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Mercy, Peace and Love be Yours in Abundance

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” - Jude 1:2

Dear Friends,

I’ve sat with more than enough people in anguish and pain about a heartbreaking diagnosis or the loss of their loved one. I wish so much that I could snap my fingers and make it go away, or bring them back. Again and again I’m confronted with the fact that the words I have to offer are so feeble and unable to bring comfort. I hope and pray that simply being with them can be of value.

This same situation is being played out a million-fold right now, halfway across the world in Ukraine. Tanks rolling across the border, shelling cities, bombing apartment buildings and hospitals which just days earlier housed our brothers and sisters, now hiding out in underground bunkers. The fear and anxiety about the outbreak of war, the devastation of their homes and their livelihoods is too real. There are new articles and posts about Americans unable to reach their Ukrainian family, unsure whether they are living or dead. And there is the real worry that this war could be the beginning of an all-encompassing nuclear annihilation…

My words are unable to stand up under the weight of these times.

During Lent, we’re talking about the Fruit of the Spirit, those things that we want to grow in us and around us and that we’re taking time to try and cultivate - Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control - and we began with love and peace. The words we speak can help to grow love in our hearts and in our relationships, if we’re willing to make the effort. And we can experience the gift of Jesus’ peace in the midst of the troubles, provided we keep our eyes on the right horizon.

Here, I turn to a little book, the second smallest and second last in the canon of scripture - Jude. He, a servant of Christ and brother of James, is living through a complicated time as well. The bulk of his letter is focused on those who have entered the community, disrupting their shared life with selfish acts with little regard for the people around them.

He begins with the simple prayer - Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. What a desire, what an offering, what a blessing - would that we would experience it as much today! And he concludes his letter with the words that are my absolute favorite benediction, my go-to on many Sunday mornings to close our service:

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen

In those final words from Jude, I’m reminded of one very important thing - Jesus is indeed able to do the thing that he has promised. Jesus is able to present us, to bring us through the trouble and the heartache, the broken rubble of our lives that has fallen down around us, and, like the perfect Pony Express rider, deliver us to the God who made us, who loves us and who promised to be with us now and forever.

I pray that in these times, Mercy, peace and love would be yours in abundance!

Welcoming You to Grow in Jesus, in these and in more ways,

Pastor Don

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