After our traditional greeting Chuck and the trio opened the worship time with a patriotic song, Heal Our Land. We then sang a pair of hymns after which we dedicated and blessed Micah Ambrose Vanderscheuren.
In the Book of Mark it says, "People were bringing little children to Jesus in order for Him to touch them.... and He blessed them." This little fellow is indeed a cutie. Family members were invited up to lay hands on him to pray for and bless him.
Brad had someone read Luke 15:7 and we prayed for the young people who will be going to CHIC this coming week. Then we prayed for the needs in our church family and community.
When we rejoice we actually obey God. Through various parts of Scripture it is a command. "Rejoice in the Lord always."
Why does the Bible command us to be joyful? The big reason is Jesus. It's the Gospel.
Brad shared some thing to think about.... He died to save us. He has given us His Spirit to guide us. He has called us His children. He has given us an identity that can never be threatened and a hope for as long as you live.
Here's something interesting about being joyful. You give a gift to everyone you encounter. When we have joy it uplifts the people around us. As Christians you owe it to others to be joyful. Your joy isn't just about you.
When you're joyful your more generous. When you're joyful you develop more friendships. Joy also increases our health. Joy makes us strong. "The joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)
Being unhappy as Christians does a disservice to the mission God has given us. We are His witnesses.
Brad talked briefly about Roman culture and how status was an important quality. The but ambition was for honor, to be among the elite. The elite class was comprised of 2% of the population. The very bottom of the heap you would find the slaves. Just above the slaves was the freed men. Above these were the citizens. There were two elite classes. The low elite were equestrians. Above those were the senators. There atop all sat Caesar.
Freemen could wear a cap that designated their status. Citizens could wear a toga. Equestrians could wear a gold ring... This stratfication of the culture was pervasive and helps give understanding to a variety of passages in the New Testament.
Succeeding in Roman culture meant doing what was necessary to move higher up the ladder. And when you were knocked down a notch it was called "being humbled." All these ideas were designed to bring illumination to the remarkable passage in Philippians 2:5-11
"In your relationships with one another..."
People in Philippi would have been confused by this passage. It didn't compute. The way up is down... and God exalted Him above all.
The road to joy will never be about you climbing the ladder. The path to joy is the way of the cross. Deny yourself. See others as more important than yourself. "Take up your cross and follow Me and you will find joy."
So it is that Paul writes, "I've been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."
At this we celebrated the Sacrament of Communion.