live oaks, solid churches, resurrection, and life!

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” – John 11:25-27

IMG_2153-001I don’t have anything on the Beatitudes this morning, as I didn’t teach yesterday. Instead, here are a few images to wrap up the weekend trip to Florida.

To be honest, it was quite hard to drive away from Apopka. The sleepy town on the edge of Orlando’s sprawl has been an important part of our lives since 1998, when Rebekah’s parents (Bob and Nelle Alexander), were called there for Bob service as Interim Pastor. First Presbyterian Church has hosted memorial services for both of Rebekah’s parents, was the happy site for her dad’s wedding to Myrt, and has now – with Myrt’s passing – offered an epilogue of sorts that quite possibly closes the final chapter.

IMG_2144The church is a beautiful place, in the middle of an ancient Live Oak hammock dripping with Spanish Moss and overgrown with Resurrection Ferns. The foliage stands testament to both its greatest challenge and its great hope.

Memorial services are witnesses to both death and resurrection, age and life, completion and new beginnings; and it is my great prayer that this historically blessed faith community will find a way to communicate the beautiful truth of new life in Jesus to the thousands of local residents who remain hungry to know the promise of the good news of the Gospel of Love.

Alan, Paul, Doris, Rebekah, Derek
Alan, Paul, Doris, Rebekah, Derek

DRIVE: So we drove back to North Carolina, through hundreds of miles of mostly torrential rains, and we stopped off at Lakewood Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville to worship with friends who moved there from Brandon several years ago.

Rebekah and I always enjoy worshiping with other faith communities when we’re on the road. It was good to sit together, to hold hands, and to sing hymns with our friends. It’s a blessing to see other churches where there is life, and mission, and a confident sense of moving forward into the future where God is inviting us to learn, and to love, and to serve.

IMG_2167BLESSING: Farther up the road we found some local seafood at St. Mary’s then stopped for dinner at yet another Cracker Barrel, where Rebekah managed to repeat her “one peg left in the brain-teaser” feat from the other day. Honestly, neither one of us really thinks these puzzles through, so we can’t feel all that smart… or all that silly… depending on the outcome.

But what we do feel – with one hundred percent confidence – is blessed. We are blessed with a life together that continues to grow in richness, and in the promise of newness. When Jesus made his, “I am the resurrection and the life,” proclamation, it was not limited to a particular time and place, but is a constant promise that gains momentum to the extent that his followers claim it, and live into the truth of the power of this amazing journey of constant discovery and celebration.

Because he lives! DEREK

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