Look Good

The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Luke.

42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.

44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”

45 One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”

46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. (Luke 11:42-46)

                             ___________________________

I don’t know which of you knew Ian Dingwall, priest, rector, executive director of the diocese, and known for making smart and sometimes acerbic comments.

I kind of liked Ian, even though he and I crossed swords once or twice.

He could tell a good story, and often his stories would have a lesson in them.

My favourite story of Ian’s was situated in a synagogue:

The rabbi of the synagogue came into the empty temple, and threw himself down on the floor in the centre aisle, and spreading his arms out, he cried out, ” Oh merciful God forgive me a poor sinner. Merciful God forgive me a poor sinner.”

As he was crying out this way, the president of the synagogue entered and seeing the rabbi lying on the floor, threw himself down next to him, and likewise began calling out, ” Oh merciful God forgive me, a poor sinner. Merciful God forgive me a poor sinner.”

Then in walked the caretaker, and seeing these two man debasing themselves in this way, he too threw himself down onto the floor  and called out, ” Oh merciful God forgive me a poor sinner.”

The president, hearing his voice, looked over to see who it was and recognised the caretaker. He nudged the rabbi and said, ” Hey look whose trying to be humble.”

The lesson of this week’s gospel is right in there, isn’t it?

People who knew the law, how to abide by it, making themselves out to be righteous  people, and really, they were in truth worse scoundrels than the lower status people they despised.

Jesus said about them, ” You are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”

According to Old Testament admonitions, walking on a grave defiled a person, so graves were clearly marked. But walking on an unmarked grave was just as bad. You may not be aware, but you are defiled just the same.

So he is saying that just be being near to a Pharisee, a person could be influenced wrongly, even if they didn’t know it.

We have all heard so much about the Pharisees and how they lived, sticking to the law and ignoring those who really needed help.

Of course not all of them were that way, but for those who were, what was their reason for being?

They were comfortable with  who and what they were. They didn’t want to change. Who does? They had the respect of some of the ordinary people. They did what they did and felt satisfied with that.

It was up to someone like Jesus to point out how they really were.

And they didn’t like it.

But you know, it’s easy to be like that today.

Come to church on Sunday without fail. Give to your church to support it, and attend the events that come up.

That’s all.

You look good.

Feel fine

 Satisfied

But are we ever challenged to reach beyond that?

Does our life outside of church stuff reflect Christ?

And if we are fine with what we have, and do, how would we change it, even if we wanted to?

What do we do to try and ensure that we are not pharisaic?

What do we do to ensure we are fulfilling what Christ asks of his disciples?

To love God and neighbour?

Paul says we have to live by the Spirit, and when he lists the fruits of the spirit: he says, ” There is no law against such things. ”    

Having Christ in heart results in us having the spirit.

So there we have it: Submit one’s self to Christ, and the spirit will follow, and so will the gifts of the Spirit.

And unlike the three people I mentioned at the beginning, we will have no need to pretend to be humble, or giving, or trying to live by rules, because the spirit will guide us onto His ways.   Which are : Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,           faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control

What Can I Do?

The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Luke

Jesus said, “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham.

 The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’

But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’

He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers– that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” (Luke 16:19-31)

                                          —————————

The war in Ukraine grinds on with more hospitals, schools, and homes destroyed and people killed, injured, homeless, orphaned.

The war in Yemen also continues and millions there are starving,

There are other wars, conflicts, opportunities to deal death, going on all the time.

Destruction comes from bombing by planes, long distance shelling, deadly missiles, and so on. 

And then there is the bombing of  vehicles  trying to bring aid into the city? 

Trucks and their contents destroyed, and their drivers and helpers killed?

And have you seen the pictures of make-shift hospitals destroyed and medical staff killed, and so on?

The destruction is visible to the world  –  we see war up close, courtesy of television reporting, but ironically, those who drop the bombs, or send out missiles, or shell from distance,  don’t see the people they kill, maim or leave homeless.

They can’t see them, so they don’t exist.

The man described in the parable told by Jesus, was immensely rich, if we judge by the clothing he wears – probably the most expensive that could be bought at the time, and the food he ate – exotic meals every day, when the average person at the time was lucky to get one good meal a week. 

He was extremely wealthy.

I wonder  though, if he were as wealthy as the executive who not so long ago, retired from Wells Fargo after running the division that was responsible for a massive fraud, and who took home 125 million dollars in settlement pay.

The wealthy man in Jesus’ story , as people did at the time, ate with his fingers, and then wiped them clean with bread, throwing the bread away and it was that bread – the crumbs from his table – that Lazarus grasped for.

Lazarus, clothed in rags, didn’t even have the strength to ward off the dogs that licked his sores.

And the rich man, as he left his home daily, walked straight past the man at his gate – didn’t even see him.

Indeed for this man, Lazarus was invisible.

He just didn’t exist. 

Just as for those dealing death in Ukraine, and other places,  the people don’t exist.

It didn’t help that the rich man’s condition was a thousand miles from Lazarus’s condition.

My early years were spent in a slum with no electricity, a toilet outside in an alley and shared with our neighbour, cold water only from the one tap, and one meager fire to warm the house.

If my parents could see how I live today they would be amazed, They would think I was a millionaire.

That goes for most of us I think.

We have more than our parents, in most cases, and we take it for granted.

We are not rich.

We are just regular people.

That’s alright.

There is no need to feel guilty because we have worked hard and done alright.

The question is, ‘ Do we see those who haven’t fared so well?’

Or are they invisible to us?

Do we watch the news, or read our newspaper and see the atrocities that are inflicted on people, and switch channels, or turn the page.

So that they become invisible to us?

It is understandable, if that is so, because there is so much horrible stuff to read about, the temptation is to skip past it.

It is too much to digest. Too disturbing,.

My mother in law used to get so upset at what was in the news that she stopped watching the news, or reading a paper altogether.

She couldn’t take it.

You see those babies being rescued from the rubble, some in hospital beds, crying in pain and for their mothers, who may  be dead, and you cry for them.

What can we do?

There isn’t too much we can do, unfortunately. We can’t stop the  bombing of Ukraine, we can’t stop the bombing in Yemen.

We can’t stop evil people from wanting power for its own sake, rather than wanting to improve people’s lives.

We can’t just go into those war zones and bring those babies to our own homes.

What can we do?

I don’t have much of an answer for you, unfortunately.

All I can say is that when you see an appeal for help, and your heart is touched, don’t dismiss it, or turn the page, but consider responding.

When you see someone lying in a doorway, trying to sleep out there in the cold, and you feel tempted to help them, don’t turn away. Pull a five or a ten out of your pocket and slip it into their hand.

You can’t address what it is that prevents that person from participating in society, but you can help them get food for the day.

I was in Philadelphia once, and going back to my hotel with a colleague on a cold, cold night, when I saw a black man, sitting on a wall, outside a town house.

Spending the night there!

On that wall!

He was huddled up in a thin coat, no hat, no gloves.

Shivering!

I took a US ten dollar bill – that’s all – and slipped it into his hand as I passed by.

“God bless you,” he called after me.

I was blessed!   For a measly ten dollars!

Measly to me, but worth a lot to him.

For just ten dollars, God blessed me?

Likewise, I was in Montreal one time and as a friend and I  walked along the sidewalk, I saw a man with some sort of disability requiring a crutch, and obviously penniless. I pulled a bill from my pocket, probably only five dollars,  and pressed it into the man’s hand as we walked by.

No one saw, but the poor man limped down the street after me, calling out, a thank you and a God Bless you, in French.

I wasn’t going to get away without him thanking me, and have God bless me

My friend translated for me.   Then he gave the man something too.

I am not telling you this as an example of my generosity,  I have also told you of times when I wasn’t generous –  and these incidents are nothing for me to be proud of, but just to show, that those who are invisible can bring God’s blessing on us when see them – when we acknowledge their visibility – their presence!.

A down and out, a homeless person, someone with nothing, blessed me??

Can’t I who have so much, bless someone?

What can I do?

What can you do? 

We can pray for peace. Pray for those who are suffering. Do whatever you can to help.

But whatever you do, don’t let those children of God become invisible to you.

Another lesson we can take from this parable, is that in the afterlife, this rich man had nothing, not even a drink of water.

He couldn’t take his riches with him.

And even then he didn’t repent. Even then, he couldn’t see where he had been wrong.

But he did see the danger in living as he had lived and wanted his brothers alerted.

“Send Lazarus, to get me water,” he asked, “And to warn my brothers.”

“Don’t bother,” Abraham said, “They wouldn’t believe him, even if he came back from the dead.”

That was true, of course, of those who were the targets of this parable – the self-righteous, the rich, the religious elite.

Jesus rose from the dead, and was seen by hundreds of people.

The disciples witnessed to the life-giving power of the Risen Christ.  

But the religious people of the time, secure in their place in society and their wealth, just couldn’t see it.

It wasn’t within their scope you might say.

They couldn’t see the humanity, the intrinsic value, the image of Christ in the poor and downtrodden, the outcasts, the prostitutes, the penniless widows, orphans, slaves, who were a big part of their society .

They couldn’t see them,  because it just wasn’t within their purview

How could they go about their daily business, without being aware of  the conditions of the time?

By purposely not seeing? 

Turning the page?

Looking the other way?

Hardening their hearts?

Knowing that they couldn’t change the way things were, even if they did see the need, would they see changing it as too big a job?

I am sure you have heard the story of the two men walking along the beach, and seeing hundreds of starfish left behind by the tide and drying out, dying in the sun.

One of them stooped down picked up a starfish and threw it into the surf.

The other man said, ” There are so many. How can that make a difference?. “

“It made a difference to that one,” he replied.

Don’t be put off by the size of the challenge.

If you make a difference in just one life, you will be blessed. 

You will be blessed in this life, and in the next.

Amen.

He Came to Claim Us

The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Luke.

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”(Luke 15:1-10)

                              ———————————–

A store-owner was tacking a sign above his door. It read, ”Puppies for sale.” Signs like that have a way of attracting small children, and sure enough a little boy popped up under the store owner’s sign, and asked,  “How much are you going to sell the puppies for?” 

The store owner replied,  “Anywhere from $30 to $50.”

The little boy reached into his pocket and pulled out some change, ”I have $2.37,” he said,  “Can I please look at them?”

The store owner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store, followed by five teeny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging considerably behind the others. Immediately, the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, “What’s wrong with that little dog?”

The store owner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn’t have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame.

The little boy became excited. “That is the little puppy I want to buy,” he said.

The store owner said,  “ You don’t want to buy that little dog. If you really want him I’ll just give him to you.”

The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store-owner’s eyes, pointing his finger, and said,  “I don’t want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth as much as all the other dogs and I’ll pay full price. In fact, I’ll give you $2.37 now and fifty cents a month until he is paid for.”

The store owner said, “ You don’t really want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies.”

Then  the little boy reached down and pulled up his pant leg to reveal his own left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the store owner and said,  “Well I don’t run so well myself, and that little puppy will need someone who understands.” [1]

Jesus understood.

He understood the brokenness and the needs of those that the better-off members of society rejected. He spent his time with the ostracized tax-gatherers, and the sick and out of work, and prostitutes, and widows thrown out of their homes, and those who were psychologically wounded.

The Pharisees, as we read in today’s Gospel, couldn’t understand it. “This man is friendly with sinners. He even eats with them,” they say.

Their narrow view has been formed by the relationship with God that was recorded in the Old Testament. A relationship that focused on being careful not to do anything wrong, but which seemed to exclude doing anything right.  They wouldn’t defile their hands by assisting the less fortunate.

Their ancestors, as we read in Jeremiah, had ignored God. They had taken to worshipping pagan idols, with all the evil and corruption that some of those cults indulged in.  By turning their backs on God and the unity, and the national will that came from that, the nation was ill-prepared for  the armies of Babylon that would face them, in about 600 BC.

Jeremiah warns, “ False prophets have deceived Judah into complacency  but the enemy marauds like a “lion” in the north of the land. The political leaders will lack courage and the religious ones will be “appalled” when the army arrives.

Jeremiah told of punishment from God because of this backsliding. In fact, they brought punishment down upon themselves by their lack of unity and political will.

So the Pharisees of Jesus’ time are scrupulous about sticking to the law. So scrupulous, unfortunately, that they have lost any semblance of compassion, as we see in today’s Gospel.

So Jesus lays two parables on them – one about the shepherd who will leave the ninety-nine safely gathered sheep and go look for the one lost sheep, and the woman who has lost  one of ten silver coins, and looks diligently for it turning the house upside down until she finds it.

He tells how both the shepherd and the woman, call in their friends and neighbours to celebrate with them the finding of that which had been lost.

Jesus tells them, “This is the way that God looks for the ones he has lost. “

This is the way that the angels sing with happiness when a lost soul is brought back into the fold.

And, he wants them to know, the celebration is because each one of these lost souls – those whom Jesus spends time with – is as valuable to the Father as anyone else – indeed, as they, the righteous  are. Valuable to the Father.

The value of human beings is something that  in this day and age, it seems, we need  to rediscover.

Retirement and nursing homes do a great job of looking after their residents and patients. But sometimes, once an old person is placed there, their family forgets about them.

Do they lack value, now?

Our society has made  great strides integrating those with developmental difficulties into the mainstream; psychiatric institutions have been emptied, and people freed from custodial care. But too often governments have not put the money saved on closing those hospitals into community support for those left to look after themselves.

Is that because we don’t see their value?

I wonder if you remember the siege of Beslan some eighteen years ago.  There have been so many terrorist incidents that it is easy to forget those from the past, but even by today’s measure this was a nasty one. 

In September 2004, Chechnyan terrorists seized a school in a district of Russia, and took 1100 people hostage, including seven hundred and seventy seven children.

The terrorists had no sense of the value of those hostages except as  bargaining chips.

Soldiers soon surrounded the school and on the third  day, Russian soldiers using tanks, rockets, and heavy weapons, attacked.

As a result, 330 hostages were killed, including 186 children.

Others were injured and some were counted missing.  

You could understand those hostages who survived, but lost family, or friends, being bitter. Feeling vengeful.

But Zara Medzeva, a sixty-five year old grandmother, one of those who survived the siege in that Beslan gymnasium, said, “But enough war. Enough bloodshed. I will even come to peace with the man who held a gun to my head if it means this will not happen again.”

There was someone who had faced death at the hands of a terrorist, and yet was willing to forgive if it would encourage others to forgive and bring an end to war.

But of course, it will happen again. And again.

It will happen again and again until we all, as Jesus did, look for and uphold the value of those who for some reason are different from us, have different culture than ours, have different language, different dress, different food,  different status. 

Despite the efforts of some politicians to tell us otherwise.

Isn’t that what Jesus wants from us? Isn’t that why he died?  All are valuable.   All are worth saving.

As awful as it is to contemplate, for those who were involved in the Beslan siege, and for those who lost family, God sees value even in those terrorists.

Because He sees souls and spirits, twisted and broken so badly that they can involve themselves in such horrific acts

Because, like that little boy, picking up the disabled puppy, Jesus, who suffered knows our suffering, and knows our value.

He came to claim us, brokenness and all. 

And those of us who have been found, have to so govern our lives, and actions, and have regard for those who are lost, that they too may find a home with him.

We are called to reach out, as Jesus did, to those who are rejected and have no value in our society – in any society –  to let them know that they are indeed valuable and there is rejoicing in heaven, when even one lost soul is found. 


[1] Dan Clark, Weathering the Storm, ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul,’ Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Health Communications, Deerfield Beach, Florida, 1993.

Living With Joy

The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ  According to Luke.

 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 

He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
    every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
    the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

                                            ————————————-

Some time ago, the leaders of the Commonwealth countries were to meet in Nigeria. Our Mr. Chretien was among them.

Now the Queen as head of the Commonwealth, was there, probably to open the proceedings, and do some public relations work. She was scheduled to attend a traditional Nigerian marketplace.

Well, the security situation being what it was, at the time, the government of Nigeria couldn’t guarantee her safety in a marketplace, what with all the alleyways, and hidden recesses, and all, so it was decided to have a make-believe marketplace, with stalls set up in a sort of a movie set, with access strictly regulated, and actors – actors – playing the part of the usual stall-holders, and customers.

Her Majesty is no fool, so I bet she would have seen through the ruse, but lady that she is, would not have embarrassed anyone by noting it.

It’s ludicrous, isn’t it? But the phrase, from our reading today,  “ In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,  make straight in the desert, a highway for our God,” has its roots in a similar practice, in the countries of the east, centuries ago.

When the king decided to make an inspection of a particular area, the people who would normally just throw their garbage out onto the dusty potholed road, would have to go out and clear up the mess, and fill in the holes, and make the way worthy of the king. He wouldn’t see the place as it really was.

Today we hear the message of John the Baptist calling upon people to make themselves ready. Not for the coming of a king, but for the arrival of Jesus Christ.

And not by clearing up garbage, and fixing roads, but by cleaning up their lives.  He wants them to change.  To repent. To make a big  U turn in their lives.

And they did.

They came in their hundreds and John baptized them in the River Jordan.

Why would they come?  He must have been a strange-looking  man. His clothing made of camel hair, long unkempt hair and beard.  And his diet???    We are told he ate roots, berries, and locusts.

Locusts!

A radio station somewhere in the States a few years ago put out a recipe for bread made from locusts and crickets.  It was supposed to be very nutritious.  I wonder how many people would come forward if our communion bread were made that way.  

Now why did  people come to John? 

Maybe they were at a point in their lives when they recognized the need for change.

Maybe they had gone the other route, trying to find comfort in possessions, in living for themselves, and found that way of life to be empty.

It was a time in history when people were feeling alienated.  Jews chafed under the rule of the Romans. 

They felt lost, had no sense of belonging. And the religion of the day only offered thousands of rules.

So when they heard John’s message: “ Someone is coming who is greater than I. I am not fit to even untie the thong of his sandal.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Get ready, turn your life around. Repent, ” they responded.

We are probably living in the best time in history.  We in the industrialized world have comforts that our ancestors couldn’t even  dream of.  And yet the signs are, that people are no more content than their grandparents or great grandparents were.

There are more people in this world than there have ever been,  yet many of us suffer from loneliness.

We have had the benefit of pediatricians, guidance counselors,  child psychologists, and more, and yet kids leave home for uncertain life in the city.

What will it take to get today’s lost sheep to respond? 

And if you don’t see today’s people as lost sheep, look around, the next time you are in the mall. People surge by, glassy-eyed, this way and that, searching for that great bargain. Or something?

They are in thrall to the colour, and the lights, and the music, and the noise, and the urgency of it all. And we do it every year, don’t we?  We are exactly like sheep!

We only have to hear a few verses of ‘Rudolph’ at Christmas and we automatically reach for our wallets.

But, just as people in John’s day were ready to change their lives, I believe that people of today are ready too.

They just need to hear the call of Jesus.

The parents of a little girl sent her to church regularly every Sunday, but never came in with her. They would pull up in front of the church,  drop her off, and go out for Sunday breakfast. The father was an executive for a big chemical company, very ambitious, upwardly mobile .

They were well-known for their Saturday night parties, given not so much for entertainment or out of friendship, but as a part of the husband’s career advancement program. How someone might  help towards his goals, determined who was invited. The whole town knew about the things that went on at those parties.

But every Sunday morning, there was that little girl.

One Sunday the pastor looked out at his congregation and, as usual,  there she was.  He looked again, and realized that her mom and dad were sitting with her this Sunday.  They came forward after the service, and asked to join the church.  The pastor asked them what had prompted  this.

“Do you know about our parties?,” they asked. “Yeah, I’ve heard of your parties.”

“Well, we had one last night. It got a bit loud, kind of rough, lots of drinking. And it woke up our daughter, who was asleep upstairs. She came down the stairs and was on about the third step. And she saw the eating and drinking and said, ‘Oh, can I do the blessing?   God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food.  Goodnight everybody,’  and she went back up the stairs.”

“Funny. Things quieted down real fast.   People began to say, ‘It’s getting late, we really must be going, thanks for a great evening,’ and within two minutes the whole place was empty.”

“We  started to pick up the crumpled napkins and half-eaten sandwiches and spilled peanuts, and then we looked at each other.  And  said, “ What have we been thinking?   Where do we think we’re going?”

The words of that little girl opened the eyes of that couple to the changes they needed to make in their lives – to meet Jesus.

Preparing for God’s ways to take hold in our hearts is what Christian Life is about.  For that to happen, we may need to make some changes in direction.

It may have to do with giving less attention to being comfortable and  more attention to bringing comfort to others.

It might involve remembering someone who is lonely.  It might mean being sensitive to those who have suffered pain and loss and for whom loneliness is now a fact of life. . 

It might involve spending time in scripture and in prayer so that God’s word can work in our hearts and lives.

It might mean giving attention to relationships that need healing:  making  a tough decision or taking a difficult action that you know you need to make. 

It might mean getting involved in righting a wrong in our world. 

As we do these things, we may find that God will begin to lead us out of the wilderness, and we begin to discover the comfort and peace and joy of knowing Jesus.

A man went to his doctor for  his annual physical.  After the exam, he waited a few minutes for the doctor’s report.  The doctor came in with his charts in his hand, and said, “ Well, there’s no reason why you can’t live a completely  normal life – as long as you don’t try to enjoy it.”

We’ve got him beat, because  life with Jesus is life to enjoy. 

Let’s examine our hearts and prepare the way of the Lord, in our lives.  Let’s be ready to receive him.

And begin living with joy.