2023-12-26 11:16:19

2023-12-26 11:16:19

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Fog CloudsFog Clouds

  Another dense, foggy day.  Everything seems unsubstantial.  How strange the world looks, so soft and fuzzy, when I know from experience that it is hard and firm.  I hear cars inch past on the road, drivers hesitant to go fast in case a biker or an animal is ahead.  My faith is sometimes like that—there are times when I know it is strong and substantial, but other times I feel it becoming gauzy and slick, almost slipping from my grasp as I despair or fret.  It is then I most need your help, Dear Father, to assure me you are there with me, not only in the fog, but particularly in the fog!  Please help me to trust you when I can no longer see you, hear your voice, or feel your presence.  Be with me as I grope in the fog; may I draw comfort from your strength that is always extended to me, even in the gray fog of doubt.

He Has RisenHe Has Risen

 Prayer for Easter

      Dear Lord, every Easter card shows flowers blooming, bright sunshine, and smiling disciples. But it wasn’t that way, was it, Lord. It was chilly and dark when the women went to the tomb. In their scarves they carried gums and spices to undo the abuse and torture your body had suffered two days earlier. So much fear! The boulder blocking the tomb, the soldiers guarding it, the Roman soldiers patrolling and then, to add to the fear, an earthquake.

      They whispered to one another as they walked. Hopeless. Disappointed. The loss of everything they believed. Jesus wasn’t powerful as He seemed. He could heal and restore and feed and make people believe—but it all came down to this—a broken body in a borrowed tomb. Here was the hard truth; Jesus was a mortal man like every other man. Shivering in the darkness, bent over as they hurried, eager to have this business finished, to show their respect for a dear friend who had taught them so much.

      It’s ironic, Lord, isn’t it, that none of the followers coming to the burial site in small, separate groups, expected an empty tomb. Though Jesus had told them repeatedly, at least nine times, that he would rise from the dead, they didn’t believe him. In fact the only ones who heard Jesus’ message were the Jewish rulers. The high priests and Pharisees warned Pilate Jesus spoke of rising from the dead. They heard the message, though his followers didn’t. To prevent their stealing the body, Pilate posted guards.

      When they reached the tomb in separate groups, there was no sudden epiphany, no delirious shout of joy over what had taken place. No. Fear, confusion, disbelief overwhelmed the followers as they scuttled back and forth, reluctant to believe the angel’s message. Only John announced his belief as did Mary Magdalene after Jesus spoke her name. It took hours, days, weeks in some cases, before skeptic followers could believe in the living Jesus. Even those who saw Jesus in person were reluctant to believe!

      And what of us, Lord, what of our disbelief? All the Easters since that first morning and we continue to wonder, still question if it’s real. Like those followers we grope in the chilly darkness, doubting the value of life, despairing of purpose. We go to wrap the dead, not celebrate the living. The search is the same, Lord, a hunt for meaning. Strangely enough it is only an empty tomb that contains all we need to know. In that emptiness lies fullness and joy—promises kept and new life given.

      Easter isn’t a one-time event; it is a repeated search whenever we forget the promise or reject its premise. Each time we face that empty tomb, we find a living Lord who is among us, loving us, forgiving us. Dwelling with us until the end of time. Never has empty space held so much. On this Easter morning may each of us find our way to an empty tomb regardless of the pain or doubt that drives our search. With courage we look inside rediscovering the life that lies beyond. “He is risen!” So will we.

Sandra Ratliff

Don’t Touch!Don’t Touch!

Today, early in the morning, I approached an unfamiliar object on the beach, just above the water line. Its label warned that it was dangerous, phosphorous-filled, and should not be touched. The finder was asked to notify the police or military. The discovery saddened me. In the midst of so much serene beauty, under skies still washed with dawning light, I had stumbled upon something that hinted of death and destruction, something unconnected with the morning’s beauty. I remembered the passage from Philippians where we are told to think of what is pure and lovely. I tried to fix my thoughts on the right, the pure, the admirable, the excellent, and the praiseworthy. As I reported the object to the park ranger, my duty was complete. But now I need your help, Lord to find a way to live in this world with its unpleasant realities and still reach for you and your perfection of goodness and beauty. Help me find beauty even in the midst of ugliness. May I put aside this ugly object and try to be an agent of peace and beauty in a troubled, violent world. Amen.