Greetings from Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.
Jimmy Wayne never knew his dad and his mother was in and out of jail. When he was a small child, his mom was released from jail and hooked up with some loser and for a year, they made their home in an Oldsmobile Delta 88 traveling the country. The couple finally tired of Jimmy and abandoned him at the railroad station in Pensacola, Florida, never to see him again.
Jimmy needed a new beginning. The Bible is full of people who also needed a new beginning. In one such case, the children of Israel were camped by Mount Sinai and Moses had just returned with the Ten Commandments only to find the people worshipping a golden calf. In anger, Moses broke the Tablets of the Law and ground the calf into dust which he mixed with water and had the people drink. In Exodus 34 we find that God calls for Moses to return to the mountain with a new set of tablets on which Yahweh (the Lord) would again write His commandments.
As Moses returned to the mountain, God descended to him and said, "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, (7) keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. (Ex 34:6,7a)".
He also restored the tablets; this was a new beginning.
Yahweh says He is "merciful" or "compassionate." The word compassionate is from the Hebrew word "rachum" that is closely related to the Hebrew word "rechem" -- womb. The Bible equates compassion with the mother's womb, a place of love, protection, and nurturing.
He is "slow to anger" without which I wouldn't be writing this article and you wouldn't be reading it.
"Abounding in steadfast love" -- an eternal fountain of love that He shows as He became incarnate in Bethlehem.
Ex 34 tells us that He lifts up (forgives) wickedness, rebellion and sin. Where does He put it? He puts it on Himself as He goes to the cross on Good Friday. As He is lifted up on the cross a new beginning is created.
The early Christians tied this closely with the spring equinox, which they believed was the time of year God created the universe. In Christ's death and resurrection, a new creation or a new beginning was being launched.
This week, which includes the eighth day, Easter Sunday, is a new beginning for every man, woman and child on this planet. In Christ we are a new creation. In baptism God re-creates us to be His people. Daily the grace of Christ found in our baptism envelops us and daily we are a new creation with all sins forgiven.
Oh, and what ever happened to Jimmy? He had a new beginning. A loving couple gave him a new home. He is now a country and western singer, who has performed 221 times at the Grand Ole Opry. His passion, however, is rescuing abandoned children and giving them a new beginning. Easter Blessings.
• David Otten is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.