The Widow’s Might

(a sermon for November 15, 2020, the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, based on Mark 12:38-44)

In one of several essays he wrote about faith, theology and the Bible, the late author John Updike once made the apt observation that at its heart the gospel narrative is the story of “two worlds colliding.”  He wrote that in his teaching and by his very presence “Jesus overthrows common sense – and declares an inversion of the world’s order, whereby the first shall be last and the last first, the meek shall inherit the earth, the hungry and thirsty shall be satisfied, and the poor of spirit shall possess the Kingdom of Heaven. [This] kingdom,” Updike went on to say, “is the hope and pain of Christianity; and it is attained against the grain, through the denial of instinctive and social wisdom, and through faith in the unseen.”

Two worlds colliding – that is, worldly “common sense” running headlong against God’s “foolishness” – which, when you think about it, might well be the entire biblical message in a nutshell! It certainly reflects God’s action throughout history: consider, for instance, Abraham and Sarah, who held on to the ridiculous notion that although they were both in their nineties, God was not only calling them to leave home and kindred and wander off to a new, as yet unknown destination but was also about to make them parents of an entire nation! Or how about Moses, who by anyone’s standard would have been considered crazy for confronting the all-powerful Pharaoh with a clear ultimatum to “let my people go.”  Or, for that matter, think of the determination of David or Joshua or Daniel; the bravery of Esther and Ruth; the sheer audacity of Jeremiah and a whole host of prophets: these were all persons who lived in direct opposition to the conventions and standards and the politics of their time and their world, and did so out of a faith in the almighty and providential God, strengthened by the love and strength that this same God gave to them for the task.

However, nowhere was this “worldly collision” more apparent than in Jesus, who seemingly defied “good” sense and common sensibility every step along the way.  I mean, whatever else one might choose to say about Jesus – as a believer or even as a casual observer (!) – it certainly can be asserted that where the ways of this world were concerned, Jesus was utterly and relentlessly unpredictable. When it came to social acceptability, he’d do the unthinkable: eating with tax collectors and publicans, associating with prostitutes, lepers, the poor, the sick and the uneducated. And where the powers-that-be were concerned, Jesus regularly shook the tree branches of the status-quo, to say nothing of needling the religious establishment first to within an inch of its patience and then way beyond its tolerance. And in large part because of that the culmination of his life and work ended up being his death on the cross; but even then, in one final act of defiance against the world’s expectations, Jesus was resurrected and all of his creation was redeemed.

Jesus was a true radical; but understand, this was not merely for the sake of being radical for the purpose of instigating that worldly collision to which Updike was referring, but wholly for the sake of the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ was the very embodiment of God’s “foolish wisdom,” in which, according to theologian and historian M. Conrad Hyers, “the whole hierarchy of human values… human greatness and self-importance are inverted. [In the kingdom of God] servants appear in the stead of their masters and mistresses. Riffraff are admitted to the royal banquet table. The nobodies stand up and are counted. Peasants are crowned king and queen for a day, and a ragged band of slaves become the chosen people of God. The kingdom is a world in which beggars are more at home than the wealthy, sinners more than the righteous, children more than their parents, and clowns and fools more than priests and scribes.” Yes, here we have it again; that in the kingdom of God, “everything becomes topsy-turvey,” but it’s so that everything may be made right.

And so understand that when Jesus, as we read in our text for this morning, condemns the prideful posturing of scribes while making a point of lifting up the value a small but sacrificial gift of a widow who’d made her way to the temple treasury, he is not reflecting upon the amount of the gift, but rather commenting on the fact that what this woman had done was flying right in the face of everything the world respects and holds dear: things like wealth, power, abundance and the all too common obsession with “being seen.”

What we’re talking about here, friends, are two little coins; two lepta, representing about one fortieth of a day’s wage for unskilled labor (essentially two pennies).  And not only that, it should be pointed out that these were also very tiny little coins, so small and so light that it wouldn’t have even made a tinkle in the metal trumpets that served as offering receptacles in the temple. So understand that physically and economically, these tiny little lepta meant nothing in the worldly scheme of things, or at least nothing compared with all the other valuable and voluminous gifts ceremoniously placed in the treasury that day.

But here’s the thing: these two tiny little coins that amounted to next to nothing was, in fact, everything this widow had in the world, and she gave it willingly.  She gave it out of her great faith and devotion unto God; she gave it out of her confidence, a sure and certain knowledge, that in giving she would receive and because she’d already received much more than she could ever possibly give in return. Her gift was excessive and extravagant and much more than should ever be required; but then again, so was her love of God. And it’s this gift, this so-called “widow’s mite” that Jesus tells us is worth more than of the ample offerings given in the temple that day; its giver much more reverent than the learned scribes who regularly paraded their piety for the sake of “the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets,” and who “devour widows’ houses” for their own comfort. Upside down thinking, to be sure, to even consider that one elderly, poverty-stricken, powerless widow would give the greater gift, but such is the kingdom of God; where true abundance is measured in commitment and a widow’s “mite” becomes a “widow’s might.”

It’s an amazing concept; and one that most collides with the world in which we live! After all, this is the kind of world where wealth is power; where corporate CEO’s, movie stars and professional athletes command annual salaries far greater than the vast majority of others can even make in a lifetime; where the Jeff Bezos and the Bill Gates of this world contribute a billion dollars to charity and still be among the richest of all. We’re part of a society where too much is not enough, where need, want and avarice too often get confused as one and the same, and where the definition of financial security becomes broader with each passing generation.

But then into this world we know so very well comes Jesus, and he’s bringing us the good news that… wait for it… God does not care about our money!  Now I realize I’m probably going to get in trouble for saying this today – it being stewardship season and everything (!) – but we have to be theologically honest about this: that ultimately, it does not matter to God the amount that we put in the offering plate (virtually or otherwise!).  How much or how little one gives, it doesn’t matter, because the fact is our God – the Almighty God who has created heaven and earth – doesn’t need our money.  But… hold on; for lest you think that we’re all off the hook where stewardship is concerned, understand that God wants something more: something more than our money, something more than merely the abundance of our wealth.

God wants the sacrificial gift… the sacrifice of our hearts… the sacrifice that comes with our trust… the sacrifice that’s offered up by our love.  

And that thing is, this is nothing new, because in scripture God says this again and again: you will be my people, and I will be your God. What God wants, you see, if for you and I to make a commitment unto him, to claim God as our own as God has claimed each one of us.  And that, you see, was what the widow was doing: by this gift of two little coins, everything she had in the world, she was in essence laying her very life into the hands of God, saying, “Here… I trust you. I am putting my life into your hands now. I’m yours.”

It’s a remarkable thing… and not only is it an act of true faith, it’s an act of… might!

And might I add here that ultimately, it’s what our giving and pledging and stewardship is supposed to be all about… about our trust in the God who continues even in these strange and uncertain days to bless us so richly, and about our sheer might in proclaiming the Kingdom of God in our midst. More than the giving of our offerings, it’s about the giving of our hearts; and of course, we all know that when we give our heart to something, we inevitably end up giving much more… perhaps even all that we have. 

William Willimon tells the story of an old friend of his he’d learned had been sent to the custodial care of a nursing facility.  The news came as something of a surprise, wrote Willimon, because as far as he knew his friend, though he was in his late seventies, was in perfect health.  The only thing he could find out was that he’d been sent to the nursing home because of his “distressing mental state,” which surprised Willimon even more; surely, he reasoned, age had not taken so high a toll!

Well, come to find out that apparently, his friend had volunteered in his retirement to work a couple of days a week at the church sponsored soup kitchen. “The next thing they know, John has gotten so involved over there that one day he sat down and wrote them out a check for $100,000! Just like that. With no discussion, no forethought. $100,000” which, by the way, was most of his life’s savings… and he handed it over to the soup kitchen. Of course, Willimon continued, “[his children] thought that he’d gone over the deep end. So, they forced him to go into a nursing home where he would receive proper supervision.”

Listen carefully there, and you might just hear the sound of a collision; for such is the upside-down, topsy-turvey world of the kingdom of God!

Am I suggesting this morning that we all sign away our life’s savings to the church, or to some mission movement?  No… but I would suggest that each of us look closely at the thoughtfulness of our giving; in our offerings and stewardship, yes, but most especially in the giving of ourselves. Do we give a portion out of our abundance, or do we give all that we have? Do we offer “first fruits” or just the gleanings of our lives? Is what we offer unto God today with our lives a sacrificial gift?  Do we truly give of ourselves?

I know that these are strange times to be asking these kinds of questions; uncertainty and fear and creeping “common sense” would seem to dictate that this year we quarantine our resources along with ourselves!  But our “kingdom sensibilities” would suggest otherwise and that now is the time to approach the temple of God with thanksgiving and gladness; that now is when we should be investing our whole selves into the Lord’s work in this place; that now is the moment when we are called to boldly be the church in a world sorely in need of what we have to give.

Now is the time, beloved, and I hope you will give prayerful consideration to how you’ll respond; but even more so, I pray that whatever “mite” each of us brings forward, it be a gift from our hands, our hearts and our very lives… and that first and foremost it be in response to what has already been given us “by the grace of our Lord  Jesus Christ; rich as he was, he made himself poor for [our] sake, in order to make [us] rich by means of his poverty.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

For this will be the gift that show forth our might for the sake of his Kingdom.

Thanks be to God.


© 2020 Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.


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The Time to Be Ready

“The Parable of the Ten Virgins,” by Ain Vares


(a sermon for November 8, 2020, the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, based on Matthew 25:1-13)

OK… let’s do the math here…

In our text for this morning, Jesus tells this story of ten bridesmaids waiting together on one particular night for the arrival of the bridegroom, at which point, as was custom at the time, the wedding festivities would begin. We are told, however, at the outset that “five of them were foolish and five were wise;” which is interesting because for all practical purposes all ten of the bridesmaids are pretty much identical: all ten of them were invited to the wedding, obviously, and given that they were all waiting there, it’s also clear they all wanted to be there to meet the bridegroom and join the party. Moreover, “since the bridegroom was delayed,” all ten had waited long into the night; and yes, though as that night wore on they’d actually fallen asleep on the watch, that doesn’t account for “the foolishness of the five,” either; because, again, they’d all done that; so none of them come off in this story as particularly steadfast or heroic.

No, what separates the foolish from the wise in this parable seems to come down to lamp oil; or more specifically, the lack thereof! Understand, it’s not like these five “foolish ones” didn’t have the oil to begin with, because they did; it’s just that when the big moment finally arrived, they’d realized they were running out and had to go looking for more oil to keep their lamps burning. Never mind that the five “wise ones” likely had more than enough to share because they’d brought extra; no, these others have to go off looking for whatever dealer might be willing to sell them some oil at that hour of the night. And as a result, these five bridesmaids end up missing the bridegroom’s arrival and worst of all, with the party now in full swing they are uninvited to the wedding and quite literally locked out of the festivities; the bridegroom, we’re told, actually hears their pleas to be let in, but claims to not even know them!

Which quite honestly, at least as I hear this story, comes off as rather harsh and unyielding; downright rude, and even kind of mean! I mean, all this for just forgetting an extra flask of oil? Come on! Let me tell you, I’ve officiated at a great many weddings over the years – not to mention the fact that I played music at countless wedding receptions when I was younger (!) – and trust me here, where the bridal party is concerned (or the groom’s party for that matter!) there are a whole lot worse offenses than not having enough oil!   Nonetheless, as Jesus’ parable comes to a close we are left with this image of five bridesmaids left outside alone in the cold, forgotten and excluded from the celebration inside. And to this, Jesus says, “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Which is where things really get troubling: because if we’re to understand that “the kingdom of God will be like this;” that its coming is to be likened to that of the bridegroom to his wedding; and if that ultimately, there may well be some who are excluded from that celebration, then what does that say about Jesus? This gets complicated by the fact that most biblical scholars consider this parable as Jesus’ way of saying (and by extension, Matthew’s reminder to the early church who were actively waiting for the kingdom of heaven to arrive) that while the kingdom might not come immediately, it will come; and that there will be dire consequences for those who are not prepared when it does; hence what is literally and spiritually a very dark ending for what begins as a celebrative story!

That Jesus would even tell a story like this is troubling; after all, this isn’t exactly the kind, forgiving and welcoming Savior we’ve come to know and love! We’d expect this story to end with the doors of the wedding hall bursting open and the five remaining bridesmaids, despite their foolishness, to be welcomed in with open arms.  But that’s not how it goes; in fact, to quote Matthew Skinner, if the question asked by this parable is “what does the Christian life consist of,” and “what does God expect from us” in anticipation of the kingdom’s coming, then “Jesus’ answer, according to Matthew’s Gospel [is] ‘Wait faithfully. Together. Or else.‘” Or as another commentator has noted, “this passage doesn’t feel at all like the good news of the gospel;” but there it is.

So what do we do with this? Clearly this is a story about our own spiritual readiness, and how where the kingdom of God is concerned the time to be ready is now; it’s a parable in which Jesus is calling his disciples to vigilance: it’s “a call to wrap our lives more securely in the faith we profess,” and to be constantly aware and open to God’s dramatic future as it unfolds. But the problem is that just like what happened to those five foolish bridemaids, “stuff happens” to us as well; life and its concerns intervene, we find ourselves pulled in other directions and before long, and all too easily we find ourselves distracted and unprepared for what God is doing. I love what M. Eugene Boring of Bright Divinity School has written about this; he says that “living the life of the kingdom” can be done relatively easily for the short term. But “when the kingdom is delayed, the problems arise… being a peacemaker for a day is not as demanding as being a peacemaker year after hostile year; being merciful for an evening can be a pleasant experience, but being merciful for a lifetime requires [true] spiritual preparedness.”

In other words, to be vigilant can be hard: for us to truly live the Christian life “for the long haul;” to be faithful day in and day out, imitating Christ and keeping his values until his promised return is at best a challenge for us; but as Jesus reminds us, it’s a crucial one. Ultimately, it ends up being less about whether or not we have that extra flask of oil on hand than it does being about how that oil is burned; remember, when we’re singing “Give me oil in my lamp,” the point is to “keep me burning till the break of day.” It’s about the light that is created in the burning!

Actually, you know, that’s the failure of those five bridesmaids; remember that the whole reason that those ten bridesmaids were there in the first place was so that when the bridegroom finally did arrive, they could welcome the bride and the groom with joy befitting the celebration! Their job was to truly be the heralds of unbelievably good news: this was their first job and their primary task; however, when the critical moment arrived, they’d abandoned their post and failed in their task, all because they’d run off to look for more lamp oil! It turns out that the oil was only a means to an end; one tool, one way for the bridesmaids to stay ready and to keep on task. So at the end of the day (or the end of the night, in this case) the foolishness of the five was revealed not by the lack of extra oil but by their failure to be ready to embrace and communicate the joy of the bridegroom’s coming!

This is the kind of failure that Jesus was warning against; and friends, make no mistake, it’s a concern for us as well.  For you see, we are the people of this generation who continue to keep vigil for the coming of God’s kingdom in all its fullness and glory; we are the ones that Jesus has called to be waiting, and watching… and ready; we are the ones who need to be ready to embrace and to communicate the joy of our faith. After all, it’s one thing for you and I to “be religious,” but it’s another to be the kind of person who truly radiates the joy of what we believe: the joy of knowing Jesus Christ; the joy of his victory over sin and death; the joy of his presence and his peace and his counsel with us in every situation of life; the joy of knowing in our heart of hearts not only that “God is still speaking,” but that in Christ, he is coming again. The question for each one of us, friends, is whether or not our lives radiate that kind of joy; for this truly is the joy of the kingdom’s coming.

So, yes, this parable is a good reminder to keep plenty of lamp oil on hand as we’re waiting for the kingdom to come; but the point is how we keep those lamps burning, and the importance of our keeping our hearts full of expectation so that we may hear the call of Christ and be able to respond whenever it comes. It’s about letting things like justice and mercy and compassion regularly flow from our lives to the lives of others; it’s about being ready to bear the burdens and carry the grief of those around us, so that they can be open to receiving the unending hope and strength of God in their darkest hours. It’s about love, honestly and truly, being the answer to the multitude of questions and conflicts we face in this world.  And it’s about being prepared for every opportunity to do God’s work in the places where we dwell and among the people with whom we share this life. It’s carpe diem — “seize the day!” –– on a massive, life-long scale for the sake of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, and of his kingdom; and it’s our first and primary job, yours and mine, as his disciples.

We don’t generally do catechisms in our Congregational/UCC tradition; it is, however, very much a part of some Christian traditions, and a worthy one, in which a summary of the principles of Christian religion are presented in the form of questions and answers. The idea is that by knowing all the answers to the questions, you’ve been properly instructed as to what it means to be a Christian. I mention it because there is something called the “Winchester Shorter Catechism,” which is used in the Presbyterian Church, and the very first question, slightly translated (!), is as follows: what is the chief goal of humanity; what is our chief purpose? And the answer is, “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

You know, I like that: “To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” It’s a wonderful reminder to each one of us we wait and watch for God’s grand celebration to finally come to fruition that our purpose is ultimately not to go out and find joy; but to indeed embrace and share the joy we’ve already been given! Christ has come, and he will come again; our job, beloved is to share it: today, tomorrow and in everyday and every way that comes, so that when the time comes when that joy is wholly fulfilled, we’ll be found right where we should be doing exactly what we should be doing in anticipation of his coming.

Because remember the time to be ready is now, and we would not want to be caught unprepared… “keep awake therefore, for [we] know not the day nor the hour.”

Stay ready, beloved… and as we do may our thanks be unto God.

Amen and AMEN.

© 2020  Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.

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Posted by on November 8, 2020 in Faith, Jesus, Life, Sermon


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At the End of the Day

(a sermon for November 1, 2020, the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost and All Saint’s Day, based on Revelation 7:9-17)

The story goes that on one particular Sunday morning the pastor was talking about matters of life, death and afterlife during the children’s sermon in worship. He’d actually spent a great deal of time talking with these kids about what God has promised to those who believe, and when he’d finished with his talk, he said to them, “Now… don’t you want to go to heaven?”   And most of the kids joined in a chorus of affirmation, all except one little boy who responded quickly and rather loudly, “No way, not me!”

Of course, this was most decidedly not what the pastor was expecting to hear, so he looked at the little boy and asked, “You mean you don’t want to go to heaven when you die?”

Oh,” answered the boy.  “When I die?  Oh, sure!  I thought you were getting a group together to go right now!”

It’s true, you know; even for us adults who would name ourselves as believers, as the saying goes, when life is sweet heaven can wait!  By that I mean that when life’s blessings are pouring down in abundance, relationships are solid and faith is easy, on such occasions, to quote Edmund Steimle, “questions about the afterlife aren’t too pressing.”  We simply and purposefully move through our days bolstered by our confident (if somewhat vaguely understood) assurance that when the time comes, heaven will be there waiting for us.

On the other hand, however, we all know that life does not always consist of what we might perceive as an endless outpouring of blessing; there are going to be times when things are difficult and faith can be a real tough thing to hold on to.  The catalyst might be illness or grief or one of any number of life’s many challenges; hey, 2020 alone has offered up plenty of reasons to despair!  The point is that these are the times and situations when a concern for heaven’s promise and its reality becomes very central to our thoughts and prayers… these are the moments when a sure and certain hope is what we long for the most!

Back in seminary I did a paper on the theology contained within the African-American Spirituals that are such an indelible part of our Christian hymnody as well as the musical landscape of this nation.  I was sort of approaching the subject from a musical perspective, but what I discovered in my research is that this music was not created out of any real desire for art – though that’s certainly what it is – but rather as an expression of great and redeeming hope; both in this life (where these songs often served as a rallying cry for freedom via the Underground Railroad), as well as in the life to come. So, for instance, when the slaves sang of heaven being a place where all God’s children had shoes – “when I get to heaven I’m going to wear my shoes” – they sang those words as an affirmation that however hopeless their situation was now, someday they would be living the life that God had intended for them; until at the last, if not on earth then in heaven, they would finally be who they really were. 

And while it is true that in our comfort and privilege most of us cannot begin to wholly appreciate the meaning and cultural impact of these song, nonetheless there’s a powerful promise there for each of us who find ourselves in times of trouble… that there will be one, final decisive victory over all that which would seek to destroy us; that in the end God in Christ shall have his way with the world that he created and loves beyond measure; and that those who suffer and who find themselves in the grip of death will find their salvation, because nothing in life or death or all creation separates us from the love of God. No matter what befalls us in life, our enduring blessing is that God is with us; actively seeking, searching and inviting us into his love and care.  As C. S. Lewis has put it, “God is relentless in seeking what is his.” 

And this is the vision that we’re given in our text for this morning from the book of Revelation.  Now, Revelation is, to say the very least, one of the more difficult books of the Bible to wrap our minds around:  it’s a prophetic work, it’s overflowing with rich, diverse and oftentimes dense and confusing symbolism, and the tendency for many people studying this portion of scripture is to try to match up whatever’s happening in the world with what’s found there, as if to crack some kind of apocalyptic biblical code.  I’m not going to argue that theology here, but I will say that we need to be careful with that kind of thinking because it risks diminishing the powerful message that’s contained in this final book of the New Testament.

Historically speaking, you see, the book of Revelation is a vision given to a CHhristian named John at the end of the 1st century; and by the way, most biblical scholars understand that this was not the John who wrote the fourth gospel, but rather a member of the early church who had been, because of his faith, banished to the small island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.  William Willimon, in his commentary on this text, puts it very bluntly: here was a man who was a “member of a tiny movement on the fringe of a great empire, [part of a] fragile church hanging on by its fingernails for life.”  What we know as the Book of Revelation was an epistle to encourage Christians in the seven churches of Asia Minor to remain faithful to Christ even as they were facing persecution, if not annihilation, at the hands of the Roman authorities.

It was a bleak time for the new church; so, imagine John’s astonishment to be given such a stunning vision as what we’ve shared here this morning.  A throne room, filled with a multitude of people from every nation and replete with all the trappings of royalty,  and it’s the  Lamb of God – the same Lamb who knows what it is to suffer, to be condemned to death, to be slain and humiliated; the Lamb once crucified, pushed aside by the ways of a cruel world – who now sits on the throne and rules all creation from the very center of heaven.

And what an incredible vision!  Hundreds of years ago, St. Augustine described these scenes as being ineffable, beyond words; and time has still not given us an adequate means of conveying the deep meaning of this vision.  This revelation, you see, is our ending and our answer to all the questions we pose about what life and this world is all about.  It sets forth the final victory of God in Christ over a hurting, rebellious world, the victory that most certainly will come to pass in the fulfillment of God’s own vision of time.

It is a sure and certain promise of God, and it is good news indeed; but here’s the thing:  it’s not the end of the vision.

In the midst of all of this, you see, is this great multitude of white robed worshipers “standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.”   The question is asked, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from,” and the answer is given: “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  

These were the faithful who have endured to the end; these are the believers who suffered contempt and loneliness and abuse because they would not deny their Lord.  Some of them are truly the saints of God, martyrs who died dramatic and glorious deaths for the sake of their faith; but also there are those who might be referred to as “ordinary saints,” the ones who played their part in the great drama of salvation by showing unswerving loyalty to Christ in whatever their circumstances happened to be.   And here they all are, each one standing before the throne of God in heaven: believers who had once known suffering yet now “hunger no more, and thirst no more;” the faithful who have been sheltered by God’s presence, shepherded by Christ and refreshed by the waters of eternal life.

What we have here is a vision of the church, that even in the midst of its greatest tribulation, is able to sing a song of victory because whatever struggles it faces in the present time it will prevail; it will prevail because the power of death has already been vanquished forever in the cross of Christ! 

And the best part is that though this was a vision given to believers at the beginning of the first millennia, it remains a revelation for our lives here at the start of the third!  This is our divine assurance that though we struggle through the dark and rough patches of our lives, we will find the strength and hope we need for the way because we know that “at the end of the day” God in Jesus Christ is victorious over death and will lead us on the pathway home.  

And what that means for us is that though there are so many uncertainties and even more injustices in this life, we can walk forward with confidence and enduring hope because whether we live or whether we die we belong to God; and when we belong to God, rest assured are loved and supported in a way that will carry from the darkness to the dawn of a brand-new day.

You know, lately I’ve found myself thinking that amongst the worst feelings we can have is to not have any sense of how things are going to turn out; to be in the midst of a situation and really have no indication of how the story will end.  Take right now, for instance:  we don’t know how the election is going to turn out and what that means for us as a nation no matter who wins; we’re still incredibly uncertain as to what’s going to happen with the Coronavirus in the coming months and what kind of winter we’re going to have; at this point we’re not even sure what we’ll be able to do for Thanksgiving and Christmas, much less who we’ll cope throughout the coming winter!  The fact is, we just don’t know yet, and it’s hard in these present days not knowing how the world will turn.

But I do know this:  God is in charge.

I love what Jim Somerville says to this: “I picture it like you would see it acted out on a stage, all that carnage and bloodshed there on the stage, all those battles being fought, all that smoke going up.  The story is at its worst in that moment and you wonder how it can ever have a happy ending… [but] when God gets good and ready… he’s going the clear the stage of all that bloodshed and carnage.  He’s going to mop up the awful mess we’ve made of things.  He’s going to make a new heaven and new earth… in the end God will make an end of death itself and the last word will be the word of life.”

It will be the fulfillment of the highest and the best, the triumph of God’s love and that place where God dwells… and it will give us the hope and strength for the living of these days, whatever those days might bring.

Let us embrace that sure and certain promise, and may the Lord lead each of us to live on earth as it is in heaven… and may our thanks be to God.

Amen and AMEN!

© 2020  Rev. Michael W. Lowry.  All Rights Reserved.


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