Mistaking Jesus for a wave-walking specter, the disciples grow even more alarmed as he draws near. In response, Jesus reassures them that it is he who is coming to them. Which is interesting, when you think about it. I mean, Jesus had just fed thousands upon thousands of helpless and vulnerable people, revealing both divine power and divine compassion. Sometimes that hope and encouragement may come to us in a piece of music sung by the choir, or a hymn we sing together, or a beautiful solo.
It may be in a prayer that is offered. It may be a word of encouragement and hope shared from a friend. It may be in silent communion with the Holy One. It may be in a beautiful sight we behold in the great outdoors, even if it comes to us on the fairway. Or, it may be in a moment of unexpected grace extended to us by another. In unexpected ways, Jesus comes to meet us, to lift us above that which rages around us and seeks to drown out our light of life and love.
Battered to Blessed
A couple of weeks ago I heard an amazing story about a Unitarian Church in New Orleans whose light of love could not be drowned out in the face of raging waters of hate. During the third week of July, First Unitarian Universalist Church was hosting a ground-breaking ceremony for a new Planned Parenthood facility in New Orleans when the stormy weather made it impossible for them to meet outside on the adjacent site.
The following Sunday morning, July 20, while they were in worship, Rev. We began our time together of collective prayer and meditation. We were lifting up the list of the beloveds whom we had lost in the past two weeks. We were having a moment of silence, and out of that silence a voice came. Stunned, the congregation suddenly realized that the voice was not one of their own. People started standing up, pulling off their button-down shirts and revealing T-shirts of affiliation that flashed the words Operation Save America.
They were being really loud and disruptive. Then these protesters began to spew words of malice and hate, telling them, they were going to hell for their sins. The members did not retaliate in any way.
Battered to Blessed
Instead, the youth, who had just spent the previous week studying to be leaders in the church, stood up and circled around the sanctuary and encouraged their members to join them. So we stood there holding hands and started singing words of love, justice and freedom. Then we invited the protesters to respectfully sit and quietly join them for the rest of worship.
The undersigned people of faith do not agree on everything. In fact, some of us only agree that we have the right to disagree. But that is enough. No congregation, whatever their views may be, should have their sacred worship time and space violated. How is the Stillspeaking God calling the United Church of Christ to stand up to the storms of hate and violence, to have faith and to keep our eyes on Jesus?
How are we at First Congo, being called to face the storms of hate and violence in our own community? Will we join together to face the waves of discrimination and oppression of any and all peoples who are marginalized and hurt in any way? How open are our doors? In a world that is full of change and upheaval, in a world where there are so few to depend on, in a world full of dangers and snares, of powers and evils, there is someone we can depend on—Jesus.
Jesus will come to meet us on the stormy waters of life and bear us up. Jesus reaches out his hand to bless us with the love, strength and grace of God that we need to ride upon stormy waters. Jesus, the Christ, will calm our fears with the peace that passes all understanding, even in the face of hate, hurt and heartache. This man was a magician.
He distracted me with slight of hand, and he never told me anything intimate about himself. During the relationship, I invited Christ to be my Savior.
Battered to Blessed (Paperback) - Brenda Walsh
All the while, I prayed fervently for his salvation. The nearer I drew to God, the worse his demeanor became. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?
One evening he came home at midnight. I went to bed at 3: Jumping on the bed, he exclaimed: At first I thought he was joking, but I was entering a whole new nightmare. He punched out all the windows in our living room, and I called He was running around in his shorts and jersey at the supermarket across the street. The operator encouraged me to call him back inside. He stormed the front door with ferocious tenacity, followed me to the kitchen and started beating the living daylights out of me.
I dropped the phone near the refrigerator.
Unfortunately, they hit me too, but I was just grateful my heroes were finally there to catch my villain in the act. They took him away, handcuffed and hog tied, assuming he was on PCP. I thank God and the Erie Police Department for saving my life. God has plans for me! After my grandma and I visited my boyfriend in the hospital, we both decided that the man I should stand by was Jesus. Grandma bought me a mobile home outside of the city, and my entire life changed.
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