Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Weird Gift

At the beginning of the service we were reminded that today was Pentecost Sunday and Mother’s Day, two important remembrances. The men of the church provided a special breakfast for Mom’s which was quite tasty, with both pork and buffalo sausages, waffles, French toast and strawberries. Yummm. Scroll down to see a few photos from our breakfast.

During the announcements Pastor Brad Shannon noted two graduations: Cheyenne MacGregor and Ryan Vanderscheuren were graduating from St. Scholastica this afternoon.

To open the service, the Quartet performed a medley consisting of “I Will Serve Thee,” “Freely, Freely,” and “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”

For the children’s message, Pearl and Ruth Anne shared a cute puppet show about the meaning of Mother’s Day.

The Gospel reading was from John 14:8-17 and the sermon titled A Weird Gift.

Pastor Brad began with a Corrie Ten Boom story about an old Russian woman who was suffering so badly with MS who was working on typing portions of the Bible and other significant books for her people during the days of the Iron Curtain. People felt bad for her because it was such a painstaking task, with such limited use of her one crippled hand, pecking keys with one finger. But she did not feel it bad to have this illness. Because she was an invalid, the Russian police did not bother her and she was able to accomplish more. Throughout the process she prayed for those who would read these pages.

Paul the Apostle wrote that God is revealed in our weakness. It’s not our intellect, our power, our strength… Christ’s strength is revealed in our weakness.

In II Corinthians 11 Paul shared how he had every reason to boast. He had the pedigree, the performance (achievements), had suffered more persecution, endured greater pressures, yet did not glory in any of these things. At one point Paul mentions being caught up into the third heaven, but this isn’t what he boasted about either.

Paul cites the thorn he had in his flesh, and that when he asked God to remove it, God said no. We learn more from our thorns, from hardship, than from our highs.

Pastor Brad shared a personal story of his time in Chicago when he was seeking work after seminary. He was hoping for something that would make him feel important, but God had other ideas, and he ultimately was cleaning toilets. Brad concluded this anecdote by saying, “Cleaning toilets taught me more than a ‘great job.’”

God’s grace is always sufficient…. just the right amount at the right time.

Another point Brad drew from the story of Paul’s thorn is that we often try to figure out the source of the thorn. Is this trouble from God or the devil?

Job tried to understand. Habukuk likewise sought to understand. Paul, likewise eventually had to learn the answer to this impossible question, which is, “I’m God and you’re not.”

Brad then read from a devotional written a hundred years ago by G.D. Watson called Others May, You Cannot

It’s a powerful truth. “I’m God and you’re not.” And when we understand this, it changes everything.

It’s the strangest gift… the Gift of Weakness.

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