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The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me …  To give them beauty for ashes…  Isaiah 61  

I captured this photo at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in Flagstaff. It is awesome to see wildflowers, pines, and lichens springing forth from miles of ash that decimated the earth over 1000 years ago. The new life growing out of the devastation of ashes is a sign of hope. This vibrant, purple wildflower erupting from volcanic rock captures the essence of God’s promise to give beauty for ashes.

And we see a lot of ashes in 2021. The collective personal and economic destruction of this pandemic might be likened to the 810 square mile ash field in the wake of the volcano. Many lives, businesses, and churches have been destroyed as well as relationships, unity, and civility. Desert Cross rallied around our mission to share the good news in innovative ways. Yet we are facing the effects of low attendance and unsustainable finances. We must remember that God holds the key to the ashes that cover these days.

God sent Jesus to give us beauty for ashes. It is the light of Christ that shines through the present darkness of our grief, pain, and division. Jesus came to fulfill the hopeful promises of God in Isaiah 61 which he claimed as his mission statement. He brings peace, healing, and hope to our lives. Sharing the light and new life of his love is the mission of the church and our raison d’être.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon us to shine the light of Christ into these pandemic days. That means change is ahead as we seek to vitalize our mission to Share, Love, and Serve. I promise that your pastors, church leadership, and staff are praying and faithfully exploring ways to cause flowers of love and new life to erupt from the darkness. May we be the essence of peace, healing, and hope in this world as we pray for God to give beauty for ashes amongst us.  

Please meditate on Isaiah 61:1-3:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who arebound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

With hope, Pastor Andrea