A pat on the back, kick in the seat by PASTOR JON HUIZENGA River Rock Church A quick scan of Facebook shows people are processing their return to life after the holidays. Some are depressed. Some are unmotivated. A few are launching full speed ahead. How are you? Personally, I’m a mixture: part melancholy, part gung-ho. At times like this, I can use both a pat on the back and a kick in the seat. The following is working for me, maybe it will for you: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight,” the Bible, Proverbs 3:5-6. This is a popular excerpt from the “wisdom” literature in the Bible. It is about how to live a successful life. I see in it God saying three things: 1. Trust me. 2. Acknowledge me. 3. Get there (Doing the first two will result in the third). The “Trust me” section is the pat on the back. The hard part of this new year is its uncertainty. You wonder whether you’ll experience all that life has to offer. Christmas and New Year’s Eve, for good or bad, are over. They were what they were. Will the future be enough? Will it be good? I hear God saying, “Stop trying to be me. You don’t have to have all the answers. What you need is to trust me with all your heart.” The “Acknowledge me” section is the kick in the seat. Since you are not God, get off the throne and acknowledge that He belongs on it! Yes, that takes commitment. If He’s on the throne, He deserves attention. Start reading the Bible; get involved in a local church where you can grow. If you need help, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll help you find a way to start. But this isn’t just for beginners. Involved Christians are prone to kicking God off the throne periodically and need to be reminded to get it together. Stop whining and do what you need to do! The “Get there” section is about the peace that comes from trusting and acknowledging God. We may not even know where “there” is […]
A weekly inspirational message
Give Yourself a Little Rest by REV. HELEN H. COLLINS North Kent Presbyterian Church It’s the week after Christmas. Soon it will be time to take down the tree, pack away the ornaments and other decorations. My mom always set out all the Christmas cards we received on every flat surface in the dining room and living room and it was a sign that the holidays were done when she took down the display. At this point there will still be some family get-togethers as we ring in the New Year, and we won’t do our “undecorating” party at church until after worship on January 8, but for the most part, by the time you read this, Christmas will be over. I like to send and receive Christmas cards, although I frequently run out of time before the holidays to get them in the mail. I try to find the card that will carry not only my love and greetings, but something of the true meaning of the holiday. Several years ago I found the one that so far has been the most unforgettable. It opened accordion style with five panels. On the front of the card was a full Christmas tree with lights and ornaments. The second panel showed the tree having lost a few of its needles—the way your “real” tree might look a few days after Christmas, especially if you forgot to water it. The third and fourth panels showed the tree as it progressively lost more and more of its needles and as ornaments, with nothing to hang on to, fell to the floor. And in the last panel, the cross became visible as all the trappings, the needles, lights and ornaments were gone. The message was clear that underneath the biggest and best holiday we celebrate each year, underneath the love, the carols and Christmas specials, underneath the family time, the presents and parties, when all is said and done, when everything else is gone, the cross of the One whose birth we proclaim, the giver of God’s immeasurable love is still there. We’ve been doing some landscaping around our church in the last year or so. If you drive down Kuttshill before the snow flies, you’ll be able to […]
A Journey of Christmas with Joy in Hope by PASTOR MARK LOVE St. Peter’s Lutheran Church I loved the old Calvin and Hobbes cartoons during the Christmas season. During the days leading up to Christmas, Calvin’s thoughts and hopes became more and more haunted by Santa’s rule of gift giving: “If you’re good, you’ll get lots of toys and, if you’re bad, you’ll get nothing.” Trusting in the words, “He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake,” the ever in trouble, ever self-absorbed and self-serving Calvin is worried about Santa’s judgment. Knowing his guilt and mischief, Calvin tried anything that would enable him to be judged as good. In a Sunday spread of Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin is dreaming, and he sees Santa consulting with his elves about Calvin’s past year. As the panels of the cartoon flow, Calvin’s case grows worse and finally Santa declares, “I’ve made my decision,” and the dream ends. Calvin awakes as if from a nightmare and says with a frightened and horrified look, “I can’t take it.” For Calvin the days before Christmas were a long journey down the corridors of his life toward the day of judgment. It’s said that humor is born of tragedy and hard times. What made Calvin’s dilemma so humorous to me was all the creative ways he would think of to try and receive a good judgment. First, Calvin wanted his friend Hobbes to be his attorney pleading extenuating circumstances. Second, he would try to do all kinds of good things to prove he was good, but that lasted only as long as the next temptation. Third, he would try to reason away Santa’s ability to know about all the bad things he had done. As troublesome as Calvin and Hobbes‘ journey to Christmas may be for them, this journey is a joyous one filled with hope for all who believe in Jesus Christ. The angel proclaims, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling […]
Angel Messages by MARCIA HUFSTADER member, Third Church of Christ, Scientist “Angels we have heard on high,” the words from a well-known traditional French carol, are words we can all claim today and every day when we are hopeful, faithful and listening for God’s messages. In the carol, the angels were telling the shepherds about “Christ the Lord, the newborn King.” This newborn King showed us the way to heal. We can hear that message, too, ultimately the message about the healing power of the Christ that Jesus so clearly taught throughout his ministry. “Angels: God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality.” This definition Mary Baker Eddy gives in her primary book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” has been so helpful to me as I listen for guidance in relationships, employment, direction—in everything. Because we are all God’s children we are spiritual, so those “spiritual intuitions” are natural and specific to what our needs are at every moment. We can feel the inspiration of goodness and follow it. The inspiration of purity, as a result of God’s love for us, naturally counteracts any action that could be harmful to anyone, including ourselves. These angel messages, of the healing power of the Christ, continue to be with us here today. What Jesus taught us is timeless. We can’t be separated from the lessons that he so unselfishly gave the world. It’s the divine Principle that underlies the function of the universe, including man. We can utilize this Principle as surely as we can utilize the principle of mathematics. The laws that Jesus taught, starting with loving God with all our heart and our neighbor as thyself, lead us all in the right direction. God’s angel messages will speak to all of us and lead to the same healing power that Jesus taught. We just need to be willing and expectant.
The Gift of Peace by PASTOR ROBERT ECKERT Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church As translated in the Contemporary English Version of the Bible, the first two verses of Psalm 133 go like this: “It is truly wonderful when relatives live together in peace. It is as beautiful as olive oil poured on Aaron’s head and running down his beard and the collar of his robe.” That second part of the quote, about olive oil on Aaron’s head, doesn’t necessarily say much to us these days. For the writer of the Psalm, however, it was a beautiful thing. Aaron was a high priest, and pouring aromatic oil on a person dedicated to religious service was a common ritual back in the day. The writer of the Psalm is telling us that just as there is a sweet perfume from the oil that consecrates a priest, family harmony is fragrant and holy. These verses come to mind during a time of year when relatives living together in peace can be a rare commodity. Movies and sitcoms abound that poke fun at the antics of dysfunctional families during the holidays. For comedic effect they exaggerate our foibles and idiosyncrasies, but the underlying truth of how we pick and jab at those closest to us can be harsh and painful. Do you dread going to see Aunt Millie? Are you happy that your brother has to work Christmas morning because he’s so cynical that he takes the fun out of everything? Is Grandma likely to be her bitter, critical self? Is this any way to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace? The words of the ancient prophet Isaiah are frequently quoted during the season of Advent. He’s the one who coined the phrase “Prince of Peace.” He also looked forward to a time when “the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (NIV). That’s a picture of relatives living together in peace and then some! Want to give a gift that will last this Christmas? How about the gift of peace? How about greeting Aunt Millie with a sincere hug, or taking some cookies to […]