Parents are always trying to convince their kids that certain things like fruit and vegetables are good for them. Or that going to bed and getting a good night’s rest is better than staying up late and playing video games! Sometimes persuasion fails and commands are issued. (That works easier with video games than vegetables!).
In the scriptures for this Sunday I see three reasons that going to worship, going to church is good for people:
1) There is such a thing as the Sacred, the Holy. People need to approach the Sacred and Holy rather than ignore it or “take for granted.” (See Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3).
2) In spite of what we often see around us and in history, God says good will triumph over evil. As bad as we might feel, there is a One who helps and that One has helpers! There is a way forward out of the bad that is provided by God. We need to hear and to see this Hope and Promise! In all its imperfections and weaknesses the Church does point toward God our Helper. (See Paul giving examples of how very different people could ‘get along’ in the congregation in first century Rome. Romans 12:9-21).
3) Being a person of the Church, being “saved” is a way of living, a response to God’s grace that is a way of discipleship. And it can be a challenge! But who doesn’t want the challenge to have a life that is more than survival or boredom or all self-centered or just “entertaining.” We need deep within us to be part of a Greater Purpose than just what we want or think we need! (See Jesus’ challenge to his disciple Peter and all those who would follow the Messiah. Matthew 16:21-28 is about losing and saving one’s own life and soul).
Who wouldn’t want to know the Holy, find a Way through life’s troubles, and be part of a Challenge to live an exciting life with a purpose and a Guide??!! Are we the kind of Church that gets that across to others not part of Church? Are we the kind of Believers that take this awareness to our own hearts and are made glad knowing God our Savior??!
See you in worship this Sunday! Invite a neighbor!
This week we will hear about civil disobedience. By midwives. In ancient Egypt. We will also get reassurance that “the gates of hell will not prevail against” the church. When Jesus spoke of gates the people would likely have images of gates that were strongholds of not only local cities but also powerful oppressive Rome. Jesus has confidence in the “church” he is building with the faith of disciples such as Peter. And lastly we are encouraged by Paul who stresses the “renewing of our minds” so as to be “transformed” so we can “figure out” what God’s will is for us. In other words, don’t be afraid to THINK! Just do the kind of thinking that leads to what is “good, pleasing, and mature.”
I was greatly encouraged by these scriptures! After the last few weeks of civic turmoil and international fear and anxiety, I felt that God shows us we will be given strength of mind and will and community to get through crisis; to be given the means to “figure this all out!”
Of course, the captive Hebrews in Egypt, Peter and the other disciples, and Paul the missionary to a wide cultural range of non Jews (Gentiles) still have a long walk of faith and witness ahead of them! But, God promises to meet the needs of the “will, the mind, and the body of believers” to find a way through crisis and uncertainty.
We may not be captive in Egypt nor subject to the “hellish gates of powerful Rome,” but there are challenges enough in 2017 America and in Middle Tennessee and in our personal lives! God says to God’s people…..”you can do this!”
Thanks be to God~+
See you Sunday!
August, a month of changing light. Gradual but you begin to notice evening comes on and the house lights come on sooner. August 21, 2017 and many Tennesseans (and visitors) will catch the total or partial eclipse.
What better time to read scriptures that speak of light and the Light! And whether personal or family, local or national, nation or international we struggle with darkness, that which makes our life journey questionable, uncertain, fearful. Light and dark. It’s the way we learn to trust in God. And, in turn, share that trust with others also struggling to find their way in the dark.
As Edith Wharton said, “There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” For Christians we reflect Christ. We point to the True Candle.
Since we are less than all we can be and never quite the witness we are called to be each day, we need to be reminded that though not perfect we should
“Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
God is all about using us, the cracked imperfect, to help bring about light where there is darkness.
“Turn on your love light!”
Rescue me! Save me! At some point, in a lifetime, these words will be said. An actual situation will arise both earthly and…spiritually. And maybe more than once!
If you haven’t seen the current movie DUNKIRK, you might want to see it since it’s all about an intense earthly rescue of some 400,000 British and French troops trapped at the beach village during WWII. The rescuing was done mostly by….civilians bringing their own boats to the rescue. Great acts of courage and faith; in rough waters under battle conditions. So it is also depicted in the continuing story of Jacob and his children. Joseph, the youngest, is done in by his jealous brothers! Is he lost? Down a well!
Paul in Romans 10 is still struggling with God’s rescue of both Jew and Gentile. And Jesus, once again, demonstrates to his fearful disciples that He is able to save in rough waters.
No one ultimately can save themselves. No one is “captain of their own soul.” We all need help, we all need each other, we all need a Savior.
And we need reminding! So, we can steer our flimsy boats toward the One who can make a safe harbor and finally bring us home! Bring us all home together!
Yes, go see the movie. And go to Jesus in whom God has acted for our sakes and not ours only, but for the whole Creation, the World God so loved!
Our OT readings continue with Jacob and his journeys. He wrestles with an angel (?), a man (?), God (?). I’m glad Jacob was in good shape as this match went on for some time!
In our passage in Romans, Paul too has both an emotional and intellectual struggle: how can it be that Israel, God’s chosen given the promises, the Law, the Prophets, can’t see God’s new work in Jesus the Christ? And this very Jesus, in Matthew, upon hearing of John the Baptist’s brutal death, withdraws to himself in a lonely desert place. But, quickly he will have to struggle with the needs of the ill and hungry crowds that follow him. AND his slow-to-learn disciples!
The walk of faith is not without its struggles. Almost everyone likes it when “all is well,” and we are at “ease in Zion.” That works but doesn’t work all the time! When the wrestling with God and with people comes upon us we better be well nourished and in some measure of “good shape.” Are you strong enough to wrestle like Jacob? Are we willing to put our minds to work like Paul and study and receive from God’s word?
Finally, are we willing to humbly be fed spiritually when in the desert, in a lonely place, when with others “sick” and hungry as are we? Good questions perhaps. To answer them may require a measure of faithful perseverance and sharing this together with others wrestling with God as well!
Don’t be afraid! Jacob, Paul, and the disciples made it, climbing out “of the ring” victorious, and one day, indeed, sitting down for a truly heavenly banquet!
May it be true for us as well….as we wrestle with God……