C.S. Lewis once wrote: “God gives His grace where He finds the vessel empty enough to receive them.” St. Augustine says: “God gives where He finds empty hands.” This Lenten Season may we break free from whatever has filled our hearts so full that there is little or no room for God? In light of the recent school shootings we as a nation are forced to look within ourselves and see where our priories lie. Have we as a nation drifted so far off course that God’s hopes and dreams for our nation have drifted beyond his reach. Have we pushed God so far out of our schools, our homes, and our government that we are drifting from one golden calf to another? Have we become so consumed with material possessions and hatred that our hearts have room for nothing else? Have we as a nation and as individuals become so consumed with material possessions and violence that there is no room in our hearts for Gods’ love and grace? A love and grace that is meant to be shared with those around us. The scriptures tells us in Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Today many are living in fear while the hope and joy offered by God is nowhere to be found. This Lenten Season may we be found on our knees seeking the face of God; admitting our shortcomings and seeking God’s forgiveness. May we as individuals and as a nation turn our hearts and minds back to God? May we get back to the point where we can proclaim as the psalmist did in Psalms 34:8 – “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is he who takes refuge in him.” May we come to know the God of grace, hope, love and acceptance shown to us through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May we as individuals, as a nation and as a community of faithful followers of Christ, empty our hearts and minds enough to receive God’s gifts of grace and love so that we can be found, proclaiming – “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24). May God bless and keep us all hungry for his Word. Amen.
“Lent a season for self reflection”
This Valentine’s Day will start the beginning of the 2018 Lenten Season; the time of year when we take a close look at our own relationship with God. Many people will make personal sacrifices to remind them of the sacrifice Christ made for all of us. For many people it’s giving up something they are particularly fond of: Chocolate, soda, pizza and so forth. But as a Pastor I would like to suggest that we give up something more precious than chocolate, soda or pizza; I would like to suggest that we look at giving up time. Time spent watching television, time on our phones or computers, and then fill those voids with time in scripture, prayer, or silence as we refocus on our relationship with God. Lent would be a wonderful time to get to know God and one of the ways of doing that would be to look at the “I AM” saying so Jesus Christ, God in human form. This year Zion UCC and St. John Lutheran will once again be sharing our Lenten services and the focus will be on Rob Fuguay’s book- “The God We Can Know” exploring the “I AM” sayings of Jesus. You are welcome to join us with a light dinner at 6:00 followed by worship at 7:00 alternating locations between Zion UCC and St. John Lutheran. We will begin at St. John’s on Ash Wednesday with worship at 7:00 including the Imposition of Ashes and Holy Communion. Note: There will not be a light dinner before the Ash Wednesday service. All are welcome. God Blessings to all as we journey into the Lenten Season seeking a closer walk with God. Amen.
Sometimes things happen in life that causes us to question God. When we find ourselves in those moments let us look not to the darkness but to the light of Christ for our answers. The scriptures are full of encouraging words, that if reflected upon, will bring us from our dark place into the light of hope and promise. As a pastor I won’t always know the right words to say — but God does. His Word is sufficient for us in every situation we face, including the senseless shootings that have invaded our schools. It is during such times as these that we must look to the Lord for guidance and support. The scriptures tells us in Psalms 55:22 to “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (NIV). In those moments of fear and anxiousness we can cast our fears to the only one that can handle them and that is our Lord. When we cast our cares, our worries, and our praise to the Lord, he hears us and grants his blessings to those who claim his holy name. The Lord said, more than once, that he would never cast his eyes from his children when they call out to him. We cannot hope to change the world in which we live if we continue to ignore the one who loves us the most, our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Psalms 46:1-3 says: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though it’s waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” This passage remains us that sometimes we just have to make a choice not to give into fear. It reminds us to fill our hearts and minds with the picture of God as our refuge and our strength. and say to ourselves, “I will not be afraid for God is with me.” It is when we turn to scriptures that our eyes will be opened to the light that shines even in the darkness of life. Amen.