Pastor Cal's
Weekly Epistle

Every week Pastor Cal
writes a weekly column
for the Spirit Page of
the Norwich Bulletin.

He also sends it out to
members and friends of
the church via e-mail.

E-mail him at
calstigers@gmail.com if
you want to be added to
the weekly list.
Central Baptist Church of Westerly
16 Elm Street, Westerly, RI   02891
Phone: (401) 596-4929   

Check out our blog at Central Baptist Life

Dear friends,

There are certain moments you will never forget. They are painful and they hang
with you. We have all had them. Mine happened when I was in college. I was going
through a bad time. My girlfriend had dumped me. My grades were in a nose dive.
I was drinking too much. My life was falling apart.

My friends and I were coming home from a wedding. These were the days before
"designated drivers" and "DUI's." I had a buzz on and as I drove onto the highway
ramp to head home, I hit the car in front of me. Thankfully no one was hurt. The
police impounded my car and my buddies and I landed at the police station.

I remember sitting there waiting for my father to come and pick me up. I ran
through every possible thing he could say in my head. I beat myself up pretty good
in anticipation of that moment. When he arrived, he said, "Are you alright?" Then
he said. "Let's go." and we hopped in his car and left for home.

He never said a word in that thirty five minute drive home. When we got out of the
car he looked at me and said, "Go to bed. We can figure out how to get your car in
the morning." I was stunned. I expected him to let me have it. He never did punish
me. When I asked him why, he said I had done a pretty good job of doing it to
myself.

Every year during Lent I think of that night over thirty years ago. I was so sorry to
embarrass my father that way. He had every right to punish me for what I had
done. Yet when I was lost and in trouble I learned first hand about a father's love
and the forgiveness and grace that comes with it.

God is like that. He sets high standards for us and expects a lot. Yet even when we
stumble and fall he reaches out to us in love. When we mess up, he comes to find us
and bring us home. That is the message of the cross. The Apostle Paul says, "At
the right time, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

God loves us so much. If you have been afraid to come to him because of
something you have done, stop running and come home. In Christ we have
forgiveness, a chance to let go of the past and to begin again. Easter's coming. God
wants you to join him at the celebration and experience his love.

God bless. See you in church. Cal