Thank you for following First United Methodist Church's Exodus for Lent study. I hope you have enjoyed the journey out of Egypt to the glorious salvation offered by kneeling at the foot of the Cross. God has offered His mercy and grace to His people for thousands of years of recorded history, and as we study that complex and often difficult history, we gain insight that helps us move forward in faith and faith practice.
I encourage you to seek out other studies, especially those in brick-and-mortar churches. While private study of the Word is important, it's equally important to stay close in Christian community. I am so grateful to have studied with Pastor Suzanne Allen and a wonderful group of friends for five years running. What you do as a habit changes you, and habitual study of God's word is a habit worth cultivating!
If you don't have a church, think of the benefits you'll experience through belonging:
- the love and support of friends who are your family in Christ
- the ability to bless others through your friendship and love and support
- access to missions where you can make a difference at home and in the world for those who are suffering in disaster, poverty, famine, war, and starvation of spirit
- the privilege of regular worship of your God...a privilege denied to so many people
- the lifting up of your spirit in times of trouble
- an enviroment saturated with opportunities to grow and learn in faith
Often, we forget that blessings are a two-way road. The world teaches us that we deserve to have it all, that we should worry more about what we have than what we give. But God's kingdom promises something different. We are blessed to be a blessing. As we come to know the unending love and grace poured out by God on each and every one of us, we naturally must pass it on in a world starved for love and grace. And guess what? That is exactly what God wants us to do because His message boils down to one word: love.
Consider this passage from Luke 10:25-28:
Just then, a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law?" He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."
Love God, love your neighbor. Jesus' answer to the lawyer's question comes straight from Mosaic law, the law that God gave to Moses so very long ago. So simple, and, as history and our own personal experience show, so hard for us flawed and selfish sinners. It takes work, and it's so easy to push loving God and neighbor to the bottom of our lengthy to-do lists.
Seize the opportunity to grow in love, to bless God by sharing His blessings with others, to learn about God and His Kingdom in a community of faith. Carry the salvation message of Easter forward with you and grow it in the world.
God's grace and peace be yours always,