Randy's Reflections
December 1, 2014, 11:00 PM

Pastor Randy's December Reflection



We have just finished reading, discussing and preaching our way through The Story.
It took us eleven months to complete its 31 chapters. Some of us got bogged down in the history section;
some of us became confused with the law section. It is interesting that three quarters of the Bible is
comprised of the Old Testament, yet many of us prefer reading the New Testament - possibly because it is much easier to relate to and to understand.

Nonetheless, this year we at John Knox Presbyterian Church walked through the entire Bible.
This is an amazing accomplishment. If you didn’t finish it, at least you started it and gave it your best shot.
Yet, we Christians aren’t supposed to simply read the Bible. We are also supposed to live the Bible.
We are challenged to incorporate the message of the Bible into our daily lives, for we may be the only
Bible some people read. That may seem like an ominous task. How can we ever hope to adequately convey the
message of love and sacrifice found in the Bible? How can we ever hope to be the people God
has called us to be in the midst of all our responsibilities, concerns, and struggles? There are
times when we feel like we have succeeded in being patient, kind, and loving to those who don’t
deserve it. There are times when we have really been generous with our time, talent and treasure,
even when it means giving up something we so desperately long for. There are times when
we have truly walked the walk, and not just talked the talk. But then, someone comes to us and
tells us we just aren’t good enough. In times like that, we feel utterly alone. We feel we have
failed our faith. We may even feel that we have been more a detriment to the Christian message
than an asset to God. Yet we also have Jesus’ promise: “And surely I am with you always, to
the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). God is with us. We ARE NOT ALONE.

No matter who you are, no matter what you have done, no matter whose expectations you don’t
live up to, Jesus is there for you. Jesus can right any wrong, Jesus can heal any hurt. Jesus can
and does walk with you through any valley that is lined with your enemies. This one of the reasons
we celebrate Christmas. We need to know that God sent his Son not only to guide us, but
also to love us as we are. People may not understand you. People may pick at you. People may
be disappointed in you. But Jesus is not only our Lord, our guide in following the right path; Jesus
is also our Savior. He picks us up when we fall, dusts us off when we are falsely accused,
embraces us when we feel alone. This Advent season I hope you will know and believe that God
is for you, even if others speak against you. God offers his unconditional love, even when others
say you are not worthy. Each of us is made worthy by His love. Take heart from knowing that He
died for you so that you may have new life, and life abundant, forever. This is the True Story.
Blessings to you this Christmas. And may you never turn from the warmth of God’s embrace, for
you are not alone.

 

Peace to you, Pastor Randy




November 20, 2014, 12:00 PM

Randy's Reflections "All Accounted For"



 

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.

    Psalm 147: 4

 

 

    I like early morning walks. It seems quieter. It smells fresher, especially after a rain. I am more alert. So Tuesday as I was walking I noticed the trees along Amador Valley Boulevard. I noticed that each tree had a one inch diameter metal tag on it, kind of like a dog tag. As I looked closer I saw that each one, though I only looked at three, had a different number. 

    I think they are numbered so if there is a problem with one of them the city maintenance department can know where they are located. If there is an emergency the city can rush to which ever one is in need. Each tree, at least along Amador Valley Boulevard, is accounted for.

    Yet so are we. God knows each of us. Just as God knows each star in the heavens, so God knows each of us. God is ready to listen to our concerns and joys. So whenever you feel like you are all alone, not noticed, or have no one who tells you how special you are, know that God wants you to know he is there for you.

    God is aware of all your struggles and all your joys. God is longing to hear from you and knows you by name. Be encouraged for he is there ready to walk with you, be it late in the darkest of nights or early before the sunrise. God is there for each of us and not just as a number but as a person, a person that is loved by the most amazing God there is.

 

    Blessings, Pastor Randy

 




October 31, 2014, 3:00 PM

Pastor Randy's November Reflection



No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.
~ St. Ambrose         

 

I have a pumpkin on my desk from the John Knox Co-op Preschool.

I have party hats on my stuffed dog and giggly toy. I had crepe paper strewn from bookcase to bookcase – “had” because I needed to be able to walk to my desk and back without doing the limbo every time I left the room. I had balloons on chairs, the floor, and my desk. All this was because the staff wanted to thank me for being their “boss.”

Of course, there is a certain amount of tolerance necessary on the staff’s part for us to be able to work together. They have to be willing to put up with my quirkiness, and vice versa. I must say this is a phenomenal staff to work with. There is a willingness to step up when things need to get done, and I haven’t heard any grumbling about having to work here.

The same is also true of our congregation, the people who regularly attend worship and events at John Knox Presbyterian Church. When things need to get done, there is usually someone who will step up to do them.

We have regular events that require work from a large number of people, like our Vacation Bible School event with the carnival the Sunday before and the Picnic Celebration the Sunday afterwards, as well as the entire week in between, with crafts, snacks, games, Bible time, and assemblies. There is also the Easter celebration with special music, special decorations, and greeters and ushers for two services. Of course, this is preceded by our Advent celebration, which starts with the First Sunday of Advent worship time and concludes with two Christmas Eve services.

Every once in a while we have a special event like hosting the Presbytery meeting, a time when people from up to 75 churches come for a six hour meeting, including a meal. Or when we had our Fiftieth Anniversary celebration. Or when we had our “first ever” Neighborhood Barbecue, when we distributed over 1,000 flyers throughout our neighborhood inviting our neighbors to join us for food, fellowship and fun, though we only let the younger folks enjoy the bounce house.

Recently, one of our cast iron gates was sticking and someone offered to fix it; it was done the next week. When we needed the bench around our courtyard tree repaired, it was competed three days later. We hosted a potluck for Pastor Lumu, a pastor from the Congo, and people jumped in to bring food, set up, and clean up afterwards. We have people tending flowers, and providing funds to upgrade our rooms with paint and pictures. Sunday School could not happen without those who answer the call to teach children, youth, and adults.

There is so much I am thankful for in this church. Yet I hope that as we learn to be thankful for each other, we will also be thankful to God. If we are grateful for each other, it behooves us to offer our thanks in words or actions to each other. But if we are thankful to God, then the best way to show our appreciation is to share what we have with each other. I don’t mean the sharing that exacts little sacrifice, but sharing that means giving our time when it seems most inconvenient. Or sharing our talents when our energy is so precious to us. Or sharing our financial resources, even when it means not getting the return we had hoped for.

As we move into this season of Thanksgiving, I hope we can all not only appreciate each other a little more, but we can also give evidence of it by sacrificing our opinions, our convenience, our resources. In doing so, we will exemplify God’s greatest gift to us, His Son, for the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of life in its fullness both now and forever.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1: 3-6

 

Grateful for your faith in our God, 

Pastor Randy