Reflection on Luke 20:27-38: An Invitation to Rethink How we Treat One Another

November 3, 2016

 The tone of Luke’s Gospel shifts after Jesus enters Jerusalem. Upon arrival he enters the temple and drives the merchants out of the temple courts, what ensures is a showdown between Jesus and the religious authorities. The Sadducees’ question about the resurrection is the third of a series of questions that challenge Jesus. His answers flip the table on the conventional religious wisdom of time the same way he flips the tables of the merchants.

The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection or afterlife. To prove how absurd they think it is they create a hypothetical situation based on the levirate marriage law of the Hebrew Bible. Under this law if a married man died without children it was his brother’s duty to marry his wife in order to have a son and carry on the family line. In theory this could happen until all the brothers and the woman die. “So Jesus,” the Sadducees ask, “when we all get to heaven, who is she married to?”

To understand Jesus’ answer we must forget everything we know about modern marriage. In the ancient world, marriage was a property transaction. The man pays the bride’s father and essentially buys his wife. When Jesus says, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage” (v 34) he means men marry and women are given to men. But in the resurrection no one will be given in marriage.

Jesus flipped the social norm of marriage on its head, women will no longer be bought and sold in marriage. In the world Jesus envisioned there is no need for women to have the protection ancient marriage afforded at the cost of losing autonomy because we are all children of God (v 36).

Often times I point out how we still deal with the problems of corruption, greed, injustice and anger Jesus took on during his ministry to this day. We still have much work to do helping God bring in God’s kingdom, but in some ways humans have made progress. In Western society we no longer treat wives as property, we have developed marriage as a union between two persons to celebrate the love they share and the faithfulness of God to God’s people. In a way we are beginning to live into the resurrection.

 Unfortunately, not every marriage is a celebration of God’s vision of relationship. One in three women and one in four men are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. These women and men are in need of a new life, a resurrected life, to escape the cycle of abuse. Let us also remember the hypothetical woman of the Sadducees’ question. Her body was used by seven men whose only purpose for marrying her was to have a son. I’m sure she was ready for a resurrection of her life into a new life.

In the resurrection, the future God has planned for us, humans will not use other humans nor will they disregard the value of another’s body. May we today be people of the resurrection and see everyone as a child of God “like the angels” (v 36) and may we speak up for those trapped in cycles of abuse who need a resurrection in this life.

Grace and Peace

Pastor John              

Reflections on Luke 19:1-10: Can You See It?

October 27, 2016

Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus as he passed through town, but to understand why this man would go through so much effort to see Jesus we must look back to where Jesus has been.

The lectionary skips several verses from last week to this.  We miss four stories about Jesus between the Pharisee and tax collector and Zacchaeus. In the first (18:15-17) Jesus tells the disciples to “let the little children come to me” (18:16). Then Jesus speaks to a rich ruler who wanted to know how to inherit eternal life (18:18-30). Next Jesus predicts his death a third time (18:31-34). Finally Jesus restores the sight of a blind man 18:35-43).

Jesus’ prediction of his death sets the narrative on a crash course with Jerusalem, but before this story can reach the cross and empty tomb something still needs to be revealed. The disciples don’t understand what Jesus tells them because it is “hidden from them” (18:34). It is no coincidence that the next character we meet is a blind man. The disciples are in the dark about the kingdom of God in the same way this man is just in the dark.

The irony continues as the blind man that was healed on the outskirts of Jericho now joins the crowd in Jericho that prevents Zacchaeus from seeing Jesus. Neither Zacchaeus nor the blind man could see Jesus at first, but both make their presence known in their own way. The blind man by shouting, Zacchaeus by climbing. Jesus sees these men who cannot see him and despite grumbling from the crowd outside and inside Jericho both men experience salvation. There is something about Jesus that makes people go out of their way to see him.

In Jericho, the last stop before Jerusalem, a great truth about Jesus is revealed to those who can see it. Even the little children, even the poor, even the rich, even the blind can see Jesus when the disciples cannot. The vulnerable, the over looked, the despised, the people lost in darkness even they can see Jesus because of the salvation he offers. We may think we see Jesus, we may think we know who Jesus is or what he looks like, but has Jesus opened our eyes? Let us cry out with the man who is no longer blind, “Son of David, have mercy on us” (18:39).

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John     

Reflection on Luke 8:1-14: Justice for Them, Mercy for me?

October 20, 2016

As we saw with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) Luke likes to use stories with conflicting messages back-to-back to demonstrate the balance required in discipleship.  The Good Samaritan is a story about going and doing while Mary teaches us to sit and listen.  Both doing and listening are required to be a true follower of Christ.

Now with these two parables about prayer, Luke creates a tension between two seemingly opposing concepts, justice and mercy.  The persistent widow demands justice from the corrupt judge and receives it.  The tax collector begs for mercy from the God of the universe and receives it.

We want justice when we are the one who has been wronged.  Just as God delivered the Israelites from the injustice of slavery in Egypt God delivers us from injustice.  People mistreat one another, they can lie, steal, and cheat.  When we are victims we know that we will be justified by God because God is a just God. Everyone who sins is accountable to their sins.

But when I am the one who has done wrong I don’t want justice, I want mercy. We want life to be fair, unless we are the ones with an advantage.  I don’t want to pay for what I’ve done, I want to be forgiven. The tax collector is no different, he wants mercy for his sins.  I’m sure that all the people the tax collector has cheated over the years don’t want him to receive mercy, they want him to pay them back, that would be the fair thing to do.

Yet the tax collector is justified because he confessed his sin and repented. These two stories teach us about the vastness of God’s sense of justice. We struggle to fathom the never ending depths of God’s grace. When tax collectors exploit widows we expect God to be on the widow’s side. Yet God’s grace is too awesome to choose a side. God brings justice to the widow and mercy to the tax collector when he repents.  

This is the good news and challenge for us: when we hurt others God forgives us and when others hurt us God forgives them. Thank God life isn’t fair and we don’t always get what we deserve. Yes, God justifies the righteous, but God also justifies the unrighteous which is great news for a sinner like me.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John  

 

        

   

Reflection on Luke 16:19-31: Black Lives Matter

September 22, 2016

Regardless of your political views it is appropriate to pause in a time of lament while so many mourn the loss of life. Terence Crutcher of Tulsa and Keith Scott of Charlotte are two more black persons who died as a result of an encounter with police officers. These are two different cases and each case is different from the cases of other black men such as Michael Brown, Philando Castile, and Eric Garner. The events that lead to their death are each surrounded by different circumstances and details that may never be known by those who were not there. However they are each part of an alarming trend that black men are less safe than others in confrontations with police officers.

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man is unable to see the value of Lazarus as a person. Even after death he calls on Abraham to send Lazarus as a servant to quench his dry tongue. Even in the agony of Hades the rich man cannot say Lazarus’ name. The rich man only address Abraham and expects Abraham to order Lazarus around.

Notice that while Lazarus is named the rich man is not. Just as the rich man could not dignify Lazarus by using his name the rich selfish man is not dignified with a name. In death their roles have reversed, Lazarus is comforted and the rich man is nameless and afflicted. The rich man’s sin is not acknowledging the humanity and value of Lazarus.  

The cry of the protesters around the nation, “Black lives matter,” is not a cry to negate the value of white life, it is a desperate plea to elevate the value of black life to that of the white population. In the same way feminism has not elevated the status of women over and above that of men, but it has sought to create an equal playing field for men and women. The affirmation that “Black lives matter” is an affirmation that black people are of equal intrinsic value as all children of the Living God. To truly believe that all lives matter requires the belief that black lives matter.  

The rich man could not name Lazarus, but I name these dead black men, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Terence Crutcher, Keith Scott not because I know they are completely innocent of any wrong doing, but because they are humans of value created in the image of God. No one created in God’s image deserves to be killed regardless of the situation.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John

Reflection on Luke 16:1-13: What is Wealth?

September 15, 2016

The Parable of the shrewd/dishonest manager is one of the toughest stories in the Bible to grapple with. We like our Bible stories to come wrapped in nice bows with three points and a story. Luke’s attempt to summarize this parable is “you cannot serve God and wealth” (v 13).  However the story is about a dishonest manager who further cheats his master to secure his own well being. When the master finds out he commends the manager for being shrewd. Praise for dishonesty and a lesson about God and wealth, as is the case with many small towns in North Carolina, you can’t get there from here.

This text is case in point that scripture does not have one clear-cut answer. There are many lessons to be had if one is willing to take the time to dig. One lesson several commentators have gleaned from this passage over the years is the use of wealth to build relationships. After all that seems to be the lesson Jesus gives “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes” (v 9). 

What is wealth? Wealth is a tool, a means to acquire provisions. As it was explained on a recent episode of the NPR podcast Plant Money, money allows us to evaluate how much value we put on an object. In other words if there is something we need more than the money it will cost, we buy it. Wealth provides a common language between buyer and seller. 

Wealth is a tool and how we use it matters. It can be used to acquire more wealth through investments, it can be used to provide for our own needs such as shelter and food and our own entertainment. Wealth can also be used to help others. It can be used to build relationships through commerce. But if your wealth isn’t serving you, you are serving your wealth.  

This lesson in verse 9 is troubling. Could you imagine Jesus telling the disciples to use dishonest wealth to make people like you? It could instead be part of the rich man’s commendation of the manager or it could have been added by Luke in an attempt to find a lesson in Jesus’ confusing parable. But even though it is troubling it does make us ask ourselves the question how do we use our wealth?

Do we use our resources to help only ourselves and our church? Or do we use them to make a difference in the lives of others, to build relationships not with the wealthy who will owe us back, but with the poor who can never repay us.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John  

Reflections on Luke 15:1-10: What Is Lost?

September 8, 2016

Jesus taught primarily through the use of parables, which was common for Jewish teachers of his time.  Today, most church goers are familiar with the parables, especially the big ones: the Good Samaritan, the prodigal son and the sower. Familiarity with the parables can cause them to lose some of their bite. Some interpretations make the parables monochromatic and reduce them to one lesson, love your neighbor, God welcomes us home when we stray, not everyone will respond to the gospel. Yet if we can tease our minds into letting go of the lessons we already attach with the parables it opens up a new world of possibilities for hearing the gospel.

When you read the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin perhaps you automatically make some assumptions about the characters. You are the sheep who wonders away, God is the shepherd who comes after us. I invite you to step away from this reading.  Where else could you fit into this story?

What if you are the shepherd or the woman? Through our baptism we are all called to be witnesses for Christ, to seek and to save those who are lost. The woman and the shepherd search diligently for what is lost, wondering through brambles and tearing through furniture cushions. How can you be like them? Go to the brambles and the cracks in the back of the couch. The places of pain, and hurt. Look for those who need a message of hope and love and invite them to come back into the margins of society.

These stories state that there is celebration over a repentant sinner, but does repentance take place in these stories? Sheep are notoriously dumb. Because a wondering sheep would not be aware of its situation and perhaps confused when it hitches a ride on the shepherd’s shoulders, I doubt a sheep has the ability to repent. What about the coin? Can a coin, and inanimate object repent? Does it even have a reason to repent? No, through no fault of its own (perhaps through fault of the woman) it is lost and needs to be found.

As you go through your week as the Shepard and woman searching for what they have lost, widen your search beyond lost sinners. Take a moment for inventory. What have you lost? Who have you lost? Where can they be found? Reach out to someone who you have drifted away from or perhaps lost all together. God rejoices with us when we find what is lost.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John    

Reflection on Hebrews 13:1-8: Do We Let Scripture Ask the Tough Questions?

August 27, 2016

Some biblical texts have a verse that will hang heavy in the air if it is not addressed during a sermon. Not acknowledging the uncomfortableness or awkwardness such a verse creates can prevent listeners from hearing the intended message. There is an example of a distracting verse in this week’s lectionary epistle.  

In the conclusion of Hebrews, a letter written to a young church in conflict, the writer is gives final instructions to the listeners. Out of the blue the writer drops the line, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (v 4). Compared to the instructions of “keep loving each other,” and “remember the prisoner” this line about sexual immorality can cause us to squirm and blush in our pews, and it distracts from the rest of the sermon if is not addressed from the pulpit. Since I want to focus on the other instructions in this passage, that is the shalls instead of the shall nots  I will take some time now to break down verse 4 to give us space to focus on a different message during worship. 

In my experience if it is a policy then it has been a problem. In other words you don’t write down a law or policy until someone has broken it. The writer of this letter must have felt there was a need to address infidelity in marriage in this community. Remember that this letter was not written to us 2,000 years latter so we must be careful about taking it as a direct instruction, but this admonishment is a pretty straight forward command, remain faithful in marriage. I don’t know nor do I intend to know any intimate details about the marriages of the members in my churches. I don’t know if this verse will strike a nerve with anyone. That is why I hope to address it in this space.   

My wife and I have only been married for three months, so I do not claim to be an expert on marriage, but this verse invites all of us to take a look at our marriages. How are you and your spouse? How well do the two of you connect on an emotional, spiritual, and physical level? This verse asks the deep, personal question, is there something you’re not telling your spouse?

The passage gives us this warning, “God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Look closely here at who the text says will judge. It does not say the church will judge, it does not say you will judge, but instead God will judge. Scripture calls us to live to a high standard of ethical and relational living that we will each fall short of. We as the people of the church cannot cast out or shun others whose practices do not live up to biblical standard. If we did there would be no one left in the church.

May this verse remind you of scripture’s ability to challenge us and hold us accountable. May it remind you of the introspection required when we read scripture.  But may it also remind you of the grace of God and the spirit of hospitality we are to show to everyone as the people of God.

 Grace and Peace,

 Pastor John

Reflections on Jeremiah 1:1-3: Context Matters

August 18

When we read scripture today, we tend to skim over lists of names and places. The words are hard to pronounce and we have no idea where these places are. Perhaps that is why the lectionary reading for this week skips Jeremiah 1:1-3 to get right to the meat of Jeremiah’s call story (v 4-10).

Verses 1-3 are what is called the superscription (super, before; script, writing). In a way it is a two sentence prologue to the book. It tells us who is speaking, where he is speaking, and when he is speaking. Skipping this material is like walking into a movie late, you can get the idea of the plot but you miss some of the meaning and nuances without the background.

For example, we learn that Jeremiah is the son of Hilkiah a priests at Anathoth. Jeremiah is a PK (preachers kid), familiar with the inner workings of the temple and the Israelite traditions. Latter in the book his own family of Anathoth priest will plot against Jeremiah’s life. Without the superscription we do not have the detail that it is his own people who are out to get him.

We also learn that Jeremiah has heard his call during a tumultuous time in Jewish history, the time leading up to the Babylonian exile. Spoiler alert: here in the superscription we are told that the “people of Jerusalem went into exile” (v 3). Over the course of Jeremiah’s prophecy Judah goes from its best years under King Josiah to its defeat and exile.

The superscription serves as a reminder that this book was not written to American Christians in 2016. These words were written in a different time that we cannot understand. We are not familiar with the religious traditions of the time. We do not live with the same political systems that were jockeying for power and land in the area around the Mediterranean 2,500 years ago. This means we must study the historical context surrounding the text or we could misinterpret it.

However this text has been passed down to us through generations of Jews and latter Christians who believed these words reflected the will and knowledge of God. If they do not have a message for us today what good is it to have in our cannon? Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, study of generations of scholars, and personal reflection we can glean a message from this ancient text that is as new as the morning and as old as the one who creates each day.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John  

 

  

Reflections on Isaiah 1:10-20: Do we Worship When we Leave.

August 11, 2016

 Isaiah deals with theological themes such as the sovereignty of God and the importance of doing justice. Throughout the book God tells the people, particularly the wealthy to stop mistreating the poor, the widows and the orphans. As time progresses closer and closer to the invasion from Babylon the prophet warns the people that their behavior will soon lead to their demise.

 The section for today the people are offering the proper sacrifices and offerings, and even participating in extra worship services, yet God threatens to turn away. Why? It is not because they aren’t singing the right songs. It’s not because there are typos in the bulletin. It’s not even because the sit in the same pew each week. God is angry with the people not because of what they are doing in the temple, but what they aren’t doing outside of the temple.

 The exact sin of the people is not specified, but it’s clear the remedy for such sin is helping the oppressed, defending the orphan, and pleading for the widow. Their worship is empty because it does not reflect their actions.

 How often do we participate in idol worship like those admonished by Isaiah? The idols of self, greed and power. Wanting more for ourselves without concern for those without. But more importantly how often do we participate in idle worship: spinning our wheels at the altar, revving our engines in praise only to sputter out the other six days of the week.

 Even in the midst of this scathing critic of the people God pauses to offer words of hope. “Though your sins are like scarlet they will be white as snow.” When we are unfaithful to God, God remains faithful to us. When we turn from God, God does not leave us. We are called to seek justice and defend the orphan, but we are not able on our own to make up for our shortcomings. It is only through God’s grace given to us through Jesus’ sacrifice and through the example of Jesus’ life and teachings that we are able to do justice.   

 God wants our worship on Sunday mornings. God wants to hear us sing praises and give prayers of thanksgiving. But it cannot stop at the church doors. God wants our worship on Tuesday morning at the office speaking up when we hear a coworker slinging insults. God wants our worship Thursday afternoon as we great everyone we see, even the homeless, with a friendly hello, how are you? God wants our worship Saturday evening as we give up some of our free time to read with or tutor a child who needs a solid role model.

 May our worship be sincere from Sunday morning to Sunday morning. May we seek justice everywhere we go.

 Grace and Peace,

 Pastor John    

 

Reflection on Luke 12:13-21: Are you a Hoarder or a Saver?

August 3, 2016

I’ve always been more of a saver than a spender which is why this passage makes me a bit uneasy. It seems to discourage saving. The saver in the story is called a fool. But maybe we should think of him as more of a hoarder than a saver.

 After a particularly bountiful harvest this rich man wonders where he will store his crops, so he has a little talk with himself. It is clear this man is focused on number one. He refers to himself six times: Here’s what I’ll do, I’ll tear down my barns, I’ll store all my grain. The only one who benefits from his wealth management strategy is him. “I’ll say to myself, you have stored up plenty…enjoy yourself” (v 19).

 This is in contrast to the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. Joseph tells Pharaoh that his dreams mean there will be seven years of good harvest and seven years of famine, then he suggest that Pharaoh store up the excess grain of the first seven years to use during the famine. But here is what separates Pharaoh’s barns from the certain rich man in Luke 12: Pharaoh’s barns are open to the public.

 There is a difference between saving and hoarding. Saver’s save so they can use their possessions latter. Hoarders hoard because they love their possessions. We must remember that stuff is stuff and people are people. We should love people and use stuff. We become greedy when we love stuff and use people.

 John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, taught, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” In today’s society of consumerism and instant gratification sometimes we forget to save. It is difficult to help others when you, yourself are in debt. The parable of the rich fool should not discourage saving, but it should serve as a reminder of why to save. Save more not so you can have more, but so you can give more.

 Relationships are more important than barns. Nowhere in the bible are we told to love our stuff. But cover to cover we are reminded to love God and to love our neighbor and our strangers. No matter how much you have saved in your bank account or barns you can always love.  

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John

 Note: many ideas form this reflection came from my best friend Philip Younts and from the Pulpit Fiction podcast.  

 

Reflection on Hosea 1:2-11: A Strange Command and Dangerous Words. 

July 28, 2016

From time to time I come across a bible passage that makes me think, "Why do we give this book to 1st graders?" The book of Hosea is one of those passages.

 In the opening of the book God commands Hosea to "go marry a prostitute... for the people of the land commit great prostitution by deserting the Lord" (1:2 CEB). Hosea marries Gomer who comes to represent the people of Israel who have deserted God for idols. Latter Hosea threatens to strip Gomer and expose her (2:3). This is a graphic book filled with violent depictions of punishment towards this woman. When teaching this passage to children, or anyone, great care must be taken to explain the cultural setting in which it was written.

 I am blessed to have children at Warren Plains UMC who enjoy participating in worship, including reading scripture. However this week I have asked an adult to read this passage. I am not worried that reading such a scripture would shock the child (yet I took that into consideration). I am more concerned about the shock an audience may have hearing a child say prostitute in church. Yet rather than ignore this scripture, it is important that we talk about it in church. If we continue to shun tough topics in church such as sexuality and violence found in the bible the church will continue to lose relevance with culture.

 There is a lot to unpack with this scripture, and I invite you to listen to my sermon on this passage from July 24 [here] where I go into more detail, but one important thing to address is the difference in translation of this passage between the Common English Bible (CEB) and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). I tend to preach from the NRSV because it's what I used most in religious studies. The translation remains true to the original language and the editors include inclusive language when referring to a group of people (using "brothers and sister" when other translations read "brothers"). But for this passage I want to look at the CEB.

 While in the CEB translation God commands Hosea to marry a "prostitute" in the NRSW Hosea is to take a wife of "whoredom." While this passage was intended to shock the audience, using the word "whore" in church may actually be enough to send people into shock. "Whore" and "whoredom" are pejoratives that add a layer of misogyny that I wish to avoid with this text. The important part of this story is the unfaithfulness of Israel, not the inappropriate sexuality of Gomer.

 The story of Gomer and Hosea is a metaphor for Israel's unfaithfulness to God. This is further shown in the CEB by the translation of their children's names not in Hebrew but to their English meanings "No Compassion" and "Not My People." But we must remember that at the center of this metaphor are either real historical people with real emotions or representations of people who have value as human characters. The story of Gomer should never be used as biblical permission for violence against women, nor is it an example of God condoning the practice of prostitution.

 This story shows us that God is so hurt by use when we stray from God that it is like when a husband strays from his wife. Even when we stray from God, God is still faithful to us. "And in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' it will be said to them, 'Children of the living God'" (1:10).        


 

Reflection on Colossians 1:15-23: A Hymn to Remind Us Who is in Control.
July 21, 2016

The primary reason we sing hymns is to praise God, but we often overlook the rich theology of our hymns. Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley the founder of the Methodist movement, conveyed the theology of the Methodist through hymns that we still sing today nearly 3 centuries later.

 There is evidence to suggest that this passage of scripture originated as a hymn. It is unclear whether this hymn was added by Paul as he wrote the letter to the church at Colossae, if Paul modified it to fit his message, or if it was modified and added later by a follower of Paul. The hymn is similar in style to a psalm with the repetition of verbs and themes called parallelisms. Ex v16 "for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created,...all things have been created through him and for him." Pauline churches would have been familiar with the Psalms.

 This hymn also makes connections with Proverbs. Proverbs 8 is a poem personifying wisdom. "The Lord created me as the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth" (Prov 8:22-23). This hymn refers to Christ in a similar way, "the firstborn of creation" (Col 1:15).

 Why is this important? Woman Wisdom is seen in Proverbs as with God in the beginning of creation helping God to bring order from chaos and continuing to maintain order. In Christian theology Christ as the second person of the trinity maintains the same role as Woman Wisdom. The Word brings order to the chaos and is an agent of God creating and renewing the cosmos.

 The hymn asserts that Jesus is both firstborn of creation and firstborn from the dead. Jesus is both the first in creation and reconciliation, and also sovereign over creation and reconciliation. The Word of God was active since the beginning of time. The Word became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth 2,000 years ago to take up the unique role of reconciling creation and bringing peace to all.

 Today it is difficult to see good in creation or order amidst the chaos of consumerism, racism, poverty and self service. Even so this hymn reminds us that God is at the center of it all, and that God sent Jesus to us to renew creation.      

 As biblical scholar Andrew Lincoln writes, "So, although it defies present empirical verification, we confess that what holds the world together is not the survival of the fittest or an unending cycle of violence but the reconciliation and peace of Christ.

 So when you are overwhelmed by images of hatred, poverty, and brokenness at home and around the world remember the name of the one who is at the center of it all. When it looks like the world is falling apart remember the name of the one who holds it together. When violence and bigotry surround you, remember the name of the one who died to bring peace. When victory seems like a distant reality, remember the name of the one who was raised from the dead to bring us victory: Jesus Christ, The Word of God made flesh.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John

  

 

 

 

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