A Thriving Spiritual Community

Annisquam Village Church Logo

Annisquam
Village Church

820 Washington St.
Gloucester, MA

Annisquam Village Church Logo

Annisquam
Village Church

820 Washington St.
Gloucester, MA

A Thriving Spiritual Community

Trusting in God

March 12, 2021

Haven’t the past few days been beautiful!?!  The sun came out, the skies have been blue, and the weather is so warm that flowers started to appear in sunny warm corners. Many years ago I planted crocus bulbs in our garden. After a long cold winter these first flowers of spring give me hope, and remind me that spring will soon be here.  The browns and grays of winter will slowly change to greens and yellows in the bright spring sunshine.
While I love winter’s beautiful snowy days, I start to get tired of winter in February.  I become impatient when the world is cold and gray.  I want some sunshine and some hope.  Lockdowns, illness, or fear of illness made this winter worse than ever!  I miss friends I haven’t seen in a long time. I miss my sons who live far away.  I miss hugging all of them.
Everyone I know feels this way.  I am sure you do too!  We are sad and scared because so many people have died or been very ill.  We miss our friends and family who live far away.  We miss visiting new places.
On Sunday Bud & Peg Ris will read two pieces of scripture. Bud will read the first story. It is a story from the Old Testament that Jesus learned when he was a child.  You may remember the story of Moses and the Israeleites.  The Israelites were slaves in the land of Egypt;  after hundreds of years, God and Moses led them out of Egypt,  across the Red Sea and across the desert to the land of Israel.  It took them FORTY YEARS to reach Israel!   God was with them all the way, but that didn’t mean they were always happy or hopeful.  They complained and complained.  They would ask  God to help them and God did, but after a while they’d start complaining again.  They were tired of eating the same food every day, tired of the desert heat and all the walking!  They were thirsty!  They griped at Moses and complained to God. God had HAD it with them and God sent poisonous snakes. The people asked Moses to pray to God and to ask God to forgive them for complaining … and to get rid of the snakes!
“So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a bronze snake. And put it on a pole. If anyone is bitten, he or she should look at it. Then they will live.” So Moses made a bronze snake. And he put it on a pole. Then when a snake bit anyone, he looked at the bronze snake and lived.” – Adapted from:  Numbers 21:4-9, The International Children’s Bible.
The second story, which Peg Ris will read, is from the new testament.   Jesus and his disciples had been traveling and teaching for three years.  They’ve  told many people about God’s love, and showed them God’s love by healing them and guiding them.  They learned to love Jesus and to love God.
But other people were afraid of Jesus. The leaders of  Palestine were afraid that Jesus was trying to take over and be the king.  The Pharisees and Chief Priests of the Temple were VERY powerful,  and had many rules. Jesus and his followers did not follow all of the Pharisees’ rules, and the Pharisees were NOT happy!  Sometimes, when powerful people are afraid or angry they want to prove their power.
Jesus knew all of this.  Jesus knew how angry and afraid they were.   Jesus knew that these leaders would do whatever they could to keep their power and quiet his voice, even if it meant ending his life on a cross.  And he knew that God loved him
In this scripture, Jesus is speaking with Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee. Nicodemus wanted to ask Jesus some questions, but didn’t want the other Pharisees to know, so he came to see Jesus late at night.
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Moses lifted up the snake in the desert. It is the same with the Son of Man. The Son of Man must be lifted up too.”   Then everyone who believes in him can know that God loves them and can live their life trusting in God. They can live knowing that they are loved by God, even when they make mistakes.  Even when they are unhappy or complaining, when they are sad, or poor or hungry.  They can trust that God and those who love God will care for them.  –  Adapted from: John 3:14-16  The International Children’s Bible
What painful changes have you faced this year?  Who are the people and what are the things that made a difference in your life?
This year has reminded me to accept the things I cannot change: to accept life as it is.   Life can be uncertain, and none of us knows what will happen in the future. We cannot be happy or enjoy life, if we are constantly worried about what will happen next –  if we do not accept the present and trust in the future.  When we are sad and scared, we can gain hope by leaning on the people we love and on those in our community for help and support. We give others hope when we share our love, and help those who need help.  Enjoy this coloring page with the message: We can trust God will help us and that the difficult times will end.
The crocus in my garden bloom every spring.  When they have finished blooming, they slowly die back and disappear.  Summer passes, the leaves fall, and the ground freezes.  But every year they grow through the cold ground, and bloom again. They remind me that I too can go through dry seasons, and cold harsh times, but can still find joy inside me, from the people around me and from God’s beautiful world.
May the love of those around you and the love of God be with you in the week ahead.
~Peg Koller~
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A note to parents:
At the beginning of Lent, Reverend Sue and I discussed the best way to discuss the Easter story with children.  Traci Smith, a minister and creative author who focuses on ministry to family and children, wrote The Violence of the Cross and Children: Thoughts Before Holy Week (2018). We encourage you to read it, too.
I have tried to follow her simple guidance in the past few weeks as I have written for your children.  “Stick to simple facts: Jesus died on a cross and was laid in a dark tomb. Everyone was sad and missed him. Three days later, the dark tomb was open and empty and there was light and joy. The resurrection is a mystery of our faith. There is no need to linger on details about whipping, lashing, nails, blood or torture.”