Posts from November 2015

“Living Thankfully” Ephesians 5:15-20

Back during the dark days of 1929, a group of ministers in the 
Northeast, all graduates of the Boston School of Theology, gathered to 
discuss how they should conduct their Thanksgiving Sunday services.  
Things were about as bad as they could get, with no sign of relief.  The 
bread lines were depressingly long; the stock market had plummeted, and 
the term Great Depression seemed an apt description for the mood of the 
country.  The ministers thought they should only lightly touch upon the 
subject of Thanksgiving in deference to the human misery all about them.  
After all, what was there to be thankful for?  But it was Dr. William L. Stiger, 
pastor of a large congregation in the city that rallied the group.  This was 
not the time, he suggested, to give mere passing mention to Thanksgiving, 
just the opposite.  This was the time for the nation to get matters in 
perspective and thank God for blessings always present, but perhaps 
suppressed due to intense hardship. 

“Focusing on Fundamentals” I Peter 4:7-11

When directors begin the season of practices in band or chorus, they 
begin to address fundamentals.  Centering on the basics becomes the 
lesson plan for the earliest days of practice.  After any lengthy hiatus, a 
competent director seeks to renew practice patterns.  More time gets spent 
on warming up.  The director may utilize breathing exercises.  Those 
playing a brass instrument may participate in maneuvers for their lips to 
solidify the connection to the mouthpiece.  Through some research I 
learned that brass players renew the ability to buzz their lips.  (I’m not sure 
exactly what this means.)  Scales, major and minor, need to be mastered 
again. 
Our New Testament Lesson today presents the reminder of focusing 
on fundamentals.  We have to know the basics before we can seek to solve 
timeless theological conundrums.  While I want my understanding of God to 
be stretched, occasionally we need to be reminded of the basics, because 
frankly, none of us have mastered these fundamentals.  No matter how 
long we have been followers of Christ, we still sin; we still fall short; we still 
miss the mark;  we still don’t do everything as Christ would have us do.  
The letters of I and II Peter are considered to be persecution 
literature, meaning that those who first read these words needed 
encouragement.  When Jesus ascended into heaven, he promised his 
followers that he would return.     

“It’s Not Always Easy” Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

St. Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body on earth but yours; no 
hands but yours; no feet but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which the 
compassion of Christ looks out to the world.  Yours are the feet with which 
he is to go about doing good.  Yours are the hands with which he is to bless 
others now.” 
Jesus is depending upon us.  Today’s New Testament Lesson 
provides a story which I think is relevant to the life of Madison Baptist 
Church now. 
The text opens with Jesus sending spies into cities where he 
intended to go.  He wanted them to go ahead of him to scout out the areas. 
Why 70?  Some think it was because Moses had appointed 70 elders 
to help him.  Others think the reference was associated with the 70 Gentile 
nations at that time.  I agree with the latter reference.  Luke is the gospel 
written for the Gentiles; those who first read Luke’s gospel were not those 
with Jewish roots.  Instead they were Gentile readers; Luke’s gospel

“Why Stay in the Tomb?” John 11:33-44

What a great week of revival we had! The music, sermons, and togetherness made for a wonderful time of worship and fellowship. At some time after selecting the revival date, it dawned on me that All Saints Day would follow the Revival. I questioned my choice of the Revival week, knowing that we perhaps could ride the euphoric revival wave a little longer. While many of us found ourselves on a spiritual mountain-top during the revival services, today’s service has a different feel to it. I am grateful for high-energy peaks, but I also realize that walking through the valleys becomes part of life. All of us have to go through the valleys, and we don’t walk alone.
What happens to others affects us; most of us are not like rocks in the sense that what is happening to those around us affects us. For eleven families in our church, today becomes another marker. The first Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday, anniversary, and for some, the first Valentines Day, Mothers or Fathers Day brings back a myriad of emotions. No two people feel exactly the same. I never tell someone “I know exactly how you feel,” or “I feel exactly the way you do,” because the relationships I have are unique, just as the relationships you have are unique.