Tag Archives: Supermoon

Supermoon: Super God

given on August 10, 2014

Tonight the second of three supermoons in one year will be visible. Astrologically this is a phenomena that occurs about every 13 months, but this year there are a total of five; the next supermoon is to occur September 28, 2015; in fact, the next three include that one, then one on November 14, 2016, and one on January 2, 1018—none in 2017.

A supermoon occurs when the moon is the closest is can possibly be to the earth.

The supermoon occurs when the moon becomes full on the same days as its perigee, which is the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to Earth. The supermoon of August is one of the largest and brightest full moons of the year. The U.S. Naval Observatory says the moon will be 12% bigger and 30% brighter than it was in January 2014. [Accessed on August 9, 2014 at http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/08/us/irpt-august-supermoon/%5D

 

The first supermoon this year was on July 12, and the final one will be on September 8. In one year, three months of supermoon viewings is almost like the return of Hailey’s Comet which occurs once every 75 years.

Can you imagine what it would be like if we were only able to be that close to God so rarely? Fortunately God is with us all the time, in full and open view. Unfortunately there are so many whose lives are too cloudy to witness our Super God.

Think about the comparison of the supermoon and our relationship to God. The moon only becomes super when its orbit brings it the closest it can get to the earth. Now that does not mean the moon disappears or is not ever visible, in fact it is in our night sky each and every day. It does not matter whether it is a cloudy night or a star-filled night. The moon is there.

God is always there, too. In fact we do not have to wait until the sun sets to witness God’s presence. God is with us continually. He is always prepared to hear our pleas, to ease our pain, and to demonstrate his grace. God is our Super God.

Certainly the supermoon is easy to identify and witness. It is a concrete object we have no doubt is real in our world. There is a clear pattern of the moon waxing and waning or more commonly, of the new moon growing to a full moon and then disappearing again as the earth’s shadow shifts through the moon’s orbit. This orbit is repeated every four weeks, and it is so familiar we often ignore it.

Do we ignore God, too? God’s presence is constant and it never has to go through an orbit but maybe we are the ones orbiting God. Maybe we are the reason we do not see God in our lives. Maybe others see God in us, but we are not shining as brightly as the moon. Maybe we shine God’s presence only once in a great while like the astrological event of the supermoon.

Pause for a moment, maybe even close your eyes, and consider yourself as a supermoon orbiting God. Do you reflect God? Do you wax and wane in how you let God shine through you? Have you fallen into an orbiting pattern?

Falling into an orbit around God is easy. Our lives get so busy that we fill up the calendar with monthly meetings, with special appointments—always critical—and we go to work each day whether on a job or as a caretaker or parent. We run all day trying to keep our lives in order and when the head hits the pillow, we drift off to sleep.

If we are to be daily reflections of God, then we must actively participate in God’s commandment and commission.

Matthew 22:37-38

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Matthew 28:18-20

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[b] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Sometimes loving one another is tough. And then to consider reaching out to others and asking them to become followers of Christ seems like one task too many.

Can it be done? Can we love one another as we love ourselves? Can we share our faith in a manner others want to have that same faith? Sure it can. No one said it was easy, but if we can establish our orbit around God so soundly that even when we are challenged and we suddenly feeling ourselves spin out of control, it is possible to re-establish that orbit.

What tools are needed to maintain that orbit? John Wesley called them the works of piety:

 . . . prayer an essential part of Christian living. He called it, in many of his writings, the most important means of grace.

 read the Bible every day, usually early in the day or late in the evening. . . .

 [He also] emphasized the importance of fasting (giving up something whether food or routine such as internet surfing) and participating in Christian community (typically weekly worship). . . .

[Italic phrases added for clarification purposes. Accessed on August 9, 2014 at https://gbgm-umc.org/umw/wesley/disciple.stm%5D

 

These three disciplines or methods of maintaining a strong relationship with God can keep our orbits safe and steady.

In today’s culture, these three practices may not fit very well into the routines we have established in our lives, but in order for God to shine in our lives, these routines needed to be included and even polished, so to speak, so that others can see God’s presence and feel compelled to seek that same joy in their lives.

Think about how really simple life is when we develop a sound routine of getting up, going to work, fixing supper, relaxing, and even going to bed. These are healthy patterns for our physical lives, so why not establish healthy patterns for our spiritual lives.

Prayer—talking with God. We think about all kinds of things even while we are doing something else. Why can’t these thoughts turn to God? God has been there listening; and if the problems you face are what keeps your mind churning, then God probably has been waiting for you to talk to him rather than to yourself.

Prayer is private, it is your personal tool, it is like going to a counselor to work out the issues in your life. At the same time prayer is your praise and your thanksgiving. When you see something happen that is glorious—like the supermoon tonight if there are no clouds—you are sharing that sense of awe with God, too. When you open up that paycheck and see that total, you thank God for your strength and skills that made that possible.

Private prayer can lighten the load we humans tend to think is way too heavy for us to carry. Remember that guiding verse from Philippians 4:13:  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. That is one verse that keeps me focused during the week or in the midst of a major life challenge.

Bible reading sounds a great deal like schoolwork, but the key is to find the translation that speaks to you. Ask others which one they prefer and why. If possible, go on line and compare translations. The website I prefer is Biblegateway.com. There are so many resources, and so many choices in print that it can be overwhelming, but let that be part of the fun. Finding God’s word that speaks directly to you makes reading the Bible regularly much simpler, more appealing, and easier to understand.

The stories in the Old Testament probably compare more to our lives before knowing God. We read the stories knowing that even though the Israelites were the “chosen” people of God, they struggled. The life challenges over 5,000 years ago are the same as those today. Following God sustained them and their generations.

The New Testament shows a simpler way of life. The old rules were wrapped up into one commandment and Jesus demonstrated the mannerisms and the temperament needed to follow that commandment. When he did that, crowds of people came to see him, to listen to him, and to witness Super God in their ancient world.

Today, we see the global community right there on our TVs in a moment’s notice. We see the challenges to God and feel the sadness when a natural disaster hits, when a mine collapses, or when one people clash with another people. God’s presence becomes clouded and if we do not do all that we can for all who we can whenever we can, then those clouds will darken and no supermoon will be able to shine through.

The final practice really is worship. Fasting has lost its significance in today’s culture. Traditionally it has meant going without food for a certain period of time, usually a day; but fasting means disciplining one’s self more than anything. Possibly it can take on different images such as no snacks for 24 hours, or no coffee for a day, or no sodas for a week, or maybe shift that idea to a different focus—no internet or no tv for 12 hours, 24 hours, or eve a few days.

The other side of worship is Christian fellowship. Faithful Christians are expected to be in church each week for worship. In fact the United Methodists have somewhat of a standing rule that no one should miss more than four Sundays a year. For many of us that seems undoable, but it is a goal to reach. God will know what effort you are applying.

Of course Christian fellowship can include other activities, too. Maybe a Bible study becomes part of the Christian practices. Maybe it is to serve in one way or another. Maybe it is to join with the others in a mission trip or service activity. The opportunities are there or can be created; and these are the times others can see our super God shining in our own lives.

Tonight, get outside and look for a crack in the clouds so you can witness the supermoon. Take the kids out, call your friends, drive out in the country away from city lights, and revel in the glory of God as you witness the second supermoon of the year. Then tackle the month one day at a time practicing to become a super Christian sharing God’s light with others. In September, celebrate God’s grace in your life with the third supermoon this year.

Closing prayer

Dear Super God,

maker of heaven and earth,

creator of the supermoon

as well as the world in which we live.

Hear our prayers as we step forward

in our Christian journeys.

Help us carry on a conversation with you

as we struggle to shine as your children.

Help us to talk out the troubles that shadow

your presence in our lives.

And, when we find joy, peace, and love

in our lives; hear our praises

and thanksgivings.

Share your wisdom through the Bible,

in the words that speak to us.

Help us put those words into use

so others may see your presence, too.

As we open the doors to the church,

strengthen our faith through others

who love you, too.

May we hear your words of grace and love

as clearly as we see the moon on starry nights.

May we find strength and confidence

to share your love, your grace, your radiance

with those still in the shadows. –Amen

 

 

 

 

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Where is the light?

given on Sunday, June 30, 2013

Supporting scriptures:

Genesis 1:3Let there be light…

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.[a] The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

  • Psalm 27:1—The Lord is my light…
  • Isaiah 42:1-9–…And you will be the light…
  • Matthew 5:13-16…You are the light…

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

  • Luke 2:22—He is a light to reveal God.
  • John 1:1-9—The Word gave…light…
  • John 3:20-21—All who do evil hate the light…
  • Acts 13:47-49I have made you a light… (to Paul & Barnabus)

47 For the Lord gave us this command when he said,

‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’[a]

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers. 49 So the Lord’s message spread throughout that region.

  • I John 1:5-7—God is light, and there is no darkness…
  • Revelations 21:21-25…The lamb is the light…

21 The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.

22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. 24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. 25 Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there.

Did you see the Super Moon?  What about the lightening the night before last?  Did you notice that even when the electricity went out, there was enough of the Super Moon to help get around the house, not to mention out on the porch?  The natural lights of the moon, the sun, the stars, and even lightening cannot match man-made lights.  God’s light is the best.

In thinking about the changes that our world undergoes, there are constants that remain the same and those are the God things.  God’s lights are one of the constants.  The question we each must ask is where is THE LIGHT in our own lives, or in other words:

  • Where is God in our lives?
  • Are you living your life in such a manner that others see the light as a constant?
  • Do you radiate God’s light so well that others see you as a constant?
  • Does your God-light shine so brightly that even in the darkest moments you can see the way?
  • Can others see the way because of you?

These are the questions that can keep a person awake at night.  Personally I ponder whether or not my life is a reflection of God’s grace.  Sometimes I go back and review, wondering where did I fail.  Other times I feel so good about life, I simply praise God for all the good I see.

Praying hands are simply a must in a world that we have so little control over.  Keeping that open channel with God becomes like breath itself.  At times it is difficult to even know if we are praying, yet at the same time we also know when we are not praying.  Others can even tell.  When we live a prayer-filled life, we shine God’s light so brightly that others recognize it and even seek to follow it.

Keeping God’s light blazing bright in our lives comes down to practicing the disciplines that keep The Light charged up.  If we fail to keep the disciplines, then the light dims and pretty soon looks burned out.  Once the light is gone, it becomes difficult to see, to work, to love, to play, and even to sleep.  It takes work to get that Light back on.

Wrapping up the church year, each one of us needs to check our practices and see if our lights can shine as brightly as they can for the coming year.  The time to evaluate the sources of our spiritual energy is right now, so we can shine for all those we meet.  We cannot, must not, put it off.  Therefore, here are the evaluation questions:

  1. How often do you read the scriptures?
  2. Do you pray daily, hourly, or continually?
  3. Are you actively participating in a small group?
  4. Can you remember the last sacrament you took?
  5. Have you practiced fasting in one form or another?
  6. How often do you attend worship?

For most church members, attending worship and praying regularly are not a problem.  And if the church practices regular days for communion, then in all likelihood, that is not a concern.  The problem spots are the practices of reading and studying scripture, fasting, and participating in small group or Wesleyan-styled class meetings.  Even worship attendance can be an issue if you do not follow the recommended 48 out of 52 weeks of attendance.

These are the acts of piety that John Wesley felt were essential to maintaining one’s faith.  He knew that maintaining God’s light in our life is difficult and with the methods he insisted following, that light became a guiding beam to those who were without hope, without food, without shelter, and without the essentials for daily living.  And, as the light draws in the moths on hot summer nights, the Wesleyan disciples drew others to God.

Are we, right here in our very own community, following the Wesleyan methods we say we believe in a manner that God’s light radiates through and from us to draw others to God’s light?  That is a question we must answer if we are to follow God’s commission.

This is the point when the praying hands get dirty fingernails.  Granted, we realize that this is a metaphor, but Wesley certainly did not separate the two.  An area in which his ministry was well received was the coal-mining region in England.  One of the dirtiest jobs that seemed to deposit a level of grime over everything needed the most. The people needed God.  Now consider our own region.  Isn’t it interesting that at one point this area was once a mining region, too; but since the industry is now gone, does God’s light shine?

Even if the type of economic base switches in a community, there is no reason to think the need for God’s light has changed.  God is available for everybody.   God’s region is not limited by one geographic set of boundaries.  God’s region is global.  This is why Methodists get dirty fingernails just about anywhere they go.  This is why the acts of mercy Wesley encouraged becomes part of the fuel source for God’s light.

Evaluating how dirty our fingernails are getting as a small rural church as well as part of the global church might be challenging.  Well, it is challenging because it is tempered by the economy of a small church.  First, there should be no apologies for the lack of funds available for all the various missions whether it is the Heifer Project, the Ludhiana Medical Mission, the Hydrate Haiti project, the Imagine No Malaria campaign, or the Mozambique initiative.  The list can go on and on.

God’s work is not recorded by the amount of dollars spent.  Rather God’s work is measured by illumination.  Beginning in our own homes, are we being good stewards of God’s resources and the money we earn.  And in our own communities, the light needs shining.  As we evaluate how dirty our fingernails are, we need to begin at the center of our geographical community.  Here we go:

  1. Are the people in the community fed?
  2. Are the neighbors able to afford clothes that they need?
  3. Is the neighbors housing safe and adequate for their needs?
  4. Is the community prepared to handle a disaster?
  5. Does a special need come to mind?

Certainly an evaluation begins with the basic needs for life to be sustained, but it can be broadened to consider the next level of needs—educational, social, community services, and more.

In the pre-conference prayer study, the example of concentric circles was used to demonstrate the various levels of prayer.  The same concentric circle pattern can also identify the levels of ministry for a local church.  The nucleus or center is the physical church itself.  The next circle is the immediate area in the community.  The third circle is outer limits of the town, and then the circle one-mile from the church.  Additional circles needed to be included in rural communities based on how far reaching the members determine.  This may mean a 5-mile radius or a 10 mile-radius, and since our counties pivot around a larger community, an additional circle that bumps up to the city limits of the county seat.

What about the outreach beyond the immediate community, you might ask?  The connectional aspect of the United Methodist Church comes into the picture at this point.  The apportionments that are assessed each church provide the basic foundation for connectional ministry.  It is the choice of the individual churches to determine how involved they wish to become in the global ministries.  This does not mean that the small churches are exempt; it simply means that they can determine the extent of giving beyond the apportionments.

The acts of mercy send out the beams of light so all may know God.  What our small, rural church does adds just that much more to the luminosity of God’s light.  During the next year, we need to keep God’s light shining brightly.  We need to remember that all we do is for the glory of God, and when we keep that as the ultimate goal, we are the light, too.

Closing prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

You are the source of light:  sun, moon, and stars.

You are the source of love in our lives

         that shines so brightly others see you, too.

Guide us as we learn how to turn on our lights

         so others are drawn to your love.

Guide us as we strengthen our faith

         through the spiritual disciplines.

Guide us as we learn to minister to others

         so the light shines for them, too.

May we determine ways to shine your light

         so others may find the way to salvation.  –Amen

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