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Category Archives: Old Testament

Nurturing a Good Name

(a sermon for October 11, 2020, the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, based on Proverbs 22:1-11)

While going through some scrapbooks and photo albums up at my mother’s house this week, I came across something I literally hadn’t thought about in years:  clippings from the newspaper column I wrote for a couple of years in our hometown’s little weekly paper, The Katahdin Journal. Now, that’s not quite as impressive as it might sound: basically, I was a high school reporter and the column was a weekly conglomeration of basketball scores, student events and teacher interviews.  But I do have to say it was kind of neat; since in those days I fancied myself as a latter-day John-Boy Walton, writing something that actually ended up in print was quite a thrill for me, and the admittedly minor notoriety it garnered me in my home town wasn’t bad either! 

It was fun to read some of that stuff again, but what really made me laugh came at the end of my weekly report.  You see, early on I got into the habit of ending each column with a “quotable quote.”  And the quote was usually along the lines of this: “Until next week, think about this: ‘To get ahead in life, don’t stare up the steps, step up the stairs!’”  Or, “Till next time, ask yourself this question: ‘Is your mind open, or is it just vacant?’”  Just little one-line bits of wisdom that I’d scoured out of quotation books and my family’s small collection of Ideals magazines!  In retrospect, it was kind of an early foray into church newsletter writing, and yes… I’ll admit, it was a little cornball!   But as it turned out, it also was quite popular! 

In fact, what I started to find out was that the thing people remembered most about what I’d written were these silly little quotes I’d stuck in the last paragraph!  People regularly started asking me about those quotes and where I’d found them; and even the newspaper editor confessed to me that if on a particular week he had to cut it out for lack of space, he’d inevitably get a phone call from an irate reader asking where it was!  But the best thing of all was that I’d go over to friends’ houses and I’d often see these tiny little clippings from the end of my column on their refrigerator doors! 

It got to the point where I ended up spending nearly as much time finding good quotes as I did writing the column (I even managed to get a couple of Bible verses in there; which was quite a trick, considering the decidedly non-religious nature of my editor at the time!).  I suppose that it was an early indicator that my destiny did not lie in the world of hard-core journalism but rather behind a pulpit; but it was also a small lesson in the truth that people need, want and appreciate some encouragement in their lives, even when that encouragement comes in the form of a “pithy” little saying.

To put this another way, we all need some proverbs for our lives… and that’s what our text for this morning is all about.

By definition, friends, proverbs are short, one-sentence bits of wisdom drawn from everyday human experience, and they are intended to help us find our way in a confusing world.  Or as the Alyce McKenzie of Perkins School of Theology has said it, “proverbs help to create order and reliability in an often unreliable world.”  Historically speaking, Biblical scholars believe that what we know as the Book of Proverbs arose during a time of great social upheaval and moral dissolution in Israel, a period when society was rife with corruption and moral weakness; which means that a great deal of what we read in this part of scripture grew out of a time much like our own:  a moment in time when culture seems to be in chaos, when accepted ways are coming unglued and old truths are being questioned.  What’s needed in such times is an affirmation: a reminder, writes William Willimon, “that life has some answers, that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, morally speaking, in each generation.  Proverbs,” Willimon concludes, “point the way.”

Very true; most especially in times such as these.  In fact, it would seem to me that now more than ever, we need some “proverbial wisdom” for our lives, a world view that’s spun not on the dreams of riches, the desire for power or the wish to prevail over others at all costs but rather wholly focused on the Word of God.

The trouble with the Book of Proverbs, of course, is that every verse is its own sermon, and the topics often vary widely from verse to verse:  from child rearing (“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.”), to care for the poor (“Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.”), to taking a proper attitude towards God, self and others (“Those who love a pure heart and are gracious in speech will have the king as a friend.”).  And if you read for very long in Proverbs, you’re going to run headlong into some fairly harsh and explicit advice in dealing with the perverse, the wicked and those who engage in loose living; not to mention some verses that, given the times in which they were written, certainly don’t jibe with our modern sensibilities as regards discipline and the treatment of women and children.  Suffice to say that there’s a whole lot to digest in the Book of Proverbs!

So maybe what we need to do, at least for our purposes this morning, is to find a way to somehow bring all these proverbs together.  And for me, the key to this can actually can be found in the very first verse we shared today from the 22nd chapter of Proverbs: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

What’s interesting is that if you ask someone what they want out of life – particularly if you ask someone this question as they’re starting out in life – odds are this person will answer in one of two ways: either they will say something to the effect that they want to be successful (that is, to be powerful or popular or influential or rich) or that they wish to build a life that is based on happiness or security (you know, falling in love, raising a family, having a home, getting a job that not only pays the bills but offers some satisfaction).   Now, don’t misunderstand: this is not to say that these two points of view are mutually exclusive from  each other, nor that one choice is all bad and the other all good – there are those who do seem to “have it all,” as it were – it is just to suggest that when it all comes down in life, most of us end up in one way or another choosing in which direction we wish to go.  Whether we actually reach the destination we’ve chosen is almost beside the point; what matters is how the choice we’ve made defines who we are along the way.

So… when this proverb for today advises you and me to choose for ourselves a good name over great riches, you can’t help but wonder what true wisdom really is!  For instance, you might remember my telling you a few weeks ago how Lisa and I have been “binge-watching” old seasons of “Survivor” this summer and fall; well, I can share with you from that experience the insight that the most memorable players of that million-dollar game succeed through cunning and deceit, backstabbing and a decided lack of personal integrity!  Likewise, you don’t hear an awful lot of politicians running for office these days who focus solely on matters of one’s own goodness, mercy and worthiness for office, but rather on tearing down the character of that his or her opponent… even as they rail against negative campaigning!   But that’s the choice that they’ve made, and we refer to it as “politics as usual.”

By the same token, however, think for a moment about the handful of people who have meant the most to you in your lives: family members, friends, teachers, mentors of one sort or another; the people you love and who have loved you.  When you describe these people, what do you say?  I’m guessing that you’ll say that they were kind and generous to you; that they could be counted on through thick or thin; that they did so much good without ever saying anything about it.  The point here is that these are the people who have for you personified love and faith:  they may or may not have ever had anything in their lives approaching worldly success, but they were and are of good character, people who have chosen in their lives to make a good name for themselves; and that has made all the difference.

The very word character comes from the Greek word charaktíras, meaning “a engraving tool,” that is, that which creates and sharpens the unique traits of one’s personality.  So character does matter, doesn’t it; and it matters to you and to me as we walk the pathways of our lives.  Character is determined by the choices you and I make in how and which way to walk, and not only does that become integral to the way that life unfolds for us, it also has a profound effect on those who walk with us.  As theologian and author Stanley Hauerwas has written: “Be well assured,” he says, “that our character will conform to some account of what’s going on in the world.” 

The question is – it always is – which account… and is that account true?

I think I’ve shared with you before that one question I always ask every couple that comes to me wanting to get married is where they see themselves in, say, five or ten or twenty years?  What would they like to be doing?  Where would they like to be?  Actually, it’s a good question for any of us, married or no, to ask ourselves from time to time; basically, what do we want out of life, even as that life is being lived?  How do we wish to be seen by others – be they friends, neighbors, or even strangers – and who is it that we want to look like in terms of who we are?  When all is said and done, what is it that we fervently hope that the people who know us will say about us?

Will those people say we were “pure of heart and… gracious of speech?”   That we were generous to a fault, kind to others in their distress, both cautious and clever at the right time, people who live life in “humility and fear of the LORD,” and thus knew “riches and honor and life?”  Will they say of you and me that ours was a good name?

Well, the answers to such questions and so many others come down to the choices we make here and now… today, tomorrow and in every day that comes.  Because, beloved, the nurture of a good name is work that stretches over a lifetime.

And it begins and is rooted in the power and presence of God, because as the Book of Proverbs reminds us, “The rich and poor have [at least] this in common, the Lord is the maker of them all.” 

Yes, a good name is of greater value than anything the world can provide; so rest assured that what we do out there – as persons, as people, as the church of Jesus Christ – matters; and how we’re seen in these strange, divisive and distressing times is not only important, but crucial.  May it be truly said of you and of me that the light of our character and wisdom was but a reflection of our God, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

And may our thanks be to God.

AMEN and AMEN!

© 2020 Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.

 

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As Bread for the Broken

(a sermon for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost and World Communion Sunday, based on  Exodus 16:2-15)

I suppose that it was inevitable.

After all, it was now about six weeks out from their deliverance from slavery in Egypt and their subsequent journey across the parted Red Sea into the Sinai wilderness: just long enough for food supplies to run out, patience to wear thin and the harsh reality of their situation to settle in.  And moreover, to be fair, there was a certain vagueness to this whole enterprise.  There’d been a whole lot of talk about freedom, a better life and “a land flowing with milk and honey,” (Exodus 3:8) which was all very good, but so far no specific indications as to how that was all going to work out; nor had they had any real say in the process.  All they knew is that this pilgrimage through the wilderness had now become a battle for survival; bad to the point where they’d even begun to reminiscence that even in the worst of times back in Egypt, they “sat by the fleshpots” and ate their fill of bread!  So it was kind of understandable that what they did in response was exactly what any of us might have done under the circumstances:  they complained. 

Now, in other translations of scripture, the word used is grumble, but actually for my money the best translation comes from the old King James Version where it says that “whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured” against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.  The idea that out amidst the dry sand and blistering winds these people were murmuring their discontent, for me says it all: no rioting, no attempted coup or petitions for asylum; just this growing crescendo of fear and uncertainty, an overwhelming feeling of helplessness that builds into hopelessness, and then to anger and desperation.

And that we can understand, right?  Because after all, we are a people who want, need and expect some measure of control in our lives!  M. Craig Barnes says this very well: “Vague is one of our least favorite adjectives.  If you give a report or presentation at work, the last thing you want to hear is that you were vague… when your daughter announces she is getting married and you ask about their plans for the future, you don’t want to hear they plan to live on love.  Vague frightens us.  We are a people who prefer plans, strategies, numbers, and lots of details.”

The trouble with all this, however, is that oftentimes life is far out of our control; and just like Israel, we find ourselves wandering aimlessly in the desert.  Things are going along just fine, and then you lose a job; there’s a health scare; a cherished relationship comes to an abrupt end; a world-wide global pandemic (!) leads to months of quarantine… and suddenly that pathway you’ve been walking along every day of your life takes a sharp turn into unfamiliar territory. You’re totally disoriented, scared to death and wanting like anything to go back to the way things were, where at least it was safe. 

That’s the desert experience, friends; that’s what the Israelites were facing out there in the wilderness; and that’s what you and I very often have to deal with in the utter uncertainty of our own lives! In the face of that, murmuring just seems like the proper response!

But here’s the other thing about the desert experience:  while it is most definitely the place where we have to give up control, it is also the place “where we learn to receive the mysterious future God has for us.”  To quote Craig Barnes again: “The desert journey is hard because it is so threatening.  Resources and assurances are few; questions and anxiety are plentiful.  In the desert you discover you have no choice but to trust God, which is why it is a place where souls are shaped.

In today’s reading from the book of Exodus we discover that the Israelites’ problem is ultimately not with Moses and Aaron, but with God.  Even Moses can see this: it’s not he or his brother that the people can’t trust, it’s Yahweh; and that’s because they don’t know or understand that this same God who enacted their deliverance also plans to be with them in the wilderness.  They don’t “get” that while their plight is very real, God in his providence will sustain them for the journey ahead.  Once you’ve started crossing the desert, you see, there is no going back; the future and its promise lay ahead and Israel had not yet come to embrace the truth that only the God of mystery could get them there.

So what does God do in the midst of the murmuring?  How will God respond to a people who won’t trust him to lead?  Well, the answer comes in one of the most evocative images we have in the Old Testament:  God tells Moses that “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you.”  It’s manna, “a fine, flaky substance” appearing each new day with the morning dew, “as fine as the frost on the ground,” as Exodus describes it; in fact, we’re told later on in this chapter that “the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” (16:31)  It’s a true gift of God, but it’s a gift that comes with instructions:  first, every family has to gather their own; you can’t hoard it because by the middle of the day it will have been spoiled by the worms; and only one day’s ration was allowed, except on the sixth day of the week, when you could have an extra portion for the Sabbath.  So, manna in the morning, followed by the arrival of quail in the evening for meat: not too much food, to be sure; but enough, just enough sustenance to keep them going on the journey.

Interestingly enough, while Moses is very reassuring in bringing this news to the people – “in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your complaining,” he says to them – God, on the other hand, is more than up front as to how this is, in fact, a test of Israel’s trust and faith; a determination as to whether or not this measure of food will lead them in trusting that God will continue to provide for them along the way… or not!  If you read through the entirety of this 16th chapter of Exodus, at first it sounds kind of vindictive, the very vision of the judgmental God of the Old Testament.  But looking at it a little more closely, it makes perfect sense that God would see this as a test of faith; in fact, it actually kind of completes the gift!

You see, just as God understood that the Israelites would most certainly not be wholly satisfied with what they were being given; God also knows that there will never be enough sustenance in this world, at least, to rid you and me of every concern and anxiety we carry; because the true nature of life, friends, is that life is predictably unpredictable!  In other words, just about the time we figure out what we need to survive whatever it is we’re facing today, here comes another challenge that needs facing tomorrow!  On some level or another we will always be hungry, we will always be thirsty, there will always be yet another unexpected twist and turn along the pathways we follow: like it or not, that is simply what life is, and if you and I are going to live that life with any sort of confidence or integrity or purpose, friends, we are going to have to walk those pathways trusting God, knowing that there will be more manna and quail when we need it.

Granted, we all do the best we can along the way: we put away money for the future, we build up our pension accounts, we get serious about losing weight and exercising more, we wear our masks and make every effort to stay socially distanced from one another.  But at the end of the day, that kind of effort only takes us so far, and the time will inevitably come when in the midst of our challenges, our “murmuring” and even our brokenness, we’ll have to give the rest over to God… this God who provides for us one meal, one day, one blessing at a time; truly giving us “this day our daily bread.”

Today, of course, is World Communion Sunday and in a few moments, we’ll be gathering – however remotely in 2020 (!) – at the Lord’s Table with believers the world over so that we might know his presence in the broken bread and shared cup.  It’s also, I think, a time to reflect on the true meaning of this sacrament as regards our Christian faith and moreover, a chance for each of us to remember and give thanks for how this deceptively simple meal has nourished our own spiritual growth. 

For me, this day is filled with the memories of moments when in either receiving or serving communion I was made newly and palpably aware of the Lord’s presence in the bread and cup, as well as the powerful movement of God’s Holy Spirit in and through my life and the life of the church of which I was a part.  But of all those memories, perhaps the one that stands out the most happened right here in this very sanctuary; shortly after I’d arrived here at East Church as your pastor. 

As most of you know, before we came here, I was at a place I like to refer to as “in-between callings.”  Lisa, the children and I had left Ohio and had come back to Maine, where I was going to focus all my attention on the search and call process and finding a new church.  And we did so knowing that in the United Church of Christ, this is a process that can take some time; but hey, it was summer, we had the camp and it was going to be fine!  But… as August turned into September and the days of autumn crept toward a long Maine winter with still nothing concrete about a pastoral position, I’ll be honest with you; I had begun to do more than just a little “murmuring” of my own! Now, in retrospect, I don’t know if I ever doubted God through all of that but I certainly doubted myself and day by day I was feeling increasingly mired and broken there in the middle of my own personal desert wilderness. 

But you all know what happened:  our wonderfully amazing graceful God managed to bring us together as pastor and parish here at East Church.  And now, about a month in, it was the first Sunday of the month, we were in worship and I was leading us in communion; something that as a pastor I’d done literally hundreds of times over the years… but this time it was different.

And I can tell you exactly the moment I realized it:  it’s when I said, as I almost always do during communion, “In the broken bread we participate in the broken body of Christ… in the cup of blessing, we celebrate the new life that Christ brings.”  I tore the bread, and the reality of it hit me like a ton of bricks:  I’d been broken!  All the challenges and struggles of the past few months, all of the uncertainties, all of the doubt, all of the lingering feelings of regret and fear and anger and… brokenness in my life: I was suddenly and profoundly and deeply aware that Jesus’ body was broken for my sake so that I might know redemption and hope and life, not to mention forgiveness and the ability to forgive; all of this even when I’d been too mired in my own feelings of being lost and broken to fully know and trust in it.  But now I realized that I was, in fact, “participating in the broken body of Christ,” a recipient of love infinite and unending… and able, at last, to truly and wholly celebrate the new life Christ brings.  As bread was given for the broken in the form of manna, at that very moment of celebration in our worship I was given the sustenance I needed.

And I’m telling you about this today because if right now you’re feeling broken – maybe seven months of pandemic has finally gotten to you… perhaps the onslaught of negativity and divisiveness in this election year has left you exhausted, angry and bitter… or maybe you’ve come to the sad conclusion that this roller coaster ride that is 2020 is much more than you can handle and now you’re just broken as a result – if that’s you, beloved, then know that this Holy Meal we’re about to share is for you.  As the song goes, “there’s life to be shared in the bread and the wine,” and whereas this act of worship might not change the ever-spinning nature of the world in these times, it will give you and me the sustenance we need for this desert journey…

…so let us come to the table so that we might be fed, and that we might know the presence, the power and the Glory of God in Jesus Christ in the process.

And may our thanks be to God!

Amen and AMEN!

© 2020  Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.

 

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To Count Our Days

(An Online Message for August 9, 2020, based on Psalm 90)

What with everything that’s been happening in our family this summer (Lisa’s and my parents’ health concerns and the challenges of elder care) you’d think it would all be enough to give me at least some small perspective on the passage of time.  But what really did me in (the final conclusive evidence, as it were) was the news this week that our nephew Joshua and his wife Alex just welcomed their 4th (!) child into the world, a beautiful little girl named Marian.  That’s four kids, friends (!), plus the two foster children they take care of; which means that they’ve officially become a large family, and God’s blessings upon them in that!   

Of course, almost immediately there were pictures of this beautiful baby being shared across social media and amongst all the aunts, uncles and cousins; my favorite being the one of Josh holding his new daughter.  It’s a great picture: Marian looking, as we like to say here in New England, “all cute and cunnin’,” and Josh with this very proud, loving and adoring “new Dad” look on his face.  As I say, it’s a wonderful picture, but here’s the thing: when I see Josh in that picture, what I’m remembering is another picture we have of him when he was a toddler himself; right after he’d gotten caught raiding a bowl of grapes he’d found on a table, and had so quickly and busily shoved so many grapes in his mouth at one time that when we found him, Josh looked like a chipmunk storing up food for the winter!  I’m sorry; there’s no way that this little kid with cheeks full of grapes is old enough to have a child of his own, much less four of ‘em!

But it’s true, friends, time marches on; and 30 years later you make this shocking discovery that the children that one day were crawling around at your feet have suddenly grown up to become adults with lives and families of their own – and by the way, in the process, the rest of us – all of the rest of us – mysteriously got a bit older as well! 

But that’s just the way of life, isn’t it?  And there is, I must confess, a certain level of satisfaction in having gained that kind of life experience and the grey hair that goes along with it (each and every one of which I’ve earned, thank you very much!).  The irony, of course, is that we live in a culture that doesn’t necessarily agree with that assessment; and in fact seeks to ignore, avoid and even reverse the process altogether! 

If you don’t believe me, just open up a copy of just about any magazine and count the number of ads for cosmetics, vitamin supplements, health foods and more, all purporting to reduce, prolong or reverse the effects of aging – summer is actually prime-time for all of this. I wonder, for instance, how many magazines are on the supermarket racks right now that have a picture of some bikini-clad model or well-toned bodybuilder on the cover and offer the solution as to how you and I can look that tan and that fit and that young!  (speaking for myself, I can only say, “ain’t happenin’!”) For that matter, though it’s sort of on hiatus in this age of pandemic, nonetheless plastic surgery is still a multi-million dollar industry in this country, much of it all about making those who can pay for it look younger longer.  And then, of course, when all else fails, basically we lie to ourselves about getting older – we all know people who have tried too long, too hard and all too obviously to live and act like they were 20 years younger than they are!

The power of the Psalm we’ve shared this morning, however, is that God does not engage in that kind of deception!  Actually, it’s kind of interesting: whereas the psalm we read last Sunday – Psalm 91—is all about God protecting us from any and all dangers, the psalm thast immediately precedes it – this week’s text, Psalm 90 – is a bit of a reality check in that it gives us a keen sense of our own mortality – in fact, even as Kay was reading it this morning I was struck that the tone of this psalm is pretty stark:  you and I, it says, are like the grass that withers; we’re the flower the fades, that which “in the morning …flourishes and is renewed,” but by nightfall has long sense gone by.  There is most definitely no sugar coating to be found here, friends:  we might live 70 years – “or perhaps eighty, if we are strong” (I love how The Message translates this:  “with luck, we might make it to eighty”) – and what do we have to show for it?  “Trouble.  Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard.” (again, from The Message”)  “Our years come to an end, like a sigh.”

Oi-Vey!  No question about it – like it or not, no matter how much we try to fight it the truth remains : you and I, we’re here today and gone tomorrow; passing this way once, and then only for a short time. Bottom line, our days are numbered (I know what you’re thinking – so much for an uplifting sermon this morning!).

The funny thing about this 90th Psalm, however, is that it’s not primarily about us or even the frailty of our human lives – read over the words of this passage again and you’ll find that this is a psalm that is mostly about the magnificent greatness of God!  The message is that while our days might be numbered, God’s days are most decidedly not!  “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God …a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.”  There’s a real sense of the awesome quality of God in those words. In fact, Victor Pentz has written that in reading these first four verses of the Psalm, “you may have the sense that you are peering over the rim of the Grand Canyon into the vastness of God,” which I think says it very well.

What’s interesting about this particular psalm is that it is titled as “a prayer of Moses,” and as such, it is perhaps the oldest of the psalms that we have – so when you consider these words in the context of the history of Moses’ time (the Pharoah, the Pyramids, the Hebrew slaves who labored for generations and generations in the building of those pyramids), you do get a sense of the power and wonder of God far surpassing the passage of time from a human standpoint.  In other words, what we find in this psalm is an affirmation of God as the God of history, the God of pre-history, the God of creation, and the God of eternity – the God who is truly God “from everlasting to everlasting.”

And honestly; you and I, we have a hard time wrapping our minds around that.  Maybe you’ve heard the old story about the Jewish rabbi who’s having a conversation with God, and he says, “God, is it true that a million years for you is but a second?”  God answers, “Yes, that it true.”  And then the rabbi asks, “Is it true that a million dollars for you is but a penny?”  And God once again says, “Yes, that also is true.”  The rabbi pauses for a moment and then says, “God, can I have a penny?”  To which God replies, “Sure …just a second.”

The point is that God’s time is different from our time; God’s entire point of view is eternal and holy; broader and grander and fuller than anything you and I can even begin to comprehend!  Friends, this is an important truth that we would do well to recognize – what this psalm does is to remind us that, no, the universe does not revolve around us, we are not the “next big thing,” and in fact, where the cosmos are concerned, in the scheme of things we are little more than a speck of dust, ultimately “swept away …like a dream.”  And that would be pretty dismal and hopeless, except that as tiny and puny and utterly transient as we are, we are also created in love by that same mighty God who does indeed have compassion, who “satisfies us in the morning with …steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”  What we have here is the divine truth that while by every criteria of the universe, you and I are nothing, in the Lord’s eyes we are truly something to behold! 

And so the question becomes, if our time is that short, then what will be do with it?  That’s the prayer of this song of Moses – “…teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.”  Or, as some translations put it, “teach us to number our days,” which is not to calculate how much time we have left, but rather that in this present moment (which, truthfully, is all any of us is guaranteed), we might learn to live wisely and well. 

I would suggest to you this morning that getting “a heart of wisdom” begins with the conscious effort to reassess and realign the priorities of our lives with eternity’s values in view.  Or more simply, to live unto God’s purposes in this life rather than our own.

How many times have we heard it; how many times have we said it ourselves:  life’s too short for this!  Beloved, life is just too short not to forgive and move forward.  Life is too short not to let the people around you know how much you love them.  Life is too short not to take the initiative to reach out to a neighbor or a friend, to take the risk to help.  Life is too short to stay caught on an unending cycle of self-loathing and self-destruction; it’s too short to let ourselves be unhappy, or beaten down, or burdened with ancient regrets and heartaches.  Life is just too short not to know what respect, and integrity, and love is all about, to not take that leap of faith to trust God to bring you through life’s hardship and struggle, that you might discover its joy. 

Life is too short not to live it with God at the center!

I don’t know what kind of mind is driven to put this kind of thing on the internet, but did you know there is actually a website called death-clock.org, that will actually calculate exactly how much longer you have to live – to the second – and then puts up a clock on your computer where you can watch the seconds tick away!  (The home page of this site, by the way, says this should be used “for fun only,” and goes on to say that this is simply “the internet’s friendly reminder that life is slipping away.”)  What it is, folks, is depressing, and I don’t recommend staying on that site for very long… if at all! 

On the other hand, how would it be if we viewed the seconds we have left in life as a new opportunity – to let God’s work be manifest in us; to have our very lives be examples to our children, our friends, our community and our world of God’s amazing redemptive healing power; to assure that by our very efforts, all would see that “the favor of the Lord our God [would] be upon us, [and that God] would prosper  for us the work of our hands.”  Wouldn’t that be the kind of life we want to live?  Wouldn’t that be a legacy for our children and grandchildren?  Wouldn’t that make us the kind of Christians, the kind disciples and the kind of church we ought to be?

Life is too short, friends, not to live that way.  Because like it or not, our time is ticking, ticking away, and as Benjamin Franklin once observed, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made.” It’s as simple as that.

So carpe diem… seize the day!  For that matter, seize this very moment; and may our thanks be to God who teaches us to count our days, our minutes, and even our seconds: that we might gain a wise heart.

AMEN and AMEN!

© 2020  Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.

 

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