3rd Sunday of Easter: Forgiven Leaders

We are forgiven leaders.  Sinners by nature, saints by grace.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus asks Peter, three times, whether he loves him, and if he does, to care for His Sheep.  Each time coincides with the times Peter denied Jesus.  Each time, Peter seems to be forgiven on the account of his repentant love for Jesus.  Each time, Peter is reinstated as the Rock and Leader of the early church.  He is also reminded of his future death: on the cross, upside down.

We are sinners by nature, saints by grace.

As for my sin, I’ve dealt with serious rage.  Anger that could hurt others and damage my relationships with all.  While God looked down on my rage, as I did not love my neighbors, friends, loved ones, myself, as I should, he did not cast me from his presence.  Instead, he lovingly opened his arms to me, enveloping me in his grace in the waters of baptism.  There, I was rinsed clean, even if it was just by pouring.  Even by baptism of pouring, every sin was poured from my head into the baptismal waters, forever erased like bleach to stains.  I was forgiven.  I was and am considered a saint.

Worthy was the Lamb to receive honor and blessing and wisdom.  And worthy are believers who accept the Lamb, too.  Because when we join God’s people, we receive, albeit slowly, all the honor, the blessings, and the wisdom.  We gain new insight into the Kingdom of God in the here and now, seeing others as Beloveds of God no matter their spiritual status.  All are Beloved.

How many times I’ve cried for help from the Lord, and he has healed me.  He was erased all my fears and their monumental desire to kill my spirit.  He has, having already wiped my slate clean from his eyes, helped me grow in relationship with Him and further work on my anger issues.  He has helped me become medicated, work through therapy, and work on not just apologizing, but making those apologies count the first time.  

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Saul is one of those forgiven leaders.  

He sinned greatly against God’s people, but Christ saw him on the a road to a larger city.  Paul was on a mission to destroy the church, and God’s mission was to destroy Paul’s ego, pride, anger, and prejudice.

God does that to a lot of people.

God used Paul and created in him a better man than ever, more than his previous religion could.  

Because it isn’t religion that saves us – it is God in Christ.  We are sinners by nature, but by grace, Christ saves us and endows us with all the wisdom, love, honor, and a multitude of blessings.  More than any person could handle.  

God loves that much.  Jesus, the God in the flesh, loves us so much.

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Today, in church, we sang about how much Jesus loves us, and how much we love Jesus.  In the multitude of hymns we sang today, we learned that we love Jesus because he first loved us!  As future Christians, we might have cried to God to heal us.  Before we were Christians, we were sinners, but Jesus loved us so much that he helped us enter the waters of baptism on our own free will, eager to join the church’s covenant. 

We are still eager to serve Jesus, by loving God and loving others. 

Alleluia.  How could you be a forgiven leader in this day and age?

Love,
Leigh Todd

Devotional: 2nd Sunday of Easter

  • Rev. 1:4-8
  • John 20:19-31

This Sunday is the second Sunday of Easter. It is officially Eastertide, or Easter Season. As I read the lectionary for this weekend, I noticed this: God is all. He is three in one. He is Father, Son, and Spirit.

I am just a lowly being like doubting Thomas. When Thomas touched the side of Jesus and the wounds in his hands, he realized at once that the man he had followed for so long was God incarnate.

This might have not dawned on Thomas until that moment.

As some of you know, I’ve been following Jesus since my baptism for three years now. But it wasn’t until Maundy Thursday that I believed in Jesus as God Incarnate. I had to imagine God washing my feet to realize the humbleness God showed in Jesus. Just as the psalm says by Paul “Even though he was God, he humbled himself in the form of a slave, in obedience to God the Father.”

How can we imagine this Jesus as God incarnate? Not just as a man, but the God who humbled himself last Friday on to the cross for our sake? The God who died to draw all to himself, because he wants to get to know each and every one of us?

Because Jesus is the God Almighty, who was, who is, and is to come. But what does that mean, especially in our relationship to Him?

It means that God was there when we were children, meek, annoying, gullible, and so loved by him. Even if your childhood was less than okay, he was there. And he is here now, loving us and cheering us on. He arranges our every day Life to let us see his love, even in ways we wouldn’t expect.

Let us love God back. Let us cherish him as he will cherish us in the future, because his love never stops.

When we are old, and die, he will welcome us in his Kingdom, where all will be well. This love will never end.

So, as you feel the touch of Jesus in your life, be glad that he will ALWAYS be there. Past, present, and future.

To the glorious future ahead.

Do not doubt like me or Thomas, just believe.

Father in Heaven, who came in the form of Jesus, and is with now in God the Spirit, let us acknowledge you as Sovereign of Love in our lives. Even when we cannot love ourselves, or others refuse to love us, you have loved us, love us now, and will love us always as believers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Alleluia and Amen.

Dear Jesus: Good Friday

Dear Jesus,

Today, you are being whipped, mocked, and put on trial for the nth time.  

Today, you will be crucified.  Today, you will endure the most pain anyone, Man or God or both, have ever endured.  

Today, you save all of us with your blood and death.

Today, you say “It is finished,” “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Today, you felt the weight of history’s sin on you.  God possibly turned his back to you, as you were endowed with all sin, so that we would never be forsaken by God by our sins.

Thank you Jesus, God incarnate.  Thank you, my Savior and Shepherd and King.  Thank you God, for dying on the cross so that I could be free from my sins and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Thank you God, for watching our Son die, for enduring the cross, and for entering us through your Holy Spirit.  

Thank you, O GOD, for everything, even if I struggle to imagine this kind of love.  

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Prayer to Jesus: Holy Thursday

Dear Jesus,

I heard that you washed your friends feet.  As God in the flesh, you descended from on high to Earth, where you humbled yourself even deeper, to the status of servant to your friends.  You considered all of us your friends, because you had revealed the secrets to the Kingdom of God to us.  You shared an intimacy with us that only you had shared with God (although I’m still trying to figure out what that means actually).  

It is as if we are there when you first washed our feet.  We are there.  We were there, with you.

That is very comforting.  You humbled yourself to us as friends.  You were that humble, O God.  You humbled yourself so deeply in humanity that you had friends, so that on the cross you were human completely.  So completely you were human that you thought God the Father had forsaken you.  You felt that alone.

I thank you, in your humble name.  Amen.

Jesus: The Mouthpiece of God, a Testimony

Hi everyone,
If you haven’t read in my last blog post, I’ve decided to CANCEL my break from the blog. Amidst needing to post about Easter and still wanting to be Unitarian, I know that I can stay strong in this faith journey and have decided to keep the blog OPEN.

ONE thing that stuck out to me while reading about the Eastern Orthodox faith is that Jesus is the very mouthpiece of God. Not only is he the Son of God, but is very much of essence of the Father. As an unorthodox Unitarian (hahaha, get it), I love that. It reminds me of the LDS faith, in which Jesus is the stand-in God for Heavenly Father in the Old Testament, but without all the baggage of the LDS faith, including tithing, giving up coffee, and giving up the lectionary.

It’s not that I don’t want to sacrifice for my faith – I just don’t find tithing or giving up coffee biblical. And even the Jews followed some sort of lectionary (Torah portions) back in Jesus’ day.

But anyway, I love Heavenly Father (God) being a distinct, spiritual being from Jesus. There is only One True God, and One Lord, Jesus. And the Spirit? I’m not completely sold on the Spirit being completely personified in the Gospel of John, Romans, and Revelation (and possibly elsewhere). But, I can’t imagine the Spirit being anything else but God’s power. Personifying it is weird to me – even if my position is not biblical.

Oh well. You can’t be a biblical-literalist fully – it’s just impossible. I can write about that on another post!

So, I sit here praying to my Heavenly Father, because Jesus tore the curtain between us and God and acts as our high priest and mediator, giving us direct access to God’s throne of mercy and grace in times of need! I talk with Jesus, as Paul and the other Disciples post-resurrection spoke with Jesus. Jesus guided them as the “arm of the LORD” and loved them dearly. I gladly hope Jesus loves me just as much.

I’m still not satisfied fully, spiritually, though. I know one-day I’ll return to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but today is not that day. One day I’m hoping the church will be more welcoming to all, including our queer folks and part-member families, and might allow at black tea to be drank.

I know, I know, I want to be a Pastor and be non-trinitarian, too. Basically, I want my cake and be able to eat it, too! It’s not right, I know this. I need to be willing to make some sacrifices, but I’m not willing to make those right now.

One day, I will.

Also, I’m not sure how this post went out the way it did. It seemed so organized in the beginning…

Alleluia and Amen.