December 01, 2019: 1st Sunday in Advent

Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, as we begin a new church year, focus our attention on what awaits us—not only this coming Christmas and new year, but the larger issues having to do with the eternal future that awaits us.  Equip us to cast aside the deeds of darkness and its attendant temptations and walk into the Light of your grace and mercy.  Yes, sweep our hearts clean of sin so that we have room for your forgiving love.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR COMING CHRISTMAS KING!

TEXT:  Romans 13: 11-14

Dearly Beloved in Our Coming Lord Christ: 

          About 10 years ago our country’s Secretary of State was the point person for a new campaign to improve relations between Russia and America.  That official met with the Russian government in a televised press conference and spoke about a new “reset” of relations.  She even pulled out a giant “reset” button as a prop—kind of like you might see in a Staples ad.  Then she hit the button, expecting it to light up.  Nothing happened!  It was a dud.  It didn’t work.—And so we still find ourselves today at odds with Russia.

          Advent is a Godly time for us to hit a “reset” button in our own lives.  Hopefully, peace and harmony with God and ourselves will come out of it.  And today’s lesson gives us a blueprint to accomplish this, otherwise your life will turn into a dud….

I

          Advent is our “present time.”  Advent 2019 foretells snow storms on the horizon, a cold winter, people spending far more than they can afford, superpowers squaring off against each other, superbugs which will lay many low, and basically more problems than we can count.  It will feature evil’s intrusion into our lives and cause us to question the meaning of life.  So what are any of us going to do about it?  Listen to Paul: “And do this, understanding the present time.  The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.”

          Most would say that the Christian Church is outmoded and time has passed it by.  Most would say it is comprised of stodgy, boring people who live in the past and cling to ancient ideas of right and wrong, along with a morality that doesn’t fit our fast-paced world.  Most would say that the Church is an anachronism, a concept that time has left behind.  Paul tells us to throw off your blanket of accepting this view, to rouse yourself from the slumber of complacency you often indulge in, and to get ready for big things, cosmic events leading up to Christ’s 2nd coming and the end of the world.  Can you imagine eating a big turkey dinner, engaging in self-congratulations around the table, shuffling off and going to sleep—right through the evening news—and missing out on the “breaking news headline” which announces the end of the world?! Christ is coming.  The future of God’s power and judgement is very close by.  And Christmas, in 24 days, will inaugurate His 1st coming in preparation for His 2nd coming.

II

          It’s time to reset ourselves.  “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

          The word: holiday means “holy day.”  Anything holy is associated with God, isn’t it?  And yet the holidays, including Christmas, usually revolve around selfishness, greed, drunkenness, illicit sex, and generally almost anything that isn’t “holy.”  Because it is the modern American way, even Christians get caught up in this web of evil.  From now until Christ’s birthday the headlines will scream about how holiday sales are up.  It will reek of materialism.  The vast majority will spend most waking hours “thinking how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”  And then in the hard, cold light of January, the bills will come due with a thud.  Likewise, God’s bill will someday soon come due, too, concerning our life and the future of our soul.

          And so we are to ponder all these issues during Advent and hit our own reset button!  Elsewhere, Paul tells us this: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  If you do that, these days leading up to Christmas will be full of meaning, none of which will cause you a sleepless night.  And you can do that by focusing on the Baby Jesus Who is coming to win your freedom from the inroads of evil by triumphing over it on a cross and by handing you His victory—all wrapped up and lying in a simple manger.  Most would call that a quaint, delusional dream; but by His grace, we call it: a promise of God!  So hit your reset button starting today and see the beauty and timelessness of that promise fulfilled in your life this very year!  Amen

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH…..

Pastor Thomas H. Fox

Dec. 1, 2019 

November 24, 2019: Christ The King Sunday

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You alone are the King of all creation.  You alone know everything and shape and mold everything so that Your name will be hallowed and Your kingdom of grace may flourish.  Today give us a glimpse into Your greater truth that surrounds and protects us.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR LOVING KING!

TEXT:  John 18: 34-38

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          I watched a little bit of the spectacle in Washington over the past 2 weeks.  I watched various witnesses being sworn in, declaring they would recount: “The truth, the whole truth.”  And it brought to mind the question of Pilate to Christ: “What is truth?”  Let’s ponder it.

I

          Is it the truth to declare “the sun is shining?”  Well, not today in Burlington, MA.  But somewhere in the world it is.  So, that truth is therefore dependent on where you live and what time of day it is.  Such truth is relative.  How about: “Today is November 24, 2019.”  Is that true?  Again, it depends on the calendar you’re following.  Here’s another one: “I love you.”  How?  In what way?  Does your love ever waver or fade?  Such truths are relative.  Some will say: What about the truths of science?  I answer: How do you know gravity exists throughout the universe in the exact same way we understand it?  Maybe there’s an alternate universe where it doesn’t exist?  By now you’re a bit exasperated.  Truth, human truth, is relative, dependent upon our understanding of something at that time and in that situation.  Is it any wonder Pilate was a cynic and mockingly asked Jesus: “What is truth?” 

          What precipitated this exchange between the Roman governor and Christ, the King of all creation?  It was Jesus saying: “You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

          This whole exchange brings up a reality-jarring problem all humans face.  That is the difference between subjective truth vs. objective truth.  Subjective truth is whatever is true for you.  So, color blind people see red whenever most others see green or blue.  What is “true” for one may not be “true for the other.”  Likewise, a sociopath may adopt a murderous lifestyle as “truth” whereas most others would say: “That’s horrible and wrong!”  If you boil it down, most of what is called: “truth” in this life, is utterly subjective.  That is, it’s right for me but not necessarily right for anyone else.  And of course, this breeds chaos, so we try to ignore the problem and sort of let the majority rule. 

          Then there’s objective truth, or “it’s true whether you believe it or not.”  Or, it’s true and correct even though you may not understand or grasp its correctness.  Let me ask you this: “What happens when you die?  Where do you go?  What do you do?  Do the same rules of earthly life apply in the hereafter?  And how and from what source do you know anything about this?”   By definition time isn’t timeless.  So, is truth timeless? 

          Pilate was what we’d call a modern man.  He was a cynic.  He questioned everything and believed only in what he had experienced: The power of might makes right and money buys anything.  His question: “What is truth?” stems from all that he could not quantify.

II

          Jesus’ answer to Pilate is intriguing.  “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  That’s a stunning statement.  It presupposes that Jesus knows real truth.  He presupposes that Jesus possesses knowledge far beyond mere human comprehension.  It presupposes that He possesses knowledge, wisdom and understanding which is timeless and infinite.  Pilate was a smart cynic and he grasped a portion of what Christ was saying.  No wonder he responds with: “What is truth?” 

          Jesus’ response is grounded in the truth that God exists, that He alone knows truth, and that Jesus is God in human flesh.  Recall Him saying: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  That would make Him the King of the universe, answerable to no one.  And because Jesus is God’s Son and there’s unity in the Trinity, all this is True! 

          Jesus tells us about Himself in the Bible.  Here’s another passage: “God Word is truth!”  So, whatever the Bible says is correct across all ages and stands the test of time and human relativity.  So, when Scripture tells us not to: cheat, steal, lie, murder, or commit adultery—those truths are always in force.  Thus, whoever breaks those rules sins against God and “the soul that sins it shall die.”  Such truth is black and white with no extenuating circumstances.  Otherwise God’s truth isn’t true.

          But there’s another great truth in the Bible.  It is this: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them anymore.”  That truth is the Gospel.  It is encapsulated in Jesus’ own words from the cross: “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  God is light and him dwells no darkness at all.  God is love.  Those truths show and tell us how He conquered the untruth of Satan’s lies.  They tell us that Godly truth won an eternal victory over sin and evil on the cross and confirmed it by rising from the dead.  So, even that commonly accepted truth: “When you die, you die” is false!  For Christ died but came back to life!  He did it for you and me.  And when we believe in Him, or as Jesus says here: “Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me” well, God’s truth trumps human relativity. 

          My friends, Christ is our King!  He knows the truth, gives it to us through faith, and it sets us free!  It sets us free from the silliness of human understanding about all the great issues of this life and the one beyond.  It provides us a paradigm for living: “If you continue in My words, then you are my disciples; and then you shall know the truth and that truth shall set you free!” 

          Truth is a beautiful thing in that it is never wrong and never goes out of style. So  listen to Christ the Purveyor of real truth and no matter what occurs in this life you WILL live happily ever after!  Our King has made it so and nothing and no one can change that fact!

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH…..       

Welcome to Pinewood!

IMG_0231Sharing the joyous news of forgiveness in Jesus Christ is our chief purpose. To that end, we seek to nurture everyone we meet.

Join Us For Worship

Sunday Worship

10:45 a.m.

10:00 a.m. Summer Services

Starting June 1, 2019, we will begin our summer schedule with Sunday service beginning at 10:00 a.m. 

Note from the Pastor About Pinewood:

People often say: “The devil is in the details.”  We at Pinewood like to say: “God is in the details!”  It’s true!  God cares about our lives down to the smallest of details.  He never overlooks any of us.  He shows kindness, compassion, forgiveness and love to all from the smallest infant to the most seasoned member.  And along the way He breeds happiness, joy, and inner peace among all His children.  That’s why we’re a contented congregation.  He gives such blessings to each of us—and we share them.  We laugh together, we cry together, we praise God together, and we give thanks together.  We invite you to be  part of such togetherness.   Pastor Thomas H. Fox

May 13, 2021: Ascension

Let us pray: Dear Savior, tonight we join with saints and angels in celebrating Your ascension into glory!  What a privilege it was for the disciples to view the original Ascension and what a joy for us to remember that heady day and join in tonight.  May we always honor You for the same reason the heavenly hosts honored You on the first Ascension—Your victory over all our enemies and the joyous party that resulted.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR ASCENDED LORD JESUS!

TEXT:  Acts 1: 1-11

          When in the physical presence of Christ, when the disciples focused upon Jesus, they never feared.  They feared angels, hence those calming words repeated at various times by them of: “Fear not!”  Or, “Don’t be afraid.”  But when in Jesus’ direct presence when He  was the center of their attention, they never really exhibited fear.  O, I know you’re thinking about the storm on the lake when Christ was asleep in the boat, or when the soldiers captured Him in Gethsemane they then showed fear.  But that  was because their faith was focused away from Jesus—Who calmed those waves and willingly went off to suffer on the cross and then to rise in victory on Easter over fear.  Even after the resurrection we find them: “With the upper room door  locked for fear of the Jews.”  Yet the moment Jesus appeared among them, the moment He uttered: “Don’t be afraid”, the moment His loving presence revealed itself to them—fear went away.  How could it not?  This is why the writer of Hebrews later tells us to: “Fix our gaze on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Yes,  Christ’s calming love banishes fear—always.  In our  lesson we see that happening once again.

I

          St. Luke, the physician, the scientific man, wrote the Acts of the Apostles.  He was an eyewitness to the events that he describes here.  Over a period of 40 days after Easter, Christ had appeared among many  of His followers.  Luke says: “He gave many convincing proofs” that He was alive.  Jesus knew the weakness  of  our mortal flesh.  He knew how fear could quickly displace faith in us.  He also knew that as God’s Almighty Son, He could and would calm all human fears—including death.  For the Lord is risen!  He is risen, indeed! 

          So now, on the 40th day He leads them out of Jerusalem to the backside of the Mt. of Olives and after blessing them, leaves them a final time, ascending into heaven!  And just before doing so, promised them the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter from on high.  He would pick up Christ’s work of calming human fear in Jesus’ absence.

          Why did Jesus have to leave?  Basically there are three reasons: 1. He went to prepare a place there for every believer. 2. He went to hear the prayers of all from that lofty perch so as to better answer them.  3. He went to literally serve as the Father’s “right hand” Man to protect and defend the Church from all evil, which births fear.  And yet, He still didn’t leave us adrift from His gracious presence.  For earlier He had promised them: “And lo, I am with you always to the very end of the age.”  We judge reality according to our senses.  But Jesus is above and beyond our senses when fully arrayed in glorious majesty.  And it is now, so arrayed, that He goes home to do exactly that.  He leaves visibly in total peace.  He leaves with all things literally “under His feet” as He ascends, until “a cloud hid him from their sight.”

II

          In human terms, when the Boss Man leaves the room, or the party, we humans let down, deflate, and the excitement leaves the room.  You’d think that would have happened here—except for those 40 days of intense instruction which dissipated their fear.  We’re told: “suddenly two men dressed in white (angels) stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ why do you  stand here looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’”  This is a promise of Christ’s visible return on the Last Day, and also served as a final angelic: “Fear not!” 

          Christ always displaces fear.  He brings calmness and peace.  He’s still with us in the forms of the Gospel He has left behind.  The forms through which the Comforter still operates: baptism, absolution, and the Holy Supper.  For therein He applies to our souls that singular balm of forgiveness for all sins.  So tonight we don’t mourn His absence, but join in the heavenly homecoming which continues unabated even now until He visually and physically joins us once again!  Amen  THE peace  of God…..

Pastor Thomas H. Fox 

May 9, 2021: 5th Sunday after Easter

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You have shown and epitomize the definition of love.  As You exhort us to follow You, that means we need to show and epitomize that same kind of love, too.  Enable us to do so, not by our own feelings and ability, but by the power of the Gospel. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST WHO LOVES US WITHOUT RESERVATION!

Text:  John 15: 9-17

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          Today is Mother’s Day.  So have you honored your mother today?  Have you remembered her sacrifices for you?  Mothers are special.  They have a unique bond with their children. After all, they carried you inside for 9 months, enduring your bouncing around while surrounded with amniotic fluid.  You felt their emotions and they experienced yours.  And one of those emotions was: love.

I

          One of my favorite passages is in our  lesson, John 15:16 where Christ says: “You did not choose me, I chose you.”  Why did He do so?  After all, we caused Him to die.  We caused Him to suffer for all our sins.   The answer as to why is: love.  Not merely emotional infatuation love but deep-seated self-giving love.  Unconditional love which existed before the world was born.    No son or daughter can ever hope to love their closest relative, their mother, as Christ describes here.  “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in  my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

          So, how good at doing this are you? Let’s give some modern day examples.   I know of a lady  whose son is getting married later this summer.  To attend she has been given certain criteria.  The chief one being: she has to get  the covid shot before doing so.  His mother has deep reservations about that shot and her son knows this.  Some might argue: if she loves him she should swallow hard and get the jab. But is that love?  Or is it coercion?  I also know a couple who is traveling across country to see a son, a daughter-n-law, and the grandchildren.  However, even though they test negative, they won’t be allowed in the house, or hug their grandchildren.  Tests, masks, or no masks—it doesn’t make a difference.  Let’s be honest: in that home fear has replaced love as the guiding principle.  I know these examples hit close to home.  I know you are probably thinking:  Yah, but…..However, my point is this: love is hard to practice and for humans it comes with a lot of qualifiers, doesn’t it?  And in the process, joy gets squashed many times over.  Where is forgiveness and compassion when it comes to such hard choices—on both sides? What would Jesus do? 

II

          For each person with one strongly held opinion, there is always someone who holds the opposite belief. And true love gets stomped on.   But isn’t it a wondrous thing that God’s love for us has no such qualifiers?  Listen again to Christ’s words spoken to the disciples who would soon all desert Him—and He knew it!  “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants,  because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, I have chosen you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.  Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name—This is my command: love each other.” 

          In view of the previous examples, this is a tall order!  Can any human love perfectly?  Do we even try?  You gave the answer earlier when you confessed your sins.  The answer is: no.  Perfect love is impossible to practice in an imperfect world.  But after the confession came the absolution, didn’t it?   That declaration of forgiveness from Christ is pure love.  “With God all things are possible.”  With Him “love conquers all.”  Again, not our love for Him, but His love for us. 

          So, how do we practice love towards others in this fear-driven world?  How do we keep this command?  By pleading His mercy.  By relying on His goodness and wisdom. And by holding sacred this truth: forgiveness is love in action.  Amen

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH….

Pastor Thomas H. Fox 

May 2, 2021: 4th Sunday after Easter

Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for extending Your love and salvation to all races and all peoples.  Thank You for sending the Spirit to engender faith into their hearts.  And when it comes to us, thank You for not playing favorites with anyone so that our salvation rests solely on Your undeserved love.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR ALL-LOVING LORD

Text:  Acts 8: 26-40

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          Noah had 3 sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  The modern races all descend from them.  Shem’s people populated the Middle East. Ham’s progeny spread into Africa.  And Japheth’s descendants  settled throughout Europe.  Philip was of a Greek background, so he probably came from Japheth.  This Ethiopian official came from Ham.  Philip was white.  This other fellow was black.  Notice it didn’t matter to either one.  Under God’s grace all peoples become united in Christ. 

          Ethiopia is on the horn of Africa.  It is an ancient kingdom and became Christian 1000 years before when the queen of Sheba met Solomon in Jerusalem.  She took OT Christianity back with her.  Over the centuries the stories they possessed from the Bible became fragmented and people needed more clarity.  This secretary of queen Candace’s treasury journeyed to Judea to find out more.  That’s where he encountered Isaiah’s prophesy’s written 300 years after Solomon.  He’s riding in his chariot with a driver in attendance and reading from an Isaiah scroll which talks about “the Lamb of God who would die.”  We know that’s Christ.  Now, our lesson says that this fellow went to Jerusalem to worship.  He was a believer, but one who lacked some facts.  He wanted and needed more.  And God miraculously provided that “more.”

I

          God knows our wants and needs.  He cares for His children whether they are: black, white, red, brown, or yellow.  When it comes to salvation God is color blind. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”  So, He sent an angel specifically to enlarge this fellow’s understanding and to strengthen him.  They meet on the coastal road.  The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”  Philip obeyed and ran to the chariot and heard the fellow reading familiar words from Isaiah.  “Do you understand what you are reading.”  “How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’  So Philip obliged and off they trundled down the road.

          In the next couple of hours Philip told him about the birth of God’s Son, His ministry  of reconciliation between God and humans, and how Jesus died to take away the sins, the inner anguish, of the world.  He told him all about the Gospel, the good news of salvation in Christ. Obviously the man “got it.”  For when they went by some water the man asked to be baptized and Philip gladly did so.  Note well that one of the sacraments is used here to confirm this official’s faith and give him added comfort of knowing that God’s hands of love surrounded him.  So it is with us, too.  And then, in the blink of an eye, the Spirit caught-up Philip and whisked him off to Azotus where more work, eternal work, awaited.

II

          This is a lovely and uplifting story.  It shows us many things.  1. God doesn’t care at all about skin color.   “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  2. The Spirit knows exactly where we are and what’s bothering us at all times. 3. God uses other believers to fortify our faith, or to implant it in our hearts. 4. This always occurs through the power of Scripture.  “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” 5. The Gospel, in this case Isaiah, engenders faith.  “For it is the power of God unto salvation.” 6. Baptism is important because as Peter says: “Baptism now also saves us.” And 7.  Everyone can use a God-provided good teacher and each of us is such a teacher.   That’s why we all need to: ”Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

          Today in America racial divides are being promoted and used by many to drive people apart.  Note well that in Christ the only divide is sin.  And He has overcome it by dying to sin and for sin in order to make us alive unto righteousness!  This delightful story proves it!  Amen

THE peace of God….

Pastor Thomas H. Fox 

April 25, 2021: 3rd Sunday after Easter

Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for being a Good Shepherd to us!  Thank You for caring enough about us to keep us on the straight and narrow pathway to heaven by leading us away from danger and literally pulling us out of trouble.  May we not resist such care but embrace it in thankfulness.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GOOD SHEPHERD

TEXT:  John 10: 1-18

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          Do you know what a crozier is?  It’s a fancy, church version of a shepherd’s staff.  You sometimes see a bishop walking down a church aisle with his crozier.  And at the top of a crozier is a curved hook, kind of like a giant fishhook.  So, what’s that all about?

          In a verse of the 23rd psalm it’s referred to: “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  Sheep are notoriously myopic.  That is, they always seem to have their head down and concentrate on grass right before their eyes.   They are not  hunters who scan the horizon or watch for trouble.  They just happily munch along.  After a bit they may look up and sadly, they have wandered down into a ravine filled with brambles and gotten stuck.  Or maybe a wolf appears licking his chops.  The sheep baahs in terror.  They are helpless.  That’s where the shepherd and his crozier come into play.  He hears the bleeting, runs to the rescue, and either fends off the wolf with a whack or uses the hook end to slip it around the sheep’s neck and pull it to safety.  There is momentary discomfort to the sheep, but it saves their life.  This is how our Good Shepherd saves us on a daily basis.  He yanks us back from the brink with His Law.  It’s also why we learn the 10 commandments in SS and confirmation class.  The Law is His crozier.  Yes, they are stern and demanding.  But better a brief moment of discomfort than a soul-destroying situation.  Since the Good Shepherd isn’t physically with us today, He uses under-shepherds, Pastors, to do this in His stead.  The word Pastor comes from “pastorale” the Latin word for verdant meadows where God’s flock grazes on the Gospel.

II

          In every flock, sheep or human, there are wayward, headstrong sheep and more docile ones.  Every shepherd soon learns which are which and who will take more scrutiny and work.  I’ve never kept sheep, although I grew up with some on a farm where we had a huge garden. However, I have had dogs—6 and counting—and one candidate was by far the most headstrong.  He was my first dog, Harvey.  A big, handsome West Highland White terrier.  A few of you may remember him, even after 25 years. We welcomed Harvey into our lives at age 3 ½.  He was beautiful and he knew it.  He was fearless against any person or other dog no matter the size.  He would focus like a laser against a perceived foe and then bark, and bark, and bark at them without stopping.  You could cajole him.  You could say and eventually shout: “No bark” at him.  Nothing would work until I dragged him far away.  One day I was so exasperated that I gave him a tap on the top of his head!  It got his attention and he quit barking!  Silence reigned and he listened to my words.  That tap was my version of a crozier.  I dearly loved Harvey and he dearly loved me.  It’s a reminder that dogs, like people, benefit from both Law and Gospel.

III

          God has put me into the position of shepherd to His flock here at Pinewood.  My tools to keep everyone from wandering off and getting into a lifetime of trouble are: The Law and the Gospel. They are His Words of truth through which the Spirit taps us on the head and comforts us with the news that In Christ our sins are forgiven via His sacrifice on the cross.  Specifically those tools are: baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and His preached and taught Word of truth which “restores our souls.”  Just hearing how Jesus gave His all to save us uplifts our souls. 

          Harvey didn’t enjoy me being tough on him.  People usually don’t either.  We don’t like to hear that we’ve strayed into sin.  We don’t like hearing how we’ve hurt God with our wayward behavior.  No one likes to hear “No” shouted at them.  We always think we’re right, don’t we?  I often think of Christ when I have to have a tough conversation with someone.  Jesus didn’t enjoy it, no one does.  Yet true Christian love, concern for another’s well-being sometimes demands we use our crozier.  And when they respond positively a deeper love and respect are fostered toward the Good Shepherd.

          I believe Harvey thought he was smarter than I am, and at times he probably was right!  However, he, too, had myopic vision.  He couldn’t often see the bigger picture.  Whereas I envisioned large vet bills and the like.  My current flock, you, often don’t see the big picture, either.  You don’t see the extent of Satan the Wolfs temptations and your own spiritual laziness and/or headstrong nature.  So, I need to use both ends of my crozier on a daily basis.  One to nudge you toward walking toward and with God and the other to yank you away from self-destruction.  Yet, I do it for one reason—the same one that moved Jesus to save me: Love.  Not the sappy, sentimental, only during “good times” love, but the deep, lasting,  never-give-up love.  Harvey is buried on the hill back behind the parsonage along with another 3 dogs.  His was the first grave I dug.  It was hard.  But as we held him and he drifted into death after his final shot, his amber eyes burned with fire as he gazed at me.  And they were filled with pure love!  This also is the legacy of the Good  Shepherd as He gazes upon each of you when death comes our way.  Because in our case, “because He lives, we shall live also” with Him, in glory.  Amen

THE peace of God which….

Pastor Thomas H. Fox