The Good Times
2010-07-26 by Jacqueline King

The Good Times

In Louisiana we have a saying, “Laissez le bon temps rouler!” It translates, “Let the good times roll!” In my town, that seems to be the daily mantra. Pageants, parades, parties, fun, festivities, and food dominate the social landscape of many events. We even have drive thru daiquiri shops (actually, they are scattered all throughout Louisiana). How is that legal, you ask? Well, the daiquiri seller puts tape at the top of the straw trusting the driver to take the drink home and consume to one’s satisfaction. (Well, the seller is supposed to apply the tape).

When Oprah Winfrey visited the town a few years back, she commented that it is “the best little city in the U.S.A.” She visited the town few months after September 11, 2001. She remarked that the town was continuing with life. That seems to be the spirit indigenous to these “Steel Magnolias”…they continue with life. As M’Lynn remarked after losing her daughter Shelby to complications of diabetes, “life goes on.”

The strength, the resolve, the reserve is certainly to be commended in this unique town. I see many living their life to the fullest even when tragedy strikes. Life is too short to be haunted by the past, though as I write this I’m praying for those in my town and around the world whose ghosts of life’s-past still haunts them.

I appreciate Brett Younger article “Get a Life Because It Is Shorter than You Think”. He writes it reflecting on Luke 12:32-40, but he inspired me to reflect on the lectionary passage just before that! (Luke (12:13-21) (http://www.goodpreacher.com/journalread.php?id=1651) How do we live life to the fullest and not squandering it away “hour by hour, day by day, in a thousand, small uncaring ways”. The man beheld his goods and said, “I think I’m going to need a bigger barn”.  Living the good life is exactly the kind of life Jesus offers to us. And yet, we squander it if we turn the gifts God provides us unto ourselves and being anxious about tomorrow or fully investing in our own securities.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about all those ladies on the Titanic that said “NO” to dessert. Thinking they were being wise to their waistlines, they completely rejected the gift of chocolate. That is not to say “eat whatever you like, gorge, and hoard it all”. There is nothing gospel in that mentality. There is great wisdom in ‘everything in moderation’. There are blessings in the haves as well as the have-nots, but if we just focus on one or the other, we are missing the good life.

We hear the fool who sees his deliciously ample goods and says, ‘relax, eat, drink, be merry’ (vs. 19), he fails because he turns inward and creates his own private island of goods. He does not share. I grow disheartened when I hear Christians turn this text as a way to asceticism and believe Jesus is saying, “avoid all pleasure in life”. Have they read the gospels? Jesus was an exciting person to be around! His fame grew because of the life he chose to lead. Many times he ministered over a meal in the company of friends.  

Jesus offers us more than a good time; Jesus offers us life to the fullest even when the life has to meet the cross. Though his earthly life was cut short, his resurrection gives us all Christians hope beyond the earthly goods and anxiety of this time. John Wesley is a patron saint for those who have Wesleyan roots. One of his catchy sayings is an inspiration of how we may live the good life by not squandering it away or storing it up in our own private barns. He modeled living life to the fullest for the glory of God and the love of other:

Do all the good you can

By all the means you can

In all the ways you can

In all the places you can

At all the times you can

As long as you ever can

~John Wesley

As time rolls on in the seconds, minutes, and hours to pass may we live life to the fullest in the name of Christ and not cut ourselves short by storing them in bigger better barns! Blessings! Rev. JECK

Rev. Jacqueline E.C. King (or JECK) is an ordained elder in the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. She serves as an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Natchitoches. Natchitoches is the oldest settlement of the Louisiana Purchase and is known for being the story and film location for the movie Steel Magnolias. She loves the work of ministry, preaching, teaching, and sharing her life with her husband who also serves as pastor.





Stephen; Prayer; Lord's Prayer
2010-07-24 by David von Schlichten

Stephen Schuette has provided thoughts about prayer as an act of courage. Scroll down to read his post.

My sermon for July 25 will be a reflection on the Lord's Prayer, which is so overused that it is under-focused on. I will be drawing from Martin Luther's Small Catechism, which offers re-orienting insight regarding the Lord's Prayer.

My sermon's key point will be that the Lord's Prayer does not only guide us on how to pray but also is a summary of how to live. We are to live so that God's name is hallowed,  to live to help bring about the kingdom, to live to feed one another, and to live to forgive and reject evil. Praying the Lord's Prayer is saying, "God, according to you, this is how I am to live. Help me do it."

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





God Too Human?
2010-07-21 by David von Schlichten

Why do we need to be persistent with God in prayer? How can Abraham actually get God to change God's mind?

Passages such as these show God as being rather human. Is God really this way, needing us to bug God repeatedly or to change God's mind?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 





Courage
2010-07-20 by Stephen Schuette

Have you ever thought of what a courageous thing it is to pray?  If we are addressing ourselves to the greatest power conceivable, the source of everything that is it is awesome to even imagine.

Abraham shows this courage.  Look at the variant reading note for Gen. 18:22:  “The Lord stood before Abraham.”  Many claim the variant as original since it is the “harder” reading, and some scribe along the way would be more likely to soften it to “Abraham stood before the Lord.”  Understood this way, out of the Covenant Promise Abraham is claiming his full relationship with God and asking to clearly identify God’s self.  This relationship will not be confined to a narrow channel.  It is broad and open and honest.

But perhaps for lack of courage we often keep our prayer confined to narrow channels.  We pray “appropriately.”  We often pray with customary words and out of tradition more than honesty about where we are.  Think of the breadth of prayer in the psalms!  The scriptures are extraordinary in this openness.

Somewhere in Barth (I’m not sure where), it’s suggested that prayers of praise are static prayers.  They are prayers content with what is.  OK.  To a degree that’s legitimate, and can be authentic.  But if that’s all we pray, if we never move to a bidding, asking, seeking prayer, a prayer that challenges what is and imagines what could be if the fullness of God’s promises are realized then our prayer is limited indeed.

And I hear Jesus as a cheerleader for us in this.  “Ask…” he says.  Push for it, persisently.  Knock.  Be courageous!  I’m quite sure Jesus doesn’t want lily-livered, weak-kneed, yes-people for disciples.  In fact it may be that prayers which lack imagination and largeness of vision are a problem not because of us, because they make us seem too demanding.  It may be that prayers which lack vision really lack faith in God’s capacity to do great things.  So, take courage!





Mary and Martha as Portrait of Praxis; Mountain Genocide
2010-07-16 by David von Schlichten

Mary and Martha remind us that we need both action and listening/reflection. Both are open to women, and indeed to all of us. We need to listen to Christ. We need to take action. Listen. Act. Listen Act. All with Christ's guidance.

This week I listened about mountaintop removal mining happening in Appalachia. To save time and expense corporations blast the tops of mountains off and dump the rubble into a valley. This is done for easier coal extraction. The result is the devastation of at least the top third of mountains that are among the oldest in the world. You can imagine what happens to the animal and plant life on those mountains and in the valleys below.

The enormity of the destruction is most obvious from the air looking down. The once lush mountains resemble a moonscape.

God led me to hear about this horror. Now I'm taking action. Then I'll listen some more, sitting at Christ's feet. Help me, Great Spirit.

For more information on mountaintop removal mining, go to: 

http://mtrinfo.wordpress.com/organizations/

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





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