Grace Like Rain
On Sunday, our wonderful praise band led us in some great singing, and one song in particular has stuck with me this week. Grace Like Rain - a contemporary version of the old favorite Amazing Grace - adds a chorus with the words: "Grace like rain falls down on me." It is this image in particular that has lingered in my mind and touched my heart. Like the rain that nourishes the earth and brings life, grace is the lifeblood of our lives. I say our lives because, again like rain, grace does not fall on one person and not the person beside them. Grace covers all under its span with God's love and care without regard for who is cleanest or thirstiest. Grace is there, whether we like it or not.
Still there is more to this image for me this week, especially in the light of Lenten worship series focusing on Elijah's journey through the wilderness. At the beginning of his ministry, Elijah proclaimed a drought with no rain or even dew to last several years. The brook that gave him life eventually dried up. The thing about rain is that the rain does eventually come to an end and there are times when we are painfully aware of its absence. Is grace like rain in this way too? There are certainly times when the weather of faith seems awful dry and grace seems so far removed. Is God's grace absent? Are we carrying an umbrella of stubbornness or pride that cuts us off from the downpour of God's grace that surrounds us? Or does God's grace simply take another more subtle form? Perhaps God's grace sometimes washes over us in the overwhelming flood of a rainstorm and at other times comes as the small trickle of a brook when all is dry. Wherever and however we discover it, grace brings us life and strength for the journey of life!
May you see grace in the refreshing rains of spring, the small trickles of a stream in the wilderness, and the new mercy of dew morning by morning!
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Wilderness - Led by the Spirit
As we begin the journey of Lent - a time of spiritual reflection and growth, we will travel alongside the prophet Elijah through the wilderness that helped him grow from the beginning of his ministry to the moment he met God in a holy place.
Last Sunday's Sermon Snippet:
Led by the Spirit (1 Kings 17:1-7; Luke 4:1-13)
After a long and exhausting journey, Elijah hid in a cave at the holy place where his people had encountered God so long ago. He hid from those who sought to end his life before of his ministry as a prophet of God. He was almost ready to give up - on himself, on his calling, on God - when the voice echoed the words in his mind: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" The simple answer was that he was following God's instructions, but there was more to the question than that. What had brought him here? His ministry had started when he left his hometown of Tishbe to challenge King Ahab who was leading the people astray to worship Baal. He declared that no rain or dew would fall for years except at his word. He then followed God's leading to the wilderness of the Kerith Ravine. God had ravens bring him bread and meat to eat , and Elijah drank from the brook until it ran dry from the drought. What was he to do? Where would he go? He was in the wilderness. We too journey through the wilderness in our lives - a spiritual wilderness where we face questions, doubts, loneliness, isolation, fruitlessness, hopelessness, and just plain feeling like our lives are dry. We are surprised when we find ourselves in the wilderness especially when we have been faithfully following God up to that point. Why would God lead us into the wilderness? But that is what God has done with Elijah and what happened to Jesus after his baptism. They are led by the Spirit into the wilderness. While Jesus may have faced tests and temptation from Satan, it is the Spirit that has led him there in the first place. Why does God lead Elijah, Jesus, and us into the wilderness where our faith is challenged and we feel so barren and dry? God leads us into the wilderness to prepare us for something new, something far greater than what we are doing now. We have to pass through the wilderness with all of its tests and temptation to be ready for what God has in store on the other side of the horizon.
Following God's direction, Elijah continued his journey retreating further from his homeland to the foreign town of Zarephath. There he met a widow who had only a little flour and oil with which to make one last meal for her son and herself before they would succumb to starvation. This was God's plan to take care of Elijah - to send him to the home of a family on the brink of starvation. How could they make it much longer on so little? Join us this Sunday as we talk about "Getting By" in the wilderness when we have so little to sustain us.
Cookbook Orders Due This Sunday!
Make sure to turn in your cookbook orders by this Sunday so that we can process them and have the books in hand on time. Cookbooks will be bound in a three-ring binder with almost 1000 recipes! The cost is only $22 for this first printing. For any future printings, the cost will increase to $25, so don't miss out on this special price!
Living in Community
This Week at Port Church
Wednesday, February 17
9:30 am - 2:00 pm - Office Hours
6:00 pm - Wednesday at the Port
Thursday, February 18
9:30 am - 12:00 noon - Office Hours
10:00 am - Sunshine Seniors
Sunday, February 21
Please turn in all Cookbook Sales!
9:30 am - Worship Service
"Wilderness: Getting By"
11:00 am - Sunday School
Youth Sunday - April 3
VBS Training - May 22
Vacation Bible School - June 27-July 1
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!