Come – RSVP

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

AT one time or another most of us have gotten a formal invitation. The envelope is usually a special paper, the seal may be an embossed gold circle and the message is often in some type of fancy script. But no matter what the invitation is for it has the letters, RSVP (Répondez S’il Vous Plait), which is French for, “Respond if you please.”. To make it even easier, your friends will even enclose an envelope for you to send it in. All of these details, mean that they really – really want to see you at the event! AN RSVP is exactly what Jesus had in mind when He called out to His listeners that day, “Come!” But the invitation of Jesus is like no other.

When Jesus says, “Come!” He is not just inviting us to a dinner, a wedding, or a party where we are expected to show up and then go home afterwards. When Jesus says “Come!” His call is for us to come and stay. As in the Twenty-Third Psalm, we have an invitation to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The RSVP of Jesus also means we have a choice. We do not have to respond. God is not in the kidnapping business. We once lived in the inner city in a fairly tough neighborhood. Often there were young children who used our yard to play in because there was nowhere else for them to go and with their parent’s permission, we took many of them to church. One day an older brother of one of them got in trouble with the police. When young Matt was brought into court, the judge decided that part of his sentence would be to go to attend church for a few months and he chose ours. Now that might sound great, but it never worked out. It was not Matt’s free choice to come to church. Just like Matt, some people only go to church because they feel, sentenced, either for family or cultural reasons to attend. Though their bodies may sit in the pew every week, their hearts are somewhere else. They haven’t filled out the RSVP card and mailed it back in themselves. When Jesus says come, He waits to hear our heart’s response.

Last of all, when Jesus says, “Come!” He adds, “and learn of me.” Coming isn’t just about living at the same house that Jesus lives in, it means learning to live there the same way that Jesus does. We come and learn by walking close enough to Jesus to learn, not about Him, but to learn His heart. Little by little as we listen to His words, watch His actions and obey His commands, He reaches down deep inside our souls, and by the greatest miracle of all He changes us and gives us rest. What a could possibly keep us from opening the envelope, filling out the RSVP and slipping it into the mail? How will you answer Him today?

Our Little Lizard Friend

Our little lizard friend 
Sits on our old chair
Soaking up the sunshine
Living rent free without care

On his sunroom throne He perches
Thinking He is in control
And believes that He is master
 Of all he sees below

How little does he realize
That we watch him all day long
Hoping he stays safe from birds
And the black snake in the lawn

And our friend is a reminder
That God watches us each day
Welcoming us into His home
To forever freely stay

The lizard you can take in your hands,
    yet it is in kings’ palaces.
Proverbs 30:28 ESV

Our Little Lizard Friend
by Peter Caligiuri
Copyright 2023 All rights reserved

Remembering Dad

Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 
Deuteronomy 5:16 ESV

I was quite moved at the Memorial Day event held at our community clubhouse yesterday. Though I myself have not served in the armed forces, I gratefully recalled all that my dad did during WW2. Dad, as a second generation Italian, had his introduction to Italy when he landed there during the battle of Anzio in March of 1944. Then in August of that year he was wounded, when his landing craft was sunk off the coast of St. Raphael,France. Because I grew up without my dad, I never realized or appreciated all that he did and had gone through that year. To me, dad was just a quiet stranger who didn’t seem to understand the motivations and questions of my generation. Little did I know how much he did know and just how smart he really was.

Today , I sit in wonder as I come face to face with how much he and thousands of other guys did and how much I miss him. Thank God for you dad. I know that you have found peace and ultimate victory in the arms of Jesus Christ but I wanted to take this little space to honor you. You were a quiet soldier, a simple man and a faithful father and I am thankful that God gave you to me.

Though all the honor ultimately belongs to God, I am not only commanded to honor my parents, but God backs this command up with a blessing. And though our moms and dads were not perfect(who is?), we are each in some way blessed as we honor them. God promises a special blessing when we remember them with gratitude and then pass on their story to others. For me, one of those special blessings, was bringing my dad to Washington D.C. for the dedication of the WW2 memorial. I snapped his picture there and then years later, my cousin gave me another photo of him from when he was still in uniform. When I held it up I was suddenly struck by how similar they were. Here was the same man, with the same smile and yet a lifetime of wounds and struggles, defeats and victories separated them. Today I have only a few photographs and memories, but I am grateful for all the good that my dad left behind. God is faithful to keep all His promises. So, let’s pause for a moment and give honor to our parents, so that we may pass along to our own children a life’s story of our own that points to the honor of the most wonderful Father of all!