Tag Archives: #God

Revelation: God Is

Headstone Carving – Handshake. Photo: TLClark, 2019.

“John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from [the one] who is and who was and who is to come …”

Revelation 1:4b (NRSV)

Yes, dear one, there is a God.

Is. Present tense. Now. Today.

Not just today.
But also yesterday.
And tomorrow.

Is. Every today.
Was. Every yesterday.
Is to come. Every tomorrow.

Grace and peace to you from God, the Timeless One.

John, the self-identified author of Revelation, has been exiled to the island of Patmos. The world as he knew it has disappeared. Nothing is as it was. No one knows what is next. There are more questions than answers.

He receives a revelation from God through Jesus. Imaginative, bizarre, and strangely reassuring.

There is a God. In the midst of conflict and chaos, when things have gone from bad to worse, when anxiety creeps in and despair takes over, God is.

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'”

Revelation 1:8 (NRSV)

God, the Timeless One.

Alpha and Omega.
A and Z.
First and Last.
Beginning and End.
(And in-between? In the messy middle?)

All beginnings. All ends.
And all in-betweens.

Before the beginning and after the end.
Definitely in the messy middle.

God is.

“Holy, holy, holy,
the Lord God the Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come.”

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

Revelation 4:8b,11

Musing: Trinity

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Sassafras leaves.  Photo: TLClark, 6/28/13.

Trinity Sunday.  Always the Sunday after Pentecost Sunday in Christian congregations that follow the Revised Common Lectionary (a series of scripture readings that repeats every three years).  Focusing on the uniquely Christian, impossible to fully explain, doctrine that there is One God but the One God is three “persons.”  It took hundreds of years to develop, going back to the early followers of Jesus, and is something of an answer to the question “Who is Jesus?”

As a substitute preacher last Sunday I avoided pointing out that 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 for many  Christians (but not all!) when talking about God.

I also skipped using any illustrations of three-in-one.  If I had, I might have used the sassafras tree with its curious characteristic of having three differently shaped leaves on the same branch: un-lobed (oval), bi-lobed (mitten-shaped), tri-lobed (three-pronged).  Like everything else a preacher might use, it’s imperfect.  But I think it’s kind of fun.

Though I was the youngest one in the building and there was no children’s message listed in the bulletin, I read the book In God’s Name by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and showed the beautiful illustrations done by Phoebe Stone.

God is One.  But God is known by many names.  Many of us favor one or two particular names for God – name(s) that sometimes change depending on our current life circumstances.  Sasso (a Jewish Rabbi) used these names for God in the book:

  • Source of Life
  • Creator of Light
  • Shepherd
  • Maker of Peace
  • My Rock
  • Healer
  • Redeemer
  • Ancient One
  • Comforter
  • Mother
  • Father
  • Friend

In the coffee hour following worship, I thanked the congregants for humoring me and listening to a children’s book.  Someone replied that that was the best part of the service!

The sermon was less memorable.  But I hope the scripture lessons, the children’s book and/or the sermon caused one person to expand the way they think of God.

Photo Challenge: Sunrise

When I read Frank’s photo challenge Tuesday I just laughed.  It was a dark and stormy morning with more rain than sunshine.  Wednesday rolled in with dense fog.  A sunrise on Thursday didn’t look promising – more dark clouds and plenty of wind – but I looked out after breakfast and decided to walk down the street in search of the sun.

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Woodland Reserve Pond.  Photo: TLClark, 3/14/19.

After weeks and weeks of snow and cold, it felt good to be walking outside!  It was still chilly but the sidewalks were mostly clear.  I imagine the bike path (on the other side of the pond) still has a few icy sections.  Between melting snow and heavy rain Fourmile Creek is FULL and flooding low-lying areas.

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Fourmile Creek Flooding Briarwood Golf Club, Ankeny, Iowa.  Photo: TLClark, 3/14/19.

While I didn’t get a spectacular sunrise picture, just being outside was good for my spirit.  Being outside near sunrise reminded me of this Bible verse:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, [God’s] mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  – Lamentations 3:22-23 NRSV

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No Parking Anytime.  Photo: TLClark, 3/14/19.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.  – Psalm 90:14 NRSV

May you know steadfast love and mercy every morning – whatever the weather!

Teressa

The Golden Rule at Church

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 7:12 NRSV

“Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.” – Luke 6:31 CEB

Love is kind. (1 Corinthians 13:4)  But sometimes what we call kindness or think is a kindness is not experienced by another as such because it is not kind.  It is an insisting on our own way (see 1 Corinthians 13:5).

I’ve long said church – my church, your church, all church – would be perfect if it didn’t have any people.  But then it wouldn’t be church.  (sigh)

We human beings are a contentious lot.  We are eager to get our own way.  We frequently forget – and too often choose to ignore – the Golden Rule:  do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Getting church right is hard, hard work.  It’s been that way for a long, long time.  Just read Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians to get a glimpse of the turmoil in the early church.

And yet the church – the body of Christ – in all its imperfection continues.  There are many faithful leaders – ordained and lay.  There are countless loyal followers of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit still sheds wisdom on those who have ears to hear and hearts to heed her teaching.   The same God who created “in the beginning” is still at work doing a new thing.

Some days I believe it.  Other days I don’t.

Which is why we need each other.  Some days I keep the faith for those who struggle.  Other days I’m held through the struggle by those keeping the faith.

May it be so for you.

Love Never Ends

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Love never ends.   – 1 Corinthians 13:8a NRSV

I suspect, but am not certain, that every time I’ve read 1 Corinthians 13 at a wedding I’ve skipped from the “love never ends” of verse 8 to the “and now faith, hope and love abide” of verse 13.

At the same time I teach that we should wonder what a preacher is leaving out when omitting part of the text.

If you’re curious, here it is:

Love never ends.  But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.  For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.  Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.  And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.   – 1 Corinthians 13:8-1 NRSV

Love – God’s love, the love we see most fully in the face of Jesus – Love makes all things complete.  As we mature in love, we become more whole.  As we grow in love’s ways, we more clearly reflect the One in whose image we are created.

Here’s the thing:  we need one another to get there.  Love does not flourish in isolation.  Love thrives in relationship – with God, with friend/family/neighbor/stranger, with creation.  We each know in part; we need each other to begin to know in whole.

In the simplicity and the complexity of living with one another on this planet we call home, may you know Love and be an expression of Love.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13 NRSV

Love is …. love is not …

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.   – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5a NRSV

Yes, this is the beginning of a Biblical text used at many, many Christian weddings.

But it’s not just for two consenting adults who are freely making vows to mutually support and encourage and care for one another through the valleys and peaks of life.

This text is for everyone.  (Paul probably borrowed it from his culture and adapted it for the church.)

Love is not a feeling.  Love is an action.  Love is how we treat one another.

We all live in relationship to other human beings every day of our lives.  Friends.  Family.  Neighbors.  Strangers.  Colleagues.  Coaches.  Teammates.  Employers.  Employees.  Customers.  Caregivers.  Care receivers.  Teachers.  Students.  Fill in the blank:  _____________ .  People just like us – even when they seem as different as can be imagined.

We are all called to be patient and kind.  Patient with ourselves; patient with others.  Kind to ourselves; kind to others.  That’s what love is.  It’s what love does.

Sounds so simple.  Yet can be so hard.  Particularly in a culture that seems to admire and even celebrate hurry-up, get-it-done, look-out-for-oneself, take-advantage-of-everyone, what’s-in-it-for-me attitudes and actions.

Love is patient.  Love is kind.

At the same time, none of us are called to be envious, boastful, arrogant or rude.  Not envious about what another has or has accomplished.  Not boastful of our own or a loved one’s accomplishments.  Not arrogant about whatever or however we might think we are superior.  Not rude – ever.

Love is patient.  Love is kind.

May it be so in my life.

 

 

God delights in YOU

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Pictures of my parents (center) and my grandparents. Photo: TLClark.

It’s Monday morning and, as is often the case, a snippet from Sunday worship lingers with me.  This week it’s from the sermon.  The Rev. David Sickelka emphatically said “God delights in YOU.”

For YHWH will take delight in you … as a newly married couple rejoice over each other, so will YHWH rejoice over you.  – from Isaiah 62:4-5 The Inclusive Bible

You.  Same as everyone else.  Loved in all your particularity.

You.  Beloved of God.  Delighted in by God.

When you look in a mirror, do you see a beloved child of God?

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Mirrors.  Photo: TLClark.