The spring I graduated from high school the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd released their classic album Dark Side of the Moon. That was one of my favorites. Just last year I gave my “vinyl” to our son Jordan who enjoys listening to records on a turntable and appreciates classic rock. When he was in high school we drove from Cincinnati to Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which has a large section devoted to Pink Floyd. We’ve had fun sharing that interest, or at least he has humored his old man!
The song “Time” on Dark Side of the Moon probes the passage of years and the existential urgency of living in the present, from the perspective of a 29-year-old. The author of the lyrics, Roger Waters, told an interviewer almost a decade later:
“I spent an awful lot of my life — until I was about twenty-eight — waiting for my life to start. I thought that at some point I would turn from a chrysalis into a butterfly, that my real life would begin.” [Rolling Stone, Sept. 16, 1982]
What an important and regrettable insight: “I spent an awful lot of my life … waiting for my life to start.” Here’s one of the ways he expressed that in the lyrics:
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
I was marinating in such music and lyrics during my freshman year of college when Jesus fired the starting gun for my new life. I was nineteen, and I did not miss it. The Lord helped me understand I was already alive in him. He gave me focus and prompted me to move forward, so I wouldn’t “fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way” – another line from “Time.”
So, how does following Jesus impact our experience of time? That’s the underlying question for the message this Sunday, “Times and Time.” If you read ahead in Acts 3:17-21, you’ll see Peter tells the temple crowd that by turning to God they can expect “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” And because of Jesus they can anticipate “the time of universal restoration.” In his own way, Peter is telling them “don’t miss the starting gun!” He wants them to experience all the moments and the eternity that God has prepared for them.
I hope we get to spend time together this Sunday at North Lake. And I look forward to sharing forever with you, refreshed and beloved in His presence.
The last time I was reading Acts 3 devotionally this phrase perfect health jumped out at me.
“And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.” Acts 3:16 (NRSV)
Maybe it caught my eye because of all the rancorous debate about healthcare in our country. Or maybe I noticed it because as a pastor I’m aware we have hundreds of health-related prayer requests within our congregation. Or maybe I underlined perfect health because my joints and waistline are daily reminders that I’m not in perfect shape myself.
Peter used the phrase perfect health (in Greek it’s holoklería, a compound word that means “whole in every part”) to describe the lame beggar who had been raised to walk and leap about, praising God. In the aftermath Peter was explaining the wondrous healing to the astonished Jews at the temple. The source of the miracle certainly wasn’t our power and piety, he said of John and himself. Such perfect health was only possible in the name of Jesus.
For years we’ve heard about the advantages and the failures of Obamacare. Currently our national legislators are locking horns over the future of healthcare and what many are already referring to as Trumpcare. I’m not going to raise my voice or head in the middle of that fray. Anyway, I’m a proponent of Jesuscare, which sets perfect health as the standard. I want you to sign up for Jesuscare; and I promise, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”
You can read more about it in Acts chapter 3, specifically the testimonial in verses 11-16. Jesuscare is named for the “Author of life” who himself was raised from the dead. That’s a pretty good starting point for a health care system!
I hope to see you this Sunday at North Lake. Or you can catch the message next week at our website – northlakepc.org. In the meantime, in the name of Jesus Christ may you experience what it means to be whole in every part!
Maybe you heard about the call that went out over the walkie-talkie: “Can we have some underwear to court 18?”
It was another underwear violation last week at the Wimbledon tennis tournament with an all-white dress code. Tournament supervisors had to intervene at least twice to insist that players change their underwear before proceeding with their tennis matches. No hint of dark or colorful undergarments is permitted on the stately, dignified lawn tennis courts of the All-England Club in Wimbledon, London.
The traditional dress code dates back well over a century. Historically it was even more stringent, as the photo of the 1908 women’s finals shows. How could they even move in those outfits, competing for a tennis championship? When American Gussie Moran scandalized Wimbledon in 1949, showing up in a new designer tennis outfit with a shorter skirt and lace visible around her thighs, the All-England Club officials accused her of “bringing vulgarity and sin into tennis.”
Once we humans have decided our standard of good and right, we are typically reluctant to tolerate violations or exceptions. When we deem something truly beautiful and noble, we don’t want anything to tarnish or diminish its beauty.
First century Jews had their magnificent temple in Jerusalem, the house of the Lord built by the unscrupulous King Herod. Of course he was welcome at the temple regardless of his villainy. Royalty had its privileges. But anyone lame—basically anyone with a physical disability or obvious blemish—was not allowed to enter the temple. It would have been a violation.
Some persons with apparent defects would get as close as possible, hoping to beg from the worshippers entering for daily prayer. One advantageous location for beggars was on the steps outside the gate called Beautiful. What a notable and sad contrast: the elegant, colossal bronze gate that opened to the holy ground of the Jewish faith … and the steps littered with deformed, helpless, impoverished souls.
That was the scene for Acts 3:1-10 where Peter and John accomplished the healing of a lame beggar. In the name of Jesus Christ and by the hand of Peter, God did something truly beautiful at that gate. This Sunday at North Lake Presbyterian Church I invite you to “Come to the Beautiful Gate” with me. And you don’t need to worry about the dress code!
Red is the color to wear to church this Sunday, symbolizing the tongues of fire associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:1-4). The roomful of disciples had been waiting together in Jerusalem as instructed by Jesus, following his crucifixion and resurrection. The Risen Lord had told them they would receive the power to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Meanwhile, Jerusalem filled with pilgrims from all over the Middle East. Pentecost means “fiftieth” in Greek. For the Jewish people, Pentecost was a pilgrimage festival that came fifty days after the Passover.
On that Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended and was poured out upon Jesus’ followers. They emerged from the house to share the good news of Jesus Christ in the crowded streets. Peter got the attention of thousands and addressed them, leading them to faith and baptism. The Church was born!
Pentecost is a joyous celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the church. This Sunday at North Lake we also observe the sacrament of communion. Sharing in the Lord’s Supper is a perfect way to connect the Passover feast (when Jesus was crucified) with Pentecost, when the Church came to life.
May the Spirit of the Living God fall afresh on every one of us!
Dr. Jeffrey A. Hosmer
North Lake Presbyterian Church
Lady Lake, FL
In worship this Sunday at North Lake I want to share a four minute video, an excerpt of a longer interview done by a television station with a WWII veteran. Russ Schuster was the commander of a PT boat in the English Channel in the summer of 1944, including D-Day and the Normandy Invasion. Russ died three years ago at the age of ninety-two. He was a beloved member of the congregation I served in Cincinnati. Russ was incredibly handy and resourceful. He had built his own home in wooded lot on the cul de sac at the end of our street. For many decades he was the “first string” church craftsman, tackling countless improvements.
Russ was also a dear friend who helped me with numerous projects in our home, big jobs like a complete kitchen renovation and a bathroom makeover. I loved working alongside him. I learned so much from him. Sometimes, when he was in the right frame of mind, he would talk about his service and friends in the Navy, including sixteen in his squadron who were killed in one incident with a German minesweeper in 1944.
People like Russ Schuster help us appreciate the significance and the depth of emotions attached to Memorial Day. The survivors (battle comrades and family members) help us all to remember and give thanks for those who stepped into the fray or onto the boat to protect our freedom. How important it is to remember!
Our Christian faith remembers and celebrates the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus Christ for our freedom. Indeed, many places in scripture emphasize the importance of remembering and passing along the memories. Let’s consider some of the implications in Sunday worship as we read Joshua 4:20-24. These five verses pertain not to a battle but to the crossing of the Jordan River, an historic event to be remembered and celebrated from generation to generation.
If you are in Central Florida this weekend, I would love to see you at North Lake on Sunday. Wherever you are, may it be a time for reflection and gratitude.
Dr. Jeffrey A. Hosmer
North Lake Presbyterian Church
Lady Lake, FL
Neuroscientists tell us that deep inside our brains are two almond-shaped structures called amygdala (from the Greek word for “almond”). They are centrally and symmetrically located in a circuit system that processes memories, decisions, and emotional reactions. While researchers are still investigating and debating the precise wiring and functions in this part of our brain, for decades they have recognized that the amygdala are essential to our experience of fear. They help us to remember, identify, and avoid fear-inducing stimuli. The amygdala are in high-alert mode when someone is watching a horror movie, or is surprised by a snake, or gets too close to an alligator!
Fear is one of our most natural and primal emotions. We share fear with all of God’s creatures. In fact, a person who has no fear whatsoever is considered to have a brain malfunction, probably in the “fear center,” the amygdala. This is analogous to those who feel no pain. The lack of ability to feel pain (such as in leprosy) is a dangerous dysfunction in the human body. Similarly, the complete absence of fear indicates that something is broken in our human wiring and self-defense system.
But wait a minute. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid!” In fact, he said it repeatedly. And I have read that some form of the imperative “Fear not” occurs 365 times in the Bible, one for every day of the year. I’ve never personally counted them, but I’m sure it’s in the hundreds. So … is Jesus telling us to turn off our amygdala? Do the scriptures direct us toward a malfunction in our natural “fear center”? I don’t believe so, but that’s a question we will examine together this Sunday at North Lake.
If you want to get a head start, you can read Psalm 118:4,6 and Luke 12:4-7. Let’s consider the difference between healthy fear and unhealthy fear. Can we have a healthy fear with our be-not-afraid faith?
I hope to see you on Sunday morning. Bring your fears with you. If you say you have no fears at all, I’ll be skeptical and God knows better. God created us with the tiny almond-shaped amygdala that go haywire when we are in a “fight or flight” moment of distress. So bring your fears with you, and I’ll have mine, and we’ll set them before the Lord as an act of worship.
Jeffrey A. Hosmer
North Lake Presbyterian Church
Lady Lake, FL