Pastor Brad began by noting that he wasn't prepared to give a message this morning because he thought the world was ending yesterday. The congregation laughed as this was a fairly widespread story in the news this past week with a certain group predicting the rapture would occur on the 21st of May at 6:00 p.m.
The key thought for today's message was that gentleness is not an absence of power. Jesus was very powerful, but he is also gentle in His dealings with us.
Numerous announcements preceded the commencement of worship.
1) Summer hours begin next Sunday, Memorial Day weekend. Worship services will begin at 9:15.
2) There will again be a series of Breakfast Roundtable meetings beginning in June.
3) Dwayne Anderson thanked us for our support of the greenhouse business over the years. They were having a plant sale this weekend and the sales of all unsold inventory this afternoon would be donated to the building fund.
4) Bob Nading will help get your clunkers sold to raise money for the building fund. If you have an idle car that needs to be discarded, see Bob. (Only vehicles that are still operational, please.)
Brad gave a special thanks to all who helped with Bob Allen's funeral yesterday after which we all stood for a minute of silent tribute.
The quartet led worship today and the team was on their A-game beginning with that Gospel favorite "Heaven On My Mind." After the offering, today's Scripture reading was from Acts 7:55-60. We prayed together, then Brad delivered the sermon.
The past two months have been focused on the fruit of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22. Some people might wonder how gentleness made the list, but Brad pointed out that it is deceptively powerful.
We were asked to picture an automobile dashboard with gauges on it. One of these gauges can be called the "Gentleness" gauge which measures our Gentleness Quotient. "Where do you register on this gauge? Do you have an edge on your attitude?" Brad asked. Are you inconsiderate? Biting?
At the other end of the spectrum is true gentleness, a person who is truly considerate. Where do you measure up? Are you known as a gentle person?
After asking us to internally put a notch on where we see ourselves, he then asked us why our "x" is where it's at. How did it happen that you turned out this way? Often it may be due to a harsh father or mother with an anger issue. You may have become tougher simply as a protective stance, a matter of survival.
Brad acknowledged that he tended to be a bit hyper, but that it's nice to be in a room with gentle people.
Citing Ronald Reagan as an example (no matter what you politics), it is said that even though he was one of the most powerful people in the world he was a gentle person when you were with him.
Lest we take too much credit, sometimes our gentleness is simply the result of temperament. But no matter where we begin, God's aim is to move us into greater gentleness. As it is written in Phil. 4:5, "Let your gentleness be evident to all."
Brad gave us three pieces of instruction to help us on this path.
1) It always starts in the heart.
If you try to be gentle by sheer will power, saying a few kind words and "act" gently, it won't be long before you revert to who you were before you began this exercise. God's way is to cause something to shift within us, to change our inner person.
Elijah was an Old Testament prophet who needed an attitude shift once. God had performed many miracles through Elijah, but he got into a grumbling frame of mind as if he were the only one really serving God the way God was supposed to be. God called him to a mountain in order to deal with Elijah's heart by showing His power. First, a mighty wind tore at the mountain, shattering rocks, but God was not in the wind. Then an earthquake shook the mountain, which was then followed by a great fire. God was neither in the earthquake nor the fire.
Then God spoke in a whisper. Some versions say. "a still, small voice." God's gentle whisper broke Elijah's heart.
2) Watch your words.
Words are how we damage one another. A harsh word can cut deep. There's a Proverb that states, "A gentle answer turns away wrath." Words can polarize and cause pain, or they can comfort and soothe. Brad pointed out that it is not only the content of what we say but also the tone that is important. If you use incendiary terms with each other, if you raise the volume level or take on a superiority quality in your voice, that works against gentleness and destroys the gentle dynamics that can lead to conversation, reconciliation and healing.
3) Don't underestimate the power of appropriate, loving touch.
Sometimes it's just a hand on the shoulder. This gentle affirmation can speak volumes, far more than words.
The service closed with a hymn, and sunshine.