Today is the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost. A light snow is falling outside as Darlene warms the sanctuary with a medley of classic hymns including This Is My Story. The growing volume of chatter in the narthex adds additional warmth to the atmosphere inside the church as friends and church family share stories of the week behind and plans for the week ahead. Into the cacophony of sound Pastor Brad takes his place at the front and lifts his voice with boisterous cheer, "Good morning. Merry Christmas." Laughter. "I'm grateful you're here today..."
In Sunday School we had a good class as the sermon will continue on this theme of what it means to say "I believe." How do we grow in our relationship to Christ.
1. The friendship dinner sign-up sheet is being passed around the sanctuary and we'll be connected to other couples with groups of six or eight who will have dinners together
2. Cheryl shared that there will be a number of opportunities to give in the coming months. We're not trying to bombard you but it's our turn to give and we want you to be aware of opportunities. Operation Christmas Child will be next Wednesday.
3. Paula shared that we are having a jacket drive for needy people at the CHUM Walk-In Center.
4. Susie shared that Girls Art Club will be next Sunday.
After Darlene's introit she sang a duet with Brad, the first verse of "This Is My Father's World." The women of the church sang the second, and then all together on the third. Brad then committed the service to God.
Chuck brought Madison Johnson up to the front to sing for us... Beginning with the verses from the Sermon on the Mount, "You are the light of the world..." The song, familiar to many of us from our own childhood, Let the Sunshine In.
A time of prayer followed, along with praise for God's work in our lives.
Believe It Or Not
Ephesian 2:8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God..." If faith is so important, how can two people have the same faith but be so different?
Three kinds of convictions. Public convictions that we state, but may not line up with what we really believe. The story of Herod stating he wanted to find the Christ child so he could worship him was an example of this.
A second kind is private convictions that we believe we believe but then when push comes to shove prove to be fickle.
The third type of convictions: those that our actions reveal about us. Example of gravity. We act consistently with what we believe here, because we act as if gravity were true.
What would our lives look like if an impartial entity watched everything we did for a year and drew up our personal creed based on our actual behavior?
The heart is deceitful and depravity is wrapped around it very deeply.
When Jesus came, was He concerned about what we say we believe? Or was He more concerned with the deeper core convictions we have. To be impacted by Jesus it will change the things that we do.
Jesus lived completely consistent in what he believed and spoke and how He behaved.
Disciples began with faith in Jesus, then had the faith of Jesus, and as they walked in His way developed their thinking to be Jesus in their way of thinking and behaving.
What people do with their lives will show what we believe in that innermost self.
What Jesus wants to change in us is not what we say. It's not what we say that Jesus is aiming for. He is aiming to change us in those deep places of the heart.
Here's the Path
Learn what Jesus taught. What are Jesus's ideas about how we should live our lives. In order for God to begin to change us, I will need trust Him.
In one of his books Henri Nouwen shared a story about watching trapeze artists. He went so far as to get to know them and became friends with them. He learned that what the flyers do is nothing other than trust. The flyer must trust with outstretched arms and wait. The catcher catches. And we, like the flyer, must trust that God will be there for us when we obey.
What are you being called to let go of? Anything that will get in the way of your relationship to God. Will you let it go?
Abraham is a great example of faith because he was told he will be father of a multitude, but he had to wait 24 years. Abraham didn't wait well, but in the end he gets caught by a God who does not and cannot fail. The flyer can do nothing, the catcher everything.
God is there saying, "Will you trust me? Will you do as I say?"
If you don't believe in Jesus, then what in the world are you waiting for? Let go... of your selfishness.... of your depravity... of your life. He will catch you.
Jesus believed that there was a catcher... and so do I.