It seems like every Fall we in the scenic Northeast get company from the West coast. It is a beautiful time of year for the out-of-town family to visit the Homeplace.

This year, two sisters have made their move back here for good. One bought the property next door, which was part of the original tract of land, settled by our great-grandparents. She and her family had decided to come home after living out West for the past 15 years. The second sister has moved into the home place with me. It has been an adjustment for the both of us, but in a positive way.

It is good to have some of the family here with me, and it is a great blessing, that in our older years, we are in each others lives again. The rest of the clan will be here for a Christmas visit...that will be a time, I can tell you!

Thanksgiving will be here in a few weeks, and I have been thinking about this month's article. I didn't want to do the typical Thanksgiving message, so I'd  been meditating on what the Lord would have me say. The thing that kept coming was about sowing love and having a thankful heart.

The Lord took my mind back to a recent message I'd heard about going the extra mile. As most of my students can tell you, I have a deep interest in our Jewish roots. When you understand the customs and traditions of the Bible, the instructions the Lord gave to Israel and the Church, take on a deeper meaning.

Our Lord was born a Jew, lived His life as a Jew, and fulfilled all the Jewish laws, as well as any customs and traditions that were in line with the will of God. During Christ's lifetime and afterward, Israel was under Roman rule.

In Matthew 5, Jesus delivers one of His greatest messages, The Sermon on the Mount. The Jews were sticklers for the letter of the law. Jesus taught the law but He also mixed it with love. He was after the motive and attitude of the heart, which was deeper than outward behavior. When Jesus taught on adultery, He delved deeper than the physical act...He told them they knew it was wrong to commit adultery, but Jesus added if a man looked upon a woman with lust, he had committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Many times, the Lord's messages seemed hard. He knew that where the mind went, the body followed. Jesus was trying to call their attention to their "stinking thinking"! He knew if the heart was pure before God, sin wasn't that big of a problem.

Matthew 5 tells us that Jesus wanted the people to go beyond the letter of the law. Since the Jews were under Roman occupation, they were subject to various whims of the army as well as the governor. When Jesus was telling them to go the second mile, He was referring to the fact that at any time a Roman soldier could command any Jew to carry his gear for him. The rule was they had to carry it a mile, and no farther.
The Jewish fathers would start teaching their sons an a young age, how far a mile was. He would take the boy out everyday and walk with him a mile away from their house in different directions, until the boy could judge the proper distance. It wasn't long before any son in Israel could judge, within 3 yards, the distance of a mile.

No matter how far the soldier had to walk, at the end of the mile the Jew would drop the burden, turn around and go home...he had done all the law required. Jesus said to go the second mile! He knew that the first mile would be done as a slave, but the second mile was an act of pure grace. It was during the second mile that love was worked into the heart...perhaps in BOTH hearts!

In Matthew 5, Jesus also instructs them if a man is taken to court and the judgment goes against him and he loses his shirt, to give the offended party his coat also. That was a hard thing to say because their coat or cloak was more than a covering from the cold, it was used as a shelter when traveling. Here again, Jesus wanted His people to go the extra mile, or pay more restitution than was due... to show the heathen that the Jew served a God of LOVE...not just law.

During this Holiday season, let us go that extra mile. When the house is teeming with people, the kitchen filled with women trying to get a big meal on the table, screaming kids running through the house chased by a barking dog, the men sitting in front of the TV watching the game and yelling, completely oblivious to everything else...when the mother-in-law is totally working your nerves, and nobody notices the gravy is burning...the baby is crying for it's bottle, and the turkey is not quite done; take a deep breath and exhale a thanksgiving prayer to the Lord for friends and family and food and freedom and the happy confusion of a crowd of loved ones. We never know if we'll get another crazy, noisy, wonderful, loving time like this again.

Have a Blessed Holiday and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Pastor Moser
November, 2007


"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you"
(1 Thess. 5:18)