Young children learn the word “why” early, and use it in response to many statements we make to them. If we are asking them to do something, or to stop doing something that is harmful, we really can’t give them an answer they would understand. We are asking for compliance for their good. The reason comes from our experience and a view of life that they don’t have and can’t yet see. We have seen consequences to certain actions or inactions they have not. We are asking for trust in love. It is the way God deals with us when He gives directions that are for our good. Because we love Him we trust in His greater wisdom. The same with parent and child, but it is difficult. It takes patience, and persistence. Continuing to give guidance in love, especially in the face of repeated resistance, is painful. It has been painful to God, and it is painful for us. Yet there is hope. There is forgiveness. There is a new beginning. And the love, strength, and guidance of God never fails. We continue each day in the best wisdom God gives, trusting in the depth of love He has for each of us.
There are a couple of cheep ball point pens laying on my desk, the give away kind you find in a lot of businesses. I picked up one yesterday that had the Howard Johnson name and logo on it. That used to be a popular restaurant/motel chain, but has been out of business for years now. It was a mainstay that no longer exists. We can also think of the home improvement store Hechingers, more recently Radio Shack, and now Sear is closing stores. Things change. Anchors that we thought were firm in life are no longer there. Whether a business we’ve liked, a beloved family member, or even strength for a task we used to do easily, things change. There is sadness and we don’t like it, but it should cause us to hold more firmly to the One who does not change, Jesus Christ, the rock in the midst of all life. The Apostle Paul recognized the severity of this change, but said, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”(II Corinthians 4:16) Regardless of what changes around us, or the clarity of our eye to see what is happening in the present, the Lord is near, and is working to renew all things, and bring them to their rightful place in His plan.
We had a memorial service on Saturday Morning for one of our young women who had died. Amy was a beautiful Christian whose witness to her Savior when far and wide. Between four and five hundred friends and relatives gathered for a time of remembering, and for worship and praise of our Lord. For all of the sadness of a life cut short this was a marvelous service of giving glory to God. Jesus was clearly the center of all we did. We focused on the time that Jesus promised that “every tear would be wiped away and all crying cease”. I couldn’t help thinking, as I looked out over this crowd, This is but a very small glimpse of what heaven will be like. We were gathered for a sad occasion, but in the midst of it our gracious Lord gave us a small view of the hope we have in Christ. Life is difficult, yet Jesus, by God’s grace, has chosen to occupy this life giving us strength for our days, and in His atoning death broke the power of sin and death for all time. In Him, even through tears at times, we can rejoice. Glory to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jesus is Alive!
That is no empty statement we bring out once a year. This is the truth in which we live every day of our lives. “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” We live that new life each day because Jesus Is Alive!
“In the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus took bread, and when He had blessed it, He broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, ‘Take and eat. This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also, He took the cup, and when He had supped and given thanks He gave it to them saying, ‘All of your drink of it. This cup is the New Covenant in my blood which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of your sins. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.'” These words that you hear at every communion service are not a mere remembrance of something Jesus did at a Passover service two thousand years ago. They are a present reality of God’s grace. When you come to the altar hearing the words “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins” Jesus is present with his forgiving grace. In this present act of God’s grace you have the assurance of your cleansing and new life. That is the marvelous gift given to you on this Holy Thursday.
I was talking yesterday with one of our pastors who also teaches in a local college. His background is in logic and his course subject is Aristotle. We had talked about the decline in the church in recent years, but he remarked that we face a far more serious problem, a decline in thinking. He said he is trying to teach Aristotle to students with an eight second attention span. This was not just the frustration of one teacher, but a reality that is widespread. Our age of handheld electronics and instant, but often superficial, information has decreased our ability to be quiet in mind and heart, and to meditate on the things God has place around us. The Psalmist invites us to “Be still, and know that I am God…”(46:10) The call to be still before God is repeated six time in the Old Testament. Can we be? Can we sit still and have a quiet conversation with one or two others? Or can we sit still on a sofa and just think about the Lord, or about life in general? Can we be quiet enough to hear our Lord speak? I hope some can.
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