ascension, peace, remember
"After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight." (Acts 1:9)
So many thing happening in one week it is hard to keep up with. Storms, fires, food shortages, the fighting in the Ukraine and then the school shooting. Individually these things are overwhelming, especially when the storm/fire/shortage is affecting you personally. (Yes, the tree is off my house and the roof will be repaired.) And in the midst of everything comes Ascension Day - a time when we celebrate Jesus ascending into heaven. How? Why?
In John 14 Jesus is telling us (and his Disciples) about a gift he is giving "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives." (John 14:27a) Knowing how things can change, here in the world, it is a special blessing to know God's peace is given "not as the world gives." We don't understand what is happening, we definitely do not like what is happening, we question what is happening BUT we can feel the "peace of God, which transcends all understanding." (Philippians 4:7) God KEEPS God's promises. Christ IS RISEN! (He IS risen, indeed!) And this week we celebrate Jesus' ascension to be "seated at his right hand." (Ephesians 1:20) Emmanuel -- GOD IS WITH US.
These are important things to remember as we are going through the things happening all around us but also as we remember this special National Holiday. This is more than a "3 day weekend." This is a time to remember that while "all gave some, some gave all." It is an important time to remember not just the "peace that transcends all understanding," Emmanuel -- God with us, but also the reason for the long weekend. Let us celebrate God's love together but let us also remember.......
"Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." (John 14:23)
Have you thought about what you are keeping? Have you thought about how you use what you are keeping? When you're thinking about moving, or downsizing, you think about how much you have but otherwise it probably doesn't cross your mind -- right? But what about how you use what you have? What are some of the ways you could use what you have to bless others?
The Gospel reading is happening at what we refer to as the "last supper." Jesus is trying to help the Disciples understand what is going to be happening and how God will help them. How? Jesus is reminding them (and us) to "keep" what Jesus has taught them. The remembering, and keeping, will have Jesus AND God the Father making "our home with them." This is a gentle reminder of Emmanuel - God WITH us, always. Keeping, doing, sharing the things they have learned and the peace (v.27) that comes with the stronger relationship is what Jesus is reminding them, and us(!), to be doing.
So.... are we keeping what we have learned? Can we bless other by not only "keeping" but by sharing? Blessing? As Caregivers we are "giving" care but is there also a way we can be "blessing"? Something to think about......
"By this everyone will know that you are my disciple, if you love one another." (John 13:35)
Is there something you "follow"? If so what, or who, is it? Do you "follow" a particular sports team, person or coach? During March Madness I was "following" Coach "K" - Duke. What about a movie series, a TV series, or actor? Is there something, or someone, on Facebook you "follow"? I seem to have gotten on the National Park "follow" list - I don't know how. I do know I "follow" two other "pages" because I decided to.
The Gospel reading this morning is a reminder to all of us about "following" Jesus. This conversation between Jesus and the Disciples is taking place in the Upper Room after Judas has left them. Jesus is pointing out the new commandment - to love one another. People will know we are Jesus' disciples because of the love we show to each other and to others. Like the hymn says "They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love."
The question is..... Do they? Do others see our love, everyday, for other people AND for ourselves? Can other people see, and understand, we are "followers" of Jesus Christ? As Caregivers, we are showing love by the way we are caring for "our" people but do we also show God's love to others? And one other thing to think about...... Are we as excited about "following" Jesus as we are about any of the other things we "follow" -- like the sports team, movie or actor? Something to think about........
listen and know
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me." (John 10:27 NLT)
Listen to, know and follow are interesting things to think about. How often do we do any let alone all three? How often are we asking someone else to listen to us, follow what we are talking about or know our voice? The listening to, and knowing, someone's voice can be the hardest - right? Even just the "listening to" can be hard! Even listening to what God is asking us to do! After all God might be asking us to "follow" in a new direction or to do a new thing!!
The Gospel reading is Jesus answering the people who have asked questions about who, what and how Jesus is doing things. Jesus replies "I have already told you." (10:25a) Jesus points out the very work he has done is proof (25b) but "you didn't believe me because you are not my sheep." (v. 26) Which is why Jesus is pointing out, in this verse, his sheep know his voice -- Emmanuel, God with us. God does know us and we know, when we stop to think about it, God's voice. We are trying to follow where God is leading and do what God is asking us to do. Where we might be starting to question, at least slow down, is when the "new" or "different" comes into the conversation.
When a lot of things are happening it is hard to keep our FOCUS (Fixing Our eyes on Christ Uniting for Strength) on Christ, listening for HIS voice and following where HE is leading. When we are tired, because of all the things happening, it is even harder but also even more important. What I call my God time, in God's Word - at least twice a day, and my "regular" (like we spoke about last week) time are so important. Listening for God's voice, which we DO know and following where God is leading. How, and when, are you doing these things? How, and when, are you strengthening your relationship with God? Something to think about........
Again, and again, and....
"This was now the third time that Jesus had appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead." (John 21:14)
What is your "go to" place, or thing to do, when you are feeling too much pressure for too long a period of time? You may call it a "retreat," a "hideout," a "man cave," or any of a number of names decorators have given for the quiet spaces in our lives. I call mine a "sewing room," or "my chair," depending on energy level and what I am hoping to accomplish. The chair works better for knitting, or a nap (depending on energy) but the sewing room works better for - are you ready for this? - sewing. As in finding, cutting, ironing and, or, sewing (quilting) fabric. Both are regular, I would say ordinary, things that happen with me.
In the Gospel reading, today, the disciples are feeling overwhelmed. A lot has happened in a very short period of time. In the past few weeks they have watched Jesus enter Jerusalem - in a parade no less, clean out the Temple be put on trial, be killed, be buried and they know Jesus lives because they have seen him. Right now one of them, Peter (21:3), has declared a break - "I'm going fishing." And the other 10 agree "we'll go with you." (v.3) They fish, pretty much all night, without catching any fish. "At dawn" (v. 4 NLT) Jesus is there on the beach but the "disciples couldn't see who he was." (v. 4) He tells them to cast their nets on the "other side" which they do and they get so many fish they can't get the net in the boat. (v. 6) AND Jesus has a fire going, is cooking breakfast and invites them to add their fish to the meal. (v. 10) Jesus meets them where they are to feed them - physically and spiritually.
Have you felt God's presence in "your space"? Have you felt God "feeding" you with strength and peace? As Caregivers we get very tired, pressured and too many things are happening over too long a period of time - do you remember Emmanuel? God IS with us, where we are, strengthening us. Something to think about....
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.