In my first word to you, I let you know that I would be with you for three weeks. The deacons have now asked me to extend through the end of May, with the exception of one week when someone else is already scheduled.  I hope you will receive this as good news.  It is for me because I have truly enjoyed the warmth and hospitality you have shown me. Thank you for welcoming me into your story.

On Sunday morning we joined Jesus on the shore for a breakfast of redemption. This story at the close of John’s gospel remains one of my favorites. It is where Jesus forgives and restores Peter – where Peter is redeemed for the gospel task that awaited him.  After service several of us were talking about Peter, and why we relate so well to him. For me, it is because Peter has profound moments of faith, and other moments when he stumbles. Like Peter, I recognize that without the ongoing grace of Jesus, I can never be the follower of Christ I am called to be. How about you? When was the last time you reached out for Jesus? When was the last time you called out for His love for you; for Him to restore, redeem, and lift you up?

I think one of our spiritual challenges is that many Baptist have tied redemption almost exclusively to our moment of salvation – that first moment we claimed Jesus Christ as our Savior. We can think about Jesus forgiving our sins, but may not think about Jesus continuing to transform our sin – our brokenness – our decisions that do not please God and impact our relationship with God and others.  Yes, we are forgiven, but it is more than Jesus wiping our slate clean. Jesus is redeeming our us – our story – so we can join Him in His Kingdom work.  In Titus 2 we hear; 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. May we claim a way of following Jesus where we invite Jesus to redeem every part of us; to forgive us, renew us, and redeem us that we are eager to do what is good and right.

This coming Sunday we will look at how God is at work in our weakness. As some level that sounds counterintuitive, but the Bible has a very good word for us. I hope you will join us as we hear what Scripture has to say to us.

Grace and Peace, Tom