Evident Faith

I’m glad that we began our worship this morning with “A Mighty Fortress,” one of Martin Luther’s most famous hymns, because today we are going to dig into the Letter of James which Luther deemed “an Epistle of straw” when compared with the letters of Paul and Peter.

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Jesus in the Storm

We so often like to imagine that Jesus is off somewhere holy and pristine not getting mixed up in our messy lives. We like to imagine Him contained and not going all the places that we go. The reality is that where you go Jesus goes as well. Whether you are doing church things and serving or whether you are off carousing in ungodly ways there Jesus is. We often want Jesus when we want Him and we want Him to remain in a box or separate place to only see us in our cleaned up Sunday best. Jesus shows us to today his great love and willingness to show up in the midst of our lives.

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Sent

How long is a long time? When your parents were born? The Civil War? The Declaration of Independence? Martin Luther? The formation of the Grand Canyon? Even before that, Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians, he chose you before the foundation of the world.

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Overflowing Generosity

The Psalm today says, “Hallelujah! Happy are they who fear the Lord and have great delight in his commandments!Their descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in their house, and their righteousness will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the upright; the righteous are merciful and full of compassion.” Our Psalm today encourages us to fear the Lord in a way of respect and realize that God will provide for our needs. The righteous trust that God has a good plan and will provide for them. The righteous look to the ways of the Lord and find it a good and trustworthy place to be. The righteous pass down their faith and generosity so that the generations of people will continue to be a light to those around. The righteous are to be merciful to those around them so that the love of Jesus might be seen in our actions and our lives and that we the Church would be known for our compassion. The righteous are to have compassion for others and not harden off their hearts to the needs of others.

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Panic and Peace

Panic is often our response in the event of a threat. Remember the toilet paper shortage of 2020 or the gas shortage a few weeks ago. Everyone feels the need to stand up for him or herself, to guard against danger, to make sure that they are not the one left with the empty roll of toilet paper. It is certainly good to be prepared, especially now that we are in hurricane season, but panic and anxiety can get exhausting. This is why it is so comforting to know that Jesus is Lord of our circumstances as well as the one who is able to bring peace to our anxious hearts.

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The Tallest Tree

Virgin forests once covered 78% of Florida’s land. By 1937 only 21% was forested. Today, through reforestation efforts, the number has risen to 47%. But these new, younger trees are not nearly as big as the old growth trees were. One such tree, the Senator, was estimated to be 3,500 years old in 1993. Before a hurricane removed its top in 1925 the tree stood 165 feet tall. It was the 5th oldest tree in the world and the largest tree east of the Mississippi. Its trunk was 17.5 ft in diameter. The tree was destroyed by a fire lit by a 26 y/o drug addict on January 16, 2012. Today the charred remains of the tree are only 20-25 ft tall. In the readings for today, a number of nations are compared with tall trees that rise to prominence. Ultimately, all of these trees meet their end, but the Kingdom of God will stand for ever.

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The Letter in the Envelope

In his Second Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul says that he (and we!) are like common clay vessels into which God has placed the treasure of his Gospel. Why would God choose the weak and unimpressive (you and me) to be bearers of his message? Because the power is his not ours. He doesn’t want the letter to be lost in the envelope.

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Palm Sunday

It is in the nature of God to profoundly love us even though we are broken, lost, and often make bad decisions. It was profound love for you, me, and all of humanity that Jesus took upon the cross so many years ago so that we might know the way to the Father. Jesus’ gift of being willing to suffer so traumatically for all of us was meant to set us free from our brokenness and free from our addictions and free from our thoughts of worthlessness. Come and see that the Lord is good this Holy Week.

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Listening to the Lord

This past year or so has felt much like a long season of Lent. For many of us we have given up so many experiences, times with family and friends, activities we used to enjoy, or even just feeling like things are normal. It can be very tempting to focus on everything that is different and yet Fr. Chris and I truly feel like it is an invitation for all of us to draw closer to the living God who wants to speak to each of you and to provide a way for you. Abraham was faithful to God and God provided a way out of His situation. God provided a sacrificial ram that would take the place of Isaac.

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