eNewsletter Feature Story – Week of February 28 thru March 6, 2021

This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Rev. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE senior pastor.

Dear friends,

Lent is a gift to the church. To each and every one of us.

More than any other time of the year, devout followers of Jesus think about our being low to the ground, attending to the voice of God speaking into their lives, and stripping away the false self that is barely propped up by worldly performance.

Open that gift. And, in doing so, I invite you to open your heart to this special gift of this season, and therein encounter the One who is always there — but hidden from our eyes because of busyness, stress, the call of false gods.

Early this week, I spent time meditating on James 1, and I wasn’t disappointed by that time I spent with God. So I offer you these five reminders from James as touchstones for our journey through Lent:

Life is filled with trials, but we can choose how to respond when the trials come.
The recipients of James’ letter were enduring hardships and persecutions. James informs his readers that trials are part of the journey. Are you suffering today? How might you choose to find joy during your pain? Today, as you go through your hardships, remember that you will become stronger as you endure with faith in God.

When we don’t know what to do, ask God for wisdom.
Life is also riddled with mysteries, mazes, and puzzles. Where should I go to school? Who should I marry? Should I relocate to another state? Is this job the right job for me? How do I respond to this insulting email? When you are not sure what to do, ask God, who gives to all abundantly. Take the time to listen.

God is faithful and unchanging.
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights (James 1:17).

What does he mean that God is the “Father of Lights”? I think it refers to God as the source of all Light, creating the lights of our universe: suns, moons, stars.

Can you remember a day in your life when the sun refused to shine? Or the moon simply disappeared? I can’t think of one. Yes, there are grey days, stormy days, cloudy days when the sun or the moon and stars are hidden. And, yes, we have seen total eclipses of sun and moon. But we know that — behind those clouds, and solar alignments — the sun still shines. Always. The reliability of these lights reflects the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Life is uncertain, but God is trustworthy!

God sees the injustices in the world and expects us to do something about them.
From James’ vantage point, the world around him is unfair. And ever will be — the “law of the jungle” persists in human nature throughout all time. The rich oppress the poor. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine is more readily available for people of means. Here’s one example to support the notion that wealth and privilege help some jump ahead.

Instead of railing against the rich, though, James says to people of faith:  roll up your sleeves and address the injustice. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:  to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27).

Practice patience.
Anger is appropriate in certain circumstances. But don’t be one-dimensional, don’t use a sledgehammer for every nail. Anger does not produce the righteousness of God. So let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19).

During these days of Lent, remember that the most important meeting we can attend is that daily personal meeting with the Lord at the start and/or close of the day. Worship and meditation increase our faith and position us to receive divine orders for the day.

I love the practical nature of James. Don’t you?

With you on the journey through Lent,

Pastor Ray Hylton

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