With some renovation taking place where the "front" of the sanctuary has been, the chairs were re-arranged so we were facing North today. That's something not easily accomplished in the old sanctuary full of pews. Pastor Brad is back and about to greet us with his usual warmth. "Good morning. I'm grateful to be back with you. How are you doing?"
~ Brooke shared that we are going to start a "Chair Ministry" in which people will sign up to come early to set up the chairs and move the chairs.
~ Also, there will be a gin up sheet to bring
~ Feb 5 & 6 there will be a free concert with workshop. Contact Brooke for details
~ Other ministry opportunities are listed in the bulletin
Darlene ushered us into worship with a tender musical arrangement. Then we sang songs from the blue song book followed by the taking of the offering. The youth helped with leading the singing and the offering.
After leading us in a time of prayer, Brad began his message.
We Need Each Other
Brad began by sharing a small note that was placed on his desk, "Blessed Beyond All Measure."
When we think of being blessed, we often picture it as having everything we need. Blessed for many is having all the money they need so they can be self-sufficient. It's the American way, to be independent, free of having to rely on others.
Without even doing it intentionally, we push people away so we can be isolated in the midst of others, totally independent. We go to the gym, put on our earbuds and create our own surround-sound.
What a lot of Americans are doing is experiencing a sense of blessedness that is superficial, blessed with external blessings -- cars, homes, things. But God has a different idea of blessedness.
In the opening section of Genesis, the Bible states "It is not good for man to be alone." This became the basis of a key point the pastor would make in today's sermon.
Brad cited Ephesians 2. "You are citizens ...members of the household of God... one body." We are knit together. We are not independent but part of a larger whole, a spiritual family. And God created us with this need to be a part of others' live --as opposed to apart from others -- which means if we're independent, we're out of touch with God's intention for us.
He compared the difference between how we relate to strangers and to family. When a stranger comes over, we would be surprised if they went straight to the fridge and began helping themselves. But when family comes home for the holidays, there is no need for them to ask permission to make a sandwich out of whatever they find in the pantry and refrigerator.
Being "family" means, "My home is your home." It's a willingness to share our space, and our hearts.
When we have that kind of love for each other, non-believers looking in from the outside wonder how we can treat one another so. It's all about being a community of people doing life together.
Romans 15:7 shows one way to praise God that we haven't thought about. "Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you, in praise to God."
It's a place where we are just who we are, as we are. Becoming a family takes time. It takes commitment. And it takes Christ.
If you say, "I don't have time for that," what you're saying is you don't have time for people.
It's challenging, but it's where life really happens. Every one of us needs a spiritual family. Because we all have needs, and those needs are met through the family of God, our spiritual family. We have a need for relationships braided together by the Spirit of Christ.
Christianity is about the shared relationship of spiritual life. Throughout Scripture we see this sharing of faith. "Wherever two or three are gathered together, there I am in the midst of them."
Too many of our lives are lived alone. We drive to work alone. We study the Bible alone. We cry alone. Jesus calls us to something more.