Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rally Day / Harvest Fest

This Sunday we gathered at the Twig Town Hall rather than our sanctuary and celebrated the new year with a festival aimed at making us feel we're not really Minnesotans. Criss-crossed surfboards, and all manner of banners designed to make us feel we were in Hawaii or on a southern beach. Alas, it was chilly and despite the Hawaiian leis it wasn't hard to remember that we were in Minnesota. Nevertheless, Pastor Brad greeted us with joyous warmth. Autumn is a time for re-gathering and re-focusing, and today's message would be a clarification of what Jesus was inviting us into.

The informal service out in the open air began with a pair of announcements. First, Gail shared that the fish and chips fund raiser brought in $1200 thanks to Gordy's Hi Hat. Darlene then shared that the Women's Bible Study would begin this Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.

The Sermon
Pastor Brad began by reading from the latter portion of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:13-27. Being that this was the opening of NFL Football weekend, he used sports stars to illustrate a point. There are many athletes whom we admire, but how many are there whom we'd be willing to follow?

Brad shared instances in the New Testament where there were many crowds drawn to Jesus, and many who admired him, but at the point of decision only a few walked with Him to the end.

Several stories illustrate the way that Jesus used to challenge people to cross the line and become more than admirers. In John 3 Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night. He admired Jesus, but had to meet with Him in secret because he couldn't afford to be identified with Him. He had a reputation to maintain, wanted to maintain His stature.

The rich young ruler had a different issue. Jesus confronted him as well, at his point of weakness. "Are you going to follow Me or simply admire Me?" Jesus asked.

In the passage from Matthew 7 Jesus notes that there is a narrow way and a broad way. Only the narrow way leads to life. The broad way is the way of this world, and they who go that way only drift.

At this point Brad put in a word for the upcoming Adult Sunday School theme for this fall, "The Christian Atheist."

Many times people justify their distance from Jesus by focusing on other Christians' failings. But the issue is not a question of others living their faith. Jesus only puts the question to each of us. Where do you stand?

Is Jesus Christ your Master?

Brad stated that he would rather be part of a smaller, devoted community than to a large one that is simply drifting.

He then shared the Charles Blondin story. Blondin was a tightrope walker and showman who drew crowds by various stunts on the tightrope in the 19th century, one of them being the attraction of an enormous crowd to see him walk across Niagara Falls. After performing a variety of stunts he took a wheelbarrow and asked the crowd who was willing to sit in the wheelbarrow as he crossed the great falls. The number of volunteers for this exhibition proved far smaller than the number of admirers.

Jesus wasn't trying to impress crowds. His miracles may have attracted crowds and created buzz, but He had a more important agenda. He was asking us to get in the wheelbarrow, to trust him with our very lives. He wanted us to put everything -- our sins, our past, our future, our all -- into that wheelbarrow.

Brad's message was equally heartfelt and very challenging. We were each given a deeper understanding of what Jesus was calling us to.

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The photos here offer a glimpse of this special kickoff to a new season.

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