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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United Through the Spirit

In Acts 2:14, the Apostle Peter quotes from the Prophet Joel saying “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Instead of us building a tower up to God (as the People in Babel did in Genesis 11), God bridges the gap and comes down to us. We approach God through repentance and faith and he pours out his forgiveness and mercy upon us and washes us clean in the water of Baptism.

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Sunday After Ascension

Jesus is the way of God, God revealed directly into our hearts. There is none other, no other redeeming Savior. It is in the way of Christ, who leads us, shows us the grace and love of the Father. In Him we are set free, to know Him, His truth in us. He is not distant, nor hidden; He is always before us. Ever present. He is before all time; He is eternal; his promise is fulfilled in the way of life.

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What is Love?

The Apostle John says that “God is Love.” It is important to note that he doesn’t say this the opposite way “Love is God.” The order of the words makes a big difference. Some have made a God out of love. That is putting the cart before the horse! As one commentator says, “Love does not describe the fullness of God, but God defines the fullness of love.”

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Rejoice all the earth!

Amen, and I say let our spirits Rejoice! For We are wonderfully and uniquely made in the image of our loving God; and therefore I am assured that we have within us, the raw capacity to love, serve, protect, and care for one another; but we, in our corrupted nature, often struggle to move in the way of love, or fully discern, the way of truth and that of a pure heart, from those competing voices, of our flesh and our self-interest and the world. So, when we consider the precepts of God, that call for us to love one another, how would we say we are doing?

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Good Shepherd

Why should we follow a Shepherd when we can make our own decisions?
When we follow the Shepherd he will show us how to live so that we can have calmer and more peaceful lives. Jesus longs to give us His sheep lives that reflect Him and bring His glory into the world. How might God want to stretch you and change you for His glory? How might God want to bring you closer to Him? Perhaps you can’t quite imagine being on the shoulders of Jesus. Perhaps you feel not ready or not good enough to be that close. I have a secret to share none of us are worthy enough but He delights in showing us mercy.

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What Have You Seen and Heard?

A witness is someone who has personally observed something. John was one of the Apostles who lived with and observed Jesus. He saw Jesus die on the cross, and he was also a witness to the resurrection. I was not there to personally witness the resurrection, but I can rely on the testimony of John and others and I have personally seed evidence of what God has done in my own life.

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Locked Doors

To say that “no one locks their doors here” is a badge of honor for many communities. It is an expression of confidence in the safety of the neighborhood. I once lived in such a community. When my parents first moved there, there was not even a lock on the door! Today I always lock our doors before going to bed. I bet you do too. I don’t think there is anything wrong with locking the door to your house but is worthwhile to consider whether you are locking danger out or locking yourself in.
For Jesus’ disciples, it was a little of both.

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