The full shiny
shining moon peeks through the bare limbs of the oak trees in the yards of the
houses behind us. It’s sitting there
beside a red lighted radio tower located on the Lindbergh H.S. campus. Right now, they are equal in height, but I’m
confident the moon will win and traverse from the east side of our house to the
west in the hours ahead and the tower will stay put.
I had a
diabetic appointment with my endocrinologist this afternoon. I parked per usual in the outer reaches of
the hospital parking lot (Aerobic exercise), where a man was wandering about obviously
in search of his car. Knowing how
foolish one can feel having lost your car I said, “It’s happened to me too.” He responded, “I could have sworn I parked
lined up with the door, but now I see its way over here.” “Probably moved itself out of spite,” I
Thus, I made
my way toward the doctors’ building to see Dr. Thampy. Now
back in December that they had sent in a request for a Lebre free style glucose
meter that I could put on my arm and forgo the four-a-day-finger stick. But I had never heard anything. Dr. Thampy had warned me that there would be
trouble getting it. So, I called CCS a
couple weeks ago and they said they had no record of the request. I called Thampy’s office and Heather said she
would send it again. Then last Thursday
a woman called from CCS and it seemed things were underway. But nothing.
I called this morning and was told that the notes from the December office
visit on the 17th were out of date.
They would need a set of up to date notes. I didn’t think until I hung up that the notes
were still good last week, but their failure to act made them outdated this
Thampy’s nurse and she shared some tales of woe with getting the Lebre Free Style
but would send in the notes from today’s visit.
I mentioned it to Dr. Thampy, and he smiled and said it will come before
Christ returns. I said, “That better be
a long way off.” But if Christ does
return before I get the new glucose meter, it won’t matter, because I’ll have a
whole new body minus 12 bi-passes, of which only one from 1988 works, minus
diabetes and minus a pace maker.
As Rev. 22:20
says, “erxou kurie Iasou – Come, Lord Jesus.”
When I was a
younger pastor in Albert Lea, I had dreams that I was still at home on Minnie
Madden, and the church bell was ringing, but I could never get to church. As I got older, I didn’t have those dreams at
Marshfield or Collinsville. Perhaps I
came to recognize that things would go on whether I got there or not, so relax.
We might raise
the question concerning Jesus this week.
Is he ever going to get to Jerusalem to the cross and resurrection? Shortly after his Transfiguration, Luke tells
us “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to
Jerusalem.” Wouldn’t Luke send him on a
direct march to the City of God’s Peace.
But he doesn’t. Instead Luke
delays Jesus for ten chapters. We may be anxious to have Jesus take care of the
business of the guiltless one taking on our guilt, of forgiving us because we
don’t really know what we are doing in our life, of Jesus appearing among the
disciples after his resurrection and granting them “Peace.”
Luke wants us to slow down and consider Jesus ministry along the way. He sends out 72 disciples on a mission to the
surrounding towns, He visits Martha and Mary, He takes time to teach the disciples
the Lord’s Prayer, He tells parables of the woman who lost a coin, of the lost
sheep, of a prodigal son and his forgiving father and grumpy older brother.
think Lent is too long, but it gives us time to consider, as Luke would have us
do, that Jesus had a larger ministry than his birth in Bethlehem, his innocent suffering
and death in Jerusalem and his rising again to new life for us.
So, I say to
myself, “Slow down. He’ll get there.”
“When I Survey
the Wondrous Cross,” was our opening hymn on Sunday. The hymn always takes me back to the night,
while out for a walk, I heard a Lenten caroler.
This is not the first time I’ve told this story.
in Marshfield, Wi. a community chorus put on a Palm Sunday concert at Our Lady
of Peace. “When I Survey” …was the
yearly theme song for the concert. We
lived near OLP and Columbus High School.
I was walking one evening enjoying the crisp
air and the snow glistening as crystals reflected the street lights. Suddenly drifting across the snow came a
tenor voice singing, “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of
Glory died.” Soon the voice would fade
until another snippet would reach my ears, “Forbid it, Lord, that I should
boast save in the death of Christ, my God.”
I picked up
my pace trying to catch sight of the singer.
Soon again another snip of the tenor voice, “Did e’er such love and
sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?” But I never caught up with the voice. Apparently, his evening constitutional ended
and soon I headed back to Arlington street myself.
evening walk with the diamond studded snow and the tenor voice, now more than
30 years ago, remains fresh in my memory.
What I have
found over past six decades of ministry is that when we begin to discuss caring
for the poor, the needy we soon find reasons for not caring for them. They should get off their lazy butts and get
a job, like I did. They are all con men
and women. They are just trying to take
advantage of us. If you give them a hand
out, that only encourages their laziness.
The discussion leaves behind the scriptural charge to care for the poor
and finds validation in our American religion of self-esteem, self-support, doing
it for ourselves and looking out for No. 1.
Scripture tells us:
Happy are those who consider the poor,
delivers them in the day of trouble.
protects and keeps them alive;
They are called
happy in the Land.
Once on the
Great Sabbath (before the Passover) the rabbi of Ropchitz came home from the
house of prayer with weary steps. “What
made you so tired’? asked his wife. “It
was the sermon,” he replied. “I had to
speak of the poor and their many needs for the coming Passover. Unleavened bread and wine and everything else
are terribly high this year.”
did you accomplish with your sermon?” his wife asked.
what is needed,” he answered. “You see,
the poor are now ready to receive. As
for the other half, whether the rich are ready to give-I don’t know about that
Is not this
the fast that I choose…to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the
homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not
to hide yourself from your own kin?
The rich and the poor have this in common: The Lord is the maker of them all.
This is not
a political statement, but God’s will.
Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, the one downtown that mostly burned down last
year, wished every a happy 3/16. I wish
I had thought of that.
PI day, 3.14. Which doesn’t do me a lot
of good, because 3.14 is math and I’m not usually supposed to eat pie, though I
am familiar with PI as in the Greek word pneuma – spirit, Petros – rock or even
periastrapto – shined around. As in the light that shined around Saul and
knocked him to the ground (Acts 9:3)
3/15 the Ides of March on which 60 conspirators, calling themselves the
“liberators” assassinated Julius Caesar, famous for his history of the Gallic
Wars and saying “Veni, Vidi, Vici.”
Shakespeare gives the credit to Marcus Brutus for the knifing to which Caesar
responds, according to the playwright, “et tu Brutus.”
And this is
3/16 which suggests those words of the first Bible Passage I memorized, “For
God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, that whoever believes in him
should not perish but have eternal life.”
three sixteens contain such good news. For instance, Gen. 3:16 Follows the man
and woman eating the fruit and God says to the woman, “I will surely multiply
your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. (and yet) Your desire shall be for your
husband, and he shall rule over you.”
finish up the pursuit of 3/16, but I need to check on some porkchops in the
die.” So, the people and the priests and
prophets reacted to Jeremiah speaking the words the Lord had commanded him to
speak. He said that Jerusalem and its
temple would soon be “desolate and without inhabitant.” He was surrounded by an
angry mob who demanded a retraction. The
temple was God’s house. God would never
destroy his own house. But Jeremiah persisted saying the people needed to mend
“your ways, deeds and obey the Lord’s voice.”
They could kill him, but he could do nothing else than tell the word the
Lord had given him. (Jeremiah 26:8-15)
Gospel lesson some Pharisees warned Jesus that Herod wanted to kill him. But
Jesus could do nothing other than the task his Father had given him. He lamented the destruction of the temple
once again. But if he was going die, it
had to be in Jerusalem. (Luke 13:31-35)
Those texts impress on me the awesome task that
God gives to fallible people to speak his word.
Sometimes it would be easier to tell people want they want to hear and
not what they need to hear. Believe me
that is an awesome burden. More than
once I dreaded saying what needed to be said.
Because we have no choice but to speak it. What is important is not our skin and
well-being or popularity, but as St. Paul says in our epistle lesson, “Those
who are called to faith in Christ in baptism have a “citizenship in heaven, and
from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly
body to be like his glorious body…”
on the cross won for us that prospect of a whole new beginning. We who preach can do no other than make the
word of the Lord the center of our message.
If you are
somewhere close to my age, you may remember the movie “American Graffiti.” One of the songs, sung by Bobby Lewis, was “Tossing
and Turning.” The singer laments that “I
couldn’t sleep at all last night. I was tossing
and turning, turning and tossing all night.
“I kicked the blankets on the floor…turned my pillow upside down…hear
the clock downstairs striking four…it was the middle of the night.”
well describes those nights when we seem to wake up every hour with our mind still
tracking with the thoughts from the past hour.
wrote about God’s gift of sleep.
God says, “Sleep
is the friend of humans. Sleep is the
friend of God. Sleep is perhaps the most beautiful thing I have ever
created. And I myself rested on the
I like that
line, “Sleep is perhaps the most beautiful thing I have ever created.”
it. While Adam slept God created a
woman, Eve. When Adam woke up God
presented her to the man all indications are that Adam was mightily pleased
with the form God had formed.
knew the blessing of sleep. David says
in Psalm 3:5, “I lie down and sleep I wake up again because the Lord continues
to support me.” David said this at a
time when he was fleeing his son Absalom.
Absalom had undercut David and turned the people against him. David fled into the wilderness area, where
years before he had been on the run from Saul.
Now people were saying that even with God on his side he won’t win this
time. But in V. 3, he isn’t afraid, “But
you, O Lord, are shield that surrounds me.
You are my glory. You hold my head
from the order of compline is worth remembering, “Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard
us sleeping that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep. We may rest in
Cyprian of Carthage writing in the third century reminds us that when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we at no time pray only for ourselves. “We do not say, ‘My Father, who art in heaven’ or, ‘Give me this day my daily bread’; We do not ask for our own trespasses alone to be forgiven; and when we pray that we may be delivered from evil, we are not praying only for ourselves either. Our prayer is for the general good, for the common good. We pray for all God’s people, because they and we are one.
I like what J.t. Pettee says, “Pray for peace and grace and spiritual food, for wisdom and guidance, for all these are good, but don’t forget the potatoes.”
In the light of my failure to hang in there with daily devotions or much in the way of traditional meditation, and I’m not quite sure what “being mindful” is about, Henri Nouwen’s words appeal to me.
“There are as many ways to pray as there are moments in life. Sometimes we seek out a quiet spot and want to be alone, sometimes we look for a friend and want to be together. Sometimes we like a book, sometimes we prefer music. Sometimes we want to sing out with hundreds sometimes we want to say it with words, sometimes with a deep silence. In these moments, we gradually make our lives more open to prayer and we open our hands to be led by God even to places we would rather not go.”
Origen, writing in the third century is also helpful, “Those who pray as well as work at the tasks they have to do, and combine their prayer with suitable activity, will be praying always. That is the only way in which it is possible never to stop praying.”
discuses what it means to fast. The seventeenth
century poet Robert Herrick summarizes Isaiah 58. I’m retaining the Old English in which he
wrote. By the way Old English was not
old in the 1600’s. (Spell check is about
to go crazy))
God Pleasing Fasting
Is this a
fast, to keep
From fat of
veales and sheep?
Is it to
quit the dish
high with fish?
Is it to faste
Or ragg’d to
look, and sowre?
No, ‘tis a
fast, to dole
Thy sheaf of
It is to
fast from strife,
To shew a
to keep thy Lent.
we opened the service singings, “O Lord, throughout these forty days You prayed
and kept the fast; Inspire repentance four sin and free us from our past.”
on a farm when someone mentions “a forty”, they are likely talking about an acreage
of land as in “That back forty.” Often when someone turns from age 39 to 40,
its as if life itself is over; instead of the reality that the years ahead are
our most productive years, everything before is preparation.
forty is an important number. It rained
forty days in the Deluge. Israel wandered through the desert for forty years.
Moses fasted forty days before receiving the commandments on Mt Sinai. For
forty days Goliath scoffed at Israel’s army before David slung a stone into his
forehead. The prophet Elijah, on the run from Jezebel’s threats, fasted forty
days before catching sight of Mt. Horeb, where he heard God in a light zephyr. Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus to present
him in the temple at forty days. The adult Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit
into the desert where he fasted days and nights while Satan tested him. During his suffering after his arrest, Jesus
endured forty lashes minus one of the flesh tearing whip.
The church picked
up on the number forty and set aside a period of forty days to contemplate our fragile
humanity, and our failures which turn us away from God and one another. These days were also a time of preparation
for baptism, on the Eve of Easter.
of Lent is balanced by the forty-day Easter season.
our opening hymn this morning praying in song, “Be with us through this season,
Lord, and all our earthly days, that when the final Easter dawns, we join in