"Then his father said, "Son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive. He was lost and is found."" (Luke 15:31-32)
Have you lost something lately? Is it something you put someplace safe? You know it will be okay you just have to remember where the someplace safe is. What about finding something..... Have you found something, recently, you hadn't really thought of as lost but now you realize it's been quite a while since you thought of it let alone saw it? Now think of a person who fits this idea. We all can probably think of someone -- right? I know I have offered to share anyone of my brothers in the last couple of weeks. The question is, though, are we excited - welcoming - of the found "thing" be it an object or a person..... Are we ready to have the party, celebrate and welcome the lost back?
Jesus is telling the third in a series of stories. We have all heard them so many times we have lost count - right? The first one is one sheep, out of 100. The second one is a coin but it is one of ten coins. Then the story in the Gospel reading this morning. One of two sons has disappeared - apparently for quite a period of time. Now the son has returned, the father is excited, runs to meet him and throws a party to celebrate. How often have we heard this parable and been asked who are we -- the son who took off or the one who stayed? My question, for you, today is -- can you welcome the "lost" now they have been found? We are told the father explains why there is a party. Jesus is talking about why he is with "sinners and eats with them." (v. 2) Now, when it is people he is talking about he is explaining the "brother of yours was dead and is alive." (v. 32) Once we understand the reason for the party can we accept, celebrate and welcome?
I have recently "found" (and organized) my sewing room and the extra bed in it. It is kind of nice to see the bed! I could even let someone sleep in it it -- with out too much work. The problem isn't finding the bed. The problem is the three more quilts I found in finding the bed. My Lenten discipline is to finish unfinished projects. I thought I was doing pretty good. The three quilts, I thought were all of the tops, are finished. The two sweaters are much further along and the sewing room is much better organized. This discipline has been a wonderful time with God, strengthening my relationship with God........ but three more quilts....
I know busy schedules. I understand unexpected things being added to busy schedules - especially as Caregivers. Can we add what we have "found" to the list of things? Can we be excited, celebrate and welcome the "found"? Something to think about.........
"Sir, the man replied, "leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down." (Luke 13:8-9)
So what are you thinking of with "results?" The lab tests you had done this week? How about the Lenten Discipline you are working on? The Bible, or prayer, study you are doing? What are the "results" you are looking for? The finished projects (I have finished two of the three quilts, cleaned one of the rooms and finished the scarf)? The clean closet? Ways to increase your income? What to plant, and where, in your garden for the results you need? These are all different ways to be thinking of "results" - right?
Jesus is telling us a parable about a gentleman with a vineyard and a fig tree in said vineyard. (v. 6) The problem was there were NO figs on the tree. This has been going on for a while, we are told three years (v. 7), and the owner has had it. The owner tells the worker "cut it down." (v. 7) Most trees take a few years to grow and produce fruit but we aren't told how long it has been. What we are told, by the worker, is to please give it "more." Give it more time, more care and more food -- then see what happens. Jesus is asking us to look at "results" from a different perspective - doesn't he always?
Does this change your thinking about "results"? We are about 1/2 way through Lent. We, as Caregivers, are very busy with spring schedules, Lenten schedules, family schedules and trying to care for ourselves. Can we give it "more" time, "more" food and "more" care? Can we look at it from a different (God's) perspective? Something to think about.........
"Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God." (Luke 6:12)
So what do you think of for, or with, prayer? What questions come to mind? Is she going to ask how often do I pray? Where, or when, do I pray? How about what do I pray? Are you doing anything else while you are praying? There are as many questions, and answers, as there are ways, and kinds, of prayer. Each of us has our own way of doing and our own time(s) to be doing. There is everything from "foxhole" or breath prayers to Lectio Divina - even the "Circle Maker" (by Mark Batterson) we have spoken of before.
Our Gospel reading, today, is Jesus spending time in prayer. This is one of the times he has gone, by himself, to spend "the night in prayer to God." (v. 12) There has been a lot happening, and going to happen, already in his ministry. Jesus has already been calling followers, healing and (as we see in verse 11) upsetting some of the Pharisees and teachers. Jesus is also getting ready to call the 12. This has been a time of prayer, gaining strength and a time of discernment. A time to decide on who, of those following him, will become "apostles." (v. 13)
So this is so much a question, today, as it is encouragement to take the time to s-t-o-p for prayer. To give ourselves, especially as Caregivers, the time to listen, strengthen and discern our relationship with God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. To use this time of Lent to establish the discipline of prayer.
"Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'one does not live by bread alone.'"" (Luke 4:4)
So....... What did you think of when you saw "tempting"? The cookie you couldn't pass up? The bread pudding I saw someone decide on for "breakfast" recently? The piece of cake you did pass on? The _______ (fill in the blank) you saw and thought of buying? Or, maybe, the Lenten discipline you thought of but aren't sure you are really ready to try? There is one other "tempting" to be thinking about.... Several times in my working life I have had "temp jobs." Sometimes they lasted for a couple of days, sometimes for a couple of weeks, but all of us knew it was only temporary.
Jesus has just been baptized, by John, and is preparing to start his ministry. He, at least ( we aren't told if others heard as well), has heard God's voice saying "You are my Son whom I love; with you I am well pleased." (Luke 3:22) Jesus knows what God is calling him to, how God loves him and the need to stay close to God. He is "full of the Holy Spirit" and was "led by the Spirit" (Luke 4:1) into the wilderness "for forty days" (v. 2) This time is spent praying, fasting and listening for God's guidance even as the devil temps Jesus to do things because "You are the Son of God." (v.3) The interesting thing is Jesus answers with Scripture -- "it is written." (v. 4) Jesus knows the Scripture, remembers the Scripture and uses the Scripture to answer the tempter and the temptation. Do we know Scripture that well?
The Lenten disciplines are to help us grow stronger in our relationship with God, through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the discipline is "only" a "temp" time but, prayerfully, it will become a strengthening time. Prayerfully it will give us, especially as Caregivers, the strength we need to continue to face all of the challenges going on around us. Something to think about......
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.