I’ve posted this before, but it’s still true and this time I have the citation.
“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition, and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” — Stephen Colbert 
 Comedy Central: The Colbert Report, 2010. https://on.cc.com/3m9VYFy.
I came across the following words of G. K. Chesterton quoted in a tweet: “The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.” I did a little digging and found the context and the quote gets even better. It comes in the context of an introduction to the book of Job found in the Old Testament.
“The other great fact which, taken together with this one, makes the whole work [the book of Job] religious instead of merely philosophical, is that other great surprise which makes Job suddenly satisfied with the mere presentation of something impenetrable. Verbally speaking the enigmas of Jehovah [God] seem darker and more desolate than the enigmas of Job; yet Job was comfortless before the speech of Jehovah and is comforted after it. He has been told nothing, but he feels the terrible [awe-inspiring] and tingling atmosphere of something which is too good to be told. The refusal of God to explain His design is itself a burning hint of His design. The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man. ”
 G. K. Chesterton, Introduction to the Book of Job (Titus Books), Kindle Edition.
A keen insight on the nature of joy from Henri J. M. Nouwen:
“Joy does not come from positive predictions about the state of the world. It does not depend on the ups and downs of the circumstances of our lives. Joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world in which we live is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world. Jesus says it loudly and clearly: ‘In the world you will have troubles, but rejoice, I have overcome the world.’ ” 
We can rejoice even during the tough times because we know that in the end, “God’s light is more real than all the darkness, that God’s truth is more powerful than all human lies, that God’s love is stronger than death.”  I pray that you may find joy.
  Henri J. M. Nouwen, Hear and Now: Living in the Spirit (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company), 39-40.
Reading for a sermon, I came across the following explanation of how the idea of resurrection emerged in ancient Israel.
“In ancient Israel, the idea of resurrection had not first emerged out of a general conviction that there must be life after death. People were content to believe that, if you lived to a ripe old age and had many descendants to carry on your name, that added up to a good life. Some sort of shadowy existence might continue after death, but it was not the focus of their faith. Resurrection hope arose in the context of belief in God’s justice. Some good people, faithful Jews, did not lead long and happy lives. They suffered and died young, and they might not have any descendants at all. . . . If God is just, then death cannot be the end of these people’s stories.” — William C. Placher 
Jesus Christ is risen. His story continues. In him our story can continue.
 William C. Placher, Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 92.
An unknown number of sermons ago, I made reference to Hebrews 12:14 which reads, “Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” I know that this passage has worried some people. My former professor, Hal Knight, had this wonderful explanation from the Wesleyan tradition:
Now if you do not feel you are holy as Jesus is holy, do not be discouraged. The Holy Spirit is at work in your life and you are growing daily toward that goal. And you will receive it, at the time of death if not before. So have faith in Christ and be open to receive all that God has for you this day, as God continues to make you into the person you were originally created to be, one who loves as God loves.
I just thought I would share. Open yourself up to all the grace God offers you this day, but do not be discouraged, and do not be afraid.
“Each of us faces pain, no two ways about it. But I firmly believe that in every situation, no matter how difficult, God extends grace greater than the hardship, and strength and peace of mind that can lead us to a place higher than where we were before.” — Andy Griffith 
Being a Christian doesn’t mean we don’t experience hardship and loss. It does mean that God is with us no matter what comes our way.
 Griffith, Andy. “Guideposts Classics: Andy Griffith on God’s Grace.” Guideposts, April 27, 2020. https://bit.ly/36HWlzy.
A prayer for the day From Thomas Merton
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 
Amen. We all have to face perils, we do not have to face them alone.
 “The Merton Prayer,” Reflections, accessed June 11, 2021, https://reflections.yale.edu/article/seize-day-vocation-calling-work/merton-prayer.
I stumbled across this quote while I was upset with someone.
“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
It’s widely attributed to Dorothy Day, but I haven’t been able track it down for sure. I am quite certain the timing of my stumbling across it can be attributed to the Holy Spirit. Lord, help me to love you more. Amen.
Wise words from Henri Nouwen:
Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us. 
I don’t know about you, but I need to practice choosing joy.
 Henri J. M. Nouwen, Here and Now: Living in the Spirit (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1994), Kindle.
A quote for Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
“I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. I’ve seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens’ Councilors in the South to want to hate, myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.” — Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 
 Martin Luther Jr. King, “Where Do We Go From Here?,” in The Radical King (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2016), 175-176.
You can read the speech online, but I would warn you that this is not the “safe” King you learned about in school. Link: http://stanford.io/3ircGh3
ON SALVATION — Reading for my sermon, I found an excellent summary of the biblical understanding of salvation by Justo L. González. Here it is:
The meaning of the word “salvation,” both in the New Testament and in the common usage of the time, is much fuller than we often imagine. Salvation means healing, liberation, freedom from the bondage of sin, promise of eternal life, and several nuances of each of these themes. Thus to say that Jesus is “Savior” means that he frees the people from all evil, including sin, eternal death, disease, oppression, and exploitation. If we do not see all of this as yet, it is because the work of Jesus has not been completed—the reign of God has not yet come to its full fruition. 
That last sentence is important. It names where we are in the story.
 Justo L. González, Luke (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 36.
A bipartisan word of encouragement: