Category Archives: Meditations

Meditations – May 27, 2015

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

“The Holy Trinity”

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”   ~ Matthew 28:19-20 NIV

If you follow the church calendar then last weekend you would have celebrated Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and followers of Jesus. This coming Sunday we observe another festival on the church calendar which is the Holy Trinity. It’s an unusual festival because it is the only one based on a doctrine of the church rather than an event or person. The festival of the Holy Trinity celebrates the three-fold nature of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Belief in the triune God is one of the defining marks of Christianity.
Many books and articles have been written about the Trinity, but really it is great mystery that has never been fully understood or explained. Neither is that my intention in writing about this mystery of God. What I have always found interesting and fascinating about the Trinity is how God has so urgently and desperately tried to connect with us, his people. In the first place we believe he created our world all that exists, including you and I. But then in order to keep us in a right relationship with him he sent his Son. God became a human in order to know our life and all we go through. This Son gave his life on the cross in order to take our sin and shame upon him and to know the death that we all experience. Then Jesus rose up from death to show us the victory that God gives through Christ over life and death. Finally God sent the Holy Spirit so we would know the presence of Christ in our lives now and for all times.
I could go on to describe more about the Trinity, but my point is that as we look the Triune God we see how great God’s love is for us. God has done everything possible to reach into our lives and share that love for us. Certainly that is a good reason to pause on this Sunday and not only remember the Trinity, but to give thanks for all that it means in our lives. Have a good Trinity Sunday!

Meditations – May 20, 2015

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

“Memorial Weekend”

“So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever” ~ Joshua 4:7 NRSV

A memorial is a physical sign that functions as a reminder of an object or event. And so when Joshua led the people across the Jordan to the promised land he had them set up twelve stones as a memorial. In this case Joshua wanted the people who came after him to remember what they had happened at that place. He said that when their children asked what the stones were for, they could tell the story. On one hand it be the story of the people and their entrance into the promised land. But more importantly it was a story of how God had led them through the wilderness and into the promised land.
This weekend and Monday we will celebrate Memorial Day. Some return to the graves and the gravestones of family members and friends. Many places will have a service to honor those men and women who have served their country. It is a time when we will pause to remember the many stories of people and the events that surrounded their lives, their service, and in some cases how they gave their lives in service of our nation.
For Christians it is also a time when we remember what God has done. It is a time to give thanks to God for all those people He gave us to know and love in our time on earth. And it is a time we can give thanks for him sending his son to die on a cross and rise victorious. Finally it is a time to give thanks for the salvation won on that cross. Because of what God did through Jesus we have the hope and promise of entering that new promised land forever. And then we will be united with all those people we remember once again. Have a great Memorial Weekend!

Meditations – May 13, 2015

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

“Easter Isn’t Over”

“Behold I make all things new!”
~ Revelation 21:56 RSV

A little over a month ago we celebrated Easter. By now most people have taken down the decorations and put away the Easter eggs till next year. Around us the leaves are out on the trees and the grass is green. By this time of year it is beginning to look more like summer than spring. For most people the thoughts about Easter and the Resurrection are something of the past.
However, Easter isn’t over. Technically, for those who follow a church calendar, Easter continues until May 24th which is the day of Pentecost. But really the message of Easter and the Resurrection continues year round. In fact every Sunday is meant to be a celebration of the Jesus’ Resurrection. That’s why we celebrate Sunday as our holy day rather than Saturday like in the Old Testament. That’s also why the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter is really more than forty days, because Sundays aren’t counted. As I said every Sunday is a celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection.
Personally I’m glad that while the season of Easter may come and go that the message does not. So when we face adversity, when we struggle with some sin, or when we face the reality of death we can be assured that we have a risen Lord. He offers us his grace throughout our lives. And he continues to make us and all things new. May he renew your life again this spring, just as we look forward to the day when he will make all things new forever.

Meditations – May 6, 2015

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

Beginnings and Endings

“I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”    ~ Revelation 22:13 NRSV

In Revelation 22 we hear Christ’s words saying “I am the alpha and omega.” They are also used in two other places in Revelation describing how Christ and God are the beginning and the end. Initially they might point to the fact that God and Christ are behind the beginning of creation and will be the force behind the new day to come. Symbolically these words have come to mean that all life begins and ends in God. This may also ring true for all the beginnings and endings in life: we believe that by his Spirit God is present and Christ is present for all the beginnings and endings of our life.
I thought this idea of the alpha and omega might be appropriate as we enter May, because May is a month when we remember many of the beginnings and endings in our life. Mother’s Day is May 10th. Many will pause to give thanks for mothers, children, grandmothers and others who have served a role of mothering in our lives. It is a time that many will mark the beginnings and endings of time with people like our mothers.
During May many will gather to celebrate Baccalaureate and graduation. It is another time of beginnings and endings. For seniors it marks the end of high school and the beginning of a new stage in life. For parents and families it may mark and end of certain patterns of life and the beginning of a new stage for them as well.
At the end of May we will observe Memorial day. It too is a time when we remember beginnings and endings. We will remember people who were born and lived as part of our lives. But we will also mark the graves of those whose lives are over. Along with that we will pay tribute to those who served our country, and some whose lives ended in service of their country.
Well, these are just a few of the beginnings and endings in May. We could add more, like the end of school and beginning of summer. Along there are many other beginnings and endings we experience throughout our lives. But there is comfort in knowing that through all the beginnings and endings of life God is present. In fact in him all our beginnings and endings are sanctified, because as he has said, “I am the alpha and omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
May God bless your month of May. And may God sanctify all the beginnings and endings in your life.

Meditations – April 29, 2015

By Pastor Mike Gudka   St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City

We have been exploring God’s free gift of Grace (G.R.A.C.E or God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense). We have seen how God’s Grace reaches out to us before we even know that God exists. We have seen how God uses tough times in our lives to see Him more clearly and see the love that He has for us. In addition, we have explored the moment when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, and then the journey with God’s Grace to learn to fall more in love with God, with each other, and become more and more like Christ.
So what is the end game? What is the goal? Jesus told His disciples what the goal is in Matthew 5:48 (NRSV), “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” So how in the world are we supposed to become perfect?
Well let’s start by looking at the proper definition for this word “perfect.” When we translate the Greek into English, we use the Latin definition for “perfect.” And this is to be completely without blemish. But this is not the correct translation for the Greek word used in the original texts of the Bible. The Greek definition of perfection is very different. First the Greek word for perfection starts with an understanding that something was made and it has now become broken. In other words, let’s assume that you built a boat and unfortunately the boat hit a rock, got a big hole in it, and it can now no longer be a boat. In other words, you as the creator of the boat built it to be a boat, but now it is broken and cannot be what you intended it to be. But let’s say that you love that boat. So you work on it and fix the hole in the boat. So now the boat, according to the Greek word, is “perfected.” In other words, the boat has returned to being what the creator intended for it to be. This is what Christ meant when He told his Disciples to be “perfect.”
God has such wonderful plans for us, but unfortunately through sin and the tough times in this life we become broken. And God loves us so much that He wants to restore us to being everything that He meant for us to be. How awesome is that! You see God is not about just helping us barely get by. God is not about just helping us limp along barely making it as we go. Instead God is about setting us free! God is about helping us become the wonderful child of God that He intended us to be before time began! And through Grace, the Holy Spirit works to perfect us.
Now for most of us, we will not reach perfection in this life time. But don’t worry; just before our last breath God will perfect all believers, so they can be set free to stand before the Father in heaven and continue on their journey to be everything that the Creator of the Universe wants them to be.
So this is the journey of Grace. It starts when we are born and never stops until our last breath. This life has ups and downs, but God constantly reaches out to let us know how much He loves us. God always is there to establish a deep relationship with us and to continue to mold us into being something so much greater than we can possibly imagine. And that my friends is the wonderful gift of Grace – God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.