We Are One Body!

January 27, 2019

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we came out of the womb with instructions on how to live our lives and what we needed to do to fulfill the calling that God has given us? Some of you may find the possibility of that a relief, while others may find it a burden.

In our baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit, yet our individual gifts still elude us. This is all a part of the journey in which we are led. We are however, shaped by the experiences that come are way, even if they are not quite what God had intended. I did not enter seminary until I was in my thirties, however, as I looked back on my previous career in the retail industry, there were many things that I had learned that could benefit me in my calling as a pastor. I also learned the hard way that I could not do everything. I had to learn how to delegate and learn when to step back as I sensed the need to take a deep breath. I would like to say that I have mastered these skills, but it would be a lie. It is part of that constant learning process.

When we are born and start going to school, we start getting ideas of things that we want to do when we grow up. Some kids want to be firemen, chefs, or astronauts. For me, I wanted to be a lawyer! That would eventually evolve to doing something in the business world, which is where I would first end up after graduation from college. It took a while for me to hear God calling me to ministry. Out of the many career routes one could choose to take, we need all of them to function as a society. Being created in the image of God, we are each called to use our gifts and talents to make a whole relationship with one another.

We get into trouble when we think that we can do everything on our own. We either find out that we just simply do not have enough time to do everything required, or we rush through it where you can tell that it was done without care and respect. And let’s admit it, we do not know everything, even if we want to believe we do. There is also the possibility of pushing ourselves to extremes which can lead to burn out and sickness.

We need various parts to function. As Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? …. If all were a single member, where would the body be?” When we fail to communicate with other parts of the body, we can end up with utter chaos.

We witness it played out time and time again in government as different parties fail to listen to one another and decide that their way is the best way without allowing the opportunity for discussion and compromise. Instead we look at others and say, “I have no need of you.”

Paul addresses the Corinthians with these same words when he sees that there are disagreements occurring within their community among those that are following Christ and those that are not too sure yet. His call is for them to work together as one body. They are going to have a hard time living into the body of Christ if they choose not to get along. Their arguing and disregard for those that think differently breaks the body apart.

While we are individual members of the body of Christ, God wants us to live out our calling with one another. We are called to share our gifts and talents so that we can move forward to be God’s hands and feet in the world. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul calls them to strive for the greater gifts. Those gifts that God has given them individually. Those gifts, when combined with the other gifts of the people in the community, will lead them closer to living the kingdom of God in this world. As they do so, Paul will continue to walk with them and show them even greater ways through Jesus Christ.

As we come together this morning as a community of Christ, we each bring our own unique gifts that have been given to us by a God that loves us dearly and wants us to use them to learn to work together and live into relationship. We are reminded of the various gifts of the congregation by looking at our annual report and seeing the varied ministries that take place during the year at Trinity. As we use these gifts to share the love of God with our neighbors, we do our best to be a living example of Jesus Christ in the world. Some of us may still be trying to find the gift that meshes into the fabric of our community, and that is ok. We are not handed a description of what our gifts are on a note card. We are encouraged to enter into prayer to discern those gifts and together we will work to find the most excellent way, as Paul would say.

Working together as one community is how Trinity Lutheran can live out our mission to celebrate God’s Word together and open our arms in service to all. As we live out God’s Word, and open our arms, we share God’s love with all.

Let us pray. Loving God, we give thanks for the varied gifts of this community. We pray that your presence is felt in the continual discernment of those gifts. May we use them to be your hands and feet in this world. Amen.

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A Reluctant Jesus?

January 20, 2019

John 2:1-11

One of the greatest barriers that we encounter in our lives is self-doubt! Even as you speak it, you can hear how it is directed internally. It is not doubt that is poured onto you by a boss, neighbor, or family member. It is doubt that we heap upon ourselves. It is a barrier that we construct when we are hesitant and reluctant to move forward.

I am no stranger to self-doubt. I still battle it from time to time. It usually rears its ugly head when I feel that I am possibly in the wrong place at the wrong time, or if I am not quite sure if the words that I have to say really matter in the whole scope of a conversation. I struggled with it in seminary as I was surrounded by classmates that grew up in the church and knew a lot more of the Bible than I did. I wondered if I was in the right place at the right time and would have to take a moment to pause and give thanks for the many possibilities that I had been given. Even at a time of hesitancy, Jesus takes a moment to pray and listen to how God is guiding him in his walk with humanity.

This morning, we must venture outside of Luke’s gospel to hear the story of the wedding at Cana. In the gospel of John, the turning of the water into the wine is the first sign that Jesus performs that points to his glory and divinity. Yet, as we listen to the gospel lesson, there  appears to be a bit of a reluctance on his part to move forward.

First, there is the conversation with his mother around the wine running out, and his response, “What concern is that to you and to me?” It almost seems to be a get behind me Satan moment that we will encounter when Peter questions Jesus. He then tells her, “My hour has not yet come.” What exactly is he waiting for? We are left wondering why this hesitancy. Why this reluctance to help with hospitality. He truly has the power to make or break this wedding party. If the wine runs dry, then so does the wedding celebration. A wedding celebration in the time of Jesus would last for an entire week. Imagine what would happen if you ran out of wine in the middle of the week. Most likely, there would be a bit of shame.

While Jesus shows a bit of reluctance, could there have just been a tinge of self-doubt? This is the first sign that he will perform, so maybe he won’t get it right. Perhaps, he is just beginning to understand the ministry that lays in front of him and his hesitancy is a result of this. The words of Jesus’ mother are simple, “They have no wine.” She is pointing to the need at hand and putting the ball into his court to see what will happen next. The divine mystery at work.

Our world today, is not immune to need.

In a world where for so many there is no clean water—let alone fine wine—where is the extravaganza of God? In a world where children play in bomb craters the size of thirty-gallon wine jugs, why the divine reluctance? In a world where desperate mothers must say to their small children, “We have no food,” why has the hour not yet come? [In a time when we argue with those we disagree and call them names, why not a little divine intervention?] No matter how we rationalize divine activity, we still want to tug at Jesus’ sleeve and say: “they have no wine.”[1]

There is something much greater that is realized in our gospel lesson. While Jesus may seem a bit reluctant, he does pause and listens to God. While he thought it was not his time yet, he must have sensed that the Spirit was working through his mother to call him into action. In that action, he does not hold anything back! He goes all in!

As we hear, he instructs the servants to fill the thirty-gallon jugs with water. And, they fill them to the brim! There is a great abundance that Jesus pours forth for all to experience that are celebrating at the wedding feast. While, the first wine may have been of a decent quality, perhaps like Mogen-David, this wine that Jesus has called forth is even greater! Perhaps a nice cabernet, or even a port! He does not hold anything back to be shared with the people.

This is a precursor of the ministry that he is going to begin with the disciples. He will be sharing the abundance of God with everyone that he encounters. It is amazing that this first act of Jesus is not a healing, or a sermon, or even an exorcism. His first act is to share the abundance of God with all that are gathered. This is a foretaste of Jesus’ ministry, and a foretaste of the kingdom to come. It is here that Jesus will welcome all people into his embrace.

Each and everyone of you are called to share in this ministry with Jesus Christ. Are you possibly a little hesitant and reluctant like he appeared to be? Are you afraid to lift your voices over the noise and distractions of your daily life? If so, you are not alone. I am with you in my own hesitancy and reluctance at times. But more important, Christ is with us as we are called to walk along our brothers and sisters in humanity. Jesus comes to us with vessels that flow over the brim with an abundant love from God. May you be filled with that overflow of love and grace and be a sign for others seeking God.

Let us pray. All encompassing God, we give thanks for the signs of Jesus that reveal is glory to all. May we learn to embrace these signs in our own lives and live into the grace that only comes through you. Amen.


[1] Carol Lakey Hess, Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 4, 263.

Who Are you Going to Invite?

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John 1:43-51

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Nathaniel might as well have said that Nazareth is a decrepit village. Honestly, you cannot make this stuff up. Our lectionary, created over thirty years ago, once again speaks to the world around us.

You would think that our gospel lesson this morning was chosen to speak to disparaging comments that were made earlier this week. I cannot gloss over that fact and not look towards a gospel of hope in the midst of all of the hatred and fear that is visible in our world.

Jesus begins his ministry after baptism by inviting people to follow him. People just like you and me. People that are working to support their families and are coping with their own struggles and challenges. Jesus first calls Andrew to come and see. Andrew invites his brother, Simon Peter to come and see the Messiah that he has found. Following this, we hear from John the invitation of Jesus for Philip to follow him.

Once again, Philip follows Jesus’ example and finds Nathaniel and invites him to come and see the Son of Joseph from Nazareth. “He is the one that Moses spoke of in the law and also the prophets wrote about,” Philip tells him. It is here that we get our first dose of skepticism. You could even say that Nathaniel’s response to Philip hinges on sarcasm.

Nathaniel simply says, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth, a village of maybe 400 people at the most. It is not the capital of anything and is not even a village of great importance. Can anything good come out of such a town Nathaniel quips. This sarcasm could make us laugh, if we today did not hear similar remarks being uttered today.

At one time in our lives, I am sure that we have at least thought this about another place. This does not justify our own thoughts, or an elected leader saying it, nor is it following in the way of Jesus Christ.

I grew up in Charlotte. Not a large town in itself, however, it is a little larger than Richmond. We always complained that we would get overlooked by the local newspapers and news stations out of Lansing. We in turn would look towards our neighbors in Nashville, Vermontville, or Potterville and make fun of them and wonder ourselves, what good could come out of such little towns as those. They barely have any stop lights.

We could easily do the same thing around here with Memphis. This is where a lot of trouble starts. We think that everything on our side of the fence, or our side of the tracks is the best. We are skeptical of others that we do not know and fail to listen when it is necessary. We think we always have the right answers and everyone else is most likely wrong. We can mirror that same skepticism that Nathaniel modeled for us in the gospel lesson.

Our skepticism can even stretch to God. We each have our own preconceived notions of what God is and how God even acts in the world. These notions are based upon our upbringing and the families that we were raised. These notions leave little room for the mystery.

While Nathaniel was skeptical, he was still willing to listen. By reading our lesson, we know that he accepted Philip’s invitation to come and see. To at least come and see what Philip was talking about and to meet the guy named Jesus that claimed to be the Messiah.

Despite his sarcasm and skepticism, Jesus welcomes Nathaniel. Jesus speaks the truth to Nathaniel, just as Nathaniel speaks the truth in his own life. He is open to sharing of himself and his opinion. Jesus welcomes this openness and honesty, in the midst of skepticism. Jesus reveals that he had seen Nathaniel sitting under the fig tree and it is in this revelation that Nathaniel recognizes God.

One thing that is probably true about Nathaniel, was that he was well learned. Jesus’ reference to him sitting under the fig tree was a reference to someone at that time that had the time to study and become a scholar. Perhaps it was in his knowledge that made him a skeptic. It was in Jesus’ proclamation that his skepticism was washed away. Nathaniel was hungry to learn and now God had been revealed to him in Jesus, his own Epiphany.

Nathaniel now understands that his remarks about Nazareth were wrong. Yes, something good can come out of Nazareth. There is no where that God excludes from the Word. And in this promise, God is revealed throughout the world.

Many of us could point to the times that God has been revealed to us. Whether it be in other people, in nature, or in prayer. We too have been invited to come and see at least once in our lives. In that invitation, many of us have seen what the disciples and Jesus himself are talking about. For others, you may still be waiting and in your patience, Jesus is working around and within you.

Despite any criticism and skepticism that we may have, Jesus welcomes us into the fold, just as he has Nathaniel. The invitation to come and see is one that is open ended. Jesus does not tell us that we have to do this or do that. There are no mandates that we must follow. Just a simple invitation. An invitation to come and see.

Come and see God revealed in the ordinary.

Come and see love that is spread out for all, without exclusion.

Come and see a community that is built up to support and care for one another.

Come and see the saving grace and love that is poured out for all through Jesus’ death and the hope found in the resurrection.

We still have a lot to learn from Jesus Christ. The invitation that he places in front of us is not one that excludes. The invitation goes out to everyone, everywhere. To those living in Asia, Africa, South America, Haiti, or even right next door. If we could only be so bold to be as welcoming as Jesus. To show a love that knows no ends.

Who are you going to invite to come and see?

Let us pray, Jesus, we come to you this morning and pray for the revelation of your loved poured out for us in the invitation to come and see. A love that is for all people in all times and all places. A love that reveals a grace that forgives. Guide us in this time to open our hearts and minds to the possibility of inviting others to come and see. Amen.

This Calling is Dirty!

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Mark 1:4-11

It is a rarity today for a person to start a career and stay employed with the same employer for their entire working life. I am a testament to that. Prior to my calling to become a pastor, I worked for four different companies. Throughout seminary, I had the opportunity to get experience working in different churches and hospitals. I know that it is true for me, but I am sure it is for you as well, when I say that there are days you wonder what you have gotten yourself into.

I recall a day while working as a chaplain that nothing seemed to be going right. I was assigned to the open heart surgery floor for my rotations and had already had a couple of deaths and it had been a very traumatic day in the emergency room. This was just during the day and I had the night shift as well. As I was settling down later in the evening to eat dinner, I received a page that a patient would like to see a chaplain. I placed my food back in the refrigerator in the sleep room and went to visit the patient. When I arrived on the floor I talked to the evening nursing staff and then went to visit the patient. I knocked on the door with no response. I said hello and as I walked in found the patient standing with their back to the door with not one piece of clothing or hospital gown covering them. Needless to say, I exited that room fairly quickly. After a day of wondering what I had got myself into, there are the lighthearted moments that allow you to laugh. I visited the same patient the next morning and had a wonderful discussion.

I have come to find out over the years that ministry is dirty. There are times when surprises come our way and times when you think that surely things could not get any worse. God is in the midst of it!

The bible, the stories of our ancestors in not neat and clean. It is real. It is earthy. It is full of muck and grime and it calls us, the people of God, to live in the midst of it. The story we hear this morning, is no different. The gospel lesson may sound familiar as we heard from part of it at the beginning of Advent as we were introduced to John the Baptist. John the Baptist, the last person we would expect to be carrying out the call to prepare the way of the Lord. Wearing camel fur, and eating locust and honey. Come to think of it, he kind of sounds like a modern day hipster!

While we heard from the gospel of Mark at the beginning of Advent, we now begin our journey with Mark for the remainder of the year, with the occasional excursion into the gospel of John. This is Mark’s introduction to Jesus. We do not get any of the birth story. We get a thirty year old Jesus that is just about to begin his ministry. Our short lesson this morning brings many questions to mind. Does Jesus need to be baptized? Does Jesus know what the journey ahead of him looks like? Is Jesus the only one that hears the voice coming from the heavens when he is baptized?

The answers to these questions are as numerous as the commentaries that are written to address them. I know one question that I have is: did the dove descend gently upon him, or did it dive bomb him? Now, I am serious about this. If you think about, there are times that we can sense that the Holy Spirit comes upon us when we are least expecting it and we are startled and our first reaction is to run for cover.

The Holy Spirit is always working in our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. Christ works within each of us, and it is up to each of us to acknowledge the movement that occurs within our lives. It may appear stronger at certain times than others. Regardless, Christ is present among and within us.

We fight it. We like to be autonomous and feel that we have complete control over everything. We are not going to let anyone or an inkling of the Holy Spirit guide us when we think we know the right direction. In this sense, we create our own muck and grime. We make things much more difficult for ourselves than what it should really be. We do it individually as well as collectively. We lose sight of the Christ that was born into our world to walk among us and to show us the way of love, and to remind us that we are loved. We look past the Christ that was baptized in the Jordan. We look past the Christ that reaches out to us that live among the messiness of the world and think that we are far better than any of it.

First, Jesus starts out with nothing. When he comes to John in the Jordan, he has no followers. He is following the calling from God to venture out from where he was. In this moment, he lets his guard down. In Mark’s gospel there is no discussion about who should be doing the baptizing. Does John even recognize Jesus right away?

Yesterday was Epiphany. It is the day that the Christ child is revealed to the Magi. Their journey led them to Emmanuel, God with us. In the Incarnation everything is revealed and they have now seen it for themselves. The God that has been revealed to the Magi in the Christ child has been around since the beginning of Creation. In Genesis we hear that the earth was a formless void and God creates out of the muck and grime. God brings the light to the world. A light that journeys with us from the very beginning. A light that brings the truth for all to see and follow. A light that is good! Very good! Jesus is that light.

It is revealed to us, the readers of Mark’s gospel, in the heavens being torn open. God is at work. The dove descending is a sign of the Holy Spirit at work with Jesus. A completion of the Holy Trinity! And Jesus is not one to sit up on a throne or position of leadership to declare himself the best and declare his sovereignty. Jesus comes down to the people. The ones that are hungry and poor. The ones that are looked down upon by those in authority. Jesus comes to bring change to a world so much in need.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible points out that: “Jesus himself is baptized into the renewal movement that began before him.” The journey of Israel and the stories in the Torah, the prophets, and even John the Baptizer all bring us to God working in our midst. Jesus is the continuation of this story. The awesome thing is, that Jesus is not contained to just this one moment. As the heavens are torn open, and God’s son revealed to us, we will again be reminded of this at his crucifixion. If you remember, the curtain is torn in two as Jesus breathes his last. A reminder of God’s love poured out for us.

As God is revealed to us in Jesus’ baptism, we can experience the same thing in ours. While, the majority of you cannot remember your baptism, we are reminded of it every time we come up for communion and dip our fingers into the baptismal font and mark the sign of the cross on ourselves. We are reminded every time we take part in the Thanksgiving for Baptism. There is power in our baptisms. God is being revealed to us. Our own little epiphanies. An epiphany that we are called to go out and share with others.

Lenny Kravitz wrote a song titled Baptized. The lyrics can speak to us

I don’t want to look around
And be turned to stone
All my darkest days awoken
I’m looking for a new way
I can’t make it on my own
Lead me to a place wide open

I need a love that takes me higher
So high I’m never coming down

I don’t want to know emptiness
Take me down to the water
want to be baptized in your love
Far away from the loneliness
Take my heart and wash away the fear
Let me be baptized in your love

In our baptisms, we are reminded that we are loved. Loved by a God that came to us in Jesus Christ to be in the same muck and grime that we find ourselves. Not a Jesus that is self-righteous, but a Jesus that is present for sinners that live in a broken world. A Jesus that embraces every little fault that exists with us and loves us regardless. In our baptisms we meet God present within us and that revelation is just the beginning. A reminder of creation from the very beginning where the light shone out of the darkness. Those words we hear proclaimed to Jesus, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased,” are also spoken to each one of us in our baptisms. You are loved! Each and everyone of you!

Let us pray. God of the waters, may you wash over us and bring us to new life through the waters of baptism. In the waters may your love be revealed for us and all of humanity. May we be bold to carry the proclamation forward this season of Epiphany as we invite others to join us in discipleship. Amen.

The World Has Not Come to an End

Though it may seem like it.

What a bitter election season we have just experienced. I sat down last night to watch the returns with a pit in my stomach that must have been anticipating the outcome that I would wake up to this morning. No matter which candidate won, there would be people not happy with the outcome. I went to bed with an inkling of how the populace voted and what the outcome was going to be. Hoping that by chance I would wake up in the morning and it would have just been a bad dream.

The thing is, I am a white Christian male, what do I have to fear? I am in the majority and apparently that majority voted for drastic change in Washington. Just from watching the returns and listening to the pundits talk, the racial divide is still strong in America. We clearly are not a unified nation. If we truly want to move forward, we must be able to look beyond these labels.

Regardless of who won the election, my calling has not changed. I am called to serve God and proclaim the good news that is the gospel. A gospel which comes down to the lowly and the least of these. A gospel that leaves no room for misogyny, racism, sexism, xenophobia, or fear. I will continue to stand up for those that feel excluded and will continue to speak of the love of God for all people. I will continue to preach a gospel that proclaims the inclusion of all people. I will stand up for the creation God has granted us.

My prayer is that we can come together in unity. A unity that will break down any walls, real or proposed. A unity that encourages conversation. A unity that encourages strengthening relationships. I believe that America is already great because it is composed of a great diversity of people. There is nothing to go back to. We can only move forward.

I cannot even pretend to know how my LGBTQ friends and family feel this morning. I cannot pretend to know how my African American or Hispanic friends feel this morning. I do know that many have expressed fear and anger. May we step up as a united people to combat any hatred that is spread and bring about the love of God. God is good. In this we pray.

God Calls Through Grace

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Galatians 1:11-24

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

You may or may not be aware of the that we have a group from Alcoholics Anonymous that meets here once a week. They call themselves Saturday Night Live. The fellowship consists of wonderful people that have realized that the addiction they have cannot be handled on its own. The twelve step program that they follow has probably been one of America’s greatest gifts to spirituality. It connects God with people that are broken, like all of humanity, with the realization that it takes a higher power to give us strength and see us through the challenges in our lives.

While I do not have much experience with the AA group, I am a little more familiar with a group that was called together in my last call. It was the Meth Diversion Task Force that sought to steer people from their past lives of addiction and possibly other illegal behavior. It was the task force’s responsibility to interview and select inmates within the county correctional facility that would be eligible for an early release program and work through a process that involved three different levels, as well as incorporating meeting involvement in Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous. Some of the stories that I heard at these task force interviews were heart-wrenching. For example, at one time their were three generations from one family in the correctional facility at the same time under meth related charges. I heard stories of lives that were broken and thought to be beyond repair.

You may wonder why I bring this up today as we venture into our second week with Galatians. If you recall from last week, we were made aware of Paul’s unhappiness with the practices that they were now following after others came in, teaching them a gospel that was counter to his preaching. Yet, in spite of his condemnation of their current actions, he still blesses them with God’s grace and peace.

In today’s passage Paul continues to build up his case for the gospel he proclaimed to the Galatians earlier in his ministry. Part of his defense of the gospel comes in the reminding of the Galatians of his background. At this point, Paul may not be our best example of humbleness. He points out that he was a star pupil, beyond many of the same age and he was far more zealous for the traditions of his ancestors than others. He grew up living and breathing the law that was brought to the Jewish people by Moses and knew little of God’s grace.  While Paul may not of had an addiction to alcohol or meth, he lived for the law and felt called before Christ came to him to persecute those that were not following it. He did not see another way, much like someone that is addicted to something.

Luke shares with us in Acts the full conversion story of Paul, also known as Saul. Paul was the source of great violence and attempting to destroy the church that Jesus had became the foundation for. It is in this persecution and violence that Jesus comes to him and calls him to stop, for he now has a new calling for him. As Jesus is revealed to him, he is made blind for three days and neither ate nor drank. He learns what it is like to live in the darkness and it is through Jesus Christ that his sight is restored by Ananias. It is in this that Paul is filled with the Holy Spirit and is baptized.

In baptism Paul is washed clean of his sins and called to serve Jesus Christ and proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles. “But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles…” (v.15-16). It is through the Grace of God that Paul’s path in life got on a different track.

Regardless of our sins, those we know we have committed and those we do not know, we are given the gift of God’s grace. In our brokenness we should be reminded of the new life that we were given in our baptisms and remember it on a daily basis.

Paul finds community with those that he proclaims the gospel to and it breaks his heart to see the Galatians turn away from the true gospel of Christ. It is through him that the grace of God is shared for all people. It is the grace of God that works in the AA meetings that are held here every Saturday evening. It is through the grace of God that those seeking to dig themselves out of their meth addiction find those that can help and a group to support them. It is the grace of God that supports all of us throughout the week when we may need it most.

In baptism we are made new, like Paul, and join the community of Christ. Through Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection we are reminded of the grace of God and are called to live into it on a daily basis. May you go out this week experiencing that grace and share it with others when you are called to do so.

Advent Devotions December 9

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Luke 7:24-26

When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

There is some curiosity that surrounds John the Baptist. There is something in his voice and the passion that he exudes through his proclamation that draws people in. While some people turn away from him thinking he may be some false prophet, others are attracted to the message that he is sharing: The promise of the Messiah that is to come after John prepares the way.

The people are not drawn to the way that John is dressed. They are drawn to his words. He draws people into the wilderness, which is not a place that people wander about willfully. The wilderness is where Moses and the people of Israel wandered for 40 years. It was the wilderness that they were eager to leave. John draws them back into the wilderness to share the incredible news of Jesus.  What draws you into the places that are challenging? John comes bearing hope and a promise which alleviates the challenge of the wilderness.

Let us pray.

Dear Lord, we give thanks for women and men that call us into something greater. We pray for the wilderness places in our lives and ask for your presence with us as we enter into them. AMEN.