I am reading a book called “To be known as we are known” by Parker Palmer. It describes how we have taken the spiritual task of knowing and knowledge out of the learning process. We’ve turned it into facts and power rather than a journey of self-discovery and discovering the world around us. One quote really stuck with me
“The self creates the world by means of projection. Much of the world’s violence, for example, is an acting-out of the violence we find within ourselves, an effort to get rid of our inner demons by projecting them “out there.” We help create the outward enemy (be it russians or asians, blacks and WASPs) to distract us from the inward enemy who always threatens to overcome us.”
I find it so true. As a Chaplain, the more I learn about myself the more I am at peace with others. I think in today’s society because of vague spirituality and lack of community there is so much inner violence. The world needs community and resources to help us understand and confront our own inner demons.
Jesus for me is the source of strength and guidance in the journey. He dealt with temptation. He calls us to look inward and see the inner violence and how it affects the world around us. The Christian community although not perfect should strive for peace within ourselves so that we can give it to others. The heart of the Gospel is that God loves us. Much of our inner turmoil is from a self-hatred or low value of our place in the world. God values us and has a place in his kingdom. When we realize that we can share that awesome message to others.
So far this book is pretty good. I’ll keep you posted as a read more of it.
Grace and Peace to you from Our Father in Heaven and Our Lord Jesus Christ whose birth and incarnation we celebrate today. Amen
Our lives are filled with Hope and Expectation. We hope the economy will get better. We hope for Christmas and birthday presents. And we hope for a better future. There are a million things we trust and hope that will happen. As Christians our hope rests on Jesus Christ. On Christmas morning we celebrate with all the saints before us who trusted and hoped in Jesus. Christ is our hope from the dawn of creation and now through his incarnational presence. Christ is the fulfillment of Hope both as his presence on earth in human flesh and through his presence as the church, his body, working in and through us to redeem the world. Christ is the fulfillment of future hope when he will come again to complete his redemption. Hope is in the “Word made flesh and dwelling among us”.
John’s Gospel points us to the very act of creation, and to the God of Creation. “In the beginning” John writes echoing Genesis. He reminds us of how God, by just uttering a word created both light and life. God said “Let there be Light and there was Light.” When God speaks, amazing things happen. God’s Word is Alive and Active. It is through Word that all things come into being. This word was with God and was God. We are reminded in the book of Hebrews how God, in his steadfast love and faithfulness gave hope by speaking and acting through the ancestors and prophets of Israel but that now God gives us hope and speaks directly through the “Word made flesh” in Jesus Christ. This is the hope we find in Christ, that God the “Word made flesh” is here making things happen. Throughout the Gospels, this Child we celebrate every Christmas grew up to the fed the hungry, heal the sick, freed the captives, and restore relationship. He brings light to the darkness and restores life from death.
Jesus of Nazareth did not just appear as a human. He came into this world as Child, as all human beings do. We affirm, remember and celebrate Christ’s humanity. That Christ lived, and died as human, a mortal being. In Jesus, The author of life becomes flesh so that we might see, touch and know hope through his life and light.
John reminds us later in the Gospel the purpose Jesus’ incarnation and his dwelling among us in the world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believe in him may not perish but have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Jesus came to save us from death and corruption cause by sin. Jesus’ gift of life and hope comes to us by way his death on the Cross. Christ’s birth receives its significance and meaning in the shadow of the cross. God’s ultimate plan for salvation is made known in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Christ had to die so that he might raised in new life. Christ had to be human to die. So just as Christ shares our human death and in Christ we share his resurrection. We receive Salvation, which is sharing in God’s own life through Jesus Christ. On Christmas we celebrate the hope found in Jesus’ coming into the world as Child, a human Child, who is light in the midst of darkness and life in the midst of death. “God with us” Emmanuel.
How is that we experience this Jesus who was born 2000 years ago? Jesus is “the Word made flesh” who dwells among us and so through the promised Holy Spirit we are made part of his life. Through Jesus’ death on the cross we are made Children Of God. That is our Hope. To be restored with God and share in his life as he intended. As the Church, the body of Christ we live the reality of Jesus dwelling among us everyday. We are the incarnation of God’s salvation in the world. When we live in Christ, his life and light are given to others. When we hear the Gospel read and preached, Christ is incarnate there. When we feed the poor and hungry Christ is there. When people are Baptized, Christ incarnated. When we worship and share a meal, Christ dwells among us. As the Church, we are the incarnation of Christ in a world that longs to know “Where is God in all of the this?” We speak the word that is Christ and fill the darkness with his light.
Jesus the light of the world stepped down into darkness. Jesus our life, lived and died so that we might live in him. Jesus, our hope, fulfills our expectations both now and in the future. Until Jesus comes again and restores all of creation completely. We proclaim in the words of that the Christmas carol “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Indeed Our Hopes and our fears rest in Jesus. Amen!!!
I have been selected to participate in a christian mission trip to Honduras with Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. We will be working along side the Honduran people, building, community organizing and providing a medical clinic. We will be working with Heifer International. I am hoping to raise around $2000 to help with the team’s expenses. We would appreciate your support and partnering with us. The dates for our trip will be Jan. 16th-26th, 2012. We are hoping to raise all our funds by December 20th, 2011 , so that we can purchase supplies and get ready for our trip. I would love the opportunity to share with you more about what we are doing.
I decided I wanted to be part of this particular mission team because it is an opportunity to travel as well as building relationships with the Honduran people. This more than a tourist trip it is an opportunity to serve. We will be living and working with Honduran people and I expect to learn a lot from them.The mission trip is also part of a class. The trip is led by our Professor of Ethics Dan Bell. Before and after the trip we will have a variety of discussions on what it means to serve the poor as a Christian both in the US and abroad. The trip is designed to help us engage in conversations with the Honduran people on the issue of poverty. I expect to share a lot with you about what it means to live out the Gospel both here and abroad especially related to poverty issues.
Our team will consist of about 12 people. It is made of up of mostly seminary students but there will be a doctor, pharmacist and nurse accompanying us as well as some local guides and translators. We will travel to Honduras which is the 2nd poorest country in Central America. The country is mostly mountainous and much of the population is rural. We will be working with Heifer International who has identified several rural villages that we will partner with to help on building projects and provide a medical clinical. We will be working with men, women and children in various capacities. Part of our mission will be joining the Honduran people in worship throughout the project. The villages where we are sent to, are some of the poorest and remote places. They have asked for assistance and we are there to provide for their needs. Your support will help us obtain a variety of supplies including medicines, building supplies and gifts for the Honduran people.
This project is only possible with your support. If you would like to me to speak to you more about our project or visit please let me know. We can use any support you are willing to give, especially prayer. If you would like to help financially please write a Check to Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS)and Write: Honduras Project on the memo line. Then mail to this address Mark Molter 4201 Main Street #243 Columbia, SC 29203 If you would like to help with a donation of supplies you can contact me via email email@example.com and I will give you a list of our needs. Thank you for your consideration and please keep our team in prayer.
Henry Melchior Muhlenberg was a German Lutheran missionary during the colonial period. He is often considered the patriarch of the American Lutheran Church. He was known for his preaching in Pennsylvania all the way down to Georgia. His is a story of devotion and dedication to sharing the Gospel.
Henry Melchior Muhlenberg was born in 1711 in Germany. He was ordained in 1739 and in 1742 was sent by a request from German Lutherans in America who were in need of a pastor. He arrived first in Charleston, South Carolina on Sept 22. In his journals he writes a funny anecdote about trying to make his way to Philadelphia where he was called to pastor. He wanted a ship but was told the it was too dangerous. In response he wrote that “God was well able to preserve me on a little ship and, even if I were to swim there on a plank, his hand would not be shortened. Then I went back home again, considered that I was called, not to Charleston or Georgia but to Pennsylvania.”1 Muhlenberg did make it to Pennsylvania where he eventually helped found The Ministerium of Pennsylvania in 1748. It became the first permanent Lutheran synod in the Americas. Throughout his 45 years of ministry Muhlenberg worked with other Christian traditions and even preach to Dutch, Swedish and English congregations in their natives tongues. He died in 1787. His son Peter was a general during the Revolutionary War and become a US congressman. His son Frederick become the first Speaker of the House in the US Congress. And his son Henry jr. became a pastor.
The Reverend Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, was a true man of God. He helped found the American Lutheran church and preached the Gospel to all who would hear. We commemorate Henry Melchior Muhlenberg on Oct 7th.
Heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people, we thank you for your Servant Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock; and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life, we my by your grace grow into the stature of the fullness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
St. Francis of Assisi is a popular Saint. He commonly was known as the patron saint of animals and the founder of the Franciscan Order of monks. I would like to offer a broader scope to his witness for Christ that we might learn from his example. St. Francis was born in 1181 in Italy. He was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. He was known for wild living and his love of French culture. The name Francis comes from his nickname Francesco or “little Frenchman” in Italian. He spent time as a soldier and was even imprisoned. On a pilgrimage to Rome, he becomes so concerned with the plight of the poor that he took a vow of poverty. It was during this time that he become known for his love of animals, simplistic lifestyle and advocacy for the poor. He founded the Franciscan Order of monks as a result of many people who began to follow his example of poverty and service in Christ’s name. Later, legend says during the crusades he risked his own life to preach the Gospel to the Muslims. He even appeared before a Muslim ruler who although not converted respected Francis and offered him safe passage. 1 Later in life Francis received the stigmata or the wounds of Christ. Many saw this as God declaring Francis holy and being literally transformed into the image of Christ. He died in 1226.
Saint Francis is an example of living a life foolishly for Christ. He lived in poverty, service, and was unafraid to preach the Gospel through word and deed. He is a true example of what it means to be transformed into Christ’s Image. We commemorate Saint Francis on October 4th.
The following prayer is often attributed to Saint Francis,
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.