This post is a partial book review and also a look towards the future. We each have unique paths and journeys that we take as we listen to where God may be calling us in life, that is if we choose to listen. Beginning a new call brings many questions as one starts to get acquainted with his/her surroundings. I recently finished the book, Ten Commandments for Pastors New To A Congregation by Lawerence W. Farris. Like the previous book I read regarding new calls, this has some great points and ones that may be off the mark slightly. My thought is that I would review the Ten Commandments as Farris lays them out.
Farris leads the reader through his book in a quick and fulfilling way. I pray that as a pastor I am able to stick to these commandments and also continually self-check so that I can ensure that I am on the right path. This is a must-read for new pastors and would not hurt call committees to read as well.
When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!
While we are saved by grace, we are still called to repentance for our sins and things that we have done and have left undone. This first week of Advent encourages us to repentance for all of our sins.
The sign of Jonah could be referring to Christ’s death on the cross and being dead for three days as it reflects the amount of time that Jonah was within the belly of the big fish. Also, in the story of Jonah we witness the entire repentance of the people of Nineveh. It is in this that I believe we are called to today. As we read through the paper, watch the news on television, or possibly even scroll through the newsfeed on our favorite social media account we are bombarded with what appears to be bad news. The good news far outweighs the bad, unfortunately it is the bad that is always making the headlines.
These are the sins of the world and a sign of the brokenness that we live amongst. May we repent of all of these and have a active voice in the areas that drive our passions. It can also be in our inactions that we promote the very thing that we are against.
Forgiving God, we pray for peace in the world so that generations to come will not experience bloodshed and war. We pray that in this time of Advent we may be a voice for those that cannot be heard. AMEN
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it.
A line in this passage reminds me of my walk with the Order of Lutheran Franciscans. David asks, “Who am I, O Lord God?” That question has been implanted with me since I began the journey this previous January. This question is one that St. Francis asked himself often, “Who am I, and who are you?” These are not bad questions, and I believe they get us right down to the heart of things. In these questions we want to know more. We open ourselves up to the curiosity of what it means to be a child of God. We are constantly on a self journey to determine who we are and where God is calling us to action within our own lives. It may seem a bit preposterous to ask God, “Who are you?” Whether, we state it aloud or not, I believe we all have that question pop up in our minds from time to time. Don’t we get to know people better if we find out a little about them and what drives them as people, what they are passionate about. I believe we can get to know God on the same level. We just have to listen.
Almighty, may you open not only our ears to hear your proclamation, may you also open our hearts, mind, and soul to experience your unending grace. This Advent season may we enter into a deeper relationship with you. AMEN
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Our current history that we are aware of as humanity is the smallest of percentages when compared to the fact that the earth is well over 4 billion+ years old. The universe as we know it is probably closer to 13 billion+ years old. God has been present from the very beginning and it is in this that we place our faith and trust in the promise of God. The promise that all of creation will be restored and we will come into a time of peace. Creation itself is one of the great mysteries of God and one that leaves many of us slack-jawed at its never-ending beauty. Not only has God had a hand in the mountains and the valleys, the undulating oceans and the flowing streams, but God continues to create and recreate. The eternal nature of God is one of presence throughout the ages; the one who is, who was, and who is to come.
Creating God, we give thanks for the dwelling place and refuge that we can take in your creation. May we rightly care for the creation that has been given to us so that future generations will be able to appreciate its beauty. AMEN
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
We enter this Advent season in the midst of a world that is broken. Nothing is truly any different than it was back in Jesus’ time or even Martin Luther’s time. We have always been at war with one another. Tribe against Tribe. As we enter this Advent season though we are reminded once again of the promise that God has made to God’s people. The promise that Jeremiah speaks of is still valid today and if we look around us we can see glimpses of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, fulfilling the promise that God has made to us from the beginning of creation. It can be seen in this season of giving as we reach out to help our sisters and brothers in our own communities or in the greater global community. How can you be the hands and feet of Christ in our world today and during this festive season?
God, we ask that you stir up within us the desire to help our neighbors nearby and far away. As we enter this Advent season may we take time to reflect on your Word and be still in you. AMEN
This coming Sunday, November 29, be on the lookout for an Advent Daily Devotional that you can use during the season of Advent on this blog. There will be a new Advent Devotional posted every morning based on the daily lectionary. It will consist of a Bible passage, reflection, and prayer for the day. Be sure to follow this blog or sign up to receive email notifications when new posts are made.
It is my hope that this will help guide you during the Advent Season as we prepare for the coming of Christ.
I am not quite sure what to think of the current state of politics within our country. While, as a pastor, I do not strongly impress my views on others. Whether I vote Republican, Democrat, or even Independent should not truly matter. As we approach Christ the King Sunday, Read More
James Martin ventures into the world of the novel with excellence! Previously having written other books away from the fiction genre, his offering in The Abbey is great and one that can and should be shared with others on their own faith journey.
Following the story of Anne and one of her tenants, Mark, to an abbey that is nearby where Mark works. Anne’s connection with the abbey through her father is rekindled and the conversation that ensues with a couple of the monks leads to some deeper understanding in her own life. In the meantime, Mark questions what is calling in life may be.
This book would be a great resource for anyone questioning their faith. It may also help someone walk through the death of a child and what that may man in their faith life.
I look forward to the next fiction book the James Martin has to offer.
My heart truly aches for the world. What has taken place this past week, not just in Paris, but also in Beirut and Syria. The ongoing clash of people that are afraid of other people. Tribe is pitted against tribe! As I preached this morning, this is not the world God has imagined, yet it is one that has functioned out of humanities need for power and fear of others.
We have clearly put Paris in the forefront of everything that has happened in the past week, even though there has been many other deaths around the world caused by violence and hate. Is it because we are like the majority of Parisians, in our whiteness and sameness, that it hits closer to home? I will admit that it hit me much harder than hearing about the Beirut bombing earlier in the week that killed 40 people.
I do not have the answers. I know that we have not seen the end of tribalism or the fight for power. Just earlier I saw that France was bombing the ISIS stronghold in Syria. Is this the right answer? Truly, I do not know. I do know that my heart aches and so do others. Usually, when that happens our first response is for revenge or vengeance. I also don’t believe there is room for reasoning with many of the those around the world that are fearful of the other and take out the aggressions through bloodshed.
All I can do right now is pray for our world. Pray that peace may overcome it and that cooler heads may prevail. May we pray not just for those that are persecuted, but also for those that do the persecuting. We have made so many advances in society through technology and engineering and many other avenues, isn’t it about time that we advance in our love for one another?
This verse has been playing through my head this past week since it was part of the Daily Lectionary. It comes from Mark 11:23
Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you.
As I lead Bible Studies or discussion with people I always tell people that it is essential that we look deeply into texts and it is ok to question what may be written and at times possibly even doubt it! It is human nature to doubt and question and this usually happens within our minds. As we doubt and question, it allows us to build an even deeper relationship with God, or whatever we are studying, because we must delve even deeper into the subject and gain a greater understanding.
This verse from Mark struck me differently though because it says do not doubt in your heart. We doubt in our minds all of the time many things, whether it be our own personal actions or those actions of others; it may even be that we doubt God at times. However, it is in our hearts that God has written the law. From a few appearances in the Hebrew Bible this is mentioned, one being Psalm 40:8
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.
So my question, Is it possible to ever doubt in our heart? For the very presence of God is within our own being and in that we embrace the eternal relationship which is God. May we nurture that relationship as we live into the mystery.