Thoughts Along the Way April 14, 2021

Thoughts Along the Way

Pastor Tom Joyce

April 14, 2021

 

“Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen yet have come to believe.’”             John 20:28-29

 

Thomas was the one disciple who was not present when the Resurrected Jesus came to visit.  Since he was not there he refused to believe that Jesus stood among them and would only believe if he saw Jesus for himself. So when Jesus did confront Thomas, Thomas could only profess, “My Lord and my God!” Yet this was not only a profession, it was an affirmation of the presence of Jesus. Jesus’ resurrection was not intended just for those who were there at the time, his followers. The fact of the resurrection survives not by what is seen but by what remains unseen, hence faith; it is a reality that is beyond flesh and blood, historicity, or even explanation. Someone asked me once to prove that Jesus is the Son of God and that God even exists in the first place.  I said, “I will prove that to you but first, prove to me that God does not exist.” Though Jesus does not stand before us as he did Thomas, Jesus is alive and can be experienced through first seeing all creation as the work of God and understanding God’s love is so great for us that he “gave his only son that whoever believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Jesus has been resurrected and is alive because Jesus did promise to be with us to the end of the age and we take that promise fully by faith. Faith sees beyond our limited sight and beyond the confines of human understanding. Maybe those of us who have “not seen but have come to believe” are blessed because of the abundant joy of knowing and living that fact. In the words of Fanny Crosby, “Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blessed.” (“Blessed Assurance,” #369UMH) Faith in Jesus Christ as our resurrected Savior is simply about having a thankful heart and a grace-filled soul that sees beyond what can be seen and hopes beyond current reality to the joy of the abundance of God’s love that created all things new, even and especially you.  Amen  



Thoughts Along the Way April 7, 2021

Thoughts Along the Way

Pastor Tom Joyce

April 7, 2021

 

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.”       I Corinthians 15:20

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ, celebrated at Easter, is the very essence of our faith, nothing more fundamental, nothing more life-giving than the fact that Jesus rose from the dead vacating the tomb to offer all those who believe new life. John Wesley founder of the Methodist Movement once wrote, “as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.” The “root of Christianity” is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Easter event that proved for all eternity God’s indescribable, unmovable, and perfect love. The basis of our faith seems novel and an idle tale to the casual observer; an interesting story but do Christians really believe Jesus rose from the dead on the third day? The short answer is yes, Jesus was resurrected from the dead and by faith it is the one fact that changes everything from how we see God to how we see one another. The fact of Jesus’ resurrection offers hope and affirmation that those who have died are forever with us in spirit and that one day we shall all be rejoined with them.  The fact of Jesus’ resurrection affirms that all people are God’s beloved and all people have been given the gift of the love of Jesus, a love that we are called to share with our neighbor. All people have been given a new opportunity to live life knowing the fact that no matter where the path in this life leads, whether down the dark, dirty path of sin or streets paved with grace, Jesus is guiding, forgiving, and redeeming all who turn to him for a second chance.  The joy of faith is not about living a perfect life, but living in the perfect love of Jesus that offers mercy, grace, and hope fulfilled. 

 



Prayer for Easter April 4, 2021

A Prayer for Easter

2021

Rev. Tom Joyce

 

Eternal and gracious God, you have offered us a new and glorious life through the resurrection of your son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the midst of uncertain times, we need the power of the resurrection in our lives more than ever. Lord, this past year has been a challenge for so many people; loss of loved ones, pandemic, COVID, isolation, inability to visit loved ones, especially in times of greatest need, and many other events and circumstances that have tried our souls.  On this day, we give you our eternal thanks and praise as you have offered us new and abundant life and hope fulfilled through your promise to be with us always, even to the end of the age made real by your empty tomb. Help us, as your beloved people, to let go of those things that keep us entombed.  Cleanse our souls that we may be fully alive by your grace. We pray that by your amazing grace there would be an end to hatred of all kinds, violence, and self-serving motives. We pray for our great nation and its leaders that the grace and power you offer them will call them to lead with your message of new life, hope, peace, and joy with every decision that is made. We pray that all may come to love you and their neighbor with all that they do, say, and think. Lord, we pray for those who are sick and those caring for, and supporting those who are sick. We pray for those who mourn, that this day they are given affirmation of everlasting life for those they have lost in this life. We pray for those who are isolated and alone, homeless, hungry, excluded, and marginalized. We pray that all people are seen as your beloved creation, no matter the color of their skin, ethnicity, or any other classification we tend to create for others. Lord, help us to be more like you in thought, word and deed. May this day of resurrection give us hope, and a zeal for life that is contagious. May your living, eternal Word that is Jesus Christ, resurrect our lives and transform the world around us; help us to forever live in your light, enlivened by your grace now and forever. Thank you Lord, for the gift you offer us this day, a gift that can never be broken or taken away.  Empower us by your Holy Spirit to be transformed by your grace that we may be a beacon of light and hope to all people.  In the name of our Resurrected Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, amen.