Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We All Need to be Rescued

Psalm 82:4 "Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."

Lucy and Kennedy are two of our adorable and faithful dogs. Each dog was in need of rescuing for different reasons. As a puppy, Lucy was being raised by a foster family looking to place her in a loving and permanent home. All it took was one look and we knew she was the dog for us. For Kennedy, her early months were darkened by abuse and neglect until she was placed in our path to begin the emotional and physical healing process in a safe and caring environment.

All of us need to be rescued from time to time. Some need rescuing from addiction, depression, self doubt, financial loss, the loss of a loved one, health issues, employment concerns, a fractured marriage or loss of faith and purpose.

Fortunately, God provides relief from all our troubling circumstances when we put complete trust in Him. We are reminded and encouraged by the words of Psalm 23 that remind us that the Lord is our shepherd and that we shall not want.

Ezekiel 34: 11-12 "For this says the Lord God; Behold I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out as a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness."

We can find constant comfort in knowing that we all are part of God's flock and that we shall fear no evil under the protection and guidance of the Great Shepherd. Just as sheep sometimes wander away from the flock and become separated from the safety it provides, we also lose our way, become troubled, question our faith and worry what tomorrow will bring us. Just as the shepherd seeks out his lost sheep, God seeks us out during our "lost" times and rescues us from danger and despair.

The Bible describes the inspiring story of Peter while in jail awaiting persecution at the hands of King Herod. The night before his execution, an angel of the Lord appeared and rescued Peter from prison. Peter remained faithful even though he faced a dire situation. Escaping his prison cell seemed an impossible task. But Peter quickly learned that with God all things are possible. He was delivered from certain death and continued to preach of his faith in God to his fellow brothers and sisters.

As Christians, the term rescued also means saved. We experienced the ultimate rescue through our loving and compassionate God sacrificing His one and only Son so that true believers shall not perish but receive the gracious gift of eternal life. With a personal relationship with God, we experience unconditional love, complete forgiveness and absolute acceptance.

Through God's example, we realize that we are being molded by the Master in the image of His Son Jesus so that we can love and care for one another just as Christ did while on earth.

Indeed, we have our own unique stories of being rescued from one circumstance or another. With these experiences, we become closer to God through a strengthened faith and heightened joy and peace by knowing we are special enough to be saved and not to become a hopeless victim.

Lucy and Kennedy needed a shepherd and the Lord brought them into our home, reminding us that we all have been rescued by someone and that God calls each of us to follow his perfect example by lending a supportive hand and gentle heart to anyone in need.

Hebrews 13:16 "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God."

-Clinton & Carol Rhodes, Parishioners

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Charlie is a dog. That means that he can’t use words like people do to communicate. Despite the lack of words, he is pretty good about getting his point across.

When Charlie is excited he has a much different bark than the one he uses when he’s upset. The happy excited bark is high pitched and short. His angry bark is lower and has a bit of a growl to it. When Charlie is not happy about something you are doing, he gives a low guttural growl and when he is annoyed or disappointed he has a growly kind of sigh. Sometimes, he even seems to make some talking sounds when he is asked a question and he wants to get a point across.

Charlie also has soundless ways of communicating. Of course the wag of a tail can indicate pleasure, but when the wag is slow and the tail held vertical it can mean he is on the offensive. When he is excited to see me and wants my attention, he jumps up on me so I will acknowledge him. At other times, when Charlie is feeling sad or bored, he comes over and snuggles in my lap. He has so many different ways of communicating that the lack of words isn’t usually a problem. Of course, it would be pretty cool if he could use language to tell me what he’s really thinking!

Do we use our words the best we can when communicating? I think, maybe not. Words can be beautiful and uplifting, but many times we use words to be hurtful and nasty. Sometimes, we withhold words to wound one another.

Perhaps, we aren’t aware of the damage we are doing. Maybe we expect that people “know” what we really mean. It’s possible we’re not aware of how negative our words are. Sometimes we don’t grasp the harsh ways others interpret our words. The negativity hurts and the unkind words leave scars. Those around us withdraw, and we are bewildered wondering what happened.

When Charlie barks harshly at me he gets squirted in the face with a water bottle. I don’t think we would get a very good reaction if we were to use that same recourse with one another.

What we can do is speak kindly. We can tell each other that the words being used are harsh, inconsiderate, or un-loving. We can try to be more peaceful with not only our words, but with our tone.

We don’t only use words with one another, though. We also use them to communicate with God. Or, at least, we should.

Sometimes we let the words be the mundane recitations of rote prayer. And, sometimes, we don’t even say those.

Are we afraid of telling God what is really going on with us? What we are really thinking and feeling?

The thing is, God knows us. It’s not like the communications between Charlie and me. The Lord knows our hearts and he knows what is going on in our heads. It’s us that has to fess up to what we are hoping for, what we are fearing, and what we are ashamed to say. Because we know, once we say it out loud, it’s real. Once we put it out there, we can’t take it back.

That’s a vulnerable place to be, and that can be scary. There’s no question whether or not God will accept us, though. The question is, do we still accept ourselves? Jesus says we should, because he still accepts and loves us in spite of ourselves. One of the beauties of our tradition is that we are always forgiven.

We just have to speak.

~Christy Cabaniss Parish Minister