Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sermon for February 20, 2011

“Travelin’ Through”
A Farewell Sermon

Have you ever noticed that sacred and scared are practically the same word. Just switch the c and the a and the one turns into the other. Sacred … Scared. I’m scared this morning. I’m scared because this is the last Sunday here for my family and me. I’m scared because I want to offer something truly sacred today. I want to honor this moment. I want to treasure being with you all. And, honestly, I’ve struggled with this sermon all week. I don’t know what to say that I haven’t said already.

Can I allow the “scared” to become sacred? In this sanctuary I have wrestled and wept and laughed. I have preached and listened. I have danced and lain down and found comfort and have felt my heart break a hundred times. I have been filled with joy. I have felt scared and stretched and ill at ease. I have been welcomed. I have been blessed. I have met God here, so many times and in so many ways.

Sometimes the room has looked like it does now. Sometimes I’ve come to the sanctuary in the early morning and and listened to the sounds you can only hear when the building is empty and watched the sun come through the window and light up the dust that floats in the air. I have sat in silence in here. I have taken — and offered — the bread and the wine here I’ve baptized young ones and said good bye to friends. I have felt the presence of Christ here. Sometimes it’s been in words spoken, sometimes in shared silence. Sometimes I have known where that presence is, and sometimes it’s been beyond my awareness, impossible to pinpoint but still here.

I have been cooked here. Listen to this verse from the poet Rumi:
If your knowledge of firehas been turned to certainty by words alone, then seek to be cooked by the fire itself. Don’t abide in borrowed certainty. There is no real certainty until you burn; if you wish for this, sit down in the fire.”
It’s not a threat so much as an invitation. I have made mistakes and said the wrong thing and hurt people. I have been forgiven. I have felt stretched to my maximum. And I have found that my heart has grown bigger, and that the hearts around me have been big enough to include me each time.

I am leaving TCC not because I’m fully cooked, but because Chris and I have come to believe that we need a different community and Church to raise our children as we long to do. We are moving because know there is something sacred there for us, even though we are scared to take the steps to get there.

I lot of people have asked me if there are other circumstances behind the scenes that are contributing to my decision to leave TCC. What can I say? Many of you know about conflicts here. Personality conflicts. Conflicts of interest. Those who wish to preserve worn traditions struggle against those who have a wider vision of what this church can be. My wish for this church is that you can courageously confront these conflicts and find some unity.

There is another reason why I’m leaving. I feel like I’ve failed. I haven’t been good enough. Some of you may want to disagree with me and I appreciate that opinion. Or, you may want to agree with me, in which case I appreciate you remaining quiet. But the truth of the matter is that, when I look at who I was called to be, I wasn’t good enough. In fact, none of us are. No matter how excellent our lives, no matter how selfless or generous or compassionate we are, we can never measure up to the standards that are set for us. At some point, whether it is six days or six years or sixty years, we will fall short.

I wish had been a different kind of leader. I wish I had spoken up more when I saw people being pushed to the margins. I wish I spoke up for myself when I felt like the ministry at TCC was being sabotaged. I wish I had been more loving, more grateful, and more secure in myself. That’s why I like the imagery of being a Pilgrim. Not the people who landed on Plymouth Rock, but a pilgrim in the sense of a wanderer or a person on a journey. Christians are like temporary residents or exiles. There is little we can know for sure about how our faith journeys will turn out, except that we will be loved and forgiven when we allow God in. As much as we might like to think otherwise, life in church can be a messy, turbulent, disorienting walk. We would do well to be gentle with one another and with ourselves, as we are trying to figure it all out as we go along. There are no guarantees as to how the decisions we make as individuals of faith or as a community of faith will turn out. Some may succeed spectacularly, some may fail spectacularly. And it’s all OK. We can let go of the ways we try to keep ourselves safe, and mistake-free, and secure. We can let go of the times we have felt scared, and let something sacred emerge.

Although I feel like I have not been good enough, I want you to know that you are good enough, as individuals and as a congregation. We’ve had our ups and downs together, our successes and our failures, our times of great faith and times of great doubt, but in the end, I can say with confidence that you are good enough. Not because of anything you have done, but because of what I’ve seen God do through you. And I can say that because I’ve heard your stories. Over these past 6 ½ years, I’ve had the honor of listening to your stories and being a part of them. I’ve been invited into your homes. I’ve sat across lunch tables with you. I’ve talked with you on the phone. I’ve exchanged emails with you. And I’ve been listening to your stories.

So I want to encourage you today to keep telling your stories. You see those doors in the back of the sanctuary? There will be people coming through those doors who don’t know your stories, including your next minister. They need to hear your stories, not only because they are your stories, not only because they are these this church’s stories, they are God’s stories. And when you when you speak them out loud, when you give voice to them, you become who God created you to be. And I when I tell my story, you will have a special place in it.

All of us are figuring this faith out as we go along. The Bible does not offer us prescriptions for every circumstance in this life, other than the call to love our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves. What that looks like in day to day life, as we’re traveling through this pilgrim land, is up to us to figure out. So hear now these words from the great theologian . . . Dolly Parton.
Like the poor wayfaring stranger that they speak about in song
I'm just a weary pilgrim trying to find my own way home
Oh Jesus if you're out there, keep me ever close to you
As I'm travelin', travelin', travelin', as I'm travelin' through.
She sings about stumblin’, tumblin’, wonderin’ as we’re traveling through. Because it isn’t easy, but it is life, and in the midst of all the stumbling and tumbling and wondering and traveling, in the midst of all our risks and straying, and falling, we can trust in the God who abides with us as we figure it out.

And now, this chapter comes to an end. I have had several people say, “I’m not going to say ‘goodbye’ because that just sounds so final.” Yes, it does and yes, it is. But not when you consider what it really means. The word “goodbye” is a contracted form of the phrase, “God be with you.” To say “goodbye” is to entrust someone to God’s care once he or she is no longer in your presence. In the Christian lexicon, there’s a word that carries with it some of the same meanings. It’s a word we use a lot when we pray: “Amen.” Amen means “right on” or “let it be so.” It’s the exclamation point at the end of sentence that affirms the truth of what’s been said and hands it over to God.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that I don’t end my sermons with an “Amen” as a lot of pastors do. I believe a sermon should only be the beginning of the conversation, not the end of it. “Don’t put a period where God wants to put a comma.” In other words, ending a sermon with “Amen” is like saying, “And that’s all there is to say about that.” I don’t believe that’s true, so I rarely say “Amen” at the end of a sermon.

But this sermon is a little different, because in some ways it IS the end of the conversation, at the least one between you and me. We are putting the punctuation on the end of the sentence at the end of the paragraph at the end of the chapter, a chapter that I humbly pray was “good enough.”

It feels like there’s still so much more to be done and so much we have left undone, but we’ll just have to turn that over to God and trust that the dialogue will be picked up by your next conversation partner. I can’t wait to hear what stories are written in your future. And until that happens, I am able to say with confidence, trust, faith and so much love, goodbye and Amen.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sermon for February 13, 2011

A Letter From Home

Here's the latest from Aunt Georgia. She is not good at typing -- I did not correct her typos. Enjoy. --mbb

Dear Matt,

Had an ice storm here on the hill last night. The trees are all covered up with frozen water droplets, shimmerin’ in the sunlight. Branches sway and crack in the soft breeze, makin’ a lovely high-pitched chime. HA! Sound like a poet, don’t I? Just call me the Emily Dickinson of the Ozarks.

Actually, I’ve been feelin’ my age lately, and that just will not do. I’m carryin’ more poundage than I should. Think large stuffed Christmas goose. And the lunchtime Skoal habit’s not exactly contributin’ to my general well bein’. I bit the bullet and made an appointment with my doctor, better known as the Angel of Death. My appointment was for 2:10 p.m. I showed up at two o’clock on the dot. Docs got a receptionist that looks like Bernadette Peters in The Longest Yard, right down to the beehive hair-do. I’ve had the same doctor for over a decade and yet she can never remember my name. I told her who I was and that I had a 2:10 appointment. She glanced at her appointment calendar and then told me that the doctor was runnin’ a little late and I would have to wait. just HOW late? She informed me that the doctor was behind on his rounds and it would be an hour wait, maybe more. I can usually keep calm in most situations, but I could hear the sound of rushin’ wind buildin’ inside my head as I thought of sittin’ there for an hour. I mean, how many times can you watch that condescendin' educational tape about the beauty of cruciferous vegetables? I figured if I had that much time I could put it to good use and get some errands done while the doctor made his way across town. I told Bernadette I’d be back in about an hour. This is about where Bernadette turned things mean. She told me if I left I would be charged for a missed appointment and would have to re-schedule. That’s office policy. The wind in my head became like a tornado. I said, ‘So if I leave while the doctor isn’t here and come back when he is here I will still be charged and not get to see him even then? That makes no sense.’

‘It’s office policy.’ she said. ‘And you are holdin’ up the line.’ I turned around and tried not to flinch, but I think I made a noise like someone had stepped on a baby chick. Standin’ there was Bea Jimson’s husband, Woodchuck, wearin’ a t-shirt that said, “Come to the Dark Side, We Have Cookies.” He looked like someone had stretched a baby shirt over a small haystack, balanced on a pillar of red sweat pants and flip-flops made from recycled tires. He had the 2:15. I told him the doctor wasn’t here and he said that was OK with him. ‘I seen a new People Magazine over there I haven’t read yet.’ Woodchuck moved his lips as he read the pictures. I heaved a mighty sigh and did what any red blooded woman would do. I sat down and waited. So remember…bend your knees and eat your Brussels sprouts.

Do you remember Sunny Clobberhouse? Her real name is Sunshine. She always acts like the whole world is puttin’ her down with their eyes. She comes over to the farm every now and again, and we watch the TV stories together in the afternoon. The other day, Sunny forced me into shoppin’ at the mall in Chigger Falls. She even promised to buy lunch. Doc said I could use more exercise, so I decided to go with Sunny an her mall romp.

While hikin’ through the Chigger Falls Shoppin’ Towne, Sunny insisted on goin’ to the makeup counter at Deek Willises’ Ozark Couture and Farm Supply Store. She knows an old lady like me don’t want a makeover. But when I mustered a fuss, Sunny just gave me a once over -- the kind of squinty-eyed nod she thinks everyone else squints at her, and she said, “Li’l paint on that old barn wouldn’t hurt ya’ ‘tall, Georgia.” I could tell Sunny was lookin’ for trouble. She wuz wearin’ a red T-shirt that had the word “Fresh” printed in sequins across her grandmotherly bosom (What’s with all the tight shirts, these days?). Fresh can mean a couple-a things. The positive type of "fresh" is what you really want a good head of lettuce to be. The not-so-positive type of "fresh" is when Bea Jimson’s husband Woodchuck ogles you in Doc’s waitin’ room. Another renderin’ of "fresh" could be a woman who’s sassy and ready to party until the money runs out. This ain't exactly the mental picture one wants of Sunshine Clobberhouse.

Our trip to town started tumblin’ downhill when I ignored a few of my own hard and fast rules about makeovers (namely the ones about ignorin’ advice from a saleswoman who has done on purpose turned herself tangerine, and the one about women willin’ly wearin’ black lip liner in the middle of the day havin’ no business with their hands near my face). Despite my misgivin’s, I sat in the makeover chair for Sunny. I have to say, the makeup girl was a heavy hand with the pancake. Rubbin’ powders from my collarbone to my widow’s peak, she muttered somethin’ about spackle in crevices and how she’s talented with foundation, but she’s not a miracle worker. The stuff on my brow-bones was, I kid you not, an inch thick! She used so many products on my face, the whole thing started slippin’ down from sheer weight. She caked more and more and more powder over the top to keep the "look" in place. When she was done, she spun me around made me look at all the razzle dazzle in the mirror. I looked, and I tell you the truth, like the picture in the People Magazine of Micky Rourke after his most recent faceclift. It was a truly terrifyin’ face full of slap that made me look like a greasepaint addict on a bronzer binge. And she was so proud of her work! I tried to tell her nice that this wasn’t the look I was going for. I’m more the mu-mu-wearin’, Home Shoppin’ Network kind of lady. The “Red Hot Granny from Chigger Falls” look isn’t for me. The "artist" was insulted. She yelled at me for not recognizin’ a professional and refused to chisel the makeup off. Took me seven washin’s in the ladies room to get that crud off my face. I’m sorry I ever gave that woman a tip.

I think people are tryin’ to irritate me on purpose. As I get older, I try not to get upset anymore. I want to laugh stuff off, but it aint easy. Like Sunny’s idea of lunch after our makeover. She drove over to Big Molly’s Pizza Cavalcade. Big Molly’s is a buffet-style franchise that never really made it out of the Chigger Falls area. Their claim to fame is the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza pie. The weird thing is it’s not really that bad. If you play your cards right you can go to Big Molly’s late in the day, eat like an off-season sumo wrestler, and have your food needs covered for about three days. Nobody can figure out exactly how the food is so cheap. The explanation I like the best is the “angry sauce” theory. Red’s wife Adelaide realized that every time she ate at Big Molly’s, she would suddenly turn angry for no reason. One bite turned her into a she-devil. She speculated that Big Molly’s was actually operated by Satan, and the reason that the food was so cheap was because Satan wanted to distribute his angry sauce and turn people against one another. She never ate there again. Satan or not, no one’s stoppin’ me from eatin’ a $2.99 pie!

So there we were at Big Molly’s Pizza Cavalcade. It took Sunny a half our to find a spot. She just kept circlin’ ‘round the lot, waitin’ for people to leave. There were plenty of spots, mind you. It’s just that she wanted the spot right next to the handicapped lane near the front door. On her last lap, she saw the perfect opportunity. But just as she turned the corner, someone else pulled into it first. I told Sunny, “If you hadn’t spent 30 minutes drivin’ around the parkin’ lot waitin’ for that piece of prime real estate we could have already eaten and been on our merry way.” Besides if you would walk a little every now and then you wouldn’t have to park so close so as to avoid a heart attack from too much exercise, you lazy harpy. I didn’t say that second part. I just thought it -- indicatin’ that I was reachin’ my breakin’ point. Sunny parked the car and stomped inside to order her food. By the time I got my things together and made it into Big Molly’s, Sunny was at the counter havin’ a screamin’ spell ‘bout how she ordered the double cheeseburger pizza, not the quarter pound deluxe beef pie with cheese. The terrified teenager behind the counter was doin’ everything possible to fix the situation, but there was no stoppin’ this train wreck. Sunny wanted justice. What she got was a cryin’ teenager who was really startin’ to wind up. This poor girl wuz heavin’ and makin' awkward sounds, even though she was tryin’ real hard to keep silent), and she started leakin’ tears from every openin’ on her face from her hairline to her chin.

Watchin’ that teenager clabber before us got Sunny even angrier. “Jez cuz yer feelin’s’r mussed up, don’t ‘spect me to go outta my way to be nice to ya. I never liked ya’ in the first place. Actually I am thoroughly enjoyin’ your personal welcome to the real world.”

That’s Sunny for you. She’s anything but Sunny when she’s been set off. Sunny’s not int’rested in mercy. She’s all ‘bout gettin’ justice. Pastor Sanford at the Jerico Springs Progressive Church of the Ozarks was sermonizin’ about this a few weeks ago. He asked us, “When someone makes a mistake, do you want justice or mercy? How about when YOU make a mistake . . . then do you want justice or mercy?”

The way I figure, we got two different ways we can act when we bend outta shape. There’s Lightin’ Mode and Lovin’ Mode. Lightnin’ Mode is where we desire swift and sure justice when we’ve been offended. If we were in charge of makin’ things right, we might shoot off a lightnin’ bolt to emphasize the point! That’s how I felt at the doctor’s office. If I could have shot a bolt of electricity at Bernadette Peter’s evil twin, or at Woodchuck, I wouldn’t’ve thought twice about it. From what I saw of Sunny at Big Molly’s, she would have done the same thing. She sent off a few verbal lightin’ bolts, that’s for sure.

Lovin’ Mode is where we flirt with the idea of why the person did what they did. We don’t just assume that it was intentional or mean spirited. Maybe was merely an oversight or they had other things on their mind. Maybe they’re inept or incapable.

Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea . . . until they have something to forgive. Here’s the thing, when it comes to our forgivin’ others, we can’t seem to imagine that God would expect us to show the same level of patience with others as God does with us. Many good people think that forgivin’ your enemies means calculatin’ out that they are really not so bad after all, when it’s quite plain that they are bad people, plain and simple. I remember Christian teachers tellin’ me long ago that I must hate a bad person’s actions, but not hate the bad person. Or as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. For a long time I used to think this is silly, straw-splittin’. How can you hate what a person does and not hate the actual person? One day it occurred to me that there’s one person who I had been doin’ this for all my life – namely myself. Even when I don’t like my own cowardice or selfishness, I go on lovin’ myself. Never think twice about it. If I can do it for myself, maybe I can do it for others, too.

Makes me think of Floyd Lincoln Tribbit. ‘Cause of his hygiene philosophies, Floyd led a very lonesome life. He spent the bulk of his days makin’ fishin’ lures and starin’ at a wall picture of Richard Nixon, the only art he owned. He missed his friends, who didn’t come ‘round anymore. And he missed his beloved wife Nettie, who died years ago. Floyd cried every day, and his tears smelled like cabbage. Approximately once every three to four months, when the loneliness grew as unbearable as an Olsen Twins movie, Floyd would walk out his back door and calmly set fire to his tool shed. Then he’d return to his house and begin preparin for visitors. He’d cut a big hunk of Velveeta and fill a bowl with somethin’ crunchy, usually saltines or pudding. And when he was sure that the shed wasn’t goin’ out, he’d call the fire department and wait for his company to arrive. The fire department and most of the town knew of Floyd’s questionable way of invitin’ company over. While they didn’t exactly approve, they didn’t take steps to stop it neither. Most had a deep-seated pity for Ol’ Floyd and could tolerate his actions. Besides, by allowin’ him to pull such stunts, it erased some of the guilt they felt for lettin’ him suffer up on that hill all alone.

I get it. You don’t love the behavior, but you love the person. The firefighters wouldn’t call it love, of course. They’re too manly for all that. Call it love. Call it fondness. Call it bein’ a good neighbor. The point is, the fire fighters would put out the blaze in the tool shed and then spend a couple hours chattin’ away with Floyd, careful not to let on they knew his secret. It’s ‘bout respect, and treatin’ people like you want to be treated. I’m talkin’ love, and forgiveness, and rememerin’ you don’t always have it all together. Nobody does.

There I go preachin’ again. Writin’ to you always gets me sermonizin’. By the way, The double cheeseburger pie at Big Molly’s was halfway decent. I just ate some of the leftovers. And you know what, I’m sittin’ here, two hours later, angry as a cut snake for no reason. Satan’s angry sauce got me again.

Much love,
Aunt Georgia

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sermon for January 30, 2011

Sorry for the hiatus -- you, my faithful reader. Here is the latest. --mbb

The Patience of a Great God

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen. Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. 1 Timothy 1:12-18

Every day brings us an array of things that try our patience. Mom’s, you know what I’m talking about. You buy something that needs to be assembled and the instructions don’t make sense. You toss 16 socks into a clothes dryer and you get only 15 back. How about all those people who annoy us? Poky drivers in front of you when you are in a hurry. People who let their dogs bark all night. Or the person ahead of us in the 15-item express line at the supermarket who puts 19 items on the belt, chats with an incredibly slow checkout clerk, fishes for a checkbook only after everything has been rung up, and then wants to review the bill. Strangers try our patience in lots of little ways, but they’re no match for members of our own family. The prime cases of annoyance are domestic. “When two humans have lived together for a while,” says C. S. Lewis, “it usually happens that each has facial expressions and tones of voice that are almost unendurable to the other.” I think we understand. It’s not that your family member does anything wrong, exactly. It’s just that once in a while she lifts her eyebrows in a certain way that drives you nuts. It’s just that he whines even when he’s not complaining.

How about those people who do the same annoying thing over and over again. They know it bothers you. They might even ask your forgiveness. But they just keep making the same mistakes.

But wait a minute. That describes all of us, doesn’t it – doing the same things over and over and over again . . . making the same mistakes all the time. Do you ever wonder if God gets tired of us–if God ever loses patience? Here is God, patiently trying to correct our behavior and help us grow up into the people we were created to be – and here we are, going our own ways, doing our own things, messing up, asking forgiveness, and then repeating the same old sins. In my own life, I rarely need to invent new sins. I just keep repeating the same old sins. At times I feel clumsy and foolish and useless. And at times I convince myself that there’s no way God could possibly forgive me again for the same things for which I’ve already asked forgiveness -- that just doesn’t make sense. I mean, eventually God has got to lose patience with me and just go ahead and give me a good whack upside the head. Right?

The Apostle Paul says no -- that’s not the case. God has unlimited patience. And no matter how many times we blow it, if we seek God’s forgiveness, God promises to forgive us again, and again, and again -- it’s unlimited.

Now let’s be clear. I’m not saying that God doesn’t take our sin seriously. Sin is deadly serious. And I am not saying that God doesn’t have standards. God clearly calls us to live lives that conform to the values of the Kingdom. There are real consequences in our lives when we disobey the standards that God has set in place. Our sin matters to God and brings pain and brokenness to our lives. But our sins, no matter how often repeated, can never come between us and the forgiveness offered in Jesus Christ -- because God has unlimited patience for you and for me.

Maybe you think your sin is too great for God to forgive. Paul certainly could have thought that. Listen to how he describes himself, a blasphemer, a persecutor -- a violent man. And then, just to make sure you understand just what a really lousy person he is, he calls himself the “worst of sinners.”

I bet you could come up with a list of sins in your own mind.
• You’ve let emotions like anger or selfishness or a judgmental spirit enter into your relationships.
• Or, you’re trapped in a cycle of addiction that you can’t seem to overcome and you feel like a failure.
• Or, you’re involved in a relationship that you know is destructive to you and your family.
• Or, you’ve taken some shortcuts at work or at home that you know aren’t ethical.
• Or, you’ve drifted away from God and you really don’t have a whole lot of desire to find your way back.

You’ve got your list, I have mine. Maybe you are thinking, “Worst of sinners? -- yeah, I know something about being the worst of sinners, and there is just no way God could possibly forgive the worst of sinners. There is no way God could ever forgive me for the things I’ve done.”

Notice Paul doesn’t say I “was” the worst of sinners. He says, “I AM” the worst of sinners, -- present tense. I am the worst of sinners, but here’s the good news -- that’s why Jesus Christ came into the world. Jesus Christ came to save sinners like Paul and sinners like you and sinners like me. And there is no sin that you or I could possibly commit that would be so great that it would exceed God’s unlimited patience and capacity to forgive.

There are some of us who have trouble with this idea of God’s unlimited patience because we think that God’s capacity to forgive is too small. And maybe we do that because we compare God’s capacity to offer forgiveness with our own ... and again, that’s just wrong thinking. God isn’t reluctant to forgive us -- God delights in forgiving us. God forgives all our sins, no matter how little and no matter how big.

Despite our mistakes, despite our pride and self-sufficiency, despite the times we turn away from God -- our sins aren’t too big for God to handle. God doesn’t put conditions on forgiveness. When we make the same mistakes over and over again, it doesn’t max out God’s patience.

And so Paul writes to Timothy:
I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life. (1 Timothy 1: 16) And here is where the story comes home to you and to me. It’s as if Paul is saying:
If you don’t believe anything else, believe this: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof -- Public Sinner Number One. I never could have made it apart from the love and grace of Jesus. And now God shows me off -- as evidence of endless patience. I am an example for those who are right on the edge of trusting God forever.
And maybe that describes some of us here today. Maybe we are right on the edge of trusting Jesus Christ forever and all we need to do is receive the grace and forgiveness that He freely offers.

Some of us are sitting here today and we know that we really are the worst of sinners ... and maybe we believe our sins to be too big or God’s forgiveness too small -- and we’ve never received the unlimited gift of love He offers. God’s gift is ours. We only need to turn to God and accept it. I don’t know what you’ve brought here with you today -- what sins are on your list or on your mind and heart. But I do know this: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. And so let me invite you, as we close in prayer, to take a few moments of silence, and in those moments, I invite you to come to God -- to turn to Jesus Christ and lay all your failures and all your mistakes and all your sins before Him. God really does have unlimited patience. God delights in pouring out love and grace and forgiveness on the worst of sinners -- like you and like me.

Sermon for December 9, 2018 | Advet 2

The Journey: Preparing the Way In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and ...