Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sunday's Sermon

The Glory of the Lord Shall Be Revealed
December 4th, 2011

I’d like to share with you this morning the scripture from Isaiah 40: 1 – 11 which is our scripture lesson for today’s service. This is a message of hope and truth.

Isaiah 40:1–11
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.

Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

The historical setting for this scripture is Babylon. It is addressed to the Jewish community in exile. The Babylonian exile, while economically more favorable to the Jewish community than staying in Israel, still threatened the community with cultural and religious assimilation.

At this time in history, the conquering of a people by another people meant that the tribal god of the conquered people was also conquered by the tribal god of the conquerors. The action meant the loss of their personal, cultural, political, and spiritual identity. They literally lost the center on which their lives turned. Sp the challenge before the prophet was threefold:

First he had to try to answer the question in the minds of the people: Is God still God?

Second: with the loss of the temple and kingship, do the people of God still exist as a people?

And Third and last of all: Does God still care for the people?

The prophet’s answer to all these questions was a resounding, “Yes!”

It is still “yes!” to us today. Not only does God care for each of us, but God laments when we turn away from the still small voice that attempts to lead us into the better life.

There is great hope offered the people here by the prophet. They had lost all hope. They thought their God had been conquered and was no longer the God of their tribe. The apex of the scripture comes in verse 40:9 with the proclamation: “Here is your God!” God is great. God still loves the people. God is honoring the covenant made with Jacob and David. God cares about you. God is here in the midst of our chaos and our most terrible circumstances. “Here is your God!” the prophet says. There is hope. And the hope of the Advent season is symbolized this morning in the commemoration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. At the Lord’s Table we are reminded of God’s saving role in our own lives. That saving role is not necessarily in an afterlife, it is actually for us in the present day…in this life. God wishes to save us from ourselves..our own bad choices and mistakes. God’s salvation is for us today. God’s grace covers our shattered lives. God is with us every single day..every moment. It is our responsibility to listen for his still small voice that attempts to guide us.

Many people find life so difficult that they give up hope of anything getting better. In knowing God is with us we find hope for our lives and because of that we receive the promise of God’s continuing presence with us. We see God’s work and God’s face in the works and faces of others in the loving community as they strive to serve the needs of others. And this morning as we partake of the emblems of the sacrament, God’s presence is once again revealed to us.

Central to this scripture is the age old question: Is God good? Is God great? The next central questions are: How has God shown involvement in our lives? Has there ever been a time when God has seemed absent from our life? If so, how did God return to us?

God is good because God is always with us. God is great because God continually works in our lives to help us make good decisions and to comfort us when all seems lost and we feel alone with our life dilemmas. We are not alone though. Not only do we have God’s Spirit with us at all times but we have one another in this special fellowship of love and support.

Sometimes God seems a long way away from us but it is not because God has moved. It is because we have moved away from God and stopped listening to God’s voice. We have withdrawn. That is truth. Truth, and our search for it, is also a part of the glory of the Lord. Sometimes truth seems elusive so how do we recognize truth when we find it? The Buddha told this story.

‎"A young widower, who loved his five year old son very much, was away on business when bandits came who burned down the whole village and took his son away. When the man returned, he saw the ruins and panicked. Then he took the burnt corpse of an infant to be his son and cried uncontrollably. He organized a cremation ceremony, collected the ashes and put them in a beautiful little bag which he always kept with him. Soon afterwards, his real son escaped from the bandits and found his way home. He arrived at his father's new cottage at midnight and knocked at the door. The father, still grieving asked: "Who is it?" The child answered, it is me, papa, open the door!" But in his agitated state of mind, convinced his son was dead, the father thought that some young boy was making fun of him. He shouted: "Go away" and continued to cry. After some time, the child left.
Father and son never saw each other again."

After this story, the Buddha said: "Sometime, somewhere, you take something to be the truth. If you cling to it so much, even when the truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you will not open it." Let us open our minds always for truth.

Let us be open to God.

As we prepare for the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper today, let us examine these questions for ourselves and attempt to answer them silently for our own lives.

God is with us in our worst moments and also in our best moments. If we recognize that, we will find the courage to face whatever may come our way in life. God is still God. God is the God of all people and God still cares deeply for us. That is truth and that truth gives us hope and assurance that “the glory of the Lord will be revealed”… to us.

Big Big Saturday

This will be another big day.

Last night I went to Tyro and met John and Leslie and they took me to Garfield's as planned. I had a nice small steak and it was very good. Afterward the crew had me stand up and sang happy birthday to me. Then we walked around the mall and the kids did some Christmas shopping. It rained on the way home and after we got to Tyro I drove myself on home in the rain. I had put Slinky in the garage on his pad and I just left him there and got a good night's sleep.

It's going to rain today so the book sale probably won't do much. But it's supposed to be in the 50's later on today so I will put Slinky outside for the afternoon while I am gone to Joplin to the Living Christmas Tree program and on into the evening. When I get home I will put him back in the garage to sleep. It stays fairly warm in the garage. I have a 100 watt light bulb clipped to the water pipes that leads to my refigerator to keep them from freezing when it gets really cold.

Tomorrow will be church as usual. I am speaking tomorrow and it is communion Sunday too. We will probably eat out together afterward and then I will get my letters done before making my dessert for the dinner at Bobby and Karan's home before the Living the Questions group meets.

So it will be a full weekend.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What a Night!

My oldest son and his wife, Esther, sent me this beautiful basket of flowers for my birthday. It was delivered at my work today. Aren't they lovely?

My brother-inlaw popped over before I left for work and brought me a card and a loaf of pumpkin cranberry bread. I took it to work and shared it. They all loved it with their coffee.

What a night last night was!! And it wasn't all Slinky. It was one of those nights that began well. I went to bed at 9:00. I was sleeping like a baby and then at 11:30, Slinky woke me up to go out. I let him out and back in and he went back to bed. I lay there in bed and stewed about one thing and then another. Very unlike me. Then about 3:30, just as I finally got back to sleep, Slinky woke me again....and again...and again. From then on it was all downhill. I am wiped out this morning. Maybe a couple of cups of coffee will help. I hope so. I work this morning and then this evening John and Leslie are meeting me at Tyro at 5:30 and taking me to Garfield's in Bartlesville for dinner for my birthday.

The florist called yesterday afternoon to see if I was the Margie that worked at the district courthouse. I told her I was. They are delivering flowers to me there this morning. I'll bet that was Keith. It finally occured to me night before last that he was not asking the courthouse address out of sheer curiosity. That sweetheart!

I got an e-card from one of the women from church this morning and I received two kindle books from my friend, Bill. So I have reading material for awhile. Juanita gave me my birthday card when she met me for lunch on Tuesday. I have it setting on my server here in the dining room.

John and Lelsie are taking me to Garfield's this evening for dinner.

I got birthday wishes from the mother of my oldest great granddaughter and some photos too. That was a lovely surprise.

I hope to get a nap this afternoon.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Very Busy Thursday

I saw this photo posted on facebook today so I am sharing it here too. This is my younger son and his girlfriend. They had this photo and another one done for his birthday.

Today will be a zoo! I work this morning and leave about 11:15 for the ministerial alliance meeting. Yesterday afternoon, long after I turned in the reservations on Tuesday noon, another minister e-mailed me that he would be there. I e-mailed him back that he could certainly attend the meeting but that he should not count on lunch because he was a day late. This minister has done this before. When we have a buffet, that may work out but Assisted Living does a sit down lunch. That aggravates the life out of me. The last time he did that, he ate and one of our members who had reserved a meal, lost hers. Then last night..believe it or not, another minister's wife called about her husband. I had to tell her he may not be able to eat. I get so frustrated with these men...and it's always the men that do this.

I got my library board certification yesterday. I had to spend five hours (in two sessions) to watch a video and talk to Jennifer about my duties as a board member. She asked me to work the book sale this Saturday morning. I don't leave for Joplin until 1:00 so I agreed. After all, I am a board member. I should do something besides just attend meetings. But that will be another full day.

Tomorrow is my 76th birthday. The kids, John and Leslie are taking me to dinner. They are so good about things like that. I hope we can go to Tavern on the Plaza. I have only been there once or twice since Bob died and we used to go there once a week.

Bonnie, my supervisor at work, will be off the next two days. She is taking some vacation. I'm not sure if I will have plenty to do at work. I'll play it by ear.

Slinky stayed outside yesterday. He wanted out when I was ready to leave for work and it was sun shiney so I just let him out. I hope today works the same way. I will go to Independence after the meeting to get my hair done and cut. I should be plenty tired tonight. I hope I can get some sleep tonight. Slinky had me up four times last night.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday Again

Today I will work again. Afterward I will go to the library for my certification meeting at 2:00 and work there with Jennifer until 3:30.

I also need to get my time sheet signed and off in the mail to Aime. She is afraid the new mail schedules will make them too late if we wait until Thursday to send them in to her. Next week, I will need to job search again.

Slinky only woke me up only twice last night. So I got a good night's sleep. Missy didn't try to wake me up until 4:30. I ran her off. It was 20 degrees out there and I knew she wouldn't go out even after I got up to let her out.

Yesterday evening another minister contacted me to make a lunch reservation for him for Thursday's meeting. This month I couldn't do it. We are meeting at Windsor Place Assisted Living and they do not serve buffet style. They set the table and serve us individually. I called in the 15 reservations before I left for Independence yesterday and when I got home at 3:30 or so, I had two more reservations. So I called them and revised the number. Then last night that other minister e-mailed me. I had to tell him he could attend the meeting but could not have lunch because it was way too late to make his reservation. He has done this before when we meet at the other Windsor Place. They do serve buffet style and I have let him have my dinner rather then turn him down. I'm not going to do that Thursday because they will be serving us individually. I am supposed to make the reservations by noon on Tuesday before our meetings on Thursday.

I hope it has warmed up some before 7:30 when I leave for work. Otherwise, I will have to put Slinky in the garage.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cold Tuesday

Today is another cold morning. Slinky and Missy spent the night inside. Slinky woke me up about four times last night wanting out. I always have to bawl him out when he decides he wants to be fed at 4:00 AM. I am not going to feed him at 4:00 AM! I make him wait until about 5:30 after I am dressed and ready for the day. Dogs! Cats are about as bad. I had just got warm and covered again when Missy decided she wanted out. She decided she didn't want out when she learned how cold it was outside...but I put her out anyhow. Any animal that wakes me to go out at 4:00 AM is going to go out!

Today I will go up to Independence and take Juanita to lunch. It's been awhile and she is 90 years old...anything can happen to any of us, of course, but at 90 years old, it's more likely to happen to her.

Tomorrow I will work and then have my library board certification meeting with Jennifer at 2:00 until 3:30. I hope it is warm enough for Slinky then.

Thursday I will leave work a little early to get to the ministerial alliance meeting in time to distribute the agenda and the minutes from last month. After the meeting, I will go to Independence to get my hair done. I got my appointment moved to 2:00 so I won't have to worry about being late.

Today is Scott's birthday! I won't say how old he is because he's a little sensitive about it and he sometimes reads this blog. Friday is my 76th birthday. The plan is for John and Leslie to take me to dinner. Saturday I will go with Bobby's church group on a bus trip to Joplin to see a Living Christmas Tree program.

That's my week!

I did go to lunch with Juanita and then she wanted me to take her to the bank so she could get the money to pay her taxes. I got home about 3:45. By the way, she bought my lunch for my coming birthday.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Even Colder Monday

This is an even colder day than yesterday! I dread winter. I really dislike winter. When it snows, I will have to dig myself out to go to work....if they don't close the office for snow. Kansas, at least this part of the state, does not have proper snow clearing equipment nor enough staff to get everyone cleared out so people can get out to go to work. Last year with our huge snows, offices just closed. I had just got my drive cleared and the snow plow came by and piled three feet of snow across my drive. I had to get back out and dig it out again.

Slinky definately stayed in the kitchen last night. Missy was in on my bed too. Slinky got me up six times in the night to let him out on one pretense or the other. Hopefully I can get a nap this afternoon.

Today I will do some cleaning here at home. Leslie e-mailed me that her house looked fine. After she finished her decorating, she cleaned as she went. She wants me to give it a good cleaning before her cookie exchange party on the 11th. I can do that.

My bathrooms need cleaning now and the kitchen needs a good cleaning too. It's just been hit and miss since Thanksgiving.

I have received two e-mail meal opportunities since my birthday month is approaching. Arby's sent me a coupon for a free shake with the purchnase of a sandwich. And Sirloin Stockade sent me my free buffet dinner (if Bob A. will go to be the paying buffet):).

Diana brought me a sweet Christmas gift from Wisconsin. It was a lot of real nice teas and hot chocolates. I love those things. That was so good of her.

Friday evening (my birthday) John and Leslie will take me to Tavern on the Plaza for dinner. Or we can go to Garfield's in Bartlesville. I dread getting out in the evening to go too far though because the deer are thick around here. I saw about twelve notices in the paper about folks who had hit deer on the roads.

More later...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cold Sunday

It is cold today. The wind is fierce. Awhile ago, Slinky began to bark to come in. It has got colder as the day progressed.

We went to Sunday School and church today. Bob A. came by and picked me up, as usual. We had our Hanging of the Greens service. John and Leslie were in charge and it went well. We had guests again this Sunday. One man said he came because he follows my Minister's Messages in the newspaper. I told him to come back next week too because I would be speaking then. Hopefully he will. Leanne's mom came again and brought her sister. Leanne didn't come this week.

We ate at El Publieto and it had been awhile since we had eaten there. It was good, as usual. Then I came home and worked on my letters. I have them finished now and ready for tomorrow's mail.

Leslie informed me that she and John were taking me to Bartlesville on Friday to Garfield's..for my birthday. That's good of them. I like Garfield's.

I will go get some ice cream in a little while. That's what I will have for supper. Then I will just watch TV this evening.

Sinky came in awhile ago. He is pretty cold and it's getting colder. It will be in the 20's tonight and the rest of the week.