Thursday, May 31, 2012

creation, part 3

Good morning brothers and sisters,
I'd like to remind everyone that Friday and Saturday we have a rummage sale at Laurelton from 9-5 both days. Come and drop off old things and shop for new. It's a great chance to meet our community and hopefully make a little money for the church. Sunday we'll also be welcoming the neighborhood, this time for outdoor worship and a picnic lunch. If you can bring a salad or dessert, that would be great. If you would like to bring a friend, that would be even better. At 1pm Sunday we'll be joining our neighboring congregations in blessing bicycles and helmets for the summer. It will be quite a great community weekend, and I hope you'll be part of it.

In today's reading God finishes creation with the creation of human beings. The most important thing to notice is that God makes men and women in God's image. Being made in God's image is the first foundation of our worth and equality as people. All people are created in God's image, so no one should be despised or rejected. Another piece of the story I want us to think about is that God rests on the seventh day. That's one of the foundations for the sabbath we are commanded to obey, but which we often ignore. What does it mean that God calls rest holy and tells us to do the same?

God bless,


Genesis 1:26-2:3
26Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 

29God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. 

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

creation, part 2

Good afternoon sisters and brothers,
We continue the story of God's creation. After making the earth and heavens God sets about making sun, moon and animals. Everything God creates gets the divine seal of approval: God saw that it was good. It's easy to forget in our crazy world that the creation is good as God made it. One day God will also restore all things to the goodness God intended. Until then, we have our work and our prayer cut out for us.

God bless,


Genesis 1:14-25
14And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” 21So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. 25God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

creation, part 1

Good afternoon brothers and sisters,
Today's reading is the beginning of the story of creation. We're starting a new series at Laurelton looking at some important stories in the Bible in order. It will end up being something like a whirlwind tour of the whole Bible story. Where better to start our tour than with the very beginning? So today we begin at the beginning. As we'll talk about on Sunday, there are really two stories of creation in the Bible. The first gives a very orderly account of creation day by day, while the second changes the order and focuses on human life. Enjoy as we read this familiar story.

God bless,


Genesis 1:1-13
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

9And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Good evening friends,
I hope you've enjoyed this beautiful weekend and found a moment to give thanks for the courage of our armed forces. The cost of war is staggering and we all have a duty to those who have served. Our reading today shows the depth of community shared in the early church. As God brought people to faith, God also knit them together into a new family, committed to God and to each other. It's important to remember this vision when we think about strengthening the community we share today.

God bless,


Acts 2:42-47
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Good evening sisters and brothers,
Pentecost blessings and Happy Birthday Church! Today we finish the story of Pentecost and conclude Peter's sermon. His testimony about Jesus is convincing to many of the people hearing, and the church begins to grow. A lot has changed since the first disciples, but repentance and faith in Christ continue to be the foundation of the church. Your story may be the one to bring someone to faith.

God bless,


Acts 2:32-41
32This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 36Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

not abandoned

Good evening brothers and sisters,
By the time you finish the first hymn in worship tomorrow I hope to be finishing the Ottawa Marathon. Keep Kris and Matt in your prayers also as they run the half-marathon in Buffalo. I pray blessings on your worship as you celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit.

In our reading today we focus on Peter's explanation of who Jesus is. He explains Jesus' eternal life and resurrection in terms of the Psalms. It's interesting watching the early disciples share Jesus with people in their time. They took what they experienced with him and used that to understand the Bible.

Blessings on your worship,

Acts 2:22-31
22“You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 

25For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 26therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. 27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. 28You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ 29“Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’

Friday, May 25, 2012


Good morning friends,
As we approach Memorial Day weekend, please take some time to remember the men and women in uniform who have died in service. We also remember those who have served and suffered for our sake. Regardless of how we feel about military action, these folks risk their lives to serve their country. They deserve our profound gratitude.

In our reading for today we continue the story of Pentecost. God poured out the Holy Spirit on the disciples and they began telling the good news in other languages. Some people were amazed and others thought they were drunk. Peter gets up to explain what God is doing.

Blessings as you finish your week,


Acts 2:14-21
14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spirit's arrival

Good evening friends,
You may remember that when Jesus talked with the disciples after his resurrection (in Luke's version) he told them to wait in Jerusalem for God's power to fill them. The disciples waited, and finally our story picks up with the Holy Spirit's appearance. This moment we're about to read is the start of the church's ministry, which continues with us. I'd invite you to wear red on Sunday as a symbol of the Holy Spirit as we celebrate Pentecost.

God bless,


Acts 2:1-13
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

many members, but one body

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Following up on Monday's reading about the unity we share in the Holy Spirit, Paul discusses the diversity of the church, which is the body of Christ. We all have different gifts and personalities for building up the church. Each of us is important to the church, and we all have to work together to help the church function correctly. Thinking about what gifts we have for ministry often helps us use our talents more effectively. When we all use our gifts for God's work, the church grows strong.

God bless,


1 Corinthians 12:12-31
12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be?

20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

one Spirit

Good morning friends,
This week we look ahead to Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. We all have different gifts from God's Spirit, but the Spirit is one. We know that the Spirit never leads us away from Christ. So even though the church is full of different opinions and personalities, we are all one in Christ. Because of our unity, the differences we share make us stronger, not weaker.

God bless,


1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

resurrection hope

Good evening brothers and sisters,
Thanks to everyone in worship this morning for your great participation. I was tired when I walked in this morning and left excited and energized. God is so good and I love being on this journey with you all. Today's reading completes Paul's discussion of the resurrection of the dead, the teaching we discussed this morning in worship. It's such a blessing to know that God has us safe in his arms every moment of our life and beyond the grave. Trusting in God we can take risks for justice and for our faith. Knowing God can raise the dead gives us hope that even in the worst situations God is at work, and one day God will bring us all safely home.

Blessings on the week,


1 Corinthians 15:51-58
51Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Good evening friends,
Tonight our incredibly gracious hosts at Parkway Presbyterian Church provided a wonderful supper for us. It was great to get to meet some of the folks in this vibrant, mission-focused congregation. Our last three days of work have been good and the whole process is a great reminder that almost all the important things we do are done with others and on top of the work of those who came before.

Today's reading Paul moves from talking about Christ's resurrection to talking about our resurrection. Christ was the first to rise from the dead, but we will all be raised at the right time. One day, when Christ returns, we will rise again or be changed into immortality. Death is not a barrier to God's love. We'll be spending some time with this idea on Sunday, so if it's confusing now, hopefully things will be clearer after that. I'm always happy to talk about it with you more after that.

God bless,


1 Corinthians 15:35-50
35But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.

39Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.

42So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 

46But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Monday, May 14, 2012

day one

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Our Laurelton team in New Orleans arrived safe and sound yesterday, did a little exploring and settled into our new home. Today was our first day at work with expert site supervision from Quint and Christine. We just came home after a good, hard day's work. Now it's off to the showers and dinner before we enjoy some music. Thanks for your prayers.

Today's reading continues Paul's argument that the resurrection is essential to Christian faith. His point in this section is that our faith gives us hope beyond death, which is why Christians are often willing to risk their life for their faith. When we know we're safe in God's arms even in death, we don't have to be afraid of any powers in the world. We can serve others, share faith and stand up for justice, even if the risks are great. God is with us always.

God bless,


1 Corinthians 15:26-34
26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

29Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? 31I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Adam and Christ

Good morning friends,
I'm grateful every day for the ministry of mothers, but today I'm especially mindful. I pray worship at Laurelton is joyful and meaningful today. I'm on the way to New Orleans with Maggie, Donna, Scott and Gary. Keep us in prayer as we work to help a family come home. I'm sure we'll find some time to enjoy the city as well.

Today's reading moves deeper into Paul's discussion of resurrection. He argues that if there's no resurrection, that means Christ wasn't raised. Since Christ's resurrection is the heart of our faith, without that our salvation, the world's destiny and everything else are up in the air. He also describes how Jesus is the cure for Adam's curse. Death and sin came into the world with Adam's disobedience, so it's fitting that those problems are solved with another man, Jesus', obedience. Read Paul's argument carefully and see what you think. We'll be coming back to this chapter pretty soon.

God bless,


1 Corinthians 15:12-26
12Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Christ's resurrection

Good afternoon brothers and sisters,
First, I'd like to wish a big happy birthday to my brother Will. Our reading for today begins the discussion of a key idea of our faith that we don't talk about very often: the resurrection of the dead. In this reading he's laying the foundation for that discussion, but not actually beginning it. Paul describes how the heart of the gospel he proclaims is that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. When he rose he appeared to many witnesses, including all the apostles. Years later, he appeared in a vision to Paul. Paul confesses that he is unworthy, but that through Christ's grace he has been very effective in his apostolic ministry. It can sound like Paul is bragging, and maybe he is. The important thing to take away from that is that 1, Christ rose from the dead, and 2, even if we feel unworthy or inadequate, God's power is more than enough to strengthen us for ministry. That's the power of the resurrection.

God bless,


1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. 3For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 

8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

not a spirit of cowardice

Good morning brothers and sisters,
You've probably heard me talk about the letters to Timothy before, but just in case: Timothy was one of Paul's favorite protegees. The two clearly had a close relationship and Paul mentored Timothy as a young leader of the church. Here Paul talks about our calling as Christians, which is not a calling to timid faith but to bold trust in God. Even when things are challenging, we can trust that the God we put our trust in is worthy of that trust. We are ultimately safe in God's loving arms, so we are free to follow and proclaim Christ boldly.

God bless,


2 Timothy 1:1-14
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, 2To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. 5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.

6For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. 8Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, 9who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

11For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. 13Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

final prayer

Good morning brothers and sisters,
We continue Jesus’ prayer today. There’s a lot going on in this section of Jesus’ prayer: even with a couple of times through it I still haven’t taken it all in. Some of the major ideas to look out for are the fact that following Jesus, and speaking his word separates us from the rest of the world and often exposes us to hostility. Knowing that, Jesus prays that God will protect the disciples since Jesus won’t be with them anymore. “Protection” in this case doesn’t mean making life easy or safe, but keeping the disciples from falling away from faith, so that no matter what the world does to them, they will know that ultimately they are safe in God’s hands.

The other major idea I’d like you to notice is the theme of unity. Jesus prays that his followers would be one with each other and with God. As divided as the church sometimes seems, there are signs of unity. We are one in Christ, and one day the church’s full unity will be visible to everyone.

God bless,

John 17:11-26
11And 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. 12While 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. 13But 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. 14I 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. 15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20”I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

priestly prayer

Good afternoon friends,
First, the nominating committee is meeting tonight; please keep us in prayer as we discern who God is calling to serve as elders in the coming years. Today's reading and the readings for the next couple of days are challenging. The fancy name scholars give this section of John is "the Great High Priestly prayer" because Jesus is our high priest who opens the way to God. This is a long prayer Jesus prays during the last supper with his disciples. It can be hard to follow because the language is repetitive. At the same time it is powerful because Jesus is expressing his hopes and concerns about his church to God. Take your time reading and feel free to read it more than once. For some people it may be easier to get out your Bible and read the whole prayer at once (John 17) rather than study it in pieces as we'll do in our reading together. Whatever works best for you, I hope Jesus' prayer will bless you in your discipleship.

God bless,


John 17:1-10
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

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. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for 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. 9I 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. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

pain to joy

Good evening friends,
In today's passage Jesus lets his disciples know that he is going to God and that he will return to them. His point is that there is a hard time ahead for the disciples because they will face persecution for following him. In the end, though, Jesus will be victorious over the evil powers in the world. After their hardship will come joy, and that joy will last forever. I take comfort in knowing that. Even though the end hasn't come as soon as Jesus and the disciples expected, one day God's love and justice will make everything right. There are plenty of problems now, but God's story has a happy ending.

God bless,


John 16:16-33
16”A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? 20Very 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. 21When 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. 22So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

23On 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. 24Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. 25“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. 26On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

28I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.” 29His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! 30Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” 31Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

Sunday, May 6, 2012

listening for the Spirit

Good evening friends,
Today's passage continues Jesus' discussion with his disciples at the last supper. He promises that he will send the Holy Spirit to guide them. He thinks the Spirit is so important that the disciples are better off with the Holy Spirit than with Jesus himself. Still, sometimes we forget that we have the Holy Spirit with us. As we learn to listen for the Spirit more, we will find guidance for life and joy in our faith. Try to pay attention for the Spirit's whisper. The more you cultivate a prayerful heart, the easier it will be to hear the Spirit speaking.

God bless,


John 15:26-16:15
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. 27You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

”I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. 2They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. 3And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. 4But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts.

7Nevertheless 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. 8And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11about 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. 13When 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. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Good afternoon brothers and sisters,
I want to mention a new members class beginning on Tuesday evening from 7-9pm at the church. If you're interested in learning more about Laurelton and exploring membership, it would be great to have you. We will probably meet in my office. In our reading for today Jesus warns his disciples that their road won't be an easy one. In many ways the world we live in is opposed to God. Jesus stood for love and welcome; for that he was persecuted and killed. He warns the disciples that the same fate will often await them. Fortunately, in the end we can trust that love will overcome hatred. In the end all will be well. Even now we are not alone. Christ is with us through the Holy Spirit as we bear witness to his love in this challenging world.

God bless,


John 15:18-25
18”If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’

Friday, May 4, 2012

abiding in Christ

Good morning friends,
I'm back in Rochester after a great week with colleagues reflecting on life and ministry. Thanks for the prayers and good wishes; it's good to be back. Today's reading continues Jesus' discussion with the disciples at the last supper. He talks about how important it is for us to stay with him (abide in him). We are like branches of a vine and Christ is the root of the vine. Without him, we wither and dry up, but with Christ we can do anything. That promise for the first disciples is still ours today.

God bless,


John 14:25 -15:17
25”I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

promised Spirit

Good evening friends,
It's been a blessing to be at Stony Point for the synod's Early Ministry Institute. Yesterday I had the treat of a day in NYC and a chance to see Godspell on Broadway, which was an awesome presentation of Jesus' story. Today's passage takes us back in the story to Jesus and his disciples at the last supper. Jesus promises that even though he is going to die and then return to heaven, he is not going to leave them alone. Instead, he will send the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen them. We often forget it, but the Holy Spirit is in each of us. If we allow it, the Spirit will strengthen us for ministry and love. We are strong in the Spirit's power.

God bless,


John 14:12-21
12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

15”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”