Monday, April 6, 2020

Sermon #2 during the Coved Crisis April 05, 2020 Palm Sunday


Sermon #2 during the Coved Crisis April 05, 2020 Palm Sunday
On this Palm Sunday, we continue with our Lenten sermon series on Spiritual Disciplines (all are posted on our N-CV Blog site with links to our facebook page as well ) The main resources used for this series have been the Reformed Worship Resources for Planning & Leading Worship Dec 18 edition and BB Taylor’s book An Alter in the World - A Geography of Faith   Today we focus on the Practice of Waking Up To God – Vision (Chapter 1).
Let us Pray: God of all wisdom and knowledge, in the reading and hearing of your Word, help us know you more clearly so that we may love you more dearly. In loving you more dearly, help us follow you more nearly, day by day.  Speak to us now your message on this holy Palm Sunday, a day we had planned to come to your holy table in the sacrament of Holy Communion, but we come to you in other ways this morning, our hearts open to your presence our lives in need of your grace, speak to us now and may these thoughts and words speak your truth in love. In Jesus name we pray.
The people who shouted “Hosanna” at the gate of Jerusalem had very clear – and very wrong- ideas about who Jesus was and what he had come to accomplish. They wanted a Messiah who would put their Roman oppressors to flight; instead, Jesus was tortured by the Romans, offering the enemy forgiveness as He died on a cross.
Taylor says she grew up believing that people met God in church, not realizing that the whole world is the house of God. “The problem is, many of the people in need of saving are in the churches, and at least part of what they need saving from is the idea that God sees the world the same way they do.
We look for God in the predictable places in our predictable ways with our old self-serving expectations. To be truly saved, however, is to seek God beyond our confining expectations and to practice being  awake to God’s presence and power in surprising, even in ways contrary to our expectations ways.
Taylor describes an encounter with God in Hawaii as she walked on the lava rock, water splashing around her & at times over her, splashing against the rock, and after the crashing of the waves there was suddenly a sanctuary a still pool of water and it hit her with the sound of sheer silence. The calm water so green and cool calmed her too. When she walked around this still pool, with only the occasional ripple from the breeze off the ocean, she came to 3 upright stones near the edge where the water was deepest. The rocks were shaped like baguettes, the colour of humpback whales. This display of rocks, this alter, marked the spot of something significant that had happened there and it had affected a person in such a way that they marked it. When this happened to Jacob, with his encounter with God, in the rocky wilderness, where he saw something that changed his life forever, he named it Bethel.
Jacob was still a young man when he left running away from home, his family had become unraveled, his dad was dying, his twin elder brother Esau, who was entitled to their father’s blessing was cheated out of it because their mother and Jacob colluded together for Jacob to receive it instead. This enraged Esau so much that Jacob left with literally the cloths on his back fearing for his life. When he ran and walked as far as he could, he looked around for a stone to use for his pillow. When he laid down to sleep his head on the rock, the warmth of the sun was still in the stone.
As he lay sleeping this dream came to him, it was so vivid. A ladder was set up on the earth, with the top of the ladder reaching heaven where the angels of God were ascending and descending. Then suddenly God was there beside Jacob, there was no trumpet fanfare or warning, and God told Jacob of his offspring in the land and said to him, “I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Jacob awoke still feeling God’s breath stirring in the morning air, shaken by what he had just experienced, Jacob got up and…..16  he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel though the city used to be called Luz.
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22
When those words came out of Jacob’s mouth, there was no temple in Jerusalem. Without one designated place to make their offerings, people were free to see the whole world as an altar. God’s presence could erupt anywhere, and when it did they marked the spot in any way they could, but people didn’t hang around for long, because God was always on the move.
For a long time God’s divine presence was content with a tent, a tent of meeting where God meant with people both inside and outside. But the tent was the face to face place, the place where the presence of God was so intense that Moses was the only one to stand it and when he left the tent he wore a veil over his face so as to not scare the young people.
 King David proposed giving God a dwelling place a permanent address, but God discouraged it, for God had been moving in a tent and a tabernacle. So David didn’t build a dwelling for God, but the next generation Solomon his son did, Mount Zion was the address in Jerusalem.  Still today, two ruined temples later, people from across the world travel to Mount Zion to leave their prayers in the foundation stones of God’s old address.
As important as it is to mark the places where we meet God, what happens when we build a house for God? A house on the corner, where people gather to say worship offer their prayers and praise God, because doing this together rather than alone reminds them of who they are, it offers a sense of belonging, community, shared values. They are special places, but it isn’t the only God resides.
Do we build God a house that we can choose when to go see God? Do we build a house so God doesn’t have to stay at our personal address? What do the four walls of God’s house do and say to the rest of the world? Are we trying to detain God? What about places such as the likes of the waterfalls, the mountains, the prairies, the trees, the desserts? What happens to the people who never show up in our houses of worship, can they still worship? What about all the other creatures that God has made, how do they offer their praises to their Creator? As it states in Isaiah 55:12  “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
Francis of Assisi could not have told you the difference between the sacred and secular because he read the world as reverently as the Bible. For him a single bird was as much a messenger of God as a cloud full of angels. He made no discretion, there was no line between the church and the world & for this reason among many others, Francis is remembered as a saint.
Francis also built a church following a vision that was probably as vivid as Jacob’s ladder was to him. But the vision Francis had was to rebuild the church. Unsure what church God meant to rebuild, Francis chose a ruined one near where he lived. He recruited all kinds of people to help build and of course many people came just to watch and before long and before they realized it they were mixing cement. Even those unable to lift a single brick on their own meant and worked with others combining their efforts to work together, otherwise had they been individually stronger, they may never have meant. Through time building the church became more important than finishing it. Building it gave people who were formerly invisible, purpose and meaning and even friendship & worth. When the church that Francis had rebuilt was done, it did not stand as a shelter from the world; it stood as a reminder that the whole world was God’s House, God’s residence, God’s creation.
It is easy to forget that.// We often like to compartmentalize and envision our church, this particular place as God’s one and only holy place. But in fact the house of God stretches from one corner of the universe to the other. Sea creatures and ostriches, camels and butterflies live in it, right next to and along with people who pray and worship in languages and ways we do not speak or understand.
We are not in charge of this House of God, and we are not the judge of it, we were nowhere, when Almighty God laid the foundations of it, the earth, we are guests here, charged with serving other guests – even those we might call enemies. There is only one house and human beings must learn to live together in this dwelling place or time may run out on us all.
We need to use to wisdom to get along with others, it is a gift from God that is strengthened by practicing and discerning what is right and noticing what happens when it succeeds and when it doesn’t.
It is trusting that the practice of wisdom itself will teach you and me and guide us in what we need to know. Wisdom must be used or it loses its strength.  
As human beings we tend to separate things into many piles - separating spirit from flesh, sacred from secular, church from world, but we shouldn’t be surprised when God doesn’t recognize our distinctions.
Jacob in the wilderness, awoke to the presence of God even whom showed him a vision of heaven and of God’s presence even in the wilderness of the world. Maybe then Jacob began than to realize what David had written about in Psalm139 that reads  Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
As Jesus rides into Jerusalem, people waved palms in praise to Him, they had seen Him raise Lazarus to life and they had their own expectations of who Jesus was and what HE could do for them. They based their praise on what they had seen and heard and their own self-serving expectations of who they wanted Him to be. There were many people, many powers that be, many who wanted  Jesus killed, there were His disciples who followed, confused about much, but faithful, there were beggars who sought food and miracles, there were children excited by the anticipation of the crowd and the celebration of a parade.
Jesus rode on, clip, clop, clip, clop he rode on knowing the cross was on the horizon, Jesus rode on for each and everyone. He didn’t compartmentalize, He didn’t show favoritism or mark any place as the holiest of holies, He rode on, clip, clop, clip, clop for each and every one, and for you and me too.
 The Son of God rode on. He rode on in majesty, rode on to die, many would not wake up to who Jesus was until after His resurrection. Many today do not know who He is yet, but He rode on for you and me, He rode on, rode on to die and rise again, defeating the gap between God and human kind. The witness of the suffering love and amazing grace of God in Christ Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
"Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"

Main source of content from Barbara Brown-Taylor An Alter in the World, A Geography of Faith
Reformed Worship Dec 18 Issue, Article entitled Everyday Jesus Spirituality – Customized Spiritual Disciplines submitted from Peter Schuurman who is director of Global Scholars Canada.
Bible refs NRSV & NIV








Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sermon for March 29, 2020 - On Line Service


Sermon for March 29, 2020  - On Line Service
Well here we are together in a new way today, but being together is so good, I see your faces in my mind and in my heart and every one of you this morning is sitting in their own front seat (pew) and some of you enjoying your coffee too.
Through Lent we have been focusing on Customized Spiritual Disciplines and the general content is drawn from B-B Taylor’s book An Alter in the World – A Geography of Faith & from The Reformed Worship Resource date Dec 2018. Lent #1 We began with the spiritual discipline of getting lost, stepping off our tread mill routines and taking a different way home, Lent #2 we talked about the Spiritual Discipline of Being Grounded – this emphasized being connected to our surroundings, standing on a firm footing. When our worries and fears overwhelm us and distractions come, focus on God’s presence in the here and now. On a day when Jesus was being pulled in many direction with many serious matters, He focused on each one, grounded in God’s presence, not letting Himself to be overwhelmed but present at each need. Jesus was present at the need before Him, so often our thoughts wonder to the past, or the future, but neglect the reality of right now, being in and of the present. One illustration shared was walking a Labyrinth that has no real route or destination and the experience becomes the journey itself.  Right now that illustration may feel more the reality with no end in sight, but what is this isolation experience teaching you in this present time; about yourself, about those around you? Do you find you are not rushing the same as you were? Do you find yourself valuing your relationships more now? Isn’t it also humbling, that with all the advancements and striving that has been done, this virus has control of the world right now, and we have to stay out of it’s way. 
Two Sunday’s ago we discussed the discipline of physical labour and how our culture tends to look down on labourers. But in Taylor’s book, where she spoke about the time the electricity went off and the labour involved to feed the animals and heat and cook. She reminds us that we are earthlings. That we are a combination of dust and divine breath and there is a great delight in the work we do when we do it prayerfully as a service to others and to God.  
All these sermons and today’s and those that follow will be on the Newburgh Church Blog in word format if you wish to read them in their entirety by noon today.
Well this week we look at the Spiritual Discipline of Saying “No”. It is an interesting topic at this time in our lives as we are being told NO about so much.
The spiritual discipline of saying no, says Taylor, often means NO saying to more. For some it is the very structure of the Lenten Season – saying no in order to open space for God. In fact every NO is a YES to something else and every YES is a NO to something else. For ex. a NO to more activity can be a YES to prayer.
Saying no is harder than saying yes. Saying no is indeed the most difficult of the spiritual disciplines, says Taylor. This brings us to the 4th Commandment. Once revered in Reformed Circles, this Commandment is now so easily dismissed, Keep the Sabbath day Holy. The English word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word shavat, meaning to cease and desist. ”  Some years ago keeping the Sabbath day holy day was supported by national laws that saw many business and organizations closed, but cultural pressures today say run and not be weary, there is no time to rest. So now 24/7 is the norm, which now leaves people running 7 days a week leaving people exhausted and deprived.
Respecting the Sabbath means saying no to business and purposely creating regular times of rest, leisure, reflection that honour God’s abundance and grace. These Sabbath times offer spiritual and physical and emotional strengthening and help equip us for the rest of the week and for the unexpected that comes along.
 The Lord of the Sabbath said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give your rest.” Matthew 11:28-30 or as The Message reads “Come to me... and learn the unforced rhythms of grace” instead of  the  just go, go go, till you drop rhythm, of life today”
Taylor writes that YES is one of those words capable of changing a life through the utterance of a single syllable. “Yes, I want the job. Yes, I will marry you, Yes, it is my desire to be baptized, Yes, I will join, Yes, I will attend. These are pleasure statements, as you are saying yes knowing that someone wants you – wants to be with you, wants you to do something well. Saying yes is how we enter into a relationship, how you more forward and who you share life with.
Having joined face book this week, you are bombarded with “new friends” who not even by their own will, but electronic will encouraging you to say yes! There are many opportunities to say yes electronically as we work on our computers inviting us to say yes and click on bizarre stories, or say yes to placing an order.
At this time in all our lives saying no to social invitation in person is the absolute right thing to do.  But, 3weeks ago if we were to say “No, I want to stay home tonight, or No, I have enough work right now, or No, I have all the possessions I need, it would not be near as easy to say.”  But now we are seeing things quite differently.
Taylor writes that in China, the polite answer to “How Are You “ is  to respond by saying “I am very busy, thank you.”
Isn’t that true for many of us, that we jsut assume that if: we are busy, we must be fine.  If we have more to do than we can do, and the list never gets completed, but only added to, then you must be fine, that successful people are busy people. That effective people are busy people. Religious people are busy people. For millions of people, busyness is the way of life, that is life; that is the standard. As we are running we look at people that are just walking and think, must be nice. Why is that? What are we running too? How will the running end?
Theologian Karl Barth wrote “A being is free only when it can determine and limit its activity.” How many free beings do you know? You may know people who can juggle doing 3-4 things at once, but cannot do nothing. How about people who are able to decide what to do without being able to do less of it? So for example, as I interpret Taylor saying, you make a list of your activities for the day, other things come along that take your time, your attention, you do them, but you still have to complete what you set our initially to do. So you do more rather then ever do less, even though it might be strenuous, not letting go or cutting back on anything. Does doing more help you feel holy? Would limiting your activity help you feel holy?
Taylor writes that limiting her activity does not make her feel holy, doing more, for her feels holy, which is why she stays intrigued by the 4th Commandment.
Taylor describes the first Sabbath after her retirement of 20 years as a clergy. She couldn’t return to her church, she didn’t want to go to another one, she couldn’t go grocery shopping in he small town, somebody might see her, so after about a hour or struggling with her professional identity, her human worth and her status before God she sat on her porch, said her prayers with the birds, read, napped, & be the time the sun went down on that Sabbath day, she realized that she and truly had observed her first Sabbath in over 20 years. In the years following that day, Taylor has said NO, one day a week, to internet, commerce, work, car, the voice in her head telling her MORE! She writes one day a week, MORE GOD is the only thing on my list.
In the book of Exodus, we find that the Jews observed the Sabbath which was (& continues to be) Friday evening to Saturday evening before Moses brought the Commandment tablets down from Mount Sinai. The first holy thing is all creation, Abraham Heschel says, was not a people or a place, but a day. God made everything in creation and called it good, but when God rested on the 7th day, God called it HOLY. That makes the 7th day a “palace in time” Heschel says, which human beings are invited every single week of our lives.
Why are we so reluctant to go?
Well for some and I can testify to some of this myself, and the way we people were raised. The Commandment should read,  Remember the Sabbath Day & keep it boring.  For some there was more you couldn’t do like ride your bike, or playball, or wear jeans or see a movie, but only go to church once in the morning and again at night & sit around visiting with old people in the afternoon.
 Sabbath was engrained as the day that you could not, because the Bible said so!
Over the last 3-4 decades merchants no longer stay closed so the church remain open.  Now people of faith are free to keep the Sabbath if they want to, but not because there is nothing else to do. Using  Karl Barth’s language people welcomed the freedom to determine their activities and they et out making full use of their freedom to work, shop, play, eat out,  haul freight as they desired. When businesses are open people have to work, and if parents are working the kids may as well play their sports, which only makes it harder still to find time to share a meal together, even once a week.
By the 1990s the average worker was putting in an extra 164 hours of paid labour a year, or equal to an extra month’s work. Two income families also were really taking off around this time, thus showing a steep decline in the unpaid activities on which many societies depend; caring for seniors, & young children, volunteer & community work, church work.  Hallmark came out with a new line of cards for absent parents “sorry I can’t be here to tuck you in” one said “Sorry, I can’t say good morning”.
Today, there is no talking about the loss of the Sabbath, without talking about the rise of consumerism. You cannot talk about Sabbath rest today, without talking about Sabbath resistance.
During the Friday night Jewish Shabbat service  two candles are lit,  when 3 stars can be counted in the night sky.
The first candle represents creation when God created the 7th day, he did not call it good, or very good, instead God blessed the 7th day and called it holy, making the Sabbath the first sacred thing in all creation. Resting every 7th day, God’s people remember their divine creation. The candle announces: made in God’s image, you too shall rest.
The 2nd Candle, stands for the second formulation of the Sabbath Commandment where we shift from creation to the exodus from Egypt, which ends with “remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God freed you from there with a mighty hand, an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath Day. The 2nd candle announces: made in God’s image, you too are free. 
The Sabbath in Leviticus 25 speaks also of the tired fields, tired vines& vineyard, tired land, tired workers who rest like the Sabbath in the 7th year.
In the eyes of the world today, there is no payoff for sitting on the porch. If you want to succeed in this life, whatever field you are in, you must spray, plough, fertilize, plant, never turn your back, & each year’s harvest bigger than the last, that is what it is all about right?
 In the eyes of the true God, Father of Jesus Christ our Lord, the porch is imperative on a regular basis, letting things go, is called practicing the Sabbath. Matthew 6:26 reads “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Sabbath is the true God’s gift to those who wish to rest and to be free – and to guard those same gifts for every living thing around us.
Test the premise that you are worth more than what you can produce – that even if you spent one day being good for nothing, you are still precious in God’s sight. Your worth has already been established, even when you are not working. The commandment is to persuade you to the same truth.
 When you live in God, your day begins when you open your eyes and let God hold you and when you consent to rest to show that you get the point since that is not something we would do if you or I were in charge. Look forward to meeting you on the porch enjoying the Sabbath with you.
Main source of content from Barbara Brown-Taylor An Alter in the World, A Geography of Faith
Reformed Worship Dec 18 Issue, Article entitled Everyday Jesus Spirituality – Customized Spiritual Disciplines submitted from Peter Schuurman who is director of Global Scholars Canada.
Bible refs NRSV & NIV






Sermon for March 15, 20 Lent 03


Sermon for March 15, 20 Lent 03

Jesus was a carpenter and some of His disciples were fishermen. In those days there were no cars, and other mechanized machinery, dishwashers, escalators, life was lived close to the earth, and certainly so the ministry of teaching and healing and feeding could be very exhausting.  Lent is often a time to make life harder & thereby turn our attention to God and His grace.
We could blame hard work as simply the cure after the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, but where would we be without hard work?
We have heard the stories of our ancestors and even our parents and how life was much different for them then it was for us?  So much was more labour intensive, slower to accomplish and simpler ways of life because of it. Through the development of machinery and technology to assist us with our work and cut back some on the intensity of the physical labour, we have become more efficient at our tasks and now try to manage more and more, never really celebrating the completion of a task before rushing on to the next one, deadlines to meet. I believe most of us grew up receiving the lesson from our elders and or witnessed to us about the meaning and importance of hard work and not being afraid of it.
There is nothing better than to work hard at something and as the days closes in and your body tired and aching your dirty and hungry, but knowing your work has not been in vain, it feels good. It feels really good to get into something and see the fruits of your labour and feel the effort of your work in your aching bones.
B.B. Taylor makes a point that sadly has become a modern day opinion. That we now live in “a culture” that regards physical labour as the lowest kind of work” with people who do menial tasks for a living… at the bottom of the economic ladder.” Truth be told, some work, because of its oppressive conditions, mindless repetition, or meaningless waste, can smell of the curse.”  I want to counter that with saying today, so many people looking for work, that menial task, doesn’ t look so bad.
If we go back to the beginning of creation in Genesis we are reminded us that we are a combination of dust and divine breath. The name Adam means “earthling” & we are a combination of dust & divine breath. Humility (Humus) is our very being, & our divine commission is first to till the earth & keep it. 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Gen 2:15 That commission was established before the fall. Good meaningful work can be a wonderful gift. When we turn to Ecclesiastes, after despairing about the futility of work, the preacher praises the contentment of work as one of life’s pleasures.
Taylor in her chapter on The Discipline of Physical Labor spoke about the time the hydro went out on their which was on a dead end road, 2 miles in, following a large snow storm which turned into an ice storm. After Taylor and her husband walked two miles and passed numerous large trees down over the road, they knew it would be days before their power would be restored.”Whatever else we did for a living, we just had to become common labourers.”  They divided up the chores to be done & set to work. Taylor spoke of hauling water for the animals, chopping ice every few hours, to allow the animals to drink, preparing the house for very cold nights and preparing the lights for when darkness descended. Sleeping in sleeping bags close to the fire as they could. By the end of the first morning the houseplants near the windows were frozen, the temperature inside the refrigerator was warmer then the house. As the first day evolved, Taylor began to rehearse the various cycles of physical needs that had to be attended too. She knew the dogs needed warm water, the horses their blankets, necessity bound them together.
By the second day, the coldness and the further struggle caused by the setting sun, caused such dread. Taylor wore a headlamp everywhere she went. She began to recognize her sweaters by feel instead of sight, & thought of the things she couldn’t do such a take a bath, watch a movie, work on the computer, do laundry, and she banged into things a lot in the near darkness of her moving about. Not only had power been lost, but she was losing her power, she was done.
On day three she decided that a power outage would make a great spiritual practice. She wrote “Never mind giving up meat or booze for Lent. A taste of real self-denial, just turn off the power for a while and see if phrases such as “the power of God” and “the light of Christ” sound any different to you. Better yet, ask someone to flip a switch for you and then cut the wire for good measure, thereby depriving you of the power to flip it back on again.”
On the afternoon of day four when the power returned, tears sprang to Taylor’s eyes and she thought that there should be a service in the prayer book for such occasions as the one she was experiencing.
Following the ice storm experience Taylor was more in tune with the grace of physical labour. Bending and rising to hang laundry on the line, the kneeling to scrub the pollen off the steps, hauling bales to the loft, raking the chicken pens, gathering the eggs, this work gives you life, she goes on to say. I choose labour of course, which sets me apart from those who have no choice. With them, I live in a culture that regards physical labour as the lowest kind of work.   
Taylor mentions gardening as something that seems acceptable, washing your car and working out at the gym, but beyond that the general idea is to make enough money so you can pay others to change your sheets, clean your toilets, mow your lawn, and raise you food.
It is true, sometimes we hire people to do tasks for us because we can, or because we simply cannot physically do it anymore, but when you think about it, there is grace and satisfaction in being able to do many of the necessary, labour involved jobs for ourselves too. Labour is productive & works the body and sometimes it is a refreshing change from mind work)
Even our labored work often involves labour saving devices such as leaf blowers, dish-washers, weed eaters, washing machines & dryers riding lawn mowers, larger and faster equipment and robots, and smaller machinery for smaller spaces and other tools for easier reach and so on and so on.
I think it is safe to say, we all know people who work hard to avoid working, The sign in the store window read: NO HELP WANTED. As two men passed by, one said to the other, "You should apply--you'd be great."                                                                
    Principles regarding work, Decision-making and the Will of God, p. 336.  and others who never seem to cease working,
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once told of an incident that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but had a profound influence on the rest of his life. The winter he was 9, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow's flight, and then young Frank's tracks meandering all over the field.
"Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again," his uncle said. "And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that."
Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy in life.  "I determined right then," he'd say with a twinkle in his eye, "not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had." Focus on the Family letter, September 1992, Page 14. (took the time to wander and see what was going on, all focused always on the goal)
Somewhere in between we need to find a balance between work and play we need both, as they feed each other. 
Taking a break after working hard to feed our bodies and souls inspires us to be ready to work again, refreshed.
St. Benedict’s monastic practice can be summarized as ora et labora, prayer and work, contemplation and action.  By “work” Benedict meant physical labor: By engaging and tending the physical world we get in touch with our humus, our humanity, as well as creation, which is the real, God-beloved reality around us. We should not look down on manual labour as beneath human dignity, for in fact it can be a spiritual practice. Housework, too. “Cleaning refrigerators and toilets helps you connect the food cycle at both ends, “writes Taylor. “If all of life is holy, then anything that sustains life has holy dimensions too. 
Indira Gandhi My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there.
Indira Gandhi, Bits and Pieces, April 1990, p. 11.
Keeping the earth is hard work, you get dirty and tired doing it. But it also where you remember where you come from and why.  You touch the stuff your bones are made of “, says Taylor.
Close with the words of Taylor as she concludes her chapter on the Practicee of Carrying Water. Life offers no shortage of opportunities to engage physical labour. Sometimes it comes attached to a time in your life when there is no choice but to work hard to fulfill a need, maybe care for a loved one, help a friend, other times physical labour presents itself to us as drudgery, which you may turn into soul work by choosing the labour instead of resenting it. However the openings come to you, they offer you the chance to bear the reality of the universe in your flesh like a thorn. The difficulty, Simone Weil says, is to look upon them with love. Succeed at that, and you can be sure that what you love is Real, leading you deeper into the More that is your heart’s desire.
The words of Jesus speaking of Christian Confidence 1 Cor 15: 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.1 Cor.15:58

Main source of content from Barbara Brown-Taylor An Alter in the World, A Geography of Faith
Reformed Worship Dec 18 Issue, Article entitled Everyday Jesus Spirituality – Customized Spiritual Disciplines submitted from Peter Schuurman who is director of Global Scholars Canada.
Bible refs NRSV & NIV








Sermon for March 08, 2020 Lent #2

Sermon for March 08, 2020 Lent #2

What does it mean to be grounded? Last week we heard about the spiritual disciple of getting lost. By nature we are routine we have our  familiar behaviour patterns, want to get what we are after we want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. If we veer from the norm we find ourselves in a position of less control and familiarity, and that leads to vulnerability making us uncomfortable. But choosing to adjust our usual patterns can awaken  from our unconscious state of routines. We can lose ourselves, & discover something new or different.

Whatever the spiritual discipline we are talking about throughout Lent, the objective the goal is to grow toward Christ, to enable us to walk more closely in His presence, His ways, drawing us from where we are right now.

The Spiritual discipline of being grounded means being in touch with and connected to our surroundings and standing on firm footing. 
We don’t always feel like w e are standing on a firm footing, things happen that causes the ground to crumble beneath our feet.
This past week, for a long moment I found myself alone with 20 plus 4 & 5 year olds, assisting them to dress for the outdoors. There was lost mits, zippers that couldn’t be done up, there were tears and squabbles and pressure to get out before it was time to return in & each one needed by full attention for those few seconds to attend to their needs and send them on their way. While this was happening I was thinking of this passage and the need to be grounded in the presence of a whirlwind  and it helped.
You know what it is like being pulled in many directions, trying to juggle any number of balls in the air. Could be kids, customers, patients, livestock, list of things that just has to be done or any number of things requesting your focus
You know what it is like to be pulled in many directions, trying to juggle any number of balls in the air all at once.
Similarly, in the gospel today Jesus is having a day like we can identify with. He is being pulled and dragged in many directions with a number of things happening all different, all really critical, all requiring His full focus and attention.
The crowd surrounds Jesus as he climbs from the boat, this just after Jesus has rescued Legion the demon possessed man & sent his demons into the pigs that ran off the  land into the sea, leaving the farmers upset at him & Legion saved from himself. Crossing the sea & just as Jesus steps on land again Jairus is kneeling at His feet pleading with Him to rescue his very ill daughter from death.
The crowd grows bigger and draws closer as Jesus begins to moving toward Jairus’s home when suddenly He is taken back. His body feels weakened, like someone had turned off His power source, He turns and asks who touched me. The woman who had touched His robe, trembling fell down in front of Him now, like only a moment ago Jairus had done, she shares with Jesus her whole life story; the truth of her health and her haemorrhaging. Jesus reassures her that her health will be restored.  All these needs take time and understanding, Jesus does not become troubled or impatient. His feet continuing to walk in the direction of Jarius daughter, His mind His attention focused on the needs of the people around Him as He goes.
Practicing being grounded means when worry creeps up on us or distractions call to us, we focus on God’s presence in the here and now. So often we are focused on where we have to be when and concentrating on when to go.  Many times too we think about the past and what happened remembering and recalling and distracted from the present, the place in which we are in the moment. How often do we really live in the moment? How often are we having a conversation with someone, but our thoughts are somewhere else? They are not grounded or rooted in the present.
When we put our feet to walking, we rarely think about our feet or where they are, only where we are going, how soon before arriving to our destination. We get in our cars, it is not the journey to get there that we remember much about, it is getting there, that we focus on.
Taylor in her book speaks of labyrinths. The labyrnith is an ancient spiritual practice that has had a revival. It is a circular path that does  not go anywhere but the emphasis of walking the path is the journey. There are no walls or division on the path, one entrance and you can walk right to the centre if you want to,  or you can walk the labyrinth for a hour and end up where you started. Your concentration becomes not your destination but the travel, the journey you experience. Taylor soon realized for her experience the first time she walked a labyrinth, after years of delaying the experience, that once she had skipped to the centre and looked around and discovered the view was much the same as elsewhere she began to notice a whole lot more when she wasn’t focused on getting somewhere. It is an experience that takes you, you don’t have to know where you are going in order to start out, and the doing teaches you and possibly you discover realities that we each need when we set out on a walk with no destination or time commitment in mind. (I think I might be more tempted to try one now myself.)
A labyrinth is a very different experience to a tread mill that gets our heart rate going pitter patter and over time we can predict certain results, but not really what we would call a spiritual experience. Sometimes, we just need to cease working the mind, from asking the questions and let ourselves our bodies just experience, speak to us.
If you or I are doing something for the first time, we have a lot of questions, that we want answered before we begin,  Sermon for March 08, 2020 Lent #2

What does it mean to be grounded? Last week we heard about the spiritual disciple of getting lost. By nature we are routine we have our  familiar behaviour patterns, want to get what we are after we want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. If we veer from the norm we find ourselves in a position of less control and familiarity, and that leads to vulnerability making us uncomfortable. But choosing to adjust our usual patterns can awaken  from our unconscious state of routines. We can lose ourselves, & discover something new or different.

Whatever the spiritual discipline we are talking about throughout Lent, the objective the goal is to grow toward Christ, to enable us to walk more closely in His presence, His ways, drawing us from where we are right now.

The Spiritual discipline of being grounded means being in touch with and connected to our surroundings and standing on firm footing. 
We don’t always feel like w e are standing on a firm footing, things happen that causes the ground to crumble beneath our feet.
This past week, for a long moment I found myself alone with 20 plus 4 & 5 year olds, assisting them to dress for the outdoors. There was lost mits, zippers that couldn’t be done up, there were tears and squabbles and pressure to get out before it was time to return in & each one needed by full attention for those few seconds to attend to their needs and send them on their way. While this was happening I was thinking of this passage and the need to be grounded in the presence of a whirlwind  and it helped.
You know what it is like being pulled in many directions, trying to juggle any number of balls in the air. Could be kids, customers, patients, livestock, list of things that just has to be done or any number of things requesting your focus
You know what it is like to be pulled in many directions, trying to juggle any number of balls in the air all at once.
Similarly, in the gospel today Jesus is having a day like we can identify with. He is being pulled and dragged in many directions with a number of things happening all different, all really critical, all requiring His full focus and attention.
The crowd surrounds Jesus as he climbs from the boat, this just after Jesus has rescued Legion the demon possessed man & sent his demons into the pigs that ran off the  land into the sea, leaving the farmers upset at him & Legion saved from himself. Crossing the sea & just as Jesus steps on land again Jairus is kneeling at His feet pleading with Him to rescue his very ill daughter from death.
The crowd grows bigger and draws closer as Jesus begins to moving toward Jairus’s home when suddenly He is taken back. His body feels weakened, like someone had turned off His power source, He turns and asks who touched me. The woman who had touched His robe, trembling fell down in front of Him now, like only a moment ago Jairus had done, she shares with Jesus her whole life story; the truth of her health and her haemorrhaging. Jesus reassures her that her health will be restored.  All these needs take time and understanding, Jesus does not become troubled or impatient. His feet continuing to walk in the direction of Jarius daughter, His mind His attention focused on the needs of the people around Him as He goes.
Practising being grounded means when worry creeps up on us or distractions call to us, we focus on God’s presence in the here and now. So often we are focused on where we have to be when and concentrating on when to go.  Many times too we think about the past and what happened remembering and recalling and distracted from the present, the place in which we are in the moment. How often do we really live in the moment? How often are we having a conversation with someone, but our thoughts are somewhere else? They are not grounded or rooted in the present.
When we put our feet to walking, we rarely think about our feet or where they are, only where we are going, how soon before arriving to our destination. We get in our cars, it is not the journey to get there that we remember much about, it is getting there, that we focus on.
Taylor in her book speaks of labyrinths. The labyrnith is an ancient spiritual practice that has had a revival. It is a circular path that does  not go anywhere but the emphasis of walking the path is the journey. There are no walls or division on the path, one entrance and you can walk right to the centre if you want to,  or you can walk the labyrinth for a hour and end up where you started. Your concentration becomes not your destination but the travel, the journey you experience. Taylor soon realized for her experience the first time she walked a labyrinth, after years of delaying the experience, that once she had skipped to the centre and looked around and discovered the view was much the same as elsewhere she began to notice a whole lot more when she wasn’t focused on getting somewhere. It is an experience that takes you, you don’t have to know where you are going in order to start out, and the doing teaches you and possibly you discover realities that we each need when we set out on a walk with no destination or time commitment in mind. (I think I might be more tempted to try one now myself.)
A labyrinth is a very different experience to a tread mill that gets our heart rate going pitter patter and over time we can predict certain results, but not really what we would call a spiritual experience. Sometimes, we just need to cease working the mind, from asking the questions and let ourselves our bodies just experience, speak to us.
If you or I are doing something for the first time, we have a lot of questions, that we want answered before we begin, 
instead of letting the experience teach our bodies while our minds takes a rest.
While a group of people were walking the labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral in France, an older couple came along and stood and watched at the entrance to labyrinth for about 20 minutes. They then walked to the centre of the labyrinth where they bowed in prayer. Then the woman took off her shoes gave them to her husband along with her purse and began walking the labyrinth, while he watched her. He cried just watching her. When they had subdued themselves, someone approached them.
They had come to celebrate the end of the woman’s breast cancer treatment. Never had they heard of a labyrinth before, when they came to the cathedral that day. But there it was. The woman spoke of being drawn to it and they decided to enter in, her husband decided he would hold down the centre giving thanks for her life while she found her way along the path.
The woman explained that as she walked she began to feel a sense of peace in her body again. For so long she had been very angry with it for letting her down. While walking she found herself remembering all the people who had walked with her through the surgery and the treatment and she understood why they had come to the cathedral that day.
She found herself again that day, God had guided them to the Cathedral where she was able to find her way grounded again in who she was, where she was, and who to thank. So often we need to learn where we actually are for Jesus sake.
Jesus knelt a the beside of Jairus’s daughter, after being present with others along the way. As He enters he is told it is too late that his daughter has died, Jesus reassures them she is but asleep. They laugh at His remarks. Jesus very present with the girl, the Spirit of God with Him, He takes her by the hand and says :little girl get up. She does.
In that moment so much change for Jarisus ‘s family, moments before the woman’s health was restored, in a moment Legion was released from the demons that had possessed him for years.
The Lord our God is present here in this moment, let us not neglect to share it with Him.

Main source of content from Barbara Brown-Taylor An Alter in the World, A Geography of Faith
Reformed Worship Dec 18 Issue, Article entitled Everyday Jesus Spirituality – Customized Spiritual Disciplines submitted from Peter Schuurman who is director of Global Scholars Canada.
Bible refs NRSV & NIV



Sermon for March 01, 2020


Sermon for March 01, 2020

We are doing a number of things this year during Lent.  Including or nails and the climate change discussion group and also a sermon series on spiritual disciplines.
Christian Spirituality is about attending to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and responding to those movements to draw more into Christ’s likeness. When you think about Spiritual Disciplines what comes to mind are likely things like prayer, fasting, worship, stewardship, solitude, silence, worship. But is Christian Spirituality just about these “sacred activities? OR does/could Christian Spirituality’ include also “what we do? Colossians 3: 23 reads “ Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.”                                R.C. Sproul  an American theologian was quoted saying in essence the same thing: “ in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.” This scripture and the quote from Sproul opens up other thoughts & options of Spiritual discipline.
During Lent some will personalize the experience  by denying themselves a pleasure by giving something up like coffee or chocolate, screen time, our chips, peanuts, so together this Lent we are going to add something to our daily ritual instead of taking something away.
Spiritual disciplines are more than doing the right things, but working toward the desired goal & the key desire for Christians is to become more like Jesus. To walk more fully in His teachings, His ways, His presence and grace.
 We hear about the Pharisees in scripture. They were religious people, they read their Bibles and prayed every day, but it drove them deeper into pride and narrow mindedness separated them more from others. Remember the one Pharisee who stood at the temple entrance and prayed these words out enough to be heard: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. Luke 18:11 His spiritual discipline was there, but he certainly was not growing more Christ like. His practice did nothing to take the focus from himself and onto Jesus purposes or mission.
Christian motivation & intentional repetition is spiritual discipline. So praying to impress is not a good spiritual discipline, but praying for the people in trouble, say when you hear a siren can become a discipline because overtime it creates for you a response of awareness of others hurting and it is a move of one’s heart toward Christ.

The main source for this series is Barbara Brown Taylor’s book Alters in the World – A Geography of Faith. Taylor uses a range of spiritual thought and stories to demonstrate the connection between the spiritual and the physical worlds. She has had involvement in the Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches before settling in for 20 plus year as an Episcopal Priest. She then left the church and became a teacher of world religions at Piedmont College, in Georgia, until 2017. She is the author of 14 books & the recipient of many awards. She continues to do speaking engagements along with enjoying time on the farm her and her husband own in Georgia. 
When Taylor first moved to Georgia, besides the cows, the foot paths the cows made and where they went intrigued her. Not only were the cow paths very narrow in comparison to the width of a cow, but the paths the cows designed were from the shortest point from A to B and these paths were the easiest route around certain landforms, hills etc & often the most shaded. Cattle are very predictable; they follow one another and are very routine in their daily schedule. You can plan to find them in certain areas of the field at certain times of the day, or if a sunny day, look for them in the shade. They are predictable.
This week Andrew & I had drs.  appointments in Kingston, picked him up from school & we drove.

Every now & again I was thinking   about how we had to go to get to our destination. Then routine took over & I followed the predictable cow path.

Soon as I turned down the usual route onto Sir John A. I knew should have turned onto Gardiners. Routine and taken over.                                          We do this when we drive to work or go certain places routinely we take the shortest route the same path, normal behavior, we need something extra to override it. Why would we override it? Well once you leave the cow path the unpredictable field is full of life. It means we have to wake from our unconscious state and make new choices, become more aware of our surroundings, tuning all of your senses to exactly where you are and what you are doing.   Suddenly you find yourself seeing and taking in this unfamiliar experience, losing yourself in the experience. Until you return to a familiar road.
These are gentle ways of getting lost, but there are times in life when we find ourselves really lost the need not to panic, and control your resources is paramount.
Friend visiting his home in South Africa – had passport, and citizenship papers stolen, couldn’t get back home here until he worked it all through. He could have panicked & made his situation all the worse.
We have all lost our way numerous times in our  life. Maybe you set to finish school and became a parent instead. Maybe you set out to be an accountant and ended up a plumber. Maybe you set out to be married and ended up widowed or divorced. Maybe you thought you would live in the city, but here you are in and around the village of CV or Newburgh.
When these losses happened to you and you felt very displaced it was not at all pleasant. For myself at the time of ordination I thought I might be placed in an area close to where I lived, because of the number of vacancies and my familiarity with a particular charge that was vacant. That was hard, when that didn’t happen. But it has worked out very, very well.
Taylor shares a number of her lost times and says that she would not give a single one of them back. She writes I have lived through parts of life that no one in her right mind would ever willingly have chosen, finding enough overlooked treasure in them to outweigh my projected wages in the life I had planned. She goes on to say, “these are some of the reasons that I decided to stop fighting the prospect of getting lost and engage it as a spiritual practice instead. Finding things when she was lost, that she would never have discovered had she stayed the course.
If you think back in your life, at times when you changed for the better, how of them were wilderness times?
When the safety net has split, when the way ahead is not clear, the sudden vulnerability can be very frightening and very revealing. We often protect ourselves from becoming too vulnerable. You may have told yourself you would die if it ever came to such as this, yet here you are & you lived through it.
 Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness today. Did he understand where he was going? Don’t think so, Jesus became more and more vulnerable as his body became weaker and weaker, but he continued on.
He was tested and tempted and led from one unfamiliar point to another from the highest point of the temple to a high mountain, but Jesus never was tempted to give in or go back.
Faith involves following the Spirit to uncertain places. By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8
Abraham’s descendants ended up in Egypt again & the cow paths was their bondage to Pharaoh, straight from their slave huts they would go to the mud pits where they made bricks. Their lives were so frozen in place, this was the cost of security. Pharaoh was happy for their slave labour but not their birth rite. Then Pharaoh demanded all baby boys be killed, to cease the population from expanding, God heard their cries and sent Moses to liberate the Hebrews from their bondage. They left Egypt for the wilderness not knowing where their next meal would come from or how long they would travel. It took 40 years in the wilderness to learn the holy art of being lost. They suffered they at times were ready to go back, no matter how bad, they complained bitterly, built a golden calf to worship thinking it might get them back on the path, as God seemed to be intent on destroying them.                                                                            But God didn’t. HE strengthened them & when the milk and honey came they thanked God and meant it.
The disciples in the gospels are called to lay down their nets and follow Jesus not knowing where they are being called for what, and they would help to build the church, and preach and witness and many times were lost on the journey to share the good news.
Faith by definition is a journey into unknown ground, it is a pilgrimage into ministry and mystery. Getting lost is not an escape, but a readiness to be displaced, to be vulnerable and exposed and open to prayer and personal change.
You may think of other ways to get lost, or to accept that you really have gotten lost through no choice of your own. It happens, anywhere and in all kinds of ways. You can get lost on your way home. You can get lost looking for love, you can get lost between jobs, or looking for God. However getting lost happens, take heart. Others before you have found their way in the wilderness too.
As Jesus was, we too are tempted in the wilderness to take the shortcuts, be taken in by the false promises of possessions, popularity, and power. But in reality, truth is, the devil’s way is the harder way, and Jesus harder way is the easier way and not the lonely way.
The Global Positioning Systems are very common in cars now, following the instructions of a intangible voice coming from your dashboard, is a lot faster than stopping to read a map to find you way and knowing that wherever you are, there is an eye upon you so you will not miss your way.  A single woman purchased a system for her car and was thrilled to find out she could pick the gender of her GPS voice & also the tone of the voice that would speak to her. She chose the honey-coated male voice to give her directions. Sometimes she uses it just to go to the local grocery store at night, just so she can hear him talk to her in the dark.
Entering the wilderness, being vulnerable, moving with love into uncertain places, may not be high on our list, you will be tempted to go back, take a short cut, avoid the vulnerability, give in to fear, or follow the true path of Christ?
 Some quotes from Barbara Brown Taylor’s Book Alters in the World – A Geography of Faith 2009 & references from Reformed Worship Magazine Number 130 December 18 “Everyday Jesus Spirituality” by Peter Schuurman – Global Scholars Canada

Prayers of the People
Gracious God, we offer your thanks for all the ways we have met you in the week just past.
In quiet moments we remember with gratitude:
A word of encouragement,  (Hold a brief silence)
An insight of truth, (Hold a brief silence)
An answer to prayer,  (Hold a brief silence)
Calm in the midst of stress,  (Hold a brief silence)
Someone who offered us support or challenge,
(Hold a brief silence)
A sense of accomplishment in work that mattered,
(Hold a brief silence)
Moments of rest and relaxation.                                    (Hold a brief silence)
Thank you, loving God, for all these signs that you love us,  understand us and walk with us.                As we remember mercies already received, we think of the need for your mercy in the world around us. And so in faith we pray for:
The world and the many places that have been in the news this week  (Hold a brief silence)
The church and our congregation as we face challenges and opportunities for mission
(Hold a brief silence)
Our workplaces and community and the many roles we play, (Hold a brief silence)
Our family and circle of friends who we name before you now, & those on our prayer list – Allen, Wilson families, many concerned with the corona virus, negotiations, strikes, protests.
(Hold a brief silence)
Those known to us with special needs,
(Hold a brief silence)
Thank you for hearing our prayers and for your grace that embraces all whom we pray for. Grant that we may go from this place of worship with your grace in expectation and in hope.

Matthew 4:1-11

Passing the Test

OBJECTS SUGGESTED:

A blackboard and chalk or poster board and markers. Print the word TEST on the board.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word TEST? We are tested in many ways. Some schools require that children know how to tie their shoes before they begin kindergarten. Later, students take spelling tests and math tests. Adults must take a driving test, showing they have the skills necessary to drive a car. Pilots take tests to be able to fly a plane. Can you think of other types of tests? Why are tests necessary? Yes, to find out if you have the skills or knowledge necessary to go to the next step.
There is one type of test that is to be avoided. Have you ever had anyone say to you, “I dare you?” When a person says that, they are usually asking you to do something that is dangerous or improper.
Even Jesus was put to the test and was dared to do dangerous things while he lived among us. He refused to accept the dare. He said, “Again, it is written, ‘You shall not test the Lord, your God'” (4:7).
It is important to remember that advice and not do things that dare or test God. As we learn more about God, through prayer and by studying the Bible, we will begin to build an attitude of trust. The feeling we may have inside, that need to test God, will develop into trust.
If we change the letters inside of TEST we find we have TRUST. (Remove the ES from the word TEST, which has been written on the board prior to the lesson, and insert RUS to form TRUST.)
Trust God and trust yourself to make good choices.
 Matthew 4:1-11Jesus’ Temptation
What’s your favorite food? (Give children time to respond.) Maybe you like pizza, or hamburgers, or ice cream. Just talking about food makes you hungry, doesn’t it? Ummm, I’d like to have a pizza right now.
One time Jesus was taken into the wilderness. Jesus was there and he didn’t have any food with him. That’s when the devil began to temp Jesus. Do you know what the word “tempt” means? (Allow the children to respond.) To be tempted is when we think we might want to do something that we know we should not do, like telling a lie, or taking something that belongs to someone else.
Jesus didn’t have food with him, and he was hungry. The devil tempted Jesus turn the stones into bread. Jesus was hungry, but he refused to turn stones into bread.
From the very top of the temple, the devil told Jesus to jump off. The devil said the angels would keep Jesus from being hurt. What could have happened if Jesus had jumped off the roof? (Allow the children to respond – they might say “break his leg,” or “get hurt”.) Yes, Jesus might have been hurt, or even killed. Jesus didn’t jump.
The next time the devil tempted Jesus, they were on a high mountain, and the devil said that everything that Jesus could see would be his if he would worship the devil. Jesus didn’t listen to the devil.
When he was tempted to turn the stones into bread, Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4 WEB)
And, when he was tempted to jump off the roof of the temple, Jesus said, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not test the Lord, your God.’” (Matthew 4:7 WEB) Did you hear that? Again, Jesus used the words, “it is written.” Those must be important words.
When Jesus was tempted to worship the devil, Jesus spoke very. He said, “Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and you shall serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:10 WEB)
Aren’t you glad that Jesus reminded the devil that God had already made sure that those temptations were taken care of in the Holy Bible? What were the important words that Jesus said? (Pause to listen for their responses.) Yes, “It is written….”
When Jesus was tempted, he found help in a book? That book was the Bible. When he said, “It is written,” he meant, “It is written in the Bible.” Because Jesus knew the Bible so well, he was able to use it to help him stand when the Devil was trying to get him to fall.
If the Bible could help Jesus like that, it can help us too. That’s one reason we study the Bible–because it can help us when we need help.
When we are tempted to do things we know we should not do, we can say, “It is written, I’m not supposed to do that.”
Let’s pray.
PRAYER:
Dear God, thank you for the Holy Bible. Thank you for giving us words to say when we are tempted. We are glad that we can defeat temptation with Jesus’ words. Amen.