Pastor’s Page

Greetings and blessings to all,

As the people of God situated here in the beautiful greater Ringtown Valley, our two congregations, St. John’s, Ringtown and St. John’s, Brandonville, have been sharing the love of God in our community and in our world for many, many years. As part of the Lutheran tradition in the wider Christian community, we strongly celebrate God’s grace through Jesus Christ as the center of our proclamation, mission and ministry and try to do our best to communicate that grace to all, member and non-member alike. Inspired by this message of hope and life, we work to find numerous ways of communicating God’s love, especially in our local community, through worship, fellowship, service and gaining a deeper understanding of the God who comes to us in Jesus.

We, as congregations, are grateful for our members and all who support the ministry we do here. Ministry only happens when individuals touched by God’s grace and so strengthened in faith come together to create an atmosphere where worship, service, learning and fellowship may take place. As pastor, I am amazed each day by the dedication of those who call St. John’s home. This website is a summary of the ministry which you have done and continue to do in this place.

For those of you who are visiting this congregational website, please know that you are always welcome at either of our congregations. Please feel free to look over this website and, if the Spirit moves you, to participate in worship, fellowship, learning, or service with us. We are happy to include all who wish to share or be a part of Christ’s love.

We rejoice in all of God’s gifts of grace and celebrate our family in Christ. May God continue to bless us with abundant love and guide us in our continued service and fellowship.

Pastor Jay

Is Dead Dead?
“Dead is dead,” so Pilate thought,
The temple priests agreed,
The one they hanged upon the cross
Was very dead, indeed.
His lifeless, breathless body wrapped,
Was placed inside a tomb.
The place of endings, death and loss
God changed into a womb.
For on the first day of the week,
Which followed hanging day,
A miracle full well took place,
The stone was rolled away.
And in that moment hope was born,
As from the tomb arose
The one whom death had overcome
Springing from the shadows.
Our Easter life was birthed that day
When death’s dark powers fell,
Creating new reality,
A story we will tell.
In faith we have received new birth,
Paul says we’ve died with Christ,
Only to be born from above.
For this Christ sacrificed.
Now each new day provides us with
An opportunity
To re-imagine what it means
Living in Christ, death free.
Empowered fully by God’s gift
Which broke the chains of death,
We now are free to speak Christ’s love
With every grateful breath.
Amidst the storms which come our way
And cause our hearts to fear
We know these shadows will not last
When Easter joy is near.
Each morning as we wake from sleep
To greet the brand-new day
We are renewed by empty tomb
And stone now rolled away.
Our true birthday is Easter morn
With God’s promise revealed.
We live, we live through God’s great grace,
The death of death is sealed.
Live fully even when the storms
Of life rage all around,
Do not allow your fears to win
While Easter joys abound
“Dead is dead,” so Pilate thought,
But our God disagreed
And in the empty tomb he birthed
Our hope, from death we’re freed.
Pastor Jay Serafin

Children of the light
Each day elicits hope renewed
As darkness turns to light,
Inspired by the rising sun
Which overcomes the night.
As children of the light we walk,
Guided along the way
By God’s command to live by love
So that we may display
The peace of God surpassing all
Our minds may contemplate,
For in God’s peace we are renewed,
And fully celebrate
The wonder of the here and now
Each breath, each moment shared,
Each gift of grace which we receive
Because our dear Lord dared
To take upon himself our flesh
And feel despair and pain
In order to exchange with us
The hope of heaven’s gain.
Still as we live this hope each day
With trust in God’s great grace,
We still find darkness creeping in
To show its ugly face
In sinful actions, deeds undone,
In illness and despair
As often we refuse to show
God’s uncompromised care.
We know we stray from God’s command
To love each one as He
Modeled for us in Christ our Lord,
For in this love we see
Our future born and hope arise
And darkness turn to light,
For in each act of kindness shared
We introduce God’s might
To transform this world’s brokenness,
Each scrap and bit and piece,
Into the whole which God perceives
As His great masterpiece.
When each day as the sun’s light fades
And shadows filter in,
While darkness seems to win the day
For brokenness and sin,
We light a lamp, a candle burn,
To fight that darkest night,
And somewhere in light’s shining rays
We quietly invite
The brightness of the morning sun
To fully sweep away
Darkness and the power of sin
Destroyed by the new day.
For in the morning Mary came
To honor death’s new claim,
Only to see her risen Lord,
Who softly spoke her name,
And in that moment, darkness gone,
She ran to tell the tale
Of how God’s great salvation plan
Had come now to prevail.
So, every morning re-enacts
In miniature form
God’s gift of resurrection life
Defeating death’s dark storm.
Each day elicits hope renewed
As darkness turns to light,
Inspired by the rising Son
Which overcomes the night.
Pastor Jay Serafin

We Thank You, Lord
For blue sky, sunshine, gentle rain,
For fruited trees and growing grain,
For bees that buzz and birds that sing,
We thank you, Lord, for everything.
For mother’s love and father’s care
And friends with whom we get to share
The joys of life we’re blessed to live,
We thank you, Lord, for all you give.
For all that lifts our hearts above
The cares of life to show your love,
That upon you we can depend,
We thank you, Lord, for all you send.
For those who follow your dear Son,
Through whom our victory is won,
By speaking your good news to all,
We thank you, Lord, for baptism’s call.
For those you’ve gifted with such skill,
Who glorify your gracious will
By lifting others from despair,
We thank you, Lord, for their great care.
For your dear presence each new day,
Which guides us all along the way,
For hope and peace which reduce fear,
We thank you, Lord, for being near.
For smiles which can warm the heart
When friendly conversations start,
Which help us feel we’re not alone,
We thank you, Lord, that we are known.
For your Church, our true foundation,
Where we share in celebration
Your son’s presence in our meeting,
We thank you, Lord, for this greeting.
For prayers which we can lift to you
With fervent hopes and feelings true,
And know that they will find your ear,
We thank you, Lord, you hold us dear.
For hope and life and salvation,
The gifts you give through your dear Son,
For all the many ways you love
We thank you, Lord, our God above.
Pastor Jay Serafin

King David
Strength/Weakness
From strength in weakness to weakness in strength,
My journey has been up and down,
Begun when the prophet Samuel said
That one day I would wear the crown.
When I was a young lad I tended the sheep,
Keeping lions and bears at bay,
I learned how to persevere each day although
I didn’t bring much to the fray.
And yet destiny had its designs on me,
From God I received a call,
First spoken by Samuel when he beheld
My presence still so weak and small.
When Saul was the king such depression arose,
Which brought him to anger and tears.
I’d play on my lyre a soft, soothing tune
That calmed all his cares and fears.
When still a young lad I relied on the Lord
To provide my every need
And strengthen my purpose and to give me all
I ever would need to succeed.
So when the day came and the Philistines neared,
The king called all men to the fight.
When they formed lines for the battle, there stood
A man of great stature and might.
Goliath called out to the army of Saul,
“Send forth your best soldier to fight.
A one-on-one battle will settle this all.
The victor will be known by night.”
The army of Saul was now so filled with fear,
Not one soldier went forth to the fray.
The giant kept chiding, “You all are so weak,
To beat you will be child’s play.”
With no one to step forth and answer the call
I learned of this ominous plight.
If we are defeated our nation will fall,
I knew as I entered the fight.
Five stones in my pocket, a sling in my hand,
A sword in its sheath at my side,
No armor upon me I walked toward the foe
Knowing God would, the victor, decide.
The giant, Goliath, then let out a roar
And laughed at my weakened estate.
He chortled how he would defeat me that day
For he was so strong and so great.
My simple reply was that God would reveal
The one who was chosen to win.
The giant depended on strength from his hand
And I on the strength from within.
I picked out a rock, which I set in the sling,
And whirled it around at my head,
Then flung it to smash in between his wide eyes.
He crashed to the ground nearly dead.
So quickly I took out the sword to finish
The giant who now silent laid,
I severed his head which I held to the sky
The Philistines scattered, afraid.
That’s how I showed weakness in God’s hand is strength,
While our nation proclaimed with glee,
That David, the victor, was hero to all.
I knew it was God and not me.
Now Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to me,
And we became best friends that day.
No matter what intrigues would come from the king,
This friendship would not go away.
I became a general, quite loyal at first,
To my king on Israel’s throne,
When jealousy caused Saul to cast me away
And so make my future unknown.
Except God had spoken through Samuel’s words,
Who anointed me when still a youth.
Uncertainty may have been felt in my heart,
But God would soon unveil the truth.
King Saul fell in battle and so lost his life,
And Jonathan, died that day, too.
With no heir to put on the crown I was set
With destiny to rendezvous.
As king I was powerful, wealthy and loved
By the people, both young and old.
In vanity I let this power prevail
Through what was about to unfold.
By God’s love and grace, I was given a gift.
I had everything that I could need,
But deep in my pride, almost threw all away
When I gave in to lust and to greed.
Bathsheba was beautiful, I wanted to
Have her for my own as my wife,
But she was the wife of another man.
This fact would soon cost him his life.
When I heard Uriah was killed in the war
I knew that my plan would succeed.
Bathsheba his widow was now free to wed.
Our secret? She carried my seed.
Soon Nathan, God’s prophet, came looking for me,
A parable he spoke to share,
About a rich man who stole a poor man’s sheep
Without even seeming to care.
The prophet then told me I was the rich man
And I saw the truth of the tale,
My pride and my greed and my lust gained control,
Which caused me to utterly fail.
Yet God has great mercy, He listened to me
As I spoke lament for my wrong.
When I felt the strongest my weakness was shown,
When weakest, God has made me strong.
God’s grace came once more, and he gave me a son
Named Solomon, so blessed and wise,
He grew up to carry my name on the throne
And was acclaimed in the people’s eyes.
As for me I was blessed by the Lord more and more,
And reigned each day knowing that He
Was my strength in all things as He stood by my side
To empower the weakness in me.
So when people tell of my wealth and power
And success, when of me they speak,
Please know to give accolades only to God,
For He gives us strength when we’re weak.
Pastor Jay Serafin

A Prayer for Today
We pray to you, most gracious God,
For strength to meet the day
With energy and thoughtful faith
And wisdom by your sway.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
We give you thanks, most Holy One,
For all who share your love,
May we be blessed to feel from them
Your presence from above.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
We pray that war and violence cease
And peace may reign supreme,
That guided by your graceful hand
We’ll prosper your regime.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
When touched by sorrow, fear or pain,
Please make your presence known
Which grants us true relief and hope
To know we’re not alone.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Please bless our families, friends, loved ones
With days of joy and peace
That lifts them to the fullest life
And bids trouble to cease.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Dear Lord, with love so generous
You give us what we need,
Inspire our benevolence
That with your grace is keyed.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Lord, help us to appreciate
The work of those who give
Their effort to supply the things
Which we all need to live.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
O God of Life, we pray that you
Will bless your Church to see
With inspiration in these times
What you wish it to be.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Please take our brokenness, our fear
Our pain, illness, despair,
To re-create and make anew
All which we lift in prayer.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Please bless these thoughts and prayers we raise
And add that which we miss
So that your love and grace renew
Our lives to know your bliss.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
These things we lift to you this day
Through Jesus Christ, our king,
Your praise and your adoration
Forever will we sing.
Amen.
Pastor Jay Serafin

A Poem just for fun and to stir some memories:
(I edited the next to the last stanza)
Such “Happy Days” now have returned once again
With “Cheers” that lift both you and me
“The Facts of Life” will be so plain to you
And to “All in the Family.”
“I Spy” a theme now beginning to grow
So please don’t get “Lost” on the way
Do “Curb Your Enthusiasm” if you must
Just “Gimme a Break” when I say
“To Tell the Truth” often in TV Land
Where “Your Show of Shows” makes you smile
And you remember “Good Times” shared by all
To build “Family Ties” for a while.
“Bewitched” and excited by classic TV
You can “Laugh In” each memory
That comes to “S.W.A.T” away all of your blues
“Dark Shadows” that suddenly flee.
“Different Strokes” for different folks
Is true, an “Odd Couple” could see,
Still “Father Knows Best” what to watch on the tube
“I Remember Mama” agree.
“That Girl” in “The Office” likes sitcoms at night
While the “Madmen” watch sports every day
“The Mothers-in-Law” keep the “Soap” operas on
“The Americans” love TV’s sway.
Still I’m “Lost in Space” when I cannot view
My preference at “12 O’ Clock High.”
Should I “Make Room for Daddy” to pick what he wants
In this “Family Affair” by and by.
“I Have a Secret” to share with you now,
As the “Roots” of this saga unfold
“The Wonder Years” of my youth are long gone
My “Friends,” these great shows, have grown old.
Whether “Three’s a Crowd” or “Eight is Enough”
Or you’re watching with your “Family”
You leave “The Real World” when dial up your show
In your “House,” and you’re totally free.
So “I Dream of Jeannie” and “I Love Lucy”
“Everybody Loves Raymond,” too
“One Day at a Time,” “The Good Wife” at my side
“This is us.” So how about you?
And barring “Emergency” I’ll “Beat the Clock”
To know at that time I’m “Born Free”
And “Adventures in Paradise” I will pursue
It’s “Fantasy Island” for me
Pastor Jay Serafin

Summer Riddler Answers
Here are the answers to the most recent Summer riddles. All of the answers are Biblical characters. We hope you had fun trying to solve these riddles.
1.
I was his bestie friend before,
He ever took the throne,
My father was the king before
He made the crown his own.
(Jonathan, who was David’s best friend and son of King Saul)
2.
So seasoned by the things I saw
While running from the fray
I came to lose my lot in life
On that auspicious day.
(Lot’s wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt.)
3.
In seven years of faithfulness
I worked, to be surprised,
For seven more I labored on
To gain my dearest prize.
(Jacob, who worked for a total of 14 years to “earn” his 2 wives.)
4.
In Joppa I was much beloved
For help I gave the poor.
Saint Peter was a help for me
Who raised me from death’s door.
(Dorcas, also known as Tabitha, whom Peter raised from death.)


  1. I grew a vineyard when I was
    Rescued from violent storm
    The bow was my security
    To fashion a new norm.
    (Noah, who planted the first vineyard after he left the ark.)
    6.
    I laughed to hear the words that day
    Of how God would bless me,
    He laughs and so the promise was
    Fulfilled through progeny.
    (Sarah, who laughed when she heard she would have a baby. When she had the baby, she named him Isaac, which means, “He laughs.”)

God’s Bounty at Harvest
The sun’s light fades much earlier now
As Summer wanes toward Fall,
While gardens lift full bounty forth
To be enjoyed by all.
Such blessings as God gives to us
From seed to full fruit grown
Produce the harvest’s rich array,
Pure joy from what was sown.
The mystery of soil and sun,
Of nitrogen and rain,
Of bees and birds and butterflies
That bring the garden’s gain,
All work together in God’s sight
To produce in due time
The glorious peas and beets and corn,
The mint and dill and thyme,
The golden squash, the tomatoes
The carrots and the leeks,
The cucumbers and potatoes
That fill our hungry cheeks.
The apple tree that bears its fruit,
The cherry, pear and peach,
All bring forth promise from God’s hand
To ripen in our reach.
God takes our sweat-filled labor, then
Supplies the spark of life
That transforms hardened seed to green,
To bear fruit through the strife
Of insect pests, mold and mildew
Which bring us such alarm
We wonder if it’s possible
To mitigate such harm.
Then God combines the sun’s pure light
And soil’s nutrition,
The falling rain, the pollen’s touch,
To bring to fruition
The gardener’s efforts fairly spent
To till and plant and weed,
When suddenly the shoots burst forth
From what seemed lifeless seed,
And growing ever toward the sun
The plant begins to bloom
With flowers buzzed by eager bees
Enticed by their perfume.
The flower then gives way to fruit,
So green and hard at first,
But given time and sun and rain,
And by the gardener nursed,
This hard, green fruit is soon transformed,
By nature’s sweetness kissed,
To yield its given pulp and seed
With God’s gracious assist.
Which brings us to this moment now,
In summer’s waning days,
With God’s abundance on display
We pause to give him praise
For all that’s ripened on the vine
Or underneath the ground
Upon the stalk or on the tree
Wherever bounty’s found.
We thank you, Lord, that you provide
This fruit in season due,
And lift our voices in full praise
For all received from you
Much more, we pray, that we may be
Good stewards now of all
Which you have placed in our own hands
As now we near the Fall.
Help us to know that this great gift
Which we receive from you
Is but a portion of your love
And help us take the cue
To be as generous as you
In ways we find to share
The bounty of the world’s harvest,
Please hear our fervent prayer,
That you, the God who gives enough,
Will help us fully see
The many ways, with generous heart,
We may share your bounty
With people near and people far,
The children of your love,
So that your blessings flow through us
And point to you above.
Bless now, dear Lord, this hallowed time
When seed sown grows to bear
The full fruit you, by gracious love,
Have placed into our care.
Whenever we sit down to eat
May we, with wisdom, see
Your loving hand has blessed us much
And may we lovingly
Give thanks for all the blessings sent
To us from you above,
And may we never fail to see
The bounty of your love.
Pastor Jay Serafin

SEED SAVING
At the beginning of the summer we wrote about giving you information about saving seeds for planting next year, and encouraged you to plant heirloom variety plants if you wished to try to save seeds. Bob Llewellyn has put together the following information about saving seeds for planting. We hope you are successful with saving your seeds this year and that your garden has produced abundantly. The following is from Bob.
Saving Seeds
“The seeds that gardeners hold in their hands at planting time are living links in an unbroken chain reaching back into antiquity. Today’s gardeners cannot possibly comprehend the amount of history contained in their seeds, both what has come before and what may potentially come after their brief involvement. Our Stone Age ancestors began identifying and domesticating food plants thousands of years ago, with the simple act of selecting seeds for replanting. Whenever gardeners begin to save their own seeds, they also become part of this ancient tradition.” (Seed to Seed, Suzanne Ashworth)
Remember that only seeds from heirloom or open pollinated plants can be saved. There are two processes depending on the type of veggie. They are a wet process and a dry process.
The wet process is used for seeds that are imbedded in a fleshy body, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, or squash. The dry process is reserved for seeds that come from pods or husks and dry on the vine such as peas, beans, and corn.
The wet process involves three steps. First is removal of the seeds, second is washing the seeds and lastly, drying the seeds. Prior to removing the seeds from a particular vegetable, choose a good-looking representative sample that is slightly past its peak. If you are saving tomato seeds, you simply choose a tomato, slice it open and scrape out the seeds or squeeze out the seeds into a labeled glass jar. Add a little water, cap, shake, and place in a warm area (not direct sunlight). The gelatinous mass covering the seeds will begin to ferment (and smell). Shake the container once or twice a day and after 3 days or so, there should be a mold layer covering the seeds. Add additional water and stir or swirl the water in the container. Good seeds settle to the bottom of the container while the bad seeds, mold and other debris will float. Pour these off, add more water, swirl and continue until only good seeds remain.
Place the seeds in a strainer and while rinsing with running water, use your fingers to rub off any remaining flesh. When cleaned, use a towel to dry off the bottom of the strainer. Do not use paper towels to dry the seeds because they will stick to the paper and will be difficult to remove. You can place the seeds on a non-porous surface such as glass, a window screen, cookie sheet or wax paper. Spread out the seeds as thinly as possible, and place them in a warm area that has good air flow. Move them around twice daily to ensure even drying. Do not place them in direct sunlight and keep the temperature below 95o. The first year I saved seeds I had them on wax paper and sitting on the peninsula in the kitchen. I decided to open the screen on the back door and when I did a gust of wind scattered my tomato seeds all over the kitchen floor. Needless to say, I no longer use the peninsula to dry my seeds.
Seeds should be stored in an air-tight and moisture proof container. Glass is ideal as long as it has a good rubber seal. Store in a cool, dry dark location.
Seeds can be frozen if the moisture level is below 8%. If the seed breaks when flexed, moistures are below 8% and can be safely frozen. If the moisture levels exceed 8%, the seed will freeze and the cell walls will rupture. This may be hard to do with smaller seeds, however.
If you are saving seeds from members of the squash family or cucumbers, these must remain on the plant until past the edible phase. Cucumbers will get soft and pliable. Squash, on the other hand, will get very hard and when the skin cannot be broken with your fingernail, it is ready.
Process and store like tomatoes. The seeds of these plants are much larger than tomato seeds and can be subjected to the bend/break test. If they break instead of bed, they may be frozen.
The dry process is fairly simple. Let the peas or beans dry on the plant. They will turn brown and rattle when shaken. Remove from the pods and air dry. The seeds can be placed in paper bags that have holes in the bags so air flow is ensured. When the seeds are hard, they are dry. Place seeds in an air-tight container and store in a cool, dry dark location.
Peppers are somewhere in between the wet and dry process. Harvest the pepper about two weeks past the edible stage. Cut around the top of the pepper and pull out the core. Knock the seeds off the core, rinse, dry and store. Sometimes peppers can cross pollinate so you might get something the following year you were not expecting.
You can goggle “seed saving” for additional information. I like to seek information from land grant universities, so I add the word extension to my search.

A Prayer for This Evening
In solemn prayer we raise voices
To you, dear Lord above.
We ask for patience, peace and strength
And, most of all, for love.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
We pray for sunshine, rain and warmth,
A cooling breeze at night,
And all, with wisdom, which you send
To aid us in our plight.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Please bless the doctors, nurses, staff,
Who work to heal and calm,
That they are strengthened in their tasks
To bring life-giving balm.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Be with the lonely, lost, afraid,
The sad, confused and weak,
That they may know your loving hand,
The words of life you speak.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Inspire leaders near and far
With wise and soothing grace,
So that we move toward brighter days
Which safeguard hope in place.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Upon us may your blessings flow
So we find strength to be
Your messengers of life and love
For all around to see.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Through all our days, or greatest wish
Is that your will be done,
For in the comfort of your love
Our truest hope is won.
Lord, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.
Amen.
Pastor Jay Serafin

Theological Word for the Day
GRACE

Of all the words we humans can use to describe our relationship with God, or attempt to describe God or Jesus or salvation or any other aspect of Christian thought, “grace” is my favorite. In order to begin to unpack what this word means for me, let me first turn to Scripture to set the tone.

“You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3 All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ[a]—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2: 1-10)

These verses share with us a very strong sense of the God who is at work to redeem us and to make us whole, and they provide us with a clear description of what grace is and how grace works. St. Paul reminds us that we are dead through trespass and sin (verse 1), in other words, we have no chance at winning our way into heaven because sin constantly makes clear our separation from God. We are children of wrath, children of sin. But God, “who is rich in mercy,” intercedes and creates the solution to our “sin” problem. We have been raised up with Christ because of grace (by grace you have been saved) and so for all time God will “show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Wow! The beginning of our hope, our life, our future place with God is God’s grace. It does not begin with our trying to do better. It does not begin with a decision we make. It begins with God’s overwhelming love for us that God’s grace provides restoration, and we see this process unfold through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Grace comes first. Grace always comes first. Even though we don’t deserve it, grace comes first. Then comes one of my absolute favorite pair of verses in all of Scripture. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God- not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2: 8-9) Salvation comes to us as a gift. We are saved because God loves us so much God chooses to save us. Even though we live in sin, God’s overwhelming love prevails and God, through grace, chooses us. Chooses me. Chooses you. This grace makes us whole in God’s eyes. Faith comes next. When we hear the story of God’s love, when that love is made known to us and becomes reality for us through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we apprehend that love, that grace. This acknowledgement of God’s grace choosing us is our faith. Faith is a response to God’s love, to God’s having chosen us. Upon apprehending God’s grace, we see through eyes of faith God’s love and God’s hope for us, and we say “yes” to this God who loves us so much. God, through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, works faith in us and we become “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2: 10) Faith is our response to God’s grace at work upon us, and our faith, then, leads us into a way of life that is called discipleship, living with Jesus as our guide. Our good works, our acts of love and charity, flow from this faith, which in turn flows from God’s grace.

To put it more simply, I know that, without God’s grace, I am lost. As a sinful human being I am separated from God. I cannot do the things I know I should do (to paraphrase St. Paul). I have no hope of being “good enough” to restore proper relationship with God, or to put it another way, to earn my way into heaven. In this void of separation, God steps in and does the work necessary to bridge the gap. In the person of Jesus, God shows us that his grace is given to us and his choice is to bring us into his love and life. God’s grace is sufficient. God embraces us through Christ. When I see this as true for me, I am understanding God’s actions through faith. This faith steers me to acts of love, to caring for others and for sharing God’s good news of grace through Jesus. Without God’s grace I have no hope. I can believe in God and have all kinds of faith that God exists, but I am still a sinner separated from God. Until God acts through grace, which God does in Jesus, I am lost, because I cannot follow the Law, I cannot be the person I should be. I am human. So, God becomes human and, through Jesus, gifts us a place with him- by grace. It is all “by grace.” God works by grace to make me whole and to bring me to him. When I understand this, my only response can be, “Thank you.” As we hear in Ephesians, by grace we are saved, not by works. My works may fail, but God’s grace will not. Ever. Thanks be to God!

Pastor Jay Serafin

Theological Word for the Day
KAIROS

I thought it might be fun and/or interesting to share some words from time to time which play a prominent role in Christian theology or which inform or shape our understanding of the Christian faith. One of these words, which has been central to Christian thought from the beginning, is the Greek word Kairos. When translated into English, the word simply means “time.” However, there are two Greek words which, translated into English, mean “time,” and the difference between the two is important when we read the New Testament or consider the significance of this word in the early, Greek-speaking Church. The other word for time in Greek is Chronos, which translates best as time in a linear sense, time which is made up of seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc. Kairos, on the other hand, speaks of time in its connection to fulfillment. This type of time, Kairos, denotes the appropriate time or the right time for an event to happen. So, for instance, we may think of time (Chronos) in answering the question, “What time was the baby born?” The answer might be 1:15pm, which is time in the linear sense. However, we might also think of a birth in a way that aligns more with Kairos. “The time came for her to deliver her child…” (Luke 2). This sense of time leads us to think about fulfillment, about the appropriate or necessary time for something to happen. This is the heart of Kairos.

With this understanding, we can see how this word (Kairos) would be at the center of Christian thinking and writing from the beginning of the Church. The early Christians had a deep understanding that God sent the Messiah into the world at the right time, at the appropriate time, at the necessary time. The Messiah had been promised from ancient times, and the people waited and waited for God to send Messiah into the world, and that happened when God knew that the time (Kairos) was right. Many in the early Church saw history as a series of ages (Aeons) which were broken down into the time before Messiah, the time during the life of Messiah and the time of the Church. We can see early theologians describing God’s actions regarding Messiah as Kairos in action. In the Gospel of John we read, “And the Word became flesh.” The Word, which existed from the beginning, at the appropriate time entered into linear time (Chronos) and became human. This happened at the moment of Kairos, when the time was right. The idea of Kairos is especially important in the writings of Paul. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” (Galatians 4:4) This understanding of Kairos isn’t reserved simply for the birth of Jesus or his ministry in Galilee. It also denotes the understanding that, at the right time, Christ will come again and will usher in the fullness of God’s kingdom. “I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short,” (1 Corinthians 7: 29) In other places, Paul doesn’t use the word Kairos, but holds the moment of Kairos in tension with the present age. “ Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15: 51-52) This change will take place at the precise, appropriate time. So, the concept of Kairos, of the right or appropriate or necessary time, is a major theme in the New Testament and in the understanding of God’s actions found in early Church thought.

Early Christian thinkers and writers were doing their best to make sense of Jesus, and of God’s actions through Jesus for the sake of the world. In putting together a timeline of God’s actions in history, from Old Testament stories through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, they were forced to deal with the concept of Kairos, of God acting again and again at the precisely necessary moment to touch the world with grace and love and life, and to bring the Word into the world in the flesh. They also had to reconcile the understanding that God had acted in Jesus, and that God was continuing to act in the Church, but also that the fullness of God’s plan of salvation was left to some future time, some future Kairos, that was beyond their control and knowledge. Jesus even famously said about that time that no one knows, except the Father in Heaven. (Kairos was an important aspect in the teachings of Jesus, too. The harvest theme that Jesus uses again and again is really a way of communicating the concept of Kairos. So, too, is the turning of Jesus toward Jerusalem and his crucifixion a moment of Kairos.) As we read the New Testament, or as we study the early Church or as we gather for worship and encounter some of these Scripture readings, it helps us to have a bit of background on the concept of Kairos. Ultimately, it helps us to understand a key concept of Christian thought, that all of time is held in the hand of God, and that this God who holds time also fashions time to fulfill God’s purposes. At the right time, the appropriate time, the necessary time, this God acts. In these actions we find the story of our redemption and salvation, and the promise of future, that at the right time, God will hold each of us in God’s hands, just as God holds all of time in God’s hands, and the fullness of life, like the fullness of time, will be ours forever.

Pastor Jay Serafin

Top Ten List of Biblical Characters
#1 Mary Magdalene

“Mary!”
The risen Lord called out your name,
When suddenly you knew
That Christ had risen from the dead
And stood before your view.
The one whom you had witnessed hanged
Upon the rugged cross,
Left there to die that fateful day
When all your hope was loss,
Now spoke your name and suddenly
What once was lost is found,
The Jesus whom you called your Lord
Could not, by death, be bound.
You witnessed as they laid him here
Inside this tomb that day
But now the tomb lay empty and
His body gone away.
So, in your fear and trembling you,
At full speed, ran to share
With other followers of him
What seemed a true nightmare.
Then Peter came to look inside
The tomb, and saw as true
The emptiness of that cold cave
As told to him by you.
Only some linen cloths were there,
Where once the body lay,
So, sad, dejected, Peter left
Without a word to say.
Once more you looked inside the crypt,
And, to your great surprise,
Two figures fully dressed in white
Appeared before your eyes.
“Why are you weeping,” asked the one
As tears flowed down your face,
“My Lord’s not here, his body gone
Vanished without a trace.
If you have taken him from here
Please tell me where he lay
So that I may bring him back again
And homage to him pay.”
Then Mary turned around and saw
A figure standing near,
Supposing him the gardener
She shared her deepest fear.
“The body of my Lord is gone,
Please tell me where he is
So I may go and bring him back.”
And then her eyes met his.
He voiced to her one simple word,
A name, in fact, he spoke,
As “Mary” filled the morning air
Her sleeping faith awoke.
“My teacher!” Mary cried with glee
As Easter filled her heart
And suddenly she knew the truth
In fullness, not in part.
Her Lord, alive, bade her to take
This Easter joy to share
With the disciples straight away
So that they were aware
Of how the Father changed the world
In Christ, His only Son,
Who through the cross, death, empty tomb,
Salvation now has won.
This Mary, then, became the first
To share the Gospel claim
That resurrection life for all
Is given in Christ’s name.
Her witness has become for us
The chorus of our song,
Who also claim the risen Lord,
And to this faith belong.
We do not know her life’s details,
Who saw her Lord alive,
Luke tells of demons cast from her
And other tales contrive
To paint a picture, never proved,
Of Mary, great with sin,
Yet one thing we can know for sure
And here we must begin,
To tell the tale of Magdalene
We seek with faithful eyes
A figure standing near a tomb
Who came to recognize
Her risen Lord, who destroyed death,
He spoke her name that day
And Mary was the first to walk
The resurrection way.
Her firm devotion to her Lord
Compelled her to the tomb
To witness God’s great miracle
The first of Life’s new bloom.
Now every time I read this tale
Of Mary, Easter Day,
I glory in that moment when
She heard her dear Lord say,
Her name, “Mary,” a single word
And in its speaking knew
That God was calling her to live
A life redeemed anew.
Then I recall baptism’s seal
And recognize the claim
That God, through Christ, has called me, too
And spoken my dear name.
Please know, my friend, that your name, too
Was spoken, called and claimed,
When in baptism’s waters you
Were, just like Mary, named.
For in that naming there is life
And promise for each day,
Full opportunity to walk
In resurrection’s way.

Pastor Jay Serafin

Top Ten List of Biblical Characters
#2 Paul

When we first meet Paul in the Scriptures, he is a fervent enemy of the emerging Christian movement. At this point in time his name is Saul, and we see him present at the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58). Given the name Saul at birth, he was educated by the best thinkers in Judaism at the time, and had what might be comparable to a Harvard education in the Scriptures, Laws and Customs of Judaism. In fact, Paul describes himself as very zealous for the faith, someone who knew the Law better than practically all of his peers and unflagging in his support and passion for the faith. This all changed, however, on a roadside as Paul journeyed to the Syrian city of Damascus. Along the way, Paul was blinded by a light and heard a heavenly voice question him, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?” From that moment on, Paul (his name was changed) understood that he had an encounter with the risen Jesus, and instead of persecuting Christians became one of the leading figures in the first generation of the Church. In fact, many Christian scholars express the view that, outside of Jesus, Paul had the greatest influence on Christianity. What was it that Paul did that this claim about him might be made? What did he do to influence the early Church?

Paul was an evangelist. He travelled from city to city speaking to people about the risen Christ, and about how God was gifting salvation to the world through him. He visited synagogues and spoke in town centers, often meeting the derision, scorn and violence from those who didn’t want to hear his message. He developed leaders in local congregations and taught them what he knew about God’s work through Jesus. He offered the faith to the gentile world. And he wrote. My, did he write. Paul is the most prolific writer of books which we now call the New Testament. Each of these was a letter to a local Christian congregation offering guidance, support, demands, concerns and teachings regarding what Paul considered the proper faith and life of the Christian. Beyond the volume of writing we have from Paul in the New Testament, we also find his teaching on God and Jesus to have had a major impact on the development of the Church and of Christian theology. As a student of the Law Paul understood fully the major issues associated with following the Law. In his encounter with Jesus, his time spent with some Apostles of Jesus and other early Church leaders and in his own introspective thought on what new thing God was doing through Jesus, Paul developed an understanding of Christian theology which centered around the ideas of faith and grace. Paul could see that no one could follow the Law according to its exacting standards, and that attempting to follow the Law placed a burden on the believer. If the Law saves, the believer was bound to follow the Law exactly or risk missing the mark. This led to an inward focus in which the believer, zealous for keeping the standards, was ever more introspective, concerned about his/her own position regarding the Law. Paul knew that if the Law saved, the Law must be followed. But what, then, about Jesus? Why would God send Jesus if the Law was a capable Savior? Here is where Paul’s great theological training and capable mind went to work, as he reasoned through Scripture and what he knew of the teachings and life of Jesus in order to come to an understanding that God was doing something new in Christ. God’s love is preeminent. That love is so great that God comes to us in Jesus, and through Jesus the Father shares this love for the salvation of all. Because of this love, salvation is offered as a gift. This is called grace. The gift is given, and when the good news of this gift is shared, people come to believe the truth of this message. This belief is faith. So, through Jesus, God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves. God gives us forgiveness, salvation and life as a gift, simply because God loves us so much. Jesus was the bearer of this gift and set this grace in motion. Still, and here is the genius of Paul, the Law remains important, but not as a way to salvation, but as an aid for the believer in living life in this world. We live as moral people, we do good deeds and help each other, as a response to God’s love, not to receive God’s love. The Law helps us to understand better how to live our relationship with God and with each other. The Law remains important, but has no power to save us. Freed by God’s grace and love, apprehending this grace and love through faith, we are unleashed upon the world to be bearers of God’s good news for the sake of the world.

In some ways it is very human to discount Paul’s theology of grace and faith. Deep down, we want to know what we “have to do” to earn our way into heaven. We find ourselves leaning this way when we see others as such good people that they must have a place with God. Paul’s understanding begins with our sinful human situation. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3). “All” means every single person. With that as the starting point for everyone, Paul places salvation in God’s hands, and trusts in the overwhelming love of God through Jesus to grace us with this gift. With this gift given, the Spirit works in us, producing good fruit, guiding us and enlightening us in our faith so that we live more fully as the people God intends us to be.

This is why Paul is so important for me. I know that I fall short of being the person God would like me to be. I have no hope of being “good enough” to earn my salvation, so I must rely on God’s grace and love. Through Jesus God has given this grace and love, and through it, life for you and me. This idea of grace understood by faith is the only way God and Jesus can make sense to me. Without Paul and his teachings, I fail because of my own brokenness. Yet God through Jesus has graced us, loved us, and given us life, a gift so wonderful we can share it with the world. Paul saw this. Because of his teachings, I can see it, too.

Pastor Jay Serafin

Top Ten List of Biblical Characters
#3 Mary, mother of Jesus

There are many attributes, each one taken alone, which would place Mary high on my list of favorite Biblical characters. The single fact that she is the mother of Jesus, chosen by God to bear God’s creative and redeeming Word for all the world, would place her on the list. Just imagine, a young woman (in that time and place and according to her situation, it would be reasonable to guess her age at perhaps 14 or 15) recently engaged, who is visited by an angel telling her she is to bear the Messiah. Not only does she have the poise to take this visit in stride, after a bit of early nervousness, but by the end of the conversation she sees herself the handmaid of the Lord, and assents to allowing God to use her for God’s great plan of salvation. Not only will this change her life but will place her at the center of a shame storm that will come when her pregnancy becomes noticed. She leaves her village and visits her cousin Elizabeth, whom we know is past child-bearing age, yet is pregnant with a son, who will come to be known as John the Baptist. When Mary greets Elizabeth, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy, and Elizabeth becomes aware that Mary is the bearer of Messiah. Then Mary provides the next reason why she is included on my list. The Magnificat. Mary’s poem of God’ vindication of God’s people, of God’s work to lift up the lowly and bring down the power structures we humans have created which stand in the way of God’s plan, is one of my favorite pieces of Scripture anywhere. I invite you to read it again and think of these words on the lips of an unwed, pregnant teenager living in a society where her condition could mean her instant death by stoning. Her courage and tenacity are on display fully and she beautifully speaks as a prophet God’s word of hope and life which, as the angel is about to say a few verses later, “shall be for all people.” Not long after this, she has the courage to return to her hometown and meet the scorn of the villagers, her extended family and friends, when they see her condition. Even beyond that, she will have to encounter Joseph, her intended, as well. None of this would be easy. But Mary is filled with faith and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who then works in Joseph as well as his dream of a conversation with an angel convinces him that Mary’s story, that she is carrying Messiah, is true.

The other place where Mary captures my attention and respect is in the birth of Jesus. As the shepherds visit the baby, Mary listens to their stories of angelic visitors, and “pondered these things in her heart.” Imagine all that she handled in those brief few weeks. Imagine all the things she had to ponder, from the angel’s announcement to her visit with Elizabeth to her return home, to the scorn of those around her, to Joseph’s acceptance to the trip to Bethlehem to the birth and finally to the visit by these Shepherds, with all of this taking place in a matter of months. In our world, she would probably be a freshman or sophomore in high school. Yet here she is, receiving a mission from God and standing strong until she is able to bear the child God gave her. We see Mary briefly in other places in the Gospels, notably at the foot of the cross as she witnesses the death of her son, and all of these events help us to flesh out a deeper understanding of who she was. For me, however, it is her deep and abiding faith and her quick agreement to do what God asks her to do which lift her up as a very crucial actor in God’s work of salvation. Willing to place herself in jeopardy to do what God asks, Mary stands strong in the midst of adversity and is, in my eyes, one of the strongest individuals we find in all of Scripture. That strength enables her to bear the Word of God for the sake of the world.

Pastor Jay

Top Ten List of Biblical Characters
#4 Ruth

The Book of Ruth certainly is one of the shortest books in the Bible, containing only four chapters. Those chapters, however, are filled with a rich story about a woman of amazing loyalty who stands by the side of another in a time of trial and loss, and in the end finds her life blessed beyond measure. Ruth was a Moabite. The story begins with a man of Israel, Elimelech, and his wife Naomi, taking their two sons to the region of Moab during a time of famine so that they would have enough to eat. They stayed in Moab for quite some time, and eventually, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi a widow. Her two sons eventually married wives from Moab, one of whom was named Ruth. Unfortunately, both sons of Naomi died as well, leaving her with the two daughters-in-law. As a foreign woman not living in her native land, Naomi decided to go back to Israel. Both daughters-in-law wanted to go with her, but Naomi entreated them to stay in their home country to find husbands for themselves. One daughter-in-law decided to stay in Moab, but the other, Ruth, could not be convinced to leave her mother-in-law. Ruth’s devotion to Naomi is beautifully rendered in her promise, which is one of the most beloved sections of Scripture for many.
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
17 Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the LORD do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!” (Ruth 1: 16-17)

Thus, committed to Naomi, Ruth followed her back to Israel, to the community where Naomi’s husband’s kinsmen lived. Devoted to Naomi, and because the women had no one to provide for them, Ruth went out into the fields to glean grain from the harvest which was taking place. According to Old Testament law, fields after harvest were open for those who were poor to glean, so that they may find food left behind after the harvest took place. Naomi instructed Ruth to glean from the fields of a certain wealthy kinsman of her husband named Boaz. While gleaning the barley fields, Ruth was spotted by Boaz, who questioned who she was. Upon learning of her story, and of her devotion to the widow of his kinsman, Boaz instructed his workers to protect Ruth, and even to provide a bit of extra grain for her to glean. When Naomi heard of Boaz’s generosity, she instructed Ruth to get close to Boaz. Through a series of events, Boaz, because of the law instructing kinsmen to marry widows of their relatives, made a deal to take Ruth as his wife. After they were married, Ruth was able to have a son with Boaz and to have a full life restored to her through this marriage and partnership.

Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi is noteworthy because it meant leaving her own family and heritage behind. This was a very uncommon step to take in that time and place, where family and clan and tribe gave you your identity and place in the community. By going back to Israel with Naomi, the probability was that Ruth would be considered an outsider and would be unable to gain place and status until she was able to marry, if that ever happened at all. Still, her love for Naomi compelled her to stay with her mother-in-law and to devote herself to this household, whatever came their way. Capturing Boaz’s imagination when he heard of her devotion, Ruth was able to receive the love and care of one of the most prominent members of Israelite society. This sounds like a happy ending, doesn’t it? But Ruth’s story doesn’t end there. The son born to Boaz and Ruth was named Obed. He grew up to be the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, who became king of Israel and ancestor of Jesus. As an act of faith, Ruth’s devotion to Naomi and following her home opened her up to an uncertain future. This act of faith paid off tremendously, as Ruth and Naomi not only thrived, but Ruth became the great-grandmother of a king and ancestor of Messiah. This woman of faith and perseverance easily makes my list of top 10 Biblical characters.

Pastor Jay

Top Ten List of Biblical Characters
#5 Jacob

One of the alternate Old Testament readings for this coming Sunday is from Genesis 32. This was the Scripture reading we looked at for our Zoom Prayer Chat last night, and I included it there because it is one of my favorite stories in all of Scripture. In this story, Joshua is being chased by his brother, Esau. If you remember, Jacob and his mother conspired to have Jacob receive his father Isaac’s blessing instead of Esau, who, being the older son, should have had that privilege. Jacob had duped Esau out of both his birthright and father’s blessing, thereby gaining the status of the first-born son. Esau was enraged by this, and because Jacob was weaker in stature than Esau, Jacob fled for his life. After spending many years with his uncle, Laban, and gaining two wives and many children, Jacob was told by God to return to the land promised to Abraham and his offspring. Sending word ahead that he was coming home, Jacob took care to send gifts to his brother and divided his livestock and servants into groups, which he separated so that the entire company would not be destroyed if Esau attacked. Jacob thought his brother was coming to make war with him. As Esau approached, Jacob feared confrontation was inevitable, so he secured his family safely on one side of the Jabbok River and he crossed to the other side by himself. That night, Jacob wrestled with a stranger. The stranger put Jacob’s hip out of its socket and would not reveal his name to Jacob, but the stranger did not prevail against Jacob. The stranger said to Jacob, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” When the stranger left, Jacob named the place Peniel, which means “the face of God,” saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” Imagine that, wrestling with God and living to tell the tale. Yet, in reality, who among us, even as people of faith, do not wrestle with God? I’m not talking about scrapping physically with God, but about the mental and emotional wrestling which takes place as we live lives of faith. Who among us does not ask questions of God, deep, pleading, heartfelt questions where answers seem to come back to us at a glacial pace? Who among us does not wrestle with God emotionally when our lives are in turmoil or when we face situations which leave us feeling lost or confused or alone or insignificant of afraid? In the deepest foundation of my faith this story inspires me, because I believe it gives me permission to lift my questions and my complaints and my observations to God- to wrestle with God in the midst of my human weakness. I believe that I can ask my deepest questions and share my deepest pain with God, even when tinged with anger or frustration or despair, and that God will encounter me, wrestle with me. I may not like the outcome, and things may not go my way, and I may not receive the answers I seek, but at the least I can engage God in the arena of life- and wrestle. What a privilege that is. Jacob has showed me that this is possible.

The other reason I enjoy the Jacob saga is that he is a bit of a scoundrel. One of the fathers of the faith in the Old Testament is deceptive and playful and a bit of a nix nootz. He gets himself into trouble with his impulsiveness and shows that he is fully human, sinful yet loveable at the same time. Jacob is a rascal. His story makes me smile, but also brings me hope. If God could choose someone with Jacob’s proclivities to love, God can love me, too. We often place the greatest figures of our faith on a pedestal, but many of these stories share with us the image of humans who, like us, are trying to figure out along the way what it means to be a child of God. Often, they stray from the straight and narrow, often they fail, often we can see that they are imperfect beings, yet God loves them dearly and has a place and a mission for them in God’s ever evolving story. I love that Jacob is a rascal. I love that Jacob wrestled with God. I love even more that God never gave up on Jacob, and the God used Jacob to make God’s will known and bring God’s future into reality.

Pastor Jay

Top Ten List of Biblical Characters
#6 The Apostle Peter

One might wonder why the Apostle Peter is so low on this list. After all, wasn’t he the one with whom Jesus seems to have the most interaction, the one who is singled out as the leader of the Apostles, one of the few whom Jesus takes aside to witness special events, such as the Transfiguration? Peter is called “the Rock” and Jesus says that the very church itself will be built upon Peter’s statement of faith when he claims Jesus to be “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Isn’t that deserving of a higher place? If this list were to signify the most important figures of the Bible, no doubt Peter would be near the top, along with many other characters whom I’ve omitted from my list such as Moses and Abraham and Isaiah and David. However, because this list is made up of my favorite Biblical Characters, the ones I find most personally meaningful, Peter takes his place at number six. And he finds himself there, not because of his statement of faith when he calls Jesus the Messiah, nor for his great speech at Pentecost. Rather, he finds himself here on the list because I see him as someone with whom I can identify. Peter fails. Then Peter fails some more. Peter makes bold statements and then doesn’t fully act as if those statements are true. Peter believes and doubts at the same time. Peter even denies Jesus. Yet, in the end, Peter is redeemed by his Lord and goes into the world with the Gospel message, still bumbling some along the way. But he will not be deterred. His faith is strong and his courage is restored and he is compelled to tell the world about Jesus.

We can make a list of some of Peter’s missteps. He is beckoned by Jesus to walk to him on the water, but loses faith and sinks. After he proclaims Jesus to be the Messiah and Jesus talks about the crucifixion, Peter rebukes Jesus and says this will not happen, whereupon Jesus must dismiss Peter’s statement with the famous words, “Get behind me Satan.” Peter misses the full implication of the Transfiguration when he wishes to build tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. And, famously, Peter denies Jesus when Jesus is on trial. Even on the Day of Resurrection it seems obvious to me that Peter does not, at first, believe the truth of the resurrection until a personal encounter with Jesus shows him this truth. All of these failures might lead us to believe that Peter is incapable of being an advocate for Jesus. Jesus, however, knows Peter, and uses Peter for the creation of the Church. Even after Pentecost Peter is not pristine. He has a falling out with Paul over the issue of dietary law, and Paul wins the argument, calling Peter, basically, a hypocrite. How, then, could a man so tainted be a figure to be honored or find himself on a list of favorites? How could such a man become one of the greatest leaders of the early Church?

Truthfully, Peter knows he is broken. He understands his sins and weaknesses. He also understands that, except for the grace of God through Christ he has no hope. But because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Peter knows that God loves him, forgives him and invites him into a life of mission and ministry, into the sharing of the love of Christ for the sake of the world. I am no St. Peter. However, I can relate to failure, to a faith that isn’t always perfect, to moments of doubt and despair, and to confusion about what God really is doing in my life and in the world. So, if God can use someone like Peter, who failed and failed again, to lead the Church and take responsibility for sharing the Gospel message with the world, I guess God can use me, too. And God can use you. In the final analysis, Peter comes across as completely human, just like you and me. Yet God through Jesus uses Peter to build the church. God uses you and me as well to build the church, to share the love of Christ and to make God’s promises of life and salvation known. I guess Peter is one of my favorites because I see a little of Peter in all of us.

Pastor Jay Serafin

Top Ten List of Biblical Characters
#7 Tamar (Genesis 38)

Of all the characters of the Bible, none, in my opinion showed more resolve than Tamar. Tamar was denied her rights and, through very creative means, found justice. Justice, in Biblical understanding, does not mean arresting guilty people or having court trials or throwing guilty people in jail. In the Scriptures the word “justice” has a much deeper, richer meaning. Justice is the fundamental right of each person to have access to resources, livelihood and relationships which lead to the abundant life God intends for each person. It does not mean that everyone becomes rich or that prohibitions against stealing no longer apply, but does mean that society is to be ordered so that everyone has an opportunity to have those things which lead to abundant living… meaningful employment with just wages, a place to live and an adequate standing in society so that each person has recourse to claim the rights justice affords. The Scriptures, especially through the prophets and Jesus, are very harsh on those who would deny this type of justice. Yet, for those on the margins of society, often it is difficult to have this justice granted when it is lacking. This leads us to the story of Tamar. Please know before we begin that if this story were made into a movie it would be rated PG-13 or R. Yes, the Bible does deal with very mature themes from time to time.

Tamar was married to Er, the firstborn son of Judah, who himself was the son of Jacob. Some time after their wedding, Er died. According to the law given to Israel, if a man dies before his wife bears a son, his brother is legally obligated to marry the widow of his brother. The firstborn son of this marriage is considered to be the son of the dead brother. This is called a Levirate marriage. This law upholds the name of the first, deceased brother so that it may be carried into future generations, and also gives the widow a continued place in the family, along with the resources and future offspring this provides. So, now that Tamar’s husband, Er, has died, according to the law she is to be given to the next son in line for marriage. This took place and Er’s brother, Onan, married Tamar. Onan, however, didn’t, shall we say, fully fulfill his husbandly duties to Tamar and she was, therefore, unable to bear a child. Apparently, God disapproved of Onan, because he died as well. Now widowed for the second time, according to the law Tamar was to marry the next brother in line, Shelah. Unfortunately for Tamar, Shelah still was too young to marry. Judah then sent Tamar back to her father’s house with the promise that she would marry Shelah when he was of age. However, Judah did not seem very intent on fulfilling this promise, probably because he thought Tamar was bad luck and that his third son would be in peril if the marriage took place. Even when Shelah reached marrying age Judah did not call for the wedding to take place. Justice, for Tamar, was denied.

Here is where things get even dicier. Tamar learned that her father in law, Judah, who was now a widower, was on his way to the town of Timnah to shear his sheep. Taking off her widow’s clothing, Tamar dressed in flashy clothes and wore a veil, and sat outside the town of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah, knowing Judah would pass by. When he did, he saw Tamar by the entrance to the town, posing as a prostitute, and asked for her services. When Tamar asked for payment, Judah promised a sheep from his flock, which was at Timnah. Tamar then asked for Judah’s signet ring and staff as collateral until payment could be made. Judah agreed and everything proceeded as agreed. (I told you this was at least PG-13) Judah left to go to his sheep and Tamar went back to her father’s house, putting back on the widow’s garments. When Judah sent the sheep to the prostitute to pay for the services, it was learned that she wasn’t there, and that there never was a prostitute who frequented the area. Judah, realizing his ring and staff were gone, figured payment was made and forgot about the matter.

When it soon became obvious that Tamar was pregnant without a husband, word filtered back to Judah. Judah’s response, upon hearing the news, was “Bring her out and let her be burned.” The penalty for the offense was death, and Judah meant to exact the proper punishment. However, Tamar sent back to Judah with the messenger a signet ring and a staff, telling the messenger to reveal, “It was the owner of these who made me pregnant.” Revealed as the father, Judah could do nothing more than accept that the children (Tamar would bear twins) were his. By her cunning and resolve Tamar was restored to her rightful place. Although we learn no more about Tamar in Genesis, her story doesn’t end here. In the Gospel of Matthew, we find the genealogy of Jesus going back to Abraham. Among the ancestors of Jesus, we read the following, “…Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar…” According to Matthew, Tamar is the many times great-grandmother of Jesus.

Tamar remains a story of the hope and need for justice for those who live on the margins of society and whose rights and humanity are not honored. The story of God, told in the Bible, honors her as a hero who champions the seeking of justice. Her story is a no holds barred telling of the human need for dignity, for place, for the opportunity to live the fulness of life which God intends for all God’s people. It is a story which has captured me.

Pastor Jay

Top 10 List of Biblical Characters
#8 Samaritan Woman at the Well

Imagine that you live in an area where there is no plumbing. In fact, in order to secure water for your household you need to take containers to a well some distance away, draw water from the well and carry it back to your house. Also imagine, in this scenario, that it is summer and that the weather climate is Mediterranean, which means very, very hot afternoons followed by cool temperatures from evening through morning. When would you choose to go to the well? If you are like most people you probably would choose to make this trip early in the morning and again in the cooler evening. However, when Jesus rests near the well in John 4, a woman comes at noon to fill her jugs with water. She is alone. She doesn’t do this difficult chore in the company of other woman, sharing stories to lighten the mood and the burden of the task. She is alone. Except that Jesus is there as well.

Jesus asks her for a drink. She is amazed because Jesus, a Jew, is asking her, a woman of Samaria for a drink. That he is talking to her at all is stunning, as these two groups of people didn’t associate with each other. Besides that, she is a woman. In that time and place a man and woman from different families who were strangers would not converse. It broke every social norm to do so. Stunned by the request, the woman asks Jesus how it is that he can ask a drink from her. The Gospel writer even makes a parenthetical comment revealing that Jews and Samaritans did not share things in common. When she questions the request, Jesus responds that if she knew who he was she could ask, and he would give her living water. Noticing that he has no bucket or vessel, she questions how he could give her any water. His response is that if she were to drink this living water she would never thirst again. “Sir, give me this water so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Her response expresses her hope not to have to struggle the indignity of showing up alone at this well ever again. Jesus then asks her to go and bring her husband. She replies that she has no husband. Jesus tells her details about her life which he should not know, including the fact that she has had five husbands and the man in whose house she currently lives is not her husband. After a brief conversation Jesus reveals to her that he is the Messiah. She hurries back to the village to proclaim to the people that she has met someone who knows all the details of her life, a true person of God, causing the villagers to come and meet this prophet.

In this story Jesus touches the life of someone who lives on the margins of society. Her trip to the well alone and the facts of her living situation reveal a life that has been difficult. In all probability she daily faced the scorn of those around her. She had no social status. Through this encounter her life is transformed. What I find appealing in this woman is her pluck. Most people in her situation probably would have slipped away and walked back home at the beginning of this encounter. She stays and engages fully in the conversation. In this encounter God’s grace and love are made known to her, and she begins to see that, to God, she matters. Not only that, but she becomes a messenger of God’s working for salvation through Jesus. Through her the whole village is introduced to the Messiah. At the well, she draws upon her sense of dignity in order to converse with this stranger, and in this encounter, Messiah is revealed to her. Keeping with convention she should have left. Had she done so she would have missed the chance for God’s love to touch her through the Messiah. In an act of courage and dignity, she stays and is blessed by the God who loves her with the gift of living water.

Pastor Jay

Top 10 List of Biblical Characters
#9 The Apostle Thomas

Thomas gets a bad rap. The book on Thomas is that his faith is shallow, that it vacillates in intensity and is found wanting during the crucial moment when the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus first is spoken. We call him “doubting Thomas” because when, after the disciples see the risen Lord, he is told about the resurrection Thomas tells his friends that he will not believe unless he sees that marks from the nails. Shouldn’t he just believe because the others told him what they witnessed? After all, they have come to faith in the resurrected Christ, why shouldn’t Thomas? In this episode during which his doubt is highlighted we find the Apostle Thomas lacking. Why doesn’t he just believe?

Hindsight is 20/20. We have the privilege of being able to read this story from the comfort of a tradition which celebrates the resurrection and has done so for centuries. Thomas was in the middle of these life-shattering events. By every bit of evidence available to him, Jesus was dead. Dead people just don’t come back to life. If that were to be believed, Thomas would need proof-clear, incontrovertible proof. Thomas needed more than hearsay. He needed to be shown. In Thomas’ defense, so did the other disciples. If you remember your Easter stories from the Gospels, the disciples were locked in the room out of fear that they, too, would be arrested and executed just as Jesus was. Even more, when the other disciples, excluding Thomas, heard the first report of the resurrection from the women, they, too, did not believe it. “While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5 The women[b] were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men[c] said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.[d] 6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24: 4-11) Thomas was not better nor was he worse than the other disciples, who also needed physical proof of the resurrection. Unfortunately, because he is singled out in the Gospel of John, his doubt, which is no different from the doubt of the others, is highlighted so that we tend to see him as the one who lacks faith. If this is all we know of Thomas, we’ve missed a man of great faith and of strong purpose. In John 11, the story of the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus announces to his disciples that they must go to Judea once again to assess the situation. The last time Jesus and his disciples were in that area the crowd tried to stone him. When Jesus announces the return to this dangerous location, Thomas is the disciple who speaks up. “Let us also go, that we may die with him (Jesus). (John 11: 16) The other disciples try to convince Jesus not to return to Judea, but Thomas is willing to die following him. This does not sound like a person who is weak in faith.

There is a good bit of Thomas in each of us, especially in a world which is so much more scientifically advanced than First Century Israel. Generally, we too demand evidence or corroboration when determining what we believe. That’s all that Thomas was asking for. If Jesus is alive, I want to see him, too. When he does, he speaks quickly and boldly some of the greatest words of faith, “My Lord and my God!” The response of Jesus is such good news for all of us. “Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’” (John 20: 29)

I see Thomas as a person of great conviction and loyalty. He is willing to die, if that’s what it takes to fully follow Jesus. His doubt does not flow from a lack of faith, but from a lack of evidence. Once the evidence is made known, his faith is as strong as anyone’s. Thrust forward by this great faith, legend tells us that Thomas became a missionary to India and was martyred for his faith. For Thomas, doubting was not so much a lack of faith, but a searching for a faith that makes sense in the light of life in this world. Once received, this faith can change the world. Perhaps in this light, his doubt turned to faith can make sense to and be celebrated by us.

Pastor Jay

Top 10 List of Biblical Characters
#10 Mary of Bethany

Most of us think of her as the sister of Martha and of Lazarus. In fact, it is in this context where we meet her several times in the Gospels (Luke 10 and John 11 and 12. The central theme in each of these encounters, I think, is relationship. An understanding of relationship is presented in each appearance in Scripture by the Gospel writer’s describing of Mary as the sister of Martha or the sister of Lazarus. In fact, it is the understanding or “relationship” which I believe is at the heart of the character whom we call Mary of Bethany found in the Gospels. In the first instance, Jesus, we are told, comes to the house of Martha, located in a certain village. This Martha has a sister named Mary. While Martha tends to the tasks societal convention have placed upon her (cooking, serving, ensuring the comfort of the guests) Mary has chosen another course. Casting off traditional roles, Mary sits at the feet of Jesus and listens to his teaching. Martha becomes upset with this arrangement and complains to Jesus about her sister’s lack of social etiquette. The reply of Jesus is stunning. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” This scene, which occupies an honored spot in the Gospel of Luke (Chapter 10), taking place between the Parable of the Good Samaritan and Jesus’ teaching his disciples the Lord’s Prayer, upsets the norms of society of that time. Living in a “shame-based” society, which meant that those who broke with norms and customs would face the scorn of neighbors and bring shame upon the family, limited what was permissible and set heavy expectations upon individuals. One such custom was that disciples of a great teacher had the privilege of sitting at the teacher’s feet. Also, such disciple must be male. For a woman to sit at the feet of Jesus in order to learn would be a major breach of etiquette and would draw the approbation of those in attendance, both toward Mary for daring to sit there and for Jesus for allowing this to happen. Yet Mary seems oblivious to the social norms which everyone thought should be guiding her actions, including her sister, and has been caught up in what, for her, truly is important- relationship. At the feet of Jesus, she learns of God’s unfailing love. Access to this honored spot at the feet of Jesus is directly related to this limitless love which is all inclusive and which surpasses even the constraints of societal norms. Mary is welcomed. Her impetuousness and glee at having the opportunity to come to know Jesus and learn from the teacher opens for her the joy of relationship with him, and this supersedes custom and tradition. This relationship with her Lord bears dividends later when she mourns the death of her brother Lazarus, as Jesus gives her the comfort and joy of her brother’s life back and, with it, the grand promise of resurrection. It is this joy which compels her, later in the Gospel of John, to break open a costly bottle of perfume, and to the dismay of those in attendance, using it to anoint the feet of Jesus and wiping it with her hair, an act of great love. Whether she knew or not, this act was a foreshadowing of the death and burial of Jesus which would take place shortly.

Mary of Bethany is a compelling character for me because of her uncompromising pursuit of relationship. Nothing will stop her from love for her Lord and, through him, love for the God whom Jesus called “Father,” whose own love for her knew no bounds. She is impulsive, and her commitment to honor Jesus, and in doing so, honor her own faith lives as a testament to the character we find in the pages of the Gospel. She is described by the Gospel writers of Luke and John by the family relationships she holds in life, but what her story reveals and helps us to understand is her dedication to the one who came to give her abundant life, regardless of what might stand in the way. This, for me, is the true joy of her story.

Pastor Jay

Pastor Jay’s Top Ten List
Hi everyone. I thought we might have some fun thinking about the Bible as we move through the summer season. I took some time to compile a few “Top Ten” lists which I will share with you, hopefully to spark some thought or consideration on your part. My first Top Ten is a list of my ten favorite characters from the Bible (leaving Jesus out of consideration for now). This list merely represents my thinking right now, and is subject to change at any time, particularly as I come across new information or simply gain new insights or opinions. Your mileage may vary. Your list may contain some or none of the names I share, and that is perfectly OK. This is meant for fun and to inspire some personal thought as to which Biblical characters are significant for you and why. Today, I will give my list, and over the next two weeks or so will share my thoughts on each of these individual characters and give some background for why this character has made my list. So, without further commentary, here is my Top Ten list of Favorite Biblical Characters (minus Jesus).

10. Mary of Bethany
9. the Apostle Thomas
8. Samaritan Woman at the Well
7. Tamar
6. the Apostle Peter
5. Joshua
4. Ruth
3. Mary, mother of Jesus
2. Paul
1. Mary Magdalene

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below. I will do a brief synopsis in the coming days regarding this list and my reasons for this ordering.
Pastor Jay

The Summer Riddler #3 Answers

1
My eye is meant to focus in
And capture what I see
I’ll fixate on some chosen things
And share my memory.
A: A Camera

2
“Just keep your shirt on,” you could say
When pressed, it suits me fine
So hook me up or dress me down
Or hang me on the line.
A: A clothes hanger

3
When yesterday becomes today
And then tomorrow, too
I’ll hold them all together so
You’ll keep them all in view.
A: A calendar

4
When down, I’m here to bring you up
When up, I’ll bring you low
But I won’t move you either way
Propel yourself, you know.
A: Stairs

5
You smile when, with dimples shown,
You put me in the cup
But you must not drink me, instead
You bend and pick me up.
A: A golf ball

6
When I turn left the result is
Undone when I turn right
And with a chain I’m often bound
My bitting teeth won’t bite.
A: A key

How did you do?

Christmas in July!

That God, beyond eternity,
Surpassing time and space,
Would enter into human form
And join the human race
To strengthen our relationship
By this great act of grace
So that ubiquity display
Itself in just one face,
Is far beyond my faculty
To understand and claim
An argument that can make sense
Of this God’s gracious aim.
From Mary’s womb to Calvary
God incarnate so came
To share our human condition
And take a human name.
Astounding act of loving will,
God’s purpose perfectly
Distilled upon a manger bed
A child destined to be
The one who will enact God’s plan
So all may come to see
A God who loves this world so much
He’d join humanity,
To show us all that this God is
Closer than we’d suppose
And through this incarnation would
Salvation’s way disclose
To every heart that yearns to live
A life that fully knows
The joy that comes from God’s great gift
The incarnate logos.

Pastor Jay Serafin

HOPE

Lord,

In your name

We pray for peace

And skill to proclaim

The love you freely give

Shown to us upon the cross

Where your Son took on death

That we might gain from your loss

So, strengthened by this great victory

We may feel empowered to share your love

Inviting those around us to be touched

By the grace sent by you from above

That they also might find strength

In the hope we have in you

And then joined together

We may promise anew

To endeavor to be

A light in dark

Your arms

A spark

Hope

Pastor Jay Serafin

How?

What shall we say each day as morning dawns
In golden hues of pinkish golden bronze
While certainty seems oh so far away
Yet though we often pause to pray
The answers that we dearly seek
Within this time that is unique
Seem out of reach somehow
What can we do right now
To manage in the storm
Creating a new norm
To bring us peace
And a new lease
In fretful days
To now raise
A new song
So strong
As we
Free
Hearts
It starts
When love
From above
Fills our souls
And sets our goals
Then kindness leads
When we meet needs
In service without fear
To neighbors far and near
Our dear Lord paved the way
And called on us without delay
To share the burden of each other
When we make bold to love another
Lifting up each child of God we meet
Throughout this effort we will not retreat
Thus, guided by the Lord, his loving ways
Will guide us with the truth during these days

Pastor Jay Serafin

Summer Dreams

Dear God we lift our voice to you
In prayer and thanks and praise
And ask that you, within your will,
Will bless the hopes we raise.

You bless us with the fresh, clean air
And sunshine from above,
You bless us more through your dear Son
Who brought to us your love.

If only we could praise you Lord
As lovely as do birds
Who lift their voices high in song
To thank you without words,

Or share our hearts with wagging tail,
Or purr, or neigh or moo,
Still we will praise you as we can
And lift our thanks to you.

For you have formed this world we share,
Its beauty plain to see,
And given us a steward’s job
To work toward jubilee

When all the world shall live in peace
And shelter ‘neath your wing,
That in the comfort of your love
A joyous song we’ll sing.

So, when the gentle rain falls down
Or skies turn blue and bright,
May we know that your loving hand
Has put these things in sight.

And so, encouraged by your grace,
We firmly step into
The future in which we will find
True joy which comes from you.

Pastor Jay Serafin

I Pray
I pray for the neighbor who lives down the street
That he will have comfort and plenty to eat.
I pray for the mother who just crossed the road
With two tiny children that God ease her load.
I pray for the families of patients so ill
Whose hope is now centered in God’s gracious will.
I pray for the business now locked up so tight
To keep workers safe through this unnerving plight.
I pray for the doctor so tired and worn
For rest that renews as she greets the new morn.
I pray for the person whose job is to lead
A people uncertain with how to proceed.
I pray for store workers who fill up the shelves
May God give them health as they care for themselves.
I pray for the churches that sit very still
Yet find ways to manage in doing God’s will.
I pray for the scientist seeking insight
For ridding the world of this terrible blight.
I pray for the nurse who has answered the call
To bring care and comfort and healing to all.
I pray for the worker who’s now unemployed
May resources flow that can fill any void.
I pray for delivery folk on the way
With packages, that they may have a safe day.
I pray for the people alone and in fear
That God’s loving presence may bring them some cheer.
I pray for those grieving the loss of a friend
May God give them peace and a strength without end.
I pray for the prayerful who pray every day
For God to bring mercy and not to delay.
I pray for a hope that will keep us inspired
To pray for the sick, the fearing, the tired.
I pray for a world that is so much in need
Of prayers to be answered with life-saving speed.
I pray for a day when our prayers answered give
All people God’s full peace in which we can live.
Amen.
Pastor Jay Serafin

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!

“Come unto to me,” our dear Lord says,
His promise is for rest.
Resolved to follow this command,
In his hands we are blessed.
Secure we journey fully loved
Through darkness, doubt and fear,
Inspired by the faith we hold
So closely and so dear.
Reminded that we have new life
In all that Easter shows,
Sufficient is your grace, O God,
Each moment as it flows,
Never to fail us in our need,
Hope fills us each new day,
Emmanuel is with us now
Inviting us to stay
Safely within his healing arms,
Renewed and energized,
Incapable of feeling lost,
Scared, helpless or despised.
Easter is promise, gift of love,
New life for you and me,
Impossible though it may sound
Now Christ has set us free.
Death could not hold him, from the grave
Emerging, life he gave,
Establishing the victory
Dear friend, for us to save.

Pastor Jay Serafin
(There is a second message hidden in the poem’s text. Can you find it?)

Here is another poem. I hope you find something meaningful in the words. Once again, there is a message in the poem that can be found using the same methodology of one of my previous poems. Please don’t share it outright so that others may try to figure it out, too. I will reveal the code for all next week.

The Word

Infinite God who made us all,
Nurturing us by grace,
Time eternal belongs to you
How can we know thy face?
Except that you have come to us
Born of a Virgin mild,
Eternal Word in human flesh,
God as a human child.
Is he, the way, the truth, the life,
Near us whenever we pray,
Never to leave us all alone
In this our darkened day?
Now as we face this viral test
Grace us with peace anew,
Waking in us a fervent hope,
A future firm in you.
Sufficient is your love alone
To guide us on our way,
Holding us safely in your hand
Each moment through the day.
Word of God, the Eternal Son,
Open our eyes to see
Revealed to us, from God, full life
Destined for you and me.

Pastor Jay Serafin          

 

Cross
The Cross
In the Cross
Glory in the Cross
God’s glory in the Cross
Find God’s glory in the Cross
We find God’s glory in the Cross
Wonderfully we find God’s glory in the Cross
So wonderfully we find God’s glory in the Cross
Wonderfully we find God’s glory in the Cross
We find God’s glory in the Cross
Find God’s glory in the Cross
God’s glory in the Cross
Glory in the Cross
In the Cross
The Cross
Cross

Salvation
Our salvation
Celebrate our salvation
Joyfully celebrate our salvation
We joyfully celebrate our salvation
As we joyfully celebrate our salvation
Love as we joyfully celebrate our salvation
Give love as we joyfully celebrate our salvation
We give love as we joyfully celebrate our salvation
Give love as we joyfully celebrate our salvation
Love as we joyfully celebrate our salvation
As we joyfully celebrate our salvation
We joyfully celebrate our salvation
Joyfully celebrate our salvation
Celebrate our salvation
Our salvation
Salvation

Brokenness
Our brokenness
In our brokenness
Hope in our brokenness
Giving hope in our brokenness
Love giving hope in our brokenness
God’s love giving hope in our brokenness
Is God’s love giving hope in our brokenness
Faith is God’s love giving hope in our brokenness
Is God’s love giving hope in our brokenness
God’s love giving hope in our brokenness
Love giving hope in our brokenness
Giving hope in our brokenness
Hope in our brokenness
In our brokenness
Our brokenness
Brokenness

Pastor Jay Serafin

Until
Until we reach the proper time
That life resumes its pace
We lift our hopes to you, dear God,
For all the human race.

Until, in safety, we can meet,
Soon may that fine day be,
We cherish thoughts, and prayers we lift,
For friends and family.

Until we worship side-by-side
We praise you, Lord above,
Though separate we still bless your name
Dear God of life and love.

Until this pestilence is gone
And normal ways return
May we serve others as you did
With faith, care and concern

Until we are a shining light
That turns the dark to day
May you supply your Spirit’s torch
To help reveal your way

Until we have your wisdom, Lord,
And know your plan and will
Give us humility to keep
Our Spirits calm and still

Pastor Jay Serafin

  

Life.
Abundant Life.
The Good News.
So that we know
Even in the shadows
Places filled with pain
And despair
And fear
And hopelessness
And sin
Christ is present.
The Jesus who entered the shadows
To be with us
Where we really live
Is the Jesus who took on death
Then was vindicated by the Father
On Easter morning
To bring God’s love
And hope
And justice
And peace
And life
And light
Into the shadows
Through you
And me
And the God who walks with us
Every moment of every day
Until the tears are no more.

Pastor Jay Serafin