Archive for June, 2016


Unity

unity-sermon-graphic-2015-1Ephesians chapter 4 focuses on unity within the body of Christ. Here is what verses 1-6 have to say; “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

What a beautiful picture this paints. Unity in the body of Christ, unity in the church, unity in our communities, even unity within the world. But we are a long way from this picture described here. We are divided among nations, races, classes, in crowds and out crowds, in-laws and outlaws, employed and unemployed, democrat, republican and independent, and so many other ways we divide ourselves.

I guess we can see how this is possible out in the world around us. The media, advertising, and our peers push for division, they push to have us constantly decide who belongs and who doesn’t. And you know what? It works. Everything plays on our emotions of wanting to belong, to have stuff we don’t need, and to be liked by all the “right” people. Why can’t we just be ourselves? Why can’t we be accepted for who we are? Why do we have to live under a different standard?

Regardless of what the world is telling you, I want to tell you today that you are accepted, just as you are. The creator of the universe calls out to you today and says; “I love you, just the way you are, not for who you should be, because none of us are as we should be.”

Now, if we live our lives with this knowledge of God’s love, we can show the world, we can witness to the world, how we can live within the bonds of peace and unity which God is asking in this passage from Ephesians. We can live in unity, peace, and love for all people.

This past Sunday in Lanark, we celebrated Old Settler Days. We, as a community, joined together for a weekend of celebration, food, games, events, and many others, ending with a community wide worship service. We gathered together, regardless of religion, denomination, faith history, or even belief. We witnessed to the community in Lanark, that we were unified in our mission to help those in need, to search out the lost, the lonely, the broken, and to bring the message of Jesus Christ to all who need to hear. Our offering that morning went to the Eastland Council of Churches HIT force, a group that helps those in our community with home improvements. Once again, fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ to reach out to those in need. This is what it means to be the church, to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, and to participate in the kingdom right here on this earth. And we did this in a unified fashion, we stood united as the Church that Jesus Christ has called us to be.

This is what we are called to be in this passage of Ephesians, one body, one church, unified in one Lord, one faith, one baptism through one God who is in all and through all and over all. God was glorified in the worship service this past Sunday and I pray that all who attended witnessed the great love of God in the service of others which was spoken of and lived out through our actions. Glory to God. Amen.

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Sermon-Slide-20161 John 3:1 says this; “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

This past week I was honored to take a group of youth to Camp Courageous, a special camp for those with mental and physical disabilities who would normally not be able to experience camping. It was a wonderful week, filled with hard work, playing, and deepening our faith in Jesus Christ.

We focused on unity and discovering who we truly are. The verse I quoted from first John points to the answer of the question of who we are. We are God’s children. But what does it mean to be a child of God.

We it means that we live our lives differently. It means that people should see that we are different than what the world around us thinks we should be. But how do we do this?

Well, if we focus on four different areas, we can live our lives as God has called us to.

First, God has given us all spiritual gifts. These are gifts used to participate in the Kingdom of God, to proclaim the good news, and to be the body of Christ which God has called each of us to be.

Second, we should live a life of integrity. The way we live should be the same whether we are at work, school, church, in our homes, or even out in public. We need to live the same way so that we glorify God in all that we do. And we do not glorify God when we act one way around our church family and a completely different way out in public, it’s not right.

Third, God calls us a “priesthood of all believers” and what that means is that we are all ministers. We may not all be called to the pulpit to preach, but we do have individual gifts like a said earlier, and we need to use them to minister to the world. Some of you may have the gift of hospitality, or the gift of compassion, maybe the gift of music or speaking, the gift of leading or organizing. These are all gifts given by God for us to use in the kingdom, to proclaim the word, to reach out to the less fortunate, to love our neighbors.

When we use these gifts, we become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, serving this world around us.

Finally, we must view our lives as God does, a life of deep worth. We are children of God and we need to live our lives like we know that. Too often the world around us and even the people we call friends beat us up, tear us down with comments about who they think we are, or maybe we are bullied and belittled, making us believe we are sub-human beings. But I want to tell you differently.

As it is said in Jeremiah, God knew you and ordained you before you we formed in your mother’s womb. He has a plan for you and your life, it’s a plan to prosper you and not to harm you. God desires to be in a relationship with you and for you to proclaim that relationship and the gospel message of salvation to this world that is so desperately in need of it. God so loved the world and that includes all of you, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will have everlasting life, and life abundantly.

You are a child of God and you have worth, over everything the world tells you, over what your co-workers tell you, over what your friends tell you, over what your family tells you, you have worth and are called to great things.

I know who you are, you are a child of the Almighty God!