Which Invitation is Required?

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.  Whether you were traveling, having people in, surrounded by many or only a few, I hope you were able to find plenty of time to offer Thanksgiving for the blessings you are aware of and the ones that are yours unaware.

Of course, there has been no time to linger over our Thanksgiving.  We are being rushed into a new season seeking to overwhelm our senses, time and energy.  Before we open the door completely to what is to come, I ask you to indulge me as I try to take us back to where we have been.

The three invitations we have focused on in November were always intended to be gifts to help us navigate the demands of December.  Every day from this one forward, we get to consider which invitation is required to help us find joy and meaning in our life.

The three invitations are:

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Election

 

This week we will make some very important decisions that will impact our future.  Let me offer this invitation to my Christian friends.  Be a Christian before you are an American.  Be a follower of Jesus before acting as a Republican or Democrat or Independent.  Pray for a discernment of what your faith is calling you to do in this election.  Then vote.  After casting your ballot, continue to be a Christian as you await the results.  Be a Jesus follower once the results are known.  No matter the results, remember God is still here, Jesus is still Lord and the Holy Spirit can still intercede and guide us.  Let our words and actions witness those truths.  We will neither gloat nor accuse.  We will work for reconciliation.  We will speak with reason and holiness.  We will act with respect and compassion.

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Time for Fear and Wishing is Over

It is time for us to quit living in fear.  It is time to stop wishing for better.

When did we fall into the trap that said nothing can really change?

When did we let apathy and discouragement become our Affirmation of Faith?

In 1 Peter, this word comes to us…..”You are given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.”

WE ARE BORN INTO A LIVING HOPE!!!!!!

This hope lives in as as we trust it, act on it and witness it in the world.  Tomorrow I ask you to join me in worship as an act of defiance to the world that is fearful.  Come and be part of a community that needs you and stands with you as we dare to live in Hope that changes our lives, the lives of others and the future.

It is time to offer a Prayer of Hope together.  Come and let us release the power of Christ.

See you tomorrow.

 

 

The Prayers We Offer – A Deeper Look

Genesis 12: 1-3

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Scripture Introduction

The first 11 chapters of Genesis read like a divine-human reality show. It all begins with a couple beautiful creation stories and then unravels quickly. As much as God wanted the Garden of Eden to continue, humans seemed intent on creating a world of brokenness and hurt. It seems almost out of desperation, God choses to start all over again. The Great Flood comes and Noah is the main hero by being faithful to God and building an Ark. (The tragedy of this story removes it far from the children’s Bible story we often think of with cute giraffes looking out of the window of the ark. On this weekend of Hurricane Matthew, we can get a taste of the anguish in this passage. While the story is more imagery than accurate historical reporting, is does send a clear message.   God is starting over.

Continue reading “The Prayers We Offer – A Deeper Look”

Lunch on the Porch – One More Look

Luke 5: 27-32
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up, left everything, and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

 

Recently, in a conversation with some other faith friends, it was commented we must be careful when we say we want Jesus in our life.  Because there are times the Jesus we want in our life that answers our questions, meets our needs and generally acts like a God of our own creation.

One friend said, “The truth is we need to talk about the Jesus we do not want”.  That led to a much deeper conversation and will likely emerge as a sermon series in your future.   But scripture for this past Sunday points to a Jesus who certainly does things in an unconventional way.

Jesus calls unlikely people, (tax collectors, sinners, you and me) to become those who will carry out his mission in the world.  He called a despised person named Levi to be a disciple and in the open enjoyed being at a party with people who religious leaders of his day could only refer to as sinners. Continue reading “Lunch on the Porch – One More Look”

Taste of Grace

What is your favorite meal?  When asked the question our mind gravitates to the menu.  When we asked the question this week the responses included roast beef and mashed potatoes, eggplant parmigana, and baked mac and cheese.

We all have favorite foods.  I suspect that the answer to the question of favorite meal addresses more than the menu.  I expect it also has something to do with the location and company.  When you think about your most memorable meals in the past, does your mind take you to specific locations and people?

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As any had need…..Going deeper

Acts 2: 43-47
Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

My heart aches when I encounter the needs of others that are bigger that what I can fix.  I want others to be better, to get past it and not to allow their need to define them. All my training and years of experience want to help get people past their need.  But that does not always happen on my schedule.  Do you know the experience of caring for someone else in their need and wish you could do more?

 

On Sunday, we read about the early church coming together to share all they had as they worshipped God daily.  They pooled their resources to meet the needs of each other.  What a joyous moment in church history that must have been.  However, dynamics changed as the church grew.

 

As the church grew larger, it became impossible to meet needs in the same way as that intimate First Church of Jerusalem did.  The church no longer lived in such a communal relationship.  There were too many people from to many backgrounds making it impossible to always know the needs or be able to meet them.

 

But they did learn two valuable lessons from their history.  One was you cannot give what you do not have.  They discovered the necessity of placing themselves in the presence of God.  Their worship and spiritual practices served many purposes not the least of which was to have full hearts and souls and peace to give to others.  If our souls are dry, usually the only gifts we have to give are impatience, judgment and guilt.

Continue reading “As any had need…..Going deeper”