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Devotion -- April 1st -- "The Meaning Behind the Hoarded Toilet Paper"

April 1 – “The Meaning Behind the Hoarded Toilet Paper” One of the stranger happenings during this corona virus outbreak is the fanatical need of many to hoard toilet paper. Now I know that isn’t the only thing being hoarded. The soup isle’s are empty as people were taking cases of soup at a time. Same with many other items. But the toilet paper shortage is getting most of the attention because it doesn’t make any sense! Food you need, soup you need, but 500 rolls of toilet paper – not so much. But there’s a huge message behind the great toilet paper hoarding of 2020 – and it speaks to the negative side of human nature that has captured people’s hearts and souls, and is now being lived out for all to see. So before you read on, reflect on this hoarding for a minute: What is a person saying when they fill up their cart with toilet paper? Or if they take all the tomato soup? Think about it ....................................... What is your answer? ................................. To me the person is saying, “I am going to take care of myself.” They are saying, “I got what I need, and you are on your own.” They are placing themselves above the needs of everyone else in the community. This is in stark contrast to Jesus who says, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise” (Luke 3:11). In another place Jesus said, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also, ... and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile” (Matthew 5:39-40). Jesus was most likely referring here to the law that allowed Roman soldiers to force anyone into service. They could approach a civilian on the street, and by law, make that person carry their possessions for up to one mile. It was a humiliating practice and some Roman soldiers did it just to make the person feel humiliated. It is possible that someone cried out to Jesus, wanting to know how they should respond to this demeaning practice. To everyone’s surprise Jesus said this “After the first mile, look at them and say, ‘I’ll go another mile with you.’” What? It’s bad enough to be forced to go one mile, but now Jesus is saying they should voluntarily go a second? Yet, what is Jesus really saying here? ........................ think for a minute about this .................................... what did you come up with? Jesus is telling us something very important in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak. Today, like back in the Roman Times of occupation of Israel, there are many things that are simply out of our control, but we ARE STILL IN CONTROL OF HOW WE RESPOND. We can respond to our situation either negatively or positively. We can go to the store and take a package of toilet paper and leave the rest for others; same with the soup, and everything else. In the midst of the uncontrollable situation, we ARE in control of how we respond. Which brings me to this: I am so proud of our community. I have been receiving calls from people wanting to make sure the food pantries in the area have enough to meet the potential spike in usage. Think about what these people are saying .................................. They are saying, “We must take care of our neighbor. I can spare some of what I have and give it to someone who right now doesn’t have enough.” How beautiful is that?! How counter-cultural that is to the person who three weeks ago left Wal-mart with $400 dollars worth of toilet paper. Yes, there are a lot of things right now, that we have no control over. But there is one thing that we can control – WE CAN CONTROL HOW WE RESPOND. God bless you all. Pastor Dan P.S. Tonight was supposed to be the last Wednesday night Lenten service. I have truly missed gathering with you for these special services, as we prepare for Holy Week which begins on Sunday. I truly long and pray for the day we can gather together as a community. For the time being we as a church are doing what we can to share Christ’s love and story with you. With that in mind we will meet together on Sundays and the days of Holy week by telephone. We have found a wonderful tele-conferencing website which will allow us to use for free. Here is how it works. We will set up a time of worship. At that particular time you will call the following number: 1-978-990-5000. At that point you will be asked to type in an access code followed by the # key. The access code is: 150053#. From there everyone who calls in will be connected to Pastor Dan’s computer in the office and you will be able to hear him share an abbreviated service and sermon for the day. If your phone provider is Verizon (and possibly AT&T) you will have to take another step, call Pastor Dan for that information (543-3088). If it also possible that you will get a busy or not available at the moment signal when you call in. Just keep trying and you should get in. Almost all of you will not be charged for this phone call, but it is possible that some carriers might charge a fee to call this number. With that in mind, if you want to be safe, call your phone provider, tell them that our church is using, share with them the phone number and they will tell you if you will be charged anything. I am also hoping to have the services up on YouTube. If that happens I will send out an email and let you know. That would allow people to view the service any time they want. If the FreeConferenceCall site doesn’t work very well, we will look at moving to “Zoom” which I just learned allows people without internet access to still call in and hear the service. Please be patient with us as we navigate these new waters. Please check our web site often as I will post any changes as soon as possible. God bless, Dan

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