Father’s Day, Nobody’s Savior and Renewed Hope

Hope springs eternal.
Or at least it seems to make some really good comebacks.
About three and a half years ago, I posted about hope (or maybe it might be better called “faith”). In light of the Father’s Day that just passed (got to missing my mom and dad some in the midst of a family reunion), the Cubs winning the Series and a recent conversation about some of my folks who still struggle with life dominating addictions after more than a dozen years that I have known them, I thought I would dredge this back up. When asked, “How can you keep pouring yourself into people who are never going to change? Doesn’t it wear you out?”, the reply is pretty much the same as it was 3 or 4 years ago.

I just understand it better.

  1. It’s what my dad taught me
  2. It’s what my Dad taught me
  3. I’m nobody’s Savior

My dad never gave up on anything.  I learned that there was no such thing as junk – just things that needed repair.

My Heavenly Dad never gave up on me.  He reminds me over and over again that He loves me.  I didn’t do anything to deserve it and I can’t do anything to make it go away.  I am especially loved by Him . . . just like everyone else.

Since I can’t save anyone, it isn’t my fault if they won’t be “saved”.  I also don’t get any credit if they do.  There isn’t any pressure to perform, achieve results or gain attention or “credit”.  It doesn’t diminish me in any way if they choose to continue to die.  It doesn’t make me any better if they choose to live.

I choose to hope, because I have seen some amazing things.  I just keep hanging around waiting to see something incredible I guess.

Cubs Fans, Dad and God’s Love – How I Know There Is Always Hope

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There are many traditions surrounding the Advent Wreath.  Regardless of your past experience with Advent (or lack of experience for most of my Baptist brethren), there is much to consider in the symbols and scripture readings during this time.  The two primary traditions concerning the naming of the candles are:

1.      Prophecy
2.      Bethlehem
3.      Shepherd
4.       Angel



1.      Hope
2.      Peace
3.      Joy
4.       Love

The first set of meanings tend to focus on the story of the Messiah’s birth.  The second set tends to focus on what is accomplished in the coming of the Messiah.  Obviously they are intertwined and there is no way to separate them, but this year we will be digging into the second.  In the traditional readings for the lighting of the “Hope” candle we find this passage:

And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Romans 15:12-13

On the first Sunday of Advent, we light the Prophecy candle also known as the candle of Hope.  Though humanity strayed far from God, God never strayed from humanity.  From the beginning He had a plan and a path prepared for our return to Him.

On this Sunday, we re-ignite our Hope.  Hope for light in our darkness.  Hope for healing in sickness.  Hope for joy in our sadness.  Hope for order in our chaos.  Hope for inclusion in our loneliness.  Hope for help in our helplessness.  Hope for love in our unlovelyness.  Hope for forgiveness in our sin.  Hope for freedom in our captivity.  Hope for salvation!

God has always been for us.

And that is a very encouraging thought.

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Advent Reading for 2016

Daily Scripture Readings
Advent, 2016

Year 1, 2017 Church Year

These readings are adapted from The Book of Common Prayer, Daily Readings for Year One.

Date OT Epistle Gospel
Sun Nov 27 Isa 1:1-9 2 Pet 3:1-10 Matt 25:1-13
Mon Nov 28 Isa 1:10-20 1 Thes 1:1-10 Luke 20:1-8
Tues Nov 29 Isa 1:21-31 1 Thes 2:1-12 Luke 20:9-18
Wed Nov 30 Isa 2:1-11 1 Thes 2:13-20 Luke 20:19-26
Thur Dec 1 Isa 2:12-22 1 Thes 3:1-13 Luke 20:27-40
Fri Dec 2 Isa 3:8-15 1 Thes 4:1-12 Luke 20:41-21:4
Sat Dec 3 Isa 4:2-6 1 Thes 4:13-18 Luke 21:5-19
Sun Dec 4 Isa 5:1-7 2 Pet 3:11-18 Luke 7:28-35
Mon Dec 5 Isa 5:8-23 1 Thes 5:1-11 Luke 21:20-28
Tues Dec 6 Isa 5:13-25 1 Thes 5:12-28 Luke 21:29-38
Wed Dec 7 Isa 6:1-13 2 Thes 1:1-12 John 7:53-8:11
Thur Dec 8 Isa 7:1-9 2 Thes 2:1-12 Luke 22:1-13
Fri Dec 9 Isa 7:10-25 2 Thes 2:13-3:5 Luke 22:14-30
Sat Dec 10 Isa 8:1-15 2 Thes 3:6-18 Luke 22:31-38
Sun Dec 11 Isa 13:6-13 Heb 12:18-29 John 3:22-30
Mon Dec 12 Isa 8:16-9:1 2 Pet 1:1-11 Luke 22:39-53
Tue Dec 13 Isa 9:1-7 2 Pet 1:12-21 Luke 22:54-69
Wed Dec 14 Isa 9:8-17 2 Pet 2:1-10a Mark 1:1-8
Thur Dec 15 Isa  9:18-10:4 2 Pet 2:10b-16 Matt 3:1-12
Fri Dec 16 Isa 10:5-19 2 Pet 2:17-22 Matt 11:2-15
Sat Dec 17 Isa 10:20-27 Jude 17-25 Luke 3:15-20
Sun Dec 18 Isa 42:1-12 Eph 6:10-20 John 3:16-21
Mon Dec 19 Isa 11:1-9 Rev 20:1-10 John 5:30-47
Tues Dec 20 Isa 11:10-16 Rev 20:11-21:8 Luke 1:5-25
Wed Dec 21 Isa 28:9-22 Rev 21:9-21 Luke 1:26-38
Thur Dec 22 Isa 29:13-24 Rev 21:22-22:5 Luke 1:39-56
Fri Dec 23 Isa 33:17-22 Rev 22:6-11, 18-20 Luke 1:57-66
Sat Dec 24 am: Isa 35:1-10
pm: Isa 59:15b-21
am: Rev 22:12-17
pm: Phil 2:5-11
Luke 1:67-80
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Lessons from Lent

Our particular reading plan for Lent this year includes the entire Gospel of Mark.  This past Sunday, the message centered on the words of Christ, primarily in chapter 5.  (You can find the plan in the calendar in the right column.  Click on the underlined day and it will display the reading for the day.)

The passages in Mark relate to a series of miracles and the words of Jesus to the people involved.

  • . . . “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.
  •  . . .”Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
  •  . . . “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”(Mar 5:1-43 NIV)
  •  . . . And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and *said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.“(Mar 1:40-41 NAS77)

When we tell “how much the Lord has done for [us]”, it helps us remember.  Like Peter says, when we find that we are not useful and productive in our knowledge of Him it is because we have forgotten (2 Peter 1:3-11)  .  The time I spend telling folks about what God has done in me is the foundation of my growing faith.  It reminds me that I still need him.  Remember, remember, remember that you are not who you once were and you are a work still in progress.

Our faith will bring healing, but sometimes we don’t lived healed.  Jesus says, “be freed from your suffering”.  We don’t have to wallow in our misery.  We don’t have to continue to suffer in our guilt and shame.  We don’t have to stay where we have been.  There is a new life and it includes freedom, so live free.

Our world is such a fearful place.  We are afraid of everything from terrorism to global environmental catastrophes, but the greatest fears are of isolation, abandonment and rejection.  We are afraid we don’t measure up.  We are afraid we will be left alone.  We are afraid we can’t know real love.  We are afraid we will fail.  Jesus says we don’t have to be afraid.

Jesus is willing.  Jesus wants us to be healed.  He doesn’t ever say, “you just don’t deserve to be healed.”  He says, “come to Me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  It is so tiring being afraid and living a life of suffering.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

This Lenten Season, keep your eyes on the red letters.

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