Category: Meditations

Meditations – March 14, 2018

By Reverend Michael Hutchison   Pastor, Prince of Peace Cluster, La Porte City and Eagle Center
Lent: A Season of Repentance
In the Gospel of Mark 1:15, Jesus begins His ministry with the words “The kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel.” This invitation to repentance is offered to all for St. Paul tells us in the book of Romans 3:23 that “All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” Repentance here means a complete change of mind; it is a 180-degree turn. So, if I am facing Northward, to repent requires me to turn and face Southward. To repent means to leave behind my former way of life which does not glorify God, and embrace a new life that does.
Though we are called to repent daily, the theme is even stronger in this season. Repentance also calls us back to our own senses for we cannot change our ways unless we see the wrong within. Like the younger son in the Gospel of Luke 15:11-32, we must reach a point of realization of our wrong choices and decisions.
Sometimes we need even those around us to point out our errant ways. Parents may try to help their children see the wrong choices they have made. Friends may do same for us. Therefore, in this season we try to listen to the voices that call us to repent. Voices calling us to repentance may be heard in Church, during personal meditation and reading of sacred scripture, from family members and loved ones, from coworkers, and even from someone we consider as an enemy. And so, the holy book says, “Oh, that today you would hear his voice: do not harden your hearts…” (Psalm 51:7b-8a).
We are reminded in this season that God is always patiently waiting for us to repent and lead lives pleasing to Him. St. Peter put it succinctly in 2 Peter 3:15, “Consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.”
Closely associated with repentance is the theme of reconciliation. I can identify three levels of reconciliation. The first is to reconcile with the self. Sometimes we find it difficult to forgive ourselves for our own mistake or wrong. This is a time to let go and let Christ. The second level of reconciliation is between us and our neighbor. Neighbor here could be your son, father, mother, wife, husband, daughter, distant relative, friend, accuser, coworker, fellow student, and the list goes on. How long can we hold grudges and what do we stand to gain from these grudges. It only affects our heart and our thinking process becomes weakened. The third level of reconciliation is with God.
Lent is a time to seek pardon for our offenses and to say “Forgive me O Lord, for I have sinned.”

Meditations – March 7, 2018

By Reverend Michael Hutchison    Pastor, Prince of Peace Cluster-La Porte City and Eagle Center
Reflecting on the season of Lent
The season of Lent is a period of 40 days preparation for the great sacrifice of Christ at Easter. Catholics and other Christians retrace the steps of Jesus, who after His baptism, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days and nights, and after this period engaged the devil in battle and won the victory (Cf. Matt. 4:1-11). Lent is a season of grace, a season of repentance, a season to retreat and look back, and a season to sacrifice.
Lent: A Season of Grace
During the season of Lent, God offers those who turn to Him special favor. He offers this favor not because we deserve it but simply because it is His wish that we receive the fullness of life. In the book of Ezekiel 33:11, God sends the prophet to Israel with these words, “As I live – oracle of the Lord God – I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” This same wish is expressed differently in the gospel of John (3:16-17), “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” It is therefore unambiguous that God’s wish is that we have life and He offers us His grace in this Lenten season.
When we feel the struggle following our call to discipleship and feel we cannot make it, He reminds us that His grace is enough and will sustain us (Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9). The letter to the Hebrews reminds us that Christ knows our struggles and He understands because He himself experienced temptation although He persevered without sin. From this shared understanding, the author encourages us to “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” (Hebrews 4:15-16). His grace and mercy have brought us this far, and in this season, as we try to draw closer to Him, we are encouraged to rely on His grace. Like King David, we who experience His grace should enter His presence and cry out “Who am I, Lord God, and what is my house, that you should have brought me so far? And yet even this is too little in your sight, Lord God.” (2 Samuel 7:18-19).
Let us receive His grace and trust in His generous offer of salvation.

Meditations – February 28, 2018

By Pastor Mike Ashman, Zion Lutheran Church – Jubilee
Ask rain from the LORD at the time of the spring rain– The LORD who makes the storm clouds; And God will give them showers of rain, vegetation in the field to each person.    ~ Zechariah 10:1
Dear Friends,
We just are finishing the shortest month of the year. Just one question: why did this month seem to be so long? Some might say that it is all just an illusion, February (almost) always has 28 days, each spanning basically 24 hours. While this is true, this month has had its moments with the snow, the cold, along with Ash Wednesday signaling the onset of Lent.
I found it interesting that in ancient times, some people did not even count January and February on their calendars. This is why we still have December, named for the tenth month (“deci” meaning ten). They looked forward to the beginning of Spring more than we did. For people of old are not that much different than us – good crops meant survival.
For me, I am reminded that God is the one who is truly in control. Spring will arrival on God’s schedule. I can still plan on a garden filled with watermelon. I can plant. I can fertilize. I will water. But, only God can make them grow. I put my trust in God, I will order my seeds.

Meditations – February 21, 2018

By Pastor Mike Ashman, Zion Lutheran Church, Jubilee
Romans 8 “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Dear Friends,
About a year ago, we visited the big town of Jubilee in expectation of the call I received as being a pastor. It was February. But the weather was simply delightful. The people made us feel at home. We inspected the house, imagining where things may go, how the rooms would be used. My 87-year-old mother claimed the only bedroom on the first floor – plus it had an adjoining bathroom – making the space perfect for her. I had visions and ideas, as did the church members. We had hope for a shared ministry to these communities.
Paul writing to the Romans spoke to the life of faith. Some people thought they had made this already; they took the life of faith to be more of a destination than a journey, a lifelong quest. They consider their relationship with Jesus a “been there, done that” proposition. They have sealed the deal with their baptism and now can get on with the rest of their lives.
To me, faith has been more of a path, a struggle, and unending quest. When I think I have everything figured out, God throws me a nice curveball. All too often I swing and miss. I do not give up. With God’s help I continue down the path of faith – always looking ahead with faith and hope.

Meditations – February 14, 2018

By Pastor Mike Ashman, Zion Lutheran Church, Jubilee
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
~ Matthew 11: 28-30
Dear Friends,
Recently I took a week up in the Twin Cities- St. Paul and Minneapolis. In preparation, I spent the better part of a couple of days getting prepared, packing all the necessities including some food and way too many snacks. I needed to have clothes for each day. I prepared my medications. I made sure my vehicle was ready for the trip. Whenever I make a journey, I always prepare.
Now imagine that we go on a journey where the opposite would be true – a journey where we give things away – a journey where the actual preparation is the journey itself. This for me is the sum total of the season of Lent. As we travel with our savior toward his cross, we find that we can hand things over to him that have troubled us, maybe for the last few days, months or even years.. These are burdens that carry that weigh down our hearts and souls that make our life miserable – the little gripes, the pet peeves, or the family discord.
In an act of faith, we place all these and whatever else bothers us into the hands of a God who has shoulders that can bear any load. The same shoulders that bore the cross carries all our griefs and burdens along with the weight of the world.With every passing day of Lent, find a way of letting go. Small things. Big matters. Problems of every shape and size. At the journey we will find the only thing that really matters – God’s love.


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