Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Walking to Me

I'm thinking this morning about two of Jesus' miracles: feeding the five-thousand and walking on water. The two miracles are paired in Matthew, Mark and John's Gospel. So what do feeding, eating and walking on a lake have to do with me?

Right now I'm in the midst of transition. (A reason why I went so long without posting a blog.) Next month I'm moving my family to Oak Forest, IL, having been called to serve as the pastor of Resurrection Church, an ELCA congregation in Oak Forest. I'm excited about the move and praise God for the opportunity.

However, a transition always mixes some complications with the joy, like: finding a home, packing, mortgage loan paperwork, faxes, phone calls, inspections, schedules, goodbyes, hellos, and lots of time driving between here and there. At times the going has been easy, like being on cruise control with God as my pilot. But other times I feel a little pressed and have this desire to cut through the clutter. I wonder if that is how Jesus felt when we left the crowds after he fed the 5000. They were going to make him king (but not the kind of king he was called to be) so Jesus retreated to a mountain to pray.
Contrary to popular belief, we are not the first multi-taskers the world has ever seen. The world has always been chaotic, pulling on every emotion under the sun. The Psalms are a testimony to that. Therefore there has always been a need for love, grace and a chance to get away. In the midst of transition I'm thankful Christ offers to feed me through the Word and worship. I'm also thankful that when I do get in a bind he comes looking for me, even if he has to walk on water.

That's what these miracles mean for us today. They are not just some "newspaper" report from the past, but a reminder to us that Christ feeds us and comes to us today. He anticipates our needs and won't let anything get between him and us. In John 6:20 he tells the frightened disciples on the boat "It is I, do not be afraid." Jesus literally is "I AM:" God who comes to us in our chaos, anxiety, and doubts to provide us with all we need spiritually and physically. Do not be afraid.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

One Good Apple

You know what they say: "One bad apple spoils the whole barrel." You better watch out who you hang with, or who you allow to be part of your group, because if you associate with the "wrong" kind of person suddenly you may find yourself in the wrong as well.

Jesus didn't see it that way, however, he spent a lot of his time with "bad apples." They where the outcasts of society, either because they were sinners, or because they had disease that made them unclean. According to Leviticus anyone who touches an unclean person becomes unclean themselves, and in Jesus' day the religious leaders followed those purity rules with a passion. They were always concerned about saying away from an outcast. After all "one bad apple spoils the whole barrel."

When Jesus touches and eats with sinners, lepers, tax collectors and sinners, he is saying something amazing about the power of God and God's Kingdom. Instead of bad apples spoiling others, Jesus, the good apple, cleanses those who are unclean. The power of God's grace and forgiveness always wins over sin and darkness. Through Jesus' love we are made clean as well.