Today was our Fall Fest, an outdoor service at Twig Town Hall and much more. The church family took in a lot of sun, and amidst all the bungee ramping, face painting, finger painting, music and games, there were a fair share of serious moments as we remembered 9/11, veterans, and the reason for our Christian hope.
The service itself was to some extent traditional despite its non-traditional setting. We began with our quartet singing followed by a time of worship. An offering was taken. We shared a time of prayer and a moment of silence for the victims and families of 9/11. And then Brad took the "pulpit" to give his message.
Get Connected to God's Hope
Brad began with a pair of humorous quotes from Bill Cosby and Homer Simpson. Then proceeded to note that he would be speaking to us from the Beattitudes. There are so many great passages in what has been called the Sermon on the Mount. But today he wanted to talk about parties.
Parties are an interesting part of our culture. Two questions always come to mind when we think of parties. (1) Who's invited? (2) What's it going to be like?
The party Brad wished to discuss with us here had to do with heaven. In Jesus' day it was the scribes and pharisees, the spiritual elite, who were the gatekeepers who declared who was welcome at God's party.
But then, this fellow Jesus came along, doing miracles and bringing hope to people who'd pretty much given up hope. Crowds came from all around wherever He went. To each and all He had a message about the Good News of the Kingdom. He said the Kingdom was not far off, but here and now.
On one occasion thousands had gathered and He gave a sermon which can be found in our Bibles today in Matthew 5-7. The first lines of this message talked about what the meaning of happiness is. The blessedness Jesus speaks of is not dependent on circumstances, like a good pie or television show. It is a happiness in spite of circumstances.
Blessed are the poor in spirit... these are the ones who are eligible for heaven, a complete contrast with what the pharisees were saying. The Pharisees set a high bar and you had to be worthy or walk away. Jesus said all you had to do was admit you were a zero. It's hard to admit we are so unworthy that we are a zero, but this also opens all the doors to everyone and anyone.
Jesus looked out at the crowd and probably saw someone weeping, and the next thing He said was, "Blessed are you who mourn... you will be comforted."
Then, radically, He said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Not the hard chargers, but the ones who have been trampled on.
Blessed are the merciful... these are the ones who will receive mercy.
The kingdom of God is nothing like what people thought. And everyone is invited, even you. The invitation has nothing to do with a report card that you have to get A's on. This party, God's party, is not based on jumping through impossible hoops or on how many tassels you wear.
Brad re-stated the great truth that earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal, and invited all of us to the living hope that is deep and abiding.