The Spirit Beckons

Luke 24:44-53 & Acts 1:1-11 – Ascension Sunday, the final Sunday of Easter – for May 17, 2015

“He led them out as far as Bethany, where he lifted his hands and blessed them. As he blessed them, he left them and was taken up to heaven.” (Luke 24:50-51)

A lake in the southern Yosemite wilderness . . .
A lake in the southern Yosemite wilderness . . .

What are the basics of life?

Shelter. Clothes. Food. Water.

However, each basic need has qualifications: Shelter from warmth or cold, adequate clothes, healthy food, and safe water.

When backpacking, I carry tools for the qualifications. Much of my hiking has been in California’s Sierra Nevada, a few hours drive from my home. Until the last few years of the devastating, worrisome drought, water has been abundant. The winter snowpack typically melts and feeds the alpine lakes and meandering rivers. Once I lived in Wisconsin, where the first snow can fall in October and the final flurry may transform April into a winter wonderland . . . as in, I wonder if spring will ever arrive? I told my shivering cheesehead neighbors we had more snow in California, but it was properly stored in the mountains. In 1982, 67 inches of snow accumulated at Echo Summit, south of Lake Tahoe. All of those inches fell in 24 hours! At the time it was the second highest total for snow in a day in the United States. Continue reading →

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The Aunt Asked a Question

Acts 8:26-40 – The 5th Sunday of Easter – for May 3, 2015

“Starting with that passage, Philip proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him . . .” (Acts 8:35)

Aelbert Cuyp: The Baptism of the Eunuch Holland (c. 1653)
Aelbert Cuyp: The Baptism of the Eunuch
Holland (c. 1653)

I am a United Methodist pastor.

I’ve done babies, lots of babies.

But I haven’t done any eunuchs.

Or should I more truthfully admit I’ve never knowingly baptized a eunuch? In a ministry spanning chunks of five decades, where I’ve served in a hodgepodge of rural and urban churches, along with campus ministry and hospice settings, maybe a eunuch has stood beside me while I intoned the ceremonial words of Holy Baptism and blessed his head with dribbles of water.

In the name of Creator, and Christ, and the Spirit, I baptize you . . . Continue reading →

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On A Day In July

Acts 17:22-31 – The 6th Sunday of Easter – for May 25, 2014

“…I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To An Unknown God…’” (Acts 17:23)

According to the seventeenth chapter of Acts, Paul stood at Athens’ Areopagus and challenged the Greeks about worshiping an “unknown God.” In a city and an era where many gods were worshiped, Paul had stumbled across a local altar with words that declared allegiance to that “unknown” deity.

A modern view of the Areopagus in Athens...
A modern view of the Areopagus in Athens…

I’m impressed by Paul’s first-century speech in Acts. With rousing philosophical arguments, he out-Greeked the Greeks. Paul’s blunt exhortation about worshiping the one true God of his faith versus the many false Gods of their culture was thoughtful, faithful and persuasive.

The God Paul proclaimed was not unknown! God was real, and could never be understood by creating shrines of gold or silver. In a smattering of verses, the author of Acts had Paul recount creation, alluding to Adam and Eden, and declaring a confidence in a God that has “fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness . . .” The past was obvious. The future was set. All things were known.

How dare anyone worship an unknown God!

And yet I do. Continue reading →

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