Monday, November 30, 2020

Going Deeper

By Pat Russell

Considering the sermon by Wayne Otte, entitled "Giving Thanks," on November 29, 2020

Corinthians 1:3-9

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge — God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

As we continue to focus on living in the Kingdom of Heaven during this Advent season, in yesterday’s service we were given practical ways to live this out. 

The first is in choosing HOPE over despair.  I suggest that you might read the Candle of Hope Liturgy again today.  Make your own Advent wreath with a circle of candles and light the candle of hope.  Light that candle every evening this week.  Then, if you have not gone to the Candle of Hope virtual gathering, spend some time with Brooke meditating on hope at this link. 


Wayne gives us another beautiful way of living in the Kingdom of Heaven this Advent season – giving thanks for people. Giving thanks, especially for people in our lives will not only enrich their lives, and our lives, but the lives of the people all around us. “Thanks beget thanks.” Wayne pointed out that Paul expresses thanks over and over in his letters with people he knew were living in the Kingdom of Heaven, people who were the “underdogs” in the Roman world because they were followers on Jesus. 

Then Wayne told us stories of people he knew at the Network Coffee House who we might say are the “underdogs” of our society, and yet they are living out thanks as they help serve others on the streets of Denver. Gary, the grump, who may look one way, but he really has a heart of service.  Wazee, who “received” a condemning letter while he slept, and yet he was not that judged person in Wayne’s heart and in God’s heart.  Wayne loved him and is thankful for who he was.

These are people giving thanks for others, handing out thanks in the way they live.  Wayne is a living example of being thankful for others in the world of the Network Coffee House, of seeing Kingdom of Heaven hearts.

This, in my mind, begs the question, “For whom in my life do I give thanks?  Who is someone that has blessed me quietly just because they are who they are?  Who is someone who may be difficult, but I see their heart?”  As a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth as it is in Heaven, I will choose to walk with hope and thanksgiving for others this Advent Season.  In this way, as Wayne points out, the Kingdom of Heaven spreads.  Amen.

Friday, November 27, 2020

The Light

By Cathy Ramsey

Don’t you love the first light when the sun comes up in the morning? Don’t you love to see starlight shining at night, or the moon? Don’t you love to see the light shining through the window when you are coming to visit someone you love?

Light is a metaphor for good things, truth, and virtue.

Light is a significant metaphor in the Bible. It is on the first page and the last page of the Bible and used 250 times in between.

Genesis 1: 3-4 - And God said, “Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw the light, that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Revelations 22:5 – And there shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

I can remember, as a child, being afraid of the dark and I begged my mother to let me leave the light on at night. I was afraid of what I could not see in the dark; the monster hiding under my bed, the burglar hiding around the corner, scary animals hiding in the dark outside. The light felt safer to me. I haven’t been afraid of the dark for decades, but I only discovered in the last few years that God is always the light so there is no reason to fear the many forms of darkness here on earth.

Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 43:3 – Oh send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle.

Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Ecclesiastes 11:7 – Truly the light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun.

Isaiah 2:5 – O house of Jacob, come let us walk in the light of the Lord.

God instructs us to be his light on earth to those that suffer and are sad or afraid. If we care for those who are hungry or destitute or grieving, we are his light here on earth and following his will. Our food bank, our deacon’s fund, our missions are showing his light. Recently an anonymous donor gave $50,000 to the Zimbabwe Mission Partnership for the orphans in a year that we were not able to do our fundraisers due to COVID concerns. What a blessing! What a bright light in a year with a lot of darkness!

How can we each be a light to someone who is in darkness? How can we each shine the love and peace of Jesus to light someone’s way? There has been so much grief, sadness, anger, and isolation this year with the fires, with COVID, with the divisive politics, but we can be the light by being positive, generous, loving, and kind.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Ephesians 5:8-13 – For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth-testing what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made visible.

From Christopher B. James at Jesus Dust, an online blog: "This is one of my favorite passages using this metaphor. Paul describes salvation as the transformation from darkness to light. He doesn’t say 'you were in the darkness' but 'you were darkness and now you are light.' Then he calls for Christians to live as Children of the light – which he describes as living virtuously (light as goodness.)  The fruit of the light is synonymous here with the fruit of the spirit. And then—and this is my favorite part—he turns the metaphor from light as virtue to light as vision, when he talks about how light makes everything visible, namely the action and character of people. He adds a final thought – everything that is illuminated becomes a light. In other words, anyone who is in the light of God, becomes a light to others."

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are the chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light.

Look at all these quotes about light. Light is good.

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” Maya Angelou

“Within you is the light of a thousand suns.” Robert Adams

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” Aristotle

“We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” Ernest Hemingway

“Give light and people will find the way.” Ella Baker

“There is no darkness so dense, so menacing, or so difficult that it cannot be overcome by light.” Vern P. Stanfill

“I shine with love and light in every moment.” Anonymous

“If you are the light, you cast away the darkness.” ManHee Lee

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu

“You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world.” Oprah Winfrey

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” (Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart)

Is it too early to celebrate the birth of Jesus? Not for me. I love this music. 

May God Bless you with his light today and every day!!


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Giving Thanks – Communion

By Brooke Momblow

“…you gave them bread from heaven for their hunger.”  Nehemiah 9:15

Communion, the dictionary says, is the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.

We experience communion with Christ through our prayers and through our thanksgiving. Eucharisteo means 'to give thanks’. Eucharist is communion when we come together in the spirit of unity to give thanks for Christ’s sacrifice.

 Saying the “Blessing” or “Grace” or “Giving Thanks” before a meal is in fact a blessing of the food, making it Holy and Sacred.  It is humbly acknowledging God’s life sustaining provision in our lives.  It doesn’t matter if the meal before us is simply packaged top ramen or a feast that took effort, time, and many ingredients to create.  Taking the food into our bodies sustains and nourishes us and, as we receive the blessing into us with thanks, it becomes an act of worship.

These thoughts dramatically affect the way I look at the food on my table. They dramatically broaden my view of communion with Christ. The work of my hands becomes laden with meaning. Which leads to a new appreciation of the Holy that runs like a vein everywhere I look. The feast and the fast, the labor and the rest, in all these things thanksgiving is made to God, not thanks-feeling. 

Throughout the Bible, relationship to food is used to describe and instruct the kind of intention, discipline, joy, and sacredness with which we are to approach life and relationship with God.


Our daily bread is more than just the food we eat. Our daily bread is the Word of God and Provision of the Spirit that sustains our spirit-man. This bread strengthens and grows our intimacy with Jesus.

After Jesus gave thanks and completely filled the hungry thousands by multiplying whatever the disciples could scrounge up - the crowd called for Jesus to perform a miracle - to give them manna from heaven! Hadn’t he just done that? Then Jesus tells the crowd that he is the bread from heaven.

The bread of Jesus’ body for the hunger of the world. The communion we have with God because this bread was broken. The banquet table we look forward to at the wedding supper of the Lamb. The feast of thanks we celebrate together this week, separately, in the spirit of unity.

-Giving thanks. Communion with God the Father and each other.  

-Blessing food makes it sacred nourishment, receiving the gift into oneself.

-What belief in our minds and hearts might cause us to miss the miracle of manna already provided for us in our life?

-If we do not have the kind of food we desire, do we refuse to eat at all?

-We often know the Revelation stories of beasts and wars, but how well do we know the promise of The Banquet?

Our Father, we give thanks for the time we have together to appreciate each other. We give thanks for your presence which is shared at our table. We give thanks for your abundant provisions. We pray your guidance toward paths of righteousness and wisdom. May our conversation be joyful, edifying and encouraging. Strengthen us, O God, to share your good news and to serve where you call us. We pray, humbly, in the name of Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

— Madge P. Williams


“Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!”  Matthew 5:6 AMPC

 “WAIT and listen, everyone who is thirsty! Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing]. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your earnings for what does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness [the profuseness of spiritual joy].”  Isaiah 55:1-2  AMPC