Posted by: morgan1965 | February 24, 2018

Let’s Listen To The Children!

The most precious gift that humanity has are the children. Jesus clearly understood the importance and the significance of the children. He greatly valued children. On at least one occasion, folk were bringing their children to him so that he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples erroneously thought that Jesus did not have time for such an activity with the children. Jesus, however, said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14)

On another day in the ministry of Jesus, the disciples informed Jesus that the people were hungry, but there was no food readily available in their rural setting. The disciples did find one young boy who had brought his lunch with him. Jesus took the fish and loaves of bread (the boy’s lunch) and prayed over them. The disciples then fed more than 5,000 people, with food left over. This boy was resourceful, and as far as we know, cooperative. He answered, yes, when queried about his food resources.

We have heard the proverb that has been used by adults to silence children. Proverb: “Children should be seen and not heard.” In 15th century religious culture, children were expected to remain silent unless an adult spoke to them or asked them to speak. The proverb suggests that children are naive, or uninformed about adult matters.

We live in a time and culture when and where it is essential that we listen to the children. They have a voice, opinions, fears, hopes and dreams. The poet, Arthur Vaso, wrote the poem, “Listen to the Children” (Posted on August 16, 2014). He says:

“We are all immigrants

We all have temporary residence here

This land is ours and theirs, yours and mine

We are humanity, stronger joined than apart

Never turn your back on a hungry child

You may be in the right

Lacking compassion

Makes you wrong

The disciples were scolded

Let the children come unto me he said

Life is filled with hardships, yes we all have suffered

So let your suffering hold some merit

Lay down your guns and loud voices

If only for the children

If you dance and celebrate for them

They shall lead you on to peace on earth

The Children’s Crusade of 1963 was a crucial event for the Civil Rights Movement. The demonstrations by the children opened the eyes of the nation and the world, because of the bold activism of the children and youth in Montgomery, Alabama. Although the children were treated harshly by the segregationists, their participation helped to turn the tide that led to certain gains in Montgomery and in the Civil Rights Movement.

The children (Youth) from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida are speaking (2018). Students across the country are speaking. They are speaking out against gun violence. They are speaking out against the assault rifle. They want more than our thoughts and prayers.

Listen to the children.

They are speaking out for life; yes, an opportunity to prepare for living life without fear of being killed at school.

Listen to the children.

The children are saying:

“We are the world,

We are the children

We are the ones who make a brighter day

So, let’s start giving

There’s a choice we’re making

We’re saving our own lives

It’s true we’ll make a better day

Just you and me. (Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie)

Think about it!

 

 

 

 

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Posted by: morgan1965 | February 19, 2018

Presidents’ Day & The Common Good

During this 2018 President’s holiday weekend, I want to invoke some words from former President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, as I ponder my world view. Lincoln in part said: “…It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.” I do not want us to lose focus on the words, “government of the people …by the people… for the people.”

When it comes to my world view, it matters not whether I am a democrat or a republican. It does matter that Jesus was neither a democrat, nor a republican. Jesus was one who loved all of humankind so much that he sacrificed his life for all of us, with no exclusions or exceptions.

President Lincoln sought to pursue the common good during his presidency. He presided over a nation engaged in a divisive civil war. His political and moral leadership, however, sought to preserve the union. From his perspective, the right thing to do was to preserve the union for all the people. It was not a matter of republicans and democrats, confederates and yankees, northerners and southerners. It was a matter of a democracy for all the people.

Have we lost the common core that embraces the common good? Some elements of the common good are water systems, highway systems, sewer systems, public transportation, electric grids, telephone grids, air transportation, Medicare, social security, Medicaid, public safety, the judicial system, etc. These are the right things for government to provide for the people. I cannot imagine these major systems being in private hands that are driven by the profit margin. In reality, life transcends the individual and includes all the people, the community. For the common good, society needs to strive to be on moral ground, and embrace the values that are good for all the people.

As a matter of human decency, politicians should strive to do what is right. Christian teachings provide the moral foundation for my world view and values. First, Micah 6:8 gives excellent guidance in determining the common good. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Second, Jesus directs us to love God, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. This is the great commandment. We are to care for one another when and where there is a need.

Third, John Wesley outlined our task in plain language in the following quote attributed to him:

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.”

These three dynamics inform my world view as a Christian. What about you?

As Christians, we help our neighbors through the church and a variety of nonprofit organizations. It is through the government, however, that we help huge segments of our population. It is our moral values that enable society to make right decisions on behalf of the common good.

Let’s take a brief look at the current example in the public eye, the Florida school shooting (17 persons murdered). What about the children? Does anybody care about our children? Will anyone do the right thing to protect our children, as well as all adults? My moral sense on behalf of the common good suggests that we should ban all assault rifles, ban all bump stocks, ban all assault rifle ammunition, and expand the background check protocol.

Let’s allow the conversation to begin by having all members of the House and Senate who have received campaign contributions from the NRA return those contributions. Also, the Congress can refuse to accept all such contributions in the future. These actions would benefit the common good.

Think About It!

 

An Open Letter to President Donald Trump

January 15, 2018

 

Dear President Trump:

Today, January 15, 2018, America is celebrating the 89th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, and fifteen years later (November 2, 1983) a national holiday was established to honor his legacy. Although Dr. King became somewhat of a legend in his own lifetime, his legacy cannot be denied or erased from our American history.

The King legacy is ensconced in the dynamic reality that he disrupted the segregationist norms of the nation. His demonstrations paralyzed and confused public and private power structures. With conviction, he practiced civil disobedience. Love was the regulating ideal for all that he did in leading the nonviolent protest movement in the effort to end racial segregation and discrimination in America.

I note, however, that last Thursday, in a meeting on immigration with lawmakers, it was reported that you made some racially charged comments that disparaged millions of people from Haiti, El Salvador and some African countries. This language, unfortunately, is an example of your failure to provide moral leadership. You seem to be more content to divide, rather than to unite America.

America, as you know, fought a divisive civil war over the issue of slavery. President Abraham Lincoln in a courageous move issued the Emancipation Proclamation which freed the slaves in those states that were in rebellion. After the war ended, slavery finally was banned by the ratification of the 13th amendment which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude (December 6, 1865). Slavery, however, was followed by Jim Crow laws, lynchings, segregation and discrimination in the private and public sectors of our nation.

Dr. King was chosen for leadership as African Americans began to renew the resistance to segregation and discrimination. One example was the Montgomery Bus Boycott which ended on December 21, 1957. This boycott was organized and conducted by the Montgomery Improvement Association under the presidency of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During his years of leadership in the civil rights movement, Dr. King met with a variety of people, including the presidents of the United states. He and other civil rights leaders met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in June 1958. It was President Eisenhower who sent in federal troops to enforce integration of the public schools in Little rock, Arkansas. Dr. King’s purpose in meeting with US presidents was to encourage them to utilize the moral persuasion of their office to end segregation and to use their political clout to gain appropriate civil rights legislation.

Dr. King met privately with Democratic Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in June of 1960. On February 4, 1961, Dr. King published a letter (“The Nation”, February 4, 1961) to newly-elected President Kennedy and said: “An area in which the President can make a significant contribution toward the elimination of racial discrimination is that of moral persuasion. The President is the embodiment of the democratic personality of the nation, both domestically and internationally. His own personal conduct influences and educates.” In October 1961, Dr. King met with President Kennedy and urged him to issue a second Emancipation Proclamation to eliminate racial segregation. In his own way, President Kennedy helped to pave the way for the ultimate passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

When President Lyndon B. Johnson took the presidential reigns from the late President Kennedy, he rose to the occasion and used the moral persuasion and political clout of the oval office, as well as his legislative savvy, to gain passage of the floundering Civil Rights Act.

Mr. President, in times like these, the nation needs moral leadership from the oval office. In Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” ((April 16, 1963), he noted that he had been labeled as an extremist. He countered that argument by referencing some folk who he believed were extremists. “Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? – ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free’.” “Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist?” – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’.” When a leader does the right thing, that which is prophetic, he/she runs the risk of being labeled an extremist as in the case of Dr. King.

Dr. King went on to say: “…the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?” There are some Americans who want to know whether you are willing and able to be an extremist for right, for justice, for political and economic equality, and for the love of all God’s people?

Finally, Mr. President, you constantly express the desire to “make America great again.” In his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in this speech described what must happen “if America is to be a great nation.” A great nation is one where “we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” I share these reflections with you in the spirit of passionate patriotism, abiding peace and devotion to my God and country.

Respectfully and Prayerfully,

ESL

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | January 11, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr: The Epitome of Moral Leadership

Where are our moral leaders today?

America annually honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by observing his birthday (January 15, 1929) with a national holiday. Martin Luther King was reared in a Christian home. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother was a dedicated lay worker in the church. King and his siblings attended Sunday School regularly. His parents taught him basic moral standards which provided a solid foundation for the development of his personal ethical posture in life.

During his leadership of the modern civil rights movement, King who became an ordained Baptist minister, adopted two ethical/moral standards. First, he embraced love as the regulating ideal for the civil rights movement. Second, he utilized the technique of nonviolent resistance as a strategic tool for resisting the forces of racial segregation and discrimination. King, of course, was a Christian who sought to follow the teachings of Jesus in his public and private life.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. was preparing to give his “I Have a Dream” speech, A. Phillip Randolph introduced him as the “moral leader of our nation.” King gave his address while standing in the shadow of one of America’s great moral leaders, President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln used his moral leadership in the effort to preserve the union. A century later, King’s moral leadership was at the center of the civil rights movement and the effort to end racial segregation in America.

The nations of the world always have needed moral leaders. Reinhold Niebuhr in His book, “Moral Man And Immoral Society” (1932) argued that there is a “basic difference between the morality of individuals and the morality of collectives, whether races, classes or nations.” We see this concept play out when the U.S. Congress seeks to eliminate Obama Care or health care for the poor. Another example is a tax bill that further enriches the wealthy, rather than provide financial help for the poor and the middle class. It takes moral leaders to lead a political movement that seeks to do the right thing for the good of all the people in the nation.

Who are our moral leaders?

When we look at the world scene, we can identify several moral leaders in our history, past and present: Martin Luther King, Jr. Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Abraham Lincoln, Pope John Paul II, Desmond Tutu, Pope Francis, Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam and Fannie Crosby as well as others who could be named. Moral leaders lead from their core values that our couched in their faith. We need today’s moral leaders to stand up, and provide moral leadership.

Martin King’s letter (“The Nation,” February 4, 1961) to newly-elected President John F. Kennedy called for a more inclusive America. King envisioned that there would be strong moral leadership on the part of the president, and federal government that would take a stand for right. Among other things, King said: an “area in which the President can make a significant contribution toward the elimination of racial discrimination is that of moral persuasion. The President is the embodiment of the democratic personality of the nation, both domestically and internationally. His own personal conduct influences and educates. If he were to make it known that he would not participate in any activities in which segregation exists, he would set a clear example for Americans everywhere, of every age, on a simple, easily understood level.”

John F. Kennedy stood up as a moral leader and gave meaningful leadership in the civil rights arena. It is obvious that we are lacking this kind of moral leadership today in the executive branch and the legislative branch of our federal government. There are so many moral issues that face America: civil rights, voting rights, economic opportunities, etc. But who are our moral leaders? Please stand up, and give moral leadership.

Bishop William J. Barber (President, Repairers of the Breach) has called for a moral movement in America, and he is leading a campaign to coordinate a variety of state-based moral movements across the country. “Its overarching aim is to call on clergy, lay people and all people of conscience to join together to put a human face on poverty in this country, reawaken America to its higher moral purpose and build steadfast unity in defense of our most cherished Constitutional and moral traditions.” Such a movement will require our faithful participation in the places where we live, work, play and worship.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was born on January 15, 1929, and began the journey that brought him to a place of moral leadership in America. We thank God for Dr. King, the epitome of moral leadership.

But, where are our moral leaders today?

Think About It!

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | December 31, 2017

Shining The Light Of Christ In The New Year

As we enter into the 2018 New Year, I am reminded of a Dwight L. Moody story about a ship that was approaching the entrance to the Cleveland harbor from Lake Erie. It was a stormy night, not unlike the storms that we experience in our personal living. The ship’s captain questioned the pilot as to whether they had reached Cleveland. The pilot assured the captain that they were near Cleveland. The captain could only see one light from the light-house as he looked across the rolling waves while his ship heaved in the water. The captain asked: “Where are the lower lights?”

The pilot indicated that the lower lights had gone out. Nevertheless, the pilot believed that they could make the harbor, so they plowed ahead; but, the ship missed the channel. The tragic result was a ship wreck, with lives lost.

Moody helped his hearers to understand that it is Jesus, the Light of the World, who is the great lighthouse. This light never goes out.

When Phillip Bliss heard this story, he was inspired to write the hymn, “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning:”

“Brightly beams our Father’s mercy, from His lighthouse evermore; but to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.”

“Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave! Some poor fainting, struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save.”

Who have been the “lower lights” in your life?” Have you been a “lower light” in someone’s life? I am grateful today for the persons who have been a “lower light” in my life, and have been a guide for me in the midst of life’s storms.

In “The Beatitudes,” Jesus calls us to be lights, lower lights. He says: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on a lampstand, and gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-15)

One way to start being a light to the world, is to keep the light of the Advent candles glowing in our families, neighborhoods, cities, the nation and the world.

First, we can embrace the Light. Let’s “…walk in the light, beautiful light, come where the dewdrops of mercy are bright. Shine all around us by day and by night, Jesus, the Light of the world.”  (Charles Wesley) This is an invitation that we can extend to the people of the world (family, friends, neighbors, strangers). We can help each other to find our way through the storms of life.

Second, keep the candle of HOPE flaming. “For surely, I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Jesus Christ, therefore, is the foundation of our hope.

Third, keep the candle of LOVE glowing. “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) Life is all about relationships, especially our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God loves each one of us.

Fourth, keep the candle of JOY radiant, receptive and giving. “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b) The joy that Jesus exhibited in his life is the joy that will boost our daily living.

Finally, keep the candle of PEACE ignited. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’.” (Isaiah 52:7) Our world surely needs peace makers.

When the storms of life are raging all around us, it is a good thing to “trim your feeble lamp.” Strive to reach the harbor of safety and security, knowing that God cares and will take care of you. Look for the “lower lights.” Also, be a “lower light.”

Moving forward into 2018, let us keep the “lower lights” burning in every possible place.

Think About It!

May God’s Love, Joy and Peace provide you with the foundation for hope-filled living in the New Year. Happy New Year!!!

Posted by: morgan1965 | December 22, 2017

Jesus Is The Prince Of Peace

On the fourth Sunday in Advent, we light the candle of Peace. Already, we have lighted the candles of Hope, Love, Joy, and now, Peace. We have breathed the blessing of hope. We have experienced the peace of God’s love. We have entered into the joy of Christ’s salvation. Now, we ponder God’s peace. “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

In these present days, we are witnessing a variety issues, including violence and war. This is the Advent Season, however, and we are expecting Jesus. Little wonder that some folk are concerned about the presence of Jesus in the midst of a world that always seems to be turned upside down.

What, then, is the meaning of the statement that Jesus is the Prince of Peace? Isaiah provides an answer:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on His shoulders;

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Consider the words of the Prince of Peace, Jesus. He said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus, therefore, is not talking about the absence of war and violence as peace. Jesus is talking about spiritual peace.

As we approach Christmas Day, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of external preparations. The candle of Peace, however, summons us to pause and drink from the fountain of peace, God’s spiritual peace.

Charles A. Tindley in his hymn, “Nothing Between My Soul and the Savior,” declared in the chorus:

“Nothing between my soul and the Savior,

So that His blessed face may be seen;

Nothing preventing the least of His favor,

Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.”

So, in silence, let us go to God in prayer, remembering the words of Mother Teresa: “The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace.”

Horatio Spafford came to understand God’s peace as expressed in his hymn, “It is Well with My Soul.”

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well with my soul.”

This hymn was written in the midst of a personal tragedy. Spafford found peace, not in his own strength, but in the awesome love of God as manifested in Jesus of Nazareth.

Think About it, and  light the candle of PEACE!

 

 

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | December 17, 2017

The Dimensions of Advent JOY

Advent is indeed a season of personal preparation to receive Jesus anew in one’s heart and one’s spiritual life. It is a season of expectation; expectation that the Christ Child will be born as a gift to all people. This season of the Christian year, however, requires the pilgrim disciple to wait. Waiting, of course, requires an abundance of patience.

Little children, perhaps, are waiting for Santa Claus who they expect to fulfill the wishes on their Christmas list. Teenagers are perhaps wondering how much cash they will receive in their Christmas envelope. Will there be sufficient funds to purchase their most desired thing(s)? Adults are waiting too; but, what are the adults waiting for at Christmas time?

Children who receive gifts at Christmas time are filled with happiness. Teenagers are very happy when they receive a generous amount of cash or a gift card for their favorite store. Often, adults are grateful for whatever gifts come their way, but also find great pleasure in observing the happiness exhibited by the children and teenagers in their life.

An important component of Advent is joy; so, we light the candle of joy on the third Sunday. Joy can be defined as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” Isaac Watts describes Advent Joy in his hymn, “Joy to the World:”

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare him room,

And heaven and nature sing…”

Jesus is our most precious gift, because God gave us God’s son. That gift fills the heart with joy.

What is the nature of Christian joy? Paul in the letter to the “Hebrews” said this about joy: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) We see here that Jesus had joy in his life. We too want to have joy in our life, in the good times and the difficult situations.

In the Advent Season, we light candles. First, we light the candle of hope, even in the midst of death, destruction and seeming hopelessness. Second, we light the candle of love which engenders the warmth of renewal and restoration. Third, we light the candle of joy, because Jesus makes us glad. The Joy Advent candle should be kept burning all year round. When we identify and express our gratitude, it becomes a manifestation of our joy. To acknowledge the joy in one’s life, enables a person to become more joyful and happy.

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” (Denis Waitley) It is appropriate and meaningful for one to cultivate gratitude. What are the things in your life for which you are grateful?

One thing among others continues to bring joy to my heart. I am grateful for my doctors who did not stop asking questions until they determined what was the cause of my illness a few years ago. They did not give up on me, but gifted me with their quest for solutions. More than ever before, I give thanks for good and caring physicians. Looking back turns my heart to gratitude.

In what ways is the Christ child being revealed to you in this Advent season? Just how is Jesus acting in your life? The list of his actions brings joy when we take the time to identify the presence of Jesus in our life. I experienced the presence of Jesus recently when I visited a young stroke patient who is steadily regaining her health. At a recent funeral service, I recalled with thanksgiving and joy the life of a woman who had joined the church early in my pastoral tenure. She blessed that congregation, the community and her family with her abiding love and service during her 91 years of living.

“Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.

 For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:4-5) [ESV]

Like little children, let us cultivate joy in our daily lives, and enter into the joy of anticipation as we relish Christ’s joy, acknowledging that we are waiting for him.

Let’s look for God’s joy on the journey. Start Looking!

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | December 2, 2017

Advent: Let’s Clean House For Jesus

As we enter the Advent Season 2017, we are reminded that it is time to clean house for Jesus.

Let’s pause for a moment and engage in some clarification. Advent, of course, is the season leading up to Christmas. It is the time when we tend to prepare our homes to receive the holiday guests during the Christmas season. We like to make room for the guests by first getting rid of all the junk that clutters our house, or rearrange things so that there is less of a clutter. That is a good thing, but that is not the focus of Advent.

Advent is the time to focus on ourselves, God’s temple. There are a few pertinent questions that we can ask: What has happened in our life that is crowding Jesus out? Is there room in our life for Jesus? What are you doing to make room for Jesus? The Christmas song admonishes us to prepare room for Jesus.

During Jesus’s ministry, Jesus noticed that the Temple had become cluttered with things and activities that were not germane to the worship of God. As the story goes, when Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem, “he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.” (John 2:14) Jesus made a whip and drove the men and the animals out of the temple. He forbade them to turn his Father’s house into a marketplace. In other words, Jesus cleaned house.

Are you prepared to clean house for Jesus?

The goal is to prepare our hearts for the Savior’s coming into our community, our church, our home, and our heart.

First, let’s make room for the candle of Hope. Jesus is the hope of the world.

Second, let’s make room for the candle of Love. It is God’s love that has saved us from our sins. Out of love, Jesus sacrificed his life for us.

Third, let’s make room for the candle of Joy. We want to share in Mary’s joy for being a servant in God’s plan of salvation.

Fourth, let’s make room for the candle of Peace. We can receive, and we can share the gift of peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Yes, on each of the four Sundays during Advent, we can light the candles of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. These steps enrich the cleaning house process and prepare us for welcoming Jesus into our hearts and our minds.

Remember: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Charles Wesley penned our invitation to Jesus in his hymn: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.”

“Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;

from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;

dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.”

Think about the dynamics of Advent, and ponder these things in your heart.

Let’s clean house for Jesus!!!

Posted by: morgan1965 | November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving: Are You Giving Thanks For The Right Thing?

I like to refer to this time of the year, November thru December, as the Thanksgiving – Advent – Christmas season. These three events are integrally woven together in a tapestry of love. Thanksgiving, of course is a secular holiday, while Advent and Christmas are a part of the Christian Year, with Christmas being observed as a holiday. Christmas marks the birth of Jesus, the Son of God.

Jesus is our most precious gift, given to humanity out of the abundance of God’s love. John 3:16 reminds us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Jesus, himself, died on the cross for our sins, the sins of the world. This in itself is a precious gift. It is the gift of God’s “amazing grace.”

Grace is a concrete manifestation of God’s love. John Newton came to understand his own personal transition from sin and death to a life of love and peace. Newton said:

“Amazing grace!

How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.”

Before Christmas, however, we observe the days of Advent, which is the season of anticipation and expectation. Advent is also a time of preparation; a time to make room for Jesus. It is a time to get rid of the clutter in our heart, and make room for Jesus. It is the time to renew our commitment to maintain our hearts as a repository for God’s love.

James Rowe captured the spirit of God’s love and mercy in Jesus Christ in his poem, “I Was Sinking Deep in Sin:”

“I was sinking deep in sin,
Far from a peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within,
Sinking to rise no more;
But the Master of the sea,
Heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me,
Now safe am I.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me.”

As daily we prepare to receive the Love that came down at Christmas, we are encouraged by the reality that the world, the nation, the neighborhood will recognize that we are Christians by the sharing of our love.

When we ponder the meaning of Christmas and the experiences of Advent, we gain a deeper understanding of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is more than an expression of our appreciation for material things in life, etc. The original pilgrims paused to give thanks for the food that the Native Americans shared with them, thereby helping them to survive a harsh winter. Therein lies the deeper meaning of thanksgiving which was an expression of gratitude to God for sustaining their lives and giving them new life.

So, let us give thanks today for Jesus Christ. Let us give thanks for all that God has wrought in our lives. Let us give thanks for the Holy Spirit, The abiding presence of God. Let us give thanks for God’s grace and mercy.

Let’s remember: “Every Day Is a Day of Thanksgiving:”

“Yes, there are pressures all around me,

When fighting Satan’s descending powers,

That never cease from trying to bring me down;

But I just lift my hands to glory,

Believing in God’s redemption story;

Thanking Him for His saving grace,

As God gives me power to win this race.”

“Every day is a day of thanksgiving.

God’s been so good to me;

Everyday He’s blessing me.

Every day is a day of thanksgiving;

Glorify the Lord today.” (Leonard Burks)

Think About It! And Give Thanks, Today!

 

Posted by: morgan1965 | November 5, 2017

A Saint In My Life

“For all the saints, who from their labors rest,

Who thee by faith before the world confessed,

Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.” (UM Hymnal, #711)

On All Saints Sunday, in my local church worship service, we were encouraged to remember the saints in our lives, and to consider one saint who was very special to us. I am grateful for all of the saints in my life who now rest from their labors on earth. One such person in my life was Earnest L. Jones.

When I was in Junior High School, I became interested in shortwave radio listening. I enjoyed listening to the foreign broadcast stations that I was able to hear on my one tube shortwave radio set. Several times I participated in the Boy Scouts of America shortwave radio listening contest. The objective was to keep a log of all the foreign broadcast stations that you were able to hear in a set time period. A variety of prizes were awarded to the winners. Once or twice I won a small prize.

As I pursued the hobby of shortwave radio listening, I began to learn about the hobby of amateur “ham” radio. Amateur radio is a hobby that enables the hobbyist to transmit and receive radio signals on different frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Pursuit of the hobby also required an FCC license. I realized that I needed a mentor to help me, and steer me in the right direction.

One day I visited an electronics store in Wilmington, Delaware that catered to amateur radio operators. One of the clerks engaged me in a conversation about my interests and what I hoped to do. I told him that I wanted to become a licensed ham. He asked me If I knew Earnest L. Jones, because he was a man who could help me to get started with the hobby. I did not know Ernest Jones, although he only lived about five blocks from our house.

When I called him on the telephone, he invited me to come to his home for a visit.On a Saturday afternoon, I visited Mr. Jones’ home for the first time. His wife answered the doorbell, and welcomed me to their home. She immediately took me to the basement door, and instructed me to go down into the basement where I met Mr. Jones. That encounter was the beginning of a relationship of mentoring and friendship that lasted until his death.

Mr. Jones had been a ham operator (W3KU) since he was eight years old. He worked as an electrical engineer at the Philadelphia Navy Yard where he specialized in submarine radar, among other things. On that Saturday afternoon, Mr.  Jones welcomed me to his home and his “ham radio shack,” where he could be found on most Saturday afternoons. He was never too busy for me to visit with him.

Over time, Mr. Jones shared with me a wealth of information about electronics and amateur radio. He administered for me the examination for the Novice License, which included a five words per minute Morse code test, and a written exam about amateur radio rules and basic electronic theory. I passed the examination.

Earnest Jones encouraged me in the hobby of amateur radio, but he also challenged me to be a learner. He explained to me how to go about building my first “home-brew” transmitter. In keeping with a longstanding ham practice, he would give me electronic parts to help me in my various radio projects. He even gave me a few pieces of surplus electronic equipment, including an old shortwave receiver and a transmitter. I deeply appreciated his generosity and helpfulness.

Earnest Jones, was perhaps one of the first African American ham radio operators in the United States. After serving in World War I, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. I admired his intellect and his courage. His character and integrity inspired me to strive for excellence. I appreciated learning about his Christian life as an Episcopalian. He was my mentor and my friend; he remains one of the saints in my life. I thank God for Ernest L. Jones.

“O blest communion, fellowship divine!

We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;

Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.”

Who are the saints in your life?

Think about it!

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