Thursday, Mar. 15

Read Jeremiah 31:31-34               

From Charles Cochran

Charleroi, PA First Christian Church

When Jeremiah wrote in the Sixth Century BC, a time of brokenness and dispersal lay ahead, and there would be no avoiding it.

He looked ahead and he foresaw the coming Babylonian Exile. One day very soon, soldiers would break through the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. They would haul Israel’s best and brightest away into a distant land. The Old City would lie in ashes. Seemingly, Israel’s kingship would be forever toppled.

Yet on the other side of brokenness, our Lord promises healing. Even during a time like that – a time when things looked and felt as though they were coming apart at the seams – Jeremiah reminded Judah’s people of our Lord’s promise that through our relationships with him, all things will be made new and whole again.

Jeremiah anticipated that beyond that time of brokenness, our Lord would offer a new covenant rooted in Christ – that covenantal relationship which we celebrate every Sunday morning at the Lord’s Table.

This relationship lies at the core of our Lenten celebration. We tread steadily, steadfastly into the shadow of the cross. And beyond the shadow – beyond the cross – we find and claim the promises of the New Covenant.

 

Lord, thank you for your promise that beyond all brokenness, we may yet discover wholeness through our relationship with you. Amen.

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Thursday: Dec. 28

Read Titus 3:4-7

from Charles Cochran, Charleroi, PA First Christian Church

Today, we find ourselves recovering from the festivities and preparing for what lies ahead. On Christmas Eve, we lifted high the lit candles representing the very light of Christ. On Christmas day itself, we gathered again around the table and gorged on the feast! Now – just three days later – the memories remain fresh. We find ourselves in the world, continuing the Christmas journey.

Paul wrote to his protégé Titus with a lot of good, solid, practical advice on how to carry out Titus’ work with the church in Crete. Over four short chapters (you can read the whole book while sipping a single cup of coffee), Paul lays out how a solid relationship with God changes God’s children in very real, concrete, practical ways. That relationship changes you and me, all for the better.

Yet, tucked away in the midst of all this practical advice, Paul drops a bombshell: that while it’s important that you and I live good lives day by day, living righteously is not what saves us.  The ultimate goal – the divine promise straight from God – remains eternal and divine. It is rooted in nothing less than God’s gift of grace that took shape in the form of that beautiful baby boy, born in such humble circumstances in Bethlehem.

Jesus represented (and represents!) nothing less than the divine kindness and love of God in human form. He embodies the free gift of grace whereby you and I become heirs to the promise of eternal life in the New Jerusalem.

So, the story arc that begins on Christmas morning continues. In time, it triumphantly concludes on Easter Sunday morning – the day when Christ our Savior is risen, and those divine, eternal promises become realized.  You are assured a resurrection like his. And that, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story!

Sweet Lord, thank you for your promises rooted in the gift of grace, and for the fact that the Christmas story is only beginning. Amen.

Thursday: Dec. 28

Read Titus 3:4-7

from Charles Cochran, Charleroi, PA First Christian Church

Today, we find ourselves recovering from the festivities and preparing for what lies ahead. On Christmas Eve, we lifted high the lit candles representing the very light of Christ. On Christmas day itself, we gathered again around the table and gorged on the feast! Now – just three days later – the memories remain fresh. We find ourselves in the world, continuing the Christmas journey.

Paul wrote to his protégé Titus with a lot of good, solid, practical advice on how to carry out Titus’ work with the church in Crete. Over four short chapters (you can read the whole book while sipping a single cup of coffee), Paul lays out how a solid relationship with God changes God’s children in very real, concrete, practical ways. That relationship changes you and me, all for the better.

Yet, tucked away in the midst of all this practical advice, Paul drops a bombshell: that while it’s important that you and I live good lives day by day, living righteously is not what saves us.  The ultimate goal – the divine promise straight from God – remains eternal and divine. It is rooted in nothing less than God’s gift of grace that took shape in the form of that beautiful baby boy, born in such humble circumstances in Bethlehem.

Jesus represented (and represents!) nothing less than the divine kindness and love of God in human form. He embodies the free gift of grace whereby you and I become heirs to the promise of eternal life in the New Jerusalem.

So, the story arc that begins on Christmas morning continues. In time, it triumphantly concludes on Easter Sunday morning – the day when Christ our Savior is risen, and those divine, eternal promises become realized.  You are assured a resurrection like his. And that, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story!

Sweet Lord, thank you for your promises rooted in the gift of grace, and for the fact that the Christmas story is only beginning. Amen.

Wednesday, Nov. 30    Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

from Charles Cochran, First Christian Church, Charleroi, PA:

The apostle Paul gives expression to the longing of a pastor’s heart – a longing which, on the best days, echoes the love and longing of Jesus for all of his large, sometimes-unruly flock.

That love and that flock transcend time and place. The Church reaches out from the first days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, through the present day and then beyond. Jesus loves all of his Church – past, present, and future – with a divine love that was, and is, and is to come.

You and I yearn to see Jesus’ return in glory. But Jesus yearns to see you even more. He pines for you the way Paul pined for the church in Thessalonica. They were Paul’s “glory and joy;” so it is with Jesus and the whole Church.  The story that begins with the birth of a baby boy in Bethlehem will be completed with the reunion of Jesus with the Church Triumphant. Jesus yearns for this day even more than you do. It will be joyous indeed!

Sweet Lord, help me to be as patient as you are as I await your return.  Amen.