Sunday, October 27, 2013

For Me, Belonging is a Family Matter

Pastor Brad Shannon welcomed us with his usual warmth and tipped his hand on today's theme by talking about the importance of family, and that this is not just a cliche, but something real in our church family.

A eew baby is here with us today, born Wednesday to Megan and Drake… Elanor Sophia… 8 lb 4 oz
Cheryl… asked us to support KICY, a radio station in Nome, Alaska that reaches outlying regions of Western Alaska and the far eastern parts of Russia across the Bering Strait.
Campbell’s soup Can labels coming soon, to raise money for Covenant World Relief
Samaritan’s Purse, November 20 … shoeboxes of goods for needy areas in Operation Christmas Child

The trio opened with "All Is Well" and then led us in a number of songs from the silver songbook.

John Vanderscheuren, a graduate of Teen Challenge, was invited to share his testimony. He began by stating he was an addict for 12-13 years. Much of his life he thought he wasn't good enough for God or his family. He shared  Philippians 1:6... "Be confident of this, that He who has begun a good work in you will carry it to completion on the day of Christ Jesus." God has been with him these past two years as he moves into a new life in Christ.

Prayer requests were shared, several of them related to people with cancer. There were also praises for good things God has done.

For Me, Belonging is a Family Matter

Pastor Brad opened by reading Psalm 71:17, 18
Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.

We have a huge responsibility to pass down the faith to the next generation. Brad shared that families are the way in which God connected people... beginning with the manner in which babies come into the world and the miracle of the first smile and how when the infant wraps its arms around our necks we learn why arms and hands were created.

Children, when done right, learn that they are loved and they are prized. Grownups learn that when they give they also receive. They will all learn by experience what grace is.

The whole idea of family is an expression of the love and care and grace of God. Families were created to express the character of God. The family is expected to mirror the ultimate reality of the universe. It is not just a biological mechanism to procreate. It is intended to be a manifestation of His kingdom.

The second critical moment in the history of the family was when the first family allowed sin enter into their relationship, recorded in Genesis 3. When God confronted Adam did he take the blame? No, he blamed the woman, and blamed God for giving that woman to him.

Genesis is a book full of family stories. Not a history of great nations and palaces. It's a series of stories about dysfunctional families. Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Jospeh and his brothers....  This is just the first book of the Bible.

There has never been a Golden Age of the Family.... Yet in the midst of these messed up families God is active.

The church is not made up of families who have it all together who smugly congratulate one another for their righteousness. Rather, it is a collection of families who come together with their neediness.

Brad proceeded to detail by name the reality of family life for us here in our church... Brad chose to read a list of family problems within our midst, affecting our homes or the homes we grew up in from children who wrestled with spiritual doubts, or insecurity or peer rejection or low self esteem or drinking problems or an abortion or angry, bitter words got spoken regularly, or where parents felt like financial failures, or kids plagued by anxiety or stress, or married couples who have not slept together in years and nobody knows, or young people who feel like losers or families rocked by unfaitflulness or sexual addiction, or people who are single and wonder if they will ever fit in or be wanted.... The list was detailed and went on for some length of time. Then Brad had everyone stand up who had any of these issues in their families or the families they grew up in. His point was made that we are a family of people with pain, not people who have it all together. He said, "You will notice that I am standing also."

There are three critical moments in our family history. Grace came first. Then sin enters. The third critical moment is Hope, and the name of that hope is Jesus. Everything hinges on Jesus.

There is a story in Scripture where Jesus is teaching and someone says, "Your mother and brothers are here." Jesus replies, "Whoever does God's will is my sister or brother or mother." Jesus started a new definition for family that transcends culture, skin color, gender and everything else.

He said to this new family, "Love one another as I have loved you." You do that for each other. Become brothers and sisters.

As we walk through this world we continually brush up against people of incalculable worth. You have never looked on a person for whom Jesus did not die.

Brad concluded with Psalm 27:10 "Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me."

Jesus has started a new family and it is here.

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