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Angie Nitz

Justice and Mercy

I’ve been reading through Leviticus for my personal devotional time. Not by choice. I’d prefer to spend my study time in Philippians or Romans but I’m currently working through a reading plan and it has Leviticus assigned for this month. Because I believe that all of Scripture is the inspired Word of God and that the Lord speaks through His Word even when I don’t understand it (and because I’m a first-born rule follower and if the plan says I need to read Leviticus I need to read Leviticus) I’m muddling through. A few days ago, I was struggling. I was working my way through chapters 13 & 14 which specify for the priests of Israel how to identify and cleanse diseases of the skin. It, like all of Leviticus gets very specific right down to discussing the color of the hair coming out of a skin eruption! Yuck! It was somewhere in the midst of this chapter that I found myself getting increasingly frustrated. “It’s too much, Lord,” I thought. Too much detail, too much rigidity, too many rules! And what is even the point since to my knowledge, I’ve never even come in contact with a leper? Just reading through that one chapter left me exhausted and stressed out. “Lord, have mercy,” I whispered to myself not so much as a prayer but rather because that is usually what I say when I’m feeling overwhelmed and have nothing else to offer. Just then I felt a gentle nudge of the Spirit…“Exactly. THAT is the point.” Leviticus (and all of Scripture) set up for me a standard that is unattainable because they introduce me to a God whose perfection

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Angie Nitz

An Unprecedented Ash Wednesday

What a difference a week can make! As I write this, we are one week out from a historic storm and its aftermath. Our community continues to recover and rebuild and will be for some time. I’m truly grateful that our family was spared significant damage, but while I hope we never see that kind of storm again I’m also hopeful that the lessons learned will remain! Like so many of you, our family lost power to our home for the majority of last week. Frustratingly, we thought we had prepared! We had stocked up on food and water, wrapped our faucets, and had even visited the library in anticipation of a few hours or (gasp!) days without internet. The board games were dusted off and at the ready along with a puzzle and the Netflix queue. We were ready! It wasn’t until the power went out for us very early Monday morning that we began to realize how unprepared we actually were. We had stocked up on food, but not on propane for the camping stove. We had purchased enough water for drinking, but not enough to cover all our family’s needs for an extended period. We had plenty of entertainment but had not considered how much work and energy it would take to meet our basic needs and to try to protect our home without power or water. Who had time for books or board games?! As the temperatures began to drop in our home and neighbors began to report freezing and bursting pipes, we decided to build a fire in our fireplace to keep warm. We had enough firewood but despite a recently cleaned chimney, an open

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Blog
Tom Zucconi

The Power of a Picture

A picture is worth a thousand words. And words, even written with photographs, can wound or heal. Take, for example, the one accompanying this post by famed photographer Gordon Parks. You have a nicely dressed middle-class African-American family in 1956 getting water from a fountain at an ice cream stand. It’s a Sunday afternoon in Mobile, Alabama. The colorful posters the proprietor has posted on the windows entice the taste buds to a tingle as they anticipate the delectable delights to come. The little girls in their smocked dresses must be so excited! It’s a typical, feel-good snapshot from a day in the life of America. Or is it? Because it’s none of those things which catch our attention and cause us to stare; instead, it’s the large white letters on the two outdoor water fountains that designate the fountains as one for “white” and one for “colored.” And, if we’re able to step back and expand our view of the stand, we see two different windows for orders/pick-up, one for whites and one for coloreds. This picture is not that old, just 65 years, but it seems so ancient, even fabricated—the internet made this up!  Well, sadly, we know the internet didn’t. This picture is authentic. People lived in a racist and segregated world and, in many ways, still do. Yet, my point isn’t to address past failures or even present injustices, but instead, to turn the lens back on ourselves and wrestle with how the Church can bring healing to a nation still coming to terms with its sin. What powerful, grace-filled pictures and images can we hold up before our eyes and the eyes of our neighbors

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Holy Cross Staff

Serve Them Well

This weeks post is a post by Marge Simmons about her experience volunteering at last week’s community food distribution. This ministry will be offered once a month through at least April. To volunteer please contact the church’s office. “If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well.” Romans 12:7 I’d like to share the experience Dennis and I had helping with the distribution of food boxes on January 23. As we drove to church I really had no concept of what to expect. The thought did cross my mind that 200 boxes of food seemed like a lot, and were there really that many people that could use it? We arrived at church about 9:45 and there were already vehicles lined up in the parking lot. Between that time and the time we started handing out the boxes, two lines of vehicles snaked around the entire parking lot. And that is the way the lines stayed until we finished. My question about the need for this kind of effort was definitely answered. Because the food is donated, the employees that were there from American Prosperity Fund were busy getting information that is required by law from each vehicle. The number of families in a household determines how many boxes of food they get. Dennis worked on traffic control. That was a big job. Instead of just one person controlling the vehicle lines, two or three more people would be ideal. I helped with the distribution of boxes. The boxes were on trucks and needed to be handed out to the people that were taking the boxes to the vehicles. The boxes are heavy. They are loaded with fresh

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Blog
Tom Zucconi

Under Renovation

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:3-6 January kicks off two months of renovations for our worship space at Holy Cross. Our facilities are getting some much-needed TLC–it’s an exciting time to be on our campus as we anticipate completion in just a few months! Yeah! We all know that buildings, including our homes, require continual care and sometimes complete renovations, but have you ever thought of yourself as being “worked on” or “renovated” in your life of faith?  In his letter to the Philippian Christians, the apostle Paul uses this idea of construction (or repair) upon the people of God. That we are, in a right way, a project, attended to by the Master Craftsman who is continuously caring for His creation, using the power of the Gospel to heal and reshape us into the people He is calling us to be. It’s what Paul calls in verse 6, a “good work” in us. But what is the end goal of this good work? When you renovate your kitchen, or the church renovates the sanctuary, we have an idea of what we are working towards, an image or picture in our mind. (Fresh! Bold! Beautiful!) We have paint color and floor styles and everything else that goes into the project, so does this mean that God does too? Of course! Paul tells us in chapter 3 that the goal is

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Blog
Angie Nitz

(Not) Getting What I Deserve this Christmas

Tis the season for over-excitement and sugar, and consequently we have had some trouble recently getting our 8-year-old son to settle in for the night. We are throwing everything we have in our parenting playbook at the problem. Sticking to a routine – check. Limiting caffeine – check. Rewarding positive behavior – check. Resorting to threats of dire consequences and raised voices – yep, those too. We don’t “do Santa” at our house, but I’ll admit that in my weaker moments I have considered introducing him if only to pull out the ultimate threat – coal in the stocking! Last night, after fighting the good fight once again, I was walking my loveable but noncompliant kid back to his room for the umpteenth time when he nonchalantly asked, “So, what do I get if I stay in my room tonight?”.  My response was quick and less than gracious. “What do you get?! You get the opportunity to not be in trouble!” No, my son definitely did not deserve any extra screen time or bedtime snack or any other treat he was angling for. Staying in bed after lights out was a minimum standard of obedience, and I was not about to reward him for doing what he was expected to do anyway. The brutal truth for me, however, is that at times I am no better when it comes to what I expect of God. My human nature wants “credit” for the things I do right. I want a pat on the back from God when I manage to keep from saying something hurtful, succeed at resisting the temptation to put extra sleep before time in the Word or give

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