and the shepherd whose sheep made a white on green polka dot pattern on the hillside.

It would be like if some here had grown the grain, ground it into flour, baked bread and brought part of it here to use in communion as the body of Christ. In addition, some of the bread would be used today at the Thanksgiving meal. Others brought wine, pressed and fermented from grapes they had raised in their vineyard. Some would be used as the blood of Christ in Communion and still more at the Thanksgiving meal. Others would bring meat and wool from the sheep to be used to feed the hungry and the wool spun into clothing to be worn by those in need.

For God’s salvation and for his daily provision, we thank and praise God today and tomorrow, yes, even on Black Friday. We do so because on a Spring time Friday, 2,000 years ago, the sun refused to shine for three hours on that truly Black Friday we call Good. On that Black Friday our sins rushed upon Jesus and he greedily gathered up the whole lot for himself, leaving not one for ourselves. All we came away with on that Black Friday was the freebie of forgiveness and eternal salvation. Today, let us give thanks unto the Lord for he is good and his mercy endures forever.

 

 

 

Day before Thanksgiving

 

It seems strange to entitle a piece for my blog, “Day before Thanksgiving.”  Martin Luther writes in connection with the first article of the creed what our daily attitude toward God ought to be, “For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey him.”  “For all” what are we to be thankful?  Luther lists several items.
God has made me and all creatures, given my body and soul, eyes, ears…my reason and senses and still takes care of them. Luther adds clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children, land, animals, and all I have.  God is not stingy about this but daily provides me with all that I need in my life.  He also defends me and guards and protects me.

Why does God do all this?  Out of his fatherly divine goodness and mercy, not because we deserve it or are worthy of it.  “For all this, it is my duty to thank…”

The closing words of Jude are fitting here, “To the only God, our Savior, through Christ Jesus our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.”

As we enjoy his bountiful blessings tomorrow, we give thanks for all God has provided us, which is everything every day.

Getting a Makover

 

“I looked on the earth, and behold, it was waste and void, and to the heavens, and they had no light.” Jeremiah 4:23

In 4:23-31, Jeremiah uses words to paint a frightening scene of creation coming unraveled.  So it is with many of the descriptions we encounter in the end of the world texts assigned for reading at the end of the church year.  We can forget that these are associated with Jesus return who will bring an end to the history of the universe as we have come to know it.

But there are other words of scripture which present an awesome picture of everything being recreated.  Isaiah 65:17, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”  A more complete picture is displayed in verses 18-25.

Once in a while I have tried to think about a perfect world.  Think of a world with no need for doctors or hospitals or pharmaceutical companies, no sports talk radio or Rush Limbaugh.  Well the list would go on endlessly.  Then there all those questions about things we can’t understand and intend to ask when we get to heaven.  If God should ask, “Any questions?”  Our answer would be, “Questions?  Why would I have questions?”  We will be too busy being filled with gladness and eternal rejoicing over his new creation.  Furthermore, we will get a complete makeover, which will make the ones we see on TV seem pretty paltry by comparison.

So if you want to drive yourself crazy, try spending the rest of the day contemplating a perfect universe, or just leave that up to God and go about the business of making our present world a little bit more like the new one.  I don’t know if that would involve trying to emulate TV’s idea of makeovers.

 

 

 

Christ Unveiled

Christ the King, Nov. 22, 2015 Zion, Bunker Hill, Rev. 1:3-8

There he stood, Christ the King, denied, betrayed and abandoned by his closest associates.  There he stood, bound, whipped, mocked, and bloodied.  There he stood rejected by the leaders of his own faith. There he stood, before Pontius Pilate who had all the might and power of the Roman Empire behind him.  Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus did not look like much of a king.  By noon that Friday Pilate would mock the Jews, “Behold your King.” “Crucify him” they shouted.  “Shall I crucify your king?” he taunted.  “We have no king but Caesar,” the crowd shouted.  So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.  That was the worst of times to be a follower of Jesus.  But it was the hour of Jesus glory.

We may well think that today is one of those worst of times.  The recent events in our own country and elsewhere in the world have more than a few of Jesus’ faithful followers reeling with horror over what seems to be the advance of every evil influence and power in the world. Events, come rushing toward us like  tidal waves one after another . Sometimes it appears that the very ground upon which a make our stand in faith has shifted. Questions arise.   How do we Christians deal with the sense that we no longer the predominant influence in our country?  The numbers of church affiliated Christians is shrinking, the number of the unaffiliated are growing. How much worse does it need to be, or will be before Jesus comes again in glory?  Surely the end is near.

It must have also seemed to be the worst of times for the fledging church at the end of the first century, when John wrote the book of Revelation.  Christians were sometimes caught up in Emperor Domitian’s sporadic moves against those he perceived as a threat to his rule.  The emperors were regardedgods and idolatry the rule of the day.  Some had their property confiscated, some were killed and John, bishop in Ephesus, was banished to the island of Patmos.  Ecclesiastes tells us, “There is nothing new under the sun.”  So it seems.

But Jesus said in the Gospel lesson, “My kingdom is not of this world.”  Where do we look for this out of the world kingdom?  Martin Luther said, “Begin where Christ began-in the Virgin’s womb, in the manger, and at His mother’s breasts.  For this purpose He came down, was born, lived among us, suffered, was crucified and died.  He wanted us to fix the gaze of our hearts upon Himself.”

St. John tells us that we are already three times blessed this morning.  In the verse before our text from Revelation, we read “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words.”  Our second blessing is on, “those who hear.”  So we have read aloud and we have heard.  Now our third blessing comes as we consider how we might remain faithful and put into practice to what we have read and heard.  That we might not allow what we might regard as the worst of times engulf our thinking and view of things, for what is ahead is the best of times when we will take part in Christ’s resurrection; we are admitted to the heavenly banquet with the risen Christ, our baptismal robes washed white by the blood of his suffering, inglorious death and glorious victory over sin and death on our behalf.  St. Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time, are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

In John’s revelation, we have the unveiling of Christ in all his eternal glory and dominion. He writes,“Grace to you and peace.” Luther wrote, “Grace and peace,… embrace the whole of Christianity.  Grace forgives and peace stills the conscience.  When the grace and peace of God are present, a person is so strong that he can bear both cross and peace, both joy and sorrow.” Grace and peace are ours today assembled in worship together.  We also experience grace and peace as we come to Holy Communion where we receive the blessings of the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation a preview of Christ’s eternal heavenly banquet.  We experience grace and God’s peace as we recall at the beginning of each worship service, our baptism.   That occasion when the word of God came through the water and we were washed clean and put on Christ, the proper attire for Christ’s banquet.

This grace and peace comes from the Heavenly Father through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Several years ago, following my first heart by-pass surgery, I wasn’t allowed to drive for a month.  In the meantime some books I had from the public library ran quite a bit overdue.  When I took them back I explained to the librarian my situation.  She gave me some grace that day and cut my fine by one half.  And any overdue books after that would have received no grace at all.  But the grace we receive from God is not half grace, nor temporary, but whole grace, unending grace, with no limitations.  Because it comes “from him who is, and who was and who is to come.” He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He continually pours out upon us his gifts of blessings that in a world in which we know little of peace, we can know the peace that is ours with God.

Not only does the Father, who is and was and is to come stand behind our grace and peace, but so does the Holy Spirit, revealed to John as the “seven spirits.”  The Holy Spirit is the perfect eternal presence of God resting upon you and me with his gifts of wisdom and understanding that we might know how to live faithfully in our world.  His counsel and might – to recognize that the true power in this world is through the word his gospel.  The Holy Spirit brings knowledge of God as the giver of grace.  He creates in us a reverent respect for the Lord that we might submit to his will.

And behind all grace and peace is also Jesus Christ who faithfully witnessed to God’s plans with his life and his words as he proclaimed the coming of God’s ruler ship of the whole earth.  He is the firstborn of the dead, a first fruit of a bumper crop of resurrections to follow and we are part of that bumper harvest.

Though the world may appear to be an arena of the worst death and destruction at the hands of evil people, Revelation gives us another view, if we look up we can see through the eyes of faith the Lamb who died but now sits on the throne.

To bring this all down to earth again consider a man and woman in Colorado who were driving back from a church conference.  As they rounded a curve they came upon an accident in process.  A motorcyclist’s wheel caught on something and flipped into the air.  The rider, without a helmet, was thrown fifty feet and the bike landed nearby.  The woman leaped from the car and ran to the motorcyclist, while the man stopped traffic and sent people for help.  When the ambulance arrived they whisked the motorcyclist away.  The man and the woman got back into their car in silence.  Blood covered the woman’s hands and the hem of her skirt.  The man said, “I saw you talking to that young man.  He was obviously unconscious.  He may have been dead already.  What could you possibly have been saying to him?”  She replied, “I just told him over and over…I just told him, the worst was over.  The healing has already began.”

The worst is over for us.  The worst happened on the cross.  The cross can’t be undone. The healing has already begun.  Come Lord Jesus Come.

 

 

Prayer for Christ the King Sunday

 

O all hearing God give attention to the prayers of your people as we pray for the well-being of the church, for peace in the whole world and the welfare of your people.

O God of justice, you rule far above all dominions. Establish your power over the nations and those who govern, that all families of the earth would gather under your righteous rule.  Lord in Your mercy.

O God of Salvation, in a time of fear and terror make known your saving grace and peace to your people, that we may stand steadfast in you; strengthen us in faith that we do not let the evil deeds of our foes sway us from trust in your governance and your peace which passes all understanding.  Lord in your mercy.

O God of Compassion, who through the blood of your Son Jesus Christ redeemed us from the power of sin, death and devil, lead us to live in thankfulness and joy in your great gift of eternal life, that we may not weary in well doing toward those who have lost house, home, families and all they owned and now live the perilous life of a refugee in foreign lands.

O Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, God who is, was and is to come, be with all those in our household faith who are ill, hospitalized, recuperating or shut in, that they might know your nearness and continue to look to Jesus Christ, who is the firstborn from the dead and all who faithfully trust in him will live with him both now and forever.  Lord in your mercy.

O God of Joy, we give thanks for all who are celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, living another year under your blessings, bless and keep them that they may continue to serve you.  Lord in your mercy.

All blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might by your, o God, through Christ the crucified and risen one.

 

Be Given to Hospitality

 

Romans 12:13, Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

From a sermon by Martin Luther preached in 1525.  I think it has some relevance to our attitude toward refugees.

“How strange!  Every day we ask and desire the saints to care for our necessities, and St. Paul teaches us to distribute to theirs.

St. Paul mentions the necessities of the saints in order to stimulate and inflame us all the more to do good to Christians. He points out to us the true saints, namely, those who in dire need; that is, they don’t look like saints at all, rather they look like poor, forlorn, hungry, naked, imprisoned, killed people who are in need of everybody’s help and cannot help themselves.  The world regards them as wretched evil doers who deserve to suffer all kinds of misery.  Christ will bring forward such saints on the Day of Judgment, saying, “’you have done to the least of these My brethren you have done it to Me.’  And then the great saint-worshippers will stand in shame and fear before these saints, whom they would not look upon on earth because of their disgrace.

Be given to hospitality!  Here he begins to enumerate some of the necessities of the saints and to teach how we should care for them, namely, this cannot be done by words alone but by deeds, such as to give them hospitality when they need it.  It also includes all other bodily needs such as feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and clothing the naked.”

 

November in the Garden

 

We are blessed with an unusually warm November this year.  Or is it the new usual? I have been able to put off the last gardening tasks until today.  With a hard frost predicted for Saturday evening, it seemed on this day of sunshine the right time to finish up in the garden.  Earlier this week the winds drove the leaves in the back yard into convenient piles.  I may not even need to rake them, or I should say, Becky may not need to rake them up, but leave them where they are.  Between my wife and my cardiologist, Linda, raking leaves is verboten.

Today I whacked down the elephant ears and dug up one of the roots.  (See previous sentence.)  I also picked a bunch of green tomatoes and spread them out on some newspaper on the garage floor.  Then I tackled the job of cutting up the vines for the trash man to take Monday for composting.  Every year I vow that my tomato vines will not get out of control and every year my vow goes unfulfilled.  I would not be surprised to find Tarzan swinging through the vines.

With those tasks completed I noticed something surprising. A rose bush had a couple of red blossoms.  I also brought my Christmas cactus in last week, and now they can’t even wait until advent to bloom.

I am leaving the garden until next spring.  But next spring, God willing, I will once again take up the task of trying to recreate a bit of Eden in our yard.  I will do so knowing that several varieties of weeds will remind me, that try as I might to restore Eden, I will need to wait until God brings me to that life where the water of life bright as crystal flows from the throne of God watering the tree of life with its ever bearing fruit of the month.  That fruit will counteract the effects of the fruit in God’s original Eden, for in the second Eden the leaves will be for the healing of the nations.  We shall worship God and the Lamb and see his face and bear his name.