First Thoughts Week 2

Exodus 12:1-14
Psalm 149
Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20

Man, I feel like Sonny, Robert Duvall’s character in The Apostle, when he is in his bedroom yelling at God.

“I don’t know who’s foolin’ with me, you or the devil. I love you Lord, but I’m mad at you!”.

The readings this week, particualarly the Exodus and the end of the Gospel reading are full of such promise for the followers of God. They assure us of God’s presence among God’s people.

“The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”–Exodus

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”–Matthew

Tell that to the folks living down in the Gulf of Mexico. Tell that to the residents of New Orleans whose entire town is gone. 90% of Biloxi, MS gone. These folks have every right to say, “I don’t know who’s foolin’ with me, you or the devil. I love you Lord, but I’m mad at you!”. Mad at you for breaking the promise. There were more than two or three gathered in your name, where were you? Do you not see the blood of the Lamb upon us? We asked and it was not done. I’m mad at you!

I have been praying and meditiating on these readings over the last 24 hours as the news down south worsens. I have been trying to find the silver lining in the midst of the chaos and destruction.

I think I have something. This morning I heard the governor of Louisana, Kathleen Blanco, and what she said reminded me of the promise of baptism. Through the death, burial and reseurction of Lord Jesus we have live anew. She did not bring up baptism, but the analogy she used reminded me of it.

There is a sense of hope in looking at this destruction through the image of baptism. Though the destruction is unfathomable and there is a sense of hell on Earth, through the grace of Baptism we are reborn stronger than before.

Paul give us more hope in the Romans passage, “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.”

But it is damn hard to trust that things will be ok. DAMN HARD.

Listening to first person accounts of the hell in Dixie it seems that things will never be ok. The man who’s wife slipped from his hand in the rushing water, he can do nothing but asume she is dead [Update 11:24 a.m.: the man’s name is Harvey Jackson…God be with you, Mr. Jackson and all others in your same situation}. To see bodies floating by, life snuffed out in an instant. God I am mad at you!

But through faith we have to be living examples of the healing power of God. “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law….Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”–Romans. We have to use the stregth and power the Holy Spirit enabled us with in baptism. We must be lights in this darkness. Full of grace and unconditional love.

We must take hope in the Lord:

“For the LORD takes pleasure in his people
and adorns the poor with victory.”–Psalms 149:4.

May The Lord Give You Peace!

———————

Please feel free to leave your thoughs!

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2 responses to “First Thoughts Week 2

  • Anonymous

    Greetings Justin!

    I appreciate your frustration! In fact, how typical of God’s people to wonder the age-old question, “Where are you, Lord?
    You quoted Exodus 12. Note the context. God’s people were venturing forth into a life-risking proposition with God – a time of trust and faith mixed with hardship and death. Like New Orleans. God was not only with them, He was leading them! Did all of them make it? Yes – and no. Yes, because it was the sure strong hand of the Lord that was leading them, but No to many because they died. They died because of sin. Like today, like all those that tragically died in this, the greatest natural desaster the USA has faced to date. It is a result of sin in the world. Like corruption, abortion, and all sorts of social evils. And when there is evil and sin, there is the Lord to forgive those who trust in him, like Exodus 12. The Lord does not abandon us. (Just look at the sin these Israelites got them selves into – and the Lord forgave, even with Moses had had it!) We can be mad at God – certainly not a new concept. He can handle it (Psalm 77). The Lord is here, present, living, forgiving in Our Savior Jesus. That is why Paul could say, “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord”. (Romans 14:7-8). Whether we live, or whether we die…
    Blessings!
    Andy B.

  • Justin

    Thanks for the comment Andy! Glad you stopped by.

    As much as Paul drives me nuts, the past 2 weeks his words have been the most potent for me. And you add to it in your closing quote.

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