Showing posts from December, 2018

Darkness to Light: Christmas Peace to All

For those who were unable to hear the Sermon on Peace on December 23rd, I am posting it in lieu of a new devotional for this Christmas Day.

Morning Grace will take a break until the New Year. Have a joyous holiday season and look for the next devotion on Wednesday, January 2nd.

Merry Christmas!

Sermon 12/23/18 - - Peace The shepherds ran with joy to Bethlehem. They just had to see for themselves this astonishing thing that the angels told them about.
As they went, most of them slapped themselves on the back. “Us!” they cried! “The angels came to us!” And their joy intensified with every step.
It wasn’t only the fact that the angels told them a savior had come, but it was the fact that the angels had chosen them to tell. That they knew this before everyone else!
After all, hadn’t everyone else been ignoring them?
Hadn’t the leaders of their people forgotten about them? I mean, really! King David had started as a shepherd. Moses had been a shepherd! Abraham had been a shepherd!
But over time, it…

Darkness to Light: Peace Has Come!

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of grea…

Darkness to Light: Joy as Completion

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. ~ John 15:10-12 
You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy. In your righthand are pleasures forevermore. ~ Psalm 16:11

Yes, there is a Nirvana. It is leading your sheep to a green pasture, and putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves. ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

By now it is probably evident that we can often substitute the words love and joy for each other.

Love IS the fulfillment of all things.

And true joy is what happens once love has had its way!

It is somethin…

Darkness to Light: Joy as Relationship

I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely how you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even though they are strangers to you. ~ 3 John 3-5

The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again. ~ Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby
To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with. ~ Mark Twain

I get it. I'm an introvert, so I get it that being with people isn't always something that everyone wants all the time.

But I also know something about what lack of people in your life can do to you.

I had an uncle for whom joy seemed to pass by. An alcoholic and a hoarder, my uncle lived alone in a small apartment attached to my grandparent's home. He never invited anyone in. He only came out on the nights my grandmother cooked dinner for him.

He didn't go anywhere other tha…

Darkness to Light: Joy in Starting Over

But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their region. So they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. ~ Acts 13:50-52

Don't cry because its over. Smile because it happened. ~ Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

So take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. ~ Dorothy Fields & Jerome Kern (sung by Frank Sinatra)

It's not over. 

Not by a long shot.

Something may be filling you with regret. Something didn't work out the way you wanted it to.

A diagnosis from your doctor. A fight with your spouse. A loss of property from a break-in.

Or something even more unimaginable.

Or maybe it is the opposite: an award you won. A loving relationship that is just beginning. A new career.

A vacation you've been saving for for years.

Either way…

Darkness to Light: Joy during Hardship

Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do. Let your garments always be white; do not let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.~ Ecclesiastes 9:7-9

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. ~ attributed to Martin Luther

For the one who had a notion, a notion deep inside, that it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive, I want to find one face that ain't looking through me, I want to find one place, I want to spit in the face of these badlands. ~ Bruce Springsteen, "Badlands"

Every age tends to think that their age is the worst: that nothing before was as scary, awful, or threatening.

That those nostalgic days of the past were so much better, safer, less polarizing.


Darkness to Light: Joy as Celebration

“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. ~ Luke 15:4-7

Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair. ~ Susan Polis Schutz

Lutherans (as well as some other Protestant denominations) have an unflattering nickname that perhaps you've heard before.

Frozen Chosen.

You probably don't need a definition to know what it means. We tend to be accused of showing it most clearly in worship due to our often reserved manner of worship.

And re…