Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 4, 2009 Woe

READ: Matthew 11:20-24
20
Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

DOROTHY
Well, I -- I think that it -- that it
wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle
Henry and Auntie Em -- and it's that -- if
I ever go looking for my heart's desire
again, I won't look any further than my own
backyard. Because if it isn't there, I
never really lost it to begin with! Is
that right?

GLINDA

That's all it is!

SCARECROW
But that's so easy! I should have thought
of it for you.

The theology of repentance for the forgiveness of sins is so seminal in us that
it even appears in Hollywood. Before Dorothy can go home, she has to repent of
the sin that brought her into Oz in the first place. Running away from home is
something most children do at some point. Most don't actually follow through
with it, but they will pack a small bag and walk down to the end of the street
when Mom or Dad won't let them have their own way. This is a picture of our
sin toward God and how it works itself out. Call it Dorothy in Oz or the Parable
of the Lost Son or what have you, it is us saying "I don't need you, God. I can
do life on my own very nicely, and will if you'll just give me the chance."

How sad, then, that all of us end up feeding on corn husks from the hogs in a far-
away country rather than in an idyllic place (albeit inhabited by at least one
really awful witch) like Oz.

But there is where Jesus really comes in. Even in his lament over Capernaum,
Corazin and Bethsaida he is aware that not every person in those cities is doomed.
John, James, Andrew, and Peter at least were from Capernaum. 5000 were fed in Corazin.
A legion of demons was cast out of a man over in Bethsaida. No, even the depths of our
unrepentantly black hearts, Jesus is at work drawing us to himself.

Have you wandered like Dorothy? Is your theme-song this lyric from Fiddler on the Roof?

How can I hope to make you understand
Why I do, what I do,
Why I must travel to a distant land
Far from the home I love?

Once I was happily content to be
As I was, where I was
Close to the people who are close to me
Here in the home I love...

Yea, I know the girl was in love. But, even for a really handsome guy, let's weigh
this out. Siberia in winter vs. Home and family. Hmmm... something REALLY special
must have come along for her to leave all that.

Has your heart been drawn away from "home" by some wanderlust or by the promise of
a better love? Jesus wants you to be at home with him. Are you afraid you have
wandered too far and God won't want you back? He is standing right beside you saying
"there's no place like home." As hard as it is to believe from where you sit, God
passionately wants you to be with him. But there's no wizard who will carry you
back in a hot air balloon. There's only one way "home."

Jon

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