Day 21

Moses

When we read of a divine appearance (fancy word: epiphany), we often think of something dramatic — trumpets, smoke, fire, angels — all the Cecil B. DeMille stuff. But Gen 12 mentions none of that.

So how did Abram recognize God while Abram was on his journey to who-knows-where? He recognized God enough to hear the promise and to build an altar. But, how did he know it was God?
We don’t know. But I suspect the appearance was subtle — someone was there around the bend in the road. . . someone joined the caravan . . . someone needed help by the side of the road . . .
Jesus gives us a hint, Asked, “When did we see you . . .?” Jesus responded, “As often as you did it for one of the least of these, you did it for me” (Matt 25:40).
If you wonder when you might see God in all the challenges we are facing on this journey, look around for someone who needs your help. You might catch a glimpse of God in the person you are helping, and that person might catch a glimpse of God in you.
Peace be to you,
Dr. Schuler

Day 20

How many more miles?

Ok, there is no book of Hezekiah in the Bible. There is a king by that name, but he never said anything about Abram. Still, as we approach the end of the third week of this journey we have growing sympathy for the child in the back seat of the car whining to its parents, “How many more miles?” There is no agreement among experts other than that the pandemic will be bad, take a long time, and we have no idea about the route back. This trip is no vacation!

But travel we must, even as did Abram; and trust we must, even as did Abram; and whine we will, even as did Abram (see Gen 15:2!).
But God stuck with Abram. And God kept promising, “Don’t be afraid, Abram, I am your shield” (Gen 15:1). After all, God had made a covenant with Abram (Gen 15:18).
But we have something better, a new covenant “in my blood,” said Jesus. It is a covenant unlike that with ancestors like Abram. For God writes it on our hearts (Jer 31:33).
So, “let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1) and maybe restrain the whining a bit.
Peace be with you,
Dr. Schuler

Day 19

Good SamaritanThe Parable that Jesus gives in Luke 10:29-37  is answering an important question that a young man had asked Him. “Who is my neighbor?” God does not require that we love our family and our friends. He does not require that we love those who have something to offer us in return, whether it be of material or social value. No, God’s love has no partiality, it loves the weak and the strong, the proud and the meek. And this is the way our love ought to be as well. It is easy to love those who love you and have something to offer us. But is this kind of love really love?  

Jesus answers the young man in a parable. A man was on his way to Jericho when he is striped of all he has and is severely beaten by robbers. A Levite then passes by seeing him half dead, but goes by the other side. After all, what has this half dead man to offer the Levite in return? He is without any material goods left to give as a reward, and due to his condition of being half dead, it looks like he will not be able to render any useful labor either. So why help this man? The Levite has no obligation to help him, so he passes by.

Is this love? Or did this Levite practice a kind of hypocritical love towards this poor man? The answer is all to easily for the modern reader. Of course! You exclaim; if the Levite had any love for his neighbor, he would have helped him without any hope of reward. 

But you already know where I am going with this. Do you also love like this Levite? Is it loving to horde food supplies for yourself when others will need those same supplies? Or is this a case of out of sight, out of mind? During the spread of corona various, we ought not to go by the other side. We live in this world to help others, God does not need your good works, your neighbors do. What better way to show forth God’s selfless love for us, then during this time!

So think of others. Wash your hands so that you may protect others, even if you don’t know who it might harm if you don’t do so. Buy only what you and your family need, knowing that other people need those same things to, even if you will never meet those people and they have nothing to offer you in return. 

Nash

Day 18

Sometimes a long journey gets looooong. We are only at Day 18, but… Bingeing on Netflicks and surfing the web can only get you so far.
Ancient people often sang together to pass time on a journey. For example, Psalms 120-134 are often labelled the Song of Ascents, as these Psalms were sung on the journey up to Jerusalem.
In our house, we have a song and it is fitting for the journey we are on. It is by Audrey Assad and is titled “How Can I keep from Singing?”  Here is the first verse and chorus:
My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation,
I hear the sweet, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing
It finds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?
Hear the song on YouTube:

BTW, it takes about 20 seconds to sing . . . a better hand washing song than “Happy Birthday” x2.
Peace be with you,
Dr. Schuler

Days 15-17

altar

I pray that all of you are settled, safe, and spiritually supported as we enter into a seemingly dangerous part of this journey. Let’s keep in touch and keep supporting each other.

My weekend took a dramatic turn as I was called on to step in, preach, and produce the first recorded online service for the congregation of which I am a member — Jehovah Lutheran LCMS in St. Paul. It was the first time we would not meet together. With the help of four very talent people (Tim our organist, Libby our music director, her husband Bruce, and the other Dr. Schuler), we prepared the service, produced the digital product, and launched a new website https://jehovahlutheran.online. We had a lesson from Abram of “building an altar” while on the journey.

These words from Gen 12 remind us of the need to attend to the spiritual side of life especially during these days. I hope you have reconnected with your church at home. I encourage you to drop in on daily chapel from CSP at https://facebook.com/cspministry. Prof Lewis is holding an online session of Fridays. And I think I heard that 908 is active virtually as well.

Besides social distancing and washing your hands, putting yourself in God’s hands is part of the journey. Remember, those hand were pierced for you. And if you need a reminder, Holy Week is one week away.

Peace to you,

Dr. Schuler

Day 14

Our journey to a place “that I will show you” began just two weeks ago. How the world has changed since then. 531,000 infected worldwide with the largest number of infections in the USA. Stay-at-home orders are going out. Streets and grocery shelves are emptying. Seems like we have entered a dark valley.

But God promises to “show you” the way to the end of the journey. His Word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. God sent Jesus as the Light of the world. And Jesus empowers you to “so let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16). 

There is plenty of light in these dark times. Bask in it. Share it.
Peace be with you,

Dr. Schuler

Day 13

EO-2020EO-20-20 was issued in Minnesota today. Beginning at 11:59 pm on Friday, the Governor of Minnesota has ordered all residents of the state to “stay at home” (with some exceptions).

I expect that stores will be stripped over the next couple of days. It is a time of worry and potential strife.

Abram experienced strife between his household and that of Lot as they journeyed. And so they separated themselves from each other (Gen 13:9), an ancient version of social distancing!

And it was in that very context that God again reiterated his promises to Abram (Gen 13:15-16).

It is to the promises of God that we also cling in times of strife and separation. God always keeps God’s promises. The ultimate proof is Jesus.

No politician or government spokesperson can match that.

The Peace of Christ be with you,

Dr. Schuler

Day 12

a tentFor bedouin, one’s home is wherever one pitches a tent. A pitched tent marks a pause, a stop on the journey. In Abram’s case the location was near Bethel, meaning ‘the house of God.” There Abram called on the name of the Lord.

There are now almost 420,000 COVID-19 confirmed cases in the world. Many have been (or will soon be) instructed to “shelter in place” (aka pitch a tent and stay put).  We hope that by so doing we might slow the spread of the virus and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed. So, we pitch our tents (and wash our hands).

The good news is that ” the Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us” (John 1:14). We are not sheltering alone, even if we are scattered from friends. His tent is among us and he will never leave us. Remember how the tabernacle of God (a glorified tent) was always pitched in the middle of the Israelite encampment during the 40 year in the wilderness. We are only at day 12. God’s staying power lasts at least 14,600 days (365 x 40). [I don’t think this blog will last that long.]

Blessed camping . . .

Dr. Schuler

PS: I am still looking for celebrity bloggers to write for the blog.

Day 11

Our travels are, for the most part, concluded. We are back home, or in a temporary placed we are calling home. I too joined in this aspect of the journey as I moved my office (part of it, at least) home and am fairly well settled by now.

From our scattered locations across the land, we are attempting to continue our educational task online (and finding out that home internet is not nearly as good as CSP internet, when the latter is working properly). I too had issues today with the wifi receiver on my desktop not functioning properly (replacement part of order from Amazon).

One student told me she missed seeing people’s faces (yes, we keep the video off to save bandwidth). I miss them, too. So, if you are getting a little bored, reach out through Google Hangouts or during my office hours (https://officehours.markschuler.com). We can use the video then!

JOurneys of AbramWhen Abram arrived in the land of Canaan (Gen 12:5), his journey was not over. His travels would take him through the land and down to Egypt and back. His journey had only just begun. To remind Abram that the Lord would stay with him, God appeared to Abram and repeated the promise (Gen 12:7). Abram built an altar and worshiped God. This part of the story reminds us of the reciprocal aspect of our journey.  God keeps repeating the promise and we keep worshiping God.

Admittedly, the worship part is a bit hard, with so many churches in virtual mode. But if Abram can build an altar, we can build connections with the faithful, even in these times.

Do so. It is part of the journey.
Cordially in Christ,

Dr. Schuler

Days 8-10

Madi's backyard
Madi’s backyard at home

It was move out day on Friday for students at CSP.  The campus is a ghost town. I, too, joined the effort, as I have been advised to move my office home.  We worked until 9:00pm on Friday and I will be busy moving today and tomorrow.

So, I am combining three days of notes into one.

For this move, we have encouragement from out Lord that he gave to Abram, “Raise your eyes now, and look . .” Look at those welcoming you home; look at the messages of support from your friends; look for what new things God is about in your life.

To be on the move is a challenge, but with the Lord it is also an opportunity. Look for it.

Most cordially in Christ,

Dr. Schuler