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As you may have heard, we hosted Congregation Dor Tamid, the synagogue here in Johns Creek, this past Sunday for a Drive-In Rosh Hashanah service. Jordan, their Rabbi, is a part of our interfaith clergy group. He reached out to us, inquiring how we did our Drive-In service. So, we invited them to use our equipment and campus for their service. Following our 9:30 a.m. service this past Sunday, they arrived a little before 11:00 a.m. to begin their service.
Our team of parking lot ushers stayed around to help our guests find their way in. I am grateful to Rob Lawrence and his crew for doing that. A few of us stayed around to attend the Rosh Hashanah service. I had never been to one before and was not sure exactly what to expect, but it was a wonderful worship service.
Many of the readings from the Hebrew Bible, what we often refer to as the Old Testament, were familiar passages from the Psalms. My ears perked up particularly when I heard Psalm 121, one of my favorites that begins, "I lift my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth." (NIV)
Two things made the greatest impression on me that day. The first was how deeply rooted our Christian faith is in the Jewish faith and the Old Testament. I felt like I was hearing from the foundational words of our faith. The second was how much I enjoyed sitting in a chair in the parking lot, enjoying a worship service from a different vantage point. It was a beautiful fall day with blue skies and the wind blowing the green leaves of the trees. What a way to worship God!
The culmination and high point of the service for me was when Jordan blew the shofar at the end of the service a number of times. Each time it was blown, it signified something very important. I was also aware that our neighbors probably wondered what that sound was. So, for those of you who were not able to be there, I wanted to share one picture. I am grateful for the worship of God that takes place on our campus in its many forms!
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, to whom we lift our eyes and from whom our help comes -- we thank you for making heaven and earth. We thank you for watching over us day and night, and for watching over our coming and going now and forevermore. Amen.
This weekend, I enjoyed a walk at the park with Chap, Will and our dog, Belle. I breathed in the fall air and started to notice early signs of the leaves changing. It seems like all of the sudden, the seasons have changed. This year I have been more intentional about sabbath and outdoor time, but still fall weather snuck up on me.
I was reminded this morning that God is working, even when I'm not paying attention. Fall is a season filled with changes. In some homes your first child starts school, in others someone starts college, while still others of you face an empty nest. The fall seems to bring more changes than any other season. Fall also begins the season of dormancy and hibernation in nature, I think we too welcome it as it brings us relief from the pace of summer.
Life often seems to move so quickly and many times we are the ones that can be rushing it along. I would invite you to take a few moments today to consider this scripture:
After looking at the way things are on this earth, here's what I've decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that's about it. That's the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what's given and delighting in the work. It's God's gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It's useless to brood over how long we might live.
-Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, from the Message
We can embrace change not because we know what is coming, but because we know that we can trust our future to God. Just as we look forward from one season to the next, anticipating and longing for change, we can also embrace the changes we face anticipating God to work. We can place our hope in God.
Take a moment to stop and look around you. What are some ways that God has been working in your life recently, while you have been focused in a different direction? As we enter this season filled with changes, consider this scripture and then an image that connects with you. Take a picture and save as a reminder of this message.
Prayer for Today
Creator God, Just when we settle into a pattern, things change far too quickly. One door opens; another closes. We rise, we eat, we sleep. We smile, we laugh, we cry. Change itself is ever changing. Guide us through this season and may we be open to the ways you bring blessings and challenges through changes in our lives. In Christ's Name, Amen.
We were almost home when I noticed it: the needle of our car's temperature gauge was rocketing up. As we pulled in, I killed the engine and hopped out. Smoke wafted from the hood. The engine sizzled like bacon. I backed the car up a few feet and found a puddle beneath: oil. Instantly, I knew what had happened: The head gasket had blown.
I groaned. We'd just sunk money into other expensive repairs. Why can't things just work? I grumbled bitterly. Why can't things just stop breaking?
Can you relate? Sometimes we avert one crisis, solve one problem, pay off one big bill, only to face another. Sometimes those troubles are much bigger than an engine self-destructing: an unexpected diagnosis, an untimely death, a terrible loss.
In those moments, we yearn for a world less broken, less full of trouble. That world, Jesus promised, is coming. But not yet: "In this world you will have trouble," He reminded His disciples in John 16. "But take heart! I have overcome the world" (v. 33). Jesus spoke in that chapter about grave troubles, such as persecution for your faith. But such trouble, He taught, would never have the last word for those who hope in Him.
Troubles small and large may dog our days. But Jesus' promise of a better tomorrow with Him encourages us not to let our troubles define our lives today.
Prayer for Today
Father, troubles never seem far away. But when they're close, You're even closer. Please help me to cling to You in trust today. Amen.