Sunday, May 23, 2010

What's It All About?

During Pastor Brad's warm greeting we were reminded of the challenge of sharing our faith with unbelieving friends and relatives. This theme was underlined in the message today which was delivered by Leonard, who served as Guest Speaker.

Today is Pentecost Sunday, a significant day marking the birth of the church. If you are a Christ follower, you have His presence and power with you, Brad affirmed.

Announcements included a reminder from Brooke of our upcoming Vacation Bible School, June 14-18 at Twig Town Hall. And guess what! This year you can register online.

Gail made several announcements as well. (1) We're collecting Bibles to give away. If you have unused Bibles please bring them to the church next week. (2) We have enough people for the Blood Drive to come to our church. Please do let us know if you would like to be added to the list. (3) We still need helpers for the rummage sale. Please see Gail or Paula.

The Quartet graced us with their wonderful music today. Chuck began by reading from Psalm 24, which served as an excellent lead in for "Your First Day In Heaven." We were all invited to participate in "Worthy of Worship." This was followed by the offering and "Heaven On My Mind" which never fails to raise our spirits.

Pastor Brad read for us from that most powerful passage Acts 2:1-21, which was followed by a time of prayer. Leonard then took the podium and presented today's message with his inimitable style.

What's It All About?

Leonard began by telling a story about Castro giving a speech for seven hours, and that everyone paid attention because there were dire consequences for falling asleep during a Castro speech. Leonard used the anecdote to imply that it would be nice to have several hours to make the many points he wished to make, but there would be no dire consequences for us if we failed to stay in the game. For certain, the message today was simultaneously entertaining and substantive.

This introduction was followed by a brief commentary on Neil Young's career. Young famously quit the rock group he was part of called Buffalo Springfield just before they appeared on the Johnny Carson Show. Evidently this became a pattern, as he was joined Crosby, Stills and Nash, then later left to do his solo material and assembled yet other groups. When asked about that first bailout with Buffalo Springfield, "Hey Neil, what was that all about?"... he replied, "It's about the music."

For Christians, the question is appropriate: What's it all about? Only the answer is different, and today's sermon took us there.

Leonard began by reading from John 16:5-16 where Jesus talks about the coming of the Spirit. The events which followed included the crucifixion, his death and resurrection, a period of forty days and then His ascension. A short time after came Pentecost.

We were then escorted into the Old Testament to gain some important insights from the Book of Job pertaining to today's theme. Leonard first read Job 32:1-22.

In order to properly discuss the passage here cited, Leonard provided an overview for us of Job's story. Job was the wealthiest man of his time and godly. Satan approached God and said that Job was only good because his circumstances were good. God, therefore, allowed Satan to bring damage to Job's fortunes. His children were all killed in an accident while partying. His livestock was decimated in various ways. Still, Job did not falter in his faith.

At this point, Satan made an appeal to go further still, bringing personal suffering to Job's body itself. God permitted this and Job ended up covered with sores and sitting in ashes.

It came about that Job's friends came to Job to help if they could. Leonard noted that they must be Scandinavians because they came over to where he was but didn't say anything for seven days. Finally, one by one three of the men spoke. Instead of bringing comfort, they condemned Job. He must have been bad or this wouldn't have happened, they concluded. Job's reactions were self-righteous on the other hand.

Finally, in chapter 32 the young man Elihu spoke. He was young and brash, but he was right. Job's friends were certainly earnest, and the things they say here even sounded fine... but were not.

The challenge is this: How do we know what to say, and when?

The Book of Job is very much like a trial. The friends accuse, Job defends himself. Back and forth it goes. We've all given these windy windbag speeches at one time or another (like those here in Job.) Who of us has not said cruel or mean or unkind things... or simply been wrong.

Finally Elihu, who had expected wisdom from his elders, has to speak because the Spirit is burning in his heart. And here, Leonard affirmed, is what it's all about:

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

The role of the Holy Spirit is to help us know this and understand this truth. It's the only thing we really, really need to know.

No comments: