April 21, 2019
In the mid-1950s W.E. Sangster, a British minister, began to notice some uneasiness in his voice and a dragging in his leg. When he went to the doctor, he found he had an incurable disease that caused progressive muscular atrophy. His muscles would gradually waste away, his voice would fail, and his throat would soon become unable to swallow.
Sangster threw himself into his work in British home missions, figuring he could still write, and he would have even more time for prayer. “ Let me stay in the struggle, Lord”, he pleaded. “I don’t mind if I can no longer be a general, but give me just a regiment to lead”. He wrote articles and books and helped organize prayer cells throughout England. “ I’m only in the kindergarten of suffering”, he told people who pitied him.
Gradually Sangster’s legs became useless. His voice went completely. But he could still hold a pen, shakily. On Easter morning, just a few weeks before he died, he wrote a letter to his daughter. In it, he said, “It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice with which to shout, ‘He is risen!’ – but it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”
This coming Sunday is Easter and I invite you to gather with us in Sunday School and Worship and shout – “HE IS RISEN!”
Grace & Peace,
in a Parade
April 14, 2019
What is the meaning of the parade? I believe it is much like the story of the boy whose dad took him to the circus parade. A huge parade, with the entire circus performers and animals.
They arrived early to get a good spot along the route. And they did! Right up front. Right on the main street, so they could hear the bands and see everyone perform. It was great, sitting on the curb waiting, everything was fine.
But, parents ought to realize that children are small and by proportion everything in them is smaller too. And so, to ask them before they leave the house if they have to go, is practically irrelevant. They can answer truthfully, No! But then, it's like a plugged drain and a leaky faucet. Almost before you know it the sink's full; and so was the boy. Just as the parade started.
Well, with son in tow, the dad rushed four blocks away to a gas station and four blocks back, but as you have guessed, their spot was gone. Yet, undaunted, the dad lifted the boy up on his shoulders so he could see over the crowd. And there he sat for almost an hour.
Did he remember the parade? No, not really. Did he remember all the excitement, the thrill of the celebration? No, not really. Then you might ask, What was it all for?
To answer, let me tell you what he did remember. He remembers a dad who gave up the best seat in the parade to care for my needs. He remembers a dad who wanted him to enjoy myself so much that he suffered a stiff neck for two days, after holding him on his shoulders above the crowd. He remembers a dad who was not angry at the boy’s weakness but was thrilled by his appreciation of a parade he saw very little of. You see, it was not the parade that was important. It was those who were involved with it: the dad and the son! It was the dad’s love for the son that the son remembers.
And so it is with this Palm Sunday’s Parade. The celebration will end, we may not ever recognize what it was about, but if we come away from church this Sunday knowing God's love for us, then it was worth it. If we come away able to appreciate the sacrifice that was made for us, then it was worth it. If we come away knowing that God cares for us and never abandons us even when times are rough, then it was worth it.
I hope you will join me for the parade this Sunday as we explore the question of faith, “What About Mercy?”. See you in church on Sunday!
Grace & Peace,
Hidden in Christ
April 7, 2019
Once there was a Pentecostal minister in Uganda named Kefa. During the reign of terror under Idi Amin, death squads would go out every night to kill Amin's enemies. One Sunday morning as parishioners came to church, they literally had to walk over the bodies of those who had been murdered the night before.
When they got inside, Pastor Kefa began to preach the word of God. Even after the service had gone on for a couple of hours, the people protested when he started to close. They cried out, "No, no, we have nowhere else to go. We must feed on God's word. Keep preaching!" An unusual experience for a pastor!
Kefa preached for another two hours. Still they would not let him quit. He finally begged to leave for a little lunch and rest. The people waited patiently in church for his return. Kefa came back and resumed preaching. By late that afternoon, their fear and terrible sense of abandonment had finally been overcome by the truth of God's word and his loving presence.
As they closed the service, Pastor Kefa unmistakably recognized Ida Amin's goon squad at the back of the church. His parishioners followed him to the rectory. As the pastor opened the door, three men drew their revolvers and said, "We are going to kill you."
Kefa looked them straight in the eyes and answered, "My life is hidden in Christ. But if you ask me, I will pray for you."
Utterly astounded, the killers just stared at him. Finally they said, "Would you really?" Kefa said, "Kneel down." They knelt down and he prayed for them. Then they left, and Pastor Kefa kept on preaching the word of God.
Pastor Kefa had come to a point he realized all he really had in this life was his faith in Jesus Christ. So, with all other hope gone he turned to the only One who could save him.
See you in church Sunday as we ask the question of faith this week, What About God Working Among us? Come with expectant hearts that God will work in you and each of us in a powerful way as we worship together.