Who are We With

Mark 9:38-40

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”

But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon after ward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.”

Good Evening Gentle Readers


This passage is nestled between two exchanges where children feature in Jesus’ remarks to his disciples. What might children have to do with this rogue exorcist that concerns John?

In the passage just prior, Jesus rebukes his disciples for thinking about status and honour. He places before them a child and teaches them that the lowly should be their focus. Because children had no status in that culture, Jesus uses them as an example of the outcast, the poor, the marginalized. Then, in the passage just after this one, Jesus speaks of how important it is to protect children and vulnerable people, to raise them up and not let them fall to harm.

What is Jesus up to here? He is trying to get his disciples to stop thinking about themselves and to realize they should be about service to others, especially the poor.

But, as usual, the disciples don’t get it—in this passage, they’re still thinking about who is in and who is out. They are stuck in the old categories: Who is with us? Who is against us? These are questions about status and belonging, and they reveal the disciples’ jealousy and intolerance.

Jesus blows apart their thinking: God’s circle is much wider than theirs, so they should not worry about who is in and out. Anyone who does anything to assist their mission of bringing forth the kingdom is welcome—no matter if they were in or outside the group of “followers.” And his bigger point stands: stop navel-gazing and look around at all the good work there is to do in service to others. Stop thinking about our group and who belongs and who doesn’t belong and what honours we might receive.

Is status and belonging an important concern where you live or work or learn or worship? What is Jesus saying to these situations?

A good antidote, in my experience, is service—it helps me move beyond established borders and boundaries. Helping to serve meals at a soup kitchen puts me in touch with people I’d normally not speak with, and there is a richness to those encounters because we’re meeting each other on the common ground of our human dignity, rather than letting false social constructs of status separate us. I often experience the Lord in those moments.

 

I would say, go out, and let people know who you are with…..

 

Take Care and God Bless

Good Enough

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A Visit

May 19 2018

Good Evening Gentle Readers

I had planned a fun family day with my wife Cindy Lou and my two year old son, the Big Man. It was supposed to be all about fun, all about us as a family. Now to put his in perspective a bit I normally work Saturday mornings from eight am to twelve noon, I am still sort of the new guy at my job and the extra money does help out so normally its work, groceries, running around, then home a movie or so and bed on Saturday, but today I did not have to work because of the long weekend. So we wake up and it’s a day off.

Cindy Lou had gone out on Thursday and picked up socks, sixty pairs of them, to drop off at a local shelter. I think she had planned to drop them off next week so when I volunteered to do it this morning it became a family thing. We drove downtown and got to the shelter. I have worked in a number of shelters over the years and one of the bad parts of them is that in the morning, rain or shine you are out the door so there was a good crowd of folks just milling about trying to stay out of the rain.

We met Kyle, a really nice fellow who had stayed overnight at the shelter, he not only helped us drop off the socks but when we struck up a conversation with him he ran back inside to get the big man a Popsicle, which was a story in itself. Kyle is a roofer by trade and working, just not making enough to find an apartment in the city so the shelter is the only choice for now. He was so personable and friendly I wished I could have spent longer talking to him. He was also taken with the Big Man who had no qualms about giving a high five and his great smile to this stranger. We shared a moment, a time and when it was done we went on our way. I am sure that we brightened the day for a few of the folks at the shelter.

Cindy Lou and I met at an outreach so for both of us it was really a walk back to where it began, and yes for both of us it was a visit home.

So its off to the local farmer’s market, Cindy Lou and I never get to go because of my work schedule so this is a real treat. The Big man gets a huge sugar cookie from the “Cookie Queen” and he is thrilled and as we go through the various stalls of home grown vegetables and hand made sausages I notice how nice everyone is. Even with the gray skies and crowd, everyone has a smile and a nice word or two for myself and my family. Our last stop is a favourite of mine, a United Church that on market day sells home made apple dumplings in hot caramel sauce. They are made and served by the church ladies who also sell home made pies, which just by the way, are just the best. So I find a table and we sit down while I go to get my apple dumplings and all of a sudden in this church basement I see what I like to call community church. The ladies in the kitchen are laughing and joking with each other, there are families sitting together talking and greeting people as they come in, children playing and everyone is being treated as if they are all just old friends in someones kitchen. It’s a bit strange for me, but familiar as well, I just haven’t seen it in a long while.

As they day continues I take a bit of time to thank God for my family, I thank God for showing me that I still have the heart to work with the poor, and I thank God for all he has given me……

Tomorrow I have a trip to the park planned…..

I will watch my Big man play…

I will watch my Cindy Lou smile….

And again I will thank God for all he has given me….

Take Care and God Bless

Good Enough

Just Asking

This one is from Saturday

A bit late but Saturday turned into quite a day

John 16:23B-28

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father for you; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; now, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”

Good Morning Gentle Readers

As I sit here getting ready for work, it’s my half day Saturday, I am forced to think about all of the times I have went to the Lord with really bad requests, asking for things that I did not need or things that in the end might have done me harm.

God is not an ATM, you know, insert prayer and get a response, that’s not how it works. But God does listen, and every time God does respond, sometimes in ways that we just don’t get.

This passage touches me in two almost opposing ways. On the one hand, it reminds me of my “greedy” side. When I pray, it’s often to ask the Lord for something, some favour if you will. And oftentimes, I feel the Lord has listened. My prayers were answered just as I hoped, prayed, and in the way I imagined. Then, on the other hand, the truer side, are times when the Lord did not answer my prayer, or so I thought. I often lamented and didn’t understand how the Lord could’ve “failed” me. Didn’t God know what I needed? Didn’t I pray hard enough, long enough, loud enough? Its these time that I have to stop and think, if my two year old asked for a sharp knife would I give it to him? We don’t know the whole story and God does, its sort of better to leave it in his hands.

There have been times when God has answered my prayers and I have not seen the answer. I missed that yes, God came through, just not the way I thought he would, or better than I could have ever imagined.

That reminds me of the old joke, If you want to hear God laugh, make a plan….

“Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. “

Jesus tells us ask and you will receive, and yes, this is true, he also says that we have to work for the Kingdom of God, build it here so there are two parts to this. God gives us the tools, we just need to do the work sometimes. The “In my Father’s name.” also tells us what to ask for, is it God’s kingdom we are building, or our own.

As you go about your day today and ask God for help, ask yourself who’s kingdom you are building

Take Care and God Bless

Good Enough

Time May Change Me

May 11 2018

John 16:20-23

Jesus said to his disciples, “Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.

“When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.

“So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”

Good Morning Gentle Readers

I really dislike the winter, the cold. The snow, clearing frost off my car, all of it, and yet I live in Southern Ontario Canada, and to be honest it is where I want to live. Every year I watch the seasons change and I do love the spring, the summer and the fall and yes that first snow fall, the crisp air, and of course Christmas makes the winter for me.

Life is sort of like the changing seasons, we have good times and bad, dry spells and times when everything flows and goes our way. I have lived in times of darkness and despair, and I have lived in times of joy and love, and always in the good and the bad, God has been there with me, always helping, always weeping with my sorrow and rejoicing in my joy.

The changing seasons call us to appreciate the rhythms of life. Jesus beckons his disciples to lean into that same cadence in this passage: “You will grieve,” he says, “You will weep and mourn.” He speaks of the phases of grief and joy a mother experiences in child birth, and explains that she experiences pain “because her hour has come.”

This passage offers us permission to sit with the seasons, even those of grief or pain that come our way. Jesus anchors us in the reality that God is constantly at work in this dynamic world that ebbs and flows, gives and takes. No matter how much change or even suffering we experience, we know that in Jesus Christ, the victory has already been won—unexpected or even unfavourable environments do not have to separate us from God.

“So you have pain now,” Jesus tells us, “but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”

Today as you go through the joys of the day or the heart break remember that God is with you on the journey, always right here beside you in all you do….

Take Care and God Bless

Good Enough

Sometimes it Hurts

John 16:16-20

Jesus went on to say,“In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying,”In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’and‘ Because I am going to the Father’?”They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.

Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them,“Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

Good Morning Gentle Readers

We have to feel for the disciples today, they are confused, worried and a bit put off by what Jesus has to say to them. We have the advantage of looking back at history, but in that moment they where just scared.

This gospel has a few layers to it. On the first level it is the story of Jesus trying to prepare his followers for what was going to happen and this would have taken a lot of work. The disciples, like us, have a hard time keeping up with the Lord.

On a deeper level this is Jesus talking to us, telling us our story. Christians of the present day have reason to feel almost as bewildered and unsure about what Jesus said as the first disciples. After rising from the dead, Jesus ascended to heaven, and while we believe that at the end of time he will return in glory, we do not know when that will be. In the meantime, we are still here in this life, in a world where every day brings new evidence of sin and suffering. We look at the tragedies in our lives, great and small, and wonder why these things happen. Like the first disciples, we can ask, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’?”When will enough be enough?

Jesus tells us” You will have pain, you will have suffering, but don’t lose hope, keep moving forward because in a little while there will be joy.” We have to look to that joy, work toward it, and know in our heart of hearts that it is coming.

Today while you go about what you do in the world keep in my that a time is coming, keep in mind that our God is an “On time God”, and brothers and sisters we need to keep the faith….

Take Care and God Bless

Good Enough

You Can’t Handle the Truth

John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 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.

“He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

You can’t handle the truth”

Good Morning Gentle Readers

Well I had to quote “A Few Good Men” for this reflection, I just had to. Today Jesus tells the disciples that they can’t just know the truth, that they can’t just be told and its done, and he right you have to live the truth, you have to walk the road to know it. While I am sure that Jesus was a fantastic speaker nothing he could have said would have been enough to give these people the understanding that they needed to continue on in the ministry that they had chosen. Like them, we need to walk the road that takes us to the Lord, and while it is a wonderful journey there are hard parts that we need help with and that’s where the Holy Spirit, the advocate comes in, yes we, like them, walk with God.

Today as you go down the road, take a moment to speak with the Lord, he is always ready to help, and yes he can handle our truths.

Take Care and God Bless

Good Enough