Season after Pentecost (Proper 8 [13]) : The Gospel Passages – Whoever

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:40-42)

Simple kindness and hospitality. Unconditional acceptance. Care and compassion. These are things that do not cost much, but are priceless when given freely.

One of the things the Pharisees could not understand, with all their laws and rituals, was that the Ten Commandments were based on simply caring about another person and caring about God. We get so bogged down about doing the right thing, that we forget that it is really about doing the good thing. So, now that I have reminded you about that, don’t sit here and keep reading, but go out and welcome into your home and your heart . . . . whoever! Selah!

Trinity Sunday: The Old Testament Passage – The perfection of creation . . . and then there was us!

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth. the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1:1 – 5)

Many civilizations have a creation story. Other than the one in Genesis, I know one or two of them. Or know enough of them to know, many or most civilizations have one. The one in Genesis is simply the Jewish one, or the one of that area. It is, I think, the only one that has a monotheistic God. But then Judaism/Christianity is one of the few monotheistic faith systems.

I actually like the one in Genesis very much, aside from it being the one associated with the Christian faith system. It has a personal and intimate edge and tone to it that draws me in every time. Even better, it is so easy to retell inserting even more emotion and intimacy than the way it is presented in scripture.

“And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” (Verses 6 – 8)

I also like, very much, Trinity Sunday. I like (the word “like”, however, does not do just to my the intensity of my feelings) the concept of a Triune God. It seems fitting to me that a God who embraces the acts of creation who have multiple aspects to the Divine’s nature and character. A Triune Lord embraces the possibility of many faith traditions yet keep to a monotheistic model.

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

I have had the honor on several occasions to tell the creation story to someone who has never heard it as a story of a mighty Lord who bends down to form a world from dirt and water. Or more precisely, to form “something” where there was once “nothing.” It reminds me that we are stewards of the earth, and that the earth has come a far distance from first creation. The Lord created it “perfectly”, then handed it over to humanity. If the earth is now diseased and ailing, it because of what humanity has done. It also reminds me we have done just as “good a job” in caring for our fellow humans.

“And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.” (Verses 14 – 19)

It does not stretch my faith to encompass the fact that creation did not happen in 6 days, or 6 weeks, or anything else like that. I am quite willing to accept the millennia concept of creation – that dinosaurs etc roamed the planet and that humanity did not start out in the form that we find in Genesis but that we too had many steps in our evolution. The Lord God created the reason for the division of days and nights but we put the numbers to it, so why should we expect the Divine to keep to our system of enumerating the passage of time?

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

What the Lord God established in creation is the building blocks of DNA, RNA, genes, cells, and matter. Everyone that is alive today, and everyone who had life, comes from the same source. Why would we give lessor value to some members of humanity than others? We come from the same source of Divine creation.

“And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Verses 24 – 27)

Humanity was created in the image of God. Does that, should that, tell us what God is like? Two arms, two legs and everything in-between? Furthermore, Jesus was sent as a human being to bridge the gap between the Divine and humanity – a further indication that we are made in the image of God. And if this is so, how can we give less honor and respect to some members of humanity than others?

“God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.” (Chapter 1 verses 28 – 31 and Chapter two verse 1)

Now, if you will look at those verses closely, beloved reader, you will see that the food chain then is not the same as the food chain now. Basically, everyone and everything is a herbivore. There was no “something eat something” world. There was utter peace, shalom. Everything was as the Divine intended. And the Divine handed this perfection over to humanity.

“And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” (Verses 2 – 4a)

Into this perfection and unity came imperfection and disunity. The God of creation may have rested on the seventh day, but the God of Salvation and Redemption has continuing work. It is because of humanity that we have a Triune God. We need more than just a God of creation. Let’s face it, we need a lot of things beloved reader! But whatever our needs are, we can find the answer to that need in the Lord God.

Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Epistle Passage – Holding close the words of the Apostle Peter in times of dispute

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.” (I Peter 4:12-14)

Many Christian throughout the history of Christianity have felt they have been tested because of their faith. Some fell away from faith under that pressure. Others held up against it, and in that they were victorious. That would be a good thing to praise and rejoice over . . . except . . . there have come to be so many strains and types of Christianity, and each of them has been tested in one way or another.

It used to be said there is only one type of Christianity; one belief system and one foundation upon which it rest. All the tenets and beliefs came from that one system and one foundation. However, there are Christian beliefs out that clash with one another; yes, you read me correctly. Various Christian faiths are at odds with other Christian faiths. Between denominations and within denominations, believers look at issues from different sides and perspectives. It used to be a mild things, and known/noticed only by a few. In the last decade it has become more pronounced and more obvious. That saddens me greatly. And as I mourn that reality, it occurs to me, that phenomenon may be another “fiery ordeal”.

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.” (Chapter 5, Verses 6 – 8)

If I can set aside for a moment by disbelief in an actual persona of “the Devil”, I might be tempted to say that it is the Devil that is causing chasms in a united Christian faith. But doing so would be giving the Devil more power and recognition that I feel comfortable, AND casting some Christian beliefs held by sincere and devoted Christian believers as evil. And I do not want to do that. In a word, I deny the Devil the power to “devour” me.

“Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.” (Verses 9 – 11)

Being steadfast in one’s faith does not mean holding to beliefs that are harmful and divisive. Yes, Christians of good and sincere faith can differ on some issues; and no, I will not list the possibilities. It is allowing a different perspective on issues to cause divisions between believers that causes the most hurt and damage. Denominations and faith traditions have been known to fracture and fall apart because of divisions that cannot be healed. In the last few decades denominations have met together and set about the important business of healing the broken relationships. Not so that they become one faith, but that they respect the other to practice their faith differently, and look for common ground. At the same time, between and within denominations intolerance is springing up, and the work of reconciliation in one year can easily be undone in the next. In fact, on some issues there may be no common ground. But there should at least be respect and tolerance, that rests on a common foundation of compassion and care for one another, and a reverence for the Divine. If I may be so bold as to say, I think it is what the apostles would hope for. Selah!

Sixth Sunday of Easter: The Psalm Passage – When the Lord “comes through”

Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.” (Psalm 66:8 – 9)

Last week I directed and dedicated the psalm passage to my fellow chronic illness sufferers. I was reminded of that by this first verse, although some in our group have passed away because of this disease.

“For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” (Verse 10)

Admittedly, however, these verses are directed more at sin and trying to live a life according to Christian principles. This disease is not from anything we have done that is against Christian precepts. Very very diseases are.

“You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs; you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.” (Verse 11 – 12)

And healing from diseases is not dependent on living out Christian principles either. That is, sinners as well as saints recover from disease or succumb to the devastation of body and health. So let us leave behind health considers, and look together at what this passage has to say.

“I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows, those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.” (Verse 13 – 14)

In times of trouble, we promise the Divine if we are delivered from our problems we will be more dedicated to the religious life and will turn away from habits and patters that are contrary to the Lord’s directions and guidance. The psalmist here promises now that things are better, the psalmist will follow through on these promises. And actually, by living a more authentic Christian life there will be far less danger of bringing problems upon ourselves.

“I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah” (Verse 15)

When the Lord has delivered us from our woes and worries, our faults and failings, our straying and distress, we seek to honor the God who stood by us and walked us through it. Ways and traditions of honoring and giving thanks to God have evolved and changed. But the impulse is still there.

“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me. I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.” (Verses 16 – 20)

Blessed be God! Selah!

Fourth Sunday of Easter: The Psalm Passage – The Traits of the Good Shepherd

Psalm 23
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

It occurred to me yesterday that there is a great difference between the shepherds that come to shepherding through and because of faith in the Lord, and the “Good Shepherd” who watches over both “local” shepherds and the Lord’s sheep. Now remember what we discussed yesterday that sheep are not blind mindless followers but initial followers of the the local shepherds and the the Good Shepherd.

Here in the psalm passage we learn more about the Good Shepherd. Or at least more about the motif/metaphor that the psalmist employs.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;” (Verse 2)

The Lord as the Great Shepherd does not expect us to be nurtured and nourished by turbulence. We say that times of stress and distress help us to learn to depend on the Lord. But the purpose of the Good Shepherd is to bring peace to our soul. We learn that even if there is turbulence in our lives, the Lord provides a place of calm.

“ . . . he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.” (Verse 3)

The Divine that we call by the name of Lord has pledged with all that the Omnipotent Divine has and is to undertake for us. This is what the psalmist means (I think) when he says “for his name’s sake” – although the Divine is not bound by our definitions of “his”.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.” (Verse 4)

I said a few verses back that the Lord creates places of calm. The security and calm of the Lord’s rod and staff is that it keeps danger away from us, and lead us where we should go. I am not talking about the danger that we may face in this world, but the danger to our spirit and soul, that which will survive us after bodily death. Those who follow the Lord may have fears and concerns in this life, but the answer to those concerns is the Lord, who will not abandon us – for the sake of the Lord’s name.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Verse 5)

The Might of the Lord is evident in the face of the dangers we may face, and in front of those who seek to harm us. Our calm and confidence comes from a deep well within us that the Lord has established. We can draw on that when we face the stress and pressures of this world. And we are renewed with the Divine’s calm and peace. As the psalmist says . . .

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.” (Verse 6)

Selah!

I want to share something with you that I came across the day I sat down to write this reflection and post – “As the print of the seal on wax is the express image of the seal itself, so Christ of the express image – the perfect representation of God. ” St.Ambrose spoke it, I do not know when as the source of the quote did not identify it. But I had to think to myself, how could so many people have misunderstand, and continue to misunderstand the nature of God when Christ exemplified it. The 23rd psalm does not say that the Messiah that is to come, or some holy man called by the Lord is the Shepherd – but Lord, the Godself, is the Shepherd who does all of these things for the sheep that have the good sense to follow. I could go on and on identifying the various ways that I feel God has been misunderstood. But that is not my purpose. Beloved reader, look to Christ as the way of compassion and care that the Lord God has always extended to humanity. Selah and shalom!

Fourth Sunday of Lent: The Psalm Passage – Psalm 23, again

Since I got up this morning I have been trying to figure out a new approach to this psalm passage. This psalm has capture the attention and the imagination/imagery of countless people. I do not know if there is any unique approach possible. In all the years I have been writing scriptural reflections I feel like I have been re-trodding familiar ground. And yet, there is no real reason to try to come up with something different. One of the reasons this psalm is so popular is because it is so straightforward. So if some of what I say sounds familiar, take comfort in knowing that these are well established truths.

Psalm 23

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

When the Lord is with us, we may not get everything we want or need. But in terms of comfort and support in whatever our life circumstances, the Lord provides. Maybe the psalmist was being overly optimistic. But peace and contentment of the spirit and soul are priceless.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.”

The psalmist, it seems, prizes these things above material possessions. And I will not say that writer is wrong. We, humanity, acquire things in all shapes and sizes; excesses and necessities. We all have our own ideas of what we absolutely need, what we would like, and what we can do without. But peace of mind, spirit, and soul are so essential. And these are the things that the Lord provides.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.”

Again, going through life without fear. Priceless! Have confidence in every situation and circumstance means that you can act as the Lord would have you act. And having the Lord’s comfort around you means you are invulnerable to all the world throws at you.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

And the world knows that you are protected and beloved. If I can take this idea further, those who also follow the Lord are seated at the table of the Lord, so we have companionship for the journey through this life. And the promise of continued fellowship in the world to come.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.”

The psalmist. I think, does not mean just heaven. When we have the Lord as our Shepherd all of our days on earth are lived being within the fold of the Lord. Despite what the world might hold, we are safe within the Lord’s sight. Goodness and mercy are with us, we are seen as the Lord’s beloved, we walk without fear in this life, and we are lead in good directions. We are blessed! Selah!

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany: The Psalms Passage – Preacher and Seeker speak plainly about righteous living

Preacher: “O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?”

Seeker: Maybe the question should be, who can find safety and refuge with the Lord? It seems like everywhere one turns today there is trouble, upsetting issues, and challenges to living simply. To hear some talk, one would believe that better times are coming. But others say we are plunging into more problems than we can ever deal with. Of course, that sort of rhetoric had been going on for generations. Promises for better times are made over and over. Sometimes it comes true, and sometimes it does not. Seems to me it those who would be worthy of dwelling with the Lord are the ones who we can believe the promises of. So the question remains, who can expect and who deserves to live in eternity with our Lord?

Preacher: “Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart;”

Seeker: In other words, those who already follow the Lord. Or say they follow the Lord. So, how can we know who are true followers of the Lord?

Preacher: “[Those] . . .who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;”

Seeker: Now we are narrowing it down! What other qualifications does it take?

Preacher: “ . . . in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the LORD; who stand by their oath even to their hurt;”

Seeker: It takes strong resolve and a strong conscience and will to hold to those things!
Those are indeed signs and hallmarks of called and chosen people of the Lord! Say more!

Preacher: “ . . . who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent.”

Seeker: But, those who are such people are among us – which is good! Does that mean that it is not time yet to enter and live in the dwelling place of the Lord? That it is not time yet to go to the Lord’s holy hill? I suppose not. We, the good and the bad and those in-between, we still live and dwell together. And are faced with temptations; our fallen world threatens to undermine even the best of us. How will they survive? How will we survive?!

Preacher: “Those who do these things shall never be moved.” (Psalm 15)

Seeker: That is the true test, isn’t it? Not living blameless and perfectly lives living in the tent of the Lord. But living authentic and honest Christian lives in this fallen world. Let us look closely, and discern according to the word of the Lord who is worthy for the tent’s of the Lord, and our Lord God’s holy hill! Selah!

Third Sunday After Epiphany: The Old Testament Passage – The remedy for our distress is sent down for us

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.” (Isaiah 9:1)

There will be those bible commentators who will say this also refers to Jesus. And it does point to Jesus, for that is the area where he grew up and ministered. But the ministry of Jesus was not confined to that one place, or what it confined to that one time. (Please note I am leaving alone the who argument that the prophet Isaiah/the writer of Isaiah was writing to the audience of the time! Or at least trying to.)

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.” (Verse 2)

Because Jesus was for all people and for all times, it does not matter if this passage foretells Jesus, or is comfort for those who read this in the time of the book of Isaiah. We are believers in Jesus Christ and God can take comfort from it to. I know I do.

“You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.” (Verses 3 – 4)

So we can read this passage and walk forward knowing that never again will we be burdened? Ah, that is the rub beloved reader. (I will identify that “rub” a little further one.) One of the reasons I am so vigilante about not taking verses/passages from the time they were written, and from the people they were written for/to. I know that is not the aim of biblical commentators. But after you read enough of that, you start to feel like you are eavesdropping on a conversation that was not meant for you!

When this passage of the book of Isaiah was written, people were suffering, burdened with weights across their shoulders and opposed! When the Jews (contemporaries of Jesus) read it, they were also burdened and opposed. And when we, as modern believers read it with our troubles and burdens we can take the same good news from it that our spiritual forebearers did before us.

The rub? Belief in God in the time of the writer of Isaiah, belief in God in the time of Jesus, and belief in God and Jesus Christ now – does not exempt us from burdens, weights, and oppression. Yes, the promise comes down to us that God and Christ is with us. But we still live in a world that has problems and strife. The called people of God have problems and strife. That is why we must take these verses to our heart and soul, and use them to mend ourselves with God’s compassion, love and care. Let us do so! Selah!

Second Sunday After Epiphany: The Psalm Passage – Waiting in anticipation

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 40:1 – 3)

A psalm of overcoming. But also a psalm of hope, that this would happen. I have been in the pit of desolation, and have cried. And cried out to the Lord. I know I have been heard, because the Lord always hears. And I know I will be lifted out, because the Lord comes to those who call on the Divine. Furthermore, I know that no matter how often I (or anyone else) calls out to the Lord, the Lord will come and minister to us. I know all of these things! But when I am in that pit, it is hard to wait patiently.

“Happy are those who make the LORD their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.” (Verse 4)

I am not sure I am to “happy” yet. I have been there before, and hope and have faith I will be there again. But right now, being patient takes all of my being.

“You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted. Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.” (Verses 5 – 6)

I remember, as I read these verses, 12 years ago I put these verses in my heart as I graduated from seminary. It was a long road culminating in a feeling of accomplishment and peace. I thought I had overcome so much, and now was ready to stride forth with confidence and the Lord’s plan for me laid out before me.

But there were corners, changes, disappointments, and heartaches I had no idea of. And desolate pits too numerous to count. But as I said, with each pit I found myself the Lord lifted me out and set me on firm ground.

I have never regret saying . . .

Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.” (Verses 7 – 10)

This week (and last week too for that matter) I have been quite honest about my struggles. I have tried to be honest too about where and how I have felt the Lord’s presence. I hope I have been clear enough about that. Even though I have felt as if I was in pit after pit, I have never felt that I was alone; the Lord was with me, comforted me, strengthened me. And when I was ready, the Lord lifted me up and set upon the Lord’s path for me.

So I say . . .

“Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.” (Verses 11)

Selah!

Week of – First Sunday After Christmas / New Year’s Day / Holy Name of Jesus Day; A Exhortation to take into the New Year

The lectionary for New’s Day references the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verses 1 to 13, but those last five are kind of a downer, so I am not using them. I have been very diligent most of the time using all the verses, but this time I want to emphasis the “time” and how it apportioned to us.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

And the times we are living in call for strength and fortitude; but I do not say “more” because that implies, and then negates, what our forebearers both generational and spiritual have gone through. Another important consideration is what we do with our time. The writer of Ecclesiastes talks about time do things I would not do, nor advocate that others do. If we spend our time and energy doing negatives, we will have nothing left to do the positives in life. And it is humanity, as a global community that can comfort the grieving, heal the wounds that have been inflicted, mend what has been torn apart, and counter the hate and war in our world. We have been equipped for this by our Lord God.

“O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8)

In this New Year may we heed the call of our Lord and call others to the Lord so that the world might be reformed according to the law of love that was taught to us by Christ Jesus. Selah!