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Stitching Up Souls - by Pastor Tom Engel

During cold and flu season, I would do a commercial for any product that contains zinc. When I am feeling even a slight tickle in my throat, I take a zinc lozenge and keep taking them until my cold is gone. For me, zinc does exactly as the advertisements claim that it is suppose to do. Taking zinc at the onset of a cold shortens the duration of the cold and makes what could have been a bad cold with a lot of congestion to turn to just a mild one with sniffles.

I think I can speak for just about everyone who has ever lived that no one likes to get sick. We want to be healthy. And if we do get sick, we want to get better as soon as we can. One of the topics that is looming over the whole world is good health care for all. No matter where we stand on the issue, the continuous development of the “miracles” of modern medicine are important to everyone, so we can be as healthy as we can be.

But we must also think that as much as medicine does improve, we will always have aches and pains because we are mortal humans. It is that old logic: All humans are mortal, and Socrates is human, so Socrates is mortal. In other words, all humans die, and we will die of some illness on some day.

Okay, why bring up this talk about sickness and death? I guess because we do have to face the inevitable that one day that we will face our own deaths. Although we can do a lot these days to take care of ourselves, we can arrogantly be mistaken to think that we can ever beat death. Life on this earth has a beginning, middle, and an end.

The end can be at any time, for no one has the promise of tomorrow. But I agree, let’s not talk about death for now, but let’s focus on life. And I when I say life, I mean all of life. When we talk about life, we need to be sure that we get it all of life-mind, body, emotions, and spirit-in our conservation.

We want to keep talking about how we are doing as whole human beings. If we are not doing well physically, we are probably not doing too well emotionally, and we might be finding that we cannot concentrate all that well. I know for me if I do get sick with a cold even with my zinc, all that I want to do and really all that I am good for is to sit in my recliner with a cozy blanket and box of tissues and watch old cowboy movies.

As life does happen with all of the situations that can come into our lives like sickness and stress, we need to keep trying to keep all the parts together and working. The problem is that we do not have too much control of any of the parts. We can try to stay healthy, but a sneaky virus can enter us at anytime from anywhere.

In a busy city with heavy traffic all the time, we are trying to get somewhere to make an appointment, and we find ourselves staring at the bumper in front of us for twenty minutes, and our anxiety levels rise.

We can plan and organize all day long, but we still have our unpredictable lives where anything can happen. It’s true that the devil and sin want to break us up, and we have to admit at times that we do get broken up. Life gives us situations that cause troubles and pain, and we do not react to them all that well. At times, we might lose hope that all can come together again.

The lost of hope can be a negative chain reaction. With low motivation, stress enters into our minds as we sit and dwell on what we think is wrong with our lives. Then, we might not take good care of our bodies with all of our sitting and dwelling about the “bad’ stuff. So, now we are not feeling well and are tired all the time. With this feeling of weakness, we have mixed emotions as we want to be happy, but we are bitter that life has not turned out as we have hoped. We try to fight, but we think we are losing the fight as we begin to think that life is too much for us. In short, we are feeling that we are coming apart at the seams.

To be strong again after we have gone through a bad time and are feeling broken up, we need to get stitched up again. The place to start getting back together is our spirits. It’s our spirits that is the dominant force in our lives because that is where God is with His breath of life. When God first made a human, he formed the man from the dust of the ground, but the man did not come to life until God breathed His breath into the man.

For people of faith, we move and have our very being by the breath of God. This breath of God fills our spirits. So, we can see that if our spirits are damaged in any way, we need to be sure to have them to be the first part that is repaired.

When Jesus called his first disciples, they were doing what fisherman do. They were fishing, tending to their boats, and stitching up their nets. Knowing what fisherman do and what it takes to be a fisherman, Jesus knew they were to be his followers who would after receiving teaching from him about the kingdom of God start the early church.

To be a fisherman, a person needs to have patience, a strong work ethic, and commitment. A fisherman faces rough seas, cold nights, and hot days without catching much of anything. When they do catch fish, the fisherman need to be sure there nets are prepared, so the big catch can be brought in.

A fisherman is humble, and in his humility, he is a dedicated worker. Fishermen do these things because they love what they do, for it is their calling in life. This love for what they do is why Jesus choose fishermen to be his disciples.

Like fishermen, people are called to faith, and these people belong to a church. In the church, people gather and work together with dedication. These people are called to to this work, so they will do it with love and care. In a way, we can say that the church is like a fishing village.

As we walk through the church, we see the preparation to go fishing for people. We see the preparation of souls for the kingdom of God by the hearing and studying of the Word. In worship, we see the stitching up of broken spirits by confession of sin and then receiving forgiveness of that sin. Jesus is the master fisherman who catches fish every time he goes out fishing. Or in other words, Jesus has won the victory by his death and resurrection of all that wants to harm us. The reason Jesus does so well with the saving of souls is that everything he does is by the grace and power of God the Father.

God cares and loves us so much because we are His beloved children. Every day, God is breathing His grace into us, so we can only do well. Everything comes together for us in the church because everything in the church is about how we are fishers of people. From the preparation and stitching up of souls that hold joy and hope in Christ to the haul of the net that is full of people whom God is bringing into His kingdom, we can be sure that the church has a full catch of God’s grace every time.

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