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every ending is a new beginning

Every Ending is a New Beginning

Like Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians, I thank God for each one of you. Day and night for the last four years you have been in my prayers. It has been my privilege to walk with you on your faith journeys: in times of joy, and in times of sorrow, sickness and struggle. I will take so many blessed memories and experiences away with me. I rejoice in the ways that the Holy Spirit has moved you and how God’s Kingdom has come to our corner of Nevada County. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-6, 5:12-24, Micah 6:8)

empowering change

Empowering Change

What do you think the disciples imagined the coming of the Holy Spirit would look like? And what happened? There came a sound like the rush of a violent wind and tongues of fire rested on each of them. Do you think that is what they expected? The Holy Spirit moves and empowers us in ways that we do not expect. So, watch out! (Acts 2:1-21, John 14:25-27)

some things never change

Some Things Never Change

Change does not affect the foundations of our faith. The message is still the same. Now we might experience it a differently over time depending on where we are standing, and which direction we are looking. In fact, I hope we do change because as Christians we are on a faith journey to become more like Christ. As one church sign said: “We don’t change the message, the message changes us.” (Ephesians 2:19-22, Matthew 28:19-20)

navigating change

Navigating Change

Today we move on to thinking about how we navigate change. I chose this picture of the rigging on a boat, as it reminded me of how hard it must be to steer a sailing boat and change direction, and how easy it is to get tangled up in the ropes. Yet for all its complexity, it is possible to learn the ropes, and sail successfully from one place to another. (Isaiah 43:1-2, 4a, 18-21)

change happens

Change Happens

Change happens!Things wear out. Wear and tear takes its toll. Roads crack. Sometimes they can be patched. Other times they need fully resurfacing. Yet, other times they need widening and improving. Nothing lasts forever.We however like to map our lives out. We want to be in control. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, Joshua 1:1-8)

an array of pasture

An Array of Pasture

Psalm 23 is the most well-known Psalm. How many of you memorized it as a child? In the USA today, Psalm 23 used at almost exclusively at funerals. I think that’s a shame because Psalm 23 is a psalm for the living — it is a psalm for you and I to apply every day of our life — it is good for soul restoration all the time. (Psalm 23)

feed my sheep

Feed My Sheep

I love the fact the disciples are slow on the uptake. They seem so human. My favorite disciple is Peter, perhaps because I see so much of myself in him. Peter now has this conversation with Jesus. Three times Jesus asks him if he loves him and when Peter affirms he does, Jesus tells him to “feed my sheep” and symbolically wipes away the three times Peter previously denied Jesus before the cockerel crowed. Peter is not just forgiven, he is drawn back into community, and given meaningful work to do. What wonderful grace! And Jesus is not just speaking to Peter; this is a message for us too. (John 21:1-19)

know doubt

Know Doubt

I like Thomas. I can relate to him. He seems so authentic. I wonder whether I would have done the same thing: Jesus was dead, and the other disciples claimed to have seen him?! It made no sense. Thomas did not care what they said. He was not going to blindly follow the crowd. And so, Thomas lives with his doubts and wrestles with them until Jesus appears to him. (John 20:19-31)

Resurrection Hope

Resurrection Hope

We have come here today because we know that Christ is risen! But on that first Easter morning, no one knew that Christ had risen. Jesus’ disciples and friends were in the depths of despair, fear and guilt. The world seemed dark and hope was nowhere to be found. Christ had risen, but they had to discover that for themselves, so that they could say “I’ve seen the Lord” and experience for themselves the light that pierces the darkness and a new and transformed life. (John 20:1-18)