Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘scripture’

Spend it All or Give it Away!


“Being of sound mind, I spent it all!”

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Those were the words read from the will
when my friend, Marion,
met with her siblings after their mother died.

Today’s devotional in
“Mornings with Jesus 2020”
told of a similar story.
The writer quoted her father as saying,
“Before I leave here, I intend to spend every dollar I ever made.”

She thought he was kidding.
After all, he was a God-fearing man …
“who could quote scripture from Genesis to Revelation.”
(Alice Thompson, Thursday July 9th).

But her earthly father had given her no inheritance!


After being angry for awhile,
Alice turned to her Bible,
and she turned to the Lord.
Alice wrote that she spoke to her head
about Lamentations 3:24.
It says,
“The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

Even though Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,” Alice realized her father – who left “nothing for me,” had indeed left the most precious gifts of all: His loving relationship with her and his faith in God.

He lived his life loving her and her mother, giving to the Lord and to those in need, and using his hard-earned dollars to enjoy a good life. A nice house, a new car every few years, memorable vacations, generosity with his children, and gifts to charity… these were the signatures he left. He left her the gifts money can’t buy: love, faith, a good work-ethic, respect, and joy.

If our parents live their lives in love and faith, generosity and joy.
If our parents pass those gifts on to us,
We have the received the most important gifts of all.
They don’t owe us a rich monetary inheritance.

If our parents demonstrate a good work-ethic,
and teach us to do likewise,
If our parents help us learn to read and compute,
pray and serve, and get a good education,
then they have equipped us to do as they might:

Being of sound mind,
I spent it all
or gave it away.

Go and do likewise!
Have a great Thursday.

I’m headed to a Happy 70th Birthday party!
See ya tomorrow.
Live in peace with EVERYBODY, my friends!
Hugs, JanBeek

Living in Paradise


Move to Montana
Where deer and antelope play
Live in Paradise

This buck greeted us
As we traveled to Jeffers
Enjoying our friends

Hors d-oeuvers, smoked chicken
Wonderful conversation
Such beautiful views

Enjoying silence
Looking out from the front porch
Relishing summer

Doe with her two fawns
Sauntered across open field
Fish jumped in the pond

The Madison Range
In its shades of gray and blue
Was mesmerizing

Trees line the river
Cattle graze on the green grass
Thunder calls us home

Storm is a comin’
Better go and get tucked in
Wake fresh in the morn

Say a prayer to God
Ask Him to help you find peace
Rest in Paradise

Rest in warmth, my friends.
I hope a glimpse of my day
Brought you peace tonight.

See you tomorrow.
Sleep tight!
Love, JanBeek

Listen and Grow


Dr. Jimmy Walters
has been posting a 30 day series on healing.
Today his topic was “Listening.”
Check it out by clicking n “Day 26” below:

30 Days of Healing
as we seek to be instruments of peace and change
“Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life”
Discover “God’s Vision for Your Life”
by wearing a mask… and
Listen, Look, Smile
as we grow in
Love, Health & Healing

Dr. Jimmy said in his article,
“… listening can inform us,
guide us,
as we grow
and as we learn.”

My daughter DeAna, and her husband, Andre’ (pictured above and below here) are celebrating their 33rd anniversary today. It has been an interesting journey for them. They married when she was not quite 20 and he was 24. Young and naive, coming from a world apart – she a California girl and he a fun-loving guy who’d been working as a chef in Switzerland.

De & Andre’s wedding at UOP Chapel 1987

DeAna wore my dress and Andre’ wore Bob’s red bow tie and cummerbund as they were married in the same University of the Pacific chapel where Bob & I were wed 25 years earlier.

They remained in California four more years while De finished college, but eventually, they moved back to Andre’s hometown in Sierre, Switzerland.
He missed his mountains, his family, his culture. I don’t blame him!!! De was pregnant with our first grandchild when they left. Talk about a difficult good-bye! But hey… Switzerland…. what a beautiful place to HAVE TO visit, huh?

Life was beautiful – but, oh so different – there.

Listening to Andre’s mom, Denise, was an important part of their marital success. As the years went by, DeAna and Andre’ grew in their ability to share their minds, let their dreams be known, and listen to one another.

Today
as they anticipate
the opening of their new restaurant,
they are happier than ever.

Bob & I have been married 58 years, and we, too, are busy still learning to be better listeners. It’s a life-long process. But the effort is worth it. We, too, are happier now than ever.

Psalm 37:10-11 (MSG)

“The deeper your love, the higher it goes;
every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness.
Soar high in the skies, O God!
Cover the whole earth with Your glory!”

Today the skies revealed a slight rainbow arching the skies … look carefully:

As I stood on the porch after the rain, listening to the thunder in the hills, the robins chirped from their nest nearby and the doves flew back onto the roof to coo at one another. Listen! The earth is alive with God’s symphonies.

The rain returned – just light sprinkles, but the birds continued their songs.

Bob came out on the porch and said, “What’s for lunch?”
I responded with a shrug, “I don’t have anything planned.”
“How about a hamburger and huckleberry milkshake?” he asked.
Believe me, I listened, I heard, and … We were in the car in a jiffy.

That’s a happy smirk!

The sign over Bob’s shoulder says,
“Without ICE CREAM, Life is Darkness and Chaos.”

Without good listening,
Without open sharing of dreams,
You’ll miss out on lots of hamburgers and milkshakes!

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Now,
doesn’t that look like
“God’s Vision for Your Life”??

Listen for your Health!
Listen for your Happiness.
Don’t miss out!

See ya tomorrow…
Love and Hugs
from
JanBeek

Love the Stranger


Who is “the stranger”?

We all look pretty strange these days!

Leviticus 19:33-34

“When a foreigner (stranger – xenox) resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself…”

Following the reading of that scripture this past Sunday in church, our pastor, Rev. Steve Hundley, spoke to us about the issue of strangers…. people who are different from us… folks we don’t know yet.

As usual, I took my sermon notes in poetry. This is what I heard him say through my poetic filter:

There’s been a barrage of news
This week about how we can’t get along.
Our Utopian society idea of equality
Is a myth; we can’t seem to join in song.

Xenophobia – the fear of the stranger –
Is rampant in our society today.
But the Bible tells us clearly
To love the stranger in every way.

Provide the stranger with food and care.
Treat the stranger with hospitality.
Yes, the stranger is different from us,
But she or he is more like you and me.

When we fail to notice someone,
When we treat them like they’re not,
Remember this lesson from Leviticus:
Love all people as you’ve been taught.

God can turn the world around
One heart, heart-by-heart, at a time.
God can take away our fear of strangers.
“Different” is not a crime.

We may harbor an innate need to feel
Superior to those around us,
But Jesus taught, “No, you’re not better
Than all the strangers who surround us.”

We all are strangers somewhere.
We all are different and have need.
But God says, “Love the stranger!”
Love or hate? Which do you feed?

Feed the stranger with love! ❤

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

Mmmm… I had a hamburger for my lunch today.
First hamburger I have had in ages.
It was so delicious, oozing with cheese and yummy sauce.
I would love to have shared it with you!

#hugs4happiness – and I’d love to share a hug with you, too.
We’re not strangers! We’re fellow humans, traveling this earth together.
And we’re doing the best we can to love one another.
God says we gotta step up the pace, though. Show that love more fully.

Our love may be small and superficial compared to
The wonderful, magnificent, perfect love of God.
But, in our own small, imperfect way, we gotta keep trying.
Love the stranger. In the process you know, you may be…

… entertaining angels!

The Bible tells us so!

Psalm 91:11

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;…”

Beware!
That stranger just might be
God’s angel sent to guard you!

Photo by Kyle Loftus on Pexels.com

Love the Stranger!

See ya tomorrow.
Virtual Hugs,
JanBeek

To God Be the Glory


(You can sing my poem to that same tune…
Try it!!)

To God Be the Glory
Great things He has done.
In God is my hope
For the vict’ries yet won.

We all are a work
In progress with Him.
He’s not finished with us yet.
The future’s not grim.

Just look at this seven-year-old.
Hear the joy in his voice.
See the future through him.
In his future, rejoice!

To God be the future…
In Him I can trust.
In Him we can place hope.
His promises are just!

Because He lives,
And I’m connected to the vine,
Because I know He lives,
All hope is mine.

Because He taught us
How to live for others,
I can do my part
With my sisters and my brothers.

Let His love guide your actions;
Let His teachings fill your soul.
To God be the glory –
In Him, let’s be whole!

Let Him heal us all so
We can turn to Him and sing
It is well with my soul…
Whatever life may bring.

God bless you, my friends.
Have a peace-filled week.
Pray to God for health and peace and justice.
Be the love you wish to see and feel in this world.

See ya later today, I hope.
I will post my sermon notes from Sunday
on my next post: “Love the Stranger.”
Be sure to check back.


Thanks for being part of the solution,
not the problem.


Love,
JanBeek

Please Remain Connected


These lilacs connect
To the vine of existence
In the vine is life

Apart from the vine,
Obviously these flowers die.
We are just like that!

“I am the vine, you are the branches.
If you remain in me, and I in you,
you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5 (NIV)

“For where two or three gather in my name,
there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:20

This morning I thought
I had lost my WordPress posts.
I thought I’d lost YOU!

Words of comfort came –
Rushed in to reassure me:
We are connected!

My history is here…
Eight years of important posts
Help keep us in touch.

Apart from you – Pop!
The balloon of my WordPress
Loses all its air!

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

When I posted this
Blog from my iPhone today
Only Youtube showed.

It’s an important
Message about connection
From Ronald Reagan.

Whether you are from the USA or not;
whether you are Republican or Democrat or Independent,
You should watch this.
It was recorded in a different era,
at a time when it was not seen as divisive
to evoke God’s name in the White House.
The Bible was not used as a prop.
It was quoted as a means of
encouraging us to reach out in love…
Reach out and
JUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

Please stay connected!
Apart from you, my blog is nothing.
Apart from God, I am nothing!

I know He leads me!


Caralyn of BeautyBeyondBones
(do you follow her here on WordPress?)
wrote to me today and said,

“We are all part of His family,
and I pray we all realize that
and start to act accordingly,
with love for our fellow brother and sisters!”


AMEN, Caralyn.
Amen, my dear brothers and sisters.
I love you all.
Please stay connected.

See ya tomorrow.

Virtual hugs!


JanBeek

Switch the Channel


Your mind is like a radio –
You can tune it as you like:
Rap or blues, talk or news,
Sadness of a virus spike.

Your mind has endless channels.
It’s a miraculous machine.
It can distort the truth and scare you,
Or explain what “Do Love” can mean.

Our Bible feeds our radio
With thoughts from God above.
He tells us to tune carefully
To the stations that spread love.

Photo by Eduardo Braga on Pexels.com

Philippians 9:8

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable,
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy,
think about such things.”

Photo by Victoria Borodinova on Pexels.com

This verse in Philippians got me to thinking.
What are the things that I would consider in these categories?
Think about them… add your thoughts after each word.
Where do these words take you? What is:

  • true
  • noble
  • right
  • pure
  • lovely
  • admirable
  • excellent and/or praiseworthy
Photo by Suliman Sallehi on Pexels.com

Lift your thoughts to the highest peak.
Let your mind’s radio tune in to the thoughts that are
uplifting and worthy of consideration.
I tried that this morning.
Here is what I came up with.
I encourage you to come up with your own.
How are your thoughts different from mine?

  1. Think on things that are TRUE:
    a) The Bible
    b) The love of my family
    c) The need for friendship
  2. Think on things that are NOBLE:
    a) Active, Honest, Capable and Fair government leaders
    b) Bob Goff’s “Love Does”
    c) The work of doctors, nurses, caregivers
  3. Think on things that are RIGHT:
    a) The innocence of little children
    b) Agape Love (as demonstrated by the unconditional love of my pup, TazE… and my devoted spouse, Bob)
    c) The obligation to reach out and help the needy
  4. Think on things that are PURE:
    a) The motives of devoted, loving friends
    b) The love of Christ for us sinners
    c) Blessings from heaven
  5. Think on things that are LOVELY:
    a) Signs of spring = green leaves, daffodils, crocus, tulips
    b) Kisses from my grandchildren (and great-grandchildren)
    c) Phone calls, letters, texts from our children
  6. Think on things that are ADMIRABLE:
    a) The work of classified staff (such as nurse’s assistants and custodians) in nursing homes and hospitals
    b) The volunteer work of pastors, elders, deacons, and others who give so much time/effort to the church
    c) The donations of those who give time, food, and resources to help the needy
  7. Think on things that are EXCELLENT or PRAISEWORTHY:
    a) The efforts of teachers who are committed to continue helping students learn via ZOOM and other technology during this pandemic
    b) The scientists who are working tirelessly to find a COVID-19 vaccine
    c) The dedication of people who continue to serve in spite of the virus – – – food service workers, truckers, pharmacists, etc.

Your mind is like a radio –
You can tune it to what’s good.
Find the Philippians 9:8 channel
And think of love. You should!

Change Your Mind’s Channel
to Thoughts of Gratitude

Thanks for tuning in to JanBeek.
Tell me about your uplifting thoughts
based on Phil. 9:8

See ya tomorrow.

7 Qualities of Great Leaders


Coming Election

During this period of time from now to November 2020, we in the USA will be looking carefully for the qualities we seek in a good leader… wanting to elect a great leader … someone worthy of following.

Our Ideas & Biblical Principles

I asked Bob this morning, “If you had to name just seven qualities you think are essential for effective leaders, what would they be?”

His answers didn’t totally match the Biblical principles that prompted this blog title, but some were right on. I was reading 1 Timothy 3:1-3 during my devotional time up in my angel room this morning. This is what it said:

“… If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach… temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”

An overseer is one who sees over his followers. A supervisor, head, manager, head honcho! And s/he must lead with qualities worthy of emulation.

Photo by alexandre saraiva carniato on Pexels.com

Bob said,

  1. Honesty
  2. Integrity
  3. Intelligence
  4. Experience
  5. Compassion
  6. Interdependence (not someone who thinks s/he can do it all alone)
  7. Respect

The Bible went on to say in 1 Timothy 3:6-7 (The parenthesis are my additions):

“He must not be a recent convert (in other words, s/he needs experience in his/her area of leadership), or he may become conceited… He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace…”

Photo by Sippakorn Yamkasikorn on Pexels.com

If the leader’s reputation is tarnished, it is like handing his/her followers a handful of worms. They just come crawling out…

1 Timothy 3:8-10 says,

“Deacons, likewise, are to be [persons] of respect, sincere… and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.”

Being a deacon is often considered synonymous with being an “elder.” In the Catholic church, it is a position below that of priest. In the protestant church, an elder is part of the ruling or decision-making body. A deacon is a part of a group of leaders elected to reach out in service to the congregation and the community at large. All religions have “deacons” whose job it is to be the hands and feet of God – serving those in need. Deacons are respected leaders whose job it is to serve those who count on them.

Photo by Suraphat Nuea-on on Pexels.com

Your Ideas & Mine

So have you come up with your own list of seven qualities a good leader needs? Will you let those qualities guide your decision when you vote in your next election?

Before you read on, make your own list. What are the seven qualities you deem most important in an effective leader?

These are the ones I gleaned from my study of the third chapter of 1 Timothy:

  1. competent (gained from applicable experience)
  2. wise (wisdom borne of Godly counsel, intelligence and study)
  3. mature (mentally and spiritually solid)
  4. gentle (compassionate & not quarrelsome)
  5. self-controlled (exhibiting peace and unity)
  6. respectable (leading a life worthy of emulation)
  7. generous (always giving his/her best to/for followers)
Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Pexels.com

May we each live a life
That is worthy of emulation –
A life that is an open book.

One step at a time…

Tell me, what are the qualities
that are on your list for great leaders?
See ya tomorrow.

Have a Super Saturday!
Hugs,
JanBeek

The Reason


My Hope Angel
From Sue Woodruff
Romans 15:13

The God of hope brings peace and joy.
He fills my heart with song.
No matter what sorrow today may bring,
I can sing His praises all day long.

My heart overflows with God’s sure hope
That comes by the power of His Spirit.
When troubles mount; fear fills my heart –
I lean on Him and know He’ll clear it.

I trust today in God’s promises;
I know His joy and peace.
His love o’erflows within my heart
His power is sure to all fears release.

Lisa Glines Photography

So when the fear in storms erupt
Sending troubles to your life,
Just turn to Him and see beyond –
Where Hope resides and Joy melts strife.

He is the reason I can sing today.
He is the reason I have peace in my soul.
He is the reason you can live with joy.
Let the power of His Spirit make you whole.

After listening to the John Anderson YouTube version of this song, I wrote this comment: “What a gorgeous rendition of this song. Previously I had enjoyed only the Josh Grobin version. Beautiful as it is, this choir adds extra beauty to it with their gorgeous harmonies… such an important message in this troubled world! Yes, let Him lift you to His shoulders… and let’s BEE more than we can ever BEE without him!”

Let the Lord lift you;
Let Him raise you up to Him –
Strong on His shoulders!

Your faith empowers
You to be more than you’d be
Without His presence.

Michael Solioz Photography
Tania on the mountaintop

My grandson, Mike, in Switzerland, sent me this photo that he took of his girlfriend, Tania, high in the Alps, overlooking the Rhone River Valley where they live. Lifted up… high into the heavens … with the sun streaming down, the peace of Christ permeates the world.

May that peace be yours today, my friend.
May you find joy and comfort in Him.
May He be the reason you can “sing His praises all day long.”
God bless and keep you.

Share with us your reason
for a sense of peace and hope
in today’s troubled world.

Bee well!
Love, JanBeek



Worship With Us 4-26-20


Sermon and prayers by Rev. Steve Hundley
Song selections by Fran McNeill

Preparation for Worship:

Bless us, O God, with a reverent sense of Your presence, that we may be at peace and may worship You with all our minds and spirits; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Call to Worship:   Psalm 116: 12-13

What can we give back to God for the blessings He has poured out on us?

We will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.

Opening Prayer

Blow upon us, O Lord, the fresh wind of Your Spirit.  Refresh our souls, which are weary from continuous social distancing.  Help us to forget for a little while the difficulties of daily existence, and breathe from Your presence new hope, new purpose, and new direction for our lives.  Embolden us to pray and seek Your face, that everything else may find its proper place in these unprecedented times.   Amen.

Prayer of Confession:

Gracious Lord, teach us always to respect and love all the lives You create.  Forgive our lack of concern and love for those who are silently suffering around the world in the face of this ongoing pandemic.  Forgive us when we are negligent and uncaring for those who are most vulnerable; for those who are elderly; for those forgotten in nursing homes; for those who have little or no access to medical care; for those essential workers on the front lines; and, for those who have and continue to suffer from a careless society.  Teach us to open our hearts and our lives up in ways that will be beneficial to all.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon:  Psalm 32: 3-5

Hear these words of hope from the Psalmist: “While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.  Then I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the guilt of my sin.

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

A Children’s Message for Adults, too!

(a true story)

In early spring in the Blue Ridge mountains where I grew up, we would plant a garden full of corn and vegetables, as well as a strawberry patch.  There were also apple and pear trees, not to mention the wild grapes, blackberries, huckleberries, and raspberries that grew in the woods. 

Every summer my mother would pull out the old pressure cooker and spend days canning quart jars of every kind of vegetables and berries and put them away in the cellar.  Then when winter came and the ground was cold, icy, and barren and nothing seemed to be alive, mom would go down into the cellar, come up with some canned vegetable or savory berry preserve, and it would be May and June once more at our family table, and how blessed we were!

During this difficult time while we are all forced to stay home for fear of getting or spreading the dangerous coronavirus, I can’t help but think about how many of us spent hours in front of the television, on our computers and phones playing video games, or watching meaningless YouTube videos.  It occurred to me that there is hardly anything there to nourish the soul or help us through this pandemic.  There’s not a calorie there at all that can strengthen us when life is hard and barren.

That is why it is so important that we turn to the stories of our faith: the stories of the Old Testament, the stories of Jesus—His life and ministry, as well as the other letters and books of the Bible.  By dipping down into the deep reservoir of God’s Word for all life and faith, we can find nourishment for the facing of these days.

Photo by Eduardo Braga on Pexels.com

Message:                                  At Home with the Risen Lord

John 20:13-32

Two travelers on the road, making the seven-mile hike from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  Why Emmaus?  Well, it would appear that they live there.  Emmaus is home.  Still, the excitement and energy usually associated with home—the place where we belong—the place where we grew up, is not evident on these traveler’s faces, nor can it be heard in their voices.  The joy we normally associate with a homecoming is nowhere to be found.  Instead, their hopelessly slow pace exposes their disappointment and disillusionment.  The reality is, their demeanor has more to do with where they are coming from than where they are heading.

These two travelers are leaving the holy city of Jerusalem.  They are leaving because there is nothing left for them there.  They are leaving because everything they had hoped for and dreamed of, is gone.  They are leaving because the One in whom they had placed their faith is dead.  They are leaving because their hope has been nailed to a cross.  Their Savior is dead.  The movement is over.

Unable to ignore the tired and empty look on their faces or the despair in their voices, a stranger inquires: “What is your conversation about?”  Now, having to explain the cause of one’s pain only serves to intensify it.  So, stopping dead in their tracks, Luke says: “They just stood there looking sad.”  Suddenly, the one named Cleopas breaks the silence: “Who are you, Rip Van Winkle?” (He didn’t really say that, but that is what he meant.) “Are you the only one who does not know what has happened?”  You can almost hear the mixture of amazement and irritation ringing in his voice.  And, who can blame him?  They had wagered everything on this Jesus, and lost!

Have you ever lost?  I mean, really lost?  It is an empty feeling, like a political incumbent, who though their candidacy was certain, waits to the last hour to concede defeat.  Arriving at his campaign headquarters, surrounded by a remnant of faithful supporters and the media, of course, steps to the podium and says: “I really thought we were going to win.  We gave it our best shot, and we lost.  But the people have spoken, and they have chosen Barabbas.  I would like to thank all of you who came out.  But, before we go, could you take down the posters and the streamers?   We want to leave the place just as if we were never here.”

“We lost,” Cleopas says to the stranger.  “Jesus was turned over to the authorities, condemned to death, and nailed to a cross, and there he died along with our greatest hopes and dreams.”  Lost in his own despair and forgetting himself for a moment, Cleopas goes on to say, “Oh yes, some women surprised us babbling on about finding his tomb empty, and angels appearing and reporting him to be alive.  But, we discounted it as nothing but an idle tale—some kind of cruel joke.  You see, he died!” 

Just ask those who were there.  They will tell you: “We saw it all with our own eyes. He’s dead alright.”  Ask his own mother: “Yes, I was there.  My son died there on that cross.”  Ask the soldiers: “Oh he’s dead alright, we made certain of that with one good thrust of a spear.”  Even his closest disciples will tell you: “We didn’t get too close for obvious reasons, but yes, he is dead.  And Joseph of Arimathea confirmed it.  You see, he helped to take down the body and wrap it in a shroud to be laid in his own tomb.”  Yes, Jesus is dead, and with him all the hopes and dreams of a new Israel.

Then, the stranger, the risen Lord unbeknownst to them, speaks.  He speaks as if He sees something wonderful that they cannot see.  He speaks as if the hopeless and meaningless events of the past three days make perfect sense.  “Beginning with Moses and all the prophets,” Luke says, “He interprets to them in all the scriptures, the things concerning Himself!”  For Cleopas and his traveling companion, it must have been something like finding the missing pieces of an incomplete puzzle.

I don’t know about you, but as I read this scripture, I couldn’t help but wonder why the Risen Jesus didn’t just say: “WHY THE LONG FACES?  CHEER UP!  IT IS ME, IN THE FLESH!  “I WAS DEAD, BUT NOW I AM ALIVE AGAIN!” (I know; I know…I had a New Testament professor who once said that I tended to ask questions that no one else would even think to ask.  I wonder if he meant it as a compliment?  I meant to ask him if I ever saw him again.)  Besides, maybe Jesus was afraid what their response would be if he came right out and said: “Look, it is me, Jesus, alive and well.”

I remember years ago, helping to lay the foundation for a medical clinic in the mountains of Haiti.  As we were digging the footings for the building, I asked if there were any poisonous snakes in Haiti.  I was told that there were no snakes at all on the island, so there was nothing to worry about.  However, one morning about 6:00 a.m., while walking up the hill towards our work site, low and behold, in the middle of the path was a small brown snake.  Calling out to two Haitian women carrying their goods to the market, I motioned for them to come and see what I had found.  I thought clearing up a national misconception was the honorable thing to do.  But, one look at that snake caused the two women to fling their goods into the air and tear off screaming and running down the side of the mountain!  Perhaps, Jesus thought that He, too, would have received a similar response if He had come right out and announced His true identity.  Hmm?

Instead, the risen Christ turns the two travelers’ attention back to the scriptures.  He unfolds for them what God is doing in the world.  He shows them how every reference in the Torah and the prophets describes what God has done or said which throws light on the events of the past three fateful days.

This is the reason we look to the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.  The scriptures remind us of God’s unfolding work in our world.  Scripture sets our lives and these unprecedented times in their proper perspective.  Sitting here in our own homes, not knowing what the next weeks might bring, scripture reminds us that our lives, too, are in a direct, long line of witnesses from Moses to David, to Jesus and Paul, to Augustine, to Martin Luther and John Calvin, to John Knox and John Wesley, to Karl Barth and Reinhold Niebuhr, etc.   Scripture reminds us that we are not alone in this world.  Through scripture we can know that the God who presides over all history is our God, and that God is faithful no matter what is happening in our lives at any given moment.

I remember reading of a famous dancer who was a victim of a terrible accident.  She lay in traction for months. When asked how she was able to survive during that time, she said: “Every day, I would dance the 23rd Psalm in my head.”  And, it was through Scripture that the Apostle Paul discovered faith through grace alone.  It was through Scripture that Augustine found meaning and purpose for living.  It was through Scripture that John Wesley found his heart strangely warmed.  And, it is through Scripture that our hearts are tendered and our eyes are opened to the power and presence of our risen Lord in these unprecedented times.

Sure, I know that some of what we find in Scripture is often violent, narrow, primitive, incomprehensible, disordered, and even weird.  But, so are we.  And the Bible is also about us.  It is God’s dealing with the likes of us throughout history.  Someone said:

If you look “at” a window, you see fly-specks, dust, the crack where Jr.’s frisbee hit it.  If You look “through” a window, you see the world beyond.  Something like this is the difference between those who see the Bible as a “holy bore” and those who see it as the “Word of God” which speaks out of the depths of an almost unimaginable past, into the depths of ourselves.” 

So, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Luke tells us, Jesus opened for them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself, preparing them to see Him in all His resurrected glory.

“Stay with us,” the travelers said to the stranger, “and when the Risen Lord was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized them.”

  Some years ago when my grandfather died, my uncle did most of the planning for his funeral.  Still, I was surprised how hard he seemed to take his father’s death.  Even so, he wrote a moving eulogy for his father, and asked the most elegant preacher in the Roanoke Valley to read it.  Looking over at my uncle during the service, I could see the despair in his eyes.  He did brighten up as his eulogy was read, but slumped down in the pew during the Scripture reading and funeral sermon, seemingly unaware of the promises of Scripture and words of hope and life that the preacher also shared that day.  The Scriptures read were familiar passages of eternal hope and resurrection; words I used often at funeral services I conducted…words I believed.  I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take those words of hope and the resurrection to claim victory over the pain of my grandfather’s passing from this life to the next.

After my grandfather’s service, my aunt, with tears in her eyes, said that my uncle had refused to join the family for the meal she had prepared.  He said that he would not party on the day of his father’s death.  However, it was at that family meal following the service together with family and friends, that those funeral scripture passages began to claim their victory over death.  It was at that meal that someone said the preacher: “I cannot help but think of those Scriptures you read.  They were so fitting and true.”  You see, it was at that family meal, where hope, peace, smiles, tears, and laughter shouted God’s victory over death.  It was at that meal that our eyes were opened and we recognized the promises and presence of our risen Lord.  After all, the scriptures readings had prepared us.

I am reminded of two children coloring their worksheets and talking about this story of “The Road to Emmaus” in their Sunday School Class.  One asked: “How do you know when you are blind?”  “You don’t,” said the other, “You only know afterwards, when you can see again.”

Pastoral Prayer:

O God, whom we see in every sunrise and sunset, teach us to see You as well in the haggard faces of the medical worker and every essential worker on the front lines of this ongoing fight against this unseen, but deadly virus.  Help us who are called by Your name to have Your vision of the future of our world, as a place where the lion lies down with the lamb, where the person with two coats shares with the person who has none, and where everyone takes care of the suffering, the sick, and the aged.

Release us from our bondage to self-interest, worrying about what we shall eat or what we shall wear or how we look to others who are watching us.  Guide us into the freedom of Your Spirit, where we shall be at peace and confident and supportive of others.

Teach us to number our days as gifts, so that we may never treat them as obstacles to be overcome or burdens to be endured until our lives are back to normal.  And, though we are apart, enable us to be a community of Christ, whose body we are.  Give to us a special capacity for grace to reach out to those who are ill in body and spirit, and let the very sense of Your presence become their balm in these difficult days.

Give wisdom to the leaders of our world, that they may better cope with the confusion and complexity of this perilous time.  Bring us all into a greater sensitivity to the needs of those who are suffering the most, whether from the virus or from the economic hardship it has caused.  We pray too, for the family and friends of Neil Kent.  We will miss his gentle spirit and contagious smile, but help us to hold near to our hearts the memory of his faith, perseverance, peaceful spirit by which he faces both life and death.  We pray for Jerry and Sue Woodruff’s son-in-law, Ed.  Lord, bring healing to his body and wisdom for the doctors and medical professionals treating him, that he may experience a complete recovery.  Lord, use the surgeons and medical staff as your instruments of healing for little Ezra, and young Michael in these coming days. 

Now let Your Holy Spirit overpower us as we worship, blotting out sin that would blind us to Your glory and raising us to the newness of life that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom in whose name we pray saying…Our Father, who art in heaven… 

Blessing:

May the love of God surround you,
The wisdom of God guide you,
And the power of the Holy Spirit encourage you
As you joyfully proclaim:
“The whole world is in God’s hands.” 
Amen.

Go in Peace.
See ya tomorrow.

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