Sunday's gospel reading (John 1:6-8, 19-28) begins with an announcement. The narrator wants to set the scene: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light (1:6-8).
Today is December 1st. I can hardly believe it. The secular countdown to Christmas is already in full-swing, the liturgical one will begin Sunday with the first Sunday of Advent. It's time to start opening windows on your Advent Calendar, but let those daily reminders be more than a cause for alarm about all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning left to do. Let those daily reminders also serve like a spiritual alarm clock.
The Christian faith makes demands of you, including that you expand your imagination beyond what you know and experience in your daily life. Few of us have spent much time with sheep and goats. Fewer still have spent time with kings. And, yet, both images were prominent in Sunday's worship services.
Happy Thanksgiving! On behalf of Central's staff, pastors, and our families, let me assure you that we are thankful for you and for our life together as a congregation. I've enjoyed reading the Charge Conference reports that have come my way recently and seeing the year-in-review photo slideshow that has been prepared. We have much to be thankful for in how this congregation seeks to love God, ministers to people of all ages, with people of all ages, and reaches well beyond our city block to follow Jesus and love neighbor. Thank you.
We finished up the fall A Disciple's Path class yesterday (you can learn more about the class by clicking here). Our classmates noted the importance of intentionality and effort in discipleship.
Nothing in the rest of our lives is achieved without setting a goal, making a plan, and working toward it. Why would being a disciple of Jesus Christ be any different?
The call to stay awake continues this week (and will into December). This time it's St. Paul's turn to jostle us. In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Paul encourages us to encourage one another to be right-minded, focused, alert for Jesus' return.
We live in a society where many people are consistently tired. Some go for days (or longer) on auto-pilot, sleep-walking from responsibility to responsibility to release. We are advised to not only eat better and exercise regularly, but to get enough sleep.
The shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas is tragic on many levels - people who gathered to worship God in a space meant to offer grace and peace were attacked, a close-knit community is rocked by a significant portion of their population being killed or wounded, churches throughout the country have to wrestle again with how to be welcoming and wisely cautious, our country is confronted with yet another incident involving gun violence and mental illness. All of this grieves, infuriates, and bewilders.
I didn't see a single Martin Luther costume yesterday. I suppose people are saving him for tomorrow. Tomorrow - October 31 - is famous for more than being All Hallows Eve. It's also the day that Martin Luther published his 95 Theses. These theses opened the door to future debates between the Roman Catholic leadership and those protesting (which later led to the rift that created the Protestant denominations).