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Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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In Control

Reading: Psalm 137: 1-4

Verse 4: “How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land”?

The sin abounded, the prophets warned, the tide rose, the Babylonians arrived, Jerusalem fell, and the people were hauled off into exile. Once the world stopped spinning, the Israelites have a moment to catch their breath. It is then that they wonder, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land”?

In our modern world things change at a rapid pace. Advances in technology, science, and medicine, just to name a few, often seem to move at a pace that we cannot keep up with. At times we too pop our heads up and wonder how we got to where we are. Society and culture do have a hand in all of the change and, as a part of these groups, we play a role, each to varying degrees. In spite of that, the world can change around us in ways that we do not like or do not understand. This creates in us the sense of loss and disorientation expressed today by the psalmist.

As people of faith we tend to want to cling to the way things were and we resist change. A big part of faith is built upon our traditions. Yet when we look at the Biblical record we see two big themes of change. First, God is often at work leading us forward. God led the people out of famine, out of Egypt, out of the desert, out of exile. Jesus and the apostles continue this theme in the New Testament, leading us out of Israel and on to the ends of the earth. A second and corresponding theme is the widening or enlarging of the circle. The story behind with one man, then a woman, and soon God’s chosen family grows to be as numerous as the stars in the sky. The family gets even bigger in the New Testament as Jesus and invites in the outcasts, the lepers, the sinners. The circle gets even bigger as the apostles are led to bring the Gentiles into God’s family. In and through all of this God has been in control. God continues to be in control. God will always be in control.

As we continue to experience change, may we trust in the hand of the Lord at work in our lives and in the world. God has a plan. God is in control. May we trust fully in the God of all.

Prayer: God, help me to trust in you. Sometimes I do not understand where or why you are leading; sometimes it is not easy to step out or to keep walking in faith. Increase in me my trust in you alone. Amen.


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The Circle

Reading: Hebrews 12: 18-24

Hebrews 12 offers a new perspective on God.  The God embodied in Jesus is the same God whose voice can thunder and who can be terrifying.  God is unchanging.  What changes or evolves is our understanding of God.  Stand at the window and watch and listen to the power in a magnificent thunderstorm.  Witness God’s voice booming!  Sit with a family that has just lost a loved one who they think was not saved, witness the unspoken questions and fear.  Consider the conviction we feel when we sin.  We quickly repent and seek forgiveness so that we are back in God’s love and away from the terrifying feeling of being outside of God’s love.

Through Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit we experience God differently.  God is now more personal, more easily accessed.  Jesus and the Holy Spirit function as more open conduits to heaven and God’s love.  In Jesus the man we saw the living God, first on earth and now in heaven.  Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is “the mediator of a new covenant” where grace and forgiveness comes through His blood sacrificed on the cross.  It is a free gift to us all.  It costs us nothing.  What a change in the previous relationship!  Jesus is also the mediator that stands between us and God and with the Holy Spirit intercedes for each of us.  This is what has changed, not God.

Faith and our response to it has also changed significantly.  Before Christ’s time on earth, faith in God was seen as an exclusive thing.  Either you were part of God’s chosen people, or you were not.  Jews were in, everyone else was out.  Faith led the Jews to care for one another, to live a life of obedience to God’s ways, and to worship God alone.  Jesus changed who was in the circle.  Through Jesus, all people are chosen people.  There are no limits or exclusions to the new covenant.  There is now no Jew or Gentile, no slave or free, …  We are to be Jesus’ hands and feet, loving all people with a servant’s heart.  We are to be Jesus’ voice, offering the good news to all peoples of all nations, ever working to expand the circle, ever seeking to build the kingdom here on earth.

What role shall we play today?  How will we each be a part of widening the circle, of helping another to step inside so they too can know God’s love?