Mission-Mindedness

(Acts 11:1-18) – J G White
11 am, E5, Sunday, May 19, 2019 – UBC Digby

Parable of The Life Saving Station video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSbMUvkHH5w

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little lifesaving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for those who were lost. Some of those who were saved and various others in the surrounding area wanted to become associated with the station and gave of their time, money, and effort to support its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little lifesaving station grew.

Some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building.

Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully because they used it as a sort of club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in the club’s decorations, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club’s initiations were held. About this time a large ship wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split among the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon life¬saving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a life¬saving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station. So they did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that seacoast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown. (Author: Rev. Dr. Theodore O. Wedel, 1953)

This month, here, we peek into chapter eleven of Dennis Bicker’s book, The Healthy Small Church.  Our theme: Mission-Mindedness. The chapter starts with a quote from Canadian Church Consultant and author, Tom Bandy.

True health does not mean personal or corporate well-being. It means personal or corporate productivity…. The mere health of the body of Christ is meaningless unless it blesses all humankind.

Like many others, Bandy, Bickers, and Wedel -who wrote the life saving station story – tell us we are the Church so that we will have a mission and bless our communities, and our world. They are simply preaching as Jesus did, who said, “Going into the world, make more disciples of me – baptizing them and teaching them everything.” (Mtt 28) They are inspiring us as Paul tried to do, when he wrote: “We are created in Jesus to do good work, which is the lifestyle God planned for us.” (Eph 2:10)

When a person dies, sometimes we want to know what their last spoken words were.  D’ya know what the last seven words of the Church are? “We’ve never done it that way before!”  (Dallas Willard)

Today’s great scripture story is Peter’s own retelling of what had just happened: how he came to spend quality time with some non-Jewish folks who were, nevertheless, believing in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.  This was shocking, a real scandal! Clearly, for Peter himself it was a big step to sit down and eat with gentiles, not to mention to believe they could become real followers of the Christ. They had never done it this way before.

God gave a vision for something more, something greater.  The long-awaited Messiah had come – but it was only this little cultural group, the Hebrews, who were waiting for their Messiah. Jesus turns out to be a Saviour for the whole world, for the Samaritans, the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Syrians… everyone.  

We here, Christians today, catch a vision from God for who to love and how to love them.  Some of you have had this vision.

When Dennis Bickers writes about a congregation being mission-minded instead of survival-minded, he says there are two difficult questions to answer.  

  1. Who are we here for?  
  2. Is what we’re doing here really worth the life of our Lord[, Jesus]? (pp.100, 101)

At times we need new guidance and new inspiration to achieve our purpose.  We have a lot of creativity and energy and enthusiasm for good work. Think of our creativity around putting on a beautiful Tea, or a musical event, or a small study group, or an artistic event as a fund-raiser.  What are some of the next things that we can do? The projects that take us out into the community to the people who are not church people?

We need our God to take us the next steps.  We need divine inspiration, and divine power.  In the story of Cornelius becoming a Christian, the Holy Spirit guides. And humans are called upon to guide also. The Spirit acts when Peter speaks, and remembering the words of Jesus has an impact. In the end, the people become quiet; then they believe; and they praise!  

This is a story of believers being called out to new places of ministry they had not gone before.  

Now, we have a different model of attraction for Church success.  Instead of doing church things really well, to attract and keep people with us, we the Church get attracted to do our work out there in our neighbourhoods. Our best ministry becomes what happens when we are not on the premises, here!

This is the whole idea behind what we now call ‘Fresh Expressions’ of Church. Eleven days ago deacon Joyce and I attended a seminar on this movement, put on by our Baptist convention.  What is a fresh expression of the Church? Do ministry out in the community, where people already gather. Start churches, there, with people who don’t go to church. So there are gatherings in restaurants, at the gym, with the running club, at a tattoo parlour, or the dog park.  

And to do this sort of thing, we start by listening.  Nothing new about this, really. All the time, Jesus traveled with his twelve apprentices to meet the people where they were, see what was going on.

For years I have heard what Tom Bandy recommends: get teams of church people to go out in triads, as he calls them. Teams of three, who get together to pray, then go to hang out and see who they see, and discover what is going on, and what is needed in the community.

When I left the Fresh Expressions Seminar the other day, I wrote on my paper what I could do next. I can take some of my people out to listen in our town.  Let’s go. Let us simply decide to go and pay attention. Let us prepare with prayer. Then let us take time at Tim Hortons, or the ball field, or with the hiking club, and listen with heart and soul.  

What might the Master do with us, when he takes us on mission, out there? Not what we’ve done before!

Here is the Digby Life Saving Station: it is now a private cottage.  The way life saving goes on in our waters is different now. There are still systems in place to save lives at sea.  Seafarers do get saved.

So too with the ways making disciples of Jesus can happen now.  Let us look for our new ministry together, out there. This is how we shall be mission-minded.

Ready to Burst with Words

(Job 32; Matthew 9:14-17) – J G White

11 am, Sun, Jan 26, 2020 – UBC Digby

You know that feeling of being ‘ready to burst’ with something to say? 

Here is a photo from about ten years ago. Sharon was happily doing a little plumbing repair at our home in Falmouth, when her phone rang. Does it look like it was good news? Yes. Her daughter, Teanna, was calling to say that her boyfriend, Sherwin, had finally ‘popped the question;’ and she said, ‘Yes,’ of course. 

Here is a photo from almost three years ago that reminds me of another time my step-daughter was bursting with something to say. Yes, it was her son’s fourth birthday. He was supposed to be having a big party, of course, but a day or so before, plans changed. His mother, Teanna, called on Friday to say there was a problem with her pregnancy, 27 weeks on, and they had to rush to the IWK. On Dryden’s fourth birthday that little sister had to come out, at one pound, three ounces! Here they are today, doing quite well, thanks be to God!

People are often bursting at the seams to say something. Not just personal news. We read lots on social media, and other media – TV, Radio, News, etc. People are always rushing in to set the record straight.

Today, in scripture, we heard about a young fellow in the Ancient Near East named Elihu. He was bursting with words, with opinions, with anger.

It’s the time of a man of faith named Job, who had lost everything. Family, wealth, physical health. And three of his friends had just had long conversations with him about what must have gone wrong.

Then this fourth visitor appears on the scene. He is just bursting with things to say. In the first few sentences that introduce Elihu, his anger is mentioned four times! He became angry. He was angry at Job who justified himself, not God. He was angry at Job’s three friends who could not come up with good answers for how Job was in the wrong. We are told again that Elihu was angry with the three for their lack of answers to the suffering of Job.

Once he gets talking, Elihu mentions three times he is going to ‘declare his opinion.’ (32: 6, 10, 17) 

Opinions run rampant, a lot of the time. If we are not giving our own opinion, we are hearing the opinions of others. Here’s my cousin, Robbie, years ago, wearing a T-shirt that says: “If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you!” I’ll let you know Robbie is not as opinionated as his T-shirt was.

But we do meet people like this. Some people are ‘ready to burst’ with anger. Some are ready to burst with their opinions. Some are simply ready to burst with words, words, lots of words. Sometimes we resemble one of these people. 

Having plenty of words can be a way of not saying much at all. And of not speaking the truth. This is a critique of politicians at every level, I suppose. I have mentioned before a remarkable little interview I heard on the radio last summer. It was a municipal counselor from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality being questioned, as I recall. And what was amazing about this? Every time she was asked a question, the first word she said was either “Yes” or “No”, and then she gave an explanation. So many questions that get asked usually get answered with a long explanation, and by the end, the public servant has not given a real answer. This was exceptional.

Elihu, here in Job chapters 32-37, has been criticized for being quite wordy. Hey, he takes about twenty verses just to say, “Look out, I’m going to speak now!” We will hear some of his words, over the next few weeks, which are here in God’s Word. 

Elihu is just bursting to speak and take his turn in the debate over why Job deserved to get his life destroyed. We might learn from what young Elihu does well, and also from what is does poorly.

I endeavour to preach a Gospel that is essentially positive. Good News. I believe we are becoming people who are “bursting at the seams” with something new that is very good in our world. 

Like Job and his companions, we know the unexplainable disasters that seem randomly to befall people. We also know the terrible ways of we the people of this planet. Poet Robert Burns put it this way, more than 230 years ago, in ‘Man was made to mourn: A Dirge.’

Many and sharp the num’rous ills

Inwoven with our frame!

More pointed still we make ourselves

Regret, remorse, and shame!

And man, whose heav’n-erected face

The smiles of love adorn, –

Man’s inhumanity to man

Makes countless thousands mourn!

“Man’s inhumanity to man” not to mention to nature, continues in old ways and new in our day. 

There are times to be full to overflowing with the bad news, and to be speaking of it in order to get a grip on things. Troubles sometimes fill our prayers. Yet over and above this I believe we have a message of powerful hope. 

It’s about Jesus. Jesus, whose key preaching was “the Kingdom of the heavens has come near.” And then he told numerous parables about this Kingdom. 

Our traditional Christian language expresses this in many familiar ways. We remember that

That though the wrong seems oft so strong

God is the ruler yet.  (M. D. Babcock, 1915)

Along with His words is His life story. He lived as a teacher – with apprentices, and as a healer. He faced evil forces head on, and always won the contest. He was a critic of His Jewish religious leadership. He stayed closest to the people in trouble: the untouchable, the unlovable, the unforgivable. Of course, He touched, He loved, He forgave. 

He got tortured and executed, and even that convinced some onlookers that He was holy and good and right. Then, a few hundred of His followers met Him again, alive. And the movement truly began, with Jesus not even present. Yet, present in Spirit.

It is this presence of the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, that my human spirit knows today, and perhaps yours too. 

So we have much to speak and to show.

Unlike Elihu, of olden days, we need not flood the room with our words, with our opinions, or with our frustrated anger. In the Spirit of Christ, living water can pour out from us, and gently flow and seek those who thirst for hope and life. 

I think of many people. I think of a friend named Ruth. She lives a busy life. For many years she worked as a lab tech in her local hospital. Each week, some people would arrive, to have their blood taken, or an X-ray done, and be very down and troubled. Ruth was a gentle, wise listener, and the patients poured out their troubles to her. After work, she might have one of her four children drop by to talk, and sort out some personal problems. In the evening, Ruth would lead the Baptist Youth Group meetings: and whatever creative plans she had cooked up would be put aside, if one of the young people was having a sudden crisis. They youth set the agenda. 

The next day, she would be baking a pie to take to an elderly acquaintance. Or gathering materials for her spectacular decorations in the Church. Or reading a great book, and studying scripture. Ruth spends her days in creative ways, drinking deeply from Jesus, the spring of living water. I know, because she and I spoke of Him much.

One last image of the New Realm of Jesus, today, is of new wine into new wineskins. We peeked at a scene from Jesus’ life today, again this week from Matthew 9. Jesus and His close followers are acting differently than those still devoted to John the Baptizer, and the usual traditions of Hebrew life. Jesus and company are not fasting twice a week, as usual, for instance. 

They are ready to celebrate, not mourn, it seems. Ready for what’s new and good. Jesus’ Way of faith and life is fresh and new, and even demands new containers, so to speak. 

Now, Christ is with us, but also not here. So we have times to fast and pray, and times to praise and celebrate! Respond to the holy grief, and the holy glory that you experience. Grounded in God, we can have the best things burst out from within us. It is a matter of transformation. 

No wonder we have one study group here called the Transformers. A little group that gets together to talk about the things of the Spirit. Sharing words, sharing food, sharing life, on the way to being improved, made good. It’s an act of God, I tell you!

And there are plenty more where that came from.

Amen.

Let the Almighty Answer!

(Job 31:24-40; Matthew 9:1-13) – J G White

11 am, Sun, Jan 19, 2020 – WPXU – UBC Digby

The Men’s Choir sang Bill Gaither’s 1974 song:

I just feel like something good is about to happen,

I just feel like something good is on its way;

He has promised that He’d open all of Heaven,

And, brother, it could happen any day…

A good dose of joyful hope like this is just what some people are looking for; this song stirs up holy optimism. It refers to a number of scriptural promises:

(2 Chr 7:14) if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven… 

(Rom 8:28) We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 

(1 Cor 2:9)“[What] no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him…”

This is the fair opposite of the feelings of the ancient man named Job, at the end of all his speeches. He suffered so much pain – and for what reason? 

“Let the Almighty answer!” Job cries out. “O that I had one to hear me!” “O that the indictment was written by my adversary!” 

Job’s wealth was lost. Job’s children had all been killed off. Job’s physical health was destroyed. Why?

Why? Author Phillip Yancey calls this “The Question That Never Goes Away.” We ask the question: we ask one another, we ask our God. 

A senior asks, ‘Why did that young man die of cancer, and I lived?’ 

A young parent asks, ‘Why does every chance I get at a good job fail, and we still struggle to make ends meet?’

A woman asks, ‘Why do we still have to keep marching, keep speaking out, keep striving for justice in the workplace and in society?

An immigrant asks, ‘Why does violence and war continue in my home nation, after all these years of fighting!’

A pastor asks, ‘Why, Lord, is the spiritual battle so fierce, and my church is merely hoping to survive until it dies?’ ‘Let the Almighty answer!’

‘Let the Almighty answer.’ That was Job’s cry, over and over again. His speeches are recorded here in the book that bears his name, this ancient, holy text. After the disasters hit him, a few friends gather, and they are silent with him for seven days. 

Then the talking begins. We have twenty pages of speeches. By Job. By his three friends. 

Job insists he has done nothing to deserve all his troubles. He insists he has not neglected things either. His three so-called ‘comforters’ argue the finer points of sin and punishment with him, of God’s justice and right actions. Of good, solid, biblical, Deuterono- mistic theology: we will get what we deserve. 

It goes on an on. 

Have you read it all lately? Give it a try. 

Or, maybe you have heard it all before. From someone you know. Someone in our day who has suffered a lot. Lost too much. Had nothing but trouble. Faced Some challenge that others didn’t. It happens. No wonder this old book, Job, has stood the test of time, and never was disputed. 

A great man of suffering and faith of the 20th century was priest and author Henri Nouwen. At one point, he left the stress and loneliness of being a Harvard divinity professor to become a worker at a L’arch community in Toronto, a community for people with physical and mental disabilities. 

Before he made that ‘downward’ career move, almost prophetically, he wrote something to family members back in Holland, his home. You see, one day he received news that his sister-in-law had given birth to a daughter with Down’s syndrome. He wrote to his family these words:

Laura is going to be important for all of us in the family. We have never had a “weak” person among us. We all are hardworking, ambitious, and successful people who seldom had to experience powerlessness. Now Laura enters and tells us a totally new dependency. Laura, who always will be a child, will teach us the way of Christ as no one will ever be able to do. (from ‘Gracias!’) If we feel powerless, our conversation with the Almighty changes. 

The powerlessness of the ancient man, Job, is of another sort. As he comes to his tenth and final speech, he speaks in three ways. First, chapter 29, he remembers nostalgically his former, happy days. Second, chapter 30, in a pathetic mood, he expresses how he has been degraded and isolated. Third, chapter 31, he defiantly ends with curses upon himself, if he has done any of these bad things:

  • ‘If I have walked with falsehood’
  • ‘If my heart has been enticed by a woman’
  • ‘If I have rejected the cause of my …slaves’
  • ‘If I have withheld anything that the poor desired’
  • ‘If I have made gold my trust’
  • ‘If I have rejoiced at the ruin of those who hated me’
  • ‘If my land has cried out against me’

And he names the curses for each of these vices, which, of course, he means to say, he has never done. This man has been filled with grief, facing all the stages of grief, as we call them today: Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining, Acceptance. Perhaps we could even name others. 

As I read this incredible text, and others – like the book of Psalms – I see how intense and complete are the prayers of these people. They say anything and  everything to God. Every feeling. Anger. Depression. Trying to bargain and make a deal. They say it with powerful words and images. So this is acceptable prayer. Deep prayer. Genuine prayer. Honest to God.

And then, ‘the words of Job are ended.’

Job had one more visitor who came to him in his misery. This man also came to offer insight and advice: a younger fellow, his name was Elihu. Over the next few weeks we will hear from him, and consider his wisdom, spoken to Job, and to Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. 

When we know someone in miserable trouble, what can we do? Perhaps it is as simple as to ‘take them to Jesus.’ Like our Gospel story. To be inspired by those people who brought their friend to Jesus: a parylized man on a cot, carried to Him. 

How do we take someone to Jesus? ‘Prayer,’ is one short answer. We draw near to God, have conversation about our friend in trouble, pour out our heart, and listen. We listen by being silent. We listen by reading scripture. We listen to God’s world around.

When we get to spend time with someone who is ill or in other trouble, we find ways to be the hands and heart of Jesus, so to speak. We do little helpful things. We listen. We understand. We feel. We might pray with that person, or share scripture. Holy words can have holy power. We are graciously given this ministry.

A few of us heard a remarkable little sermon at a funeral a couple weeks ago. The pastor spoke of some of the common things we say at the time of a death that are really not usually good and helpful.  I came up with my own list. ‘God wanted another flower in the garden of heaven.’ ‘At least she lived a good life.’ ‘He’s an angel now, looking over us.’ There are better phrases we can train ourselves to say. And being quieter can also be helpful. Listening.

It’s like talking to a friend who is sick. And we start telling them about someone we knew who had the same illness, and all the pain and problems they suffered! “You’re having carpal tunnel surgery? Oh, my cousin had that. They messed it all up – he got an infection, had to have more surgery, what a time!” Might be true what we say, but not encouraging. Listening can be most important. 

Which is what Job’s four visitors did, at first. They sat with him, in silence, for seven days. But then they opened their mouths; they got talking… way too much, we might say. 

And, be ready for people around to criticize your ministry to people in trouble. How you try to help can be misunderstood by others. They tell you how to do it better. Remind you how the person is at least partly at fault for causing their own problem. Not deserving. And so on.

I see this happening in the Matthew 9 story today. Christ heals the fellow and speaks forgiveness, and gets in trouble immediately for doing this! ‘You can’t do that!” Jesus shows He can give those blessings.

And Jesus notices the faith of the paralized man’s friends. Jesus gave the sick man two words: forgiveness and healing. To us today, when we want to be helpers with forgiveness and healing, Jesus can give us faith. Faith to be a blessing to others. For the sake of their healing, in soul and body. Faith in the Source of the blessing. 

And with that confidence, growing in us, we can sit down for quality time with people in need. People who are imperfect – like we are. Even people who have been hit, again and again, with bad news. Or people who fail, over and over. As we have too. 

Last Sunday we sang:

Ponder anew what the Almighty can do…Notice where Christ goes. To whom He goes. Back then – in the Biblical record. Here and now, in Spirit, among us. Let us seek, day by day, how the Almighty will answer!

Is Hindsight 20/20?

(Deut 4:9-20; John 5:31-40) – J G White
11 am, 12th Day of Xmas, Jan 5, 2020 – UBC Digby

New year, new decade. Lot’s of looking back going on. 2019 was a terrible year! 2019 was a good year? Whatever a person’s experience and perspective, we’ve looked back.

Don’t forget what your eyes have seen.” So said Moses to the children of Israel, as he rehearsed their history and their law, recorded in the book we call Deuteronomy. ‘Deuteronomy’ means Second Law. The story and the Law is gone over a second time. ‘Remember this happened, remember that; remember not to do that, remember always to do this…’

Is looking back always a good thing? Remembering, doing history, good? Is hindsight really 20/20?

It is said that we should notice that, in a car, the rear view mirror is small – very small, compared with the windshield view. So don’t spend all your time looking back. And yet, your little mirror on the passenger side says on it OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. Things from the past, even far back in the past, can be very influential.

There are dangers and disadvantages of looking back. Some people just ‘live in the past.’ Get stuck there. Like the uncle in the movie ‘Napoleon Dynamite.’ Remember him? The former high-school football star. Still going over the glory days of those games, in detail. 

Or, the adventuresome author whose heyday was in the 1970s; as a young author he walked across America and wrote about it for National Geographic. I got one of his books, from 1984, for Christmas. I checked out his more recent social media stuff, and he still seems to be looking back to his glory days, posting pictures of himself from 1977. 

The old can seem old, worn, out of date, boring. 
Our religion – old, historic! Our scripture also.
Well, the human species is also old and historic! 
It makes sense that some things are the way they are about us all, throughout history. Yet looking back can become a trap for us.

And 20/20 vision can be, just that, merely 20/20. Which is average, not above average, not great, not super. 20/20 vision is being able to see, from 20 feet, what a normal person can see clearly at 20 feet.

To look back in life-giving ways is definitely possible. This is what Moses was helping his Hebrew people do, before his journey ended and they finally got to cross over into the Promised Land. The Old Testament stories and poems are filled with the retelling of their own story. It was intended to “overcome the distance of the past and maintain it as a source of identity.” (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 2010, p. 256) They could stay on course only if they knew their story, remembered the lessons they had once learned, and how God had acted in their history. 

Today, the Bible is our time-travel technology. We get to enter the past. What was, comes into the present, in a way. Hey, to read any book is to look back into the past, right? Every book was written in the past. And scripture is quite old. 

We will hear critiques of the Bible. Not everyone is for it. Tim Mincin is an Australian musician and comedian who has a Christmas song called ‘White Wine in the Sun’.  
I don’t go in for ancient wisdom
I don’t believe just ’cause ideas are tenacious,
it means that they’re worthy

This past week I have been looking over a theology book by Mark McKim, a Canadian Baptist pastor and scholar. He gives this warning about our secular culture and the Bible:
“8. Being Christian in a Secular Context means assuming that Christian Scriptures will not be accepted as authoritative. In public discussion or debate, it is, and will become increasingly useless merely to cite Scripture as one’s authority.” (Christian Theology for a Secular Society, 2008, p. 75)

So, in our enthusiasm for the revealed word in print, the Bible, we cannot assume it will convince others. Though we are powerfully influenced by it. 

An old hymn from Rippon’s 1787 collection claims:
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

That hymn goes on to quote scriptural promises, from Isaiah 43. The sentiment is a good one, I’d say. We value the Bible we have been given. It speaks so much to us. It takes us to Jesus. It is then to Jesus that we go. We search the scriptures, and come to Jesus – a very personal thing.

We heard this in the words of Jesus in John 5. Jesus’ warning to his critics takes the style of a legal hearing. Jesus faces his accusers by speaking of those who testify in the court of life on His behalf. 
John the Baptizer testified about Jesus, positively. 
The good, miraculous works of Jesus testified. ‘The proof is in the pudding,’ or, as Jesus Himself said, ‘by their fruits shall you know them.’ (Mtt 7:16)
God the Father also testified. 
As well as the scriptures. “You search the scriptures… and it is they that testify on my behalf.” The holy texts they had, of course, were what we now call the Old Testament. Today, we have the blessing of the New Testament, with its witness to Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in the early Church. 

And, as some wise pastor said, we don’t just read the Bible: the Bible reads us. The guidance, the stories, the songs and prayers speak into our lives. It becomes a very personal book. Looking back into these pages helps us look back through the chapters of our lives. 

I attended another funeral yesterday, at which a couple people spoke about the life story of the deceased. Alongside these occasions, friends are always having birthdays. One of my best friends had a birthday yesterday. Another day, another way to remember, and celebrate, and even learn from the past. Our own past. 

Our life Historian is Jesus. Read your life story with Him. “Listen to Your Life” thru the eyes of the Master. People who log into Facebook every day get reminders of things they posted one year ago today, or two years, or five, and so on. What if you took each of those reminders as a moment to meditate upon the journey of life? Give thanks to the Master, and seek in Christ a lesson from that little memory of the past.

We start this month, as always, with the Lord’s Supper – a memory, a reminder, once again. Jesus commanded that His followers remember

Hindsight can be better than 20/20, better than average, more than adequate. The past is available to us, far more than the future. Merciful God: open our eyes to know the past in a way that gives life to us today! To come to Jesus is to have life. May souls be inspired and empowered to enter Christ and enter life!