For the past decade, each year I have written and self published a meditation book. Here is a sample of my work:
Naming Your Child
On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child and were calling him Zachariah after his father. But his mother [Elizabeth] intervened: “No. He is to be called John. Luke 1:59-60
Zachariah had an unexpected visit from an angel who told him his wife, Elizabeth, would become pregnant and give birth to a son. He trembled with fear and said he couldn’t believe this news because he and his wife were out of the child-bearing days.
But the angel said, “I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won’t believe me, you’ll be unable to say a word until the day of your son’s birth. (Luke 1:19-20)
Elizabeth knew the child would not be named Zachariah, but John. Zachariah wrote John on a tablet to affirmed it be writing the name John on a tablet. Imagine how confused those reading the name John must have become!
As a child, I heard my father’s story as to how he inherited his Grandfather Sampson’s name. I don’t know if my dad was the first-born grandson or if my great-grandfather wanted his legacy to continue through his Norwegian name, Askel. As the story unfolded, dad said, “My parents were told if they named their son after his grandfather, when the child became twenty-one years old, he would be given $1,000. My father grew up with a name he didn’t like, and to top it off, his grandfather died when dad was nineteen! He didn’t get the money, and lived until age ninety-one with the name.
Dear Lord, help us figure out the importance of names, especially when picked out by God. Amen.
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him. Luke 2:6-7
Years ago, I assisted a friend in a marionette play based on the story of the first Christmas. I had no experience working behind a five-foot stage manipulating puppets with half a dozen strings attached to a wooden control bar. “I can’t do this,” I protested. “Yes, you can, he said.”
As missionary, my friend had put on puppet shows for three years. He could manage more than one marionette at a time, but for this play, he needed help with the props and an occasional walk-in character. After several rehearsals, I felt confident enough to show up for the program. What could possibly go wrong working alongside of a seasoned marionettist?
During the first act, as the recorded angels began to sing Glory to God in the highest and peace and good will to man, I recognized my cue. Here I go, I thought, and gingerly began to descend the angelic choir (small stuffed angels glued to a board). The wire attached to the board slipped out of my hand, and instead of a graceful choir swaying to the music, they crashed to the stage floor. Before I could react, a large, firm hand swooped down and picked up the angels, and the show went on.
Glory to God! My goof up had been redeemed. Looking back on this experience, I think of times when I’ve faltered, and the large, firm hands of God picked me up and put me in my place. Surely God said, “The show must go on.”
Lord, thank you for your gracious hand of forgiveness. Amen.
John the Baptist Rants
“It’s your life that must change, not your skin. The crowd asked him, “Then what are we supposed to do?” John 3:9-10
The churches (and many charity-based organizations) have had to step up during the pandemic to help people who were affected by the loss of work or directly from suffering from COVID.
John the Baptist didn’t baptize everyone who “slithered” down to the river. He challenged them to examine their lives and open their eyes to the needs of others, as in verses 11-12: “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”
Peace Lutheran Church in Peoria, Arizona, has been my church home for over a decade. One of the reasons I chose this congregation to worship with is that they believe in the discipleship of all members. The leadership challenges us to ask, “What am I supposed to do?
The first Sunday of Advent, I picked up a banker’s box as I left the sanctuary and a list of food products requested by the local food bank. It’s called a “Reverse Advent Box. Every day during Advent, we are asked to put one or more grocery items into the box. I will return the box on Christmas Eve and present it to the Christ Child as a gift to humanity.
Jesus continues to be the best gift of all. His cousin John contributed to the ministry by challenging people to change your life, not your skin.
Dear Lord, we are blessed by the messages of John the Baptist. Amen.