Tag Archives: Moses

Sorting out Numbers: So many rules to know!

Continuing with the year-long reading plan, I have been reading the Old Testament book of Numbers.  Actually, I am reading the study notes first because the text of Numbers is frustrating to me.  I just do not get all the rules and regulations that the Lord placed on the Israelites.

Well, I said it and the walls have not fallen down around me and no lightening struck me or even near me—except the lightening that filled the sky these past couple of weeks with storm after storm after storm. I suppose it is safe to say that I am not enjoying the text of Numbers.

I wonder how the Israelites ever felt that they were living the faithful life with all the rules that Moses and Aaron shared with them.  I cannot imagine remembering each detail and maintain my daily life with all the different offerings, rituals and rules that was required

Here were the twelve tribes still wandering around the wilderness, living in tent cities with all the supplies needed for daily life along with all the livestock and all that were part of their livelihood, too.  And then Moses and Aaron kept bringing them more rules.

No wonder that the people became cantankerous. Today’s world is so far removed from the nomadic lifestyle that it is difficult if not impossible to relate to the demands upon the tribes.  Yet, I want to find a sense of connectedness to this book.

During my college years, I was living in transition. I began in the dorm, along with many others who were strangers to me (and in the 1970s we did not have coed dorms so there were only females in my dorm).  I lived in a strange land.  I had new responsibilities to care for myself.  I had to walk to strange new places, and I had to learn new rules and new boundaries.

Certainly the transition was far different that the Israelites exodus from Egypt, but I was leaving the safe haven of my home to begin a new life that would lead me to an entirely new setting for my life.

As a farmer’s daughter, I had learned the rules that my parents established for our family.  We attended church faithfully, we went to school doing the best we could, and we did the chores that taught us responsibilities as well as how to manage our future lives away from our childhood world.  I knew what was expected; I knew what I had to do; I knew what I wanted to do, too.  I left for college equipped for the unknown I was stepping into.

Maybe I should understand what Numbers is telling me. Maybe I should know the fears of the people.  Maybe I should know that trusting God made life in the wilderness less fearful.  

Certainly the book makes my life seem so much simpler and safer than those ancient days of traveling through the wilderness.  But the mental fear of those years in college might be similar to the fears of the Israelites.  

One had to trust the lifestyle in which they lived, especially in community with each other and with all those people on the move.  In my own life, whenever I moved from one location to the next, I needed basic rules or guidelines in order to step into a new community.  I learned that it takes a year just to know the basic culture of the community.

During the ancient exile narrative, the rules and the regulations made the journey doable.  With Moses and Aaron sharing the words of the Lord, the people struggled but continued onward to the Promised Land.

The doubts and the fears had to be addressed and often lead to dissension and tension—even rebellion.  The results were not good, but those who faithfully listened to Moses and Aaron continued making the journey.

Our lives, today, must also follow God’s law. We are just blessed to have the New Testament to simplify the complex lifestyle of the nomadic culture the earliest Israelites experienced.  

Christians today must follow God’s commandment, too, but we know that Jesus provided us just two commandments:  Love God.  Love one another.  

Reading all the chapters in Numbers wears me out. There are so many specific directions on how to live, where to set up camp, what to sacrifice, when to sacrifice, what is an appropriate offering, and the list continues.

My transitions in life are much more manageable and far less fearful because I know that God provided us the instructions for a simple life that can fit into any culture, any location, any setting whether at home, at work, or on even on vacation.

I am free from making sacrifices because Jesus was the final sacrifice.  I am free to love God and to love one another without any restrictions.  I can confidently know that God is with me and life is good when I accept Jesus’ sacrifice for me and agree to do all that I can for anybody that I can in any way that I can.  That is love.

I continue to work through the reading plan, and I will finish Numbers.  I know that there is so much more to learn; and while reading the New Testament book of Revelations, I see a world so beautiful that I have no fear of the final life transition that is ahead.

Join me in prayer:

Dear loving Father,

Thank you for your patience with me,

Waiting for me to understand the Word.

Thank you for the lessons shared

      from the Old Testament,

So we can appreciate the efforts of your faithful.

Thank you for the words of the New Testament

     That have proven to make life love-filled.

May we understand the old, old stories;

May we demonstrate the new commandments;

And may we share with others the value

     of loving one another as you love us.  –Amen.

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A Season of Mindfulness: Who am I?

 

given on Sunday, March 21, 2017–2nd Sunday in Lent

Scripture connections:

Opening scripture: Exodus 3:1-4, NLT

One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro,[a] the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai,[b] the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”

When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

“Here I am!” Moses replied.

Scripture connection:

  • Exodus 3:9-14, NLT

Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. 10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”

12 God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”

13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

14 God replied to Moses, “I am who I am.[d] Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.”

  • I Thessalonians 5:14-22, NLT

14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

15 See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

19 Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. 20 Do not scoff at prophecies, 21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil.

Closing scripture: I Thessalonians 5:23-24, NLT

23 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 24 God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

 

Week’s memory verse: Exodus 3:11 (NLT)

But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people.

Week’s challenge: Create a plan for a ministry you feel called to lead.

Check yourself: Why are you afraid? What will it cost? What abilities do you have to use?

 

Reflection: Who am I?

I was on my knees scrubbing the kitchen floor this week. Now I have to be honest, this is not typical for me, but I gave up and got down and close to the floor this time; and I found myself reflecting on something Bertha, who had cleaned my floors for years, told me.

As much as I tried to make sure she did not have to be on her knees, getting mops, cleaning fluids, or whatever cleaning tools I could, she refused to use them. She preferred to be on her knees, despite the physical problems she had with her spine due to a car wreck when she was 12 years old and the osteoporosis that developed in her later years.

Bertha and I met at church where I learned how she lived her life despite all the human hardships she had endured. Bertha was a Christian disciple. She never said, “Why me, Lord?” She lived her faith in service, even on her knees. From my perspective, she lived her life as though her answer was really, “Why not me, Lord?”

Bertha was a modern-day Moses in my perspective. Reading a biography on Moses reveals some interesting twists and turns. Born under the Egyptian Pharaoh’s decree that all male Hebrew babies were to be killed, Moses was saved when his mother placed him in a basket along the Nile River, was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as an Egyptian prince.

Moses’s story took a twist when he intervened in an Egyptian slave master beating a Hebrew slave. To summarize the story, when confronted by other Hebrews who knew that he had killed the Egyptian slave master, Moses fled to Midian fearing that the Pharaoh would learn what he did.

Even though Moses had been raised as an Egyptian prince, returning to the Hebrew enslaved community had to have been challenging. The Moses we meet in today’s scripture certainly does not sound like an Egyptian prince accustomed to all the best food, education, even jobs. Instead, the Moses in today’s scripture is a shepherd with little evidence of his former life. Moses rejoined the Hebrew community living as God’s faithful servant.

Can we relate to Moses? Absolutely. We understand the challenges life hands us as we raise our families, manage our monthly budgets, and daily go to work to do whatever we must to make our lives as comfortable as possible. We make decisions that put others as a priority rather than pleasing our personal wishes. We turn to help our family and/or friends manage the ups and downs in their lives. We are just like Moses.

The question “Who am I?” that Moses asked God is also familiar to us. In our life experiences we may not witness a burning bush, yet there are times when we are asked to do something that we feel totally unprepared or unworthy to do. The request might be from a thought that pops up in our mind or it might be a request to take an active role in a committee or to accept a job offer that you had no idea you could do. We ask the same question, “Who am I that can do that?”

Moses argued with God. He said he could not possibly go back into Egypt and lead his people out from under the Pharaoh’s control. He used the fact that he had poor speech (supposedly he stuttered) and could not eloquently make an appeal to the Pharaoh to free the Hebrews.

How many times do we do the same thing? How many times do we turn away from a thought, an idea, or a request to do something because we do not think there is any possible way to do it? Way too many times we say no. Why?

Three different answers come to mind: fear, money, and ability.

These are the same three concerns that Moses had. Imagine the fear of going back to the Pharaoh and saying let me take the Hebrews away from your control—slaves, a work force, an economic factor. Moses probably even feared that he would be imprisoned or worse for killing the slave master years ago.

Money was a concern, too, and going further into the scripture we learn that God tells how to manage that, too. He tells Moses to simply ask the Egyptian women for gold and silver as they leave. And they do it. This funded the new life and the building of temples.

Finally, God answers Moses’ concern about the ability to lead. Speech was a concern, so God tells him not to worry, his brother Aaron can speak for him. Moses was afraid that the Israelites would not follow him, either:

13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

14 God replied to Moses, “I am who I am.[d] Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.”

With Moses’ fears and the two major issues answered by God, Moses did lead the Israelites out of Egypt. The job was not easy and Moses certainly had his reasons for asking “Who am I?”

The ancient story is no different than so many stories of God’s servants accepting his call to action. This week we witnessed local communities handle disaster with grace. The videos of the Oak Grove homes destroyed by the tornado reminds us of how vulnerable each of us really is in this world, but the videos of the families, the friends, and the strangers pitching in to clean up the mess is awe-inspiring. The Oak Grove students heard the call to serve with gloves and a garbage sack and they joined in, too.

I can look around me, right here, and see those who God has called and they answered. Certainly when they heard God’s call, they probably said, “Who am I?” Yet, they answered. Look around you and think about how many times something in the community called for an action and someone right here stepped up and did all that they could to meet that challenge.

God is with you, with us. He does not ask us to do something without knowing that we have the ability to do it:

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? (Romans 8:31, NLT)

 

We must learn that when God asks us to do something, he already knows we can.   Our responsibility is to work together to fulfill God’s call. We can do it.

In Paul’s final words to the Thessalonians we can find the ways we can serve:

14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

15 See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

19 Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. 20 Do not scoff at prophecies, 21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil.

 

The list grows. God will never give us an idea or call us to do something unless he knows we can do it. We are equipped with the Holy Spirit to do all that we can for all we can in any way that we can.

Bertha served, even on her knees ,when scrubbing her clients floors. I found myself on my knees with her guiding me by her example this week. She had absolutely no reason to be on her knees, but that was the way she prayed. She told me that the time she spent on her knees was her time to pray. I am humbled by her presence as I cleaned my own floor on my knees, and I prayed.

God reaches out to others through our actions. Last week we looked at the question from Genesis: Did God really say that? We can test the ideas that come up in our minds and in our work with the same five Ds: doubt, discouragement, division, defeat, and delay.

Any idea that develops in our ministry can be tested through these five Ds, and today’s verse, “Who am I?”, also can be tested:

  1. Why am I afraid?
  2. What is the cost?
  3. What abilities do I have?

 

The answers will confirm the call to action when God is leading. God is present within each of us. We accepted our call when we were baptized.   God will make sure that each of us will be equipped to serve.

During the coming week, test yourself. Think about a time when you felt called to lead or to participate in a ministry of the church or in a civic effort that you did not think you could do. Why were you afraid? What would it have cost? Why did you think you could not do it?

The challenge, now, is to identify some task or idea or ministry that you would like to see done, then ask the same questions knowing that God will give you what you need to do it.   Make a plan, figure out who will help you, identify the costs, and then share the plan—with your small group or with the Church Council. What you may think is impossible may be exactly the ministry God is calling you to lead.

Closing prayer:

Dear Lord,

Open our ears to hear your call.

Open our hearts to the ministries around us.

Open our minds to the work we must do.

 

Keep us from being afraid to lead.

Help us know the cost of serving versus not.

Give us confidence to use the gifts you give us.

 

May we become the servants your ask us to be.

May we trust the Holy Spirit will guide us.

May we be all that we can be in your name. –Amen

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Veil or Mirror

given on Sunday, February 7, 2016 

 

 

Veil or Mirror?

 

Scripture Foundation: 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 NLT

12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15 Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

4 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way,[a] we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

Reflection:

 

            Waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror is not one of the more reassuring steps of the day. The eyes are not focused, the skin looks tired, the hair is a fright, and a frown seems permanently cemented in the mirror. Thank goodness no one else sees it.

Yet a transfiguration does occur once you complete the morning routine. Maybe it is a cup of coffee or tea to begin or maybe it starts with a morning shower or a shave. Each routine step begins changing the image in the mirror. By the time you finish the routine and the shoes are on, the watch adjusted on the wrist, and the last check in the mirror shows a much-improved image ready to face the day.

The transformation from the sleepy image in the mirror to the polished image ready for the day takes a well-practiced routine each day. The transfiguration that Moses underwent was a result of the face-to-face meeting with God on the mountain. The transfiguration of Jesus came in the meeting with Moses and Elijah while praying on the mountain. Our personal transfiguration is a process that must be followed daily.

Consider each example as outlined in scripture:

  • Exodus 34:When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant,[a] he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord.
  • Luke 9: 29 And as he (Jesus) was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white.

 

The stories of these transfigurations provides a range of comparisons and contrasts, but the results were the same—the radiance. Both experiences are recorded as a radiance that was so bright, so dazzling white that it could blind those seeing their faces.

In the Old Testament story of Moses, the radiance was so intense that people were frightened. Moses began wearing a veil to hide the radiance while he was out with the people and he removed the veil when in the presence of God only.

Jesus’ transfiguration did not frighten the people in the same manner. Instead, the radiance in Jesus’ face drew people to him. The veil protected the ancient Israelites, but with Jesus the veil was removed—allegorically. With Jesus, the radiance is love. Love, God’s love, reaches out to others and they are drawn to those who mirror God’s love.

The question for each of us is “Does our face reflect God’s radiance?” When others meet us at home, at work or at play do they see radiance or do they see a veil? When you look in the mirror each morning, do you see a veil or do you see God’s radiance?

Today, Christians celebrate the transfiguration and many will also share the bread and the cup in the sacrament of communion that reminds us of God’s . Following Jesus transforms our lives. Each morning, we must look at the mirror image and prepare to face a new day. Do we radiate God’s image or do we put on a veil?

Moses chose to wear a veil when he was not in the temple because his transfiguration resulted in such a brilliant image that it frightened others. Jesus did not wear a veil to cover the radiance evident to the disciples. The radiance no longer needed a veil; rather it needs a mirror.

Paul was blinded in order to get his attention. Yet, when he accepted Jesus as his savior, his life mirrored that radiance as he began his missionary work. Paul’s transfiguration drew others to Christ. Certainly he did not wear a veil; he mirrored God’s radiance.

In the second letter Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church, the process to be a mirror of God is provided:

4 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way,[a] we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

 

The way to be transfigured into a mirror of God begins with accepting the gift of his son Jesus Christ. It means acknowledging that Christ died for our sins, to simplify the Law of Moses into the New Law–love one another.

Sharing in the bread and the cup is much like looking into the mirror each morning. Each time we partake in the ritual, we are removing the veil from our faces. We commit ourselves to being the mirror image of God in all that we do.

Paul told the Corinthians:

16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Look in the mirror each morning and check to see if you are wearing a veil or whether you are mirroring God’s image radiating love to all you meet.

Take the bread, take the cup and lift the veil from your life. Let God’s love transfigure your life so that you are a mirror of God’s love. The process includes reading scripture, prayer, worship, and service. Over the next 40+ days of Lent, challenge yourself to read Scripture. Share what you learn, discuss it with others, and pray. The transformation will mirror God’s love to all you meet.

Closing prayer:

Dear Loving Father,

Without you, mornings are cloudy

And my image does not mirror your love.

With you, clouds are cleared

And your love radiates even from me.

Thank you for the gift of your son.

May we drop the veils from our lives

And mirror your radiance

So others may see the transfiguration

In their own lives. –Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No fear, God is near

Ghosts, ghouls, goblins. . .

No Fear, God Is Near

given on Sunday, October 19, 2014

 

For some reason I keep thinking that Halloween is this week, but the 19th is closer to the middle of the month and Halloween is still almost two weeks away. I suppose I am being easily influenced by all the advertising and store displays that seem to jump out and try to scare me.

Two different concerns evolve from this issue. Marketing in our world today seems to sway people’s thinking so easily that we cannot seem to keep our own standards. We follow the latest fads without a care. Even the Halloween hype has created a subculture based on people’s fears and fantasies which brings a few questions to mind:

  • Where is God in all the ghosts, ghouls and goblins?
  • Does Halloween grant the freedom to be werewolves, vampires, and Zombies?
  • Is it really just pretend or do the costumes show the true selves?

 

This week’s lectionary begins with the story of Moses and the Israelites struggling to survive in the desert. They are afraid, frustrated, and tired. Moses has left the encampment to talk with God up on Mount Sinai. The people are filled with questions and fears, so Aaron steps in with a plan:

32 When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.”

 

In a way, Aaron throws a party, but that party centers around an idol created to shift the focus away from the fears and the frustrations. The Baal culture that surrounded them worshipped gods fashioned after bulls and the people observed them having all the fun. So Aaron channels all that energy into creating the Golden Calf, made from their donated gold, and throws a party:

Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!” The people got up early the next morning to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.

Fear has a way of clouding our judgment and leading us away from God. It is easy to feel lost and alone when things are tough, but God is with us. He knows when we are tired, lonely, or afraid. He does not wish bad things to happen to any one of his children, but things do happen. The manner in which we continue to follow God is the key to managing the worst of times.

As adults it is easy to fall into a pattern of life that follows the marketing techniques or the pressure from work or the whims of our own mind. When we do this, we wander away from God and suddenly trouble shows up. Maybe it is buying too much stuff—like that old drive to keep up with the Joneses—or maybe we start spending too much time and money on recreation and suddenly there is no way to pay the bills. We may be following our own whims disregarding the safety and security of our families, and suddenly the possible loss of a spouse and kids sounds the alarms.

Fear comes with the realization that life has turned away from God and panic sets in. But even when we make our worst mistakes, God is near. We must take an assessment of what we have done wrong and what we need to do, and then ask forgiveness and for guidance. God will hear. We should remember there is no fear when God is near.

Think of how it is when one of your children—whether still in school or whether an adult with children of their own—run into a problem. Maybe it is something like the loss of a friend through moving away or even death. You watch that child experience the pain of loss, the sense of loneliness, and then search for a way to fill that void. There is nothing you can do to fix the problem; but God is near, so teach them to pray and to trust in God.

Living a Christian lifestyle gives us the structure, the guidelines, and the confidence to know that whatever loss or fear we experience, we are never alone. Living with God is living a life that knows the ghosts, ghouls and goblins we meet in our lives do not scare us away from God. The human experience is temporary, but the Christian life continues into eternity.

During the next two weeks, kids are excited to prepare and to go out trick or treating. Parents guide the youngest kids in the choice of the costumes, the houses that they visit, and even the goodies they eat. As kids grow up, the parents’ role shifts. Tweens and teens begin listening to friends about what costumes to pick, where to visit, and what trick or treat means. Parents watch with apprehension, uncertain of their kids’ safety. Becoming angry is evidence of how afraid they are for their wellbeing.

The Old Testament tells story after story of how God gets angry with his children. He uses so many different techniques to manage his chosen children and yet Moses had to plead with him not to turn his anger onto the tribes of Israel:

11 But Moses tried to pacify the Lord his God. “O Lord!” he said. “Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand? 12 Why let the Egyptians say, ‘Their God rescued them with the evil intention of slaughtering them in the mountains and wiping them from the face of the earth’? Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people!

 

The Old Testament story is referenced even in Psalm 106, when the psalmist repents from sin. God is reminded how Moses interceded for the people. God listened then and he continues to listen. When we are afraid, God is near. When we cry out for him, he hears us.

Ghosts, ghouls and goblins are surrounding us this time of year. The costumes are cute and sweet for the youngest kiddos but as the kids grow up, the costumes seem to transform them into alter egos filled with evil. The villains, the zombies, the werewolves, and the vampires become more and more evident. Even girls pick costumes that are more alluring and seductive as they test the limits of parental authority.

Parents are fearful as the tweens and teens leave for the Halloween trick or treating, concerned that they are not safe or may not act appropriately. The Christian lifestyle is tested. Will the kids remember what the rules are? Are the kids forgetting to follow the Golden Rule even while they are pretending to be all these alter egos? Will they be frightened and make mistakes?

The kids, no matter the age, need direction. The words Paul shared with the Philippians need to echo in our ears:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Do not fear; God is near! The way to be free from fear is to stay focused on God. See this world, even this Halloween, through the eyes of God. Ask yourself are you following Paul’s advice:

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Fear can lead us to follow the godless, the evil ones, the Devil himself, but with God near we do not have to fear. We can handle the illnesses that hit us, we can find ways to manage our budgets, and we can look ahead in drought-filled years to plentiful years. We can say thank you to God for being near in any and all trials or tribulations we face—even the ghosts, ghouls and goblins of Halloween.

Closing prayer:

Dear Protective Father,

Thank you for being near us at all times.

Thank you for hearing our prayers filled with fears.

Thank you for keeping us safe from harm.

Teach us through the stories of the Old Testament,

Through the sage words of the earliest disciples,

And through the Christian models beside us.

Let us share your grace and love

With our children and our neighbors

So they know there is no fear with you so near.

Amen.

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