Second Sunday After Epiphany, Year A in 2020: Psalm Passage – Preacher and Seeker talk about the actions of the Divine who sent the Messiah

Seeker: “I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.”

Preacher: The Lord God hears us where ever we are, and whatever our circumstances are. Whether it is a cry, or a yell, or a cheer – we are heard by the Divine. When we cry out, the response may not what we though it would be, or even when we thought it would be – but the Divine will respond.

Seeker: “He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”

Preacher: I am never surprised that, or when, the Lord God picks us up from the most horrendous places. The Divine is faithful. The world and earthly circumstances may put us in places we may never go of our own volition; or that we would not intentionally put ourselves. On the other hand, humanity has been known to get itself in the most terrible places and circumstances. But my point is, the Lord God will find us. And restore us.

Seeker: “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”

Preacher: Fear? If the psalmist means revere the Lord God and be awed by the Divine, yes fear is the correct word. But humanity rarely puts their authentic trust in someone or something they fear. Desperation, though, leads us to desperate actions. To our remorse and shame.

Seeker: “Happy are those who make the LORD their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.”

Preacher: Ah! There we are. Trusting in the Lord God is the best decision a person can make. And to keep making that decision. Oh yes, we have to keep that decision ongoing.

Seeker: “You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.

Preacher: How, humanity, can you decide against the Lord God after having decided for the Lord God. How can humanity go astray? I know we do; from the earliest story of the called and chosen people up to this day, we have turned from the Lord God. But as you say, we can turn back to the Lord God . . . . time and time and time and time and time again.

Seeker: “Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.”

Preacher: It is those of us . . . . who have opened our ear to the Lord God . . . . who should know better than to go astray. And it is to our remorse that we do. How sad and bitter it is to find we have lost ourselves, and then find ourselves apart from the Lord God the Divine. As I reminder to myself, I have a piercing in my ear that I had put in at my graduation from seminary. It does remind me, especially when I need reminding!

Seeker: What does it remind you of, Preacher?

Preacher: “Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

Seeker: What have you been called to do, Preacher?

Preacher: “I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.”

Seeker: And when you realize you have gone astray, how do you come back to the Lord God? What do you say to the Divine that might wash away the remorse and bitterness you feel?

Preacher: “Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.” (Psalm 40:1-11)

Seeker: I think, preacher, the greatest lesson you could teach is that you have gone astray, but have been welcomed back by the Lord.

Preacher: Selah, Seeker, Selah!

Second Sunday After Epiphany, Year A in 2020: Epistle Passage – Knowing who the Messiah and being a faithful servant

[From] “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,                                                                         and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 1:1 – 3)

I could wish to address you, beloved reader, in the same way. Well, not the same way as Paul did, and only from me. But nonetheless, I greet those who read what I post – from what ever the source that you read it or that it comes to you.

Yesterday I ‘gave forth’ on my periodic and mild but ongoing diatribe against commentators as pertaining to some passages. If, beloved reader, my writings yesterday jostled your exegetical world, I am sorry.

Often in the midst of such written back-and-forths I will research the topic and allow it to modify my stance. And think back on it, reviewing in my mind my position and the commentators. After doing that, where I came out at is . . . . recognizing Jesus Christ, the Lord God, the Divine, and the Holy Presence can be a challenging thing. Prophecy, by its very definition, looks ahead to where things may not be clear and attempts to put clarity to it while filling in the details. Sometimes prophecy is accurate; but more often it is incorrect. At times it and depending on the need & purpose of the prophecy, the incorrect portions are overlooked or smoothed over so that the prophecy can stand as a connection between the ‘then’ and ‘now’. That seems to happen a lot in the bible. Humanity loves connections and a feeling that what was said in time past is pertinent and informative to our ‘now’. And that we are not alone in our beliefs.

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Verses 4 – 7)

Do you remember back to King Herod and the three Wise Men? That Herod had the scribes and religious leaders scour religious writings and prophecies to try to discern where the infant Jesus might be have been born? Jesus was there, but his human father Joseph hurried his family away to Egypt and thereby fulfilling another prophecy that God would call the God-self’s Son out of Egypt.

If one had access to all of the religious writings and prophecies that abounded, would it have been possible to recognize Jesus as the Messiah? Here is another thought – do you think Saul who become Paul has access to those writings and prophecies? He is said to have been an Old Testament scholar who made his living as a tent maker. And yet it took a Divine encounter on the road to Damascus for his mind to be opened.

Some come to faith by slow dawning awareness of the Divine. Others need a push, a prphecy, or a revelation to realize the Deity who is the Author of the universe. In the end it does not matter how we have come to faith, but that we have come. Because our future depends on it!

“He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Verses 8 – 9)

Baptism of the Lord, Year A in 2020: Psalm Passage – The Divine above and beyond the “nut shell”

Preacher: “Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.”

Seeker: The angels on high praise the Lord and know of the Divine’s actions on behalf of the called and chosen people. Humanity does not always remember, however, what the Lord God has done. The actions of the Lord God are hard to discern when humanity is at a distance.

Preacher: “Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor.”

Seeker: It takes faith to worship the Lord. Not only faith that is belief in the Lord God, but assurance that the Lord God is working on humanity’s behalf. The early called and chosen people forgot that over time, and then ascribed their misfortune to the errors, mistakes, and sin in their lives. Who can say if they were right or wrong? But in our modern days we can look to the Messiah, and reorient our lives such that the Lord God is with us, and we can worship the Lord who has called us into relationship.

Preacher: “The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters.”

Seeker: When looking or traveling great distances, the early called and chosen people saw that “mighty waters” hemmed them in. And imagined that only the might of the Lord God could circumvent with ease the distances. In our modern times humanity flies over the waters easily, and is able to fly over many waters or all waters on the earth through the power and knowledge that humanity has taught itself. Little wonder there is “little wonder” left.

Preacher: “The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.”

Seeker: But that does not mean the Lord God is without power or majesty. It is just that humanity finds it easier to ignore. But if society would think back on how it is come so far, and realize that the Lord God has created in humanity the ability to learn and understand, society might see that our greatness is actually a reflection, and a mere reflection at that, of what the Lord God is like and capable of.

Preacher: The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

Seeker: Simply put, the voices of humanity can do nothing like that. If humanity raises its voice in anger, people and things are destroyed. But that is no skill and talent; if taken to extremes, it is sin. The Lord God molded the earth and called creation into being with the Might of the Divine’s voice and will. We need tools fashioned from the elements of the earth and our sinful desire to destroy. That is not a worthy ability. If we create, it is only because the human mind has been designed to learn over time and come to greater understanding. We have, if you will excuse the term, evolved over time. The Lord God is the same as in the past, and remains constant throughout all time. It is humanity that has needed improvement.

Preacher: “The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!” (Psalm 29)

Seeker: The Lord God sits above all other things, and dwells above creation: that is, all that humanity has become aware of – the clouds, the sky, the atmosphere surrounding earth, the vacuum of space, the systems and galaxies – everything that human ingenuity and technology has allowed us to see. The Lord God is above all that!

Preacher: Seeker, you have praised the Lord God as ably as the psalmist has. When the psalmist wrote, from his perspective humanity had achieved great things. But Yahweh was above and ruler all of that. With all the advancement that humanity has made, we still have not reached the realm of the Divine. And in many ways, we are much further away from it than society was a generation ago. How, one might wonder, can we be so far away from the Lord God when creation has gained so much? It is not technology nor book learning that will get us closer to the Lord God. And if humanity cannot learn how to enter into a committed and genuine relationship with the Divine, we are destined to drift further and further from the spark that created humans in the first place. May the Lord God watch over and nurture us all!

Seeker: Selah & Amen!

Baptism of the Lord, Year A in 2020: Gospel Passage – A Divine Blessing in a nut shell

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.” (Matthew 3:13 – 15)

Imagine if Albert Einstein came to a kindergarten teacher and asked him/her to teach him the numbers and letter. Or if Picasso asked the same to teach him to finger paint. Or if Jessie Owens asked a high school track coach to teach him how to run faster. John the Baptist knew what his role was, and he relished doing it. It was in preparation for Jesus’ coming that John preached and admonished his listeners/followers to be ready for the coming of he who John was not fit tie a sandal for. Or untie. Which ever. Yet Jesus came to John, asking for the outward sign of inner transformation. Jesus told his disciples down the road – he (or she) who would be first must be content to be last, and he (or she) who wished mastery must be a servant. So it makes sense, in the upside down kingdom sort way that Jesus would ask John to baptize him. And John, knowing who Jesus was, followed his Master’s instructions.

“And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Verses 16 – 17)

Being the upstart that I am, I have to wonder and ponder why the Spirit of God was pleased with him. Because Jesus followed protocol by having John baptize him? Because Jesus made the outer pledge and symbol to follow the Lord God? Because he honored John by recognizing John’s authority to confer forgiveness? Because Jesus humbled himself? Because of what Jesus would go on to do? And it opens up even more questions – how distinct and how human was Jesus that the Divine acknowledge Jesus as offspring rather than just a temporarily separated aspect of the Divine? How much free will did the person of Jesus have to act as he saw fit?

The other question (or set of questions) that it raises in my mind is can we, as humans, ever be so blessed by the Lord God? Are we the Divine’s Beloved? And is the Divine pleased with us? Lofty aspirations, beloved reader.

I wish I could convey to you the depth of my desire that committed authentic believers would become worthy of being blessed by the Divine. If Jesus Christ the Messiah (actually duplicated set of descriptive adjectives in that name) would and did humble himself, how can we do any less? To say to the Divine “I am so unworthy of your regard and love, but at the same time I am so assured of Your love and regard for me that I know you sent Jesus the Christ to redeem me in Your Sight and bring me into relationship with You.” To prostrate yourself in front of the Divine, and yet have the conviction that you will be lifted up. To life your life such that Divine would call you “beloved” – that is the goal of the Christian life. To do or be anything less is to disregard the good news. There just isn’t anything else to say after that expect . . . . Shalom & Selah!

Epiphany, Year A in 2020: Gospel, Epistle & Old Testament Passage – Via Another Road

This day, January 6th, is the Day of Epiphany and when we recognize and celebrate that Jesus was revealed as Divine and revealed to the Gentile/non-believers, as well as having prophesied to the Jews. The Gentiles are symbolized by the Magi who were outside of the Jewish tradition. It is also the day I have to, reluctantly, start thinking about taking down Christmas decorations. When you hear/sing the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” that is actually the time between Christmas Day and Epiphany. It is not just a way to keep the Christmas season going. But I also like it for that reason. And as I have said before, I like the part that the Magi play in the Christmas story. So for me it is a good to let the Christmas season extend, and a day to look forward to – even though after that day Christmas themed things grow thin and weary to some.

“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.” (Matthew 2:1 – 4)

It is not fair to say “and all Jerusalem with him”; it fact it is very political to say that! It is like saying that the fears and agenda of a ruler should be felt and shared by the people he purports to rule; and we know that should not be try! (And here I am being political! Ah well, let’s move on.)

“They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.” (Verses 5 – 9)

I had said above that Jesus was revealed to the Jewish people and to Israel through prophecy. It seems clear that the writer of Matthew, and also the chief priests and scribes, that this prophecy (and most likely others) pointed to a very supreme leader. Also likely was that Herod was worried about a political leader, and maybe the chief priests & scribes; that might be why they did not recognize Jesus & Jesus as Incarnate, and maybe why they started to fear or revile Jesus as a religious/faith leader. It is also why, beloved reader, the revelation of Jesus was such an epiphany.

“When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Verses 10 – 11)

I have to wonder and ponder what the Magi saw the baby Jesus as – political leader, religious leader, young god? I could look up (and maybe you beloved reader might) the significance of their gifts. I once or twice did that, but cannot remember clearly enough to tell you here. The point is that Jesus was revealed; and the challenge is for each of us to determine what image or aspect of Jesus was revealed.

“And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.” (Verse 12)

What we do know for sure is that the path to belief can come by many roads. And we cannot know or predict by which road it might come.

“This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles– for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:1 – 4)

Paul came from Jewish background and tradition. He was one of a group of people who felt belief and worship of Jesus Christ was wrong. And in his vehemence he undertook to eradicate those who believed. In a twist of fate Paul was called by the Divine to bring the word of the Lord God to non-believers – most particularly to Gentiles, although Jews were written to and most assuredly by Paul to be part of the children of God. In fact, according to Paul, Jews were first invited to belief in Jesus the Messiah but that Gentiles were second did not mean they were accorded second place but we equal as all have equal welcome and call to faith.

“In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.” (Verses 5 – 12)

Paul is counted as one of the apostles, although he came to faith after the conclusion of Jesus’ ministry and life on earth. Paul came to faith, if you will, via another road. And called down other roads to some comparatively far-flung places. Paul also felt compelled to write to the places and churches that he had visited, and strove to unite the circle of believers through benevolent giving between the groups. This tells us and shows us that ministry can be done in a variety ways, and the good news delivered to a variety of people who early initial believers may not have a lot in comment with – at first. But our faith under the Divine unites us where others may see differences that splinter and divide one group of people from another. But for all, the message is the same.

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.” (Isaiah 60:1 – 5)

The writer of Isaiah may emphasis more of the tangible results of the faith spread, but that does not take away from the fact that people coming to faith bring a presence and wealth of belief. Remember too that I am emphasizing this year a belief tradition that is gentle, compassionate, and merciful. That too is sort of a “different road” from what many expect Christian faith to be like. And, we may find that sort of faith comes from unexpected places and people who have come to faith in a favorite of ways. The writer of Isaiah says,

“A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.” (Verse 6)

This harks to the coming of the Magi who represent faith via a different road, and faith spreading out via diverse roads. We may find out way to a common Lord and God, but the paths to that faith are numerous; and the means, ways, and destinations are numerous as well. May you, beloved reader, find your way to the Divine; and as you journey forth may the Presence of the Lord God travel with you. Selah!

Holy Name of Jesus Day 2020, Year A: Old Testament, Gospel & Epistle Passages – Naming Names

Today, January 1st, does double duty. Not only as New Year’s Day, but as the Holy Name of Jesus Day.

“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:22 – 26)

Also today, just a short while ago, I talked about the world going awry because of technology and science leading us from our spiritual roots and learning, and the need to be more attentive to to the needs of others. I said that there are many who are caring and compassionate but who do not necessarily espouse a faith tradition grounded in Christianity. I referenced the passage in Matthew about the sheep who helped and the goats who offered no assistance. The sheep are not necessarily Christians and the goats are not necessarily non-believers. However, today we are also specifically referencing the importance of knowing and honoring the name of Jesus.

“So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (Verse 27)

Notice though that it is Aaron and his sons that place the name on them. I talk about the called and chosen people often. That means that Yahweh put the Divine’s name on them and instructed them how to live. They did not always do well at it – at times not well at all! The Divine still calls and chooses people; I firmly believe that. But it may also mean that they have not realized they have been called out.

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:15 – 19)

There is a Christmas song that I am hearing more and more this season; it is called “Mary, did you know?” The lyrics ask Jesus’ mother if she knew the full story and impact that her infant son would have on the world. And as the lyrics between entwined in my thinking, I have come to the conclusion that Mary did not know. But, do not fault her for that. Many people still do not know the impact that Jesus had during his ministry, life, death, and resurrection.

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Verses 20 – 21)

I feel that I have given you a great deal to ponder, beloved reader, in my two postings for this day. I did a lot of pondering myself as I wrote this. Let me close with what Paul said in the letter to the Philippians. And I wished for you that you would see the hope you believe in, I would also wish that you would see clearly Christ Jesus who was sent by the Divine, making sure that your actions (how ever you name yourself) will bring honor and glory to the Name of the Divine. Selah!

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)

New Year’s Day 2020 Year A: The Old Testament Passage – At such a time as this

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 8)

The more we advance in technology and scientific understanding, the more we need to go back and reflect on our roots. The advancements that were predicted and lauded when I was growing up don’t seem to have come to pass. Moreover, it seems that in the future that is our present, we have more problems than we did in the past.

What gain have the workers from their toil?
I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with.
He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Verses 8 – 11)

Have we, society that is, advanced so far that we no longer feel we have the need for the Divine? Or have we re-cast the Lord God as the ruler over the world that we want and have created?

The world has changed so much, and as each year passes I think we have drifted further from where we should be. But . . . . . that is a very pessimistic outlook. And I know that it is not really true. There are authentic Christians who are hanging on – sometimes by their fingertips – to the Christian life has lived and exemplified by Jesus Christ. And there are people who may not espouse a faith under the name of Christian but have all the hallmarks of that label of Christian saint. There is hope, and I really do see it each day.

“I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” (Verses 12 – 13)

What work shall we do then? What work would bring glory to the Divine, and show the world what it means to live in Jesus Christ’s foot steps?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25: 31 – 40)

It is, beloved reader, a broad scope of work. And not all of it done directly. There are many needs, and many different types of needs. We can not know or predict how our actions may further the work of tending to others. But I am convinced if we hold another’s best good in our hearts and minds, the work we do will be of a benefit.

“Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Verses 41 – 46)

In the same way, if we turn away when someone is in need – whatever that need may be – it is as if we turned away from the Lord God. In our modern world needs come in many guises, as do the ways to help others. Do not turn away from a need & an opportunity to help another. If you lead with compassion and care, seeking the best for those around you, you will not go amiss in your outreach.

May you, beloved reader, move into this New Year with hope for the future while being grounded in the holy spiritual past. May you give hope to others, in supporting them in meeting their needs. And may you see the hope that you believe in! Selah!