I would like to extend a heartfelt greeting to all members of the congregation, their families, and friends and all of our neighbors! Two months ago, I had the privilege of coming to St. James Church and serving as Pastor! Few people have their dreams come true, but I became one of them when I was called here, to the breathtaking beauty of the St. James area! I have received nothing but kindness, hospitality, and welcoming. The Church is beautiful, and I can feel the presence of the Spirit, as we worship. I am grateful to be here!
As we go further into the Spring during the 50 days of Easter may we be filled with gratitude, hope and peace. This is not a light wish considering what is going on in the world. The events with the Ukraine are horrifying, sad, and anger-provoking. Asking for peace in the midst of Ukraine’s losses of life and property may seem inappropriate. However, remember that our world is like an enormous pond: drop a rock in it and the ripples spread out until they touch the edge in all directions. Prayer and peace are like the rocks; the more we put in, the further the ripples spread. Let us keep that foremost in our minds as we take action, whatever the action is. Send money, write Congress to voice your support of policies that aid the Ukraine, offer to help in whatever way you feel moved, but do it all with the peace that is ours through Christ. Ask God for the miracle of an end to this war, having faith in the miracles God is capable of. Above all, pray for the safety of the children, the women, and the men as they suffer in the struggle to keep their freedom. Some people like to say, “Where there is life, there is hope.” I like to word it in a different way, “Where there is God there is hope.” Let us be mindful in our prayers to keep bringing God into the situation, ever giving gratitude for the peace that we live under and let us not give up!
Moving towards Pentecost, we consider a time full of miracles, wonders and commandments from our Risen Lord. Jesus told us which of his instructions was the most important, “That you love one another as I have loved you.” When patience grows short, when you get frustrated or angry or sad, just remember how much Jesus loves you and how he has commanded all your brothers and sisters to do the same. Ask us, depend on us, rely on us, and help others in turn. Join me in giving thanks for the wonderful people in our lives and the beauty of the world God has made.
From Pastor Toni:
May has arrived and brought with it warm sunshine and potent storms. We have beautiful flowers blooming and our cars have all turned yellow from the pollen. We are proud of our children and grandchildren are that finishing another grade of school while we acknowledge that next year they will have moved up to another level regardless of our wishes to slow time. It’s great to be outdoors, and the mosquitos have arrived to contend with, not to mention the danger of sunburn. It’s a balancing act no matter where we turn.
This time of year, perhaps more than any other, reminds us of the extremes we experience in life. On a regular basis, we feel joy and sorrow, success and failure, restlessness and contentment, anger and peace, excitement, and depression. Sometimes we may just want a few minutes of quiet when the world isn’t moving at breakneck speed and nothing more is required of us than the breath we take in and out. We may feel lost, alone, and uncertain and wish that everything and everyone could just hold still for a little while. But that just won’t happen. You can’t depend on what will happen from one minute to the next.
If you find yourself caught in the swirling whirlpool of life, it is more important than ever to remember that God IS dependable. God doesn’t leave your side in the extremes, feels your joy, stays beside you at your sorrows and is ever present when you feel at your lowest. No unchanging bedrock exists in our world except for God’s presence, of which we can always be certain. Turn to God in prayer, both in gratitude for the ups and in pain for the downs. You will always find yourself held gently in the safety and sanctuary of the Divine hand.
So take your Zyrtec, lather on the sunscreen and bug repellent, and step out in confidence knowing that God’s got you!