(When you click on that link and hear the story creatively told in delightful, child-like cartoon format, be sure to click the back arrow and return here!)
Pretend you are short (I don’t have to pretend). Pretend your name is Zacchaeus and you are hated. You are hated because you are a lying, cheating tax collector. You are lonely.
Then you learn that Jesus is coming to your town. You’ve heard about Him – and you want to see Him. But, to do so, to see above the crowd, you have to climb a tree. Pretend you are up in that tree … looking down at Jesus.
Get in the mood for today’s message!
There is a growing epidemic Of loneliness in society today. Surprisingly, the loneliest are young adults. Next are empty-nesters, they say.
A third group are the elderly Who are often seen sitting alone. Checking an empty mailbox, They nurse their ailments and groan.
People out there in our world are lonely. Often it’s for a reason they can’t control. Other times, it seems to be choices they make – Like Zacchaeus, who chose his greedy, tax-collecting role.
Loneliness affects all kinds of folks, good and bad. We cannot overcome loneliness by ourselves. It takes the love and compassion of someone else Who notices our empty emotional shelves.
If you are struggling with loneliness, And you have come to church to heal it, Look around and know the love of Christ Is in the hearts of those around you. Can you feel it?
Zacchaeus climbed a tree so he could see Jesus. This lonely, short, little man wanted a view Of the man he had heard so much about. Would you climb a tree to see Christ? In faith, will you?
Be ready – if you are lonely and you look For God and love by goin’ somewhere strange. Be ready – because God will find you there. He’ll find you where you are; and you will change!
It’s a snowy, blowy, ccccold day here in south-western Montana. An easy day to feel blue, trapped, captive. But, there is a remedy!
Are you feeling blue? Take time to plant seeds of love. You’ll be the blossom.
This may not look much like “Seeds of Love,” but if you were not feeling well, your husband is just home after being hospitalized for a week or so after surgery, and I called to say I was bringing you dinner, you might feel the love. Wouldn’t you?
I sprinkled it with “seeds of love” (I used celery seeds) and off I went.
I feel warmer already! There’s no better way to cheer yourself up than to reach out with love to cheer up someone else.
Happy Friday morning to you, my friends.
What’s on your calendar for today?
Many of you know that I am a retired educator
who enjoys spending my time volunteering.
I enjoy the spirit of “Paying it Forward.”
It’s not difficult to find people and places
where a helping hand is needed.
One of my favorite places to volunteer my time
is at our local nursing home.
I am a member of the auxiliary there.
At the beginning of each monthly meeting
we all recite this prayer together:
When I read “all who are in distress of mind and body,”
I personalize it and think of the specific friends
who now live in the nursing home,
and remember them as the
helpful folks they were…
that person is still in them!!
Here is my friend, Elaine,
Always reaching out to others,
Always ready with a smile,
The life of every party!
Living now in half a room
in a nursing home,
dependent on others for meals,
It must be hard!
Loneliness could set in
if caring people did not reach out
with generosity, discretion,
My friend, Elaine, is one of the fortunate ones.
She has a son and daughters nearby.
They come regularly to visit
and to take her to church and to their homes.
Others are not so blessed.
They sit alone in their rooms,
waiting for the next meal, or
the next CNA to come in to check on them,
unless someone volunteers
to come and lead the Bingo game,
visit with them in their room
or on the patio on a good day,
or sit with them in the dining hall.
What can you do to reach out to others
who are in need of comfort, hope,
This wonderful lady lived for nearly 25 years
in our local nursing home.
Her mom visited her daily,
but could not care for her in the apartment
where she lived alone.
As Karen’s MS progressed, she became
less and less able to manage her own affairs.
But she was always a lion at heart.
A strong soul who inspired those around her.
This face painting and costume
was done for her one Halloween a few years ago
by my granddaughter.
What a joy to see my friend’s true spirit emerge!!
Here is another person who was a lion at heart!
One Thanksgiving, we had my friend Gloria,
come to celebrate the holiday with us.
She lived in the nursing home the last 5 to 10 years
of her long and illustrious life
(she used to sing with the NY Opera!).
Getting to know her and spending time
talking to her about her life
was such a privilege!!
Another one of my friends
was one who lived alone in a log house
at the edge of the Madison Range
where the deer and the antelope roam.
One early December day we went together to the nail salon
and had matching polish jobs.
See the snowmen on our pinky fingers?
If nursing homes
or visiting the elderly in their homes
are not your bag,
think of other places where you can
reach out to help others.
Today I am volunteering at the
Madison Valley Medical Center.
We “Purple Ladies” do a lot to raise money
for hospital equiment and other needs,
and to save money by being the
receptionists at the front desk
daily from 8: to 5:
The last two Fridays each month are my turn.
I’m the “shrimp” with the silver hair in the middle back.
Today is my day to serve. Better get going.
Who will you reach out to today with wisdom and humility to help make their life better?
Happy Sunday, my friends. Did you get a chance to go to church? Our sermon today at Madison Valley Presbyterian in Ennis, MT was based on the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10:25-37 and the questions, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” and “Who is my neighbor?”
You all know the story of the Good Samaritan, so you may be wondering as I did, “How can there be a new twist on this old scripture lesson?”
Well, these are my poetic notes as I listened and recorded my “Take-aways” from today’s sermon, titled “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
ACE THE COURSE
What do I have to do To ace the course? Depends on the Course, of course!
What do I have to do To get to Heaven? Ah, that course requires Forgiveness – more than 70×7.
What do I have to do To forgive and to love As was demonstrated By our Lord above?
I need to love My neighbors ALL. Who are my neighbors? Whom should I call?
Call on the needy. Call on the one in the ditch. Call on the leper – Help him scratch his itch!
Call on the lowly, The good-for-nothing guys. Don’t limit your call To the powerful and wise.
Call on the lazy ones. Call on the poor of heart. Call on the merciless – That’s the place to start.
If you wanna ACE The course to Eternity, You gotta reach out And do good to ALL for FREE.
Don’t reach out for gain. Don’t expect your reward to start. You’re in this course to gain An A+ with your loving heart!
I had an ah-hah moment this morning as I was doing my Bible Study and reading the devotionals. In Touch magazine’s topic yesterday was “God’s Perspective on War.”
Charles Stanley wrote, “War is a very controversial subject in both the world and the church…” and then he asked the question, “What does the Lord think about war?”
He continued by trying to answer his own question, using Romans 13:1-4 as a springboard.
Here is Romans 13: 1-2a – “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those who exist have been instructed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorites resists what God has appointed…”
He said wars are waged to protect citizens against evil.
But, is every ruler appointed and instructed by God? I would question that. If they are, in fact, instructed by God, are they listening? Are they following God’s instruction?
Do wars over land rights have anything to do with protecting citizens’ lives? The governments send its citizens into battle knowing many will be killed!
God bless our veterans! I guess it was July 4th and its festivities – honoring our war veterans that got me thinking on this subject.
IMMIGRATION AND CIVIL RIGHTS
Pediatricians shared pictures drawn by migrant children after being released from US custody
A drawing by children recently released depicting their time spent in US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. Photograph: Handout ./Reuters
Is God instructing Donald Trump to take chidren from their parents, lock them in cages, give them aluminum blankets, make them sleep on a cold floor, and provide inadequate medical care for them? It’s heart-breaking!!!
Yes, I know – this is a controversial, multi-faceted problem. But, it just can’t be right!
Governments were established as a means of promoting good and restraining (stopping, if possible) evil. I am convinced that God’s goal is the destruction of wickedness, NOT THE DESTRUCION OF PEOPLE.
Why can’t we JUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER?
When governments condone immorality, fuel the rich, and oppress the poor, then God allows war for the sake of the innocent.
In Luke 6:27-31, the Bible teaches us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, and bless those who curse us. BUT, as Charles Stanley pointed out in today’s devotional in In Touch magazine, “Jesus was speaking about personal conflicts, not national wars.” He continued by reminding us we need to “distinquish between commands issued to nations and instructions given to individuals.”
God allows governments to wage wars for the protection of those being harmed. The job of the government is to protect people.
What would have happened if no government had stepped in to stop Hitler?
Where in our world today do we see people being harmed by the government? Caged? Scorned? Marginalized? We don’t have to look very far!
When I put the word “abuse” in the free photo library search, look what I got:
Is this what the immigration policy has boiled down to? A wall?
Is this how we step forward to protect people in the world who are forced out of their homes and risking their lives to seek asylum in a safer place?
No, we can’t take in thousands of people who need protection from other countries. We need to limit immigration/ asylum seekers and enforce our limits. But, what is the root cause? What are the conditions that are forcing these families out of their native lands?
How can we look for ways to protect our own people and treat others with love?
There is no easy solution to the abuse and marginalization, the hunger and the threats to life in this world. JUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER sounds like pie in the sky – Pollyanna thinking.
But LOVE is the answer! Right and Truth must ultimately prevail.
We must stand up/ speak up/work for/pray for/hope for/ and believe in PEACE.
It is not ours individually to take our own revenge. We will never experience inner peace if we battle individuals who wrong us. Our job is to forgive, to love, and to work together to make our own government more responsive to the needs of its citizens and the right to a peaceful life for us all.
I do dream of a world with no more war. Don’t you?
I support Bob Goff’s “Love Does” organization with a small donation each month. It’s not much, but every little bit helps. The work “Love Does” is accomplishing is worth supporting. You can trust that your donation is not eaten up by some executive’s big corporate salary. The money goes to the intended purpose. Check it out: https://lovedoes.org/
Do you know an organization whose efforts to improve the lives if others is sincere and effective? Do you send a little to them on a regular basis as you are able?
Martin Luther King is quoted
in this picture from “Love Does” above.
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
I love it!
So, I did as my heart directed. Following church, I practiced with our little church choir. We are going to sing at the town’s Easter Sunrise service. Then, I went downstairs and helped serve at fellowship. (I had made and brought two pots of soup to share.)
No, that picture is not my soup. I’m afraid our little Sunday School kids and some of my church friends would not have appreciated all those hot peppers and garlic! But, doesn’t it look good? Mine was a more mundane potato soup.
What did you do to reach out to others and show your love today?