pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Hope Rising

Reading: Lamentations 3: 1-9 and 19-24

Verse 22: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail”.

In a prayer calendar that I am using in this coronavirus season, the author titled today “Silent Saturday”. Life does go on outside my office window – I can hear the birds singing and occasionally a car passes by. But when I read Lamentations 3 and when I think of how the disciples and Mary and the other followers of Jesus must have felt, it feels like a silent Saturday.

Most scholars believe that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations just after the destruction of Jerusalem. In verses one through nine we can sense the pain and grief and mourning of the author. The writer feels cut off from God’s presence. He feels as if God were shutting him out. For the disciples and for many of us in this pandemic season, they must have related to these words just as we can relate. Feelings of isolation and of doubting God can become so real. As we read verse twenty we can feel it: “My soul is downcast within me”. Today feels like a silent Saturday. Some days it is good to sit in that place. Today is a good day to do so, to connect back to that room of fearful and grief-stricken followers of Jesus Christ.

Even though it is good to remember and to spend some time there, we do not have to remain there too long. As verses 21 through 24 unfold, we are reminded as Jeremiah was: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail”. We too have hope. The disciples and followers had to wait for Sunday morning. They did not yet know. God came to Jeremiah and brought him “new mercies”. He experienced God’s great faithfulness. The disciples will. We do.

Today is also called Holy Saturday. This day reminds us of God’s goodness to humanity and to each of us. In the brokenness of today we can begin to sense the hope rising. We can begin to sense the unfolding of God’s plans that are good and wonderful. As we do so, may we rejoice in the goodness and mercy of our God.

Prayer: Merciful God, today feels hard. The isolation and separation feels ratcheted up due to what I fear is a hard decision about tomorrow. Mother Nature may be intruding on our plans. But maybe that is part of your plan. They are always greater. Help me today to be guided by prayer and by your Holy Spirit. Amen.


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Amazing Grace

Reading: Psalm 80: 1-2 and 8-19

In our passage today the people of God find themselves outside of relationship with God.  The vine that God planted and grew in Israel, that God allowed to prosper because of divine protection, is being attacked by their enemies.  The wall has been laid waste and the people perish.  The psalmist cries out to God on behalf of the people and asksGod to “awaken your might, come and save us”.  The Psalm ends with a promise not to turn away from God again, but it is couched in the if-you-save-us-first provision.

When the people were with God and God was with the people, life was good.  Israel grew and prospered.  But they allowed the people they conquered to influence them and soon enough Israel was bowing to false gods, to foreign idols.  And soon the Israelites looked up and realized that God was angry with them.  Maybe at the time their promise not to turn away again was sincere.  Maybe they did truly desire to return to full obedience to God.  Maybe they were desperate enough to mean what they pledged.

At times we too find ourselves in a bad spot.  As with the Israelites, it is because we have turned away and have chosen earthly idols over God.  It is because God is no longer our priority that we feel God is distant.  But God is only distant in our minds.  The living presence of God, the Holy Spirit, is still right there trying to work in our lives.  Unlike the Israelites, we have a personal connection to God through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We also have Jesus as our great high priest in heaven.  He who became flesh knows what it is like to be human and Jesus stands between God and us.

Like the Israelites, we too stumble and we too fail.  But thanks be to God for the Holy Spirit, the power of God dwelling in us, ever drawing us to be more and more like Christ.  God’s mercies are new every morning and God’s love never fails.  Praise be to God that this sinner is still loved and still welcomed always into the family of God.  For this amazing grace we say thanks be to God!