Friday, April 26, 2013

Sermon #3 - "when did we see you...?"

Last Sunday's sermon, in fact the whole service, was brought to us courtesy of our youth group! (I love my youth group!) They fashioned the service to mimic a regular youth evening. It was good. And then we had a Bible study like they have. They wanted us to study the same passage they had recently studied. So we heard the scripture passage read a few times and then we had some questions to guide our own reflections. We talked about these reflections after and they shared what they had discovered in the passage.

The scripture passage used was Matthew 25:31-46. This is the story of the separation at the judgment of the goats from the sheep, with each group asking why they were placed in that particular group. The reason? It all had to do with how they treated the less fortunate they met....the sheep acted in compassion when they saw someone hungry, naked, thirsty, etc. The interesting thing for me here was that these people did not do it as something for Christ. They just did it and it was Jesus who said it had been done for him. And based on those actions alone, Christ gives them eternal life. The "goats," on the other hand, are relegated to eternal punishment because they did not DO those things to the "least of these."

As a congregation, we were given a few guiding questions to direct our thoughts and conversations with people around us. One of those questions was "What about this text makes you uncomfortable?" "Plenty!" was my thought! Why are people judged just for their actions? What about their beliefs? How much actions are enough to be considered a sheep? How little makes you a goat? Who are the least of these? I can't do it all! Is giving money to causes such as the food bank considered feeding someone? Or how about giving money to MCC for giving homes to others? Do I have to do it directly?

Another question was what we would add to the list if actions Jesus lists. That was interesting. My response is included with the list compiled below.

when I felt no one cared you gave me a place to belong.
when my home was shabby and falling apart you helped me improve and make it cheerful.
I was young and you listened to me.
I was old and you honoured me.
I needed money for school and you sent some for me.
I needed a phone call when I was sick and you called me.
when I was hooked on drugs, cigarettes, and liquor you sent volunteers to visit, comfort, and show love.
when I told you I was gay, you welcomed me.
I was bullied and you stepped in.
I was depressed and you encouraged me.
I was invisible and you saw me.
I was untouchable and you embraced me.
When I was mocked, you stood up for me.

Boy, if we as a church follow through on these, we will change our community! Are you up for the challenge? I hope I am.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sermon #2 - "Why are WE here?"

What is the church's purpose? Why do we meet regularly? How do we bear witness to Christ?

The sermon suggested two ways, but our pastor said she was stumped for a third and asked that we come up with some ideas. But first, the two reasons for being the church she had thought of.

First and foremost, the church is here to worship God. By worshipping corporately, we are declaring our love for and adoration of God. God is worthy of all our praise and doing that together gives it strength.
Secondly, we are here to empower each other to use our God-given gifts both within the church and beyond. We call each other to serve and then we help each other in that role.

But what would I put as another reason? The church to me has always been my family. As we have lived away from our extended family for most of our married lives, the church has become the village that raises our children. We could not have done it on our own. For a number of years, my husband's job took him away from the family every other weekend. Who did I go to for support? The church. Where did I go for adult conversation? The church. Where did I go to for childcare, play dates, preschool? Yep, the church. And now I still need the church. I need the church to encourage me, I need it to remind me that life is more than just me, I need the church to hold me up to God in prayer when I go through tough times. I need the church, just as everyone needs a family.

But beyond the selfish, I think that the church family is called to live in unity. When we live together in love, not always agreeing, but always united, we are a testament to the living Christ.
Philippians 2:1-4 talks about how we are to live together with others because of our unity with Christ.  It is the antithesis of the "I" mentality so prevalent now, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others," (v.4). Colossians 2 talks about how being united in  love helps people to understand the mystery if Christ. (v. 2) Being united in Christ brings glory to God. (Romans 15:5-6)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sermon #1 - Why are you here?

Why do you go to church? In her sermon Easter morning, April presented a nice alliteration of three different reasons people come to church, those being: Believe, Behave and Belong. Check out April's summary here:

But why do I go to church? I would also say that I go for all three reasons above. I believe in Jesus and His community of the church. I grew up going to church and it was definitely an expected behaviour for all Christians to go to  church. It was a barometer to use when you wanted to know whether someone was a Christian- did they go to church? If yes, then they were. If not, then they probably weren't. Rather simplistic, I'd say now, and not entirely accurate. I also go to church because of the feeling of belonging. I belong there, with that group of people. I belong in Christ's physical manifestation of him- his church.

Some Sundays I go to church for one reason, and sometimes for another. I can truly say I am glad that I have found a local community that worships together a risen Saviour.

But another reason I go to church is to remind myself that it is not about me. Life and worship are not to be an individualistic experience. With so many things around me telling me that I need to do what's right for me and what feels good for me, and as I type on my iPad, I need the weekly reminder that I am part of a community. I am not the centre of the universe, and there is more to life than what I want or what I feel. And somehow that reason ties in all three above. I believe in Christ and his church and I behave in a certain way by attending regularly and I belong to this community.

I do believe that's why April followed up this sermon with the next one...."Why are We Here?"
Reactions to that are in the next blog entry....