Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.
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Of the many videos and photos I have seen of the California wildfires and the horrific destruction and loss of life, I was particularly moved by one video. The camera was pointed out the windshield of a car escaping the flames. The audio captured the voices of small children in the car with their father at the wheel. The children were terrified. The father was steering through smoke, flames and abandoned cars. And yet, his voice was calm and soothing as he reassured his children with a bold promise - that they would be okay. If I have learned anything, I have learned that disasters happen, that sometimes our worst fear comes into being. We want to know when the bad thing will happen even though we can't prevent it. We want to know so that we can run more quickly or more quickly turn to those we love to say, "goodbye." But more often than not, we just panic. Or we can choose to be purveyors of hope and new life even in the face of our deepest fears and death itself.
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Put the fire out, Lord, and grant us peace. Amen