LORD? You’re there, right?

Hi Beloveds,
Today is the first Sunday in Lent. We lost an hour due to daylight savings time, which made me late to church (37 minutes late to work, to be exact!), but I still got to sing to my Jesus and pray to my Father in Heaven, being enveloped in the arms of His Holy Spirit.

Today’s readings have a common theme: Calling upon the name of the Lord. In Deuteronomy 26:1-11, the Israelites are commanded to give the first fruits of their labors to Heavenly Father, in remembrance of what God did for them when they called out to him in Egypt. He rescued them, as they were in a desperate situation. In the Psalms, David (as tradition says he is the author) cries out to God the Father in hope. He declares that the Lord is his “refuge and fortress” and that he “rests in the shadow of the Almighty.” He declares, further, that we can call upon the name of the Lord, where he will not only be ever-present with us in our troubles, but will “deliver us and honor us.”

In the New Testament, Jesus becomes the Arm of the LORD (Isaiah 53:1). He is a refuge, our hope, our fortress. He becomes the way in which the Father interacts with the world, through God’s Holy Power. In Luke 4:1-13, this Jesus walks through the desert for forty days, fighting temptations from the devil. He says to only serve Heavenly Father and to not test God Almighty.

Then, finally, in Romans 10:8b-13, Paul reminds us that EVERYONE, not just Jews like in the past Exodus, can be saved by calling upon the name of the LORD. As Disciples, we are saved by calling upon the name of the Lord via baptism (Acts 22:16).

Calling upon the LORD in past times was reserved for trouble and praise. Surely, David and all the other Psalmists cried out to God in both praise and in anguish. David sinned A LOT, yet the LORD was always near to his heart. Jesus reminds us that even in the desert, we should look to God through worship, praise, and anguish. I can only imagine that he relied upon the LORD when he was tempted, hurt, hungry, and anxious for his ministry, death, and resurrection ahead. In Paul’s epistle to the Romans, Paul explains that calling upon the Lord Jesus and Heavenly Father is not just for little pains or crying glories, but for salvation itself! As David explains in Psalm 91, “I will show them my salvation,” God shows us his salvation amidst all our troubles via our sins and others sins. That, as David sinned and repented, we can erase our sins through repentance, calling upon the name of the LORD, and baptism. We can be free of our sins. We can be free.

God, are you there? Surely, he is. Jesus and Heavenly Father are there, wrapping their arms around you through God’s Holy Spirit. Call upon them, my dears.

Be loved, and share that love, Beloveds.

Amen.

God Has a Habit of Calling the Unlikeliest People

Dear future congregation,

While I haven’t met you yet, and I imagine we don’t share the same beliefs, I just want to say that I am excited to serve you in the future.

With today being the fifth Sunday of Epiphany, we are covering four scriptures: 

  • Isaiah 6:1-8, (9-13)
  • Psalm 138
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
  • Luke 5:1-11

In Isaiah 6, we meet Isaiah being caught up in a vision.  He fears greatly, because he has seen the Lord with “unclean lips.”  By this, he means he is a sinner.  

In Luke 5, Simon declares “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” when Jesus causes a miracle to happen at the Sea of Galilee, with loads of fishes.

In 1 Cor. 15, Paul considers himself the least of all apostles, because had had persecuted the early church of God.  He considered himself too sinful to lead Christ’s people.

Do you see a connection?  Do you see a connection within this church, within yourselves?  Have you ever considered yourself “too sinful” to be called by God?

I know I have.  Before I discovered grace, I thought I was too sinful to be a Christian.  Surely, I failed God everyday.  Every day I forsake salvation by my sins.  Everyday I committed myself to Hell.

Truth be told, folks, we’re saved by grace.

Nothing in highest heaven, lowest hell, widest earth, and deepest space can separate us from God’s love.  When we entered those waters of baptism and were immersed in Christ’s love, we were saved.  Past, present, future sins forgiven – not because we were righteous, but because Christ died for us on that cross.  As we look forward to the season of Lent and Easter, let us meditate on our forgiveness and bask in the glory of the resurrected Lord.

But let us not stay in this meditation.  Let us go forth, as Jesus called Peter, “to become fishers of people.”  Let us carry this meditation in our hearts as we reach the world out in love, peace, and liberation as we preach the gospel.  But what does this preaching look like?  How is it done?

In Psalm 138, God is considered majestic, holy, exalted.  But he considered the lowly, those in the midst of trouble, those troubled with foes.  The Bible is clear: Although we are citizens of Heaven, we should make a home with the lowliest because they first will be last, and the last will be first.  

Preaching looks like reaching out to the old lady who is lonely, and wants company as she watches the news.  Preaching and spreading the Gospel looks like helping homeless vets, drug addicts, children, women, literally everyone.  It means giving away perishables.  LORD, you know what I’m talking about!  It’s the same thing I will preach every day, and I never tire of preaching this: The Leader is the Servant.  The Least is the Greatest.  The Weak are God’s People.  Those struggling with rent or the electricity bill are God’s angels.  

When we become children of God, we become servants of Christ.  We are not raised on a pedestal, but lowered on a humble chair as we serve our Master.  As we serve His People.  If you think you’re something special when you become a Christian – think again.

As we look forward to celebrating Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, let us remember who he reached out to during his ministry.  The poor, the disabled, the sinners.  He even said that he did not come to call the righteous, but the sinners unto repentance and healing.  He came to reach out to heal, to help, to humbly raise the lowliest to the greatest heights. 

I hope you do the same.  

God has a habit of calling the unlikeliest people – sinners saved by grace. “I am what I am” and grace is grace. Now let us carry that love God gave us at baptism and give it to the world.

Alleluia and Amen.

Life Update: Working, Sabbath, & School

Hi everyone,

Here is another life update, which is kind of spontaneous as I’m also working on homework.  But here are a few life updates:

  1. I started working at Walmart!  I am a cart-pusher, which means I’m in the sun most of the time I’m working, I’m basically working out as I push and organize carts, and am constantly listening to a walkie-talkie and my co-workers.
  2. I’ve decided to continue my practice of sabbath-keeping.  I’ve been scheduled to work on Sundays for the next three weeks, but I’ll be letting my boss know tomorrow that I’d like Sundays off, even if it means cutting my hours.  At this rate, with working four days a week, I’m clocking 32 hours a week.  I’d rather stick to just the part-time (24 hours a week) that I originally wanted, so I hope this works out.  Who knows.  I’ve really enjoyed celebrating and practicing the Sunday sabbath each week, as not only does it include church, but it involves devoting my day to God and His Son Jesus.  For another reason, it is a day of rest for me, where I do only a little bit of homework and just chill and read the Bible!
  3. School is underway, and I finally am getting my books for class.  There’s a few bumps in the road as far as having to get physical books, but most of my books are on the Kindle app (or soon enough, on my Kindle Fire!).  I’m learning more about how to be inclusive in my writing to other students who may not believe God is male, or that God has a gender.  From now on, I just say “God” or “Godself” when I talk about God to be most inclusive to my classmates and professors.

It’s all very exciting.  I still don’t have health insurance, and we’re looking for a new place to stay (all four of us), but I’m hopeful.  Sort of.  I know that at least God’s got something up his sleeve.

Thanks for listening!

Alleluia,
Leigh Todd