July 1, 2020
In the narrative around Jesus’ death on the cross from Matthew 27:45 we find this description of the moment and Jesus’ response: “Around midafternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?””
Some say this was Jesus’ final words of humanity, his being fully human to cry out in pain thinking God had forsaken him. This can be a hard concept – forsaken. God? We are never supposed to think ill of God or that God has forsaken any of us. Although I have to admit, I believe it is truly a part of our human nature, no matter our admittance to the fact or not, to feel as though God has forsaken us.
I often talk to people who sheepishly will say to me some form of the phrase “I am so angry with God right now!” I believe and thus share with them that God understands, and immediately follow that up with, “the only thing that is not ok is to stay mad at God.” Sometimes it takes time to work through things. I have been there, too, and that too can be a part of the story. “God why didn’t you do..? God why didn’t you stop…? God how can you let…?” Or sometimes there are no words just anger and emotion. “My God! My God! Why have your forsaken me?”
I wake up with many wonderful things to be thankful for, and this day as I walked outside early this morning that thought came to my mind. Probably because this week, I heard from one who was losing a dear pet, I heard from one who felt so defeated because their plan wasn’t working out, I heard from one who was afraid of things going on in their life and I heard from one who was in the midst of loss of a long-term relationship. “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
As I picked up the morning paper, I read of people who wonder if they will ever be able to return to work, if their places of employment will open back up or not, and another story of warnings about the Coronavirus. I saw where one community member was threatened by others for his peaceful leadership and I wondered, God? Are you here? And yet, I don’t have to wonder long, we don’t have to fear for long. If we have faith in the one on the other side of the grave. If we have faith that God had never really forsaken Christ, he was in the darkest moment of life just before the brightest and most holy thing ever had happened, the resurrection.
If we, as Christians, believe there is light and life and something beyond the moment that feels the darkest, the darkness will not fully overtake us. No fear will not fully overshadow us, the anger and the resentment and the despair will not become who we are but only be a passing moment. “It’s ok, just don’t stay in that space.”
There’s an old saying that “the darkest hour is just before the dawn.” From my own personal experience, I find that to be true. Sometimes the darkest moments come just before we allow in some light, or God breaks through or our understanding begins to change and we see new hope on the horizon.
My prayer for you and for us all this day is that we allow ourselves that moment, that we aren’t embarrassed by it, that we allow it, process it and then we move forward in whatever way that looks like in whatever way the situation calls, but we move forward step by step to a place of peace and hope.
I write this message today because it is on my heart. I pray whomever needs it, receives it and that you will know that God is carrying you through. That the light will break through and hope is coming.
Please know I’m not more than a phone call away. I’m here to listen and journey with you for we all are family in this place and we care one for another through the dark and the light we walk and we love.
Peace be with you.
In grateful service,
In our prayers…
Would you join me in continued prayers for Tom Lanks, a prayer of thanksgiving that Tom is home! Please hold his wife Priscilla Lanks in your continued prayers as she continues tests and prepares to meet with the oncologist again. Remember Gene Gilliom if you will, she has been in Evangelical Hospital and hopes to return home to her son’s today. Carolyn Wuerdeman is home recovering from knee surgery and is undergoing rehab. Greyson Greenawalt Sauter continues to be held in our prayers as the family awaits doctors’ recommendations for surgery, and please pray for Amy, Kay, Clarence and Belle, their elderly Great Dane, as she is very ill at this time. If you would also add Richard Albright, brother of Dr. John Albright to your prayers as he is facing some serious health issues. Please pray for all those in spaces of anger and fear that hope and light may break through and for one another as we seek to do what we can to love one another and show grace to all those we meet, in ways to intentionally make a difference in their lives. I would also ask for special prayers this day and in the coming days for local communities facing racial divisions and for one another as we all deal with our own personal thoughts and emotions around race and justice for all. Thank you for joining me in daily prayers for all those lifted up in our prayer list and for all those unspoken we hold in our hearts.
Our first intergenerational Sunday/Vacation Bible School was a big success! Colleen Franciscus led a group of 24 kids and adults through a great way to remember how we are connected with Christ in our faith. Crafts, games and laughter were all a part of the evening in Milton State Park and we look forward to our next outdoor Sunday/Vacation Bible School event on July 26! I hear there is a great event planned for fun that evening as well. Please know all are welcome, come hear a great message for everyone and join in on the laughter! You are welcome.
Up next, a Family Summer Fun event…a hike at Dale’s Ridge. Sunday, July 12 @ 6 p.m. This will be a guided hike. All are welcome. We ask that, if possible, you call ahead and let us know how many people will be participating. Call the church office at (570) 568-1433 or email us at email@example.com. Masks and social distancing will be required.
Coming in August: Outdoor Movie Night, Sunday, August 17, location and time TBD.
This week we discovered we may not be ready to return to in person events such as Monday Morning Preacher Bible Study. The group will continue to gather online via Zoom, 10:30 a.m. each Monday until we feel comfortable gathering in person. If you have not yet checked this group out, now is a good time to do so. Jump in and join us as we dig a little deeper into Sunday’s texts.
Another Summer Family Fun event is being planned for Sunday August 17, an Outdoor Movie Night, Sunday, Location and time TBD.
Our Midweek Musings and Theology, Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., will continue through the Summer. Our next book begins July 8, (new date). We are awaiting the books at this time. The book will be: “Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism.” Please join us for this book and discussion as we continue our journey together. Books have been ordered and will be available at the office for pick up. Please contact Pastor Tim so he may get a book to you as soon as they arrive.
Finally, just another reminder, if you or your family have not updated your information in the new Church Directory via “CTRN Online” you may link to the directory via the church website, www.spuccwm.org and request your login authorization and update any information. We would also love to have you upload your favorite picture. Please call the office if you have questions. (570) 568-1433.
Please be good to yourself and kind to one another.
Above all know you are loved and grace covered and filled. May you find joy within and all around you.