pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Will We?

After their capitol city Jerusalem was destroyed, many of the people of Israel spent a long period living in exile.  Finally the king of Persia begins to allow some to return to start rebuilding their holy city.  The Israelites had been helpful and useful to the king, so this was a way he could thank them.  Miraculously, the small group rebuilds all of the city wall in just 52 days.  They know from this amazing feat, accomplished in the midst of unfriendly peoples all around them, that God was at work in and around them.  So they gather to worship and to hear the Word of God read.

Each week lots of folks will gather on Sunday morning to hear the Word of God, to offer Him praise, and to celebrate God’s presence in their lives.  God is a steady and active part of the lives of regular church goers.  Sunday morning is the time when they are renewed and encouraged and built up so that they can face the world in the week ahead.  Their time each Sunday morning in church allows them to live each day with God’s presence.

For lots of other folks, this feeling of a need to connect with God is generated only through an exceptional blessing or through a trying circumstance or event.  For the first group, something really amazing happens and they can sense God’s hand or presence in that blessing.  They show up on a Sunday and offer theirs thanks to God.  For the second group, it is a tragedy or trial that brings them to the point of feeling they need to connect to God.  They come desperate and seeking, sensing that only God can make a difference for them.

Funny thing though, God is equally happy to have all three in the house.  Each and every one is seen as a beloved child of God.  To God, on that day, it does not matter if one is there every Sunday or if it has been a while or if it is the first time.  On that day, they are there in the house of God.  And God is happy.

The challenge in the church is, first, to be equally happy.  The second challenge is to regularly feed to every Sunday worshiper while also meeting the special occasion worshiper where they are at and ministering to them right there.  All people need to see the relevance of God in their lives and to feel that their time is well-invested to keep showing up at church.  Together, the body of Christ has the gifts and talents to accomplish all of this.  Together the church can be relevant, can be worthy of people’s time, and can meet and minister to each person right where they are at in life and on their journey of faith.  But our question is: will we?

Scripture reference: Nehemiah 8: 1-3


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Rejoice!

How today’s scripture passage conflicts with tomorrow’s candle lighting!  In almost all of our churches we will light the pink candle on what was traditionally called Gaudete Sunday.   In Latin, this word means ‘rejoice.’  We do rejoice often in the Christmas season because we have much to celebrate.  So John’s message of judgment and repentance makes us stop and say, “What?!”

Yet John’s message is very relevant and applicable for us  today, just as it was for the ‘brood of vipers’ that John was addressing.  For us to truly see God in the birth of Jesus, we have to not only repent of our sins, but we must also bear fruit that reveals our changed hearts.  To repent does not mean to simply say “I’m sorry” to God.  It requires us to look deep within ourselves and to ask the hard question: what do I need to change to totally orient myself towards God?  This process of reorientation away from self can be one that is hard, takes work, and requires sacrifice.  Sounds a lot like what John’s cousin did for us!

Once we orient ourselves towards God, then we can truly rejoice because His holy light and love begin to dwell in us and to shine out for all to see.  As we continue to walk in His light and love, Christ joy becomes ever more complete in us and we begin to share it with all we meet.  Then the fruit of the Spirit – things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity – are made known in and through our lives.  This day may we look deep within, repent of all that we find that keeps us turned away from God, and draw closer to God so that His light and love may shine ever brighter.

Scripture reference: Luke 3: 7-9