Pssst… hey, you. Did you know that there’s a wild and wonderful God traveling alongside you, all around you, within you right now?

The Bible tells us that our God is like a shepherd who never leaves the flock for one moment. God is always with us. We are never alone, never abandoned. And no matter what we do – no matter what choices we make or what happens to us – this God is always reaching out to us in love.

So pause. Rest for a moment. Abide in the Holy. And let God’s grace transform your living and loving.

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“This is why the Father loves me: I give up my life so that I can take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I give it up because I want to. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it up again. I received this commandment from my Father.”

John 10:17-18

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As a pastor, I’ve had the difficult and humbling experience of watching quite a few people I love approach death. When people know death is imminent, the way Jesus did, they are filled with all kinds of emotions.

Some people feel trapped. They are frustrated and furious that death is coming and they are no longer in control. Others feel at peace. They are curious about what comes next or even strangely excited about seeing what lies beyond the life they’ve lived on earth.

One of the things that I appreciate about our faith is that we have these stories of how Jesus faced his death. The way that he greeted his death astounds and inspires me. I anticipate that dying may be one of the most difficult things I will have to do as a human being and am so thankful for Jesus’s witness and guidance.

Caela Simmons Wood

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God-who-loves-beyond-death, help me to live my life in such a way that I am always aware of my own mortality. Free me from feeling anxious or angry whenever I contemplate my finite time on this earth. Help me to love loudly throughout this life and into the next, just as Jesus did. Amen.

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Go into the day ahead renewed, restored, and reinvigorated to live out the Good News of God’s love. God, the Good Shepherd, who never leaves our side, travels with you into the day ahead – whatever it holds. May the goodness of the Holy One shine brightly from your heart on each person you encounter.

Caela Simmons Wood

Rev. Caela Simmons Wood serves as the pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Manhattan, KS. Caela is passionate about examining and dismantling systems of injustice, especially those related to race, gender identity, sexuality, and poverty. Caela lives with her husband (whom she met in youth group!), two sons, dog, and five hens (eggs!).

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