Be still. Take a breath. Slowly – in and out.

Picture God stepping off the highest throne, reaching out to you, and drawing you close.

Feel the deep embrace of God and hear God saying, “You are loved.”

You are loved.

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When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.”

Luke 23:33-35

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Crucifixion was the death of criminals, not the death of kings; and yet, Jesus was here between two criminals. People gathered around, and many had heard the stories about this man named Jesus. They taunted him and yelled at him – if he had saved all these others, he could surely save himself, after all. And yet, as Jesus remained there, he didn’t show them power in the way they expected. Instead, in his quiet way, Jesus prayed to God for their forgiveness.

It can be really hard to forgive those around you. And yet, Jesus shows us again of his great love by praying for forgiveness even in the middle of his own suffering.

Have there been times in your life when people were taunting you, trying to get you to act out in some way? How did you respond? Did you yell back? Or were you able to step back and seek God’s guidance, even if it seemed hard in the moment?

Melissa Kessler

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God, it can be really hard to forgive those around me when they are trying to hurt me and are making fun of me. Help me to be more like Jesus, and to respond the way you would want me to. Amen.

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God’s kingdom is nothing like we would expect, and Jesus acts nothing like the king that everyone was waiting for.

Because of that, we are able to live our lives in a way that the world least expects – forgiving, praying, serving, and loving those around us.

Go and live differently. Live the life to which God calls you.

Melissa Kessler

Rev. Melissa Kessler is Associate Pastor at Grandin Court Baptist Church in Roanoke, VA. She loves working with children and youth and helping everyone find their gifts to serve God. She has lived all over the world and really wants to go to every continent – and yes, that includes Antarctica!

24 Preludes, Op. 28: No 20 In C Minor

Garry Bailey

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