“And they shall call his name Emmanuel which means, God with us.” (Matt. 1:23) Christmas for my family is such a precious time of decorating, celebrating, and remembering the gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love that only God can offer. This Mother’s Day, I am drawn to the story of a young mother named Mary and her infant son. God offered us a marvelous mystery of presence. God broke through the sounds of hate and violence so that some might believe that God is always with us. In these days of warring madness and uncertainty, I’ve been clinging to “Emmanuel” as the anchor of my soul. Only when I am grounded in this truth can I then be a witness to the hope that peace is possible, to the joy that love can prevail, and to the belief that God is with every one of us. Rev. Carol D. … Read More
Facebook, Twitter, email… how long can you last without checking them? The Bible… how long can you last without reading it? Maybe it’s just me, but I get the feeling for a lot of us, we find it hard to stay away from social media, but easy to stay away from the Bible. What’s influencing your life? The Internet, movies, television, and songs can have a massive impact on our lives. They can affect how we see ourselves and others, how we make decisions and how we spend our time. All this noise and information speak so loudly into our lives that they actually shape who we are. And, often, we are not even aware it is happening. So, how much time do you spend every day watching TV or a movie or on social networks? Now compare that to the amount of time you spend with God. Who or … Read More
Everything changed at that moment. Everything changed with that event. Easter is a new start, a new creation. The season after Easter is where we consider what it means to walk with Jesus into eternity. As disciples, we claim a responsibility, or better yet, an opportunity to be proclaimers. We are to share the experience of how it feels to live in the kingdom on this side of death. How does it feel to live in the kingdom on this side of death? How you answer that question brings everything into focus on how you live in relation to others. The Good News you live is the Good News you proclaim. It is time to ask some real questions about our commitment to grow into the likeness of Christ. When you look into your spiritual mirror, what to you see? Rev. Carol D. SparksHate Hurts. Grace Heals. Love Wins!
Are you ready? Are you ready for the death of love? Are you ready to consider how you might contribute to the death of love in your brother and sisters? We often go from the celebration of Palm Sunday to the celebration of Easter without considering what happened between the two. Jesus came teaching the spirit of the law over the letter of the law, compassion over judgement, servanthood over power. This was not a popular point of view. The challenge to established ways of operation brought about frustration, disappointment, mistrust and anger. Gone unchecked these feelings escalated into hate and hate brought about murder. Easter Sunday is the day we celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead. But how much can we celebrate if we are not willing to sit in the honesty of our human weaknesses and fear? Consider asking yourself, “How do I react when what I … Read More
Jesus came to draw us all closer to God so that we could experience the transforming love of a forgiving God. Our Lenten experience affords us the occasion to give our spiritual lives a “tune-up.” Holy Week offers us the time for reflective meditation as we journey with Christ to and release from the cross so that our hearts and minds are prepared to truly and authentically receive the gift of Easter. Rev. Carol D. SparksHate Hurts. Grace Heals. Love Wins!
This week, reflect more deeply on ways you are living differently because you are a follower of the way. How might God be calling you to support others? Make a commitment to one act of living as a person focused on the significance of God’s design of life for everyone. How might your thoughts and informed approach impact the life of another? What if you supported another instead of gossiping? What if you served another instead of judging them? What if you received a blessing from the one you were planning on saving? God’s design for life just might be revealed. Rev. Carol D. SparksHate Hurts. Grace Heals. Love Wins!
Some people believe that being saved is a “big bang” emotional moment. Those spiritual experiences are good and are often powerful. In contrast, many experience salvation as a conversion – a starting point for a new life. They are launching pads for a special way of living. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”(John 14:6) Jesus emphasized that the value of choosing to follow a new way oflife is the only way to know the significance of God’s design for life. When wesay “yes” to Jesus, we live differently than the ways of the world; we set ourface on adventuring the Jesus way. Rev. Carol D. SparksHate Hurts. Grace Heals. Love Wins!
Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem and in so doing, he offered us God’s life, power, and salvation. As the followers of Jesus, we are called to reflect on and pray about where to set our faces day by day. Where do we set our faces in our relationships with God and with our neighbors? Where do we set our faces with our ethical choices? Where do we set our faces when we see those who are oppressed? These are examples of questions we ask ourselves and one another as we look at Jesus’ decisions during the season of forty days. Rev. Carol D. SparksHate Hurts. Grace Heals. Love Wins!
In the Bible, the number forty is highly symbolic for the prayer, sacrifice, sober thought, and preparation. Remember, in the story of Noah and the ark, the rain fell for forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:12). Moses and the people of Israel were forty years in the wilderness – often with only manna from heaven to eat as they journeyed toward the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 8:3; 29:5-6). Jesus began his ministry by going into the wilderness for the forty days, praying hard, fasting to the point of death, preparing for his ministry (Matthew 4:1-11). Forty days is a holy experience of time. How does your life reflect the purity and honesty of holiness? Consider using our experience of a forty-day lent to reveal to you the holiness within you and the clarity it can bring to your priorities. Rev. Carol D. SparksHate Hurts. Grace Heals. Love Wins!
Lenten Devotions Devotion One (Today) In the Christian Church, Lent is a season of forty days of repentance and fasting to help people prepare for Easter. Sundays are not counted because they are considered to be “mini-celebrations” of the Resurrection. The season begins with Ash Wednesday and lasts through the Saturday before Easter. On Ash Wednesday, many of us received dust and ashes on our foreheads. We remembered that we will return to dust and ashes, we repent, and we offer gratitude that through Jesus’ resurrection, God offers us life and salvation. Now the next forty days are about how we have been using the gift of our lives – after we were ashes and before we return to ashes. Do your daily choices and lifestyle reflect how precious our lives can be? Rev. Carol D. SparksHate Hurts. Grace Heals. Love Wins!