Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sermon for March 13, 2016 / Lent V


How many times have we heard it? All you need is love! Love makes the world go ‘round! Love is a wonderful thing! Love will find a way! If we just have love enough, everything will be OK! Really? SUPER! Now on to reality. I’ve met people who live their lives believing no one loves them. They think, “Nobody understands me. Nobody cares about my pain. No one cares if I live or die.” Even in marriages and partnerships, we can feel like the one we love no longer understands us. I think of a couple I once knew, let’s call them “Mark and Jonathan.” Mark and Jonathan fell in love after college. Their eyes sparkled for each other. Their steps were light. They felt that unique, special attraction for each other. They lived together as partners, believing they would forever supply each other with a permanent sense of self-worth. As time went on, Mark expected B Jonathan eth to be as accepting and forgiving as he was when they were dating. Jonathan expected the same from Mark. The sparkle dimmed. They began to feel disillusioned, even betrayed by one another. They replaced affirmation with sarcasm and ridicule. They each expected unconditional love and selflessness from the other, and each failure to do so was another brick in the growing wall between them. Although they have shared many years together, they experience very little real love.

In some ways we are all frustrated lovers, wanting to be understood but feeling alone. We want to love and be loved, but we can feel incompetent, inadequate and insecure. Some will say, “If I can only do something to make myself more likeable or desirable . . . if only I can be successful . . . if only I can make myself more beautiful . . . if only I can be more self-sacrificing to serve another, THEN all our relationship problems will be solved.” We know all about imperfect love. We have examples all around us. Today, we are going to look at an example of different kind of love in the story we just heard from John’s gospel.

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-18

Jesus reclines at a table. He’s at dinner with Lazarus – one of Jesus’ best friends. In the previous chapter of John Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. That’s a big deal. Time for a party.  In comes Mary, one of Lazarus’ sisters. She has a reputation for doting on Jesus all the time while the other sister, Martha, is working away in the kitchen. When Mary sees Jesus, she follows a common practice of the lower servant class, not only washing Jesus’ feet which are dusty from walking with sandals on dirt roads, but washing them with her perfume and drying them with her hair. The way John tells the story, Jesus realizes it is  a way to prepare his body for burial. A dead body is surrounded with spices and perfumes when it’s buried in a hot Mediterranean tomb. But there is more to the story. Mary also pours this perfume out of sheer devotion. In Jesus’ time, a women would not unbind her hair, let it fly, and use it as a towel. Mary didn’t really care what others thought. She needed to share her love. It reminds me of when two people are captivated with each other–they are in a world of their own. They rejoice that the world sees their love. Or have you ever seen a child who is free and uninhibited? She just loves what she’s doing at that moment, no matter who is watching. That’s Mary. At that moment, it was only Mary and her love.

I do want us to be careful here. We should see some problems in a story where a woman subordinates herself to Jesus, as if being a woman is of secondary value to the community. We see a system in which women and men must remain divided by sexism, racism, economic injustices and imperialism. We still live in that system. We expect women, especially mothers, to be selfless saints who give up their dreams in order to fulfill the needs of others. Some men and dads are expected to do it, too, but it’s preached strongly to women. Often these goodly "saints" are revered by those whom they serve because of their caring ways.  What better way to promote this useful servitude than by continually commending self-sacrificers as "moral," "saintly," "devoted," and "virtuous"?

It turns out, people who act out of selfless love may in be in danger of losing the very Self they ought to be developing. And, they may end up hurting the people for whom they care. Think about it. If a moral saint is spending all her time feeding the hungry, healing the sick, raising money for OXFAM, and packing peanut butter sandwiches for the homeless, then she’s not taking time to read a good book, go for a brisk walk, or enjoy the smell of warm wet earth after a passing Summer thunderstorm. If a moral saint is giving all of himself to save the world, he has no time to be an artist, or a good parent, or a skilled listener. There’s no chance for a truly selfless person to have the time or moral permission to develop the skills, talents and personalities that makes us interesting, well-rounded people.

Selfless behavior is immoral when it prevents you from knowing your own intrinsic and equal value as a human being. What kind of love asks you to discount your Self for the sake of the other? What kind of love asks you to deny your needs? Where’s the mutuality? Where’s the trust? Is that what Jesus wants from the woman who washes his feet? Is this the kind of love God wants from us? Selfless love?  No! There is no such thing. Everyone wants to be desired. Everyone wants to feel needed. Selfless love may seem ideal, but it eventually denies partners what they need—to be desired and needed as equals.

I know plenty of people who give selflessly of themselves and feel rejected by those they love. What kind of love is that? As long as we feel rejected, we cannot love fully.

I know people who have been manipulated by others in the name of serving God. If God appears to us as an unhappy recipient of selfless love who gives according pleasure and condemns according to wrath, we cannot love perfectly.

If we can be in touch with the true spirit of love, our imperfect relationships can change. Like Mary washing the feet of Jesus, we can share in a love so extravagant, so complete, so true, that once we feel it, we can’t stop sharing it.

I’ve been thinking about love in terms of another word: Namaste. Even though it is commonly used as a greeting, Namaste also expresses spiritual meaning. Namaste means “the divine in me blesses and honors the divine in you.” It’s love in action. Imagine a seemingly subservient woman who mimics a woman of ill-repute washing the feet of Jesus as a servant. Imagine the scandal. Imagine the shame. Imagine the system that perpetuates her posture. And imagine Jesus saying, “She has done nothing wrong. This nameless woman has shown love. The divine in her just blessed and honored the divine in me.” Imagine if WE could do this. Instead of discounting ourselves to bolster another, we could say, “Love is known when we give and take as equals. The divine in me blesses and honors the divine in you.”

I will be the first to admit, I am not skilled at showing this kind of love. I feel it all the time, but I have a hard time expressing it. Having a persona of selflessness can be an easy way to deflect love. If I can serve you, then I can hide my own discomfort with receiving love. So I want to tell you all about my own learning and my commitment about love in action.

Just like you, life has brought me pain. There are times when I’ve let down my guard and then felt like others took advantage of my vulnerability. 5 year ago, I came to CCC hurt by other churches, feeling disillusioned and betrayed. I told myself there was no way I was going to allow that to happen again. Those experiences reinforced a guarded exterior that does not show how I am really feeling inside. It has become such an automatic response, I don’t always know I’m doing it. I trained myself to be so emotionally non-responsive, I can forget that others need to experience a wider range of emotions.  I have something to receive from others as well as something to give.

Here’s what else I’m learning: I’m learning to allow what I honor as the divine in you to uncover and honor that which is divine in me. I am learning what it means to be mutually giving and receiving as a pastor and a congregation. And my sincere hope is that you are able to risk the same with me.

In the words of Fulton Sheen, love is a mutual self-giving which ends in self-recovery. It’s what God wants for all of our relationships. Love means that each and every one of us is created in the image of God, co-workers with God in struggling for the liberation of humanity and for a world order that respects each one’s dignity. God loves us so powerfully, and God wants to love another person or creature through us. That’s what I yearn for in my own life. It’s what I want for each of you. Healing power stirs us. We can love God. We can love our own being. We can love others from whom we are estranged. To love this love is to love God. And if you can love God, then you may also be able to accept Life and love that, too. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sermon for March 3, 3016

Interview with the Father
as recorded by Matt Braddock
presented on March 6, 2016

This morning I would like to present to you the transcript of an interview I had with the Father from the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. The interview took place a number of weeks ago in the outskirts of a town called Fons Argenteus. I have his full permission to offer his remarks to you this morning.

Matt: Sir, let me begin my thanking you for your willingness to grant me this interview.
Father:It’s my pleasure. Now that I’m getting a little older, I can take some time off from farm work now and then. I’ve got the boys to keep things running smoothly.
Matt:  So, both of your sons are home now. Last we heard about you there was a big party at your place when your youngest came home.
Father:  Yeah, that was some party. Not everyone enjoyed himself though, if you know what I mean. Anyway, that was years ago. The boys seem to have ironed their differences out a bit.
Matt: I never got your name, by the way. I don’t want to call you Dad.
Father: The name’s Alvin O’Heem. Just call me Al.
Matt:  Al O’Heem. Catchy name. Al, tell us what was really going on when your youngest son left home.
Father:  Oh, it seems so long ago now. He was about 20 years old. Not married yet. We had a nice family business here. I guess he just got sick of it all. You know how kids are. He wanted his share of the business–not an unusual request. I thought maybe he was going to take his money and go off to school or set himself up with his own business. The way we work it is like this: the law says that my oldest son gets 2/3 of the business when I die, and the youngest gets the remaining 1/3. But, once the son takes the money, he has no more legal claim. In other words, I gave my youngest his share, and it was just expected that he wouldn’t come back later and say, “Hey dad, how ‘bout takin’ me back in?” Once you take your share of the money it’s like cutting ties once and for all.[1]
Matt:   That’s interesting. He was just supposed to take his money and then do the best he could with no further expectations. Then, I understand, he squandered it and came running home. And then you took him back in.
Father: Well, the law says I can cut the ties. But he’s my son, you know. You should have seen him when he came home. You should have smelled him! His eyes were sunken inside dark black rings. His face was cadaverous. He smelled like a summer latrine. He was living worse than the animals on my farm.
Matt:   Did he tell you what he did with the money?
Father: I didn’t need the details. Like I said, I could smell him from a mile away and my imagination filled in the particulars. I guess it didn’t take him long to blow through the cash. Our country was going through a deep recession at the time. Stock options were plummeting. Inflation was high. Jobs were scarce. So, he landed a job feeding hogs. Can you believe it? Our law says that there is a curse upon a person who feeds pigs. We aren’t even supposed to touch them. He made himself unclean just to survive.
Matt:  Couldn’t he just take a shower?
Father: Funny! You know what I mean. In our customs, touching unclean animals makes us unclean. He wouldn’t have been able to worship in the temple. People would have to avoid him on the streets. The way he smelled, people would want to avoid him. He must have been lonely.
Matt:   And he came to his senses?
Father:  I guess so. I’m sure he felt bad over what he had done. I mean the boy had everything he needed, and he wasted it. He knew it, too. That’s the beginning of repentance, isn’t it?[2] You see what you’ve done see what a mess you can make out of your life, and turn around and walk home.
Matt:    So, you took him back. Weren’t you disappointed in him?
Father: I take no responsibility for what he did with his money. I gave him the freedom to do as he pleased with his share of the money. I was just so happy to have him home. I hadn’t heard from him for so long. I was sure he was dead. I remember sitting in my chair after lunch, looking over the books, and one of the servants came running up to me and said, “Mr. O’Heem, your son is home,” and I said flatly, “I thought he was out plowing in the fields. I didn’t know he went anywhere.” The servant was senseless with excitement and he said, “No, your youngest son, sir. He’s coming down the road right now.” I left my bookkeeping and looked out the window, and I just can’t tell you what I felt. You know how it feels when someone dies and once in a while you wish that person was right back at your side, but you know it’s not going to happen? Well, here was my wish coming true. All I remember is that I ran to him, and I was crying. I ran as fast as I could. When I got to him, my boy fell on his knees. He started mumbling about being sorry, and sinning against me, and shaming the family honor. And he wanted me to hire him as one of my servants.  I couldn’t stand it. I scooped that boy up, and threw my arms around him, and I held him in my arms and I kissed him and I said, “I don’t know what you’ve done. I don’t know where you’ve been, but all is forgiven. I thought you were dead, but you came back to me. Welcome home.” I had the servants clean him up and get him the best suit and shiniest shoes they could find and put them on him. We butchered the best stall-fed steer I had, and we had a party.
Matt:  Your oldest son wasn’t too happy about all this, was he?
Father: You heard about that, did you? I had a servant run out to the field and tell him that his brother had come home. Some time went by and I didn’t see him, so I went out to the barn. There was my oldest son sitting on a bail of hay with his fists on his cheeks, pouting. I said, “Son, aren’t you coming to the party?” He grumbled, “No, I’m not.” So I asked him, “Why not, Son?” And he said, “Listen here, Pa. All these years I’ve been here, and I’ve tried to be the perfect son. If you said, ‘Go plow the field,’ I did it. If you said, ‘Chop some wood,’ I chopped it. I went with you to worship every week. I got a badge for ten years of perfect attendance. I’ve been good to you here, and I just don’t understand how it could be when this creature, this son of yours, comes home, after wasting your money and living with harlots, you kill the fat calf for him.” I didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t even refer to his brother by name. He called him “this son of yours.”[3] I could smell contempt as he hissed those words.
Matt:   Where did this business about harlots come from? You never said anything about your younger son running around with women.
Father: Well, that’s just the thing. No one ever said anything about that. My oldest was so pathetic. All I can surmise is that my oldest son thought his brother was doing what he would have been doing if he had been out on his own. My oldest just gave himself away. By judging his brother he passed judgement on himself.
Matt:   It sounds like your oldest son was really the lost one.
Father:  You got it! It’s almost as if he was going through the motions of hard work and obedience to me, but in his mind he was the one wasting his life. Every time he went to the field, he was thinking about how much fun he could be having if he was in his brother’s shoes. Little did he know you don’t have to run away from home to waste what you’ve been given. So I told my oldest son, “You know, everything I have is yours. Don’t waste the gifts you have here right in front of you. Now that your brother is home, I can’t help but to rejoice. He was lost, and now he’s found. We thought he was dead and now he is alive.”[4]
Matt:   I’ve always wondered what happened after that. I mean, the version of the story we have leaves us hanging. Did your oldest son come to the party? Did he see your point? Or did he stay outside and sulk?
Father:  Well, that’s personal family business. I don’t really want to tell you that part. You will just have to draw your own conclusions.
Matt:   Let me ask you this, then. Did you love one son more than the other?
Father: I just love them. There is no quantity to it. I’m ready to give it out freely to both my sons. It’s their choice to accept it. I’ll tell you this, though, I was intensely concerned for my lost son. I had almost given up hope. I had decided long ago that if he ever came back to me, I would just wrap my arms around him and remind him how important he is to me. My oldest son, the uncompromising critic, well, I love him too. But he’s different. He’s respected. He’s smart. He knows how I like things done. He said it himself; he is faithful in worship and obedient to do everything I ask. Whatever he wants, he gets. The difference is this: I love that oldest son of mine so much, but he just doesn’t know it. He sees his brother as dirty and thriftless. And he thinks I’m at fault for being too quick to forgive and accept. My oldest just doesn’t see that I offer the same to him. If only he could stop looking down at others and take a hard look at what he really needs. He’s just as lost, but he can’t see it.
Matt:   Al, part of what I hear you saying is that some people work so hard at being perfect that they forget what’s really important.
Father: You could say that.
Matt:  Do you have any advice for my listeners based on your experiences? Some strategies or techniques would be really helpful here.
Father:  That would be nice! However, you’re not going to get techniques from me. I’m not going to give you your three-point sermon outline this week, pastor. All I can tell you is what I’ve experienced as a father. If you focus on the how-to’s all the time, you’re going to miss out on what’s really important. You will be like my oldest son -- so worried about doing it right that you forget what you’re doing it for.  What’s most important is your growth and becoming the person God made you to be. For some reason my youngest son got it, and my oldest[5] son–well, he didn’t.
Matt:  Al, did you ever meet Jesus?
Father:  Yeah, he stopped by the farm to shoot the breeze a few times. A nice guy, the Rabbi. Has quite a bunch of guys following him around. He makes you a little uncomfortable sometimes, but that’s not all bad. I suppose that’s you how grow. Yeah, I told him about my sons, and he said he could use my story. He said something about the Pharisees who were getting all riled up about him eating with unclean, despicable sinners. It doesn’t seem to me that the Rabbi saw folks that way. It seems he was just trying to get people who called themselves spiritual to really act that way. But do you know what? That guy just loved everyone, no matter what. I can understand that! It’s a shame he had to die the way he did. Once in a while I hear a rumor that the Rabbi was crucified because he spoke in parables. Challenge can make people angry or scared. People love answers, you know.[6]
Matt:       I do know. I’m one of them. Well, Al, thanks for your time. I think people will really appreciate what you have to say.
Father:   Yeah, I’d love to talk to you all day, but we’ve got some work to do.

[1]Clarence Jordan and Bill Lane Doulos, Cotton Patch Parables of Liberation (Scottdale: Herald, 2001), 54-55.
[2]Joseph A. Fitzmeyer, Luke XX-XXIV, AB (New York: Doubleday, 1985), 1085.
[3]Jordan, 55.
[4]Jordan, 56.
[5]Edwin H. Friedman DD, “An Interview with the First Family Counselor” (Bethesda: Friedman, 1994), 12.
[6]Friedman, 21.

Sermon for February 21, 2016

“Being, Doing, Relating”

“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” Luke 6:46-49

A few days ago, I was talking with someone about the worst job I ever had. I paid my way through seminary by fixing boat propellers at a shop in South Boston. It was hard work. In those days, to fix a bent propeller blade, one worker would hit it with a sledge hammer while another worker held the prop against a cast iron pitching block. Guess who had to hold the prop in place for the guy with the hammers. It was a backbreaking, dirty, painful job, with a lot of sore fingers.

It could be worse! British man Jon Hanson had what he describes as the worst job in his entire life: quality control on cat food. He described several tests he had to perform. Test 1: Bury face in a huge tub of cat food and sniff it to make sure it's fresh. Test 2: Plunge arms in it up to the elbows and grope for bony bits and take them out. Test 3: Scoop up huge dollop of it, smear it flat on surface and prod it with fingers to test how much gristle is there. Uggghh!

Some jobs are obsolete now. Some of you may remember when there were icemen and milkmen who delivered goods to your doorstep. Today, less than half of one percent got milk deliveries.

Remember switchboard operators? Switchboard operators used a "cord board" to connect callers by plugging incoming lines and metal pegs into the corresponding hole on the board to connect with the correct caller. Long-distance callers were routed through operators, but with only a limited number of lines. If all circuits were busy, operators took the caller's number and called them back when a line was available. Now, with the advancement mobile phones and long-distance plans, there are fewer operators. Now we have customer service representatives.

Even show business is hitting a professional slump. Thanks to reality TV, talented actors are becoming unnecessary. These days, if you can launch your acting career and rise to success quickly, you must try to fizzle out quickly so that you are eligible to participate in the next season of “Kickboxing with the Stars.” Film actors are in equal jeopardy. As digital animation gets better, humans will be replicated on screen with computer generated animation. It won’t be long until studio execs realize that a digital version of Angelina Jolie, slightly altered for legal purposes, will work for free. Not only that, but CyberAngelina won’t have weird demands, like a dressing room scented with gardenia and 2 liters of organic Peruvian yak’s milk.

There’s another job in a slump: The work of the Church. Across the country, congregations of all sizes and denominations are struggling with issues of faith and finance as the tough economy grinds on. Churches scour their budgets for wasteful spending. While the collection plates no longer overflow, churches see an increase in requests for support. In the past, houses of worship did OK during recessions, even as other institutions struggled. But the magnitude of the last financial meltdown still affects places of worship. Eight years after the sub-prime mortgage crisis, many churches are putting plans like  mission spending, staff hiring, and construction projects on hold in order to balancing the budget.

Churches are not known for their ability to adapt to change. While the world around us transforms at lightning-fast speeds, churches are often satisfied to maintain traditions. The expectation is that churches don’t need to change. Churches expect others to change when they walk in our doors. We like to think of ourselves as a safe haven from the world around us. A place of timeless tradition. A place of peace. A place where the novelties around us are kept at bay.

It sounds good, but in reality, it doesn’t work. To upcoming generations, our obsolete attitudes can sound grumpy and irrelevant. Kind of like my Mémé. As a kid, I had a 100-year-old great grandmother. We called her Mémé. I remember her knitting while watching professional wrestling on TV and sucking on root beer barrel candies. And her way of showing love by yelling at you until you cried. She lived in the basement of my grandparent’s house, and I was afraid of her. All were afraid of her. Mémé had an anxiety-inducing presence. The worst words one could ever hear was, “Matt, please take this to Mémé’s room,” as my grandmother handed me a tuna fish sandwich for delivery to my great-grandmother’s lair. If I heard those words, a chill would run down my spine. It was easier to avoid her.

Sometimes I wonder if the churches are becoming Mémé to a new generation. Are churches seen as old-fashioned, mean-spirited, rigid or fearful places that are best avoided? To play a role in American life, to do our part in the renewal of American Christianity, mainline churches like Christ Congregational Church need to ask ourselves if we’ve lost the ability to inspire new generations with the gospel of God’s love.

I have heard some culture watchers say that the Church is a generation away from extinction. The first time I read that, my knee-jerk reaction was denial. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. This can’t be! The Church is forever.” As I thought about it some more, I began to see the power of these words. God is forever. Jesus left the future of the Church in our hands. The future of our faith depends on our ability to pass it on.

Some churches see their context and decide that they need a new way to BE. Instead of opening their doors and expecting people to come to them, some churches have decided to take church to the people. I’m talking about traditional, protestant churches like ours. They realize that they have a God-sized task: to bring God’s good news to the next generations. To use Jesus’ metaphor from Luke’s gospel, these churches are building a house on a solid foundation. They seek to do God’s will in the world by looking outward and practicing their faith in a public way. They build a firm foundation by carrying out the teachings of Christ.

Other churches build themselves on shakier footings. Some churches think the solution to the shifting sands around them is to get more people to do more stuff. They focus on getting people to serve on church boards. They think that if more people serve as part of the governance of the church, if more people understood what it takes to keep the place going, the church will become a solid, healthy organization. Sometimes this strategy works. Many times it does not. Some people find meaning serving on church boards. Others face burnout, sabotage, and frustration. Some people serve the church with energy and love. Others are turned off when it seems that church members are protecting their interests. They ask, “Where’s the common goal? What’s the God-sized task? What’s our God-sized vision?”

Here is a good indication that you are serving the church for the wrong reasons. If you are doing something out of guilt, then you are spending your energy in the wrong place. If you are doing something because there's no one else to do the job, then you are spending your energy in the wrong place. If you are doing something to please people or because you are afraid to say NO, then you are spending your energy in the wrong place. If you are doing something for power and prestige then you are spending your energy in the wrong place.

You can always tell when people are doing things for the wrong reasons. You can see it in their energy level. Just ask my kids. If I say to my kids, “Can you pick up your rooms and then come downstairs and drink a glass of milk and eat a plate of broccoli?” they move as slow as herd of snails traveling through peanut butter. Ask my kids to eat broccoli, and they suddenly lose their appetites. Five minutes ago, they were famished. Faced with a side dish of broccoli, they lose the will to live. While my kids are pushing their slimy broccoli around the plate, pretending to eat it, I will mess with their minds. “Who wants desert?” I’ll offer. Notice how the energy changes. Nothing feels better than broccoli amnesty! Now kids are laughing. Their appetites come back. There’s a party at the Braddock house. They have new hopes. New goals. New vision. It’s exciting and refreshing.

I know, I know, broccoli is good for you. I know, it’s the king of lo-carb veggies. It’s full of vitamin C and antioxidants and calcium. But I don’t know a lot of people who get excited when told, “Eat your broccoli. It’s good for you.” This sounds more like a threat. It sounds like something my Mémé would say to make me cry.

New times demand a different attitude from the church. No more boiled-over broccoli when we have the sweetness of God’s love to offer. We need a God-sized task. We need God-sized vision. We need God-sized energy. Energy is ours, not when we hoard our strength, but when we devote ourselves willingly and joyously toward living out the Good News. Faith and energy go hand in hand. If you have deep faith in what you are doing, you can move mountains. Energy is always highest when one’s cause is just.

Do you know what? This is actually a great time to be in the church! I refuse to let the Church to grow obsolete or extinct. How about you? Can we show others the love of God? Can we communicate the love of Christ to a world that’s waiting and hungry and starving to know God’s delicious presence? Will we use our energy, intelligence, imagination, and love to lead the church in this time of transition? Can we use our money to fulfill a God-sized task? In your own life, what keeps you from being all that God is calling you to be? What keeps our church from reaching out and communicating the love of Christ? These are in many ways hard times for the Christian church. But they can also be the best. The promise of the Scriptures says that no matter how difficult life is, God is good. Our good God has some good work for us to do, and the energy to do it.

Sermon for January 21, 2018

How Far Would You Go? 1 Samuel 17 I had a sermon all ready to go today. It was a NICE sermon. You would have felt really good about i...