Thursday, January 21, 2021

Cherish the moment!

who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for a time such as this...

-Esther 4:14

This week in worship we are going to be looking at one of my favorite Bible verses. (Ok, I get that I have a lot of favorite verses… but I really do like this one!)  The book of Esther is the story of a Jewish girl.  In the beginning of the book, Esther seems rather unremarkable.  She lived in exile in a foreign land, and her people were being oppressed by the Persian Empire. In a dramatic change of fortunes, Esther becomes the Queen over the entire land.  If this were a classic fairy tale, the story would end there.  Esther would marry the King and her rags to riches story would be complete.  However, this book is not a fairy tale, and her story was just getting started.  Esther still feels ordinary.  She is still filled with doubts and unbelief.  When her people are in danger, she does not believe she can offer any kind of hope. 

Most of us understand that life is not a fairy tale.  We never reach a point of happily ever after, because we are always plagued by unbelief and failure.  The beauty of the book of Esther is discovering what true hope is all about.  If we find ourselves wishing for the perfect moment, we will wind up wishing our lives away.  Instead, if we recognize that each day is a gift, we will discover what God is really doing.

Personally, I want to start seeing every moment as sacred.  Yes, my kids are going to cry.  I will make mistakes, and sometimes it will look like the world is going to fall apart.  However, God is calling us to cherish this moment.  Let us open our hearts and seize the day!



Thursday, January 7, 2021

To go beyond our minds...

What is going through your mind today?

In the midst of all that has happened this week:

I know some people who are angry.

I know some people are heartbroken.

I know some people are called to deeper reflection.

And I know some people are searching for others who they can blame.

There are so many people in this world who are in such different places of life. Sometimes I wonder how healing can ever come... How can I move toward the people who see the world so differently than I do? I believe the Bible calls us to reach out in love toward our neighbor, but there are days when I don’t know if this is possible.

In the Gospels, there is a very important word that Jesus uses. In Greek, the word is Metanoia.  It is often translated as “repent” but a better translation is “to change one’s heart” or more directly “to go beyond your mind.”  The word Metanoia is one of the first words that Jesus says in his public ministry. I think it is a call for all of us to look beyond what we already have. We are called to look beyond our tribe and really take the time to get to know our neighbors. Instead of simply seeking the knowledge that will confirm our own biases, let us respond to Christ’s Word with hope and love. Jesus stood against hatred and violence by noticing the humanity in others… even his enemies.

If we choose to really love all people and truly see one another as human beings, then we have the ability to to see a glimpse of God’s Kingdom. Instead of giving in to anger, blame, or heartbreak, let us move toward Christ’s Love. Can we move toward new relationships and new opportunities to get to know others in the hope that Christ will show up? This may not always have the results we want, but I believe we shouldn’t underestimate the small but powerful ways Christ may be working. Let us be a church of peace and hope, NOT a church that blames others. Let us stand against violence by loving our neighbor. Let us see beyond our minds…

In Christ,

Brian Ward