Posts Tagged ‘peace’

Invitation to Worship

based on Psalm 4

We are blessed beyond measure! For God, who created this world and all that is in it, listens to us in our distress and answers us when we call. God fills our hearts with joy! So, let us put our trust in God and celebrate today the wonder of God’s glory revealed in and through the risen Christ. 

Alleluia! Christ is risen. 
Christ is risen, indeed. 
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 

Opening Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, the light of your love shines on,
illuminating the places where you are present.
As the bewildered disciples pondered the stories of your appearance,
you penetrated the darkness of their fear and doubt with your word of peace.
You showed them the appalling marks of evil pierced on your hands and feet.
You opened their minds to understand
why you had to die to defeat such evil and death.
Increase our understanding, we pray,
and open our minds and hearts to receive you, Lord.
Speak your word of peace to us
and let your love shine on any dark areas in our lives.
May this worship which we offer in your name
be a worthy response to your love and your sacrifice for us. Amen.

Song of Praise 
Now the Green Blade Rises
Words: JMC Crum
Tune: NOEL NOUVELET

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
What that in the dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been;
Love is come again like wheat arising green.

In the grave they laid him, love by hatred slain,
thinking he would never wake and live again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen;
Love is come again like wheat arising green.

Forth he came at Easter like the risen grain,
Jesus, who for three days in the grave had lain;
Raised from the dead, the living Christ is seen;
Love is come again like wheat arising green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain,
Jesus’ touch can call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been;
Love is come again like wheat arising green.

Psalm 4
Common English Bible 

Answer me when I cry out, my righteous God!
Set me free from my troubles!
Have mercy on me! Listen to my prayer!
How long, you people, will my reputation be insulted?
How long will you continue to love what is worthless and go after lies?
Know this: the LORD takes personal care of the faithful.
The LORD will hear me when I cry out to him.
So be afraid, and don’t sin!
Think hard about it in your bed and weep over it!
Bring righteous offerings,
and trust the LORD!
Many people say,
“We can’t find goodness anywhere.
The light of your face has left us, LORD!”
But you have filled my heart with more joy
than when their wheat and wine are everywhere!
I will lie down and fall asleep in peace
because you alone, LORD, let me live in safety.

Prayer for Others

Song of Response
There is a Balm in Gilead
Words: African American Spiritual
Tune: BALM IN GILEAD

Refrain:
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my works in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again. 

Refrain

If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus and say, “He died for all.”

Refrain

Celebration of the Ordination as Deacon

In our Baptist tradition, each one of us serves the Lord and we are equally capable of doing so. We do not practice any kind of hierarchy in the church for we are all one in Christ Jesus. As we work to better serve the Lord, we call out nine members from our church family to take up the role of intentionally caring for us, the body of Christ. We call these members “deacons,” which means “one who serves.”  When a member answers this call to serve us as a deacon for the first time, we set aside time in our worship to honor their acceptance, express our gratitude, and commit to pray for them as they follow the Spirit. Pre-pandemic, we would be invited to come before the member, set our hands upon their head, and offer our prayers and blessings. This time during our service we will write those prayers and blessings on paper. (You are welcome to email your prayers and blessings to the church and they will be forwarded to the deacon.)

1 Peter 4:8-11
Common English Bible

Above all, show sincere love to each other, because love brings about the forgiveness of many sins. Open your homes to each other without complaining. And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good managers of God’s diverse gifts. Whoever speaks should do so as those who speak God’s word. Whoever serves should do so from the strength that God furnishes. Do this so that in everything God may be honored through Jesus Christ. To him be honor and power forever and always. Amen.

Reaffirming the Call to Serve One Another

In the presence of God this afternoon,
will you recommit yourself to the work and responsibility of serving one another?  I will.

Will you be faithful to pray, to read and study the Scriptures, to support the church spiritually and materially, to seek the will of God for the church, and to foster unity in the body of Christ? I will.

Will you do your best to live in accordance with the teachings of Christ, so that you may be a witness of God’s love for everyone?  I will.

Will you seek the glory of the Lord Christ in all things?  I will. May the Lord uphold us with divine grace in our service to one another. Amen.

Anthem   
Hear Me When I Call
Composer: Richard Shephard

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness:
Thou hast set me at liberty when I was in trouble.
Have mercy upon me and hearken to my prayer.
Lord lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
Amen.

Luke 24:36b-48 
Common English Bible 

While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”They were terrified and afraid. They thought they were seeing a ghost.

He said to them, “Why are you startled? Why are doubts arising in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet. It’s really me! Touch me and see, for a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones like you see I have.” As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. Because they were wondering and questioning in the midst of their happiness, he said to them, “Do you have anything to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish. Taking it, he ate it in front of them.

Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. He said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. Look, I’m sending to you what my Father promised, but you are to stay in the city until you have been furnished with heavenly power.”

Reflection on the Gospel
Rev. Jeffrey Vickery 

Prayer of Thanksgiving 

Thank you, God for constant love. Please help our church family grow deeper and deeper in your love. Amen. 

Song of Faith    
Christ is Our Peace
Words: Shirley Erena Murray
Tune: PEACE

Christ is our peace, Christ is our health,
He the true Word, His the true wealth –
Gifts to be shared by the simple and poor:
Peace in your land, peace at your door.

Peace in your mouth, peace in the hands
Open to truth, to love’s demands:
Those who would go with Christ also must bleed –
Bright is the flower, burst is the seed.

Who work for peace find the true wealth,
Who heal the hurt find their own health –
Peace will flow on through the hearts that believe:
This may we know, thus may we live.

Sending Out 

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord, 
In the name of Christ. Amen. 

Blest Be the Tie 
Words: John Fawcett 
Tune: DENNIS (Nägeli) 

Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.  
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. 

When we are called to part, it gives us inward pain;  
but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.  

This glorious hope revives our courage by the way;  
while each in expectation lives and waits to see the day.   

Acknowledgements 

The opening prayer was written by Moria Laidlaw. Used by permission. The hymns were sung by our Mindy accompanied by Tonya on piano. The anthem was sung by Elizabeth, Laura, Mindy, and Tonya.

Permission to print the words to the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-724755. All rights reserved. All writings have been used by permission from the posting sites or authors. 

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Invitation to Worship

based on John 20:19-22

It was evening on the first day of the week. The disciples were meeting together behind locked doors because they were afraid. Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. They rejoiced. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.” And said, “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  

Let our rejoicing be heard far and wide  
as we witness to our belief in the risen Lord. 

Alleluia! Christ is risen. 
Christ is risen, indeed. 
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 

Song of Praise 
O Sons and Daughters Let Us Sing 
Words: Joean Tisserand; J.M. Neale, trans. 
Tune: O FILII ET FILIAE (French, 15th century) 

O sons and daughters of the King, 
whom heavenly hosts in glory sing,  
today the grave has lost its sting.  
Alleluia!  

When Thomas first the tidings heard  
that some had seen the risen Lord,  
he doubted the disciples’ word.  
Lord, have mercy!  

At night the apostles met in fear;  
among them came their Master dear  
and said, “My peace be with you here.”  
Alleluia!  

“My pierced side, O Thomas, see,  
and look upon my hands, my feet;  
not faithless but believing be.”  
Alleluia!  

No longer Thomas then denied;  
he saw the feet, the hands, the side.  
“You are my Lord and God!” he cried.  
Alleluia!  

How blest are they who have not seen 
and yet whose faith has constant been,  
for they eternal life shall win.  
Alleluia! 

Opening Prayer 

We worship you today, O God. We rejoice in the word of the gospel where John declares that he has written his gospel to confirm and strengthen our belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that in believing, we might have life in his name. We worship you, O God, with praise and thanksgiving for that gift of life made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Strengthen and confirm our belief in Jesus in this time of worship here today. May we know the blessings of your peace within us and the breath of your Spirit upon us. We offer this prayer and our worship in Jesus’ name and for his sake. Amen 

Psalm 133 
Common English Bible 

Look at how good and pleasing it is 
    when families live together as one! 
It is like expensive oil poured over the head, 
    running down onto the beard— 
        Aaron’s beard!— 
    which extended over the collar of his robes. 
It is like the dew on Mount Hermon 
    streaming down onto the mountains of Zion, 
    because it is there that the Lord has commanded the blessing: 
        everlasting life. 

Song of Praise 
How Good It Is 
Words: Ruth Duck 
Tune: DOVE OF PEACE (Southern Harmony, 1854) 

How good it is, what pleasure comes,  
When people live as one.  
When peace and justice light the way  
The will of God is done. The will of God is done. 

True friendship then like fragrant oil  
Surrounds us with delight;  
And blessings shine like morning dew  
Upon the mountain height, upon the mountain height. 

How good it is when walls of fear  
Come tumbling to the ground.  
When arms are changed to farming tools,  
The fruits of life abound, the fruits of life abound. 

What quiet joy can bloom and grow 
When people work for peace.  
When hands and voices join as one  
That hate and war may cease, that hate and war may cease. 

Prayer

We gather here as a fellowship of people who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. One of the major marks of our fellowship is the sense of joy we experience as we gather to worship God, to give thanks for Jesus Christ, and to witness to the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Yet, we admit that there are times when we feel afraid, abandoned, and lonely; when faith leads to doubt and questions rather than a sense of joy or peace of mind. Lord Jesus Christ, unlike those first disciples, we cannot touch you or see you, and so it is all too easy to become downcast and given to despair. 

  Forgive us when, like the disciples, we find the truth of Easter hard to believe.   
 Come to us, risen Christ, come through the closed doors of our hearts and minds and take away our fears and doubts; 
    Come to us, risen Christ, breathe on us and fill us with the joy and peace of your presence. 
    Bless us all as people who have not seen you, but who believe that you are truly the risen Christ, Son of God. Amen 

Anthem   
A Gaelic Blessing 
Composer: Roland E. Martin 

Deep peace of the running wave to you. 
Deep peace of the flowing air to you. 
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you. 
Deep peace of the shining stars to you. 
Deep peace of the gentle night to you. 
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you. 
Deep peace of Christ, the light of the world to you. 
Deep peace of Christ to you. 

John 20:19-31 
Common English Bible 

Listen to the gospel being read and/or read below

It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.” 

Thomas, the one called Didymus, one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!” 

But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.” 

After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!” 

Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” 

Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.” 

Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name. 

Reflection on the Scriptures 
Rev. Tonya Vickery 

Listen to the sermon and/or read below. The sermon was recorded live from our 2pm outdoor service, so there is definitely wind noise. 🙂

Jesus’ death was traumatic. It was real. It was on display for everyone. Lifted up on a cross, high above, everyone could see his suffering and his death. As news of his crucifixion and inevitable death was shared throughout Jerusalem, no one would have doubted it for they saw it with their own eyes. It was believable because countless others had suffered death by crucifixion from the government.

But when Mary Magdalene shares the good news that she has seen the risen Lord, people have a hard time believing it. Even though a couple of disciples run out to the tomb, look in, and find it empty, they still doubt Mary’s word that Jesus has risen from the dead. For them, the empty tomb is a source of disappointment instead of affirmation, and a seed for growing fear instead of great rejoicing. The trauma from the reality of Jesus’ death only allowed them to deduce that his body has been stolen. Fear saturated their opinions, ideas, and choices. Fear of what the authorities and bandits had done to Jesus, led them to lock themselves away apart from whatever might be out there to harm them.

It was a different kind of lockdown than what we have been experiencing over the past year.  But in many ways we can identify with the fear of the disciples. We too feared the unknown.  We have had to stay at home to stay alive. We have been separated from one another and still are–six feet apart.  The unpredictable, invisible to the eye, wafting through the air, living on surfaces? Virus, we were able to shut out of our lives until we knew more about it. But don’t forget that fear we had 12 months ago. Fear of what might happen.  Fear of the unknown, the unpredictable, and the uncontrollable.

Our sister church in Brazil, Igreja Batista da Algeria, they don’t have the protection of vaccination which has been afforded to us. On Tuesday night Pastor Vando sent me a message via WhatsApp. He asks us to pray for the church and for their country. You may have seen it on the news, but on Tuesday alone, Pastor Vando said 4200 Brasilians died from COVID.  In one day, 4,200 people died. Their president is very much in control, but does not care about the people. The government has not worked to make their country a safe place to live in the midst of a deadly viral pandemic. Our sisters and brothers of Igreja Batista da Algeria, I imagine they still live in that fear that we lived in just a short time ago. They are suffering. Do you remember the fear you had of going out? Of what you might bring back to your home, to your family, to your friends? Our sister church in Brazil, they are still living through many things which have been alleviated for us. We are slowly rising above our fears as we learn more and more and especially as the vaccine becomes available to everyone. But do remember our sister church in Brazil and how they continue to grow their faith separate from each other. The fear brought by this pandemic shares similarities to the fear the disciples felt after Jesus died. We know very well that faithful living during times of great fear is difficult. But we claim the promise that nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus–not even our fears.

Even as our fear lessens, we are starkly reminded during recent days of what trauma looks like. We know what death looks like. We know what a traumatic death looks like. We now know what it is like to see someone die under the hands of the authorities. If you have watched any of the trial of the death of George Floyd or seen any of the newsclips, you have seen the effect a needless death has on bystanders. The women at the foot of the cross, the disciples at a distance, the Roman soldier, they were all bystanders to the traumatic death of Jesus. How wrenching it was during Holy Week to hear the testimonies of bystanders who felt helpless, angry, and afraid as Mr. Floyd suffered and died. We have also seen the grief of parents in Myanmar. Their children killed by soldiers who needlessly and for no reason at all have shot them to death. We have seen what we only thought we would see in movies, Americans chanting to hang an elected official, Mike Pence. When I saw those images, I couldn’t help but think of the crowd that was stirred up against Jesus chanting, “Crucify him.”

The gospel story this morning show us how Jesus responded in the midst of fear, trauma, and doubt. God responds to such threats with peace and forgiveness.

On the evening of what we now call Easter, Jesus appeared before the disciples even though they were behind locked doors. What did he say to them? Look at verse 19. Look in the last phrase of the verse. Jesus says, “Peace be with you.”  Now look down at verse 21. Jesus again says, “Peace be with you.”  Eight days later, Jesus’ followers are still afraid. Imagine I would be too. Jesus comes and goes. So they still lock themselves in the room together. And again Jesus comes. What does Jesus say to them this time? Look with me at verse 26. Jesus says again, “Peace be with you.”

Before Jesus died and was resurrected, Jesus talked with his disciples about peace. It is recorded in John 14. If you have your Bibles, turn back there with me. Look at verse 27. Jesus says these words to his followers, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t troubled or afraid.”  Turn a few pages and look at chapter 16. Here Jesus highlights the contrast between the peace he offers and the peace the world offers. Beginning in verse 31 Jesus says, “Now you believe? Look! A time is coming—and here it is—when each of you will be scattered to your own homes and you will leave me alone. I’m not really alone, for the Father is with me. I’ve said these to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” 

The betrayal and death of Jesus must have made the disciples feel just like the writer of Lamentations. In 3:17-18 the lamenter shares, “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is. My future is gone, as well as my hope from the LORD. My suffering and homelessness are bitterness and poison. I can’t help but be depressed. And all I can do is wait, for surely the faithful love of the LORD has not ended. Surely, God’s compassion isn’t through.” 

Oh how that empty tomb, Jesus’ numerous appearances before he ascends into heaven, his words to the disciples and to the world, “Peace be with you. My peace be with you,” these things tells us loud and clear that God’s compassion is not through. The faithful love the LORD has not ended.  In the word, we have distress, but in Christ, we have peace. The peace we share does not come from the world.  It is not created by human plans or designs.  Any type of peace the world affords us is just temporary and can change abruptly. The peace that sustains, that grounds, that makes a difference, is the peace which comes from God through Jesus Christ.  “Have peace in me,” Jesus says to us. Jesus invites us to share in God’s peace. You see, just as the lamenter writes, the LORD is our portion. We have a hope that does not disappoint.

The second posture the gospel story encourages in us when we face fears, disappointments, and betrayals, is that of forgiveness.  We clearly read that Jesus did not hold it against Thomas that he was having a hard time believing that Jesus was truly alive, risen from the dead. Jesus didn’t come back to scold Thomas. Think back to what Jesus called Peter when Peter tried to convince Jesus that he need not go to Jerusalem and die. Jesus called him Satan. “Get behind me Satan.”  But there is no language like that here. When Jesus appears to Thomas, he says to him, “No more disbelief. Believe!”  However, this is not the setting within the passage where we read about forgiveness. Jesus doesn’t say here, “I forgive you for having a hard time believing.” No, Jesus speaks of forgiveness in regards to the relationships we have with one another and with God well before Thomas is in the room.

Think back to when Jesus comes to John to be baptized. John says of him, “Look! The lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”  In the New Testament letter 1 John, it is written, “Everyone who practices sin commits an act of rebellion, and sin is rebellion.  You know that Jesus appeared to take away sins….” Now here at the end of John’s gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples after the resurrection and breathes the Spirit of God into us and upon us. Why? so that we might forgive anyone’s sin. That’s a tall order. That’s a lot to expect from us. But there it is. We are called to forgive. We are empowered by the Spirit of the Holy One to have the courage, the compassion, and the care to forgive. Jesus came to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins. Now we step into those shoes and share those possibilities with the world.

The good news of Jesus firsts highlights some bad news. There is something wrong with each and every one of us. The world is a broken place.  It is not the way God intended it to be nor created it to be. Our lives are broken too. We do not live the way God intends us to live, nor do we embody what God created us to be.  We are falling short of what we could be in Christ Jesus. Every day we do things, say things, think things, that separate us from God and hurt our neighbors and harm the world. Some of those things are big and easy to spot, and some of them are little and hidden from others and even easy for us to turn a blind eye to. But as we have been reminded through the scripture passages of the Lenten season, God will not respond to a broken world again by destroying it and starting over. Just as we celebrate on Easter that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead, defeating death not only for himself but for all of us, we also celebrate that in Christ Jesus our sins are forgiven. Those things that separate us from God, they are forgiven.  The forgiveness God showers upon us brings us back to life, raises us up again, never giving up on us. It is a forgiveness Christ calls us to share with others.

We have life in Jesus’ name, a life that has the blessing of peace upon it. A life that is brought about and sustained by a forgiveness that is to be shared.  May we live the life we have been given to the fullness of the glory of God. Thank you, thank you for caring about God today to come and worship whether at home or in person this afternoon, and thank you for hearing the word of God and how we are to live our lives in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Prayer of Thanksgiving 

Thank you, God for constant love. Please help our church family grow deeper and deeper in your love. Amen. 

Song of Faith    
Faith Will Not Grow On Words Alone 
Words: Vernon Griffiths 
Tune: DUNEDIN 

Faith will not grow from words alone,  
from proofs provided, scripture known;  
our faith must feel its way about,  
and live with question-marks and doubt.  

The pattern Jesus showed, we share:  
life comes through death, hope through despair.  
God is made known in brokenness,  
and faith feeds on God’s emptiness.  

The church still tells how Jesus came  
through death to glorious life again –  
the strangest story! Yet, may be,  
our faith will thrive on mystery.  

Faith takes the little that we know,  
and calls for hope, and tells us: Go! 
Love and take courage, come what may;  
Christ will be with us on the way. 

Sending Out 

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord, 
In the name of Christ. Amen. 

Blest Be the Tie 
Words: John Fawcett 
Tune: DENNIS (Nägeli) 

Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.  
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. 

When we are called to part, it gives us inward pain;  
but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.  

This glorious hope revives our courage by the way;  
while each in expectation lives and waits to see the day.   

Acknowledgements 

The prayers were written by Moria Laidlaw. Used by permission. The hymns were sung by our Mindy accompanied by Tonya on piano. The anthem was sung by Ally, Elizabeth, Laura, Mindy, and Tonya.

Permission to print the words to the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-724755. All rights reserved. All writings have been used by permission from the posting sites or authors. 

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Suffering Love

Friday of Holy Week Reflection

Photo taken by h.guenda.

John 18 – 19:42. (Click here for the full text.)

My kingdom is not from this world.
If my kingdom were from this world,
my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over ….
For this I was born, and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

We tend to fancy the dramatic, the pageantry, the show. That’s probably why we love Palm Sunday. Waving palm branches in the air while shouting, “Hosanna!” and “Hallelujah!” Imagining the Messiah riding into town, how do you feel?  Invincible? Like, “we’re the winners”?  Or “we made it”?

We celebrate that Jesus is our Savior. He has come to save us from the evil one who brings chaos to the world. We praise him as the only One able to set everything at peace, even loud stormy weather. Here is the One who can defeat the evil one. Of course it will be a struggle. Haven’t you seen those apocalyptic movies? Read those apocalyptic books? It will be a battle like none other, between the forces of darkness and light. A violent conflict is coming in which the appointed of God will overthrow evil and usher in a new age for the world. 

Ah, but the gospel reading today forces us to step back and away from this kind of drama. Can you believe that the only “military” order recorded in the Bible that Jesus ever gave was to Peter. Jesus said to him in John 18:11, “Put your sword back in its sheath.”  And look at what Jesus tells Pilate in today’s reading. “If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over…” 

If we truly believe what Jesus said that day to Pilate as he faced death by crucifixion, then all that blood and wrath, all that cataclysmic storytelling, all that final battle stuff, well it might resonant with many, but Jesus desires a better truth for us. Jesus brings about the reign of God by a suffering love that has no whip. Therefore, “Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Consider this ….

  • What do you imagine the reign of God to look like?
  • What will it require to establish it?

Prayer. Dear Lord, keep our faith alive. Preserve our hope in you. Don’t let us get caught up in dramatic tales, but may our hearts and lives be faithful to your loving grace always. Amen.

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