Central Baptist Church of Westerly
16 Elm Street, Westerly, RI   02891
Phone: (401) 596-4929   

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Reach out and let God cleanse your soul
                                                        January 16, 2019

Dear Friends,

It was reminiscent of something out of the old television
series M*A*S*H. There were people everywhere. Every
seat was taken. Some people were sitting in wheelchairs.
No one looked happy to be there. There was a pall over
the room as the sound of muffled coughs emerged from
every corner. I've never seen the waiting area of an
emergency room that full. It was as if war had broken
out and the casualties were brought in.

The local news stations have reported that the flu season
had come on strong. I had no idea it was this bad. You
can hear something with your ears but it doesn't always
register with you brain. As a sci-fi fan, this looked like
something right out of the pages of Michael Palmer or
Michael Crichton. I was especially alarmed when I
noticed that most of the staff members were wearing
surgical masks.

The line to check in was eight people deep. I was there
to visit someone in the ER. Waiting in line was the only
way to find out where they were holding her. I didn't
want to look paranoid, but I guess I was. Like most
people, I don't have the time or patience to be sick these
days. So I began thinking about the practical precautions
I could take as I entered the contagious zone.

To my left there was an empty box. It had contained the
surgical masks I saw sprinkled among those waiting in
the reception area. There was a hand sanitizing dispenser
too. Without even thinking, I reached for it and covered
my hands. A few minutes later I was ushered out of the
general area and into the ER department to make my

I have to tell you that I instinctively reached for the
sanitizer again and again as I walked through the
hospital. I know it is a good practice. I learned that
during my clinical pastoral rotation in a hospital years
ago. Sanitize going in. Sanitize coming out. Stop the
transfer of germs!

But the thought hit me, "Can you dilute the effectiveness
of the sanitizer by using it too much?"

I guess that's a silly question. It's like asking if you can
come to God to ask for forgiveness too many times?"
The truth is that in a perfect world we would never need
to ask God to forgive us. Yet we know that is not the case.
We stumble and fall all the time. We stray and turn our
backs on God without ever thinking. Temptation is always
around us. Life gets busy and we lose our focus. Even the
best of us needs to ask for forgiveness regularly.

The good news is that God is ready and willing to forgive
us as many times as it takes for us to get back on track.
He loves us. The evidence is in the sacrifice he made in
giving up his only son to the cross. Jesus died so that our
sins could be forgiven and we could be made right with
God. Are you familiar with the parable of the prodigal
son? It illustrates the depth of love and forgiveness that
God has for his wayward children.

That's you and me. He loves us and wants us to come to
him. All we need to do is invite him in to clean up the
messiness in our lives. May our prayer mimic King
David's prayer in Psalm 51. "Create in me a pure heart,
O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  So go
ahead and reach for the sanitizer. Then reach out to God
and let him renew your heart and cleanse your soul.  

God bless! See you in church. Cal
Pastor Cal Lord's Weekly Epistle
Pastor Cal's Weekly

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.
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