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Vol. 80 - No. 2
February 2009

WORD FROM THE PASTOR:             


At a certain church, choir practice was always on Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. One Tuesday, the whole choir ran late for the practice. One member had trouble starting her car. Anther had to referee a squabble between siblings. Another received an unexpected call from a long-lost college roommate. One after another, all fifteen choir members ran into circumstances that made them late for practice. So that, at 7:37 p.m, when the choir loft should have been full of people, it was completely empty.

Which was a good thing...because at that moment, the church’s furnace, located below the empty choir loft, erupted in an explosion caused by a gas leak.

Was the salvation of that choir just a chance occurrence... "an amazing co-inky-dink," as Popeye might say? Well, here are a few other coincidences to ponder (I’m going to list each of them as item, because it always sounded cool when Kolchak did that on The Night Stalker):

Item. One day a farm wife was distracted while caring for her baby, and the tyke crawled into the path of her husband’s combine (a reaping machine). One of the big wheels ran over the baby. But the tire’s large treads passed over the baby in such a way that the child was completely unhurt.

Item. In the plane crash in the Hudson river a few days ago–when all the passengers and crew escaped alive.–the pilot just happened to have extensive experience with gliders. In other words–he knew how to fly a plane that has no engines. That made him exactly the right man for an aircraft that had lost both engines to flocks of geese. Something similar happened on an Air Canada flight that, due to a faulty gauge, ran out of fuel in midair in 1983–the pilot, who was certified in gliders, brought the plane to a safe landing.

Item. In 1862, during the Confederate invasion of Maryland, Union troops found a copy of the Confederate battle plans lying on the ground (wrapped around three cigars). This enabled the Union army to score a victory at the battle of Antietam–a triumph that gave President Lincoln the political credibility to issue the Emancipation Proclamation a few months later.

Item. A World War II veteran was about to undergo open heart surgery. The day before the surgery, a package arrived. Inside was the prayer book that he had carried during the War. One of his old army friends (whom he hadn’t seen in 40 years) had found the prayer book while going through some war mementoes, and had mailed it to its owner. Receiving the book the day before surgery gave the veteran assurance that God would be with him.

Item. Shortly before Christmas, I had pain in one knee and in the opposite ankle. Walking long distances was difficult. (I’ve improved dramatically since). One day I was making a sick visit and pulled into a hospital garage where parking spaces are notoriously difficult to find. I was dreading a long walk to the hospital on my compromised legs–so as I entered the garage, I prayed, "Lord, please give me a space near the entrance." Then I reprimanded myself: "How can you bother God with something so trivial?" At that very moment, a car backed out of a space in front of me, handing me a prize parking place.

Item. Science tells us that very precise conditions have to be met for intelligent life to exist in the universe. These conditions have very narrow parameters–a slight difference either way would make intelligent life impossible. The levels of carbon, magnetic force, and gravity have to be exactly right...or intelligent life could not be supported. It just so happens that, in our universe, these things exist at exactly the right level for us to be here. This is called "the anthropic principle"–which can be summarized in the words of one scientist: "It’s like the universe knew that we were coming."

Item. A new religion arose in the Middle East around two thousand years ago. It spread so rapidly that, within three hundred years, it had become the official religion of the Roman emperors...and it claims the allegiance of two billion people today. This religion arose at a time when:

–there was a very effective road system, built by the Romans, which made it possible for

missionaries to travel and spread the Word.

–much of the world spoke a single language--Greek–because of the conquests

of Alexander the Great, so that the message could be spread to many people without

encountering language barriers.

–the Jewish people were present throughout much of the world, giving many people a

familiarity with Jewish Scriptures and faith, upon which the new religion was built

–the power of the Roman Empire had brought peace to much of the world, so that missionaries could travel far and wide without being hindered by warfare.

These factors came together at a single moment to enable a religion that began in an obscure corner of the world, founded by a crucified rabbi, to conquer the hearts of much of humanity.

Are all these items coincidence? Or is there a God who shapes and oversees human life? A God who came to us in that crucified rabbi and whose hand is always upon us? A God who "works all things for good" (Romans 8:28)? Faith gives us the answer.

God loves you and so do I!

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