The Rest of the Story

The oncologist had gone to examine the blood samples I had given upon arriving at his office.  The 20 minutes that Maria and I sat waiting seemed like an eternity.  He finally returned and sat down on his wheeled stool without making eye contact which caused no small amount of alarm.  The doctor had a message for us that he did not seem in a hurry to share.  We braced for the bad news.  Eventually, he looked up at our concerned faces and immediately apologized.  His hesitation came, not from what he could tell us, but what he could not.  I didn't have cancer but he could not tell me what was causing my seriously debilitating symptoms.  In this week's Gospel Jesus holds back some of His news.

Jesus said to his disciples:  "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.  And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.  But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.  He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.  He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.  Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."  John 15:26-27, 16:12-15

Jesus is sharing these words with His disciples on the night He was arrested.  They have no idea what awaits Him and themselves in the coming days.  The essence of Jesus' message is that the things that are about to happen are necessary.  They are not yet ready to hear the bad news. He does tell them the good news. In time His Spirit will come in truth.  Jesus clearly states that the Holy Spirit will "declare" what is to come.  In that time they will come to understand why everything happened the way it did. 

With hindsight, we know that Jesus' promise of the Spirit brings the ability and courage to "declare" His Good News to the world.  But the disciples were hearing these words without knowing the rest of the story.  They had to wait, just as Maria and I awaited the news of the doctor.  The uncertainty was deeply disconcerting.  While uncertainty is a part of our journey with God we are blessed to know the rest of the story.   Receive the Good News and declare it with the confidence that His Spirit brings.  As for me, I am healthy!  But you'll have to stay tuned to the Weekly Journey to hear the rest of the story!  

Get To Work!

I had a conversation with my brother yesterday where he excitedly told me about his pending graduation.  Jeffrey has gone back to school in order to start a second career.  As a highly thought of student, he is receiving job recommendations from his instructors.  I asked him what he was looking for in his new career and employer.   He made it clear that he wants to work for a company that will provide a mentor for him as well as a chance to grow professionally.  We see this same dynamic in this week's Gospel:  

Jesus said to his disciples:  “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.  These signs will accompany those who believe:  in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages.  They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.  They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.  But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.  Mark 16:15-20

Jesus has very high expectations of His followers.  He details some of the things that they can expect to see after He departs.  Surely they marveled at His words and more importantly at the actual signs as they occurred.  There is a pattern here that is important.  Jesus predicts what will happen.  The disciples go forth in faith preaching Jesus' Good News.  Jesus comes through on His prediction.  There is one element of this pattern that can't be overlooked.  Note the phrase, "...while the Lord worked with them".  Jesus is actively engaged with His followers to bring about His purposes.  

I hope Jeffrey can find a job and an employer who will mentor him and give him a chance to grow.  He will know once he starts working whether or not the employer lives up to their promises.  We should have no such question in our work for Jesus.  We simply need to go to work trusting that He will mentor us and give us a chance to grow. 

We Need An Answer

It has only happened three times in my entire life.  The first time I held each one of our children my heart nearly jumped from my chest.  In looking at photos from those days in the hospital I re-live a little bit of that feeling.  While I still love Joey, Sarah and Joshua deeply, there was something about that first time that was truly unique.  Just how much love are we capable of?  This week's Gospel explores the depths of love. 

Jesus said to his disciples:  "As the Father loves me, so I also love you.  Remain in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love.  "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.  This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.  I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing.  I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.  It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.  This I command you: love one another."  John 15:9-17

Jesus, at the Last Supper, is on a mission.  This time with His disciples is special.  It will only happen once.  He knows what's coming but His disciples are unaware.  Jesus wants to make sure that they really understand His message.  Jesus uses His most important, deepest relationship to explain His point.  Jesus speaks of the love that exists between He and His Father, the kind of love that surpasses all others.

Recently I have been putting a lot of time into writing my book.  It has been four and a half years since I started and I just finished the draft of the first section last night.  Here is an excerpt from the book that I believe describes this love that Jesus is talking about:

God lovingly created us desiring that we would freely choose to identify with Him and belong to His family.  It seemed like a “perfect” plan except that free will opens the door to choosing to disobey God.  Why would God allow us to choose if our choices might end in death?  In a word, the answer is love.  I’m not sure I understood the true reason behind God’s decision to do this until I became a father.  Inherent in a child’s willful behavior we see the incredible choice that God the Father made to allow us to choose.  Only a God who embodied unconditional, unlimited love could allow His creation to freely choose to reject Him over and over. This is where we understand why God would risk our disobedience and rejection.  God lets us choose because He wants us to choose Him, out of love.             (From Our Journey With God)

We will love one another when we learn to remain in God's incredible, unconditional, sacrificial love!

A Desire to Remain

I really didn't want to leave.  I've always said I've wanted to live in a place like this so leaving was tough.  This past weekend for Maria's birthday we went to stay with our friends Jan and Andy at their beautiful home at Lake James in North Carolina.  Here is the view from their boat dock.   

Dock View.jpg

As I have reflected on our time there in light of this Sunday's Gospel, I've gained a fresh understanding of what it means to "remain" in Christ.  

Jesus said to his disciples:  "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.  You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.  Remain in me, as I remain in you.  Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you,  ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.  By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."  John 15:1-8

Jesus is speaking to His disciples after having shared His last supper with them.  He makes it clear that He is the Vine and the disciples, if they remain in Him, are the branches that bear fruit.  This "if" has profound implications.  Those "branches" that do not remain on the Vine will be thrown out and eventually burned.  "If" on the other hand His words remain in them they can ask for whatever they want and they will get it. 

That brings me back to the lake house.  I experienced a sense of peace and deep connection in this breathtaking place.  So much so that I started thinking about what it would be like to live there, to remain there.  The connection I felt prompted a strong desire and it set my mind in motion with thoughts of buying a neighboring piece of land.  The reality is that right now we couldn't afford to buy it even if we wanted to.  But that is not the point of my story. 

I prayed to Jesus that I wanted that same strong desire for Him.  I want to remain in Him.  Will you join me?  Imagine Jesus saying to you, "By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."  

I Know A Guy

Have you heard the saying, "I know a guy"?  Today I made a U-turn and drove twice as far as I needed to buy tires from my favorite service guy.  Brad has been absolutely top-notch in every interaction I've had with him for the four years I've been driving a Mazda.  He takes a very proprietary interest in me and my car.  This week's Gospel provides clarity on an even more elevated level of care. 

Jesus said:  "I am the good shepherd.  A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.  This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.  I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.  This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.  I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father."  John 10:11-18

Jesus, in calling himself the good shepherd, explains very clearly that He is willing to die for His sheep.  He is also clear as to why.  It is because of the love between Jesus and His Father.  This kind of love is otherworldly in that it is unconditional, agape love.  It is not an emotional love.  It is a choice freely made.  In the case of the good shepherd, Jesus is making it clear that His care for HIs sheep is rooted in love, not duty or obligation.

The sacrificial nature of this kind of love emanates from a loving God who loves us beyond our ability to grasp.  We know unconditional love when we see and experience it just like we do when we receive excellent service.  Our good shepherd knows what we need and He provides it exactly when we need it.  We simply have to trust.

THE Answer!

When I read this week's Gospel I realized that I needed to share with you what I'm going through in spite of the fact that it's very personal.  My recent struggles are deeply personal and they are getting in the way of what I know to be true.  I'm in a strange place and I'm not sure what to do or where to go.  It feels like I'm taking one step forward followed by two steps back.  For example, we went to a concert last Friday night.  Chris Tomlin and Matt Maher headlined the Worship Night in America show.  It was wonderful.  I truly felt God's presence and my spirit was lifted in spite of my recent struggles.  However, three days later I'm back in my funk.  Why does this happen?  Is my answer in the Gospel? 

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.  While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."  But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled?  And why do questions arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.  Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have."  And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?"  They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled."  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things."  Luke 24:35-48

Even though they experienced Jesus' presence and their "hearts had been burning within them" the disciples still struggled.  They were troubled and had questions in their hearts.  Jesus proved to the disciples that He was present with them in body.  Not only did Jesus show them HIs scars but He also ate fish to demonstrate His physical presence.  Once He established this Jesus spoke truth.  In a few sentences, He brought clarity to everything that had happened, was happening and if we read further what was to happen. (The coming of the Holy Spirit... "And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father...")

The answer to our struggles, doubts and fears are always found in Jesus.  I'm not being flippant. If we listen to what He said to the disciples in this Gospel passage, Jesus' coming, suffering, death and resurrection applies to all of humanity's ills.  You and I are no different.  As I wrote these words today Jesus helped me to understand the why of my struggles.  More importantly, He showed Himself to me in His Words (read the Gospel above) and in them, I have found the peace that has escaped me for some time.  "I am a witness to these things!"

The Greatest Reminder

It strikes me as odd that I need to be reminded that I have a Reminders app on my phone.  I use it sparingly but when I do it can be extremely helpful in my busy and often distracted life.  Siri hears me and repeats my message to ensure that she got it right and then she promises to remind me.  Then at the appointed time, up pops my reminder.  In this week's Gospel we hear about the most important "reminder" of all time.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews,  Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you."  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,  "Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."  But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."  Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."  Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe."  Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"  Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.  John 20:19-31

Many thoughts surely swirled through the minds of the disciples as they hid in fear.  "This isn't what we expected to happen."  "What now?"  Then Jesus appeared.  When He does greet the disciples, Jesus actually repeated Himself.  "Peace be with you."  Jesus states before and after showing the disciples His wounds.  In the midst of their joy in Jesus' resurrection, the disciples are reminded of His death.  The nail marks and the wound in Jesus' side remain on His resurrected body.  They remind the disciples of the reason Jesus came in the first place.

Because we look back on Jesus' life, death and resurrection we have the advantage of seeing the big picture.  We see God's story of creation, the fall in the garden along with the struggles of the Israelites to remain true to God prior to Jesus' coming.  Most importantly, we see salvation through His cross.  In all of this, we see God's purposes.  Therein lies the Greatest Reminder...

"...that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name."

 

He Has Risen!

  Dawn  by Ron Richmond

Dawn by Ron Richmond

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.  John 20:1-9

Have a blessed Easter!

What Just Happened?

Have you ever had an experience that caused you to stop and say, "What just happened?"  We just had a family emergency that caused me to look back and ask that question.  I'm still trying to make sense of everything that happened.  With Palm Sunday upon us, I'm wondering about how those around Jesus might have answered that question in the days surrounding His crucifixion.  

As soon as morning came, the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council.  They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.  Pilate questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"  He said to him in reply, "You say so."  The chief priests accused him of many things.  Again Pilate questioned him, "Have you no answer?  See how many things they accuse you of."  Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them one prisoner whom they requested.  A man called Barabbas was then in prison along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion.  The crowd came forward and began to ask him to do for them as he was accustomed.  Pilate answered, "Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?"  For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over.  But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead.  Pilate again said to them in reply,  "Then what do you want me to do with the man you call the king of the Jews?"  They shouted again, "Crucify him."  Pilate said to them, "Why? What evil has he done?"  They only shouted the louder, "Crucify him."  So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified.

The soldiers led him away inside the palace, that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort. They clothed him in purple and, weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him.  They began to salute him with, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him.  They knelt before him in homage.  And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him out to crucify him.

They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.  They brought him to the place of Golgotha — which is translated Place of the Skull — They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it.  Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take.  It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him.  The inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews."  With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left.  Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross."  Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, "He saved others; he cannot save himself.  Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe."  Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.

At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  Some of the bystanders who heard it said, "Look, he is calling Elijah."  One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink saying, "Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down."  Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.  When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"  Mark 15:1-39

As Jesus entered Jerusalem, those closest to Him must have constantly wondered about everything that was swirling around Jesus.  The Sanhedrin, Pilate and the crowds all played a part in an emotionally charged "trial", where the defendant passively accepted His brutal and gruesome fate.  The question, "What just happened?" would have elicited many answers depending on the individual. 

We do hear an answer from one person, the centurion at the foot of the cross.  This man showed up for an ordinary workday. (Yes it was ordinary for a Roman centurion to be a part of a crucifixion.)  He witnesses the death of another "criminal" he may never have laid eyes on before.  However, something causes him to come to an extraordinary conclusion.  

The experience of listening to Jesus' passion and crucifixion each year provides us with an opportunity.  We can ask ourselves, "What just happened?"  Depending on where we are in life at that instant we will have a unique response.  The Lenten journey allows us to reflect on what happened to Jesus.  We must, at the same time, remember Who He was.  The centurion helps us in that. "Truly this man was the Son of God."  

Have a blessed Holy Week!

Enduring the Death of Winter

It’s snowing again this morning.  March in southwestern Pennsylvania; it was three times warmer in February!  I wonder if the poor flowers that sprouted early will survive?  Those bulbs beneath the frozen ground eventually bring us the first glimpse of spring.  It is almost here.  I can’t wait!!!  The Gospel does the same this week.

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus."  Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.  Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.  Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.  The Father will honor whoever serves me.

"I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?  'Father, save me from this hour'?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name."  Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again."  The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him."  Jesus answered and said,  "This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.  Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.  And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself."  He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.  John 12:20-33

in the midst of the Passover Feast Jesus’ presence has created a buzz. The Greeks from afar want to see Him. The disciples have their expectations of Jesus’ role but His words continue to puzzle them.  Jesus, on the other hand, clearly understands His purpose.  Jesus provides an unsolicited explanation of the meaning of life and death.  Death must come in order for new life to spring forth. 

Our winters are the same.  All flowers wilt and eventually die in the fall.  Green turns to brown and the snow buries everything in winter white.  And yet hope lies beneath the surface.  The disciples surely struggled to understand the meaning of Jesus' prediction.  Death?  Jesus demonstrated what it meant to live through death.  We are called to do the same.  We must be willing to die to self so that we can live in Him.  This is the harsh reality of the Christian life.  But the beautiful fruit that results is worth enduring, just like our winter!  

What Does God Look Like?

I recently read a book about God and the human brain.  In the book, researchers asked people what they thought God looked like.  The question produced a lengthy pause in most adults.  This was significant to the neuroscientist because it meant that a great deal of neurological activity was taking place as different parts of the brain attempted to put into words a concept that defies the parameters of language for many people.  In this week's Gospel, we hear about someone who surely wrestled with a description of what God looked like.

Jesus said to Nicodemus:  “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.  But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.  John 3:14-21

Nicodemus receives multiple images for God in his conversation with Jesus.  The first is of the Son of Man, then he hears of God as a loving Father.  Next, Jesus describes God as light coming into the world.   What a profound experience this must have been for Nicodemus.  What must his brain have been experiencing as Jesus' descriptions challenged his previous images of God?   

When you read this Gospel what does God look like to you?  I imagine two images.  One is of Jesus suffering unbearably on the cross.  That image comes in a variety of forms as I recollect everything from various crucifixes and paintings I've seen to the brutally graphic depiction of the crucifixion in the movie The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson.  The second image I imagine is more vague.  In fact, I struggle to even explore it because I can't fathom its depth.  As a father, my brain can't even begin to grasp what God the Father saw as life ebbed away from the body of His beloved Son. 

What does God look like?  I can't think of a better answer than, "God so loved the world..." 

God's Timing

DISCLAIMER:  I want to be completely transparent here.  This is not just "a crummy commercial!"  In fact, I had to have my editor approve this particular message before, during and after writing it.  Timing is everything right?  For the last four years I have been writing a book entitled, Our Journey With God.  No, I am not announcing its completion but I do want to share with you what is about to happen.  The time has arrived for me to take the Our Journey With God message public.  Read through this week's Gospel and you'll catch the drift of what I'm saying.  

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:  "This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel."  Mark 1:12-15

These few short verses mark a pivotal point in Jesus' life as well as John the Baptist's.  St. Mark treats Jesus' time in the desert rather briefly.  This is especially interesting compared to the story of Jesus' three temptations by Satan in Luke and Matthew.  The point is that after His baptism by John the Baptist, Jesus is immediately led into the desert by the Spirit for a time of preparation before beginning His public ministry.  After that comes Jesus' proclamation:  "This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the Gospel."

For me, Our Journey With God is kind of like my proclamation of the Gospel.  It has been an amazing journey up to this point but when I was asked to lead a Lenten parish mission it felt like God was saying to me "It is time, Joe."  For four consecutive evenings, I will share the Our Journey With God message as Maria leads worship with songs we've chosen to enhance the message.  The message, in a nutshell, is that "This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the Gospel." 

This message is as true today as it was 2000 years ago.  And if people think it's a crummy commercial, so be it.  I'm delivering the Gospel message He has given to me!  Will you?!?

Click the link below if you'd like to see the actual print "commercial" we've prepared for the

Our Journey With God Parish Mission.