Thursday, December 10, 2015

Zechariah 3:4 – There are ordinary days and there are special days.  On special days, we often wear party clothes; so that what we wear reflects the reasons we celebrate.  God takes our guilt away every day, so every day is worth celebrating.  Today, put on a smile, put a spring in your step, greet people so that they are glad to have seen you.  In short, look as if you are celebrating, don’t let your dress or demeanor drag the day down.  This is a Wekivaword.

Photo of McWay Falls © by John A. Dalles

Friday, December 4, 2015

1 Corinthians 11:32 – Discipline moves us from being awkward to being adept, at anything we do, especially daily living.  Permit God’s discipline to move you from being a novice to an expert in the faith.  This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Pr 15:1  Find ways to make all of your speech and demeanor fit with this proverb.  Rid yourself of harsh words.  Find gentle words instead.  This is a Wekivaword. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ps 117:1 & 2  Today is an opportunity to praise the Lord.  Find ways to extol God and God’s great love for you.  This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Is 42:1-7  This is one of many passages in Isaiah that point to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Read it again and this time envision Christ serving you in whichever of these needs are yours.  This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mark 8:31 – What must it have been like, to hear the eternal plan of salvation from God’s only Son?  The disciples heard it from Him; we know it from the reports in the Gospels.  Their advantage was that they saw His face and heard the tone of His voice.  Our advantage is that we know the rest of the story.  This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Colossians 1:11-14  This is one of the clearest verses about being strong—so if you are feeling a bit puny today, read it again and let it build you up, in confidence and courage. This is a Wekivaword.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Timothy 2:1 – The guidance for our prayers in this verse will probably cause us to expand the list of those for whom we pray, beyond the people we know and love, to include people we do not know, who need God’s love.  May your prayers be this expansive, today.  This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, November 13, 2015

I Peter 5:10 – So, look for that restoration that is surely coming to you, as this verse promises.  Do not get discouraged.  Do you trust in God? Then look and live like you do! This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Is. 1:18-20 God promises us blessings along with freedom from sin. Today, accept what God is promising, and live your life in the best way possible. This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2 Samuel 22:19-22.  David’s song of praise can be yours as well.  Let the Lord be your support today.  As He rescues you, He shall bring you out into a spacious place.  This is a Wekivaword.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Exodus 1:1-14.  The story of God’s people has its ups and downs, to be sure.  If today is one in which you are filled with joy, give God the praise.  If you are dealing with difficulties not of your own making, remain faithful and trust God to bring about something good.  This is a Wekivaword.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Come to the Alternative Gift Market - Today - Before or after worship!


Jeremiah 8:4 – Jeremiah is good with these rhetorical questions.  Of course those who fall get up again! And of course those who go astray turn back!  Today ask yourself, “So, how am I doing, with these things?”  This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Genesis 40: 12-15. You may have a message for someone else that will improve their situation in life tremendously.  Today may be the day to share it, so that they can thrive as God intends.  Remember that you may find yourself in a difficult place, not because of something you did, but so you can help someone who is there.  This is a Wekivaword.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Psalm 119:165 – Peace… Who doesn’t want that?  Here is the secret of having peace in your life.  And of surefootedness, as well.  This is a Wekivaword.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Exodus 29:1-9. The priesthood of the Old Testament provided a connection between God and God’s people. Since the time of Jesus, we are part of the priesthood of all believers. Believe yourself to be set apart to serve others in Jesus’ name, and to serve the Lord by interceding for others. This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, October 30, 2015

John 15:11 If you know anyone whom you would call “completely joyful”, the chances are that person knows the secret of John 15:11. Have the word of Christ in you and you will also know that kind of joy. This is a Wekivaword.


Psalm 24:1 Keeping in mind that the earth belongs to the Lord will help you keep things in perspective. Today, when what you experience is good, say thank you to God. When it is challenging, trust that God is helping you. This is a Wekivaword.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Blessing of the Animals...


On Sunday afternoon, we had a very nice event at the church, as we invited members and friends to bring their pets for the Blessing of the Animals.  The weather was breezy and had a touch of fall in the air, as people and their pets arrived between 2 and 3 p.m. for their blessings.

We had mostly dogs but also one cat and one ferret.  There are photos on the Wekiva Presbyterian Church Facebook page, for you to see:

Blessing of the Animals



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

28 2 Kings 18:5 Follow the example of King Hezekiah—trust in the Lord God. Hold fast to the Lord and do not cease to follow Him. Keep the commandments the Lord gave to Moses, and the Lord will be with you. This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Mark 1:40-42 – Jesus chooses to make people clean. If you have been wanting to start anew, to begin afresh, then there is no better way to do that than to come to Jesus and beg him to make you clean. This is a Wekivaword.
Psalm 81:7 – This psalm has it right. Sometimes we wait an awfully long time before we call to God for help. Why wait? God rescues us when we call to Him. So, call to Him. This is a Wekivaword.

A Visit with Aunt Shirley

From Montoursville, we drove west about four hours to Franklin, Pennsylvania, in order to see Aunt Shirley, who is my mom's brother's widow.  Uncle Jimmy died in 1998, and Aunt Shirley lived in their house in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, until this spring, when she left her home and moved to an assisted living community in Franklin, near her niece Joyce.  We planned ahead, and Aunt Shirley knew we were coming.  We had a lovely visit with her and with Joyce and her husband Gary, and Joyce's sister Jan, and Shirley's sister (Jan and Joyce's mother) Nancy.  Here is a photo Judy took of Shirley and me:


The day was blustery, but it was a warm and wonderful gathering.

Now, before we headed on our way, Joyce and Gary has some things from Uncle Jimmy's and Aunt Shirley's home, to give us.  These were mostly photos of our side of the family, things that held no specific memories for Joyce and Jan.  Even though we knew that Jim and Shirley were as we might say, pack rats, we had no idea how much they had saved down the years.  Here are a few photos of our trunk with the six boxes of photos and albums, and of our back seat, where we stowed our suitcases:




I am not sure if Judy is smiling because we managed to get it all in, or if she is waving her wrist to show me it is time to get going...!

Uncle Jimmy was an ordained minister; with the photos, they also gave me some of his stoles, which are worn but very special:


A Visit with Aunt Evie...

Among the good reasons why we made this trip to Pennsylvania, one of the best was that we planned a visit with Aunt Evie.  Evie lives in Montoursville, which is a very pleasant town in northeast Pennsylvania.  She has lived there or in Williamsport since 1998, because my cousin Pam and her husband Bill make their home in Williamsport.

But Evie did not always live in that part of PA.  For most of her life she lived in Pittsburgh, and in the 10 years that we were in Pittsburgh, Aunt Evie and Grandma Lucy were just five miles from our home.  That was so very special.  We were able to get together for holidays and ordinary days.  When John and then Anne were each born, they had a visit with Grandma and Evie on their way home from the hospital.  Those were treasured times.

We had a nice drive up the Susquehanna River and lunch with Pam and then a very pleasant visit with Aunt Evie, who did not know we were coming.  I think you can tell we were all savoring our time together...


“Always pray to have eyes to see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, and a soul that never loses faith in God.”

The Stouch Tavern: Yes, George Washington Did Sleep Here!

As we made our way from Easton westward through Pennsylvania, we "just happened" to drive through Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania.

This was for one particular reason.  We wanted to have lunch at the Stouch Tavern.  If you are anywhere in south central Pennsylvania, we highly recommend it.  We went particularly because it brought back fabulous memories of when Judy and I were engaged, and we had a celebratory meal there.





For many years, the Stouch Tavern was run by the Crumrines, who have now entered the Church Triumphant.  Their daughter is the executive manager to this day.  On that occasion 31 years ago when Judy and I were last there, we enjoyed their Chocolate Fudge Pie.  We enjoyed it so much, that Judy asked Mr. Crumrine if he would share the recipe, which he did, with the proviso that she never share it with anyone else.  He had developed it for the Hotel Hershey, we are told.  Then and there, he wrote it out for her on a paper napkin, which Judy has treasured ever since.

Did they have the Chocolate Fudge Pie on the menu on our return visit?  Did they ever!  We confess that we dove right in, and while we intended to photograph it as it was placed on our table, we forgot and so what we have instead is a photo of the slice of pie, half gone!

Judy has never divulged the recipe...  But I bet if you ask her very nicely, she will let you have a taste the next time she makes it.

Oh, we have other memories of the Stouch Tavern, stretching back to our friend Ernie Shaffer's cousins, Henry and Lenore Aul.  They first introduced our family to the Stouch Tavern, when they became our friends when they joined my home congregation, Highland Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  There were a number of "jaunts" from Lancaster to Womelsdorf over the years, and in one of those, Henry presented a drawing of the tavern to the Crumrines.  It is on the front cover of their menu to this day. Henry drew it from this back view of the tavern, which is very quaint indeed:



Henry, who was a noted landscape architect, also did a watercolor of the same view for me, which has been in every church office in my ministry.  I include it here, and as you can see, not much has changed since Henry painted it:




Such happy memories... And we made a new one as we drove across Pennsylvania last week!

A Celebration in Tatamy, Pennsylvania

This past week, Judy and I were in Pennsylvania, for the first time in a decade, in order to do some family and friends visiting.  We began in Easton, Pennsylvania, to share in the retirement celebrations of our dear friends Ernie and Bonnie Shaffer.  Ernie served the St. Peter's Church of Tatamy, PA, for all of his 33 years of ordained ministry.




 This is remarkable in any day and time.  Even more remarkable is that St. Peter's is Bonnie's home church, where she was baptized, confirmed, and married.  So as they bid farewell to the congregation on Ernie's last Sunday, it was an occasion filled with deep meaning.

We felt so fortunate to share in the weekend.  The church had a lovely retirement dinner, and the MC asked the minister friends of Ernie's to speak.  This was a bit of a surprise.  I had some good and true things to say about Ernie, and then confided in the congregation that ever since he went to serve them, Ernie and I had maintained a back and forth correspondence, first in the slow mail and then via email, lasting these 33 years.  I then said, "So I know just about everything about all of you!'  This brought gales of laughter, and then a kind of wondering look on many faces as if they were thinking, "So just what DOES he know...?"!  I followed that with a second comment, saying, "I have it on the best authority that once his retirement begins, Ernie will start writing, 'Parishioners I Have Known and Loved, Volume One'", which brought more laughter.  But then, during the cake and mingling time, not one but two of the church members came up to me, told me their name, and said, "Did Ernie tell you about me...?"


I was asked to share in Ernie's farewell Sunday's worship, which was a joy and honor.  We are wishing the Shaffers a wonderful next chapter in their lives, and their former congregation as well, as they move into the "what's next"...


 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wekiva’s Wishing Well – The Background Story


 
Wekiva’s Wishing Well – The Background Story
We have been enjoying a new program at Wekiva Presbyterian Church for more than a year now.  Sponsored by our Board of Deacons, it is a program that creates and send thoughtful letters to church members who are ill, or homebound,  or grieving , or going through some kind of a life-transition.  The concept has been eagerly adopted by the church members, both those who sign the letters on a Sunday morning, and those who receive them in the mail during the week.  It is a wonderful way to let one another know that they are being surrounded with love and prayers. 
 
Some of you have asked me about the background story of how our Wishing Well came into being.  I am glad to share it, because it is touching and far reaching.  It goes back to a woman named Kristine Milleville Byrne.
Kristine Milleville Byrne, was born in 1954, the daughter of Bertram J. Milleville and Eleanor Shaw Milleville.  Kristine’s father Bert was a brilliant inventor, the Vice President of Valve and Engineering Research for Rockwell International, where he held many patents. Kristine’s mother Eleanor was a gifted sculptor. A graduate of Simmons College (Massachusetts), she was known for her realistic sculptures in bronze.  Her best-known work is the bronze memorial to Roberto Clemente, in the city of Pittsburgh. 
 
Kristine Milleville grew up in a busy home filled with brothers and sisters and love and faith, artistic appreciation, and intellectual stimulation.  She married and moved east. 
 
On July 9, 1979 Kristine Milleville Byrne was a lovely young woman of 25 with a bright future.  About four o’clock that morning, when her husband Vincent was away on a business trip, Kristine was strangled to death by an intruder into their home.  Kristine’s murder was a senseless tragedy.  Her family was plunged into grief by Kristine’s death.  They went through all of the ordeal of her funeral, and the shock and emptiness that comes with loss. 
While they were going through that dark time, they experienced something that had lasting meaning to them.  Kristine’s family received a letter.  The letter was not from one person, but rather, signed by many people, who expressed to them their love and prayers in their time of sorrow.  The letter was from a congregation who knew of this terrible event, and who reached out in compassion to let the family know that they were not alone—that others were praying for them, and that God cared for them.  Eleanor was so moved by what that church did, that she wanted to thank them and she wanted to learn more about the letter.  So in time, Eleanor contacted them, and asked them about it.  This was how she learned about that congregation’s commitment to being in touch with people going through tough times, or celebrating joys, through what they called “Letters of Concern”. 
Each Sunday, letters expressing concern, congratulations, or sympathy were prepared by the Deacons of that church.  Then, on Sunday mornings, the Deacons placed the “Letters of Concern” on a table in the church, where the members of the congregation could take the time to read them, and sign these heartfelt notes of caring.  And then, having been signed by the congregation, the letters were mailed to the members and friends to whom they had been written.
The idea was so meaningful to Eleanor that she took its story to her own church.  And, inspired by how much it had helped the Milleville family, that church decided that they too would engage in this ministry of caring.  That was 1979.  That church has been writing letters of concern to many people, every Sunday, for 34 years, ever since. 
If you put the words “Letters of Concern” in quotes, and then the word deacons on its own, you will find that there are a number of congregations who have done as Eleanor’s church did, in taking that idea of that first congregation, and putting it into practice in their own.   Not surprisingly, they are mostly Presbyterian congregations.  For that is where it began, and that is where the idea has spread.  I happen to know the story because, for a decade, I served Eleanor and Bert Millevile’s church in Pittsburgh.  They were both dear friends as well as church members.  A part of my ministry was working with the deacons there.  So, I saw at first-hand, that these “Letters of Concern”—these written reminders of love and prayer—build people up when they need it the most.  Because of that ministry, I know of many people who have kept and treasured these letters of concern, down the decades, including our own family.
 
The idea that began at one Presbyterian Church, and continued at another, and another, and another, is now before our own congregation.  And while I might be tempted to tell you that “Letters of Concern” was my idea, or some member of our congregation’s idea, that would do Eleanor and Bert and Kristine a disservice, wouldn’t it?  “Letters of Concern” are what I call a “God-idea”.  An idea that God set into the hearts of someone in that first congregation, and passed along into the hearts of another, and another, and another… including our own.
 
I am glad that the Deacons at Wekiva are taking Eleanor’s idea of preparing “Letters of Concern” to heart, and have given them a new distinctive name.  Wekiva’s “Wishing Well” gives us a way to remember and honor Eleanor and Bert and their daughter Kristine.  And out of the Milleville’s family tragedy, it helps us bring the compassion of Jesus Christ very close, into the homes and hearts of those we love.
 
 

 
 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

“Will You Really Lay Down Your Life For Me?” – X. “When Jesus Asks”


Will You Really Lay Down Your Life For Me?” – X. “When Jesus Asks”

Zechariah 9:9-11; John 13:36-38

Sunday, March 29 – Palm Sunday

Sermon by The Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles

 

So on the one hand we have Jesus and on the other hand we have Peter, his most famous disciple.

          The conversation is unfolding in the Upper Room.  Jesus is preparing the disciples for what is to come.

          Peter is a man of bravado.  Of boldness.  A risk taker.  A maker of unexpected moves.  He is the one who leapt out of the water to walk toward Jesus…and for a moment or two, Peter also walked on the water.

          He is making another one of those leaps of faith right now. 

          The outcome is a lot like what happened when he leapt out of the boat.

          Peter’s intentions are good, his focus is right.

PETER’S INTENTIONS ARE GOOD…

Peter’s intentions are good, because they are faith based.  He is eager to go where his faith will take him.  Even if it is into risky and dangerous places.

          Faith often prompts people to go to where it is risky.  And where it is dangerous.  We are to risk putting our personal security aside, so that we can go and do what God intends.  We are to trust in God and let God deal with the danger.  We see that again and again…

          []

So for Peter and for us, having good intentions is a plus.

 

AND PETER’S FOCUS IS RIGHT…

Peter’s focus is right.

          His focus is on Jesus.  He learned with the boat and the walking on water incident, you have to keep your eyes on Jesus.  When Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he walked on water.  When he looked away from Jesus, he began to sink.

          "Look beyond the danger" "look to Jesus"

          As you head into a new day. …Look to Jesus.

As you head into a new responsibility…Look to Jesus.

As you head into a new challenge…Look to Jesus.

As you head into a new season of life…Look to Jesus.

          The goal and focus of Jesus’ ministry

-      with those disciples for three years…

-      with each disciple who has come along since then…

-      with you throughout your unfolding years

-      and even unto today…

The goal and of Jesus’ ministry is that you will Look to Jesus.

-      Look to Jesus the source and center of your faith.

-      Look to Jesus the church's one foundation.

-      Look to Jesus your only hope and help:

-      Look to Jesus.

Now, at that moment of their conversation in the upper room, Peter was determined to keep his eyes on Jesus.

          How could he know that in a few short days, he would be quaking in fear when people in the courtyard of [] identified him as one of Jesus’ followers?  How could he know that when the chips were down, he would crumble?  Peter did not know how soon his boldness and bravado would be put to the test.  And how miserably he would fail that test.

          Listen to Jesus: “Will You Really Lay Down Your Life For Me?”

          Will you?

          Really?

          Jesus knows what no one else knows.  Jesus knows how Peter will react to the charge that he is a disciple of Jesus. 

          The question is, how will each of us react?

-      Do we know?

-      Are we as certain as Peter was…

He is the fellow who said, “Even if we must die with you—Jesus—we will not desert you.”

          Yet before very long, Peter is the one who denied Jesus three times.

 

The question is, how will each of us react?

Do we know?

Can we know…?

Being a Christian means that we are being called by God into unfamiliar situations.  Places where we feel as unprepared and as valuable as Peter did in the courtyard. 

          Such moments feels a bit scary, because there is so much uncertainty attached to it.

          What will happen if I do this or that?

How will people react?

Certainly Peter thought that he would be in grave danger if they knew for sure that he was one of Jesus’ disciples.

          A few days before, there he was among friends and wonderful fellow-disciples, and the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus and things were great.

They could all agree, what a fantastic ministry that we have.

          Then, in what seemed a twinkling of an eye, it all changed.

          Familiarity has a certain comfort to it.  But it seems that when we go with Jesus we are always going in the direction of the unfamiliar.

          We are going on wilderness journeys, or mountaintop  heights, or raging storms, or any number of situations that could catch us off guard.  We are asked to step out in to the fearful places, the unfamiliar places. 

          We know it is a risk— and we sense that it can be a good and faithful thing to do.

          The question is, how will each of us react?

Do we know?

Can we know…?

 

Jesus knows how every one of his followers will react in tight places. 

 

Have you been watching Downton Abbey?  One of the character is Carson, who sort of runs the servant part of the stately home.  Carson is concerned with every detail of how the house functions so that it ser4ves the owner and his family well.  He is also concerned about the large staff, that they know their work and do it well.  Carson is famous for maintaining traditions.  Carson is also famous for being reluctant to have innovations…the telephone…radio…

          Carson is a good servant, and almost a great servant.  If only he were not so reluctant to take on the new and next assignment…

          Bible says that we are Jesus’ servants.  Servants, God assigns for this or that kind of service.  Servants, who go and do as it seems best to God. It can be a great privilege and honor to have been assigned here of there. 

          Most importantly, though, we are to be ever-ready for that next assignment.

I suspect that in many of our lives, right now, Jesus is hanging out our next assignment.

          Are we ready?

          Jesus tells Peter that the immediate future is going to be a letdown.  And he tells peter that the more distant future will have great challenges.

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.”

[]

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will;

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low, and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but have to sigh;

When care is pressing you down a bit—

Rest if you must; but do not quit.

 

Success is failure turned inside out;

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;

And you can never tell how close you are

It may be near when it seems so far—

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—

It is when things go wrong that you must not quit.

(Anonymous)

 

 

 

 

 

“HAVEN’T I CHOSEN YOU?” – IX. “WHEN JESUS ASKS”


“HAVEN’T I CHOSEN YOU?” – IX. “WHEN JESUS ASKS”

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Sermon by The Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles

Psalm 107:1-3; John 6:68-71

 

Jesus asks an important question.

Who does the choosing?

Do we choose to follow Jesus?

Or does Jesus choose us?

 

Follow the line of thinking in the Bible passage today and we tend to lean toward the answer

 

Jesus Chooses Us.

 

But we know our own thoughts, heart and mind.  Just like we know our own features. 

Or at least we THINK we know our own features.

But do we?

You know years ago, before there was photography, we did not really see ourselves as others see us. 

That was the point of an old poem by Robert Burns

Would the porw full gift …

The gift e gee us to

See ourselves as other see us…

Back then, before photography, we saw ourselves in a mirror, which is what:

A mirror image.

A kind of a likeness, but totally flipped from left to right from what everyone else saw.  And so a distorted view.  Recognizable.  But not right. 

Now you understand this is an illustration of a larger point.  That we really do not know everything about ourselves. 

But we know enough to get by from day to day.

We become used to our thoughts and our feelings and our likes and dislikes and our point of view on the world, and we suppose that it is a true likeness. 

Just as in the way that …

We become used to the way we look in the mirror, and we suppose that it is a true likeness.  But it is only true so far.  If you had a mirror image of a dollar bill, you would see at once it is not right, and if you took it to Bells or Target, trust me, you could not spend it. 

The same – to some extent – is true of us.

 

 

That is not to say that we are not obsessed with how we look.

We do have photography now, and we are more accustomed to looking at ourselves as we are.  But I have heard many people say that’s not me.

Not only do we have photography, but with cell phones we have this other phenomenon called the Selfie.

We are the Selfie Generation.

We take photos of ourselves in almost every imaginable situation.

I have seen selfies of people bungee jumping and sky diving.  Selfies of people on tops of buildings and at the bottom of the ocean, selfies of people with famous people and selfies of people at splashy events.  We want to record ourselves with it all.

Some of you may even have selfie-poles, so that you can get more into the frame of the picture.  A Selfie of you with the Grand Canyon. The great Plaines, the entire Golden Gate bridge, and so forth.

Selfie… 

It is good in its way.  But here’s the thing about the selfie generation.

 

All this Posing And Posting has a tendency to turn us all into narcissists.

-         Where the world and everything in it revolves around us. 

-         As if it is all about us.

If we come to Jesus from that point of view it is literally deadly.

What do I mean?

When we become so fixated upon ourselves; we leave no room for the Lord.

So we think to ourselves:

“I chose Jesus, Jesus did not choose me.” 

This mistaken notion makes perfect sense to us; because we have filled our frame with ourselves, and there isn’t any place for the LORD OF LIFE.   Jesus is somewhere outside the frame.  We are the big picture.

It is as I say deadly.

As deadly as what happened in Colorado not long ago.  To members of the Selfie Generation.

DENVER— A pilot who lost control while taking selfies was likely the cause of a small plane crash that killed two men this past spring, according to federal investigators.

Pilot Amritpal Singh, 29, and his passenger were killed instantly when Singh's Cessna 150K crashed into a wheat field shortly after midnight May 31. The wreckage was discovered around 7:30 MT that morning.

A GoPro camera mounted to the plane's windshield recorded Singh and several other passengers taking selfies on their cell phones during a series of short flights before the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board found. While the GoPro didn't record the flight where Singh crashed, investigators portrayed a pattern of the pilot taking selfies and possibly texting while giving rides to passengers above Front Range Airport, about 30 miles east of Denver.

Singh's plane was about 740 feet above the ground when it descended rapidly and hit the ground.”

It is horrible to think that by focusing so much one one’s self, one can actually die. 

But there is a whole long sad list of similar situations.

Last year – all over the world –

-         A woman in Spain – fell from bridge – while talking a selfie.

-         A Polish man and woman taking selfies at the cliffs of Cabo Da Roca in Portugal on August 11th, fell to their deaths, as their children watched in horror.

Now these sad events point to a theological truth.

The point is not be careful when you take a selfie.

The point is Be Careful Who You Are Focusing On In The First Place.

 If we are spending all of our time focusing on ourselves, then sooner or later, it is not going to end well.

Jesus says, “Haven’t I chosen you?”

We need that sense of chosen-ness.

To know that we belong to him, because He wants it that way,

Jesus wants us to be in the framework of the world he is creating, which is so much bigger than the Selfie world.

The letter to the Ephesians reminds us that “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy ...”

We respond, and this is the point in which we say, we have chosen to follow Jesus.  But before that, the holy spirit was acting in our lives to bring us so the point of saying we want to follow.  God is always the prime mover, the first to choose the first to invite the first to make a place for us.  We are the ones whose calling it is to answer yes, to respond we will follow Jesus, to commit ourselves to the way of Christ.

If we were to ask ourselves what the strategy of the church of Jesus Christ is in the 21st century.  The answer is this.  The strategy of the church in the 21st century is the same as it has been since day one for 20 amazing centuries.  The strategy of the church is very simple, and very wonderful, and very powerful and very profound.  It is to tell the story of what Christ means to you, and to welcome otters to join with you in the journey of faith.

So draw the circle wider than a Selfie.  Draw it wider that you have imagined it till now.  It is just as Jesus says.  Jesus does the choosing.  We are called to invite people in the firm conviction that they are chosen to be among his followers.

You see there is another place in John’s Gospel where Jesus makes this point clear.  It is in John Chapter 15.  It goes like this:

 

You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

 

Do you know why God loves you the way God does? It’s not what you think. It’s more than you think. It’s because whatever we are, or whatever we are not, God welcomes all that we are, loves all that we are, and invites us in.

Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I have called you friends.”