The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd…” (Jn. 10:11) Someone once gave me an icon of Jesus the Good Shepherd. It wasn’t a beautiful or attractive icon; in fact, it was rather primitive and rough, even sort of ugly. I put the icon on my bookshelf not because I would’ve chosen it for myself, but because it …

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In the Manger with Jesus

And she wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them at the inn.  (Lk. 2:7) I’d received a phone call from a distraught mother. Her 30-something daughter had disappeared. The mother feared that her daughter—let me call her Abby—could have committed suicide. A few …

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Bethlehem In Us

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem… While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  (Luke 2:4,6) While visiting the Holy Land I was very excited to see Bethlehem—the place where Mary and Joseph traveled, where Mary gave …

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Too Good Not to Be True

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.’ (Luke 2: 13-14) During this time of year many people watch the old-time Christmas movies. In the “Miracle on 34th Street,” we …

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An Instrument of the Lord

Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your …

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Extending His Grace

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ (Mk. 2:5) I start today’s reflection by asking you to reread yesterday’s story about Joe and Fred. Not long after Joe and Fred had asked me to intervene in their conflicts, it became apparent that Joe was in serious trouble. …

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To Love Our Neighbor

“And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mt. 22:39) I was once asked to arbitrate between two neighbors.  One of them was easy to know, work with, and care for.  The other was difficult to know, hard to work with, and challenging to care for. Before sitting down with …

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Growing Into Grace

But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18) I once believed we could grow into grace through our own efforts, schemes, and formulas. It took me a long time to see that what I mostly grew through my own efforts, schemes, and formulas wasn’t grace, but self-righteousness, …

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Going to Jerusalem – Part 2

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13) This meditation is connected to yesterday’s reflection.  Return with me to Jerusalem.  I’m standing with the Palestinian Christian woman.  She’s speaking about a Palestinian family that had just been killed. She’s crying, shaking, and enraged. After she collected herself, I asked, “Please tell …

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Going to Jerusalem – Part 1

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you.  Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.’           (Ps. 122:6-7) It was our last night in Jerusalem.  As we were gathering to go to a rabbi’s home for the Sabbath meal, I noticed that one of our …

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The Presence of Jesus

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. (Lk. 1:41) … it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. (Gal. 2:20) The joy of the moment in today’s first scripture between Elizabeth and Mary could have only happened with God. Elizabeth was considered too old …

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Wisdom, Understanding and Gentleness

Who is wise and understanding among you?  Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.  (James 3:13) Let me call her Gloria.  From my first day as the church’s new pastor, she complained and grumbled.  The church had been shrinking for decades, and I felt called to turn …

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