Brad began with his usual, "I’m so grateful you’re here today" but his introductory remarks were longer than usual as he continued, "for this inaugural service of our new building. This is a 'soft opening' so any number of things can go wrong this morning." Brad expressed his gratefulness for all the people who helped make this happen. Then he shared that people from all over have been watching us and a missionary friend from Japan sent this message: “Brad and Brooke… just wanted to say we’ll be thinking of you. It must be so exciting to see how God has opened doors for you along the way.”
"One of the things it reminds me of is when my dad gave me the keys for his car the first time," Brad noted. "There is an excitement and a responsibility associated with the privilege."
He went on to say, "We’re so far ahead in our capital campaign because of your generosity, and not just giving but the time and talents…. Labor donation, land donation… over $400,000 in donated time and services. There are so many to thank, but I'm especially thankful for the Building Committee… not just hours but years, debating, decision-making, negotiating." Brad singled out Walt for special recognition, now nicknamed “The Bulldog.” And then there was an acknowledgement of how the Design Team contributed so much.
Brooke noted that there is also a new church website: www.newlifecov.net.
Other announcements included this one, that Monday there will be another cleaning day at 5:30 in the old building.
Darlene and Brad sang an introit to transition us into worship… “In This Very Room.”
Chuck read a passage from Psalm 118: Give thanks to the Lord…. After three hymns of the faith an offering was taken and we entered into a time of prayer.
Karen read the Scripture passage today from John 17:14-18 with a piece of special music that they also sang back when the new building project was initiated. Gwen, Chuck, Darlene, Brad, Carol and Ken…. “May all who come behind us find us faithful.”
Pastor Brad said he's not sure he agrees that this is what Jesus taught and he cited the following prayer of our Lord: “As You sent Me into the world, I sent them into the world.”
"The world" refers to our planet sometimes, but sometimes other things… For example, “God so loved the world” means the people of the world. And then there is another way the word is used…. the areas of life where sin swirls and dwells… Jesus says that His disciples ought to be different from those who drift without any purpose in the world system.
The question is, in what ways should we be different from the world. It doesn't mean that we're meant to be weird.
Jesus said His plan was not for His followers to avoid the world, not to live in Christian bubbles, listening to only Christian music and read Christian books. Rather, His desire was for us to be in the midst of the world, living out the values that set us apart.
Jesus said, "Just as My Father sent Me, so send I you.” That is why we’re on this planet.
Brad shared how as much as he enjoys watching a good sports program, he would rather be a player than a fan. And that’s what we’re called to be, players in God’s plan. When we go to our work places, or whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, we are to exemplify His life.
Then he shared the verse upon which the title of this sermon is based, Matthew 10:16. “I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.”
In other words, I want you to go out like sheep. Humility, vulnerability…
Wise as snakes… discerning, creative ….
Doves exemplify innocent, redeemed and transformed people.
At the close we shared in a special communion service.
It was a very special service.