Sunday, April 24, 2011

Go And Tell The World, For the Other Mary’s by Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Kurt Young)

She sat across from me in my office years ago, and yet I can still see her face. I’ll call her Mary. Mary was a Christian. She loved Jesus. She was active in a young adult Christian group. Then one night, everything changed. One of the young men in the group, another professed follower of Jesus, lured her to his home, and victimized her. Mary was never the same. Sometime later, she found her way to my church, and to my office, for guidance.

She was confused. Like many women who have been abused in this way, she thought it was somehow her fault, that she had done something wrong. She wondered if God was punishing her, or trying to teach her a lesson. She asked me, “How could God let me get hurt when I was one of God’s faithful people? I was leading other people to know Jesus?” I had no answers to satisfy Mary.

But I will never forget the day, when I asked her: “Do you believe that God loves everyone?” She said “Yes, except me.” She believed that God could forgive every human being on the planet of every mistake. And I did not even think she had made a mistake that led to her abuse. But even if she had, she believed that God could forgive ANYONE, but not her.

In her head, she knew this did not make sense, but in her heart she could accept that God loved her.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever been in that spot, of just not being able to trust in the miracle that God could love you? No questions asked. Have you ever been in the position to make a choice – to trust in the miracle of Jesus – or not? Well of course you have! We are in the position every day. Today, this Easter day is no different. Today, we have to choose – will we believe the miracle – or not? Will we believe that the women went to the tomb and found it empty? Will we believe that Jesus rose from the dead?

Because here is the thing about faith – it is a choice. There is no proof. It comes down to putting our trust in God. I, for one, choose to trust God. And I think you want to trust God too, or you would not be here today. We want to choose hope. We are a people of hope.

There are a couple of other Marys in our Bible story for today, they are called Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. They go to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been taken, after he died on the cross. They go there to anoint his body. Here is how the story goes in Matthew’s gospel (MATTHEW 28:1-10 from the Message translation for those following along via the net): The earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God's angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn't move.” 5-6The angel spoke to the women: "There is nothing to fear here. I know you're looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed. 7"Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, 'He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.' That's the message."

Now if you were in their shoes, what would you have thought? I might have thought I was having an hallucination, from all the grief, and probably from a lack of sleep. They SAW Jesus die. No one comes back to life after they have clearly died as Jesus died. I think they could have felt like my young friend Mary felt, when her life fell apart. My Mary felt abandoned by her God. I tried to be her angel and say: “No your God is not dead from you. God is still alive and with you. You are not forgotten. God loves you and God has never left you.”

Well here is what happened in the story of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. 8-10The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. "Good morning!" he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him. Jesus said, "You're holding on to me for dear life! Don't be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I'll meet them there."

Now the women had a choice, just like we do. They could have given in to their fear. They could have run home, afraid to say anything, and just waited a little longer. But instead, they allowed themselves to be filled with wonder and joy. They lost no time. They went to tell their friends about the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection. And then they were given the most wonderful gift. They saw Jesus himself! And Jesus gave them a message: “Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee and I will meet them.” (Want to guess where we get the crazy idea women can preach?)

Here is the thing, if the women had not trusted, and told the story, we would not be here today. We would never have heard the story of Jesus. We would never have heard the witness to the power of God to overcome death! Because this whole thing – this whole movement of Christianity, is a movement of one person telling another; who tells another; who tells another. It’s about people who trust in the power of God’s love to transform our lives. You see, God can take our broken, dead, mistake-laden lives, and forgive us, and heal us of the things that we do, and the things that other people do to us. God can make us into new people. God can take the dead places of our lives, and make us new.

That is what I was trying to say to my friend Mary in those conversations back in my office. Mary is still trying to claim that love of God in her life. She has had some ups and downs. I reconnected with her this week. She told me that I might not want to talk about her in this sermon, because everything is not all rosy in her life now. She is still struggling. She lives in another city now. She is having conversations with another pastor, who reassures her as well of God’s love for her. She is still having trouble believing that. But I know Mary wants to believe it – otherwise, why would she be going to church, and why would she be going to see that pastor? She wants to believe. I believe in the transformative power of God. I believe in the resurrection. I believe in the power of God to restore Mary to wholeness. Because God has done it for me.

I believe in God’s power to make us new too. Because you see, I make mistakes too. And I have to ask for God’s forgiveness. I have made mistakes just this week. And I will probably make some this next week. Big sigh. That’s why I have to come see you all every week, and be here in worship with you. It’s why we come together each week. Because here, we remember that God forgives us and loves us, and God has the power to overcome the death of our mistakes and make us into something new.

Jesus went to his death on the cross, so that God could raise him from the dead and show us that death does not have the last word. Our mistakes, our sin, and our sorrow do not have the last word. God always has the last word. And this is the message: Jesus lives, and we can live too.

So, my friends, on this Easter Sunday, let us claim that message. Let us say “YES” to The Miracle. Let us put our trust in God – the one who brings life when all we feel is death. And then, like Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, let’s go tell the world – let’s go tell the world about Jesus. Tell the world about Jesus – and tell the world about God’s love for us. The message never gets old. We need to hear it. Everyone out there needs to hear it. God Loves Us. Hear that again GOD LOVES US. Now, say it out loud for yourself – GOD LOVES US. Now, Go, tell the world that message.

Do you believe that? Do you feel it and know it? If not, find a place where you can find that truth. If you’re near the corner of Monroe & Central in Toledo, come join us as we remind each other of this truth. We’re here every Sunday at 11 AM and out in the world the rest of the week.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Which Crowd Is Yours? By Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Kurt Young)

Have you ever noticed how public opinion about a celebrity can turn on a dime? One day Charlie Sheen is hot, and the next day folks are laughing at him. One day a politician is golden, and the next day, she is at the bottom of the opinion polls.

Have you ever had a friend turn on you? We call it being "two faced" because one day, they have a face you can trust, and they are someone you would share your deepest truths with. And then another day, you find out they are stabbing you in the back by spreading rumors about you.

I remember being in 6th grade, the age my daughter is now, and one day every girl in my class decided she no longer wanted to be my friend. JUST LIKE THAT, I went from having friends to being the outcast.

It happens to adults in relationships too. Someone says they love you and want to spend the rest of their life with you. And then, suddenly, with no warning, they get cold feet and dump you like a rock. The pain is agonizing – like someone rips your heart out and just stomps on it.

Are any of these situations familiar to you? Has it happened to you? Have you been the one betrayed?

For a moment, I want you to consider the harder question: Have you done this to someone you love? Have you been the one to turn you back– loving someone, and then letting that person down, BIG TIME? Walking away from a relationship, because you got scared, or swayed by outside forces, making what you realize later, was a BIG MISTAKE.

This is what happened to the followers of Jesus in the last week of his life.
They went from welcoming him into Jerusalem, as a celebrated hero, to becoming key players in the series of events that would lead to his death by execution.

Just like that (snap your own fingers here), in an instant, they turned on him. We read the story for you, (Read Matthew 21:1-11 if you are following along at home or on the road.) from the day we call Palm Sunday, a week before Easter. Jesus enters Jerusalem, and the people are so overcome with joy and awe that they create a hero's parade for him right on the spot. They are shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in God's name." They LOVE Jesus and they treat him like a rock star.

WE want to be part of that crowd, don't we? When we say "YES" to Jesus, we join that crowd of people who worship and praise him. We join the ranks of those who say: "YES, Jesus, we want to follow you. We will do anything you ask. We know you are the Son of God, and with you, WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD." We've all done that, haven't we? At least most of us. We were baptized or confirmed, or saved. We joined a church and said "YES" to Jesus and his way. We joined that crowd in Jerusalem singing praises and claiming Jesus as our Savior.

But days later, the whole story SHIFTED. The Crowd turned on Jesus. Maybe it was not all the same people, but we know there were some people who were in both crowds: the crowd shouting "Hosanna" and giving a king's welcome to Jesus. And the other crowd: the crowd that was stirred up by the chief priests, the ones who were threatened by Jesus' strength and power. That crowd called Jesus blasphemous because he claimed to be the Son of God. The same people who had praised him and called him the chosen one of God, just days before, were there when he was brought before Pilate for trial. That crowd condemned him for claiming to be the chosen one of God. If ever there were a two-faced crowd, it is the crowd in Jerusalem.

But this is our hard question for today: is it possible that we live our lives in both of those crowds too? Can we own up to the truth today, that we betray Jesus by our actions? You see, we have mostly all said "Yes" to Jesus. Every Sunday, we read this statement: "we are followers of Jesus, and we can change the world." We believe it, don't we.

Here's how it happens: whenever we fail to BE the people God wants us to be, we become part of that crowd that turned on him. When I break a promise, when I lose patience and go off on someone, when I fail to keep up with a commitment I made to someone who is counting on me, I am no longer following the way of Jesus. I have turned away from him. I might as well be part of that crowd that sent him to his death.

Because I have made a commitment to walk in the way of Jesus, EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY, not just when it's easy. And when I fail, I am betraying everything he came into this world to do for me. I let Jesus down, I let myself down, and I let down other people who are watching me, and looking for a better way to live their own lives.

You see, it's a big responsibility to follow Jesus. People are watching us. They expect us to be different from the rest of the world. They expect us to love boldly, and to be compassionate and generous. People when they hear we follow Jesus, they expect us to be honest and courageous, and forgiving. They expect us to be better than the average person because we are so full of God's love, we have the strength to live like Jesus. Sadly, we don't always live like that and we disappoint the world.

Do you want to be like Jesus? This is the week to show that we mean it. This is Holy Week. This is the week when everything changes. So here is what I want you to do. Pay attention this week, to the story of Jesus. Get out your bibles and read about the last week of Jesus' life. And think about which crowd you want to be in. Go to one of our Thursday night dinner gatherings, including one where we are going to eat with some homeless families. And definitely come here on Good Friday. It's important to come together on the night Jesus died, and hear that story. And then come back here on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection. Because the Easter story the miraculous story that puts everything together for us.

But this week, every day, when you pray, whether it's in a quiet place in your home, or just a snatched prayer at a stop light, ask yourself this question: which crowd am I in today? With my actions, am I praising Jesus and inviting the world to see that he is the Truth and the Light. OR, with my actions, am I turning away from Jesus and participating in the death of his way of being in this world? You see, God gives us the strength to be like Jesus. Of course, we will make mistakes and we are so thankful that God will forgive us. But God gives us the strength every day, to be like Jesus. This week, in this Holy Week, will we really follow Jesus? I pray that we will. I pray that we will be a part of that crowd that shouts: "Yes, you are the Son of God. I put my trust in you. And I will live my life for you!" Let it be so!

There are other people out there who need the light of Jesus in their lives. You know them : Some have been part of this community but they are not here today: Some you have invited many times, and they say they want to come but they have not yet; Some are waiting for you to invite them. They see Jesus in you, and they need the light of God in their lives.

Who are those people? Who is not here today, that needs to be here next Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. When you figure that out, invite them. We have invitation cards we can send you, or you can just invite them into a circle of love, dedicated to saving the world. As we sang in worship today "there is always room in the circle".

Sunday, April 10, 2011

MESSAGE: Finding Our Way With Jesus: So Many Reasons to Believe by Cheri Holdridge

Do you believe in miracles? Honestly? Do you ever see things happen, that all logic and reason and empirical evidence say could not possibly happen? I do.

I remember when I was in seminary, in my early 20’s. I had a friend who was a medical student. He was really smart, and used to question me about religion. You know, some really smart people think that belief in God, and the decision to suspend logic and trust in miracles. . . well they think that is all just for simple minded folks. My friend and I had some good conversations, because he could tell I was not simple minded. I’m a fairly smart cookie. I’m not sure, but I think he wanted to write off religion as a bunch of nonsense, but when he talked to me, he could tell that I was not someone who would be prone to nonsense. And so I think he had to question whether there might really BE something to this God thing and to God’s miracles.

Well, I believe in miracles. And here is why. I believe in the power of God to miraculously transform our broken lives into lives of joy. It’s just that simple. And I believe we all have a choice. We can trust in the miraculous transformative power of God, or we can reject it.

I choose to trust God. Because I can’t live any other way. And I can’t see any other better way to live. This story about Lazarus is a simple story about whether or not we are willing to believe in Jesus’ power to work miracles even in our broken lives. Will we put our trust in Jesus?

You see, there were all these people in this story:

  • Lazarus who had died
  • His sisters Mary and Martha
  • The Jews who were their friends who came to mourn with them.
  • Jesus and his disciples.

Everyone in the story had a chance to decide whether or not they would put their trust in Jesus. Jesus was good friends with Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. So when the disciples got word that Lazarus was sick unto death, they thought Jesus would rush to his side and DO SOMETHING. They were perplexed when Jesus kinds of hung around, stalling, in the town when they were, and waited two days before going to Lazarus’ home. But here is what Jesus said to his disciples: "Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn't there. You're about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let's go to him."

Jesus told them exactly why he had waited: so they could see God’s power. And have even more reason to trust in God. Jesus was not in a hurry. All these people were rushing around with Mary and Martha, wailing, grieving and running around like chickens with their heads cut off. In this midst of this, Jesus is the epitome of calm, because he trusts in God.

Jesus walks in and he says: “Take away the stone [from the tomb of Lazarus].”

Are you kidding me? They tell Jesus that Lazarus has been dead for 4 days now. They didn’t have our modern embalming techniques. They said: “Jesus, the body will smell really bad!” Jesus says again: “Take away the stone.” And once they move the stone Jesus says: “Lazarus, come out.” Come out of your tomb. Walk away from death and walk toward my light.

And guess what happens? A miracle! Lazarus comes walking out, all wrapped up in burial clothes and looking like a mummy – like the living dead. But Lazarus is alive! It’s a miracle.

And then we read something crucial in this story: “48That was a turnaround for many of the Jews who were with Mary. They saw what Jesus did, and believed in him.” Because of this miracle, a turnaround happened for many more people. Jesus used Lazarus, and Jesus’ ability to heal him and bring him back to life – as a way to reach more people.

So, I ask this question: Have you seen any miracles lately? Have you experienced something that has transformed your life? And if so, are you telling your friends about it, so they can be transformed too?

I see miracles everyday in this Village community. I have the privilege of knowing your stories. Sadly, some of the best ones are confidential and so I can’t tell them in my sermons.

But I can tell you this one. You all know Shelly. She volunteers her time as our Office Manager. I pray for the day when we can pay her a little something because what she does goes way beyond what most unpaid servants do in a church. Shelly’s story is a miracle of life overcoming death. You see, Shelly is a mother who has had three children in her life. You all know her daughter Abbie who comes here to The Village. But Shelly had two other sons. Her youngest,died as an infant from SIDS. For a mother to get up every morning and keep going, after the death of a child is a miracle in itself. But Shelly had a second son, TJ, who was bi-polar, and committed suicide.

Now in case you don’t know it, suicide is contagious. It is not uncommon to see in a family, when one person commits suicide, someone else does it. Because it is seen as a real way out of the pain of this world. Shelly is a prime candidate for giving up on life. You see, in addition to the grief of the loss of TWO sons, Shelly has her own health problems. She lives with chronic pain – so much pain that many days she cannot do her work as a medical transcriptionist. She is going through that long horrible process now, of trying to get Social Security disability, because she can’t work full-time like most of the rest of us. She wants to work, but the pain is too great most days for her to work more than about 3 hours.

Now let me ask you this, how many of you have been touched in your life, by Shelly’s kindness and compassion? I know that some of you, when you are facing huge obstacles in your own life, call Shelly for encouragement. And she is happy for you to do that.

She also volunteers with her friend Jody, another family survivor touched by suicide, in planning a Suicide Prevention Walk here in Toledo every year. Shelly has turned her tragedies, into opportunities to bless others. Jesus might say of Shelly, like he said of Lazarus: “I am glad for your sakes that I wasn't there. You're about to be given new grounds for believing.”

You see, Shelly could give up on life. She could be one of those bitter, angry people who sit at home, in pain, cursing God. She has every right. But Shelly is one of our miracles here at The Village. She knows Jesus. And when Jesus says to her, “Come out, come out of your tomb,” Shelly comes to Jesus. She gets out of bed every day, even when she does not feel good, carrying with her that grief that is with her all the time, and she cares for you and me. She prays for us. She does all kinds of things around here behind the scenes to keep things going. (In fact someone told her recently they think she does way more than me – all I do is preach on Sundays and she makes sure we have food, and programs, and that the money gets counted and deposited so we can keep this place open.)

Shelly is a miracle. Now Shelly will be say what she does is not so much. And that’s because she knows that her power comes not from herself, but from God. She chooses to put her trust in God. I call that a miracle. She has every reason to deny God’s existence, or to be really angry at God. But instead, she loves God and puts her trust in God.

Shelly is just one story of someone here who has lived through pain, but did not choose to stay in that tomb of misery.

There are other stories. People here have overcome addiction to alcohol and drugs, to gambling and smoking. People here have lived through betrayal and broken relationships, lost jobs, separation from children or parents. These are all miracles.

We need to claim these miracles! This Village Community is a miracle. Two years ago, we were just a dream of God. Now we are a community of compassion. Many of the folks here did not have a church community before The Village opened, because we are a different kind of church. We are a church for folks that don’t feel good enough to walk into most other churches. It’s not true, because God says we’re all good enough, of course. But we didn’t feel welcome, because of our brokenness. We didn’t think those other churches could meet our needs. Those other churches work for other folks, and that is good, but we needed this community. We needed a place for imperfect people, who don’t have to hide our imperfections. We can be imperfect, and God loves us anyway.

So what does this story mean for us? First, the story of Lazarus invites us to be people who look for God’s miracles. Jesus used his healing of Lazarus to invite others to trust in God. If we are not careful, we can get so caught up in the busy-ness of our lives, that we don’t have time to see God. We need to slow down, like Jesus, and pay attention to the miracles God works right here among us. And when we see those miracles, we need to give thanks to God!

Second, we can’t keep this story to ourselves. The Gospel says: 48That [miracle of Lazarus coming out of his tomb] was a turnaround for many of the Jews who were with Mary. They saw what Jesus did, and believed in him.”

Who do you know who needs a community of healing and compassion like we have here at The Village? Think about it. Who do you know, who does not have a community like this? Who do you know who is trying to make it on their own, without God, and without a church family? You may not know until you ask them. Every time I have a chance with someone new, I just say, “Do you go to church anywhere?” If they say yes they will usually tell me a bit about their church home, and I say, “Great, I’m glad you have a place like that. The Village is that for me.” And if they say no, I say, “I’m part of the coolest church in town, called The Village. I can tell you a little more about it if you are interested.”

I am so excited about the miracles that are going on at the Village, other people can hear it in my voice. Even if they are not looking for a church, most of them are struck by my passion for this community. They tell me they can see it’s a great church, and they might just have to come check it out.

You see, this is the way of Jesus. There are so many miracles and so many more people out there who need to see God’s miracles for their lives! And we have a chance to help them.

That’s why we are going to start a new service in a new part of town in the Fall. And that’s why we have special events all the time, and ask you to bring your friends and acquaintances. You can invite them, but it’s actually better if you offer to give them a ride and bring them here with you. Until everyone out there who is hurting, has a place like this to call home, and a community like this to lean on, I will keep repeating that message: We have something wonderful here, and we need to share it!

So I hope this week, you will look for God’s miracles, and give thanks to God every day for the miracles you see. And I pray that you will pay attention to the people around you, who need to experience God’s miracles in their own lives, and that you will bring them with you here to The Village.

We do follow the way Jesus, and we can change the world, when we put our trust in him.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

We Can Trust Jesus; He Will Heal Us by Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Kurt Young)

Do you remember a time in your life when you were not “finding your way with Jesus?” Is there a “before Jesus” point in your life? Can you break your life into two distinct sections: 1) this is the time before I became a Jesus follower; 2) this is the time since I became a follower?

Some people can, and some people can’t. For me, the transitions were much more subtle. You see I was raised in a Christian home, going to church every Sunday, with two parents whose values and life choices were guided every day by their decision to follow Jesus. So, I learned these values in the same way I as a baby learned to walk and speak English in complete sentences. It all came very natural for me – like breathing the air.

For some people, though, there is a moment – some call it a conversion experience, or being “saved” – this is the day the gift of God’s love becomes meaningful to you – and you say “YES” to Jesus. Do you have a spiritual birthday -- The day you remember giving your life to God, and to the way of Jesus?

It often happens when we are in a really LOW point in life. We realize that depending our ourselves alone is not working – so we decide to reach out to God. One of the old fashioned theological words for this is actually “surrender.” It‘s not such a bad word. I think we need to reclaim this.

Some days, I just don’t feel like I can do this on my own: face all the challenges of parenting, and this bad economy, or an untimely death of a loved one. On those days, it is a relief just to “surrender” to God and say, “I can’t do this on my own – I need you.”

For most of us, there was not just one moment, when we said “Yes” to God. There are ups and downs in this journey. We feel close to God at times, and then we feel cut off from God at another time. God does not change, but we do. Life happens: We doubt. We get angry. Something happens We cannot make sense of. We need someone to blame and so we blame God.

In the Bible story for today, (John 9:1-39 from The Message for those following along on the internet) we find a man, blind from birth. Jesus and his disciples are walking along, and they encounter this man. And the disciples, acting out of human nature say to Jesus: “Who is to blame for this?”

You see, they had the idea that when something bad happens, like a child being born blind, that there has to be someone or something to blame. We do that, don’t we? They made a connection to sin, and asked if the child’s parents were somehow being punished by having a child born blind.

Jesus is crystal clear in his answer: “You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.”Jesus says, “Don’t waste one ounce of your energy trying to find a reason for suffering. It’s pointless. Instead –- look to God” for the miracle God can do.

You see, Jesus says, every bad situation is an opportunity for us to call upon the healing power of God to do something. That’s it. “Look for the hope,” Jesus tells us. He calls himself “the light” He says, “There is PLENTY of LIGHT” as long as he is around. We have enough light!

Then, Jesus heals the man of his blindness. There is a big fuss about whether or not Jesus should be healing on the Sabbath, of all the things to fuss about. And where he gets his power. Does his power come from God? But this is the point: The blind man encounters Jesus and he is healed!

And later Jesus asks him, “Do you believe me, do you trust me?” The man sees that Jesus is the Son of God, and he believes. And from that moment on, his life is never the same. The man makes a turn. He turns toward God, toward the light.

This is the turn God asks us to make every day. We all have our blindness – something that holds us back. We all have situations, choices, circumstances, that keep us from living fully as the person God put us on this earth to be.

My friend Darryl, was in a biking accident many years ago, as an adult in graduate school, that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He tells me, that for awhile he asked God, “Why me? Why did this have to happen to me?” Of course he was angry, for a time.

But then he began to see other people and what they have to struggle with. He saw an older woman at his church using a walker, and slowly struggling to get from one end of the sanctuary to another. In that moment, the light of God shown bright upon his situation and Darryl realized that we all have something – some burden, some infirmity, some lack in our lives.

“Why not me?” he then concluded. “Why not me?” Everyone has something that is a struggle, and we all need God. Darryl could have shut down spiritually and emotionally. He could have wallowed in his injury and the turn his life took. But instead, he put his trust in God, and persevered. He finished his education. He moved forward with his goals to be a pastor and an advocate for justice. He got married and now he’s a father. He puts his trust in Jesus, and stays on that journey with God, represented in our worship celebrations by a rocky, difficult staircase.

How about you? What is your blindness? Your hurt? Your injury that you cannot get past? Can you name it? Jesus wants to heal us. Jesus wants to heal us of the despair that comes along with the things in our lives, that keep us from living fully.

We can give it to Jesus; we can surrender to him, what we cannot deal with on our own. We can make a turn – toward God. And when we do our lives will never be the same.

You have probably made this turn before in your life. Maybe once, maybe many times, maybe some of you feel like you have never really made that move toward God.

Today, in this moment, we have that invitation. Let us give ourselves to walk this journey with God. Let us walk in the light of Jesus. Let us walk in the light. Let us pray: God we name before you, the thing, the thought, the event, whatever it is that keeps us from putting our trust in you. Rather than worrying about why or how or who go blame – we just give it to you. Heal us. Make us whole. We want to follow Jesus. Let us walk in your light from this moment on. Amen.

Need to find that path, that rocky staircase from the darkness and into the light? There are many staircases up. One is at the corner of Central & Monroe Street in Toledo. Come join us on this walk into the light.