Throughout the Bible, great stories of faith are accompanied by acts of fasting. When Jonah brings the word of the Lord to the people of Nineveh and called them to repent, the people of Nineveh responded by fasting and prayer. Just after being baptized, and before Jesus begins his public ministry, Jesus is led into the wilderness, by the Holy Spirit, so that he could fast for forty days. As Jesus’ disciples began their ministry the devoted themselves to practices such as prayer and fasting.
As we read through the Bible this year, I am reminded of my childhood Sunday School classes. Each week, we were encouraged to read and memorize scripture. By doing so, we would earn prizes determined by the number of chapters we read or the number of verses we memorized. The idea was good I remember reading and memorizing verses.
But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once, and occupy it; for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.” So they brought to the people of Israel an evil report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim); and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Then all the congregation raised a loud cry; and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why does the Lord bring us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey; would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a captain, and go back to Egypt.”
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
Music speaks to my soul! I love all genres of music. I go through times when I listen to a certain genre in monthly chunks. Right now, like most preteens, all my girls want to listen to is Taylor Swift. They know more about Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs than some adults.
Since I first came to St. Luke’s almost 30 years ago, I have witnessed many new trends and types of ministries that make it possible for us to share God’s love in new and innovative ways. One of those is our online and TV ministries that reach thousands of viewers every Sunday. During the Pandemic, those of us charged with leading worship discovered how important it was to look at the TV camera. When there were no worshippers in the Sanctuary, we quickly realized the camera lens was where our congregation connected with us! Since the Pandemic has ended, we have welcomed many people back to worship in person, but our online and TV ministries have also grown.
During my high school years, our youth group embarked on numerous mission trips to Mexico. On one occasion, we revisited a specific town where some of our leaders had previously served. Following a challenging yet rewarding week of constructing cinder block houses, our van rolled into a nearby neighborhood. Barbara, one of our leaders, gazed out of the windows with a focused intensity, as if anticipating the arrival of someone or something.
Mitchell Robinson is a 7’ tall professional basketball player. Mitchell plays center for the New York Knicks. He has played for the Knicks since being drafted in 2018. By all measures he is a big success on the court. His success has gone beyond the game of basketball. He is a big man with a big heart.
The reason why we talk about reading the Bible and commit to reading the Bible is because we want the Bible to be a helpful tool for our lives. There’s so much we can learn from the Bible. We learn the stories of many biblical characters, we hear the poems and songs of faith from long ago, we hear from God through the words of the prophets, we know about the life and ministry of Jesus, and find out about the early Christian church through the letters of Paul.
Then the Lord said, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Per′izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb′usites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain.” Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”