Pastor Brad began the service by bringing up a fragment from a discussion that occurred in one of our adult Sunday school classes that convenes in the hour before church. They had touched upon the manner in which sometimes wrestle with doubts about many things. Brad used this notion to make the strongest affirmation he could possibly make that he has no doubts whatsoever about this: "I am delighted to be here with you. I am so grateful to be with this community of faith."
Many announcements followed this pronouncement.
1. Keep praying for our building committee as the work hard on the plans that have been moving forward.
2. Brad will be at the annual Pastor's Conference this week. Despite his absence Wednesday evening the midweek small group should continue to meet.
3. Cheryl Borndal shared that it is not too early to begin thinking of summer camp plans. Early registration (which means savings) ends March 1.
4. Elsa shared that there will be a Super Bowl party for the youth next Sunday here at the church. Even if you're not into football there will be other activities. Join us.
5. Elsa also mentioned that we will be fund raising to send four youth to the Nation CHIC gathering this year.
6.Paula Saxin noted that there will be a women's event in March called Uniquely You. Mark the 23rd and 24th on your calendars. More information to come.
The quartet led us into worship with two songs this morning, "Somebody Touched Me" and "Just a Little Talk With Jesus." This was followed by several songs with the congregation and a little time of greeting our neighbors before getting seated again. The taking of tithes and offerings and the reading of Mark 1:21-28 preceded our time of prayer for the needs of the church family.
Living In God For the World
The first portion of the message was a summary of the past several messages about the Lord's encounter with the woman at the well and the events surrounding that fateful meeting as recorded in John 4. Jesus was in the habit of breaking social rules as he reached out across the barriers that divide.
When Jesus said He could give her water so she'd never thirst again, she understood that this was no ordinary man. As she ran into town telling others about Him, she repeated, "Could this be the Messiah?"
Brad paused and pointed out that our relationship with God can begin with just a simple earnest question like that... "Could this be...?" Could this be God speaking to me? Could this be a turning point in my life?
He then shared a letter from a prison inmate. The painfulness and hardship saturated the letter, but the man summed up, "I can see light at the end of the tunnel because of my faith."
When your truth gets hooked up with God's truth, this is the formula for freedom.
Brad highlighted other points in this story. Jesus ended up alone with this woman in a public place because the disciples had gone into town to get food. When they got back they urged Him to eat, but he said, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." This only made them confused so he added, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and finish His work."
Jesus was nourished from within.
Pastor Brad talked about this inner life a bit. "Is living water flowing out of you? Is joy flowing out of you? Hope? Peace? Kindness?" He compared our hearts to a tube of toothpaste. When you're squeezed, what on the inside is what will come out. As Jesus explained in Matthew 12:34-35, "For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him."
The opening lines of Psalm 42 reveal what was in David's heart.
1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
When our souls pant for God, He fills us up.
All too often as Christians we try to live for God in the world, but the equation should be written differently. We should be living in God for the world.
Jesus says in John 15, "I am the vine and you are the branches..." Our responsibility is to stay connected to the vine, stay thirsty for God. He will fill you up and keep you going. Let your roots go deep in Him.
Brad closed the sermon by stating, "My prayer is that your buckets will be full."
After a closing hymn we proceeded to share the breaking of bread in a communion service using the intinction method. (Intinction is the Eucharistic practice of partly dipping the consecrated bread into the consecrated wine before consumption by the communicant.)