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Clothed in Christ (Sermon October 12, 2014)

Psalm 23 (NRSV)

Psalm 23

The Divine Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

1     The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

4     Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6     Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Song: Be Still, My Soul, by Leigh Nash

Psalm 106:1–6 (NRSV)

A Confession of Israel’s Sins

1     Praise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord, or declare all his praise?

3     Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times. Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people; help me when you deliver them; that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory in your heritage.

6     Both we and our ancestors have sinned; we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.

Psalm 106:19–23 (NRSV)

19    They made a calf at Horeb and worshiped a cast image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass. They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt, wondrous works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.

23    Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.

Song: Breathe, by The Brilliance

 

Philippians 4:1–9 (NRSV)

4 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Song: Hands and Feet, by The Brilliance

 

Matthew 22:1–14 (NRSV)

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

(Lk 14:15–24)

22 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

 

Song: Open Up, by The Brilliance

There are few things more festive as a marriage. The celebration of marriage is a beautiful mystery that spiritually binds two people together as one, but it also extends bonds and roots of two families, and even communities forming connections that span through time and space. Yes I agree I might just be a little dramatic but marriage is an amazing things. In all of our discussions on divorce, premarital relationships, among others I think we often forget to express just how powerful and amazing marriage can and should be.

Because of this powerful symbolism marriage has been used as an illustration in many different faiths, but probably the most prominent of those illustrations comes through the symbolism of God and Israel. In most cultures marriage was performed as a business contract, or property transfer, but among the Jewish culture marriage was and still is a symbolic representation of the bond that binds the people of Abraham with God. Every aspect of their celebration from the canopy the bride and groom stand under, to the wine and the breaking of the glass point to this relationship between the people and their God. Every element of the ceremony has symbolic and deep theological meaning, but it does not stop with the ceremony. The feast is just as filled with meaning. The feast is where the community is strengthened and they celebrate the joining and hope of extension into the next generation. Often we forget just how powerful a good celebration can be to the spiritual health of a community. This is why Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding feast, and this is why Jesus uses the illustration of the feast to teach about the kingdom of God.

“The Kingdom of God can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.” Jesus begins. The Kingdom of God, the nation of Israel, the king and a wedding. It is often said that when the tribes of Jacob left Egypt and were waiting at the foot of the mount Horeb that the tribes were standing under the canopy of God’s presence while Moses received the law or the covenant, under that canopy the people of Israel were united to God. They were married to God, which is why so often the prophets of old speak of the adulterous nation that chases after other gods.

So we have a king giving a banquet, and he sends out his servants to call those invited in, but they would not come. He then sends the servant out another time to tell them that the dinner is ready. Before we think too ill of these people it is important to know that in ancient cultures they did not send out invitations like we do today for many reasons: 1. it would be extremely expensive and 2. Not everyone could read. They would send out servants first to tell them that the preparations were being made, so that those that were invited could prepare for the feast. Then when the animals were slaughtered and cooking they would send out the servants again to announce that the banquet is about to begin. At this time the entire community would come and celebrate. But this is the twist in Jesus’ story, instead of the community coming to the banquet they made light of the celebration, they continued to work on their farms, they went on selling their goods in the market place, and some out right refused violently.

This is where the story gets into the deeper meaning. The king has invited people to his son’s celebration and they refuse. Why, they have to run their farms, take care of their business, and be nasty to others. Jesus is saying the community is broken. The term community is an important one, it is a compound word built with common and unity. There is no unity in this area, they are all just out there doing their own things. They are so involved in their own lives that there is no room to celebrate the uniting of families and the expansion of their nation. This is something that our culture struggles with as well. Our culture is built on individualism, which is not always a bad thing, but it can become sinful if we become too focused on self and neglect those around us. All too often we use our busy schedules to neglect spending time with our families and our friends, and this same busyness often causes us to neglect the ones that need us the most. But Jesus does not find our busy schedules to be a legitimate excuse, in fact he condemns it. Those that reject the king’s invitation were found to be enemies of the state and their cities were burned to the ground.

This says quite a lot about the things we set up as priorities. I myself often struggle in this area, I have worked since I was in Jr. High on the farm, I feel like I must work, when I do not have things in my schedule I can become depressed and feel worthless. But as I walk further down the pathway of life with Christ I have found that it is those times that I invest in others that are the most meaningful. It is the times that I am not at work that the greatest memories are formed. Yet I still struggle in this area, and ask for prayer in this area of my own life.

The king in the story does not let the banquet wait though, he then sends out the servants a third time. This time he sends them out to the main streets or highways, out into the countryside to bring in anyone and everyone to celebrate the joy of his son’s marriage. The servants go out and they bring everyone, the good and the bad. Think about that for a moment. The ones that were considered worthy to be invited first were destroyed and then those considered unworthy were brought in, no strings attached, the good and the bad. Does that make us squirm just a bit? The good and the bad were brought in accepted as they were at that moment.

These people were brought into the new community, a community built around the king and his son, there is no regard for history, or current state. They are just accepted as they are and celebrate. As they come into the banquet the king treats them with the same respect as any invited guest to a wedding. They are each given a wedding robe. This is a custom that we may find odd, but it is very interesting. It is a symbol that all present in the celebration are equal. The wedding robe conceals everything that may be used to express personal pride. Think of it as a sort of uniform. When we wear a uniform, everyone in that uniform is equal, they are seen as employees of a company or as students of a particular school. The idea of a uniform is to provide equality, and to celebrate membership in some common group of people. The wedding robe is a symbol and expression of celebration for the one being married, it is to provide an equalizing factor to everyone around so that all attention can be directed to the ones being celebrated. It is a wonderful symbol.

But the king looks out at the guests and he finds one person that has refused to wear the robe. If everyone else was wearing a robe it would not be hard to spot the one person that was out of uniform. This one person is attracting attention to themselves instead of allowing the attention to be directed to the bride and groom. This is a powerful statement, although the guest is speechless before the king the judgment is swift, the guest is removed from the community.

This is a powerful story. The judgment of those that refuse to participate in the feast of fierce and for the one that is not covered by the wedding robe it is just as harsh. Jesus finishes this parable by saying, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Those are strong words, they scream out at us that our lives are not to be our own, but that every aspect of it should be focused on one thing, to bring honor to the son of the king. How well do we do that? We speak about being clothed in righteousness and being covered by the armor of God, but do we actually allow that to happen in our lives? When people look at us do what do they actually see?

This is the very reason why the early Friends distilled our expressions of faith down to the very simplest form possible, because every aspect of our life should reflect the light of Christ. Every word that we say should be of simple speech not filled with flattery but truth and equity. That our attire should be simple and modest, not to attract attention to ourselves but so that it would not distract from Christ in us. That worship should focus on the very core properties of faith, true words and actions.

Many are called to Christ, but only a very few will choose to live for Christ. We live in a culture that focuses and takes pride in individualism which is contrary to the call of Christ. The call remains, it is given to the good and the bad, the honorable and the disgraced will you come to the banquet of the son, or will you let the things of this distract us from the celebration? The chose is ours, we can come in common unity or we can stay focused on ourselves. All those things that we find so important will be burned to the ground and the memory left to blow like dust in the wind. It is the community that is important, it is the expansion of the kingdom to the next generations, it is the binding of families though time and space that we should celebrate, it is the marriage of God to the people that should be our desire, clothed in the wedding robes that are Jesus. God Himself taking on human form to live among us and for us. Who take our goodness and our failings and wraps himself around us so that all that can be seen is his glory. Let us be that kind of a community. A community built on unity and equality in Christ: loving God, embracing the Holy Spirit, and Living the love of Jesus with others around us (the good and the bad.)

Open Worship: A time of holy expectancy, where we as Friends commune with God in Prayer and silence expecting to hear His voice and answer His call to speak or act.

Song: Christ be With Me, by The Brilliance

Loving Life (Sermon March 25, 2012)

Scripture: John 12:20-33
Adam has a hobby. Some might say that it is a worthless pursuit but he enjoys it. When he engages in this activity it seem to possess him totally the people around him find him more pleasant, more alert, more open. It is as if this Adam is the true expression of who he is. Yet Monday rolls around and Adam again is transformed into the serious business man, the logical, calculated man.
What makes the difference? The one version of the man is experimental, risky, takes a chance. The other will only advance and act under careful consideration. One even questions if the two aspects of the man can be united. One man lives by the heart the other by the wisdom of the world. One man lives by dreams the other by the knowledge of the world.
This passage brings to light a very interesting aspect to the life of Christ. Maybe I see it because that is what I do. The world in ancient times was a diverse place. People moved around much more than we tend to think. This is evident because throughout the world there are Jewish communities centuries old. And for those who study language they can find influences from areas that looking on a map seem impossible. Even in the native American cultures, which many assume to be descendants of Siberian Asians, they have found influences of extinct cultures originating in France. Humans are mobile. They look to explore the world around them, and they find a way to survive. Israel is an example and testimony of the mobility of humanity. When one looks at the empires of history they grow out of obscurity rise in power and influence, and grow toward other empires to eventually dispute. Israel emerged as a nation on the highway connecting the empires. They themselves were never the superpower but they held the land that controlled the definition of true power. They controlled the highway of ancient trade. They connected the east to the west and the north to the south. there were other routes but this one had the greatest profit.
This means that Israel has always had a diverse population. Groups of people were constantly moving through on their journies. They brought with them goods to trade, as well as cultural knowledge. This led them to want a king, this led them to seek alliences with other nations, this ultimately lead them to become controlled by Rome. Yet through all of this they have kept a unique culture of their own, no matter where they live or who controls their homeland. They have always been a light to the nations, but never the empire. Gentiles, or the nonJewish person has had a curiosity with this group of people. At times it has been positive and other times negative. Their influence has been seen in every major empire around the world, with a few exceptions. The Greek culture tried to spread their influence to the ends of the world yet they held the Jew in curiosity. They allowed them to remain to some degree. Many Greeks even embraced the Hebrew life. The Romans and Persians were annoyed yet intreged by these people. These conquered people that seemed to never seemed to be assimulated.
The Gentiles of Jesus’ day were curious, they wondered what drove these people, there was something that both attracted and repeled them. Jesus’ popularity was growing among the Jewish community, it was growing among the Sumaritan population. Both have a history as Israel. Now those outsiders of the Gentile populous were curious.
The Greek culture is one that takes pride in the pursuit of knowledge. They had schools of philosophy, where they studied the ideas of knowledge and how to come to a conclusion. They taught students how to make a case, how to argue and debate. They heard the stories about Jesus now they wanted to sit at His feet to listen to the teacher.
I find this story interesting in many ways. It shows the openness Jesus had as well as the invitation he provided to all people from the very beginning. Of all the disciples there was one who had an 100% non-jewish name, Phillip. This is who the Gentiles went to to gain an audience with the great Rabbi. Phillip was not just a back ground disciple either. He was the third disciple called to follow, and he quickly found his friend Nathaniel, saying ” we have found the one spoke about by Moses and the prophets.”
This man though Jewish had a foot in the gentile world, through him the door was opened for all to come to Jesus, and he was the third to be called. Very early the choosen one of Israel was to be the light to the world. And as soon as the Gentiles sought Christ the message took a different tone.
Until this point Jesus said not to speak because His time had not yet come. Now the Greeks want to talk and Jesus says now it is time. Now it is time for Him to be glorified, for the fullness and purpose of His mission to be set into motion. Now the attention of the world has been gained, now the message of the kingdom has extended beyond the temple courts and has found its way to the university of the Greeks.
Then he speaks about life and death, love and hate. Passion. I began today with a story of Adam, a man, who lives a double life. His hobby life and his business life. Both consume him. The businessman consumes the creative man, while the hobby life consumes the rational man. He is fully engaged in each sense. Jesus speaks of this. Unless a grain of wheat dies it won’t produce fruit. Unless you are all consumed in your task you will not produce. This is not just a spiritual commitment it matters in everything you do. If a member of our local hockey team isn’t all in, they will not make the cut, but when each player is fully engaged all consumed by the game, it is a beautiful and exciting game. When my coworker and I are fully focused on the task we get things done quickly without, mistakes, and usually have fun too. An artist is probably the greatest example of someone totally consumed by a project. When they get a taste of inspiration they start to create with such a ferver that they lose track of time, they forget to eat. At times they may not even realize you are in the room. until fruit has been made they are totally focused. Are we all in for God?
Historically speaking when people fully engage in their pursuit of God they attract attention. When Francis of Assisi’s father said he was a freeloader never to amount to anything Francis gave his father everything even his clothes and pursued God, he started a movement that still survives today after hundreds of years. When Fox fully pursued God in the English countryside he attracted thousands. If we fully engage fully serve we will see results. Why don’t we? Why do we fully engage our lives in work, or hobbies yet only spend a few minutes with God? I think we are afraid. We are afraid that maybe God may direct us into something we couldn’t control, that growth would be so rapid we couldn’t anticipate it.
To live passionately make us vernable. to live passonatly we fully invest all of our mind, body, and spirit. This sort of investment consumes us entirely we are lost in it, we cease to exist apart from it. This is what God calls us God, in all that we do. God created us to have passion to get excited and to go all in. I often wonder if we miss read this passage, I believe we mix up the charactors.
He is speaking to the Greeks, these men are filled with Greek philosophy, much of which says that we should not worry about our bodies because our bodies are just prisions of our spirit. This idea entered into Christian thought through the gnostic herises This concept pushes the idea that aslong as I do spiritual things I will inherit eternal life, and what I do with my physical body doesn’t matter. Jesus engages this idea he calls it what it is, an unproductive, uncreative, shell of existance. If we live a life of hating this world and only wanting to get through it so we can get on to heaven, we miss the point. Life is important. Life is so important that God came to this world just as we all do through the womb of a woman. He developed from a single cell, into an embryo, to a fetus, passed from the womb to become an infant, grew to be a boy, and finally a man. He lived life fully, he celebrated weddings, cried at funerals, he got angry, and told jokes. This is not a man who hated life. He loved life he invented life. He did not create us to as spiritual prisons but living humans created to glorify God in life. Those that hate life on this world will keep it for eternity. They will keep the empty, purposeless existance forever. The Greek idea of the human shell was invading humanity and keeping the truth from becoming fully realized. Life does matter.
This life does matter. But living a hollow shell of a life is unacceptable. Living life devoted only to worldly pleasures are unacceptable, living passonatly for a cause to promote life, to promote life more fully is a life lost in the one who created us. We were made to live. Created to enjoy life and to glorify God in the process. I want to do that as much as possible. I want to live my life in such a way that everyone around me will love life and praise the giver of life. I want to enjoy life so much that I can cross over to the other side and know how to act around those saints already sitting at the Lords banquet table. I want to lose myself in the passion of living a life for God.
What does this life look like? I can’t fully discribe it, it is a existance were the rational man and the creative man are joined together it is where the artist and the business man strive together to lose themselves in each others passion for life. It is a place where the weapons of war are made into tools of creativity and growth.
The message of Jesus was that the kingdom of God is at hand, the kingdom of Heaven is around us. He said this multiple times. So much that it got the attention of the entire world. He lost himself in that message which is filled with love and life. The world did not like that message. It spoke against their ways. They sought to silence the message because their ways promoted darkness and death, not light and life. If life was not important, if our actions and how we live are unimportant why did Jesus live a full life? If God did not love all people both Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female why did he engage every aspect of Life?
We are bearers of light in the darkness promoters of life in a culture of death. As we enter our time of open worship let us consider our own lives are we embracing our life fully and glorifying the giver of life? Or are we living as shells empty of life and empty of hope? My prayer is that we will lose ourselves in life and passionately love God, embrace the Holy Spirit, and live Christ’s love with other.

Come to the Light (Sermon March 18, 2012)

Scripture: John 3:14-21

It seems that every culture has fear of some kind of the dark. As we grew up we just knew that there were monsters in our closets or under our beds. These monsters only came out at night. The legends of werewolves and vampires all revolve around darkness. Our dreams have us running through the woods tripping over roots and falling…at night when it is dark. It seems that if anything terrible happens, it will happen at night. There is something about the darkness that attracts the deviant elements of our humanity. We believe that if it is hard to see that maybe we can get away with something, or maybe someone else can get away.

If we even consider the beginnings of our nation, the Tea party protest that many of us consider to be the beginnings of the revolution happened at night and in disguise. The planning of schemes happen in the dark corners of taverns instead of in a brightly lit park at midday. Darkness is a cloak we clothe ourselves in to hide from trouble.

Night is a time of vandals, robberies, and various crimes. Our civic governments try to keep crime at a minimum so they install lights along the streets. Businesses try to detour crime by installing security lighting. Light dispels the darkness; as a result the fears in dark flee as well.

Light and dark concepts are found in nearly every religious teaching. Light is always seen as the bearer of godliness where the darkness is the instrument of evil. Jesus’ teaching of light and dark are not necessarily a unique concept needing an understanding of Hebrew cultural history to understand, it crosses the cultural barriers and speaks volumes to those in every nation. There are some understandings in the symbolism that may differ across the cultures though. In the Hebrew culture light symbolizes the presence of God. The greatest and most well known symbol of the Jewish faith is a candelabra with seven branches known as a menorah. We tend to only think of this symbol around the festival of light or Chanukah, but this candle stand was used every day it was burned every day in the holiest areas of the temple as a sign that God was present. To the Hebrew people the light represented God, and the wisdom of God. When there was darkness it was seen as a curse or the possibility of the adversary to enter into the home or sacred spaces.

This is why John the gospel writer begins his Gospel using terms like light, and word to describe Jesus. To him and to those that follow the ways of Christ, Jesus was and still is the presence of God among us and the knowledge of God in our midst.

This passage begins in a different way. It speaks about a specific moment in the history of Israel. Early in the Exodus of Israel from captivity in Egypt when they wondered through the desert the people began to complain about the journey. They went to Moses accusing him of bringing them out into the desert to starve them to death. They also turned from God, they took their eyes off of the one that took them out of bondage, who parted the sea so they could cross and escape the pursuing army, and they complained. They turned from God who led them across the desert in a pillar of fire at night and a cloud shading them from the harsh desert sun during the day. Claiming that God did not care for them. They rejected God and God allowed them to part from Him. As a result snakes came from all around, snakes whose bites were full of venom, and people began to die from the poison. The desert is full of poisonous creatures especially the desert they were crossing. There are deadly snakes all around, as well as some of the deadliest scorpions. They rejected God and as a result of them pulling away from Him they walked away from His protection.

When people began to die they had something else to complain about. They began to ask Moses where is God why is He not protecting us from these snakes. So God told Moses to fashion a likeness of a snake and lift it up on a pole so when the people turned their eyes on it they the affects of the venom would not harm them. The venom still entered their bodies but when they turned back to God they had redemption.

Jesus uses this story to begin his teaching of his own purpose. The gospel, the good news, is that the Kingdom of God is at hand. I speak of this often because it is still the good news. The kingdom of, or the influence of, God is all around us. We wonder about this when we hear news reports of parents beating up coaches when they discipline their children for poor behavior, we wonder where is God when we hear pretty much any news program involving crimes of many types. And your pastor says God’s influence is all around us. It is present everywhere.

Where is this influence? Where is God when the snakes of life are slithering around us and striking at our heels? Where was He when the children of Israel were wondering in the desert? It is not a question about where God is but where we are. God was with the wondering Israelites, and He is with us. Jesus said for the tribes to find hope in the snake pit all they had to do was look up to the raised serpent lifted there by Moses. He was there on the pole in the wilderness. His ministry his purpose of life was to provide redemption for all of creation. And he was telling these people that to do this He must be lifted up on a pole so that when we turn our eyes on to Him we will have life.

The hardest questions that I have ever been asked is why someone had to endure abuse as a child. They have asked me where was God when my parents did these things? The answer is that he was right there with them in their pain. This doesn’t give much comfort to those that have these wounds; in fact I want to punch myself for even wanting to say these things to someone who has such deep wounds. I can say it with full knowledge that I am right but my rightness doesn’t take away their pain. Where was God when people were dying from snakebites, where was God when tornadoes were blowing across places like Branson? He was there with them.

This brings us back to light and dark, and where we are. Jesus says, “God so loved the world that He sent his only son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” He continues to say, that he did not come into the world to condemn the world, but those that refuse to believe are condemned already because they love the darkness instead of light for their deeds are evil.

Where is God? He is lifted up on the Cross raised up on the pole for us to turn to have redemption. He was put there by human hands, killed by evil and for evil, so that he could conquer evil with love and grace. Where is God when we are struggling with the wounds and bites of life? He is hanging on a tree providing relief from those bites. These are still empty words to the wounded heart, to the one that was injured by those supposed to love them yet endured trauma. Those that cause pain are people living in darkness. Their deeds are evil they are under the influence of evil. They reject the light of God because they know in some way that they are wrong but they don’t want to admit it. Our pain is caused not by God but because those around us refuse to come to the light.

We have an opportunity to change. Our pains, our wounds, the bites from the snakes of life do not have to suck life from us. We can live. God can ease our pains, he can heal the wounds, and He can suck the venom from the bites if we turn to Him. This is why the resurrection has such power. Evil and darkness put Jesus on the cross; he was hung there not by Jews but by all mankind. Evil thought that if they could only suck the life out of Jesus then maybe God would leave them alone and they could live as they wanted free from judgment. But that is not the case. Immediately after the crucifixion they started on a new mission, a mission to assure themselves that the body stayed right where they put it, dead and buried. They put armed guards at the tomb. They sealed it with an official seal, which was bound by the threat of death. Why would they go to so much trouble for a dead man? Because Jesus said that the light had come to the world that the light would reveal the evil deeds done in the darkness. Evil put him on the cross evil caused the snakes to enter the camp of the Israelites; evil causes much of the pain we struggle with every day. Darkness however can’t overtake light. When light enters a room the darkness leaves. Those caught in the evil of the cross were afraid that the story wasn’t over. Death could not hold him. He rose from the grave, showed himself to over 500 people and empowered those that follow him with the very spirit of God that has that same power.

We may be wounded people, but the power that raised Jesus from the grave can be present in our lives to heal our wounds and release us from bondage. We may be infected with deadly venoms of sin but the Risen Christ can suck that poison from our bodies and create in us a new creation. He came not to bring in death and judgment, but life and power. He came to free us from the bondage of sin and death, so that we can have life eternally. We may struggle with our pasts; we may struggle in areas of our lives. Areas that we may like to keep hidden in the dark places. All this is doing is keeping us from the true freedom in the Kingdom of God.

Turn to the light. Look up to the cross where your savior died, remember what it was in your own life that put him there, remember that he endured the pain with you and for you. In Him you can have something new if you only believe, and in Him we can walk in light and carry His influence and presence to the lives of other.

Let us now enter into a time of Holy expectancy, a time where we can commune with God our Creator, Savior, and ever-present Teacher. Let us remember where he has helped us and acknowledge where we still need His help. And if we feel lead to share please do so that we all can be encouraged by how the Light of God has been working in you.

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