Saturday, April 07, 2012

Saturday, 04/07/12

Psalms: 95, 88,27
Old Testament: Lam 3:37-58
Gospel: Rom 8:1-11
New Testament: Heb 4:1-16
The LORD is my light and my salvation—
   whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
   of whom shall I be afraid?”
(Psalm 27)

Dad is sick again.  He has a persistent cough.  No matter what he does, he can’t seem to shake it.  He is also losing weight, and he is losing it rapidly.  With coolness and an air of nonchalance, he goes about his day, fixing, organizing, cleaning, running errands, and eating his favorite foods.  I see his daily actions as the equivalent of a “nesting instinct,” but one in anticipation of an ending as well as a beginning.

Dad speaks freely of dying.  He openly says he isn’t afraid.  He says God has blessed him in huge ways, and that God continues to bless him every day in small, almost imperceptible, ways.  He calls these, “milagros pequeños,” “little miracles.” 

Dad prays often, and his faith is strong.  Recently, he did admit to worrying about leaving Mom, his wife of 61 years.  “What will she do without me?” he said.  Almost immediately his thoughts and words turned to God.  He remembered how, 74 years ago, God came to the aid of a 12 year old orphaned, impoverished, and uneducated Mexican boy.  “Eso fue un gran milagro.” he said, “That was a great miracle.”  That memory was enough to ease his fears, enough to remind him to simply trust God.

I’ve watched Dad all my life.  I’ve watched and I’ve listened.  What Dad lacked in education, he made up in wisdom.  What he lacked in formal training, he made up with hard work and determination.  By watching Dad live his life, I learned to value hard work, honesty, and patience; and I learned the importance of kindness and compassion.

Now, as I watch Dad inch his way toward God, it is not a fearful, stooped and frail body that I see; I see one respectfully bowed in faithful prayer, complete trust, and quiet anticipation.  Dad is not afraid, and neither am I…..but I will miss him dearly.

Heavenly Father, I place all my fears at the foot of the cross. 

MO

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Thursday, 04/05/12

Gospel: Mark 14:12-25
Old Testament: Lam 2:10-18
Psalms: 102,142, 143
New Testament: 1 Cor 10:14-17, 11:27-32
Whenever I read this passage from Mark’s gospel, I am always struck by the conversation between Jesus and his disciples when Jesus suggests that he will be betrayed and “...one by one they say to Jesus ‘surely, you don’t mean me?’” 

“Surely you don’t mean me…” They each seem to take a moment to reflect on their lives and on their actions, assessing if they have betrayed Jesus.  Since the passage says, “…one by one they asked…,” I assume Judas asked the question, too.  Did he think his actions were honorable?  Did he know that he was betraying Jesus?  Or did he NOT realize what his actions would do until after Jesus was arrested?

On a personal note, this questioning makes me look at my own life, at my own actions.  Is it possible that I may have betrayed Jesus?  Are some of my well-intended actions, in reality, betrayals?  There are certainly times when I’ve hurt the feeling of another simply by not thinking through something before I’ve said it.  Maybe there are times I have not been true to my faith or true to Jesus simply because I’ve acted on a momentary impulse and not really thought through how my actions could be perceived?  Am I motivated by something other than faith?  Sometimes.  I just hope and pray that those times do not bring about actions that are contrary to the Gospel and ultimately betray Jesus. 

I pray, wherever I am and whatever I do, that I may genuinely reflect the true faith of a Christian and that I may be a true witness for the Gospel.  Amen.

ASCM




Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Wednesday, 04/04/12

Psalms: 55, 74
Old Testament: Lam 2:1-9,14-17
Gospel: Mark 12:1-11
New Testament: 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11
When reading through my assigned verses the first few times, there were none that really jumped out at me.  I picked them back up every few days and, after a week or so, I highlighted a few that seemed to stand out from the rest.  For me, all of the readings had some reference to people harming other people, or people grieving.  Those aren’t the kind of thoughts I like to meditate on; so I put them aside for a while -- again.  What was in these readings for me?

God works in mysterious ways.  A little more than a week ago, a dear and longtime friend of our family died suddenly.  Our entire family was filled with grief.  Each of us would show it and eventually come to peace with it in different ways and at different times.  I went back to my readings.  One of the verses I had highlighted was Psalm 55, verse 22, which says:

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

This verse I highlighted many weeks ago reminded me that I can trust God to give me His peace when I most need it.  When filled with grief, I can trust in Him.  This verse helped me come to peace with the passing of our friend.  I pray for him every day and will continue to do so for forty-nine days, as this was a practice that he had followed every time someone he knew died. 

May you also find peace in God’s Word when you need it.

PFH


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Tuesday, 04/03/12

Gospel: Mark 11:27-33
Old Testament: Lam 1:17-22
New Testament: 2 Cor 1:8-22
Psalms: 6, 12, 94
"When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” 
(Psalm 94:19)
When I hear the word “hospital,” images of stark white walls, solemn faces, stern staff, fear, tears, and sadness come to mind.  Walk into any hospital and there’s bound to be several cancer patients I can think of fewer things more evil than cancer.  Worse – childhood cancer.

That’s why last year, when my company gave me the opportunity to participate in a service trip to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, I jumped at the chance.  I expected it to be a somber trip.  Nothing could have been further from the truth. 

From the moment I arrived until the time I left, I felt God’s immediate presence in the hard work of my coworkers, the selfless work of the hospital staff, and the determination, strength, and beautiful smiles of the patients.  I was humbled and honored to participate and to experience the purest form of love, service, and commitment alongside a group of incredible people.  It was truly a turning point in my life – a recognition that in our darkest times, the light of God is always shining on us.  Thanks to the work of St. Jude and other hospitals like it, the overall survival rate for childhood cancers has increased from less than 20% in 1962 to 80% today. 

But statistics aside, what matters is that when I saw the parents AND the kids at St. Jude, I saw hope rather than fear.  Whether or not they knew it, God is that hope; and that hope continues every day at St. Jude.  I felt like the luckiest person on Earth to experience it.

CSL


Monday, April 02, 2012

Monday, 04/02/12

New Testament: 2 Cor 1:1-7
Old Testament: Lam 1:1-2,6-12
Gospel: Mark 11:12-25
Psalms: 51:1-18 (19-20), 69:1-23

When Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians and spoke about sharing abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, he was speaking not only about the suffering of Jesus on the Cross for our redemption, but also about the suffering that early Christians were experiencing as they proclaimed their belief in Jesus as our Savior.  Indeed, their persecution was great.  By comparison, our lives as Christians seem far easier.  Yet, our lives are not without suffering.  We see it every day as we look at the people around us, people who are having tough times. 

Paul tells us that we are comforted in our sufferings so that we can comfort others.   One reason I am so proud to be a part of Saint Matthew’s is that as a community we are so willing to reach out to those who are suffering.  We recognize that God blesses us with much and comforts us in our troubles, and we in turn reach out to help and comfort those in need.  While this is noticeable in many of our outreach projects, I see it most profoundly on our mission trips.

On mission trips I see young children receive attention, encourage ment, and validation;  homeless people share their stories and receive prayer as well as badly needed supplies; homes built and repairs made; schools built; toys, books, and games given; food prepared and served to feed the hungry; clothes offered for those in need; physical jobs done for those who can no longer do the work themselves; and people being comforted in their grief through word, song, and prayer.  Most importantly, I see those who are suffering not use their suffering as an excuse to turn FROM God, but as a reason to turn TO God.  

My prayer for all of us at Saint Matthew’s is not only that we find comfort in our sufferings, but that in our lowest moments, hardest times, or loneliest day, we may turn TO God, not FROM him. 

MJP


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Sunday, 04/01/12

New Testament: 1 Timothy 6:12-16
Gospel: Luke 19:41-48
Psalms: 24, 29, 103
Old Testament: Zech 9:9-12, 12:9-11, 13:1, 7-9
Paul told Timothy to “Fight the Good Fight.”  Does that evoke images
for you of powerful people at war?  During the American Civil War, soldiers for both the North and the South fought for what they
believed to be right and prayed for God to give them victory.  As we know, the North won and the South lost.  Did that mean the South failed to fight the good fight?  No, the soldiers from both sides fought with incredible valor.

As a kid, if someone told me to fight the good fight, it usually meant to give maximum effort to whatever task was at hand so that I might be successful or, if not successful, at least I could be unashamed of the job I did.  That is still good advice.

Paul’s call to fight the good fight of faith was an exhortation to resist evil in all forms and to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.  That is a much tougher task than to physically confront another person in battle or to try our best.  It requires us to make a commitment in mind and spirit to always do what is right.  Being right doesn’t mean to be the most popular, richest, beautiful, dominant, or any of the other quantifiers our society uses to measure success.  It simply means to put full effort into living according to the professions we made to God during our baptism.

Fighting the good fight is a daily struggle.  Every day brings choices to make, and I trust God to give me the strength to make the right ones.  Resisting evil requires more strength than I can muster by myself, and I don’t believe I can be successful without the Lord’s help. 

What do you think?

DJB


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday, 03/31/12

New Test: 2 Corinthians 4:13-18
Old Testament: Exodus 10:21-11:8
Gospel: Mark 10:46-52
Psalms: 137:1-6(7-9), 144, 42, 43  
 “… Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, … so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen…” (2 Cor. 4:13-18)

These verses crisply state the true benefit of our faith and the grace of living a godly life that, together, our faith and our ability to give our time and our resources to others helps spread the grace of God to more and more people. 

While reading and contemplating these verses, I was taken back to our church family’s mission trip work in Nashville and Chicago.  The amount of faith shown, scripture spoken, and tireless giving by the St. Matthew’s teams throughout those trips truly speaks of a loving God and His blessings. 

I watched our mission teams do incredible work for people that were in need of life resources and faith resources.  I am certain that the “same spirit” that our teams brought to these trips made an immeasurable and profound impact on the people of Chicago.  Equally, I think the “same spirit” that some of us witnessed and experienced at the
“By The Hand Schools” brought our teams grace and the glory of God. 
I remember participating in morning worship with very needy children in the middle of some of the harshest communities of Chicago.  Each time, it was a very moving experience.  The children sang, danced, and worshiped to renew themselves day by day and to prepare themselves to fight the evil lurking just outside their fences.  That renewal rubbed off on us as well; everyone involved was touched by God’s grace as it spread more and more throughout our shared experiences. 

Additionally, our mission trip experiences had a lasting effect on me and my family.  We vowed to return to Sterling and begin contributing monthly to LINK in order to help, here at home, with the same fight against hunger we saw in Chicago. 

Therefore, do not lose your heart, follow the light of Jesus, and be of the same spirit.

WAA


Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday, 03/30/12


Psalms: 22, 95, 141, 143:1-11 (12)
Old Testament: Exodus 9:13-35
New Testament: 2 Corinthians 4:1-12
Gospel: Mark 10:32-45

I would venture to guess that most of us sing out loud at least once a day.  Whether it is in the shower, in our cars when a special song comes on (and we sing it as loud as we can), or taking a walk with an iPod, we do sing out loud.  What do most of these times have in common?   We are alone; and no one else can hear the slightly off key tone that most of us produce. There is a reason that most of us don’t sing in the choir, right?  If you think about it, though, when you are in church and the choir or the band starts playing a song, the congregation IS one big choir.  Rev. Anne reminded us of this at the retreat in November, and the Bible also encourages us to sing.  Psalm 95:1-2 tells us to:  Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord: let us shout out loud to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. “

There is no mention of having to sing on key, or of the need to carry a tune.  For those of you who have ever been to a rock concert, or any event where an entire audience is encouraged to sing along, have you ever noticed that the “audience choir” sounds pretty good when singing as a whole?  Think of our congregation as an “audience choir” and become a part of it.  Let the Lord hear you sing -- because He doesn’t mind if you are a bit pitchy or off key.  And most likely, neither will people around you in the pew.

BER


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday, 03/29/12

Gospel: Mark 10:17-31
Old Testament: Exodus 7:25-8:19
New Testament: 2 Corinthians 3:7-18
Psalms: 131, 132, [133], 140, 142
I’m not going to lie to you; I’ve always wanted to be rich.  I watch HGTV’s shows like “Selling New York” so I can get an inside-look at places I would never even be invited to visit, much less buy.  

This past week, while I was watching HGTV’s “Million Dollar Kitchens”, I saw a couple spend a million dollars redoing their kitchen and dining room in one of the gaudiest ways I had ever seen.  Seriously, what were these people thinking?  They could have spent that money doing so much good in the poor communities around them.  They could have funded numerous food pantries, or stocked a homeless shelter.   What were they thinking?

Then, I started looking around my own home and at my own stuff, such as the Classic Winnie-the-Pooh collectibles that I’ve gotten up at 2 AM to win on eBay, the leather bound classic books that I had to have to make me feel smarter (even though I’ve never actually read any of them), and the copious amounts of gardening supplies that I had to have in the dead of winter (they were on sale).  It occurred to me that I’m as bad as those rich people on HGTV with their tacky kitchen.  All this money that I’ve spent, and only for my pleasure, made me ask myself, “What was I thinking?”  If I stop spending that money on me, I can give more to others, like LINK, the Backpack Buddies, and the local animal shelter.  

I understand now why Jesus felt sorry for the rich man.  To give up all his security and comfort is asking A LOT, but what he gains in return is worth so much more: to be a part of God’s kingdom and to be with Him for eternity.  What can be better than that?  Definitely not books or a tacky kitchen!

Dear Abba, please help me as I struggle to let go of the need for all these earthly things that are so meaningless.   Help me to focus on serving you as you’ve asked me to do, to help those around me who are less fortunate, and help me be more loving, like you.  AMEN. 

KLR


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday, 03/28/12

Gospel: Mark 10:1-16
Old Testament: Exod 7:8-24
New Testament: 2 Cor 2:14-3:6
Psalms: 119:145-176, 128, 129, 130
 Rebecca, my Granddaughter, is 12 years old. She is also full of wisdom, and she teaches me every day (if I stop and listen).  Recently, she offered me the following pearl of wisdom, “If you talk, you repeat what you already know; if you listen, you learn;” (source: Big Bowl fortune cookie).  What possible connection is there between this fortune cookie and today’s lectionary themes Pharaoh saying no to Moses and Aaron, divorce, and Jesus welcoming the little children?  Try this.

In my many years, there have been way too many occasions where I have allowed myself to get worked up, angry, frustrated, etc., because I flew to judgment on a person, behavior, or situation I didn’t like.  Why? Because I started talking to justify my feelings and the logic behind my righteousness, and I didn’t listen.  Too often, I simply did not under stand and appreciate the reason for the conflict or for what I was witnessing.  I may have listened with my ears, but not with my heart.

Pharaoh hardened his heart against Moses.  Divorce often results when families harden their hearts and stop listening to each other.  Rebecca and others have taught me that conflict resolution can only be achieved through listening with an open and sensitive heart, with love and acceptance.

Now for the best part:  today, Mark paints a gorgeous picture of Jesus opening his ears, heart, and arms to the little children against the objections of his disciples. “Let the little children come unto me…theirs is the Kingdom of God.”  Once again, Jesus shows us a heart full of love, understanding, and compassion.

Lord, thank you for this wonderful Wednesday.  Please help me to
open my heart to those I meet today so that I may listen and truly understand where they are and what they need.  Oh yes, also thanks for Rebecca and Big Bowl fortune cookies.  Amen.

JDD


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday, 03/27/12

Gospel: Mark 9:42-50
Old Testament: Exodus 5:1-6:1
New Testament: 1 Cor 14:20-40
Psalms: [120],121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, [127]
This week’s Gospel reading reminds me of my relationship with my younger brother and helping him keep his faith.  Since I have been away at school, I feel that we have been connecting much more while I’m home.  Perhaps it is that he has reached an age where we have more in common, or that I have reached an age where I realize I need to be more caring and connected as a sibling.  Maybe it’s simply that we were around each other too much while I was in high school and he was in middle school, and we did what all siblings will do: get on each others nerves.

Now, more than ever, as he enters high school, it is important for me to guide him in whatever ways I can. The most important of these may be to lead by example, which includes listening.  Keeping the faith in the younger ones who look up to us will be for naught if we only speak of how to live we must show them. 

On one of my visits back home he said, “Can we talk whenever you have the chance?”  It seems silly, but I was so happy to listen and to help in whatever little way I could.  We, of course, talked about a girl, and that was a first between my brother and me.  God willing, I hope we have many more talks in the future, and with God’s help, I hope to live my life well as an example, and perhaps help him to avoid any bumps in the road I have hit.  I thank God for the opportunity to guide my brother. 

TAB


Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday, 03/26/12

Gospel: Mark 9:30-41
Old Testament: Exodus 4:10-31       
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 14:1-19
Psalms: 31, 35
 In today’s reading from Mark, there were many passages that struck me.  Verses 34 -35, however, were special:  “But they were silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest.  And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant to all.’”

 Recently, my daughter tried out for a lead in a school musical.  She practiced a lot and really wanted that part.  She ended up getting something else in the play instead.  I was worried about how she would take it and how she would feel, until she came up to me and said, “Mom, I’m good with this.  I’m happy with the part I did get.”  I realized that, for her, it is not at all about winning… but just trying her best.

 I feel situations like this come up all the time in my life.  I see it in business, where we are always working to be the best, to be #1.  I see it with children.  They learn early on to want to be winners.  I’ve been in a car with boys where each of them is talking about how he is better at something than the boy next to him.  I call it one-up-man-ship.  How amazing it would really be if someone spoke up and said “Hey, you are better than me, and that is wonderful!“ And they really meant it!  That is what I hope for my children.  I hope that they will learn to be humble and to value others as well as themselves.  I want them to appreciate the people around them for what they are, not how good they are at something.  I am hoping to become better at leading by example.  Being #2 or #3, or even #2000 is OK.  It is even great! 

ABB


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday, 03/25/12

Psalms: 118, 145
Old Testament: Exodus 3:16-4:12
New Testament: Romans 12:1-12
Gospel: John 8:46-59
“I WILL extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever [with grateful, affectionate praise].  Every day [with its new reasons] will I bless You [affectionately and gratefully praise You]; yes, I will praise Your name forever and ever.” Psalm 145: 1-2

I recently saw a friend share a picture online that said, "What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday."  I try to remember to give God thanks each and every day.  Some days I feel like I do a good job; others, I'm lucky if I remember to give Him thanks before a meal.  But what if that really happened?  What would I wake up with?

So I thought about it and realized that, in general, I’d be surrounded by some of my favorite people and things; but what about all the other things that make up my daily existence? Do you remember to give Him thanks for ALL things?  I tried it once, and I found my list going on and on, “and… oh, and… and also…”  Then I tried the simple, “Thank you for everything” approach, but I was left feeling like that was a cop out.

Suddenly it dawned on me; giving thanks to God wasn’t necessarily about a shopping list of things, nor was it about being general and vague, it was about acknowledging His place in my life.  I give
“thanks” to God every time I do something right in His eyes. 

When I give thanks to God, I need to consider thanking Him for being in my life, for being a part of my life.  I need to thank Him for walking with me and leading me along the way.  I truly have so much to be thankful for. The question is where will I begin?  Where will you begin?

“My mouth shall speak the praise of the
Lord; and let all flesh bless [affectionately
and gratefully praise] His holy name
forever and ever.”
Psalm 145:21
BBH

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday, 03/24/12

New Testament: 1 Cor 13:1-13
Old Testament: Exodus 2:23-3:15
Gospel: Mark 9:14-29
Psalms: 107:33-43, 108:1-6 (7-13), 33
At first I thought the usual thoughts when reading, “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous…”  This passage is commonly used as the reading at weddings or during the renewal of vows.  Then I reflected on the final verse:   “…So faith, hope, love remain, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” I believe that not only is love the greatest of these, it is the most difficult of these.  I began to think about it in the context of parental love.

Recently my daughter called me at work to tell me the following story involving her five-year-old son.

“Mom, I can’t believe it!  Your words just came right out of my mouth this morning.  Joseph was in trouble, so I sent him upstairs for a time out.  He wheeled around and said, ‘You make me mad, and you are not my friend!’ And I said, ‘You are right.  I am not your friend.  I am something much more important than that.  I am your mother.’”  I laughed and congratulated her on a job well done.

Then we recalled a time when she, her brother, and I were having dinner and he wanted to go with some friends to an event in Georgetown.  He was 16, and after thinking it over, I said, “Sorry, but no.”  He was angry and said “Brendan’s mom is letting him go,” thinking that would sway me.  I looked him in the eye and told him that I must love him more because the answer was still no.  He replied, “Can’t you just love me a little less?”  I responded, “You are my heart of hearts, it is impossible for me to love you less.  I only love you more every day.”  He sat quietly for a few moments and then said, “Mom, you are the last of a dying breed.”  And we all laughed together.

It is so hard not to be your child’s friend first, but to be the parent.  I have recently noticed that so many parents (family and friends) are struggling with this issue.  They tell me that things are different now, that things are not the same as when I was a parent, that the world is a changed place, etc.  My answer to them, though, is that things are not different.  Things were just as hard for my generation and even for the one before that.  To lovingly guide your children, to lovingly teach your children, never has been and is never going to be easy.

I learned that, in the end, if you remain the responsible grown up, no matter how much tough love you have to use, you will one day get to be friends with your children.  My thirty-something-year-old kids are now my best friends.

DE


Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday, 03/23/12


Gospel: Mark 9:2-13
Old Testament: Exodus 2:1-22
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:3
Psalms: 95, 102, 107:1-32
Today’s Gospel reading is a fairly short reading, but it has a strong message.  The message of today's Gospel reading helps to remind me who Jesus is.  This is very important, especially during this season of Lent.  I hope it does the same for you.

Today's Gospel reading tells the story of the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor.  Peter, James, and John witnessed the appearance of Elijah and Moses, the transfiguration, and heard the voice of God.  I am sure you have heard this story before.  

The transfiguration revealed Jesus’ divine nature.  Jewish tradition placed the Messiah on the same level with Moses and Elijah.  The cloud covered the mountain, and when it lifted only Jesus was revealed.  The voice of God confirmed that Jesus was on a higher level than the Law (represented by Moses) or the Prophets (represented by Elijah).   

God’s words in this reading reconfirmed Jesus’ identity and added an imperative, “Listen to him!”  In today’s world, many voices try to tell us how to live and how to know God personally.  Some of these voices are helpful; many are not.  In order to listen to Jesus, you and I need to listen to his words in the Bible.  We need to study those words.  We also need to listen through prayer. 

The reminder in today’s reading is that Jesus is God, Jesus is the Messiah, and we all need to listen to Jesus.  This may seem obvious to most of us, and we may think we do not need to be reminded of this.  I do not know about you, but in my hectic life, I do need this reminder.  With all the noise out there, the reality is that the facts of this reminder tend to get pushed aside.

Wishing you the best in your walk with Christ,

RPL


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday, 03/22/12

Gospel: Mark 8:27-9:1
Old Testament: Exodus 1:6-22
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Psalms: 69,73

I've never seen a jet-black swan
To see a flock'd shock me
For if one nests in yonder pond
It could spell TEOTWAWKI*
(*The End Of The World As We Know It)

"A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics:
It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an
explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was.
"Nassim Taleb, "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable"

The first century Roman poet Juvenal (tongue-in-cheek no doubt) described the
virtuous woman as a "rara avis" (rare bird)
a Black Swan. Then as now, there
are only white swans in Eurasia (or in the Americas).  The first black swans were
sighted in Australia in the 17
th century.  Juvenal's point underscores the
logical axiom
absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Taleb has extended the black swan metaphor to encompass (generally) unforeseen
events that had huge impact.  In our time, the classic example of a Black Swan is
the 9/11 attacks, which had massive near-term impacts on financial markets and
transportation systems, and longer-term impacts on international relations
(especially the relationship between the West and Islamic nations).


If we are objective, the incarnation of the Almighty in the person of Jesus was
a Black Swan event.  As his ministry progressed, people throughout the region
knew that something of unprecedented impact was going on.  Healings and miracles
were being reported.  Profound teaching was being re-circulated in astounding
conversations.  But few people, if any, were taking their conclusions to the next
level
that Jesus was not a continuation of the pattern established over
millennia of Jewish prophecy and teaching
that He was an unimagined,
unthinkable break from the pattern of the past.  That was Peter's moment of
lightning-from-God insight.  But even that insight was incomplete, because Peter
could not accept the burden of sacrifice that Messiah (and his followers) would
be taking on.  It would require two more Black Swan events
the Resurrection and
the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
for Peter to take that next step, to embrace
the end of the world as he had known it, and step with boldness into the world
of the Kingdom.

A Black Swan lies (some time) in our future that truly will be TEOTWAWKI.
Christ will come again.  Will we apprehend the truth when it comes?

MLB