Over the past few days, I have continued in prayer for Charleston. I want to share a portion of my response to the Charleston Church Shootings which I preached this morning at First United Methodist Church. I believe it is important and inadequate. You can find the entire sermon and manuscript online here.
Let me be clear:
God never intends us to choose evil.
The Charleston Church Shootings were not part of God’s plan.
Racism, murder and tragedy will never be God’s will.
Evil is never, ever God’s plan.
Each one of us has choices to make every day.
We choose between good and evil.
We choose between forgiveness and resentment.
We choose between light and darkness.
The choices that we make – both big and small lead us closer to God or further away from God.
Choose light and life.
Choose to follow Jesus Christ, Emmanuel – God is with us.
At a recent bedtime, I read Bulldozers (Mighty Machines) to our children as one of our stories. After reading, my son stood up and said excitedly,
“One day, I going to drive the biggest bulldozer in the world!”
I replied with a smile, “You sure could.”
In those brief moments, I was struck at how wide the possibilities are for him at three years old. He really could drive the biggest bulldozer in the world one day. Then I considered this possibility for myself. Would I ever drive the biggest bulldozer in the world? It seems a bit little less likely that I would ever would. The reality is that the choices that we make open some possibilities in the future and close others.
Part of the amazing power of the gospel is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Even, one day, drive the biggest bulldozer in the world.
I recently learned that Relaxation is a Skill. One of the ways to relax is to breathe deeply. Our son is 9 months old and it doesn’t do us much good to tell him to take a deep breathe. What we can do is to hold him close and breathe deeply.
This helped me know more about my relationship with God. One of the ways to relax in life is to be close to God and breathe deeply in and with God’s spirit. Deep breathing is good for the body and soul.
As you celebrate Independence Day in the United States today, I invite you to remember. the words of Paul in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
I have heard these words from those who were officiating at Holy Communion, but for some reason had not realized that they were from scripture until recently. They are beautiful and true.
“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” 1 Corinthians 10:16-17