As we celebrate our earthly fathers this weekend, we also look to our Heavenly Father in both fear and in love. Fatherly love is a unique mixture unlike any other love, one that comes from wanting to honor and obey out of fear and respect, but also one that is born out of a sacrificial love where we find protection and peace. The readings this week are full of words of fear. Violence and destruction from Jeremiah, slavery and obedience from Romans, and brother against brother and fathers against children in the Gospel from Matthew. But they also are full of words of love: in Jeremiah, "Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of evildoers." In Romans, "But now you have been set free from sin." And of course, the Gospel reminds us Our Father tells us to "have no fear, for we are greatly loved." Let us ponder these words of fear and love, of Law and Gospel this weekend as we look to our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be His name!

Jesus traveled through cities and villages. He saw the crowds helpless and harassed. He had compassion for them, and so brought them healing and strength. Jesus asked his disciples to pray for more people to see the need, go out into the world, and be a part of the Lord’s work. Jesus has the vision to see the hurting and helpless in the crowds and make a difference. He sees you and has compassion for you. Now as followers of Jesus, we continue to go out and share the good news of the kingdom of heaven.

Holy Trinity Sunday It’s Trinity Sunday, the church’s annual focus on a doctrine which teaches the irreducible complexity of one in three; three in one. In the Trinitarian truth of God’s Word, there is mystery and confusion; And there is also community, love, and purpose. And there is a promised presence. We look to our text today to see the “Present Promise of Presence” which Jesus speaks. “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” With this promise of one person of the Trinity comes the presence of all three…loving, encouraging, redeeming, protecting, sustaining, sanctifying, and so much more. What does it mean in the life of the church to have the promised presence of God? What does it mean to each one of us as we prepare to enter a post-lockdown world?

If Anyone Thirsts...

Jesus promises in John 7:37-39 that anyone who thirsts can come to Him and drink from the rivers of living water. Jesus proclaimed these words on the last day of a feast that was celebrated to help the people remember that God had sheltered and cared for the people while they traveled in the wilderness. Jesus invites us to trust that God continues to be our shelter in our wanderings in the wilderness. Just as the Spirit of God led the people in the Exodus by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, the Holy Spirit continues to lead us in this wilderness. Praise God we are not alone or abandoned. The Spirit of God has arrived and guides us to the rivers of living water.

As we look to the Gospel message this week, which is known as Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, we notice that it comes in a time of transition for our Savior. He just completed His teaching ministry and now is transitioning to His work of salvation as He heads to the cross. We too as a congregation and church family are entering a time of transition. A time between our Lord's ascension and Pentecost in the church calendar and a time between worshiping virtually and gathering again together in our sanctuary. Let us be guided by Jesus words in the Gospel and lift our eyes together in prayer.

Ascension Day

Ascension Day - Christ is the power of God at the right hand of the Father.

The word "paraclete" is unique – it describes the crucial, loving, and glorious work of God in the lives of His children. Bible translations fall short in using just one word to replace the Greek paracletos. Advocate, counselor encourager, comforter…and it goes on. What a glorious gift Jesus gives when He promises we will have not just one paracletos, but two! Pastor Woodfin digs into God’s Word to look at life in today’s world with our paraclete, and how we can serve others in the same manner.

Jesus encourages his followers to not be troubled. The confidence and courage that Jesus provides to his followers can be hard to understand in the midst of our global crisis. The constant stress and fear of these days may make it hard for you to hold onto these words of strength from Jesus. But Jesus is not asking you to “get it together” and put on a brave face. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t prevent all stressors that surround us. We can’t do so many things. Daily we experience reminders of our vulnerability in this world. Both Thomas and Philip talk to Jesus about their struggles to be strong in times of weakness. Find in Jesus’ answers to these disciples guidance for how we will dwell in the safety of the Lord during these troubling days.

The Abundant Life

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is the door. The Way. But verse 10 tells us there is much more. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Not just to persist, but thrive. Not simply exist, but flourish. Having confidence in Jesus’ promise of eternal life is enough. But Jesus promises even more: a life of meaning, purpose, fulfillment. The ways we seek meaning in this world continually leave us empty, But Jesus, our Shepherd, sees us with all our flaws, and still calls us by name; He goes before us, and He brings us into a place of abundant life now, and the glory of His presence in the life to come.

We are born again by God. Our past has been forgiven by the Word of God. Our present is given meaning by the Word of God. Our feature is secured by the Word of God. Our past, present, and future are written into the promises of the living and abiding Word of God. We have not been redeemed by corruptible, perishable things such as gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Christ. You have been ransomed out of self-righteousness, raised with Jesus out of death, and so called by God from death to life. Trust in the Holy Spirit to be at work in the living and abiding Word of God. Trust in these days that the promises of the Word of God are more true and more lasting than the perishable and corruptible things of this world.

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