Hope for the Worriers

Matthew 6:24-34

This Sunday our text is a very challenging one for us.  As we read Jesus’ discussion of “do not worry,” we will be thinking about what disturbs our serenity and peace of mind.  “What shall I eat?” or “What will I wear?” or “What will happen tomorrow?” are the questions that are keeping us awake at night, that keep us from enjoying today, and keep us from seeing God’s provision for our life.

In the verses earlier Jesus told us to pray, “Give us today the bread we need.”  That is obviously a reminder of God providing manna in the wilderness.  As God provided manna, the Israelites has to trust the daily provision.  Those that hoarded it as they feared for tomorrow, experienced worms and stench in their tents.  Those that did not observe the Lord’s commands to respect the Sabbath, went without and were hungry.  Our daily bread comes from God, and as we understand God’s character and desire to care for us, we are able to live day-by-day not burdened by worry.

Jesus closes the section by telling us that each day is its own challenge.  That is where our energies need to go as we face this day.  Today when God’s manna is to be collected for this day.  The sixth day, when we have to collect extra for the Sabbath has its own challenges.  Then we live the Sabbath, where the provision of God is being supplied by the extra effort of yesterday.  But each day is a day for us to know the God of provision, the God that cares for each of his children each day and understands the trials that each of us face. 

Pastor Greg

The Unexpected?

Matthew 5:1-12

This Sunday begins a three-sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount.  This sermon of Jesus has been described as the outline for his kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven.  The sermon begins with 9 Blessed, or Beatitudes.  Being blessed is not being happy.  Being blessed is dwelling in a place of God’s acceptance and favor.

Who is in the place of God’s acceptance and favor?  The poor in spirit, those who mourn, and those who are meek.  None of these would make the top ten list of desired places to be.  But these are the kind of people that God has designed his kingdom for. These are people who have been rejected by human society, those that are considered unclean and unfortunate, but they are the ones that God favors.

Be with us Sunday as I consider the cream of the crop in the kingdom of heaven

Pastor Greg

Confronting the Evil that comes to Us…

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “The person who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as the one who helps perpetuate it.  The person who accepts evil without protesting against it, is really cooperating with it.” 

Recently, I have been reading about human psychology, especially mass psychology.  The question was asked, “If you were in Germany in the 1930’s, would you have been a part of the Nazis?”  Most of us shirk that thought, but we need to remember these were good people caught up in a bad ideology.  Nazism was billed as the wave of the future, and the way of the enlightened.  The first steps of Nazi domination were small and billed as care for the mentally ill, or health concerns in the nation.  Soon the asylums were emptied as the patients were euthanized, and the Jews were required to wear yellow stars. 

Where would you have drawn the line?  Most people want to “go along to get along,” yet some going along really is getting on the slippery slope with no way to stop.

My earliest community memories included the last vestiges of Jim Crow South.  Many good people stood by as some black people were unfairly treated, cheated, and even physically injured because they just wanted to get along.  They may have even convinced themselves that that person deserved this treatment because they were black. 

The quote by Dr. King above is an indictment of those of us that find almost any excuse for not to raise our voice against evil.  Dr. King did view the world as containing good and evil.  He decried the evil of segregation and mechanisms that kept so many in poverty.  The evil had to be confronted, and only by showing the evil in the light of truth was the evil vanquished.

In our text this week, Jesus confronted the evil one by exposing his lies and deception to the truth of God’s Word.  So on this MLK Day weekend, how are we fortifying ourselves with truth to expose the evil that wants to dominate all around us?

Pastor Greg

“…he saw God’s Spirit descending like a dove and alighting on him.”

          This Sunday’s message is from Matthew 3:1-17, the Baptism of Jesus by John.  In this event in Christ’s life, we see the presence of each member of the Holy Trinity.  The Son comes up from the water, the Father speaks from Heaven, and the Holy Spirit descends as a dove. 
          The Holy Spirit is always moving, active, and present.  In the opening pages of the Bible the Holy Spirit is moving on the waters, the dove is released from the Ark by Noah, and the Spirit “comes upon” people in the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, Jesus is compelled into the wilderness by the Spirit, the Spirit is like the wind that blows, a rushing wind on the day of Pentecost, and dancing tongues of fire on those present in the Upper Room. 
         The Holy Spirit is active.  How is the Spirit active in your life?  We often get confused by those that see any activity of the Spirit as an ecstatic experience with obvious manifestations.  But that is not the way for us to see the activity of the Spirit. 
         I read an account of a young man that wrote in his blog, “How I did not kill myself yesterday.”  He described the depressions, sense of hopelessness, and emptiness he was experiencing during the Christmas season.  He felt he had no one else to turn to and was about to hurt himself, when he called the Suicide Prevention Hotline.  The counselor there helped him to put things into perspective.  He soon realized there was hope, there was a tomorrow. 
          The article I read was written by his pastor and she noted that it was the Holy Spirit descending and using the counselor to bring hope to the young man.  It made me wonder about how many times I had not been open to the Spirit.  How many times had I not allowed the Holy Spirit to descend upon me so that I could be the tool of God building up that other person?
          For 2023, I want to be more aware of the times God the Holy Spirit is moving me so that I can be a blessing to others.  
Pastor Greg

Happy New Year!!

Matthew 1:1-17
The God of History

New Year’s Day sermon will be from a text that is rarely preached.  The genealogy from Abraham to David to Joseph.  There are many fascinating parts of this genealogy, but the big picture is the working of God in the lives of historical men and women.

Of the four Gospels, Matthew is seen as the continuation of the Old Testament.  This Gospel is showing the Jews that Jesus is the promised Messiah.  And this genealogy shows the two most important people for the covenant or promises of God, Abraham and David. 

Matthew is the Gospel for 2023.  Matthew wants us to see that the plan of God is working in time and history.  Matthew shows us that the Messiah is not some fanciful legend, the Messiah is a real person, and he deals with the real situations of our lives.

The sermons will take Matthew in the order they are presented, and not the retelling of the story of the Church Year as other lectionaries do.  We will look at this One that is the fulfillment of the promises God has made with Abraham and David.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

Luke 2:1-20

The Humiliation of God

The texts for this year’s Advent and Christmas have show the movement of God.  The movement of God in the work of redemption is a downward movement.  Paul uses, what many think is a hymn from the early church to describe this movement.  In Philippians 2 we see the gift of the Redeemer:

Christ Jesus,
who, though he existed in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be grasped,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    assuming human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a human,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

This was done to thoroughly un-impress the mighty, the powerful, the top of society, they mocked him as a “son of a carpenter” and someone from Nazareth (Hicksville).  But the low in society, the cast off, the forgotten masses of the unwashed is where the Good News is proclaimed. 

Pride is often our biggest block is speaking the good news of Jesus.  We don’t want those we are trying to impress to associate us with “those people.”  In the Advent of the Savior of the world, God eradicates all forms of human pretentiousness and self-importance.  Even the “kings from the east” must come into a humble house and bow down before a peasant girl and her baby. 

The angels were not wrong, this is the way to glory, this is the demonstration of the glory of God in the Highest and the way of peace for all peoples. 

Paul continues:

Therefore God exalted him even more highly
    and gave him the name
    that is above every other name,
10 so that at the name given to Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

The call for us at Christmas is to humble ourselves so that we can be with the rough and smelly shepherds bowing in the dung of a cattle stall.  Then we will see the glory of God coming in the perfect gift of love.

Church on the Square

Thank you Tony Roberson for this awesome video.

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Matthew 1:18-25
The Moral Dilemma of Listening to God
Now, the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way…”
(Matt 1:18)

Matthew introduces the events of Jesus’ life in a very simple way.  Yet, soon the account moves from simple to a moral dilemma.  Joseph, a righteousness man, an honorable man found himself having to choose between his honor and his fiancée.  She was pregnant (Matthew adds “by the Holy Spirit.)  Joseph knew that he had not committed fornication, so he had a dilemma, a decision.  He could break off the engagement with Mary or go ahead with the marriage and be subject to the gossip and suspicion of his community.

To be moral in the eyes of his community Joseph would have sent away Mary.  She would be labeled as immoral, but he would be proclaimed moral.  Or he could believe her, accept her, love her, protect her and her child.  This would brand both of them as immoral, unrighteous, and dishonorable.

Joseph did not listen to the gossipy whispers of his neighbors, but he did listen to the voice of God by the angel and then bore the shame.  Matthew tells the story of Joseph as a strong, silent type man.  Joseph made bold decisions, brave decisions to protect his family.  Joseph is a great example of Christian manhood and fatherhood.

As we follow God in our lives, we will be called immoral by those that call themselves righteous.  We will be the object of much gossip by our neighbors.  For example. I have been ridiculed by our church’s welcome and acceptance of the LGBTQ community in the last few weeks.  They called the welcoming of all of God’s children “immoral.”  Joseph accepted Mary’s humanity and loved her no matter what.

The book of Hebrews 13 talks about Jesus bearing the shame outside the gate, outside of the accepted community.  Then we are given a choice to bear the shame of Christ and identify with him outside the gate.  We need to realize that identifying with God often involves bearing shame, ridicule, dishonor, and even being labeled as sinners.  So, during this celebration of the birth of the Christ child, let us not also forget the bravery we need to love the Christ child that is the Son of God.

Pastor Greg

Welcome!!

We have just updated our church website. Hopefully you will find it useful.
We know that there might be a few issues that we have to address. Please be patient while we work through them.

The Annual meeting is being held on
Sunday January 29, 2023 at 11:30AM

Immediately after Traditional Service

It will be live streamed.

Voting rules will be announced at that time.

Please be a part of this. Our church is only as strong as its members.