A Non-Christmas Carol 
Monday, December 26, 2005, 06:21 PM
I hope you got to hold your candle and sing "Silent Night" on Christmas Eve. (I did; twice!) A great and moving tradition of Christmas.

I like a different song during Candlelight Services. It is a camp song, "Pass it On" and for me, it goes with the passing of the light from one to another in the congregation...and beyond.

The words and music are by Kurt Kaiser:

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing;
That's how it is with God's Love,
Once you've experienced it, you spread the love to everyone
You want to pass it on.

What a wondrous time is spring,
When all the trees are budding
The birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming;
That's how it is with God's love, once you've experienced it.
You want to sing, it's fresh like spring,
You want to pass it on.

I wish for you my friend This happiness that I've found;
You can depend on God
It matters not where you're bound,
I'll shout it from the mountain top - PRAISE GOD!
I want the world to know
The Lord of love has come to me
I want to pass it on.

The Lord of Love has come. Pass it on.

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Heart Adjustments 
Monday, December 19, 2005, 06:19 PM
One of the members I visited in the hospital last week was in to have his heart adjusted. Actually it was his heart pacemaker that wasn't keeping the correct pace for him so he was in for a tune up.
This is the season where we all are encouraged to get our hearts adjusted. Some may need to have their pace changed...from a mad rush of making a living to the slower pace of living a life. Others may need to quicken the pace of their heart, pumping out more love to those around them.

Even before the first Christmas, an angel told Zechariah, John the Baptizer's father, that John's ministry would be to change the hearts of the people at the coming of Christ:
And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.- Luke 1:17

Getting ready for the coming of Christ means turning our hearts to our families and setting our hearts on righteous wisdom and not disobedience. (Maybe there is something holy at the root of the whole "naughty and nice" concern at Christmas!)

As you make your preparations for Christmas, remember to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Turn you hearts to your loved ones and set your hearts on being right with God and those around you.

Hoping your heart adjusts well.
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Late, Lost, Lonely 
Monday, December 5, 2005, 06:17 PM
I've done an informal survey and I'm persuaded that there are only 3 reasons to make cell phone calls. You're late, lost, or lonely.

Reviewing my own use, I find that if I'm with people, on time and on course; I don't even think of using my cell phone.

Perhaps the speed dial features should include speed message buttons that dial the numbers and then speak one of these messages:
<1 > Sorry, I'm going to be late… (This could also be the default answering machine message, saving us the trouble of answering when we KNOW who is calling and why.)

<2> Where are you? (All men know that we are never lost, the destination is hiding!)

<3> You busy? I just wanted to talk…(This would be the Whatzzup button.)

Sometimes God is treated like a cell phone. Responsibility is dodged until it becomes a crisis, all else fails and we are at the end of our rope, or we are alone in a foxhole of life with enemies all around: then we remember to call God.

Like a cell phone, it is good to have God for emergencies. Yet, there is a function of cell phones we haven't discussed…it can also receive calls from others who are late, lost, or lonely. This requires us to turn it on, carry it with us, and respond to calls even when we don't need to talk.

Hoping you will take God's call.

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Monday, November 28, 2005, 06:13 PM
I like fruitcakes. I think partly it is due to the yearly arrival of the one sent by my wife's eccentric aunt in Texas. I liked her and fruitcake was very appropriate reminder of such a fun, sweet and unconventional person. I enjoyed thinking about her while eating some of the fruit and nut gooey goodness she sent.

I was reminded of fruit and nuts when I was searching for a bumper sticker I wanted to use in yesterday's sermon. In addition to the one I was looking for, I found this one:

God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts

The fruit of the Spirit (singular, there is only one spiritual fruit in Galatians 5:22.) is a fine list of virtues. And who wants a religious nut?

But our definition of religious nut, usually depends on our own place on the religious spectrum rather than God's perspective. Folks whose religious views loom larger in their lives than in ours are easily dismissed as nuts.

Yet maybe we need nuts. Religious nuts have borne fruit: the abolition of slavery (goodness?), civil rights (love?), peace (peace!?), rejection of torture (gentleness?), consumer and worker protection (self-control?) and social security (kindness?).

Perhaps, with fruit and nuts all mixed together, God likes fruitcake too.

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Thanksgiving Grace 
Monday, November 21, 2005, 06:10 PM - Extra Christy, Prayers
Saying grace is a part of our family Thanksgiving tradition. While we pause for grace before our family meals throughout the year, the prayer before the Thanksgiving meal has a wider perspective; covering the preceding and coming year rather than just the joys and concerns of the day.

Of course, grace isn't just a name of a short prayer before a meal. In the Bible the word usually translated “grace” is charis, which literally means “gift”. (The “c” has a “k” sound, if you are reading aloud.)

We find grace in this New Testament benediction:

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.— 2 Corinthians 13:14

The grace (gift) of Jesus Christ is the gift of eternal life, salvation from sin and the curse of sin: death.

So grace has come to mean a prayer that gives thanks for the gift of food which allows us to live on earth just as the grace of Christ allows us to live eternally in heaven.

It is good to have this little prayer, which grows large on Thanksgiving, to remind us with joy not only of the gifts of food that nourishes us for the day, but of the gift of Christ which sustains us for all time and eternity. That is a wider perspective worthy of great Thanksgiving.

Hoping you enjoy grace on Thanksgiving and forever,

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