John 17:6-19

John 17:6-19
 
Today's entire reading from the Gospel of John is part of a prayer made by a son to his father. Jesus is going down the checklist, as if his father had asked whether he had completed the chores that were assigned. I've made your name known, Abba. The words you gave me, I gave to them. I protected them. Jesus, like any human son, is assuring his beloved father that his duties have been accomplished. But it's verse 13, speaking of his joy, that highlights his humanity and endears him to me even more. Happiness, delight, pleasure--his innermost feeling is revealed, giving us a sense of what he has endured. Unspoken are the years away from his father, the yearning to be back where he belongs, the self-discipline required to be faithful in all things, the intensity of his love. Reunion pictures whiz through my mind; like children running on the tarmac to a returning military dad, or an immigrant son crying with joy as he is united with his absent father once again.
 
Lord of all joy, with a grateful heart I praise and thank you for loving me so much in spite of the cost demanded of you. Grant me courage for the living of my days as you lived yours. Amen.
 
 
John 17:6-19 (NRSV)
 
6 "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you;
8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.
10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.
11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.
14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.
16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

John 3:1-17

John 3:1-17
 
God said to Moses, "Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live: (Numbers 21:8). If you have ever been to the doctor, a hospital or a clinic you may have seen this image--a traditional medical seal with two snakes circling a pole.
 
Jesus used this ancient story, but with a twist. Instead of looking at a snake on a pole for healing, Jesus said, "Look to the cross and live." Throughout the ancient Roman Empire, the cross was a symbol of power, pain and fear. The cross represented something so horrible that just its image, forlorn and looming over a city, conveyed great suffering and sin.
 
God takes the cross, this symbol of sin and transforms it into an instrument of life. God's son is lifted up on the cross so that all who look to it will find life. Through the cross, our pain, brokenness and burdens are transformed into balm, healing and peace. Look to the cross and you shall live.
 
O God, we give thanks that through Jesus' death on the cross you have shown the power to turn suffering into healing, to turn brokenness into wholeness, to take death and turn it into life. Amen.
 
 
John 3:1-17 (NRSV)
 
1 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.
2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God."
3 Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above."
4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?"
5 Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.
6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, "You must be born from above.'
8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?"
10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11 "Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.
12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17 "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Romans 8:12-17

Romans 8:12-17
 
Paul uses the word "flesh" to represent sin, death and the devil--a chasing after other gods, in other words breaking the First Commandment. The choice for Paul could not be clearer: life in Jesus or death in sin.
 
The irony that Jesus died for our sins and was raised to new life should not escape us. We too die to sin in baptism and are raised to new life in Jesus Christ. In baptism, we are adopted by God, grafted into God's family, cared for like God's own and called God's sons and daughters. This adoption means that God addresses our inability to escape from sin and give our life freely to God. God hears our call of desperation, our inability to care for ourselves and responds by adopting us and caring for us as God's own. God becomes our parent, teacher and guide where we learn from God, trust God and follow God's way. The beauty is that God cares for us like God cared for God's only son and gives us the same spirit that was in Jesus Christ. May the Spirit of Christ dwell in you richly.
 
O God, we give thanks that through baptism, we are adopted into your family and claimed as your own children. As a member of God's family, we are protected from all evil. Help us to know that the Spirit of Christ has defeated sin, death and the devil and the spirit now lives in us through Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
 
Romans 8:12-17 (NRSV)
 
12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--
13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!"
16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ--if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Psalm 29

Psalm 29
 
"Ascribe to the Lord" (ATTL) doesn't have the same ring to it as WWJD, "What Would Jesus Do?" but is sort of its partner in meditative reflection on discipleship. When was the last time you "ascribed" something to the Lord? Ascribing is similar to placing footnotes in a paper ("Thank you God"). In fact, every moment in our life is another chance to thank and praise God ("Thank you God"). At some moments it may seem impossible to thank and praise God, but over time, over generations, God has a way of redeeming all things ("Thank you God").
ATTL. Give praise to God for what God is doing in the world and in your life. ATTL. Share with others how God is working, alive and active. ATTL. Use the gifts God has blessed you with. ATTL. Give God your time, talents and treasures. ATTL. Commit to prayer and pray for all of God's people. ATTL. Care for this beautiful world and all that God has made. ATTL.
 
Dear Lord, thank you for forming me and more importantly reforming me in your image. I thank and praise you for your creation, for the gifts you have so richly blessed me with and for my life. Help me to continually thank and praise you. Amen.
 
 
Psalm 29 (NRSV)
 
1 Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in holy splendor.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, "Glory!"
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Reckless Words

Reckless Words
by Joni
 
"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
Proverbs 12:18
When God created the world, He spoke it into being. When Jesus walked the earth, He spoke and the lame were healed. When Peter preached his first sermon, he spoke and thousands were gathered into the kingdom. Powerful things happen when we speak. Our words can either accomplish great good, or inflict terrible damage. God has arranged that words are granted incredible clout. Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Dr. Dan Allender gives us a profound purpose for our speech: "I am to sow words like seeds to bring a harvest of fruit that blesses God."*
Repeatedly in scripture, we are admonished to choose and use words carefully in healing and holiness. However, our words are not only instruments of health, but hurt. Words create division; they can wound or create distance through subtle inflection. James 3:6 warns, "The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body." It's interesting that the book of James does not give us any advice about stopping our tongues. Instead, God's Word asks us to develop a sense of horror over the damage our tongue can inflict. The sobering reality of how such a small part of the body can do so much good or harm should wake us up to the power of our words.
Look for ways today you can exalt Christ through your speech. Find opportunities to sincerely encourage and commend your co-workers, family members, neighbors or pastor and members of your congregation. Have you spoken damaging words? Do you need to make repairs? Remember, the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Lord, today I commit to seriously considering the power of my speech. Show me ways I can speak words of healing and holiness. Most of all, help me to think -- and pray for wisdom -- before I say anything.
Blessings,

“Oh, Love, How Deep,”

"Oh, Love, How Deep," ELW 322
 
Oh, love, how deep, how broad, how high,
beyond all thought and fantasy,
that God, the Son of God, should take
our mortal form for mortals' sake!
 
God sent no angel to our race,
of higher or of lower place,
but wore the robe of human frame,
in Christ our Lord to this world came.
 
For us baptized, for us he bore
his holy fast and hungered sore;
for us temptation sharp he knew;
for us the tempter overthrew.
 
For us he prayed; for us he taught;
for us his daily works he wrought,
by words and signs and actions thus
still seeking not himself, but us.
 
For us by wickedness betrayed,
for us, in crown of thorns arrayed,
he bore the shameful cross and death;
for us he gave his dying breath.
 
For us he rose from death again;
for us he went on high to reign;
for us he sent his Spirit here
to guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.
 
All glory to our Lord and God
for love so deep, so high, so broad;
the Trinity whom we adore
forever and forevermore.
 
Love That Sent the Spirit to Guide, Comfort, and Cheer
I was five in 1936 when my father took me to the hospital for a tonsillectomy. Having played "hospital" with my toy doctor's kit, I felt eager to experience the real thing. Because things were very informal in a rural hospital at that time, my father was allowed to walk along beside the gurney taking me into the operating room. He waited outside the door. Everything was exciting until the mask was put over my nose and mouth, and ether began dripping on to the mask. Suddenly I was afraid and cried out in panic. That was when I heard my father's calm voice, "Corinne, I'm right here."
 
As I remember that moment so vividly, it renews my thankfulness for a very good earthly father, and gives me a living image of God's loving presence--present with us to guide, to strengthen and to cheer. "I will never leave you orphaned." (John 14:18) And again, God's promise, "Ask, and it will be given you." (Mt. 7:7)
Actually though, "We do not know how to pray as we ought. . . The Spirit helps us in our
weakness . . . that very Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. . . . God who
searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the
saints according to the will of God" (Rom. 8:26-27). And there is still more good news: "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
 
Thank you, God, for assuring us of your presence, and for calling us by name saying, "I'm right here." Amen.
 
Corinne

“Oh, Love, How Deep,”

"Oh, Love, How Deep," ELW 322
 
Oh, love, how deep, how broad, how high,
beyond all thought and fantasy,
that God, the Son of God, should take
our mortal form for mortals' sake!
 
God sent no angel to our race,
of higher or of lower place,
but wore the robe of human frame,
in Christ our Lord to this world came.
 
For us baptized, for us he bore
his holy fast and hungered sore;
for us temptation sharp he knew;
for us the tempter overthrew.
 
For us he prayed; for us he taught;
for us his daily works he wrought,
by words and signs and actions thus
still seeking not himself, but us.
 
For us by wickedness betrayed,
for us, in crown of thorns arrayed,
he bore the shameful cross and death;
for us he gave his dying breath.
 
For us he rose from death again;
for us he went on high to reign;
for us he sent his Spirit here
to guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.
 
All glory to our Lord and God
for love so deep, so high, so broad;
the Trinity whom we adore
forever and forevermore.
 
Love That Wore the Robe of Human Form
"He knows our frame, how we were made, he remembers we are dust. (KJV)"
God's "remembering," beyond mere thought, is action to remedy us because "as a father...he has compassion for his children." (Psalm 103:5)
Jesus had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because Jesus himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested (Hebrews. 2:18).
The Gospel of Matthew (chapter 4) tells of Jesus' resisting four of the devil's temptations. He knows what it is to be tempted, so we do not have a high priest "who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin."
 
Thanks be to God who knows our frame and who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
 
Love That Says, Tell The Good News
The gospel writer Mark, in chapter 16, tells the story of women coming early to anoint the dead body of Jesus. But when they find the tomb empty and are trembling with fright, an angel appears announcing, "Do not be afraid. He is not here. Look, there is the place where they laid him. He is risen and is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him, just as he told you." Imagine being there! Seeing these women breathless, amazed and barely able to take in such good news.
 
But those faithful women, first to be told of his resurrection, went as they were told and were the first witnesses to tell this good news. They had to tell others that they had seen Jesus alive again. After seeing our Lord with eyes of faith, we too must testify of what we have seen. It's our call, "You are to testify."
 
Thank you, Jesus, for your presence with us in the person of the Holy Spirit who even now is transforming my fears into a living hope. Amen.
 
 
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 (NRSV)
 
26 "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf.
27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning...
4b"I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.
5 But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, "Where are you going?'
6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:
9 about sin, because they do not believe in me;
10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer;
11 about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.
12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Romans 8:22-27

Romans 8:22-27
 
Love That Prays For Us
"I'm praying for you." What comforting words to hear from one you love and respect, especially when going through a time of struggle. Today we're reminded that this also is a gift from the Spirit! These words from Romans bring the good news that the Holy Spirit is praying for us.
 
Yes, we do pray, but often with hurried distraction and limited knowledge of what is best for us. We agonize in prayer unsure of God's will or how and for what to ask. The good news is that help is available now! The very best help. There's help waiting because the Spirit is right now interceding for us. It's adequate because the Spirit knows the will of God for us. Because sin and evil within and all around us can overwhelm and discourage us, we must grasp this ever-ready God-given hope. This hope knows and believes that help is on the way even now, because the Spirit is interceding for us.
 
All knowing God, thank you for the Holy Spirit always going ahead of us with love to intercede for us. Amen.
 
 
Romans 8:22-27 (NRSV)
 
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now;
23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Psalm 104:24-34; 35b

Psalm 104:24-34; 35b
 
Love That Creates and Sustains
In love, God created all things and rejoices in sustaining and renewing the whole creation. God created a rhythm of day and night, of seasons, of wind and rain--all bringing renewal to the world. God created a sexual desire in both the human and animal species to bring offspring, and assigned them a lifespan in order to make room for new generations. God saw that it was good and rejoiced in all that God had made.
 
Now, far down the road, God's good creation is becoming polluted. With good human minds ever inventing and innovating with new techniques and technologies--such as electricity and medical systems--over many years we find that we are polluting what God made good. We depend on it all. And it seems we're not able to retract or return to an earlier state.
 
While joining the psalmist praising God for the good creation, we puzzle to know how we can now be faithful in preserving what God intended to remain good. We might begin by joining a think tank discussion group where like-minded concerned people gather ideas and move into action.
 
Creating God, bless us with both will and ways to preserve your good creation. Amen.
 
 
Psalm 104:24-34; 35b (NRSV)
 
24 O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
27 These all look to you to give them their food in due season;
28 when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works--
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.
35bLet sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more...