But Jesus’ priestly work far surpasses what these other priests do, since he’s working from a far better plan. If the first plan—the old covenant—had worked out, a second wouldn’t have been needed. But we know the first was found wanting, because God said, Heads up! The days are coming when I’ll set up a new plan for dealing with Israel and Judah. I’ll throw out the old plan I set up with their ancestors when I led them by the hand out of Egypt. They didn’t keep their part of the bargain, so I looked away and let it go. This new plan I’m making with Israel isn’t going to be written on paper, isn’t going to be chiseled in stone; This time I’m writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts. I’ll be their God, they’ll be my people. They won’t go to school to learn about me, or buy a book called God in Five Easy Lessons . They’ll all get to know me firsthand, the little and the big, the small and the great. They’ll get to know me by being kindly forgiven, with the slate of their sins forever wiped clean. By coming up with a new plan, a new covenant between God and his people, God put the old plan on the shelf. And there it stays, gathering dust.
Hebrews 8:6-13 MSG
Happy Father’s Day to dads, uncles, grandfathers, stepfathers, and foster fathers, and to the men, whether neighbor, teacher or occasional mentor who sacrificially sew into the lives of youngsters they encounter.
To those who deny themselves and choose the welfare of their families
To those who take the time and energy, and perhaps resources to be a difference maker for those who need a hand up
To the men who live so that your footsteps are good for children to stretch to walk in
Though we had a healing time at the end of his life, my father, foiled by his own demons, was unable to bless me most of my life.
My Uncle Hal Mehan was my first love. He made me feel precious, glad to be a girl. I thought he was going to wait for me to grow up. However, seeing reality, I traded him to Aunt Carol on the eve of their wedding for her wooden high-topped roller skates.
Uncle Charlie welcomed me to his heart when Aunt Betty took me home to Philadelphia the day after my brother’s funeral in Oswego, NY. He incorporated me into his warm Italian family, took me to the bakery, fresh pasta and cheese shops on a daily basis, and bought me my first set of new clothing. On weekends he took me to museums and zoos. For a month I was the daughter he never had, an only child who sucked up all the love.
At Oswego State Teacher’s College Campus School, my fifth and sixth grade teachers, Dr. Canfield and Dr. Strebe lifted me from the double misery of grief after my little brother drowned, along with the pain of being an extreme introvert with a heart untended. They called me to live when life wasn’t even an option, and affirmed me as a person with value. And Dr Strebe ignited my love for written words.
After our move to Houston, in high school — my seventh school — I was blessed by a young man who was a student at Baylor medical School. John started a youth group where he challenged us beyond platitudes and easy answers. Through him I went from a childish faith to a real relationship with my Lord.
I struggled through most of my adult life, but even small touches from strong, loving, God-filled men made a huge difference, at times the crucial difference.
When my Dad lay dying at Bethesda Naval Hospital, John appeared just at the moment when I thought I couldn’t cope. He was a pathologist there! By the time we finished a walk around the greens, I was ready to sit with him and pray for the first time in several years. A new level in my faith journey began that day.
Many times God has sprinkled strong, loving, caring men into my life, filling places left empty by my father’s failures.
Showing me that there is a Father who will never fail me, never hurt me, always love me. Helping me to learn to trust.
So men, if you don’t think you matter, you are wrong.
You don’t have to be Superman to save a life.
You don’t have to be Moses to lead a child out of slavery.
You don’t have to be a shepherd to lead a child to safety.
You don’t even have to be a father to make all the difference in a young life.
Just step up, and be the man.
A real man.
Dear reader, who has been that ‘good father’ influence in your life?
We celebrated Pentecost this weekend, known to many as the birthday of the church. For me, it ranks right up there with Christmas and Easter, and is, perhaps, the most personally impactful. On the first Christmas not much seemed to change in the world, though the birth of Jesus certainly turned Mary and Joseph’s lives upside down. On Easter, Jesus triumphed over death, and rose with a new, recognizable body. But he only showed himself to the ones seeking him. He appeared and disappeared at will to his confused, disheartened disciples. He spent fifty days popping into believer’s lives. With the transient nature of his presence, they couldn’t follow him around as they had before. They must have been at loose ends whenever he wasn’t with them, wondering what would happen next.
Then, the Ascension – Jesus left them gaping as he “returned to” his father.
I don’t think it was a casual instruction when he told them to wait in Jerusalem. Otherwise, they likely would have taken off, as they did after his death, hitting the road, heading home, back to old trades, or simply floundering.
But they obeyed, gathered, once again behind closed doors, and prayed.
A good model for indecision (or misery)
Not too easy for most of us, but they’d already committed, thrown everything in.
So wait they did.
And the rest of the world went on as usual. Unaware of the prayer huddle in an upper room near the town plaza.
As ‘chance would have it’ the city was once again jammed, as in Bethlehem when Jesus was born, due to King Herod’s order for everyone to register at their birthplace, and at his death, Jerusalem filled with the celebration of Passover. Now, on the day we call Pentecost, the faithful gathered from all Israel, as well as other countries. They packed Jerusalem for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, recalling God giving Moses the Law on Mt Sinai. Many read the Torah, some all night. (Could any know what they were preparing for?)
Perhaps the band which stayed together at Jesus’ command poured over the Torah all night, too, recognizing the footprint of their Master from creation throughout their sacred writings.
Still, just a little group of invisible people (they wanted it that way for safety), they read and prayed and comforted each other.
In the morning, outside crowds filled every empty space as they made their way to the Temple.
And then The Big Shift.
Later, some reported a sound like a mighty, rushing wind. It filled the room. Others said it was like tongues of fire flowing down to their heads, each one. No one left out.
Common, mostly peasant bodies were charged with the energy of creation. Filled with a power they had only glimpsed as Jesus healed lepers and raised the dead. A power that calmed storms at sea and set souls free from demon control.
The power that raised the body of Jesus.
The promised comforter, advocate, Spirit of the living God.
The power of Love.
And no room left for fear. No more ‘what if’ or ‘if only’.
How could they contain it?
How can a human body contain Eternity?
Like sprinters at the start, they pushed open the doors and burst into the light of the day. Sharing, spilling over what was still spilling through their minds and bodies.
A chaos of languages they didn’t know became heart lessons for the pilgrims.
Peter, the impulsive one, now filled with wisdom, rose up and spoke words he never imagined, never dared.
Now, he dared not contain it.
And the world has never been the same. Thousands joined the handful, swelled their ranks, and went on to share the Grace.
So it has been, down through the centuries, as Pentecost arrives on our doorstep.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened by religious rituals that provide no peace…” Amplified Bible Matt 11:20
He never meant for us to live invisible, fear-filled, second-guessing lives.
He never meant for us to plod through our days, or hide behind closed doors.
He never meant for us to stay the same.
Christmas, Easter, Resurrection and Ascension all lead to transformation, the power that was incarnate in one tiny baby, now available to us all, Pentecost.
I won’t quibble about getting filled with the Spirit when you accepted Jesus, were baptized, or just asked for it. All I know is, I was a believer from a young age, baptized, confirmed, and tried for years to obey. But something was missing.
Could it be he waits for each of us to huddle behind closed doors and wait for Him? To say, like Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope]…” Amplified Bible John 6:68
Until nothing else will satisfy us, and we stop.
For the power of Eternity.
For the change, when the invisible is finally brave, standing tall
When the fear-filled pushes aside the shadows and rises up in courage
For real life.
So we can finally really know what it means:
for in him we live, and move, and have our being Acts 17:28 ASV