The pessimist may be right in the long run, but the optimist has a better time during the trip! Who will do better in the COVID-19 pandemic: the …King Jesus versus the Pandemic
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”2 Timothy 1:7
Sing No longer slaves,
“Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear”.
Martin Luther King Jr.
“By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.”Proverbs 16:6
When the coronavirus warnings started trumpeting one of my fellow deputies observed, why so much fear in the headlines. Yes, it seems the news media will always turn up the anxious level when events like coronavirus occur. So, I read a bit about fear, I learned there are at least two kinds of it. First there is the kind of fear Scrooge had for the ghost of Christmas yet to come. The unrepentant Ebenezer feared death. The sort of fear a prisoner or a sick person might have, a fear of the unknown.
The second kind of fear is described by protestant reformer Martin Luther who wrote, “There is a form of fear when a respectful child fears their parents, not because of possible punishment but because they don’t want to disappoint or let down the family. The fear of the lord is what Luther was focusing on. So we develop a Holy fear that will shape our thoughts, make us bold in love, and give us power over the unknown. In this time and always, we need to trust God with the confidence a child has toward a loving father.
Blessings, Pastor Roger Hovis
Lord, I do love You and I desire to surrender to You everything in my life that keeps me from loving You with my whole heart. Give me a holy fear so that I may draw closer to You and learn to love others as You love them. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.
This is the longest month of March on record! It’s not because this one has more than the usual 31 days, but these days have dragged on and on, and …Holy Week, COVID-19, and The Serenity Prayer
GREETING AND SONG – Brother Darren
Announcements Brother Darren
Opening prayer – Psalm 32, Pastor Roger Psalm 32
Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. 2 Count yourself lucky— GOD holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. 3 When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. 4 The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. 5 Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to GOD .” Suddenly the pressure was gone— my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. 6 These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we’ll be on high ground, untouched. 7 GOD ’s my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck. 8 Let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight: 9 “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on course.” 10 God-defiers are always in trouble; GOD -Affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around.11 Celebrate GOD . Sing together everyone – All you honest hearts, sing for joy!
The World Series in Baseball begins October 22. I love baseball, especially college play. The NCAA limits the number of scholarship players to 11.7 so there’s about 23 out of a total of 35 who are playing because they simply love the game. It’s one of the purest sports left on the athletic landscape. The College World Series in Omaha is a treat that should be on everyone’s bucket list. I’ve been 6 times. Once driving straight-through by myself, once with Cindy, and four times with our youngest son, Caleb. It’s great!
As I think about our postmodern culture wars there are two statements that come to me from my experience with baseball, from my own playing and managing days, as well as from enjoying the game from the seats: “Remember what’s fair and what’s foul;” and “Always think about what you’re going to do if the ball comes to…
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The Distraction Delusion – Get Your Hands Dirty
By Brother Luke
It’s Christmas afternoon. Matins and Divine Liturgy are in the past. The community meal is in the future. Right now, before early evening chores in the puppy kennel, I have some time to exhale! The dogs and I have been out for a walk, but now I want to rest in my chair and maybe read, with the soft sounds of Christmas carols and songs in the background. As I settle in, the dogs have to work out their own plan for the siesta. What? Siesta! No chance! Well, maybe a chance for Kahn. He usually comes over to me for a good long petting session; it seems we need to assure each other that we are still around! Once done, then he will settle down for a bit on his therapeutic dog bed. But before long he ambles over to the door and lies down near the crack at the bottom of the door to get a bit of the breeze coming in. After all, my window faces south, and we get the afternoon winter sun right through the windows. The room does heat up.
Meanwhile, Fuller and Iris are playing their games with the Nylabone toys. Even in my small room there is still space for the ubiquitous keep-away game, even if only in short spurts. I hear the growls as one pup tries to steal the bone from the other. But before long Fuller will begin his special game with me. It is the indoor version of kick a stick, so he can chase it and bring it to me (maybe). In this indoor version, he brings one of the Nylabones, well chewed and dripping with saliva, and drops it on the old phone stand I have next to the chair for my books. If I don’t respond, then he picks it up and drops it right on me. Maybe on my legs. If it sticks and I don’t toss it, then he picks it up and keeps dropping it closer and closer to my face. Each time he drops it, he stands back, sits down, and stares at me with his tongue just ever so slightly hanging down out of his mouth. If my eyes are closed, then of course it is to no immediate effect, but in my mind’s eye I know what is going on, since I have seen it so many times before. Often I will toss the bone, hoping it will land on a dog bed and not bang up against the wall, the heat register, or the side of the armoire, or the desk, disturbing the silence in the cloister (about which I will later hear). Sometimes when I toss the bone, Iris will get into the act and steal it from Fuller. Then he looks around, at first puzzled, unsure what has become of HIS bone. But of course, in the world of dog play, who really possesses anything? Isn’t it all up for grabs?
Iris is often content just to chew on her Nylabone toy. She can play or not play. It is usually her prerogative anyway. Or she might come over to me and leap right up onto my lap. I might say NO! but I usually give in first and give her a petting session too. Then I tell her it’s time to get down. Sometimes the two of them, Fuller and Iris, will be next to each other, Iris chewing on a toy or not while Fuller is chewing furiously, with an abandon that makes you think there must be something special hidden inside that he is determined to get out. But no, it’s just the same old bone!
Sometimes I fall asleep in that chair and Fuller will drop the bone on me, wait for a bit, but finally give up and leave it there. When I wake up and move, clunk! The bone will fall to the ground, and he’ll rush over to get it. Eyes bright and expectant, thinking the game is going to begin again. And it may, but often when I wake up I realize I am late for whatever comes next: church, kennels, a meal, whatever. Well, today, it is the kennel, so off I go.
When the time comes for my journey to go from here over to the other world, I hope Fuller is still around. I would want him to come to my funeral and come up to the open casket and drop that Nylabone in. He’ll then sit expectantly, waiting for me to toss it. Well, like so many other times, I won’t toss it, and he’ll have to move it closer to my face! But of course, he won’t know that I’ll be watching, as I usually did, and I’ll be tossing it for him from afar… and he’ll get it, only there will be a bit of a delay. But he’ll get it. He always does!
The longing you express
is the return message.
The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness that wants help is the secret cup. Listen to the moan of a dog for its master. That whining is the connection. There are love dogs no one knows the names of.
Give your life to be one of them.
No More Let Sin and Sorrows Grow
December 27, 2018 By Mark D. Roberts
He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
The third stanza of Isaac Watts’s beloved hymn, “Joy to the World,” reads, “No more let sin and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found.” This verse, unlike the other three, is the least like what we find in Psalm 98, the psalm that provided the theological basis for “Joy to the World.” Given that this hymn was Watts’s singable, Christian version of Psalm 98, we may wonder where he got verse 3.
The answer points, first of all, to Genesis 3. There we find sin and sorrows, thorns infesting the ground, and the curse of both ground and the serpent. The man and woman would live in a world broken by the curse of sin. Because of sin and its curse, their work, whether giving birth or farming, would be painful and difficult. Clearly, Watts had Genesis 3 in mind while writing the third verse of his hymn.
But where does Watts get the idea that the Lord’s blessings would flow in such a way that sorrows would shrink and thorns disappear? Again, we need to look back to Genesis, this time to Genesis 1. There, after God created humanity as male and female, we read, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’” God blessed the first humans, in part, by giving them work to do. Sin made their work painful and frustrating. But God does not leave humanity in this sad state, saddled by the curse. Rather, Christ brings the fullness of God’s salvation, forgiving human sin and restoring broken creation. Thus, the salvation of Christ leads to a new flow of God’s blessing “far as the curse is found.” The ground will no longer be cursed, making human work fall short of the blessing God intended it to be. The blessings of Christ’s salvation will indeed flow so as to restore the original blessing of human work.
Though we continue to live in a world tainted by sin, a world of sorrows and thorns, in Christ we begin to experience the life of the future. Yes, our work will still be painful and frustrating. But, through Christ’s grace, we will at times sense that our work is a blessing, a chance for us to partner with God in the good work of tending his creation. Thus, we will join creation in celebrating the coming of our redeeming, restoring Savior.
Something to Think About:
In what ways do you experience the “thorns” that plague human work because of sin?
Are there times when you experience work as a blessing?
In what ways have the blessings of Christ flowed into your life?
Something to Do: Find a copy of “Joy to the World,” all four stanzas. Then, compare this Christmas hymn to the words of Psalm 98. See what you discover through this comparative exercise.
Prayer: Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room;
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing.
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.
Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ.
While fields and floods,
Rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy.
No more let sin and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found. Amen.