Marian Leifeste, Tina Sanders and Nea Young are having birthday celebrations on Feb. 1st. Have a really special day!
Ground Hog Day is Feb. 2nd. I am ready for spring.
There is an important Finance committee meeting today, Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Choir practice for men and others is today, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Progress on the ramp is coming along. A layout for the ramp on the south door will be reviewed Sunday, February 9th, right after worship at a Trustee’s meeting.
The Prayer room at the Food Bank in Mason is open Tuesday 3 – 5 p.m.
Sunday’s Gospel scripture was 1st Corinthians 1:10-18 and John 17:20-23. The following is Pastor Cliff’s sermon on the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany.
The first four chapters of 1st Corinthians are about divisions in the church. I was reminded of our Hebrew brothers and sisters, rescued by God, when they were almost ready to enter the Promised Land. They could see it, and it must have been like a dream come true.
Let me remind you what God told them, just before they entered into the Promised Land. “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
Love, obedience, and commitment. There are many chapters and many stories in the Bible of how God’s people didn’t take that advice from God. So let us zoom many centuries ahead, when God comes to us. When God was here among us, in the person of Jesus, what did He tell us was the plan? When Jesus had “finished” all his teaching and all the miracles, and the devil was in Judas and Jesus was about to be taken to the cross by the Roman guards, Jesus prayed to God for us. Jesus prayed to God: The goal is for all of them (that’s us) to become one heart and mind. Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. John 17:20-23 Is not that an interesting prayer by Jesus? That our love for each other, our unity, would be so different from the division and fighting and individuality of the world that the world would believe that God sent His Son Jesus.
Let me address one of your concerns. God is not calling us to become a collection of look alikes. God is calling us to demonstrate unity as it existed at Pentecost. There were folks from every know nation there. They were not all the same, but they were unified. Our unity needs to demonstrate that people who are NOT all alike can get along. Get along so well, that people watching will believe that God sent His son to save us all. Is that even possible? What do you think? Is that possible?
Love and forgiveness are the only two tools we have to bring in the Kingdom of God on earth. Love and forgiveness are the only two tools we need to bring in the Kingdom of God on earth. But we must choose to abandon fear that those folks over there are so different from us. We are offered the same advice our Hebrew brothers and sisters heard from God just before entering the Promised Land. You see, however, that the Promised Land is no longer that hilly patch of real estate along the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Jesus now rules a kingdom whose citizens are in every nation of the earth. And in this New Covenant, we are invited to choose to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Jesus.
You may know situations in the church, or a volunteer organization, or a business in the past where the majority imposed their will on the minority. That’s how politics works. That’s how business works. That’s not God’s dream for the church. God’s dream is that the righteous, the followers of Jesus, will be so united in heart and mind, the WORLD will believe that God sent His Son. God said to God’s People: “You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the Promised Land”
That’s my plan, I invite you to choose to make it your plan. Choose life. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Next Sunday, we will worship the Word & Table. You are invited to renew your baptism covenant with the Lord. Write your baptism vows and bring them to church.