New Vision

New Vision

Rev. Dr. Glenda Hollingshead; October 28, 2018

23rd Sunday after Pentecost

Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Mark 10:46-52

 

(Instruct folks to take out cell phones and hold them up. Take pics of the congregation and the choir. Then have everyone except those assisting later in the service, turn off cell phones.)

 

When Jesus asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus answered, “Let me see again.” Let me see again. I invite you to ponder these words even as we reflect on this day, this Reformation Sunday. Let me see again.

 

You may recall that last year marked 500 years of the Protestant era. Good things came from the Reformation—for instance—the corruption of leaders in the church was exposed, Scripture gained authority, grace was elevated as a critical doctrine of the church, the Bible became accessible, and literacy spread. Yes, good things grew out of the Reformation. But, as a reaction against the Catholic church, good things were cast aside—things like stressing the importance of silence and solitude and various prayer practices to help heal the woes of our human condition.

 

Five hundred years after the Reformation, the church is alive but is the church well?  And how is the Presbyterian church doing, in particular? We, who are often called the chosen frozen, have quite a reputation for being a cerebral bunch that leans on head knowledge rather than the knowing of the heart.

 

There is no doubt, the church, no matter the denomination, hardly looks like it did—even 50 years ago.  But is that necessarily a bad thing?  Scholars have been warning that a massive cultural shift happens in the church about every 500 years. If that’s true, we are due another Reformation. The thought of such a thing might cause us to freeze in fear or it might encourage us to evaluate our way of being and doing, and to ponder what we might do, not just to survive, but to thrive.

 

First Presbyterian Church of Valdosta has a long, rich history. Organized in 1864, the cornerstone to this sanctuary was placed in 1907. In 1958, the Fellowship Hall was erected with the Centennial Building constructed in 1964. Our church started 3 congregations in the area—West End Presbyterian Church 75 years ago, Twin Lakes Presbyterian Church 73 years ago, and Trinity Presbyterian Church 33 years ago. We have a long history of supporting foreign missions as well as other missions like Thornwell Home for Children and Presbyterian Homes of Georgia. Additionally, the Break Bread Together Program began 45 years ago, and the Father Daughter Valentine Dance began 22 years ago. What wonderful opportunities God has given us and those who have gone before us. Thanks be to God!

 

Undeniably, our story is rich and inspiring, but, by the grace of God, our story is far from over. For surely, we do not intend to rest on our laurels and go down in history as the church that “used to” be one of the large downtown churches, as the church that “used to” have resources aplenty, as the church that “used to” have a reputation for planting new churches and new ministries. No. Words like “used to” are words that do not serve us well. Instead, your Session and I have been encouraging you to try some new words, words like creativity and celebration, words like gratitude and generosity, words like explore and experiment.

 

These words have compelled us to start the First Friday Contemplative Service, to experiment with a multi-generational Sunday school class that allows us to pool our resources and learn together no matter our age, to try spiritual retreats and a variety of spiritual practices on Wednesday night and during Holy Week, and to dream of what wonderful things God might have in store for us. Some things we try on Christ’s behalf will succeed. Others will fail. But how will we know if we do not give it our all. Either way, we will press on. As a church, we will press on because being faithful is our goal, growing into the likeness of Christ is our goal, following the way of the Spirit is our goal—so yes, we press on to share the love of Christ whenever and however we can.

 

Making the love of Christ known is our reason for paying attention to our use of social media. The world of technology has exploded over the past decade—which is why most of you have a smart phone on your person. There is nothing like it to spread news quickly. Allow me to demonstrate. With my iPhone, I am going to send a text message to some folks in our midst. Let’s see what happens.

 

(Text 6 people, whom I contacted earlier in the week, a snapshot of the words of “Jesus Loves Me,” and one by one they will stand to say their line.)

 

Modern technology! It’s incredible! Of course, we may resist technology, and yearn for the good old days, but the truth is, technology—in one form or fashion—has a history of being used to spread the gospel. For example, the famed Roman Roads of the Ancient Empire were among the foremost technological advances that helped Christianity spread after Pentecost, when the work of the apostles, including Paul, really began. The construction of the Roman roadway system started in 500 B.C. and ultimately spanned over 250,000 miles. While the roads enabled the Roman Empire to grow, they also propelled the Gospel.[i]

 

Fast forward through time to 1448 when Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press. Gutenberg’s printing press meant more access to information and more widespread criticism of religious authorities. For Martin Luther, this new technology was something truly glorious. He praised its timeliness and encouraged its potential. Luther recognized a new “road.” [ii]

 

The Roman roads and Gutenberg press of today are the internet, the smart phone, and social media. Faithful church folks and even those who claim to be spiritual but not religious take advantage of Bible apps, prayer apps, and daily devotional apps on their cell phones. Make no mistake, people are plugged in, so it behooves us to recognize the “new road” that is before us. If we have eyes to see, we will learn to utilize new technology that God has provided for such a time as this.

 

Allow me to demonstrate. How many of you have Facebook accounts? I invite everyone who wishes to do so to simply log onto Facebook and check in. (Allow a moment.)  What just happened? We just let our friends and family know that on this Lord’s Day—when we could be most anywhere doing most anything—we chose to be here worshiping God together.  With just a few taps of a finger, we have played the role of evangelist. We did not go knocking on doors. We did not mail out stacks of flyers. No. Just tap, tap, tap. And we were witnesses for Christ.

 

Perhaps you are sitting among us thinking, “I have no use for modern technology. I don’t have email. I don’t even have a cell phone. Furthermore, I want no part of any of it.” No worries. No worries at all. Because here is the crux of the matter: social media and new technology like Facebook will NEVER take the place of face to face interaction. If social media isn’t your thing, then do evangelism the tried and true way. Sit down with a friend over coffee or tea and tell her how Christ has changed your life. Mail a First Friday Contemplative Service invitation to someone who is having a hard time. Call your grandson. Invite him to church the second Sunday of next month so he can stay for Friends out Front and we can get to know him, and he can get to know us. Whether with friends or strangers, take every opportunity to share a smile and a listening ear. My brothers and sisters in Christ, if we want to remain a relevant voice for this community, there is work for us all to do and it will take all of us to do it.

 

Dear saints of First Presbyterian Church of Valdosta, in my prayers for you, I have asked God to let me see what we might do together in the coming months and years. When I close my eyes and imagine our future, I envision us planting something new right here on Patterson Street. I see the sanctuary filled with people who have a passion for Christ and an eagerness to grow in faith and love. I see us employing Facebook to stay connected but also to evangelize, thereby impacting more people for Christ.  I envision new technology that allows us to livestream worship services on Sundays. I imagine people coming to the church during the week to pray. In my dream, the church has earned a reputation for being a place where people have the courage to seek new ways of being the church in these rapidly changing times. We are known for feeding the hungry—in body and in spirit. For the church and wider community, we offer day retreats and weekend retreats that allow sacred space for spiritual growth. And we have financial blessings that permit us to start new ministries and to renovate our lovely sanctuary and adjacent buildings as needed.

 

Reformation Sunday is a good day to celebrate, to reflect, and to ponder. But, it is also a good day to pause and hear Jesus’ question for us, “What do you want me to do for you?”

 

“Lord Jesus, help us see again. Give us courage to embrace your vision for our future.”

 

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

[i] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-c-crosby-dmin/the-new-roman-roads-techn_1_b_1577636.html

[ii] https://classroom.synonym.com/impact-did-invention-printing-press-spread-religion-6617.html

*Cover Art “Sunflowers” by The Georgia Photography Fanatic; used by permission.

 

 

Doxology: Stewardship Commitment Sunday

Doxology

Rev. Dr. Glenda Hollingshead; October 21, 2018

22nd Sunday after Pentecost

Stewardship Commitment Sunday

Psalm 121; Romans 11:33-36

 

The word “doxology” comes from the Greek δόξα, meaning “glory” and λογία, meaning “saying”—so the literal translation is “saying glory.” A doxology is a short hymn of praise, typically sung to the Triune God. Each Sunday we sing a version of the Doxology during worship but is inside the church the only place where such praise is appropriate? This question was taken up by Fred Craddock in a sermon entitled, “Doxology” –a sermon that has been preached around the world—by him and others. Fred Craddock, who passed away a couple years ago, was one of the greatest preachers of all time.  He was a minister, professor, writer, storyteller, but above all else, he was a lover of God.

 

Often churches have visiting preachers for Stewardship Sunday, but instead of doing that, I want to share Craddock’s “Doxology” with you.  Why? Because I believe it reflects why it is important to be good stewards of our God-given resources—to give glory and praise to our Triune God. So, nearly in its entirety, I offer you Fred Craddock’s “Doxology”:

 

In the fall of the year, even after the days grow short and the air crisp, I still go out on the patio alone at the close of the day. It usually takes only a few minutes to knit up the raveled sleeve, quietly fold it, and put it away. But those few moments are necessary; everyone needs a time and place for such things.

 

But this particular evening was different. I sat there remembering, trying to understand the painful distance between the day as I planned it and the day as it had been. The growing darkness was seeping into mind and heart, and I was at the night. Looking back on it, I know now that it was the evening on which the Idea came to me. But frankly I was in no mood to entertain it.

 

It was not really a new Idea, but neither was it old. It was just an Idea. And it returned the next evening. I was relaxed enough to play with it a little while before it went away. The following evening I spent more time playing with the Idea and feeding it. Needless to say, I grew attached to the Idea before long, and then I had the fear that it belonged to one of the neighbors and that I would not be able to keep it. I went to each of the neighbors. “Is this your Idea?” “No, it isn’t our Idea.” I claimed it for myself and exercised an owner’s prerogative by giving it a name. I named it Doxology.

 

I took Doxology inside to our family supper table. Supper is family time, and conversation is usually reflection upon the day. If all are unusually quiet, I often ask, “What was the worst thing that happened today?” John answers, “The bell rang at 8:30.” “Well, what was the best thing that happened?” “It rang again at 3:30.” Tongues are loosed and all of us—Laura, John, Nettie, and I—share our day. Supper is a good time and pleasant, and the whole family agreed Doxology belonged at our table.

 

The next day Doxology went with me downtown for some routine errands. But somehow they did not seem routine. We laughed at a child losing a race with an ice cream cone, his busy tongue unable to stop the flow down to his elbow. We studied the face of a tramp staring in a jewelry store window and wondered if he were remembering better days or hoping for better days. We spoke to the banker, standing with his thumbs in vest before a large plate glass window, grinning as one in possession of the keys of the kingdom. We were delighted by women shoppers clutching bundles and their skirts at blustery corners. It was good to have Doxology along.

 

But I had to make a stop at St. Mary’s Hospital to see [Marva]. [Marva] was dying with cancer, and the gravity of my visit prompted me to leave Doxology in the car. Doxology insisted on going in and was not at all convinced by my reasons for considering it inappropriate to take Doxology into the room of a dying patient. I locked Doxology in the car.

 

[Marva] was awake and glad to see me. I awkwardly skirted the subject of death.

“It’s all right,” she said. “I know, and I have worked it through. God has blessed me with a wonderful family, good friends, and much happiness. I am grateful. I do not want to die, but I am not bitter.” Before I left, it was she who had the prayer.

 

Back at the car, Doxology asked, “Should I have been there?”

“Yes. I’m sorry. I did not understand.”

 

Of course, Doxology went with the family on vacation. This summer we went to the beach down on the Gulf. What a good time! A swim before breakfast, a snooze in the afternoon sun, and a walk on the beach for shells in the evening. Doxology enjoyed watching the young people in dune buggies whiz by and spin sand over an old man half-buried beside his wife, who turned herself in the sun like a chicken being barbequed. It was fun to walk out into the waves. These waves would start toward us, high, angry, and threatening, but as they drew near, they began to giggle and fall down. By the time they reached us, they had rolled over, we scratched their soft undersides, and they ran laughing back out to sea. There is no question: Doxology belongs on vacation.

 

Too soon it is school time again. I return to seminary classes, explaining all the while to Doxology that really Doxology is unnecessary, superfluous at seminary. After all, do we not spend the day every day talking about God, reading about God, writing about God? We do not need Doxology when we are heavily engaged in theology.

 

I was leading a group of students in a study of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. The class soon discovered, however, that in this weightiest and most influential of all Paul’s letters, the argument was often interrupted by Doxology. Early in the letter, in the midst of a discussion of the spiritual state of all those who live out their lives without Bible or knowledge of Christ, Paul insets a burst of praise to the “Creator who is blessed forever. Amen.”

After a very lengthy treatment of the tragic situation concerning the Jews, from whom came the Christ but who had not believed in him, Paul breaks off his argument suddenly and begins to sing: “O the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him to receive a gift in return? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.”

 

Time and time again Paul breaks the line of thought with a doxological reservation, as though suddenly reminding himself of something. Why?

 

Probably because Paul is aware that the Doxology is most appropriate to his task as a theologian. Theology begins with words not about God but to God. People discern first what is sacred, and from there move to what is true and right and good. Worship does not interrupt theological study; theology grows out of worship. And we do not attach chapel services to seminary life in order to provide something extra; we worship because of what has already been provided. A mother does not put a ribbon in her daughter’s hair to make her pretty, but because she is.

 

But more especially, the Doxology is appropriate for Paul’s own life, who he is. Who is Paul that he should write of the grand themes of creation, the history of salvation, and redemption in Jesus Christ? He is himself a creation of the very grace of which he speaks. He offers himself as Exhibit A in evidence of the effective love of God. Why not break into song now and then?

Nothing, in my opinion, could be more appropriate for any of us, whoever or wherever or however. Whether we spend our time at sticky café tables talking revolution or sit in calm indifference on suburban patios, Doxology is not out of place.

 

While on sabbatical in Germany a few years ago, I was taken by friends to a small hotel near Salzburg, Austria, where we had dinner and heard a young woman sing. She was Julie Rayne, a Judy Garland-type singer from London. Her songs were English, German, and American, and so many of my old favorites were included that I soon melted and ran down into the cracks of the floor. During her performance, Miss Rayne sang one number of unfamiliar tune but very familiar words: I lift up my eyes to the hills; from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”

 

What is going on here? If entertainers move into the field of religion, some of us will soon be out of work. I asked to speak with Miss Rayne and she consented. My question was, Why? Why in the midst of popular songs, Psalm 121? Did it seem to her awkward and inappropriate? Her answer was that she had made a promise to God to include a song of praise in every performance. “If you knew what kind of person I was, and what I was doing,” she said, “and what has happened since I gave my life to God, then you would know that Psalm 121 was the most appropriate song I sang.”

 

…Is there ever a time or place when it is inappropriate to say, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”?

 

It was from the class on Romans that I was called to the phone. My oldest brother had just died. Heart attack. When stunned and hurt, get real busy to avoid thought. Call the wife. Get the kids out of school. Arrange for a colleague to teach my classes. Cancel a speaking engagement. And, oh yes, stop the…paper, the mail; have someone feed the dog. Who can take my Sunday school class? Service the car. “I think I packed the clothes we need,” the wife said as we threw luggage and our bodies into the car.

 

All night we drove, across two states, eyes pasted open against the windshield. Conversation was spasmodic, consisting of taking turns asking the same questions over and over. No one pretended to have answers. When we drew near the town and the house, I searched my mind for a word, a first word to the widow. He was my brother, but he was her husband. I was still searching when we pulled into the driveway. She came out to meet us, and as I opened the car door, still without a word, she broke the silence: “I hope you brought Doxology.”

 

Doxology? No, I had not. I had not even thought of Doxology since the phone call. But the truth is now clear: If we ever lose our Doxology, we might as well be dead.

 

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”[i]

 

[i] Sermon by Fred Craddock, As One Without Authority, 131-136.

 

*Cover Art “So That You May Know the Hope” © Jan Richardson Images, used by Subscription.

 

The Jesus Effect

The Jesus Effect

Rev. Dr. Glenda Hollingshead; October 7, 2018

20th Sunday after Pentecost

Psalm 8; Mark 10:2-16

 

Last Sunday evening, Kinney and I settled on the sofa to watch the documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Truth be told, I’ve been dying to see it since it was released, and I was thrilled when it became available on Amazon Prime. The film offers an up close and personal look at America’s favorite neighbor, Mr. Rogers. The informative and moving documentary goes beyond the zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe into the very heart of a creative genius who inspired and encouraged generations of children to imagine and dream and reach for a world of goodness and hope and love—even if that didn’t happen to be the reality in which they found themselves.

 

Born in 1928, Fred Rogers was a television personality, musician, puppeteer, writer, producer, and Presbyterian minister. He became the creator, composer, producer, head writer and host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that ran from 1968 to 2001. On his way to becoming an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, he recognized that television was the perfect medium to reach children in a healthy, positive way as opposed to the way television was addressing them at the time. Later, he would complete his seminary training, but his ministry remained the same—to be an advocate for children.

 

Over the past few months, I have noticed that so many people have become infatuated with Mr. Rogers. In fact, did you know that a movie is to be released next year with Tom Hanks playing the role of Mr. Rogers? Yes, it seems we are infatuated by Mr. Rogers! What is it about him that has caught the attention of a nation? While there are many possible answers, what really captures my imagination is the way in which he embodied the way of Jesus—the way of kindness and goodness and compassion—making time for those whom society considers insignificant—blessing children.

 

That is what we see Jesus doing in today’s gospel reading—blessing children. The disciples scold parents for bringing them to Jesus. The disciples have other ideas of how Jesus should divide his time—not waste it on insignificant children. But Jesus is indignant and tells his disciples, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” It’s noteworthy that this comes on the heels of Jesus addressing a question about divorce—the dividing up of a home. Then Jesus turns his wholehearted attention to those so often effected by the tragedy of divorce—the children. Jesus will unify. It’s us who will divide.

 

For quite some time, an idea has been churning in my heart and mind—an idea that simply will not let me be and the idea is this: If ever there was a time for the church to step up to the plate it is now. Now is the time for us to stop acting like the world—arguing, bickering, turning Christianity into a civil religion more than anything else. Now is the time for us to model for the world how we might be unified in love—unified in faith—unified in our goal to change the world for Christ’s sake. Of course, there are things over which we will disagree—even strongly disagree. But what might happen if the church were to show the world how to disagree in love?

 

Consider Mr. Rogers. He spent his life practicing the opposite of what we see plastered over news or social media sites every day. He practiced humility and kindness and gentleness. When he was just a boy and he would see scary things on the news, his mother would say to him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” And at some point, Fred Rogers became such a helper. He often said, “Love is at the root of everything—all learning, all parenting, all relationships. Love or the lack of it. And what we see and hear on the screen is part of who we become.” Fred Rogers was determined to live out his faith—even on the big screen. But instead of doing things the way other “successful” shows were doing them, he chose to do the exact opposite: low production values, a simple set, and an unlikely star. Sounds a lot like Jesus, doesn’t it? Always going against the grain. Always the paradox. Always the upside-down gospel that the first will be last and the last will be first, that to really have life you must lose it.

 

Oh, dear Christian, in these days of cultural turmoil, we have work to do—serious work—and we have a much better chance of being successful if we put aside our differences—differences between other people in the pews beside us—differences between us and the church down the street.   Instead, we might turn our hearts and minds and strength toward what we share—the Spirit of God coursing through our veins.

 

Today we celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper with our brothers and sisters around the world. Some of us refer to this sacrament as the Eucharist, others the Table of the Lord, others simply Communion.[i] Some of us will use wine at the Table, some grape juice, while others will offer both. Some will break a small piece from a large loaf of bread and dip it into the common cup while others dip bread that has been pre-cut. Some will have homemade bread.  Some will have unleavened wafers placed into their opened hands.  Others will remain seated as trays of the elements are passed to them.

 

There are many ways to celebrate this feast and there are different ways to interpret it. Presbyterians hold that The Lord’s Supper is the sign and seal of eating and drinking in communion with our crucified and risen Lord. In other words, in a mysterious way we cannot understand, we believe that Christ joins us here at his Table. Here we are nourished. Here we are blessed. Here we are sustained by Christ’s pledge of undying love and continuous presence with us. And here we are united with all the faithful in heaven and on earth.

 

Unity—it’s what World Communion Sunday is all about. It’s how it all began. The idea came out of the work of the stewardship committee at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. It was an attempt to bring believers together—a way to remember how important the Church of Jesus Christ is—and how each congregation is interconnected. While the celebration was adopted as a denominational practice in 1936, by 1940 it was adopted by the National Council of Churches. Today, World Communion Sunday is celebrated around the world, demonstrating we are one in the Spirit and one in Christ.

 

That, dear friends, is the Jesus Effect. The love of Christ can change everything and everyone. That is what the church has to offer the world. Not division. Not arguments. Not disrespect. But love and hope and peace and joy and forgiveness. It’s what the world needs. It’s what we need. It’s what our children need.

 

Artist, author, and United Methodist pastor, Jan Richardson, has written a blessing for the church on this special day. It’s a poem entitled, “And the Table Will Be Wide.”[ii]

 

And the table
will be wide.
And the welcome
will be wide.
And the arms
will open wide
to gather us in.
And our hearts
will open wide
to receive.

And we will come
as children who trust
there is enough.
And we will come
unhindered and free.
And our aching
will be met
with bread.
And our sorrow
will be met
with wine.

And we will open our hands
to the feast
without shame.
And we will turn
toward each other
without fear.
And we will give up
our appetite
for despair.
And we will taste
and know
of delight.

And we will become bread
for a hungering world.
And we will become drink
for those who thirst.
And the blessed
will become the blessing.
And everywhere
will be the feast.

 

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[i] “The Things We Share,” by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2005

[ii] http://paintedprayerbook.com/2012/09/30/and-the-table-will-be-wide/#sthash.aCBRdGDQ.dpuf

*Special Thanks to Elise and Evan Phelps, who provided our bulletin Cover Art.

 

Where is Your Treasure?

Where is Your Treasure?

Rev. Dr. Glenda Hollingshead; September 30, 2018

19th Sunday after Pentecost

Psalm 121; Matthew 6:19-21

 

<Read children’s story, You Are Mine, by Max Lucado>

 

There’s a Punchinello inside most of us, isn’t there? An urge for other’s approval, a drive to be like the rest of the crowd, a need to show off all our “stuff.” And like Punchinello, there are many times we don’t count the cost until the cost becomes too great.

 

Today marks the beginning of our stewardship campaign. It’s not the most popular time of the church year because, let’s face it, we don’t want anyone to tell us what to do with our stuff. But if we look at it as a time of preparation, a time of self-examination, we might experience it as an opportunity for spiritual growth. After all, doesn’t our stuff really belong to God? Not 5% of it. Not 10% of it. But 100% of it!

 

Billy Graham once said, “Give me five minutes with a person’s checkbook, and I will tell you where their heart is.” What might our checkbook or checking account say about our priorities? Where is our treasure? If we desire to seek the will of God before anything else, do we need to change how we spend our time and talents and financial resources?

 

Most of the time, I sense God calling me to speak to God’s people as a preacher but occasionally God challenges me to speak as a prophet. I prefer not to speak as a prophet. I know what happens to prophets. They get tied up and imprisoned and stoned and run out of town! Nevertheless, a prophetic word is mine to proclaim.

 

Some time ago, a Catholic priest and I were talking about declining attendance in the churches and he declared that the church has lost its witness. He said, “Churches are filled with people who are physically in their second half of life, but spiritually speaking, they are still in their first half of life. And we have ourselves to blame. It’s the church’s fault that people are stagnated in their faith.”

 

Many experts agree with the Catholic priest’s claims, insisting that the churches’ declining membership is, at least in part, due to low expectations for its members. Leaders are afraid to do hard things—like speak the truth in love—like refuse to accept bad behavior as the norm—like require more out of the people of God because they are, after all, God’s people! But we are afraid. Afraid someone will get mad. Afraid someone will leave. And God forbid—afraid someone will stop giving money. Surely, we should expect more. Surely God expects more!

 

The Book of Order states that a faithful member bears witness to God’s love and grace and promises to be involved RESPONSIBLY in the ministry of Christ’s Church. What does responsible involvement look like? It looks like: sharing Christ’s love through what we say and do; taking part in the life and worship of a congregation; lifting one another up in prayer and supporting one another; studying Scripture and important issues of Christian faith; demonstrating a transformed life; responding to God’s activity in the world by serving others and working for peace and justice for all people, and finally, by supporting the ministry of the church through the giving of money, time, and talents.

 

There’s a Punchinello inside most of us, isn’t there? An urge for other’s approval, a drive to be like the rest of the crowd, a desire to show off all our “stuff.” And like Punchinello, we need to be reminded from time to time that it’s not what we have that counts. It’s whose we are! We belong to the Most High God. Therefore, giving should be a way of life because no matter how much we give, we can never out-give God. Amen.

 

*Cover Art via Unsplash; used with permission