A Message For This Week
May 26 – There Is Room For Celebration
Like many of you, I try to begin each morning reading God’s word and praying as I offer my day to what God may desire to do in me and through me. This being the week of we remember the ascension of Jesus into heaven, I am focusing on Acts 1:1-14. The first thought that came to mind was how frustrated we can become when we have unanswered questions. As followers of Jesus, we called to live by faith. That means we are often called to live with unanswered questions and not be hindered in our walk with God. In Acts 1:6, Jesus is about to depart and the disciples are eager to learn if this means that Jesus will finally “restore the kingdom of Israel?” My question, and maybe yours, is “When will we get beyond some of the frustrations caused by the coronavirus pandemic that have caused a lot of us to be a bit unsettled? Jesus’ answer to his closest friends seems a little harsh to me as he essentially told them it was none of their business. His response reminds us: (1) God is God and we are not, and (2) even though God may not answer all our questions, God still loves us dearly and will give us what we need to live the life God has called us to live. Then, Jesus gives the disciples a great word of promise and encouragement in verse 8 when he says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses…..” We may at times ask why, when, or how, and it may seem like God will not answer. We have to be patient and understand that (1) God knows we have questions, (2) we can become frustrated when we don’t have answers, or answers we may not want, (3) yet God loves us and has the best in mind for us.
During these days of pandemic, it is easy to feel discouraged, fatigued and frustrated because it feels like it has lasted too long and some of the “experts” are prolonging it. We have to acknowledge that while we are not in control of much of what is happening, we can control our response. We can live in the negative and allow frustration to morph into anger, or we can follow the teachings of the Apostle Paul who writes, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God…. in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold firmly to the word of God.” (Philippians 2:14-15)
Even in dark times, there is room for celebration. In my days of questioning I reflect on the question, “What has the Lord done for me?” and the list of good things is long. What has the Lord done for you? I bet you can make a long list of all the good God has done for you. Time and again, God has blessed us, provided for us, delivered us, and God will continue to do so.
God hears our prayers and we are never outside that divine love. In fact, God calls us to humble ourselves and be witnesses and evidence of that love to other people.
The more I reflect upon this the more positive my spirit becomes. God is with us. God hears our prayers. God’s love never fails. God gives us the power of the Holy Spirit. With these reminders, I am ready to face a new week with hope and joy. How about you?
May 5 – It’s A Great Day!
I woke up to the happy sounds of birds chirping and wind chimes making melodious music as a cool morning breeze welcomed the rising sun, and I decided this is going to be a great day. I choose to celebrate the beauty of God’s creation which includes the plants, flowers, nature and all the people with whom God surrounds me. Our Great Creator has painted us beautiful sunrises and sunsets and lots of clouds, trees, flowers, and sounds that we can admire when we take walks and look for the signs of life around us. I’m going to offer a kind word, albeit through a mask, of encouragement to the people I encounter in an effort to spread joy and hope while most of the news that is being shared involves disease and the number of people that are dying. I’m going to thank the person that delivers my mail, and offer a cold drink to the men that collect the garbage I place by the road. I’m going to write a note to someone I have not seen in a long time to let them know I am thinking of them and praying for them. I’m going to sit on my front porch and offer words of encouragement to the children that are playing across the street and to the walkers and bikers that go by my house. And tonight, before I lay down to sleep, I’m going to take a walk around my yard and look up at the stars and moon and praise God for the majesty of who God is, the day God has given me, and all the ways God has walked with me through it.
April 28 – Message from Jim Everette
Few people like to hear themselves talk and even fewer like the way they look. Watching and hearing myself preach for the last two Sundays has been an odd and uncomfortable experience. Though the sermons preached from the pulpit of our church have been available for listening for a quite a while, I have not made it a practice of listening to my preaching. I don’t think I have listened to myself preach since my seminary days in the Delivery of Sermons class. Each student was assigned a passage of scripture from which we were to prepare and deliver a sermon before our classmates, with an audio recorder in use for each “Preacher” to have the opportunity to hear what they said. This was nearly forty years ago so there were no video recordings. Classmates were to critique each other with the reminder from the professor, “As you critique, remember, you will have your day in the pulpit.” The professors words helped us season some of our “constructive criticism” with words of encouragement.
Many of you have been kind and gracious with your comments regarding my preaching over the years and for that I am appreciative, but the Preacher is always aware that one sermon is preached but many are heard. Typically, the hearers mindset, disposition, personality, life situation, etc… effects the way they hear. As I have sat in the congregation watching and listening with you for the last two Sundays, I have been pretty critical of the preacher. “I messed up here. I messed up there. I preached too long. I looked the wrong way.” I asked, “Am I walking the talk?” I needed to be reminded to trust the power of the Gospel. The word “Gospel” means good news. The Gospel has always been presented in lots of ways and lived out in unique situations, always imperfectly because none of us is perfect so we depend on the power of the Holy Spirit to bridge our gaps. In the midst of this pandemic, we see the Gospel and hear it on our screens every day.
Many of our heroes are wearing Personal Protective Equipment in hospitals, face masks while they fill and distribute food boxes, they sit at sewing machines making masks and share from their bank accounts such that other people stay afloat. They stretch themselves beyond what they previously thought they could do and they develop new friendships with people they passed by previously. One of the things this person in the congregation has seen and heard come out of COVID-19 is that Super Heroes don’t were capes. Like Jesus, they have scars—scars that are evidence of healing for them and the lives they have touched. I hope all of us is taking advantage of our day in the pulpit, and that we are “walking the talk” as God’s good news outdistances the spread of COVID-19.