Do you know what today is? Today is the very first ever in all of time St. James’ own Furry Buddies! Furry Buddies! What a great idea to help us learn about God’s beautiful creation and the creatures that He asks us to care for. One of the things you will learn is how God uses furry buddies to take care of us.

In honor of Furry Buddies I thought a “find the dog” word search puzzle would be a good idea. So here is the word puzzle for us to check out. Let’s play “Find the Word.” The rules are simple. Two teams the Mavs and the Ricks will come up here and see who can find the most words in 2 minutes. Here is the Mavs list in red. And here is the Ricks list in Black.

Ready – Set – Go!

Alright, two minutes are up!

How did you do? It looks pretty good. Let’s give our two teams a big hand.

Now, sometimes it is hard to see the words when they are hidden among all the random letters. Sometimes the words can be right in front of us and we miss the point, we don’t even see what’s right under our nose.

Jesus found this to be true. Here He is, the word of God, in the flesh, as a man. And everybody had a tough time understanding it. The Pharisees didn’t see it. The people in the streets didn’t see it. Even His disciples often didn’t see that Jesus was the word of God. My guess is that’s because He looked just like the rest of us. He was just a man.

But that’s not quite true. Yes, He was a man, fully human, but He was also Divine, fully God. The word of God. So like a word in a word puzzle is hidden when it is right in front if you, Jesus as God was hidden too.

Now if you wanted to show a word on the puzzle what are some things you could do? That’s what I would do. I’d highlight the word. I put a line under it, or if I were on the computer I would make it bold so it would stick out.

That’s what happened when Jesus healed this man from being deaf and unable to speak. It says that Jesus “put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.””

Now, let me ask you a question. What do you think made the man hear and speak? Was it Jesus’ finger in his ear?? Or was it a little spit on the man’s tongue? Or was it Jesus’ words?

They call Jesus the Word of God. I already said that earlier. Why do we call Him the Word of God? Where do words come from? No, not a dictionary. They come from a person’s need to express what they feel. When your mom gets all teary eyed when she says she loves you, she is showing her feeling for you in words. When you get angry or mad and you tell someone how you feel, your words have the power to help them or hurt them.

When Jesus says “Ephphatha” He is letting His word come from His heart to make a man whole who had been broken. His word shows us the incredible love He has within Him. When God spoke the whole world into creation, He used His word from His heart to make an incredible universe of truth, goodness and beauty.

Jesus’ word said a lot of other important things, like, “Lazarus come out!” And Lazarus rose from the dead. And on the cross Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.” And because Jesus, the word of God, spoke this word we know it is true and the Father forgave them.

When Jesus washes you in baptism that is His words in the water that adopt you as God’s child and gives you a lifetime of grace and forgives you every time your words are mean of hurtful.

And here is the important thing. In the Old Testament God was hidden from most people. He didn’t want to, but Adam and Eve were disobedient and tried to hide from God so God hid from them.

They had to work hard to see Him when He was right in front of them. He hid Himself in the beauty of the creation that He spoke into being. He hid himself in the burning bush, and the cloud and fire, and the words we call the Ten Commandments. He hid himself in the Psalms and Proverbs and other books of the Bible we call Wisdom literature.

But today God doesn’t hide Himself any more. When Jesus was born God decided the time was right to bless the world and all of its people with the love and compassion that was in His heart. The best way for Him to do this was for the word of God to become a person like you and me and talk to us right to our face and tell us that He loves us and cares for us and will never hide from our sight again.

And so now we live with Jesus’ words when we pray in His name, when we hear and study the Bible, when a Pastor preaches a sermon, when we witness a Baptism and when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. And we hear Jesus word when we are forgiven for the sake of His death on the cross. I think that is good news.

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