Sunday, November 11, 2012

If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands

“Good morning!” In his intro remarks Pastor Brad stated that for four months he has been returning to a familiar text, I Corinthians 13. Today, he will be focusing on a little word in verse 6.

~ Wednesday evening we are packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Join us for a meal and help pack our boxes. Pick an age bracket and bring gifts. Financial donations are welcome to defray cost of shipping the boxes.
~ Gwen announced the Christmas program planned for this year, and on Wednesdays (after next week) there will be rehearsals here after the meals.
~ Friday, Nov. 16 will be our Fall Bazaar with Crafts and Bake Sale at the Swamp Sisters, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tell your friends.
~ Saturday, also at the Swamp Sisters, there will be a Ladies Pre-Holiday Brunch
~ Covenant World Relief soup can labels were handed out to raise money for a range needs. Covenant World Relief is the humanitarian aid ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church
~ Leonard is once again making a Thanksgiving Dinner for those who have no place to go for Thanksgiving. We also sang “Happy Birthday for Paula whose birthday was this weekend.
~ Men as Peacemakers will be here in December to talk about domestic violence.

Joe Stapleton passed from our midst yesterday. He was ready and looking forward to be with the Lord, so we sang one of his favorite songs together to begin our worship: “Soon and Very Soon.”

An offering was taken and then the children dismissed for children’s church as Brad read to us from Mark 12:38-44, the story of the widow’s mite.

We prayed for needs both within our church family and in other places.

If You’re Happy and You Know It, 
Clap Your Hands

We've been hovering around I Corinthians 13 this year, and today Pastor Brad's message zeroes in on one particular phrase. Verse 6: Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.

In John’s first letter to the churches, the apostle writes:

9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

And a little further on John makes it clear that whereas God is invisible, He makes Himself known by our actions, specifically the love we show one another.

"I was trying to think back over my life," Brad said, "and I have never heard it quite applied this way. 'Since God has loved us, we should so love one another.'”

This passage says the invisible God is made visible through the love His people show to one another. His love for us prompts us to love others.

Brad shared a little background about the Amish to set up a story he was going to share. There are Amish communities in a number of areas around the country.  They came from Europe as part of a larger family called Mennonites. They are famous for their simple living, plain attire and reluctance to adapt with the times. It's as if they were determined to maintain a lifestyle from the 18th century.

On October 4, 2006, in the village of Nickel Mines in Lancaster County, Amish country, a man named Charles Carl Roberts went into the school with guns. After sending out the men and boys, he tied up ten young girls, firing 18 shots into their heads and then taking his own life. The response of the community shocked the media that covered the shooting. The response was forgiveness. Two of the elders from the community went to the shooters wife… told her he was forgiven, and they also helped with funeral expenses. Media did not understand the Amish response.

One scholar who knew the Amish explained it. "The Amish believe God told them to forgive. They acted on their belief. Their emotions would follow after.”

How do you do that? You just do it.

In I Corinthians 13 Paul wrote: Love does not delight in evil. 

He is talking about the delight some people have when other people do evil. Love is not happy when other people go wrong. This is the heart of gossip, isn’t it? We talk about other peoples’ failures. One reason we do this is that when we compare ourselves to others, it makes us feel better about ourselves.

A former prime minister of England once said, “The mistakes of the great are the consolation of fools.” Taking consolation in others’ failures is not loving. Yet this is so pervasive in our culture today. Rumors are the poison fruit of politics. This recent political campaign exemplifies how we focus on the failures of our leaders.

The Apostle Paul had ample opportunity to let his detractors get him distracted. Paul bore in his body the marks of many beatings, stonings and more. Ten years after he wrote I Corinthians he found himself writing letters to the churches he founded while in prison in Rome. In the first chapter of his letter to the Philippians he wrote about his chains, and his observations that some people who were preaching the gospel out of wrong motivations, some out of rivalry or selfish ambition. Notice that he doesn't focus on their malfeasance, rather he states, “But what does it matter, … in every way Christ is preached, and I rejoice.”

Can we rejoice when truth prevails? When truth advances wherever it is proclaimed.”

Brad concluded with an illustration of his point with. People like to show him photos of their grandchildren, and he enjoys the connections from this sharing. They love to show pictures. They usually beam with joy at how cute this one is and how this one is now in college and this one is a star in basketball. But sometimes their voices soften, and they say “Pastor, I’d appreciate you praying for my grandson Larry…”

Brad recognizes this reaction for what it is. Larry has made bad decisions, is not going the right path. But it's a reaction of love. They don't say mean things, rather they care and bear it. Love doesn’t delight when people go wrong.

But we’re gladdened by truth, wherever it is found.

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