December 01, 2019: 1st Sunday in Advent

Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, as we begin a new church year, focus our attention on what awaits us—not only this coming Christmas and new year, but the larger issues having to do with the eternal future that awaits us.  Equip us to cast aside the deeds of darkness and its attendant temptations and walk into the Light of your grace and mercy.  Yes, sweep our hearts clean of sin so that we have room for your forgiving love.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR COMING CHRISTMAS KING!

TEXT:  Romans 13: 11-14

Dearly Beloved in Our Coming Lord Christ: 

          About 10 years ago our country’s Secretary of State was the point person for a new campaign to improve relations between Russia and America.  That official met with the Russian government in a televised press conference and spoke about a new “reset” of relations.  She even pulled out a giant “reset” button as a prop—kind of like you might see in a Staples ad.  Then she hit the button, expecting it to light up.  Nothing happened!  It was a dud.  It didn’t work.—And so we still find ourselves today at odds with Russia.

          Advent is a Godly time for us to hit a “reset” button in our own lives.  Hopefully, peace and harmony with God and ourselves will come out of it.  And today’s lesson gives us a blueprint to accomplish this, otherwise your life will turn into a dud….

I

          Advent is our “present time.”  Advent 2019 foretells snow storms on the horizon, a cold winter, people spending far more than they can afford, superpowers squaring off against each other, superbugs which will lay many low, and basically more problems than we can count.  It will feature evil’s intrusion into our lives and cause us to question the meaning of life.  So what are any of us going to do about it?  Listen to Paul: “And do this, understanding the present time.  The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.”

          Most would say that the Christian Church is outmoded and time has passed it by.  Most would say it is comprised of stodgy, boring people who live in the past and cling to ancient ideas of right and wrong, along with a morality that doesn’t fit our fast-paced world.  Most would say that the Church is an anachronism, a concept that time has left behind.  Paul tells us to throw off your blanket of accepting this view, to rouse yourself from the slumber of complacency you often indulge in, and to get ready for big things, cosmic events leading up to Christ’s 2nd coming and the end of the world.  Can you imagine eating a big turkey dinner, engaging in self-congratulations around the table, shuffling off and going to sleep—right through the evening news—and missing out on the “breaking news headline” which announces the end of the world?! Christ is coming.  The future of God’s power and judgement is very close by.  And Christmas, in 24 days, will inaugurate His 1st coming in preparation for His 2nd coming.

II

          It’s time to reset ourselves.  “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

          The word: holiday means “holy day.”  Anything holy is associated with God, isn’t it?  And yet the holidays, including Christmas, usually revolve around selfishness, greed, drunkenness, illicit sex, and generally almost anything that isn’t “holy.”  Because it is the modern American way, even Christians get caught up in this web of evil.  From now until Christ’s birthday the headlines will scream about how holiday sales are up.  It will reek of materialism.  The vast majority will spend most waking hours “thinking how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”  And then in the hard, cold light of January, the bills will come due with a thud.  Likewise, God’s bill will someday soon come due, too, concerning our life and the future of our soul.

          And so we are to ponder all these issues during Advent and hit our own reset button!  Elsewhere, Paul tells us this: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  If you do that, these days leading up to Christmas will be full of meaning, none of which will cause you a sleepless night.  And you can do that by focusing on the Baby Jesus Who is coming to win your freedom from the inroads of evil by triumphing over it on a cross and by handing you His victory—all wrapped up and lying in a simple manger.  Most would call that a quaint, delusional dream; but by His grace, we call it: a promise of God!  So hit your reset button starting today and see the beauty and timelessness of that promise fulfilled in your life this very year!  Amen

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH…..

Pastor Thomas H. Fox

Dec. 1, 2019 

November 24, 2019: Christ The King Sunday

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You alone are the King of all creation.  You alone know everything and shape and mold everything so that Your name will be hallowed and Your kingdom of grace may flourish.  Today give us a glimpse into Your greater truth that surrounds and protects us.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR LOVING KING!

TEXT:  John 18: 34-38

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          I watched a little bit of the spectacle in Washington over the past 2 weeks.  I watched various witnesses being sworn in, declaring they would recount: “The truth, the whole truth.”  And it brought to mind the question of Pilate to Christ: “What is truth?”  Let’s ponder it.

I

          Is it the truth to declare “the sun is shining?”  Well, not today in Burlington, MA.  But somewhere in the world it is.  So, that truth is therefore dependent on where you live and what time of day it is.  Such truth is relative.  How about: “Today is November 24, 2019.”  Is that true?  Again, it depends on the calendar you’re following.  Here’s another one: “I love you.”  How?  In what way?  Does your love ever waver or fade?  Such truths are relative.  Some will say: What about the truths of science?  I answer: How do you know gravity exists throughout the universe in the exact same way we understand it?  Maybe there’s an alternate universe where it doesn’t exist?  By now you’re a bit exasperated.  Truth, human truth, is relative, dependent upon our understanding of something at that time and in that situation.  Is it any wonder Pilate was a cynic and mockingly asked Jesus: “What is truth?” 

          What precipitated this exchange between the Roman governor and Christ, the King of all creation?  It was Jesus saying: “You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

          This whole exchange brings up a reality-jarring problem all humans face.  That is the difference between subjective truth vs. objective truth.  Subjective truth is whatever is true for you.  So, color blind people see red whenever most others see green or blue.  What is “true” for one may not be “true for the other.”  Likewise, a sociopath may adopt a murderous lifestyle as “truth” whereas most others would say: “That’s horrible and wrong!”  If you boil it down, most of what is called: “truth” in this life, is utterly subjective.  That is, it’s right for me but not necessarily right for anyone else.  And of course, this breeds chaos, so we try to ignore the problem and sort of let the majority rule. 

          Then there’s objective truth, or “it’s true whether you believe it or not.”  Or, it’s true and correct even though you may not understand or grasp its correctness.  Let me ask you this: “What happens when you die?  Where do you go?  What do you do?  Do the same rules of earthly life apply in the hereafter?  And how and from what source do you know anything about this?”   By definition time isn’t timeless.  So, is truth timeless? 

          Pilate was what we’d call a modern man.  He was a cynic.  He questioned everything and believed only in what he had experienced: The power of might makes right and money buys anything.  His question: “What is truth?” stems from all that he could not quantify.

II

          Jesus’ answer to Pilate is intriguing.  “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  That’s a stunning statement.  It presupposes that Jesus knows real truth.  He presupposes that Jesus possesses knowledge far beyond mere human comprehension.  It presupposes that He possesses knowledge, wisdom and understanding which is timeless and infinite.  Pilate was a smart cynic and he grasped a portion of what Christ was saying.  No wonder he responds with: “What is truth?” 

          Jesus’ response is grounded in the truth that God exists, that He alone knows truth, and that Jesus is God in human flesh.  Recall Him saying: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  That would make Him the King of the universe, answerable to no one.  And because Jesus is God’s Son and there’s unity in the Trinity, all this is True! 

          Jesus tells us about Himself in the Bible.  Here’s another passage: “God Word is truth!”  So, whatever the Bible says is correct across all ages and stands the test of time and human relativity.  So, when Scripture tells us not to: cheat, steal, lie, murder, or commit adultery—those truths are always in force.  Thus, whoever breaks those rules sins against God and “the soul that sins it shall die.”  Such truth is black and white with no extenuating circumstances.  Otherwise God’s truth isn’t true.

          But there’s another great truth in the Bible.  It is this: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them anymore.”  That truth is the Gospel.  It is encapsulated in Jesus’ own words from the cross: “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  God is light and him dwells no darkness at all.  God is love.  Those truths show and tell us how He conquered the untruth of Satan’s lies.  They tell us that Godly truth won an eternal victory over sin and evil on the cross and confirmed it by rising from the dead.  So, even that commonly accepted truth: “When you die, you die” is false!  For Christ died but came back to life!  He did it for you and me.  And when we believe in Him, or as Jesus says here: “Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me” well, God’s truth trumps human relativity. 

          My friends, Christ is our King!  He knows the truth, gives it to us through faith, and it sets us free!  It sets us free from the silliness of human understanding about all the great issues of this life and the one beyond.  It provides us a paradigm for living: “If you continue in My words, then you are my disciples; and then you shall know the truth and that truth shall set you free!” 

          Truth is a beautiful thing in that it is never wrong and never goes out of style. So  listen to Christ the Purveyor of real truth and no matter what occurs in this life you WILL live happily ever after!  Our King has made it so and nothing and no one can change that fact!

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH…..       

Welcome to Pinewood!

IMG_0231Sharing the joyous news of forgiveness in Jesus Christ is our chief purpose. To that end, we seek to nurture everyone we meet.

Join Us For Worship

Sunday Worship

10:45 a.m.

10:00 a.m. Summer Services

Starting June 1, 2019, we will begin our summer schedule with Sunday service beginning at 10:00 a.m. 

Note from the Pastor About Pinewood:

People often say: “The devil is in the details.”  We at Pinewood like to say: “God is in the details!”  It’s true!  God cares about our lives down to the smallest of details.  He never overlooks any of us.  He shows kindness, compassion, forgiveness and love to all from the smallest infant to the most seasoned member.  And along the way He breeds happiness, joy, and inner peace among all His children.  That’s why we’re a contented congregation.  He gives such blessings to each of us—and we share them.  We laugh together, we cry together, we praise God together, and we give thanks together.  We invite you to be  part of such togetherness.   Pastor Thomas H. Fox

May 31, 2020: Pentecost

Let us pray: O Holy Spirit from on high, today we recognize and celebrate Your outpouring of gifts upon Your Holy Church.  Without those gifts we would be powerless, despondent, and lacking any sense of joy in our lives.  But with them we are powerful, courageous and joyful.  Lord, today keep it up!  Make our joy complete as we use Your gifts wisely.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE COMFORTER FROM ON HIGH!

TEXT:  Acts 2: 1-21

Dearly Beloved By the Holy Spirit! 

          We’ve been pummeled by bad news for the last few months.  So today, as we come back to God’s house for worship, it’s time for good news!  And Pentecost provides it.  This good news Sunday isn’t a one-shot deal, either.  It lasts and will last until the world as we know it ceases to exist.  So, listen up and revel in God’s grace.

I

          The facts of Pentecost, the day we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon the NT Church, the facts of it are well known to all.  Who doesn’t stand in awe of those miraculous tongues of holy fire resting on the disciples’ heads?  Who doesn’t marvel at the sound of the rushing wind filling the house where they resided?  Who doesn’t thrill over their new ability to preach fluently in foreign tongues?  And who doesn’t rejoice over Peter’s great sermon that converted over 5000 people in one day?  Humanly speaking, Pentecost was a once-in-all lifetimes event.  It will never be repeated.  And yet, the effects of Pentecost will live on forever, because the God-given gifts of the Spirit are unceasing, even today.

II

          People sometimes confuse the “fruits of the Spirit” with the “gifts of the Spirit.”  Both are outlined in the Bible.  To understand and bring forth the fruits of God’s grace in our lives, we need to better understand the Spirit’s gifts that make them happen.  So, here are the gifts: 1. Wisdom.  2. Understanding. 3. Knowledge. 4. Right Judgment. 5. Courage. 6. Reverence. 7. Wonder and Awe in God’s Presence. 

          Here’s a passage defining true wisdom: Christ says: “I am the Vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in me and I in him will bear much fruit.  For apart from me, you can do nothing.”  True wisdom is believing, trusting in, and clinging to Christ and the grace He won for us on the cross.  And by the Spirit’s power, you have it!  The next gift is understanding.  Here’s a passage about that one: “Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief.”  Yes, grasping your own sinfulness and limitations is the foundation of recognizing how much the Spirit has pulled you up out of the mire of personal evil and negativity. 

          3. Knowledge is vital, too.  God stuff is deep and profound, yet also simple and to-the-point.  We find knowledge, true knowledge that never varies or changes, in the entire Bible.  The Spirit is the One Who teaches and explains such truths to us. Truths such as: Who is God?  Why does He love us?  How did He save us?  What does He want me to do with my life? The meaning of life is encapsulated in the little hymn verse: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so!”  Yes it does, because the Spirit imparts such knowledge to us in every verse, in every truth the Bible contains. 

          Right judgment needs to be present in every child of God.  There is a right in life and many wrongs in life.  God is always right.  Righteousness, or rightness with God, comes from Him alone.  And in Christ He made us right with Him by taking on our personal evil and overcoming its outcome: death, by dying for our sins and then rising to life.  So, our gift of right judgement underscores, it’s foundational, to every judgement call we make in all aspects of living.

          Following God takes a courageous heart.  Some call it  having the courage of your convictions.  We don’t come by it naturally.  We are born with a fight of flight mentality.  We always try to take the easy way out of a difficult situation.  That’s why Peter’s Pentecost sermon is so amazing!  Until Pentecost, he and the others had often adopted that attitude.  But once the Spirit was poured out on them, they were fearless in the face of all enemies, even death.  So, when challenged on Pentecost, Peter spoke up, stood up, and wanted to be counted as a follower of Jesus Christ.  The passage: “Be strong and take heart and wait on the Lord” speaks of such Christian courage.  And the Spirit has implanted it within you.

          I love the next gift: reverence. Reverence is realizing that anything connected with God, including human life, is a Divine gift.  The world has no reverence.  Case in point: up until recently church wasn’t considered an “essential service” by the powers that be!  Reverence means we always do our best in every aspect of life because God gives all, is all, and expects the best from us because: “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us   from all sin.”  Reverence is a daily recognition that God is in charge of all things and His plans stand behind us always.

          And now comes the final gift the Spirit freely hands out to His Church: Wonder and Awe.  Because we humans see things by “faith and not by sight” this gift is a huge mystery to the world at large.  The world doesn’t stand in awe of God’s goodness nor His grace.  That’s because He works His salvation today in Word and Sacraments.  There He is hidden underneath water, bread, wine, and simple human words.  Who’s in awe of any of that?—Except Christians who believe?  But because of this gift—healing, miracles, and the wonderment of both creation and heaven shine and fill us with joy and gladness no matter the weather, pandemics, or the world turned topsy-turvy.  For only Christians are given the mindset: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

III

          I once read of a preacher who called these seven gifts of the Spirit “torpedo gifts.”  That is, they come upon us when we often least expect them and cause an explosion.  That explosion comes to us via the Spirit in the form of the “fruits of the Spirit.”  These 7 gifts bring forth: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” 

          One last thought: we’re all living through a singular event in our history right now.  And it’s not fun.  Pentecost was a one-shot event, too.  But, but, because of the gifts and fruits that they have elicited, well, the joy of Pentecost will live on forever and shape our history for the good, forever.  We need His gifts!  We have His gifts!  Now, use His gifts with a grace-gladdened heart.  Amen

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH…     

Pastor Thomas H. Fox 

May 24, 2020: Ascension Sunday

Let us pray: Lord, on this glorious Ascension Sunday we join with saints and angels in praising You for Your victory over all evil on our behalf and we join them in celebrating Your victory in heaven.  We’re thankful  that after all the pain and suffering You finally got to “go home” and bask in glorious bliss.  Your happy heart makes our hearts joyous, too!  May we never grow tired of that feeling!  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST OUR RISEN AND ASCENDED LORD!

TEXT:  Acts 1: 1-11

Dearly Beloved in Christ:

          In order to truly appreciate the meaning of the Ascension, we need to go back and ponder some of the truths of Christology.  We know all about how Christ was true man, or fully human.  All of  us can recite the Christmas story from memory where it is spelled out.  Being true Man isn’t a cliché.  It means that Christ as both God and Man possessed all the essential characteristics which make us, us, with one exception: He was without sin.  Recall the passage: “Christ was tempted in every way that we are, yet He was without sin.”  That means that Jesus had a human emotional side.  He laughed, He cried—Jesus wept, He got angry—think of the money changers in the temple, He was sad—as He wept over Jerusalem’s plight on the way to Golgatha, and on it goes.  There are various passages which spell out these emotions.  And where did such emotive responses come from?  Where did they originate for Him and for us?  Obviously, the answer is: God.  For God Almighty has an emotional side.  He gets angry—Sodom and Gomorrah.  Prayer is a “sweet-smelling offering” to Him, so it makes Him happy.  The same was true after completing creation—“Behold it was very good.”  God even felt grief over the sorted state of  mankind before the Flood.  So, the emotional side of Christ was present in both the God side and the human side of Christ.  

I fear many often view Jesus as a robot creature–that He was detached from all those raw emotions that make us, us.  Or, that such emotional responses in life are somehow misguided or wrong.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Emotions are neither.  Emotions aren’t the problem, but sin is.  And Christ was without sin.  Evil had no hold over Him.  In fact, His whole work was about saving us eternally from evil’s influence.  And on the cross, feeling unimaginable pain, Christ did just that.  He died to sin and in the process put sin to death—all this for us.  Then He arose to restore lasting life to us.  All this made Him relieved, vindicated, and satisfied.  It made us glad beyond measure.  And now, 40 days after Easter, it would further fill His heart with joy because He finally got to go home and reap heavenly accolades.

I

          So, for me, Ascension is all about joy.  It is my favorite church holiday. For on Ascension He finally reaped His much-deserved heavenly homecoming party!  All the other holy days are about Christ doing something, working out our salvation.   But Ascension is all about Him receiving something—praise and adoration, from joyous saints and angels.  And now this would never cease!  The victory over the dark powers was complete!  They can never be resurrected because death lost and Christ won!  Yes, forgiveness conquers power.  The King of forgiveness has made it so.

          I guess I would liken  Ascension to a Medal of Honor winner coming back to his or her hometown for the first time.  They had already saved lives, thus winning the medal, defeated the enemy, gone to the White House for the grandiose ceremony, and made headlines.  They were basking in thankfulness and satisfaction.  In this case, it was God’s Son, basking in that glory.  But when He came to His hometown, heaven, and was welcomed by its inhabitants, well, the sound shook the cosmos, the trumpets brayed even louder, and the applause and celebration was beyond all compare.  How must Christ have felt over all this!?  It swelled His human heart and soul.  And as to His Godly side, well, it made God glad and extremely satisfied over a joyous victory!  The Giver of all good things finally became the Receiver of all good things.  And this party has no end.

II

          Celebrating a loved one’s well-deserved accolades is a joyous time in our lives.  The disciples got to do it with angels announcing His departure to them.  They celebrated in hearing that announcement that someday: “He will return in the same manner as you have seen Him go.”  Then He will take them into glory, too.  And so it is for us today.  For that promise of God extends to each and every faithful believer in Christ.

          Meanwhile, we have no lasting fears.  For our Lord is in heaven at God’s right hand exercising all power for our benefit.  He’s in heaven listening to our every groaning and laying our petitions before His Father, knowing that the Almighty will hear, listen to, and grant them better than we can ever express.  He knows our emotional state.  He truly has felt our pain.  And from heaven He can do something—everything—to alleviate it. 

          Ascension is my favorite holy day because it is all about genuine joy without end.–  Christ’s joy that we get to share in.  What a privilege it is to be a part of such joy.  Every Lutheran knows from confirmation class that “Amen” means: This is most certainly true!  And so we end this little homily with: Amen, Amen, and Amen!

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH…..

Pastor Thomas H. Fox     

May 17, 2020: 5th Sunday after Easter

Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for giving us clear direction for our lives.  In an age where many flounder and search for meaning to their lives, You spell it out today in our text.  We are to let our light of faith shine forth at all times with all people and make an eternal difference to them.  Further equip us to do so today.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!

TEXT:  I Peter 3: 15-22

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          In college the gals complained a lot about “gaining the freshman 15.”  Away from home for the first time with no mom or dad to instill guidelines for their behavior, they partied too much, binged on junk food, and gained those infamous 15 pounds.  They needed self-discipline.  They needed to discover their new purpose in life.  Now we have the “quarantined 14” for the same reasons.  Working from home, eating “Ben and Jerry’s” throughout the day, and snacking out of boredom due to a lack of defined purpose and schedules has hit hard. 

          To be sure, some people are much more driven than  others.  Paul Kretzmann, the famous Lutheran commentator on the Bible wrote a 4 part set of books explaining each passage in the entire Bible was one such person.  I was once told that he wrote it from 4 to 6 a.m. every morning!  Each of those 4  books is about 700 pages long!  Now, he had a purpose in  life!  I’m not telling you that you need to latch onto some kind of purpose like that.  But the fact remains: you need a purpose to drive you out of bed and give structure and meaning to each day.  It might be an employer’s expectations or keeping the kids on a schedule of learning.  It might be the dog whining to go outside at: 6:30.  It might be engaging in a thorough housecleaning.  Or, how about a strict work-out regime?  Or even writing that long-dreamed of novel?  Everyone needs a purpose, or many purposes, in life which compel us to get-going and feel useful and necessary.  Well, Peter does just that in our lesson.  In fact, he provides us with an eternal purpose to our lives, an over-arching one.

I

          For Christians this purpose isn’t anything new.  After all, you sing the Apostle’s Creed every week, know the basic truths of Christianity that it spells out, and can see how many people would benefit from being shaped and molded by them.  So, Peter reminds us: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 

          Christians handle adversity better than unbelievers.  That’s a fact, not a dream.  We know that God wouldn’t have invested in us the blood of His Son without a reason.  He loves us.  He cares for us.  He’s our best Friend Who wants to assist us with all our fears and all our indecisions in life.  And He put His life on the  line to do so.  That was His purpose in life.  Because then our lives will have meaning that is eternal.  Then our legacies will last literally forever.  So, always be prepared to confess Christ and what He means to you and the difference Christian hope makes on a daily basis.  God loves me.  God cares for me.  God will protect me.  God promises me eternal hope that does not disappoint.

II

          Nations that have resilient citizens bounce back a lot faster than those where hope is absent.  What makes you resilient?—The hope that God has implanted in you via faith in Christ!  People hear you talk about hope.  They see you bounce back quicker than others.  They feel good when they are around you.  So, when they ask “Why?” tell them!  Confess your faith!  And do so with “gentleness and respect” as Peter says.  You don’t have to be preachy and give them the whole catechism in one sitting.  Keep it simple.   Tell them: “I will pray for you.  Or, God will give you the strength and guidance to deal with your overwhelming problems.”  Send them the YouTube link to the services.  Invite them to come to church.  Have a handy favorite passage etched in your mind like Phil 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”  That’s a promise of God that He cannot go back on.  Tell them that!  And always do so “with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience,” so that their negative side may be shamed by your Godly goodness.  This, my friends, is your Godly purpose in life.  A purpose which makes an earthly difference and an eternal one.  “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous and the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”  Yes, that modern catch-phrase: we’re all in this together” certainly applies here!

III

          Then, to add gravitas to his words, Peter does something quite amazing!  Yea astounding!  Listen to this concerning the ark and the great flood: “In the ark, only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.  It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”   

          We would say: “The ark saved them from death and destruction.”  But Peter says: the water saved them!  It saved those faithful from getting overwhelmed by the sinful hopelessness of all the others.  It saved them for a new purpose in life.  It saved them to rebuild new nations fueled by joy and hope of an ever-improving tomorrow.  And all this reminds us of our baptism and how it has done the same.

          Bad news, fear, hopelessness—this is the state of our nation and the people in it because they cannot play “make believe” any longer.  Man cannot solve all mankind’s problems—but Jesus Christ can and does.  It’s called the grace of the cross, the grace of the empty tomb, and the grace of increasing heaven’s number of saints.  Your purpose in life is to carry such hope and spread it until the day you get to experience it and see its benefits firsthand.  And you will!  For Jesus Christ has made it so.  Amen

THE PEACE OF GOD….

Pastor Thomas H. Fox

May 10, 2020: 4th Sunday after Easter

Mother’s Day

Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for the gift of Christian mothers!  You know what a blessing they are since You had one.  Mother’s impart a huge slice of their very essence to us and exhibit love in action every day.  Without them we would be emotionally diminished if not destitute.  So, today we thank You for such blessed women and ask Your continued grace to shine upon each of them.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF GRACE!

TEXT:  Genesis 2: 18: “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Dearly Beloved Children of God: 

          I don’t like the term: social distancing.  I know it’s hip and modern, but let’s call it what it is: avoiding people.  I also don’t like the whole concept of such avoidance because it seems to run contrary to Scripture and our text.  God created Eve for Adam to interact with.  Part of interaction is being close, touching, speaking with and sharing life together.  But, here we are. 

          There is something about actually touching another human being which is comforting.  Our life energy is transferred to another through touch.  Some of you know that in times of stress, holding hands in  prayer is a huge blessing.  You can feel each other’s vibrancy pass between you.  And, the vibrancy of a mother’s touch at such times is beyond all others.  It transfers love and compassion like no other.  Think of Jesus on the cross when He transferred care for His mother, Mary, to the Apostle John.  Christ could not touch her physically at that time.  His hands were nailed to the cross.  But He did transfer the love in His heart to her via His words of tenderness.  What a beautiful picture of the essence of Mother’s Day!

          I suppose there are 3 interrelated words that define Christian mothers.  They are: Love, Forgiveness, and Self-sacrifice.  So, let’s explore them.

          Every human being has a mother.  The bond with mothers is extremely intimate.  They carry you in their womb for about 9 months.  They share all their emotions with you.  They impart an aspect of their soul and spirit to you, along with the obvious physical characteristics.  Once you come out of the womb, it continues on—especially with Christian mothers who respect this blessed gift from God.  They realize that you are not a blank slate.  No, the proverbial “blank slate” has already been programmed and written on in the womb, but they know there is room for more!  So they work hard at keeping you safe and imparting to you moral values, good judgment, and from all this springs kindness, compassion, and a purpose in life.  And this never ends, even after they depart this world.  Their Christian essence continues to affect you positively until you someday join them in heaven.  This is the nature of their love for their offspring.

          All this comes from God.  It was etched into Eve’s consciousness and into her sub-conscience, too, and along with it comes: forgiveness.  For forgiveness is love in action.

          We all know the roadblocks to intimacy and healing that sin creates. That’s because we’re all human and humans are sinners from birth, sinners from the time their mother’s conceived them, as the Psalm says.  We all can remember  getting into trouble and doing something that hurt mom.  Nothing is more painful than letting your mother down.  Nothing is more memorable than causing her to cry over you and because of you.  And nothing is sweeter than hearing her say: “I forgive you” when nobody else will!  That kind of selfless love in action comes from one Source and one alone.  It stems from Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Who is the source of such grace-filled forgiveness.  It, along with a gentle word and a healing touch, calms our fears and steadies our soul.  Yes, we need Christian mothers and are always blest through them.  Thanks be to God!

          Such moms also convey to us a spirit of self-sacrifice.  As long as our mother’s live, and even after they enter glory, their lessons of self-sacrifice remain.  Again, thanks be to God! For without such lessons, life would be very desolate.  Think of  all those times you saw your mother neglecting her own wants and needs to benefit you.  Think of those times when she got up in the night to check on you, to stroke you when you were upset or fearful.  All the meals prepared, all the clothes washed, all the chauffeuring you around, all the long days at work to help provide for you.  Moms sacrifice for their children and are usually the primary care-givers.  Christian mothers do this out of  love for Christ because they know Christ gave you to them.  And it has made your life and mine a whole lot more palatable, hasn’t it? 

          In this Christian mothers are Christ-like.   They are always there when you’re hurting. They never (knowingly) give bad advice.  And they are the family “rocks” who we can always rely on.  This is what God created Eve for—along with all her female progeny.  So, today we take time to honor Christian mothers.  Without them we’re humanly lost.  Our wise God certainly knew what He was doing when He made them just for us.   Amen

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH….

Pastor Thomas H. Fox