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Tag Archive | "Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church"

Keeping Warm?


Courtland-Oakfield-United-Meth

Pastor Robert Eckert

Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church

10295 Myers Lake Ave., Rockford

 

 

King David was old and advanced in years; and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm” 1 Kings 1:1 (New Revised Standard Version).

The character of King David in Hebrew scripture is an enigma. He becomes a hero while still a child and grows into a “man after God’s own heart.” As his life draws to an end, however, he sinks into a winter of discontent. His condition has less to do with physical age and more to do with regrets. The wunderkind of courage, poetry, and conquest turned out to have feet of clay.

Driven by lust he plotted and successfully pulled the strings to accomplish the death of a man whose wife he had taken for himself, only to experience the gut-wrenching grief of seeing the child, who was the product of his illicit union, die in infancy.

Having led his armies to victory after victory establishing and securing the borders of ancient Israel, he is then disqualified by God from building a temple because of the wars he has waged and the blood on his hands.

Ruminating on moral failures and setbacks is a sure way to bring a chill to our souls that is difficult to overcome when guilt is undeniable and remorse is relentless. Imagine the bitter glare on David’s face when an insensitive attendant asked, “keeping warm?”

The Bible also tells a story of resuscitation when the prophet Elisha bends over a child lying dead on a mat “putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands.” As life returns to the boy “the flesh of the child became warm.”

It’s reminiscent of the account of the advent of humankind recorded in the second chapter of Genesis, where God is said to have “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”

God, the breath of life, eye-to-eye and hand-to-hand contact, they add up to warmth.

Trying to stave off the cold of this unforgiving winter we’ve been living through? You know what your mother told you … layers. Trying to stave off the cold of the unforgiving memories of past mistakes? Try layers of breathing in God’s grace, upon layers of honest connections of the heart with people you love, upon layers of offering yourself in service to the needs of others.

 

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off

Have You Seen the Lord?


Pastor Robert Eckert

Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church

10295 Myers Lake Ave., Rockford

 

“But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord’”(John 20:24-25).

If you’re a church-going person, this coming Sunday there’s a good chance you’ll hear the story from the gospel of John that describes an incident in the life of a man who has come to be known as “Doubting Thomas.”

If you’re not familiar with the story, here’s a quick summary. Following his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples, at a time when all were present, except one named Thomas. Later, after Jesus had gone and Thomas was again with them, the disciples told him of Jesus’ appearance, to which Thomas replied, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

In some churches this Sunday, Thomas might be presented in a negative light, as an unnecessarily skeptical man who should have been ready and willing to believe that Jesus, who had raised Lazarus back to life from death, could also be raised to life himself.

In other churches, Thomas might be presented as simply human, a questioner, a rational thinker, a thoughtful man who merely wanted to be certain that such a remarkable thing as Jesus’ resurrection could have happened. After all, he doesn’t say to his comrades, “that’s impossible,” he only says, “I want to see for myself.”

But let’s take a look at the other disciples. They probably won’t get as much attention this coming Sunday and they deserve credit for reporting candidly, frankly, and succinctly, “We have seen the Lord.”

They could have played games with Thomas. “You’ll never guess what happened when you were gone!”

They could have competed to claim storytelling rights. “I was standing at the table when Jesus appeared.” “But you had your back to him, I was standing where I could see his face.” “No, here’s what happened: I was just saying, ‘did you hear what Mary Magdalene says she saw at the tomb of Jesus?’ and then, surprise, he was right here with us.”

They could have editorialized, interpreted, or annotated, but they didn’t. They simply said, “We have seen the Lord.”

What about you? Have you seen the Lord? What about in this morning’s first smile from your two-year-old daughter? In the full moon that hung over the area a couple nights ago? In the face of the friend who accompanied you to that doctor’s appointment that had you so worried? In the tender, wizened face of the grandmother you visited last weekend? In the enthusiasm of children at an Easter egg hunt? In the faithfulness of your spouse who remembers to say “I love you” each night before falling asleep? Resurrection is about life and every sign of life is a sign of the resurrection of Jesus. Have you seen the Lord? Have you mentioned it to someone else?

 

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