Saturday, August 25, 2012

Making It Better

Each one of us is an important part of our Christian community for we each bring special gifts to the Body of Christ. All congregations go through ups and downs through out their life span. Attendance varies through out the year. Bible Studies come and go. Sometimes the congregation is growing and sometimes it is slipping. What can we do as individual members of our church bring to make it better?

We can each bring our positive faith in Jesus Christ instead of bringing negative fear when we gather for worship or meetings. We can face each problem of the future with a sense of purpose and mission for Jesus the Christ. We can bring a word of encouragement to the fellow member who is trying hard to serve the Lord rather than complain about the way its being done.

We can bring the kind of strength and courage that comes from knowing Jesus as our savior and following Jesus as a disciple. Do not have illusions, we as Christians are not protected from illness, tragedy, stress and depression. It is our faith in God that provides us with the power to get through anything.

We can bring to our community faith life the kind of faithfulness to the eternal call of God in Jesus that brings good things to every day and every situation.

Ministry + Mission + Purpose = a church moving forward for Jesus the Christ. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Secular and Sacred

Secular and Sacred are two concepts that are always in tension. When we think of the word `secular’ we sometimes equate it with evil but that is not an accurate description. The term was once used to describe any clergy who were not in a monastic order but lived among the common people. Secular is defined as being in or of the world. It connotes a sense of the temporary and of being locked into the present. Secular time is empty of the divine and full of the immediate: what we can see, touch, and experience in the here and now.

When we think of the word  `sacred’ we mean `that which belongs to God. We usually perceive that as something which is eternal or beyond our grasp.  Sacred time is full and includes the past, present and beyond the future. Sacred gives us the greater picture of creation and a more powerful meaning to the world around us. We hold in awe something that has been dedicated or consecrated to God or is an act of worship. We who live in the secular often have a difficult time comprehending the sacred. Yet the sacred is all around us, every bit as much as the secular we recognize so easily.

The resurrection of Jesus the Christ has made it possible for us to live in both the secular and the sacred.  The secular calendar has divided chronological time by the birth of Jesus but it was the resurrection of Jesus that gave us our view of sacred time. Our lives now have meaning because Jesus the Christ has conquered all the things that would defeat us and keep us secular. The cross seemed to stop time but the resurrection expanded our sense of time to include God’s time and that has made all the difference.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Liberal OR Conservative Labels

I was recently accused of being a liberal by some one who took issue with a post I made. A short time later I was accused of being ultra conservative by another friend who should know me better. To top it off both labels came because of the same post. It says something about the two people who gave me those labels.

Labels like liberal and conservative are often placed on us by people who want to put us in a box of their choosing. Some of us chose our own label to reflect where we think we stand in our community. We do not all share exact definitions of what those labels mean so applying them to others based on our understanding may be a source of friction.

It is interesting to watch the current political debate where politicians accuse each other of not being conservative enough. The truth is often not considered in the argument but is based on our own bias. On both sides of the spectrum there are people who get angry with others who do not fit their definition of liberal or conservative. Is there a test we all have to pass on this issue? I hope not.

I am an independent mind and the fact is that on some issues I am very conservative and on others I am very liberal. If you are talking money I am very conservative but if you are talking personal rights and freedom I am very liberal. Politics, religion and relationships are all open to reflection and renewal for me. I don’t change my mind easily but I am willing to look at the evidence and seek the truth. There is not enough truth seeking this year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Player or Spectator?

Is our experience with God and His church a blessing? Worshiping God is an important part of our faith experience that suffers if we only watch it. To get more out of our worship experience we must become more personally and emotionally involved in it.

As a former soccer referee I have noticed a correlation between church and the soccer field.  Both boys and girls play the game equally well and all the players are in constant motion. Everyone has an opportunity to touch or kick the ball, as soccer is a team effort. There are great rewards for team cooperation in the results of the game. Coaches and referees also get a lot of pleasure from sharing the experience. Spectators who have little knowledge about the game can easily be bored as the ball goes back and forth with little scoring.  Spectators who take the time to be involved with players and coaches learn about the game and enjoy it more.

I find worship has some of the same qualities. Spectators who do not involve them selves in the actions of worship can be board by the experience. But one who participates in the singing, praying, and devotions are never board. Those who focus their minds on the prayers, and scripture participate in the actions of worship. Singing out with gusto during the hymns or feeling the emotions of the choir’s anthem lifts the spirit to a new level. Even adding an amen as affirmation to the pastors sermon engages the worshiper in the actions of worship. Natural blessing flow from being actively involved in worship.

I encourage you to worship with new energy to both sharing and receiving the grace that is praising God in your congregations actions of worship.