Category Archives: Meditations

Meditations – February 10, 2016

By Rev. Rose M. Blank   St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions… Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51: 1, 10)

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!… I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! ” (Psalm 27: 7, 13-14)

“O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land.” (Psalm 63:1)

These are some of the psalms for the Lenten season – prayers filled with images of God’s abundant mercy and abiding presence. These ancient words of prayer are as relevant in our day as when they were penned centuries ago. They are filled with the range of human emotion that remind us of our longing and yearning for God, of our need to be made clean and forgiven, of our need to give thanks to God for the precious gift of life itself. The psalmist so aptly describes the feelings of anger, frustration and emptiness that helps us to name what is in our own heart and soul. As a wise professor once told me, these prayers are what we need when we don’t know what to say to God. They are also what we need when we have many things to say to God.
This Lenten season is a time for listening to God and praying with the words of Scripture. So spend some time in The Psalms and let the richness of their words speak to your heart. Let them fill your life with reminders of God’s never-ending love and let the words of forgiveness wash your heart anew. All this is not only for our own well-being, but it shapes who we are and how we live in the world around us so that we might embody God’s grace and mercy in a world that yearns for Christ’s love.

Meditations – February 3, 2016

By Rev. Rose M. Blank   St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City

Next week on Ash Wednesday, we begin the 40 day journey of the Lenten season as we prepare for the celebration of Easter. This season typically carries with it an invitation to intentional reflection on our spiritual life. Many people interpret this season as a somber time in the life of the church, and to a degree that is true. But it’s also a time to recognize the goodness of God’s grace that is alive in each of us – a grace that leads us home, as the old songwriter proclaims (John Newton, Amazing Grace). This same grace invites us to examine our lives and our priorities so that we might be more in touch with the life of Jesus Christ. The Lenten journey can become freeing and life-giving as God’s grace empowers us to let go of those things that bind us and consume us.
This letting go is a form of fasting which is one of the traditional Lenten spiritual disciplines. Years ago I received a list from a good friend of mine that was based on William Arthur Ward’s writing, Mind Fasting and Soul Feasting. He suggests that Lent “is a time to fast from certain things, and to feast on others. It is a season in which we should Fast from judging others; feast on Christ dwelling in them. Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life. Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify. Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude. Fast from anger; feast on patience.”
These are only some of the Fasts and Feasts on his list, but you get the idea. This Lenten journey is a time for us to be intentional in our focus on our spiritual life and well-being. During the weeks ahead, I encourage you to participate not only in this fasting and feasting, but becoming involved in other ways that will strengthen your life of faith and your practices of discipleship.
May this Lenten journey be one of growing in the grace and love of Christ. May it be so!

Meditations – January 27, 2016

By Rev. Doug Rokke   American Lutheran Church, La Porte City

New Thoughts for a New Year: Sing a New Song

“O Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.”      ~ Psalm 98:1

There are several places in the Bible where people are called on to sing a new song to the Lord. The Psalms 96, 98, and 149 all begin with this call to sing a new song to the Lord. Isaiah 42:10 also includes this thought. Usually this phrase is used to give praise and thanksgiving for something God has done. Or in the passage from Isaiah it is for something God is about to do. In either case it seems that God’s actions are worthy of offering a new song. Of course the call to sing a new song didn’t mean that they should sit down and try to compose a new song. Although in some cases new songs were written as a way of offering new praise and worship of God. But in many ways it was a poetic or symbolic call to look in a new way, or see in a new way, what mighty deeds God has done or is going to do. As we begin a new year, I thought this would be appropriate for us as well. “Sing a new song to the Lord everyone!” What would this mean in our lives? It might mean looking in a new way at our lives and at the gifts that God has given us. It may mean making a new effort to attend worship or to hear God’s word. It might be to make a change in our lives or break an old habit. There are many possibilities for what it might mean for us to “sing a new song to the Lord.” But whatever it might mean to you, my prayer is that in this new year God would give you the grace “Sing a new song to the Lord!”

Meditations – January 20, 2016

By Rev. Doug Rokke    American Lutheran Church, La Porte City

New Thoughts for a New Year: New Every Day

“So don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 6:34

Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous stress that in recovery it is important to take one day at a time. Other teachings also encourage us not to get too worried or wrapped up in what is going to happen in the future. That doesn’t mean we ignore the future, rather it is taking time to see what we need to do today. This is also what Jesus taught when he was speaking about worry. In his Sermon on the Mount he told people not to worry about tomorrow, because each day has enough trouble of its own.
In the Lutheran Church we teach something similar in terms of baptism. Our catechism teaches that baptism is not merely a one-time act, but has meaning for daily life. In Martin Luther’s Small Catechism he put it this way: “every day our sinful self with all its evil deeds and desires, should be drowned through daily repentance; and that day after day a new self should arise to live with God in righteousness and purity forever”*
As we go forward into this new year of 2016, maybe it would be a good time to try “living in the day.” Maybe our year and the things we experience will be more enjoyable if each day we turn to our faith and let today’s worries be enough for us. May you ask for God’s power to make each day new!

* The Small Catechism by Martin Luther in contemporary English, © Augsburg Fortress 1979

Meditations – January 13, 2016

By Pastor Doug Rokke   American Lutheran Church, La Porte City

New Thoughts for a New Year: A New Covenant

“Behold the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.”    ~ Jeremiah 31:31

These words were originally spoken to Israel at a terrible time in their history. The Babylonians had descended upon their nation. Jerusalem had been destroyed and people were being taken off to exile in Babylon. Everything seemed hopeless and it appeared that God had abandoned them. Yet in the midst of their most difficult hour Jeremiah offered a word of hope and promise to the people. He spoke to tell them that God would make a new covenant with the people.It wouldn’t be like the old one that they broke, but in the new covenant he would put his law within them and all would know the Lord from the least of them to the greatest.
As Christians we believe this new covenant is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For not only did Jesus bring in the new era of God’s covenant when he came to earth, but he continues to renew that covenant with each of us. As we turn to him for help in life, when we ask for forgiveness and a new start, or as we look forward to the new life to come; in all these ways God continues to make a new covenant with us through Jesus Christ.
May you see how God is working to make a new covenant with you in this season and throughout your lives.