LOOKING UP TO JESUS
HUMBLED IN LOVE
September 30, 2018
In a great cathedral there is a statue of Christ. As one enters the cathedral and stands before it there is an ugliness and repulsiveness in the sculptor’s representation of Christ. It’s disappointing and you wonder whether Christ really looked like that. But then, coming closer to the statue, you can see an inscription which reads: “Kneel down and look up.”
You kneel down and looks up, and lo, everything about it is different. The repulsiveness is replaced by a wonderful attractiveness. The face of Christ is not ugly anymore. What makes the difference? It is the position of the observer. If you stands up and looks at the statue, there is no beauty to it, but if you kneel down and looks up, you see the face of the gentle, loving Savior.
That is similar to how it is when we give of the resources entrusted to us through Christ’s church to God and to our neighbors. If we do not humble ourselves first to Christ then we are really only proclaiming our greatness and our great generosity. However, when we humble ourselves and our resources before Jesus first we are and our resources become a proclamation of God’s love to the world.
I hope you will join with me Sunday as we explore what it means to be humbled in love in such a way that our giving proclaims God’s love to world. I hope you are humbling yourself in a spirit of prayer before Jesus as we move through these next couple of weeks discerning how we might proclaim God’s love to the world by the commitment of the resources entrusted to us in 2019.
See you Sunday!
Grace & Peace,
WHAT'S IT WORTH?
September 23, 2018
A poor Jewish man sought advice from his rabbi.
"Rabbi," he said. "I have 10 kopeks (the equivalent of a few dollars) to my name and a family to support. Please pray a blessing over me so that God will provide me with more money."
The rabbi replied, "Bread and shelter and all good things are from God. But you must hold your blessings with an open hand. Take your last 10 kopeks to the marketplace and buy something there. The thing you buy will bring you God’s blessing."
The poor man went directly to the marketplace, where he shared his sad story with a vendor. This vendor was a sharp man, always looking for an advantage over his neighbor. He thought he would have some fun with the poor man.
"Maybe I can help," the vendor said. "For 10 kopeks, I will sell you my share in the next life." He pocketed the kopeks and wrote out an elaborate receipt turning over his rights in the next life to the poor Jewish man.
When the vendor returned home and told his wife about the trick he played on the Jewish man, she was appalled. "It is no laughing matter to sell your place in the next life. This is a shameful thing. I will not let you rest until you find the Jewish man and buy back your rights."
Now the vendor knew his wife was serious. He returned to the marketplace and searched many hours for the poor Jewish man. After much negotiation, the Jewish man agreed to sell the rights in the next life back to the vendor for the grand sum of 1,000 rubles.
The next day, the vendor’s wife went to the rabbi to complain about her husband.
"Rabbi, after what my husband just did, does he still have a place in the next life, and what is it worth?"
The rabbi replied, "When your husband was willing to sell his portion in the next life for 10 kopeks, it was not even worth that. But when he was willing to buy it back for 1,000 rubles, you should know that it is now worth even more than that."
This year’s stewardship theme is Proclaiming God’s Love. It is a reminder that as we commit ourselves and the resources entrusted back to God and our neighbor we are making a proclamation to the world of our love for God. As we travel through these next few weeks as a congregation please join with me in contemplating how our giving reflects the priority of Jesus relationship in our lives. I hope you will pray about this very important matter to our faith individually, as a family, and you will commit to join with us in worship. I believe our decisions about returning the resources entrusted to us to God serve as a reflection of our eternal intent. That same decision helps, and resets our heart right, to Proclaiming God’s Love. See you in church Sunday!
Grace & Peace,
CALLED TO RUN ... AN ACCIDENTAL MARATHON
September 9, 2018
Georgene Johnson ... lived in Cleveland, Ohio. She was 42 years old. She was trying to have a good attitude about being 42 years old, so she started running and exercising to keep in shape. She said, "I’m not going to look like I am 42, or at least I am going to look like a good 42."
She did well in her running. She was running farther every day. She thought she would try a little competition and entered a 10K race. That’s about six miles. Nervous about her first race, she got up early, arrived at the start of the race. To her surprise there were a lot of people milling around, stretching, getting ready. Suddenly, a voice on the microphone said, Move to the starting line. This is it. A gun sounded, and they were off, like a huge wave, hundreds of runners, sweeping her up. She was in the race.
After about four miles it occurred to her that they ought to be turning around and heading back to the finish line. She wondered why they didn’t turn around. She stopped and asked an official, "How come the course isn’t turning around?" He said, "Ma’am, you are running the Cleveland Marathon!" Twenty-six miles.
Her event, the 10K, was to start a half-hour after the start of the marathon.
Some of us would have stopped right there and said, "That’s it, I’m going home." But to her credit, she kept right on going, finished the race. She said this: "This is not the race I trained for. This is not the race I entered. But for better or worse, this is the race that I am in."
It is just like the disciples at Caesarea Philippi. Their logical minds thought they could spend their whole lives in Galilee, where the following of Jesus is easy. Now Jesus says, if you are my disciple, then you will take up your cross and follow me to Jerusalem.
The illogical path that Jesus calls us to follow as disciple-makers can seem just as confusing to us as the marathon the Georgene ran in when she thought she was running in a 10K. So, this week we will explore what distance we are called to run when we follow this illogical Savior named Jesus.
I hope you will join with me Sunday in worship as we ambitiously move into the future as disciple-makers passionate for the cause of Christ.
Grace & Peace,
The Shoemaker by Ferdinand Hodler
WORK DEDICATED TO GOD'S GLORY
September 2, 2018
Pastor Tony Campolo tells a wonderful story that seems very appropriate for this Labor Day Weekend:
There was a picture that hung on the wall of my Sunday school room when I was a boy. That picture is imprinted indelibly in my memory. It was a picture of an old shoemaker with his head bowed in prayer as he sat at his workbench. There was a beam of light shining down on him, which, obviously, represented the presence of God. But what made the picture truly unusual was that, moving up toward God through that beam of light, was a stream of shoes. They were ascending upward to God.
This story seems to be very appropriate as we think about the work that we do each day. Are we willing to dedicate the work we do each day to God’s glory? What would need to change for us to be able to dedicate our work to God’s glory? Perhaps this is a different way to explore our work on this Labor Day Weekend. The world might judge this as illogical way to go about our work. However, as we discover in this week’s gospel lesson from the 7th chapter of Mark we discover the one whose authority we serve under, Jesus, is a pretty illogical Savior.
I hope you will join me at church this Sunday as we seek to worship in the presence of God, and seek to grow as disciple-makers as for this illogical Savior we call Jesus.
Grace & Peace,