Chuck Vanderscheuren welcomed us this morning. After a few opening remarks he noted that the Salvation Army would benefit from having children's clothes shared. New or slightly used clothes for children 5-9 can be brought to the church the next two Sundays.
The Brewers lit the Advent candle today and then we entered into a lively time of singing, beginning with Feeling Mighty Fine and closing with O Come, All Ye Faithful.
The light snowfall this morning reminded us that it's December here and the sanctuary is nicely decorated for the season. Important dates to remember this month include:
-- Due date for the St. Louis County Prison Ministry Cookie Donations is December 14. Please send your cookies in containers that do not need to be returned. RuthAnn Schelinder will make sure they are delivered.
-- The New Life Christmas Program is Saturday, December 17 at 4:00 p.m. with dinner to follow.
-- December 18 will be Sunday School cocoa at 9:00 a.m. with special music from the Christmas program during worship.
-- The December 24 Christmas Eve Candle Light Service is at 4:00 p.m.
Pastor Terry White began by telling a story about a man who was walking around in a field with a large butcher knife. The police called Terry to go talk with the man as an intervention in case something were developing. It turns out the man was purportedly using it to harvest mushrooms.
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"God so loved the world that He gave." Love is a word that is used in a lot of different ways. We love pizza and sports and puppies. If someone came to earth and heard all the ways people talk about things they love, what would be their conclusion about what love is.
Love is... patient, kind, doesn't envy or boast. I Corinthians 13 is a familiar passage that spells out the meaning of love and and its attributes.
God doesn't "have" love. God is love. Love is not a commodity that God stores in a warehouse in heaven. Nor is it something we can measure.
John in his first letter wrote, "Beloved, let us love one another for love is of God... God is love."
The truth is that we not only love God, but God loves us.
Terry then explained that the love that we share with each other is actually God's love flowing through us.
"Dear friends, since God so loved us we ought to so love one another. God lives in us and God's love is made complete in us when we love one another."
God's love is made complete when we take the love that God has poured out into us and we share it with others.
When children crawl into our laps we often feel like they are showing us love. But often it is because they themselves need love. When we show love and share love, those whom we love have the same need as these children. Because we're grown ups we don't say it.
Finally, in displaying the last layer comes, he shared loves full flower after a lifetime together. It's only later we fully appreciate what sacrificial love is about.
Life is a journey in which we're figuring out what it means to really love.
G.K. Chesterton once spoke of the "furious love of God." Furious, Terry noted, is something of a strange word for love. When he investigated, he discovered that there are several definitions for the word furious. The fifth is this: A frenzy of being inspired.
Rich Mullins, a songwriter who was himself inspired by Chesterton, once wrote about the love of God with these words:
There's a wideness in God's mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God
Now I've seen no band of angels
But I've heard the soldiers' songs
Love hangs over them like a banner
Love within them leads them on
To the battle on the journey
And it's never gonna stop
Ever widening their mercies
And the fury of His love
"I hope that you're caught in the reckless raging fury of the love of God," Pastor White said.
We ended the service by sharing Communion.