Several years ago, a wise Pastor shared some sage advice with me, advice that had been shared with him decades earlier. Simply: “The devil does his best work in the church.” Jesus explains it clearly in our Gospel and it’s what our lessons are about this morning.
Isaiah uses words to describe God in no uncertain terms. God as ‘the first and the last.’ A ‘rock’ unlike any other. God is reminding us that he’s there with us – on good days, on bad days. No matter what. There’s the image of God who is the constant for us, despite what‘s happening around us, and despite what we do.
Paul’s writing helps us claim our identity, showing us how to live in spite of what’s going on around us. (more…)
What do you expect out of worship? More specifically, what do you expect from the proclamation, the sermon?
Me? I expect change. When Carol and I go to worship, I have every expectation, every hope, that we will leave the worship hour different people than when we came in. And each Sunday as we gather here, I preach with the intent, that you and I together, will be a changed people. Why? Because I take seriously the promise of our first lesson this morning. Isaiah’s wonderful prophecy that says God sends the Word out and it will not return empty. It will accomplish its purpose, it will succeed in its task. Now think about that. What we are about is not some social construct; not some philosophical option; but rather an understanding that God has a desire for God’s people, and God uses us to do the work that changes the world, one person at a time.
There are a number of ways to think about hospitality, a number of definitions. They include welcoming of the stranger – opening doors, setting up beds. Stocking shelves at food pantries – preparing meals at a Soup Kitchen. Cooking and setting the table for dinner in the Fellowship Hall. Our Gospel this morning talks about hospitality. Telling us plainly about what’s meant by welcoming others. It’s the simplest of actions. One that begins with trust and openness. It’s a gesture that becomes a way of life.
During our Church Council Retreat each year, we ask people to talk about why it is that they are members of Faith. (more…)