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Ministry and Mission

Pastor Gary McCluskey
Pastor Gary N. McCluskey

Pastor's Notes
Gary N. McCluskey, Pastor

Arizona can be a confusing place to live. Take summer for example. Does summer end when school begins? Here that would be about the first of August. Or does summer end when it cools off? Here that might not be until Thanksgiving! Now I know what the calendar says, but every place I have lived prior to Arizona the summer weather was long gone by September 21st, the last day of summer and leaves were turning colors and beginning to fall. 

Jesus tells us to read the signs of the times. Yet there are multiple ways to read signs and manifold signs to read. Being a Christian can be, at times, a confusing place to be.  The news is bad and downright scary. Does this mean the activity of God is a vengeful, punishing and angry work? Things are going swimmingly right now. Does that mean we are currently in God's favor?  You and I have many times heard someone nervous about flying say in anticipation of an upcoming trip, " I shouldn't worry. If my number is up, then my number is up?" As I listen to this I often wonder, "But what if the pilot's number is up?"  How arbitrarily we can "read the signs."

It seems to me it is not so much about looking for or reading any signs. It is how do we read the signs? Through what lens do we view events of life and of the world? This is where Jesus comes in with a huge role to play. Through the lens of Jesus we see God. Through the lens of Jesus we see and can interpret events of our lives and of our times.  Does what is happening seem consistent with the God whom we have seen through Jesus? Is it healing? Is it inclusive? Is it loving? Is it forgiving? These are the signs that are consistent in the Jesus of the New Testament. All kinds of things happen to all kinds of people. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Enemies are to be loved, sinners forgiven, and all are our neighbors. 

This then becomes less a work of trying to read the signs of the times and more a struggle to live out those things to which Jesus calls  us.  Our problem is less one of confusion and more one of courage and trust to do that which needs to be done in our life and in our time. 

I'll let you figure out when summer ends in Arizona. After 18 summers, I'm still not certain. I try not to worry about it. I know it will end; cooler, more pleasant times, will come. In fact I keep sa snow shovel in my garage. On those very hot days I go out, take a  peek at the snow shovel and am reminded all may not be so bad after all. Don't worry about making sense out of all that may appear as signs. When you are confused about such, remember the sign, the promise, the love God gives us in Jesus. Hang on to that sign. It can help in navigating through confusing times.

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