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Monday, August 3, 2015

Strasbug Railroad 7/31/15 (Photo by Sadie)
Friday afternoon we visited an area where the Strasburg Railroad passes by

"The Blessing Of Reconciliation"

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"But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept" (Genesis 33:4). "So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him" (Luke 15:20).

Not long ago a recent acquaintance of ours was killed, along with his wife, in an accident. Afterwards we learned that he was estranged from his son. Though the son had been given repeated warnings about the need for reconciliation he stubbornly refused. Perhaps in his mind he was procrastinating but now the possibility of reconciliation was buried along with his father's untimely death. I wonder, how much harder and deeper does this son bear his grief as it mingles with lingering regret? Now that he has only a hindsight lens in which to review his actions, surely he considers this question: did their initial disagreement merit the anger, resentment, and grudge that festered to the very end? 

On the other hand I have a friend who was going through a very stressful period in his family which resulted in a long period of separation from those he loved most. I recall the agony and awkwardness he experienced during that period. Thankfully the matter is greatly improved and he is now enjoying the blessing of a restored relationship. Does that mean that everything is perfect? No, but much better than before. Attitudes, adjustments, and acceptances of their differences has played a vital role in this restoration.

The need for reconciliation is a recurring discussion Brooksyne and I have with employees through our chaplain ministry. Recently, in a personal discussion with an employee, we spoke about the vital need for reconciliation to occur among his family members. We reminded him that it is extremely important when death is near, but since we don't know when a death may occur, we need to make reconciliation a priority in life every day.

I (Brooksyne) mourned the loss of a favorite uncle of mine in 1975. I learned afterward that he and my aunt had a heated argument before she left the house, only to come home and find that he had died from a heart attack at the young age of 43. She lived with guilt over the matter wondering if she might have contributed to his death. Sorrow lingered not only
due to her tremendous loss, but over the last cutting words they shared together. That sad scenario has stayed with me all 39 years of our marriage and served to remind me of the importance of getting matters settled before Stephen and I carry out our separate duties.

As we dig into our Bible lesson we see a rather emotional and suspense-filled meeting which is graphically described in our daily text! Jacob had last seen his brother Esau at the time he stole his blessing. Tragically, it was Jacob’s mother who dreamed up the deceptive scheme and helped Jacob carry it out. Filled with rage Esau threatened: "I will kill." (Genesis 27:41). For fear of his life Jacob fled to his Uncle Laban's in Haran where God prospered him during his long sojourn.

Now after many years of no communication Jacob returned to Canaan and was to meet with Esau. He had been dreading this meeting for years, expecting the worst. The entire 32nd chapter of Genesis is devoted to the preparations for this inevitable confrontation. It also tells of the remarkable encounter Jacob had with a heavenly wrestler who provided divine assurance and changed Jacob’s name to Israel.

The emotion between the brothers is intense and so colorfully described in our daily verse that we can easily imagine the touching scene. When Jacob first saw Esau he approached his older brother with fear, humility, and trepidation.  But what a pleasant surprise he was in for! 

Jacob and Esau's reconciliation
Esau ran to greet him, embraced him, threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. Wow, that must have been a huge relief to Jacob and what incredible joy must have filled his heart.

"And they wept" What a beautiful picture of reconciliation. Scripture reveals a great deal about Jacob's life and his spiritual growth, but we have little information about Esau. Yet God was also working in Esau’s life during the long years of separation and we witness this in the reconciliation scene and the verses that follow.

Reconciliation is the restoration of a relationship between two or more persons. Theologically it refers to the change of relationship between God and man. Socially it refers to the change of relationship between people.

Two truths to consider today:

1) Let us live with thankfulness to God that He has provided us with an offer of reconciliation with Him. His offer for reconciliation stands ready and remains steady. He's waiting for our move. A great detail in the Parable of the Prodigal Son is that of the father (representing God) running to meet the returning son.

A great statement concerning the mission we have, as those who are reconciled to God, is found in 2 Corinthians 5:20, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."  Today, as ambassadors for Christ, we implore you to be reconciled to God!

2) Is there someone with whom you need to be reconciled? Many families are broken by strife and chronic division. We encourage you, as a peacemaker, to make the first move in reconciliation. The circumstances of life forced Jacob to make contact with his long-estranged brother Esau. It's hard, but God can work in both hearts. Surely Jacob had no idea of the change that had taken place in Esau's life, and in reality the need to meet his brother was more a matter of expediency than a willful desire to reconcile. Begin to take the necessary steps to facilitate reconciliation. Reach out so that you might begin to experience the incredible blessing of reconciliation. 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, You have called us to live at peace with all people, in as much as it is possible. As people of free will we cannot force reconciliation but we can facilitate reconciliation. Help us to lay aside pride, prejudice, procrastination and preconceived ideas of the outcome and take the first step toward reconciliation. Guide us in this most important endeavor as we attempt to live at peace with all people. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Today's photos

Amish children viewing photos 7/31/15Last Friday afternoon following chaplain visitation we stopped by to visit with our Amish friends. My brother Mike joined us.

The children are always glad to see us and love the little iPhone camera. I sat on a rocking chair on the porch as they gathered around me and we all got a kick out of taking group selfies. Michael held their 6 month baby in the other rocker.

I then gave them the camera and told them to take some photos around the farm.

Amish children playing on trampoline 7/31/15
The children enjoy playing on their trampoline

After visiting on the farm for awhile they jumped in the van with us for some errands. While Brooksyne picked  rhubarb (lots of it) we drove over to a crossing for the Strasburg Railroad. Our 10 year old "granddaughter" as we call our Amish children is quite the photographer as you can see. (Their mother gets a kick out of our calling them our grandchildren. We only do so because the kids like it and she gives us the nod of approval.)

Strasbug Railroad 7/31/15 (Photo by Sadie)
What a treat, they were running the old steam engine!

Strasbug Railroad 7/31/15 (Photo by Sadie)
We think this passenger is saying, "Look! A little Amish girl is taking our picture!"

Mike's 70th birthday pie
Saturday evening we celebrated my brother Mike's 70th birthday with his favorite pie, strawberry/rhubarb. Since he really likes our hydrangea trees we took his photo in front of of this one. Brooksyne also prepared 24 jars of strawberry rhubarb jam. She teased, "Mike gets the whole pie and we get to split the piece already cut." NOT!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Only Grace"  Video  Matthew West

"No Longer Strangers"  Video  Vineyard Worship

"When God Ran"  Video  Phillips, Craig and Dean

"Song Of Reconciliation"  Video 

For train buffs: Strasburg Rail Road 475 Video Has nice views of the train passing through Lancaster County country. Here's another longer video featuring various scenes along the ride.
This spring I had an opportunity to tour the Strasburg Railroad repair shops in the course of a chaplain visit and took some photos.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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