How much are you worth dead or alive? For Billy the Kid that question was answered by the Governor of New Mexico: $500. It did not matter if bounty hunters brought him dead or alive. Well, I guess it did matter to William H. Bonney and his parents when he was in fact shot dead at age 21. Would you rather live or die? Would you prefer your kids to live or die? Those sound like crazy questions. Yet here comes the Apostle Paul:
“For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.”
(Philippians 1:21 – Watchword for the Week of Sunday 21 September 2014)
Really? Dying as a good thing? Wouldn’t every sane person chose life over death? Is Paul suicidal?
As a matter of fact, we all say those things from time and to time and they make perfect sense in the right context. When comforting the bereaved phrases like “She’s in a better place now” are perfectly true. Ultimately we have to say both:
1. God put me on this planet to live and bloom where I am planted.
2. And when I wither, I am just as much in God’s hands as I have always been.
Dead or alive you are priceless to God and the price that was paid for you goes by the name of Jesus Christ.
The Cub Scouts will hold a yard sale on Saturday, September 13 from 7:00 a.m. until noon. Please drop by and support the scouts. Should you have anything to donate to the yard sale, please deliver items to the church on Friday, September 12.
When I sneeze one thing really gets me every time – someone responding with a big, fat, friendly “GESUNDHEIT!” In a context where I do not expect to hear my native German I am caught by surprise. Most people will say “God bless you!” anyway. After a little research I found that the ritual of blessing someone after a sneeze dates back to the plague of 590 AD. Pope Gregory I ordered that everyone receive an instant special blessing after they sneezed. A sneeze was one of the early symptoms and so the church tried to do its part in containing the epidemic. The blessing after a sneeze is – not surprisingly – a prayer for Gesundheit i.e. health.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits.”
(Psalm 103:2 – Watchword for the Week of Sunday 14 September 2014)
Blessing one another sounds like an easy thing to do but this word commands us to bless God. How can we do that? Shouldn’t that be the other way around? We need God’s blessing! God is Almighty! How could we tiny, imperfect creatures possibly bless the Creator of heaven and earth?
What is it we actually do when we bless one another or when we ask God to bless us?
It’s about wishing someone well: May your health get better.
It’s about hoping the best for someone: I wish you luck.
It’s about supporting someone: That’s a good cause. I’ll help you.
Can you see the picture? God really does need our blessing. We are God’s hands and feet in this world. If we are not here to spread faith, hope and love, who is? We need to help God and support God’s ministry. And we should also want God to feel well. After all can you imagine what that would look like if the creator of heaven and earth were to sneeze? Bless God!
The way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. Yes, I do believe that is true for all genders alike. Who wouldn’t enjoy a nice dinner? God has known that for, well, probably eternity. The love relation between Jesus Christ and us has always had food in its center: the wedding at Cana, the 5000, the last supper, you name it. God’s love has been brought to us through our stomachs. The lesson learned here is this: Body, mind and soul are one. Loving relationships depend on all three to flourish.
At times the church has forgotten that and started singing: “Lord I want to be a Christian in my heart!” Jesus is being reduced to a feeling. “As long as I have Jesus in my heart…” or so goes the excuse. That heart-felt faith all too often serves as an escape from the harshness of life. That Jesus is sweet and provides sanctuary. That Jesus is there to fill an emotional gap when life doesn’t give the satisfaction people were hoping for.
In Western culture we have gotten used to separating body, mind and soul. Aristotle introduced us to a distinction that was never intended to turn into a division. No, love is not limited to stomach and heart. By the way, when you read “heart” in the Bible you have to keep in mind that the Hebrew really refers to the seat of the intellect. So heart really means brain the way we understand it today:
“Give me understanding, O God, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.”
(Psalm 119:34 – Watchword for the Week of Sunday 7 September 2014)
Give me understanding, O God! That’s what God does: to provide us with understanding, resolve and courage. Taking heart is not just about a warm fuzzy feeling but clear analysis and action as well.
That’s why we are invited to at the Lord’s table: through bread and wine Jesus Christ seeks to enter our hearts, our minds, our bodies. Join us for Holy Communion on Sunday.
The church office will be closed on Monday, September 1 in observance of Labor Day.