WELCOME

Hello! I am Pastor Pat Harris of Community Lutheran Church in Enfield NH. I welcome you to join with me in musings about the church year season, daily texts or meditations. I will share my thoughts and invite you to share yours with me as well. I look forward to sharing internet time with you, and if you are ever in the Enfield NH area, please feel free to drop in and visit in person. Our regular worship service times are Sundays at 9:00 and 11:15 AM.

You can also visit us on the web at www.clcenfield.org

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lent Day 40: April 7--Easter Saturday

Lenten Reflection for Day 40

Date: Holy Saturday April 7, 2012

Author: Howard Shaffer

Bible Passage: Ezekiel 34:11–12 (NRSV)

11 For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12 As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

Reflection:

Ezekiel was a prophet who lived in exile in Babylon and was there waiting for the Jews when those who were taken in captivity arrived. The exiles had been marched from their destroyed homeland to the capital of their conquerors as captive slaves. Imagine their despair!! Some or many may have lost faith, given up hope, and turned away from God.

But God had a plan for them! Their situation was due to their own making. Back home their leaders had turned from God and broken Commandment number one-Have no other Gods, worship no other Gods.

In the first part of the chapter for today’s reading, Ezekiel describes the sad and terrible history of the sheep. They were scattered and killed because their leaders failed them. The leaders were concerned with their own comfort and not their job as leaders.

In today’s verses, God assures the faithful that he has a plan, and he himself will rescue them.

Does all this sound familiar? Are we in a time when leaders have failed and the sheep are wandering? Do we have the responsibility to be new leaders who follow and spread God’s word? We can be assured that God has a plan for each of us and for the world.

That plan is Salvation through belief in Jesus Christ and eternal life!!!

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for being our shepherd when earthly leaders have failed us. Thank you for the guidance you have given us through the prophets, through Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit. Tomorrow as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, help us to be thankful all the time, and to be the leaders in faith, in the plan you have for us and for Community Lutheran Church.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lent Day 39: April 6--Good Friday

Lenten Reflection for Day 39

Date: April 6, 2012, Good Friday

Author: John Harris

Bible Passage: Luke 10:8–12 (NRSV)

8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’12 I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.

Reflection: In this Good Friday text, we listen to Jesus’ advice to the Seventy disciples as they prepare to go out into the world, two by two, to preach the “good news” about the Kingdom of God.

For us 21st century Christians, Jesus invites us to be hospitable to the strangers in our midst. And who may that stranger be? I think it goes beyond being kind to those sometimes “pesky” missionary Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons who occasionally bang on our doors. After all, aren’t they just 21st century versions of the Seventy sent out by Jesus? Unfortunately, modern day culture has taught us to be suspicious of strangers and those folks who may be different from us in dress, language, culture, or appearance. These folks just may be “angels in disguise” or just may give us a quick glimpse of the “kingdom of God.” As we reflect on Jesus’ death this Good Friday morning, remember the forsaken outcast, a stranger to his people, who gave marvelous signs of the Kingdom of God, yet we all chose to ignore Him.

We need to welcome the stranger, whether that person is new to our neighborhood, our school or work (or play!), or our faith community. We think this morning on all those strangers who have become good friends and neighbors. We welcome their diversity of thought and traditions and their ability to help us see “God’s Kingdom” through new eyes.

Prayer: Dear God, I know what it is like to be a “stranger in a strange land.” Help me to welcome the stranger in our midst and to see Your Kingdom anew in that person. Amen.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lent Day 38--April 5 Maundy Thursday

Lenten Reflection for Day 38—Maundy Thursday

Date: April 5, 2012

Author: Pastor Pat Harris

Bible Passage: Revelation 21:5 (NRSV)

5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Reflection:

On this Maundy Thursday, we think on Jesus’ new commandment from the Gospel of John: “Love one another as I have loved you.” These words, too, are trustworthy and true, but oh, so very hard to live up to. If we were able to come even close to the gold standard that Jesus sets for loving each other, the world would truly be made new.

We are certainly called upon to strive to love each other as Jesus loves us, but we are weak human beings. The neighbor who always criticizes us because our property maintenance does not meet his standards is really hard to love. The co-worker who doesn’t do his or her share of the work just makes us angry. The teenager down the street who dresses differently and plays loud music continually aggravates us. Try as we might, we just can seem to come up to Jesus’ standard for loving these “difficult” people.

When God fulfills God’s promise to make all things new, will our neighbors be changed so they don’t irritate us, or will we be the ones changed? Perhaps we will be transformed so that our love for other people is not dependent on their “lovability”?

Prayer: All loving God, may you make us new so that we may fulfill Jesus’ command to love one another as we have been loved. Amen


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lent Day 37--April 4

Lenten Reflection for Day 37

Date: Wednesday April 4, 2012

Author: Ed Olney

Bible Passage: Genesis 12:4–5 (NRSV)

4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan,

Reflection:

First of all, Abram is told to leave his home and family, pack up and head southwest to a yet-undisclosed land. That, in itself, took faith. He is told that out of him will come a great nation who will, in turn, be a blessing to many others. We see this in the verses preceding today’s scripture:

Genesis 12:1–3 (NRSV)

1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Reading on in Genesis 12, we find that all of this actually came true because of the complete faith of Abram and his family in obeying God and making the journey. Can we relate this act of faith to our own Lenten journey? I believe the answer is yes, with the help of God. Our immediate reward is Easter.

When we look at both the Old and New Testaments, we notice that God is always the one taking the initiative. So it is not our doing, but God’s which leads us to salvation, but we must have the faith, or, as we say, “grace through faith.” So it is faith in God that leads us forward.

Prayer: Please God, give us the sense of faith, obedience and trust that we need to complete our life journey and beyond. That, finally, we will achieve our goal of everlasting life with you and your son, Jesus. In His Name we pray, Amen

Lent Day 36 April 3

Lenten Reflection for Day 36

Date: April 3, 2012

Author: Mike Michaels

Bible Passage:

Mark 10:15 (NRSV)

15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

(The words of our Lord Jesus, spoken while holding and blessing the little children around him. Italics added by me.)

Reflection:

Apparently Jesus had a fondness for children, as well as His love for humankind. Maybe even more. Certainly not less. When His disciples tried to have Him “less pestered” by the children in the crowds of people who were flocking to Him, Jesus responded in a way that revealed what has become a most helpful hint for my personal happiness: Accept the Kingdom of God as a little child.

Kids don’t try to understand God. They seem to be born with the common sense that God cannot be understood; a fact that many of us seem to lose as we become older and more “educated.” (Psalms 147:5, Isaiah 40:28, Romans 11:33-34) Kids just love Him, thank Him for what they have, and pray for what they need, as Jesus taught us to pray in The Lord’s Prayer. I like that.

I’ve made my decision to “Receive the Kingdom of God as a little child.” Only after years of studying, dissecting, and questioning, in the end to realize that I cannot truly come to an acceptable understanding on my human level. It makes sense, given that God cannot be understood by us. It is also what I feel in my heart is the right thing for me to do.

By accident, I discovered another reason to choose to “receive the Kingdom of God as a little child.” It is purely a logical one: Everyone I’ve met who does so, seems happier, both inside and out. They seem to be less troubled by the world’s ills, less worried about the future, less tempted by Satan’s snares, better equipped to cope when bad stuff happens, and in general just all-around more laid-back and relaxed, than those who do not.

So in addition to Jesus’ admonition that we won’t enter the Kingdom unless we receive it as children, it also makes me happy thinking about the tremendous benefits that we reap right here and now… to ourselves, our loves ones, and our brothers and sisters, as well.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, as we come before you to thank you, as always, for the countless blessing that you continually bestow through your undeserved love and kindness, we pray that you will give us one more gift that we may need, both in order to please you, and to make us better neighbors to the rest of your creation: Please, help us to accept and receive Your Kingdom as if we were the little children whom your Son while on Earth was so fond of. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lent Day 35 April 2

Lenten Reflection for Day 35

Date: Monday April 2, 2012

Author: Mike Harris

Bible Passage: Galatians 6:9–10 (NRSV)

9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. 10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

Reflection:

Embedded in just this one Bible passage are two values I do not associate with a Christian lifestyle. The first is that doing right and being good awards you heaven. I get an emotional resistance when I sense the solicitation for good behavior as credit toward heaven. To me, the essence of morality is the recognition of and interest in the other, not because “I’m going to get mine in the end.”

If reading this Bible passage made most people transform their lifestyle so that they were fueling their homes and cars carbon neutrally, bought only sustainably produced goods, and invested their disposable time and income promoting a healthy planet then I would say its message is effective. If we are not getting better at these things every day, if the overall trajectory is not up, then we are not living moral lives. We are aware of how much we consume as compared to our size. We live in the land of opportunity. We are free to transform our lifestyle in this way whenever we want.

I think we lack interest in the “other.” I think we have too much interest in ourselves. And that self-interest eclipses out all other interests. We are not fully recognizing how to live moral lives. It’s just not an interest.

It’s not an interest, because we are interested in heaven here and now. We are interested in an ideal place for our identity to exist in. Then all day, everyday, we see the components of our ideal place everywhere we go. We work to save up to buy them, replace them when they get old and all of a sudden we are consuming way too much, trying to build heaven.

Doing right and being good on earth must be motivated out of more than heaven. It’s just seems inappropriate. The second thing I didn’t relate to is the “especially for those of the family of faith” line. And to that I ask; are we all equal yet? I do not think it is Christian to will more for people who are the most like-minded to you.

I think the undertone of the heavenly prize to moral behavior and the slight elitism toward the family of faith are the very things that my generation struggles with in Christianity and what leads them to reject the whole system.

Prayer:

Dear God, will you help us understand how to live better and more righteously? Give us the courage to trail blaze a sustainable life, one where we can develop naturally and holistically. Guide our minds to cooperative thoughts. Help us recognize other people, cultures, and species. Keep us interested in them. Provide guidance so that we can set up the conditions for all to flourish in. Amen

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lent Day 34 March 31

Lenten Reflection for Day 34

Date: Saturday March 31, 2012

Author: John Harris

Bible Passage: 1 John 1:8–9 (NRSV)

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Reflection: For those of us who remember the old Lutheran Book of Worship (the green book!), this morning’s passage comprises part of the Confession and Forgiveness of Sins that begins the usual worship service. We acknowledge our sins publicly before God, we are cleansed of all wrongdoing, and our relationship with God is restored. And, of course, the stage is set for the rest of the service where we hear God’s word and receive the sacrament. That is, the slate has been wiped clean; the soil has been prepared for us to love God and neighbor, and to sin no more.

Kathleen Norris cites Gregory of Nyssa’s famous maxim that sin is a failure to grow and reminds us of Carl Jung’s observation that, in order to grow, we must stop running from “our shadow” and face it. That reminds me of Pastor Pat’s “flash light” children’s sermon of two weeks ago that we need to shine the light of Christ in those dark spots in our souls where we have a tendency to plant sinful seeds. And, unless we are in the mushroom farming business, we need to shed Christ’s light into our shadows of sin, “fess up,” and allow that good fruit to grow to maturity. We need to stop committing the same sins over and over again, to grow like any plant toward the “light that has come into the world.” I believe Gregory’s image of sin retarding growth to be an apt one. Sin destroys relationships, and if we are expending energy trying to constantly repair relationships, there is nothing left to nourish and nurture those relationships when we finally restore them. The power of our public confession of sins is that whenever we fall into “the shadows,” Christ is there to light the way and to forgive.

Prayer: “Lord, let my heart be good soil, open to the seed of your word. Lord, let my heart be good soil, where love can grow and peace is understood. When my heart is hard, break the stone away. When my heart is cold, warm it with the day. When my heart is lost, lead me on your way. Lord, let my heart, Lord, let my heart, Lord, let my heart be good soil.” (Handt Hanson, ELW #512)