Pastor's Monthly Message June 2013

Remember the Living

The reply of Jesus to the potential disciple who asked Jesus to wait for Him to bury his father, “Let the dead bury the dead” Matt 8:27 seems very harsh, especially harsh at this time of the year as we celebrate Memorial Day and remember departed friends, relatives and military casualties. It was not disrespect for the dead but, rather ultimate respect for the living that prompted the words of Jesus. It is respect for the simple truth of life that service rendered is of little value to those we love when they are dead. Kindness that is shown to those who have passed on to eternal life is like the rain which comes after the crops have been destroyed by the summer heat.
The love we offer to the dead, the eulogies, the wreaths and the epitaphs do little to bless the lives of the departed. We should remember them with great fondness, but how much better would be memory if we had shared our fond thoughts about them while they were still living. Most often we withhold our encouragement and affection from the living, waiting for the right moment to express our love, waiting, procrastinating, keeping ourselves busy with the irrelevancies of life until the last moment which we could do something is gone. The flowers which we could have given are now bought as wreaths, appreciation we could have shared with our parents are now a part of a funeral eulogy and the undelivered expressions of love which could have made somebody’s day are now engraved on gravestones.
George Childs made this challenge to us. “Do not keep alabaster to boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your parents and friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them; and their hearts can be thrilled and made happier by them.”

Pastor's Monthly Message May 2013

Let Faith Replace Fear

In this country, as in most of our world we have become increasingly fearful about the health of our economic system. So many factors have eaten away at our confidence and have affected the currencies in almost every nation. In our own country the value of our dollar continues to decline and incomes have either not risen, or in many cases, declined or ceased.
The consequence of the economic sickness will affect almost everyone; the young couple’s dream of owning a house may be postponed. Meeting the educational needs of children is becoming more difficult for their parents, and the retirement hopes of the elderly are being used up to pay for the more expense demands of present day living.
As it is with the diseases that attack the human body, the causes of the economics cancer are more complex. Without question, the deficit spending of governments and by individuals is partly to blame. Declines in the rate of worker production along with the great number of individuals in our society who consume without producing must also bear some of the responsibilities for these uncertain economic times. These contributing factors must be dealt with in the same way that the causes of many diseases are handled; they must be isolated and eliminated as much as possible.
There is one other factor that is more problematic to the economic system than those I have just mentioned., and that factor is fear; fear that the future will not alter the problems of the past, fear that the economic system will collapse, the fear that the traditional values which have made our nation a strong and vibrant economic system are no longer relevant. Fear itself is the greatest threat to our economic system.

Pastor's Monthly Message April 2013

Spring, the Season of Resurrection

With Easter, the seasons of the year change and the cold, dull grey of winter turns to spring. We celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior and we also celebrate the resurrection and renewal of God's creation, the earth, the planet which we inhabit.

Flowers put forth their roots and shoots and the grasses which were dull, grey or brown turn green again and we sense the renewal of life.

In the North, the snow melts and becomes the life giving rivers of water which bring new life to the seeds the farmers plant. For those who believe, the regeneration of spring is also a witness to the divine creator. In the spring, death gives way to life; and all the resurrections of the season reveal a more abundant world, more filled with hope with a promise of a new harvest to come.

The evidence of God's love and plans should not only be evident in the season but also in each of us. We are witnesses to the truth of spring, but our lives are also a renewing testimony of the God who gave them. Isn't it strange, then, that many of the same people whose lives testify of God do themselves deny him? Many people look at the miracle of Easter and the annual renewal of the earth and do not see any divine plan. They see instead a mere work of change, a random association of some natural selection. How strange it is that the handiwork should deny the hand that the created should deny the creator. How incredible that men should look on Spring and not see in it the miracle of God's creation? How incredible that men can look at Easter and not see the hope of salvation.

Pastor's Monthly Message March 2013

Pursuit of Joy

The great musical work by Johan S. Bach “Jesu, Joy of Men’s Desiring” is one of the best known musical works in the Christian church. It has been the processional march for thousands of brides for their weddings. I think one of the reasons it is so well loved is because it captures the thought and hope that every human heart responds to, the pursuit of joy.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we may well wonder how the life of Jesus could serve as a model for joy. He was born poor, the son of a village carpenter, the resident of a tiny town in the rural area of an occupied nation Isaiah. The prophet, described him as “a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief and suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). When He attempted to preach love and compassion to his own people, His life was cut short in the most humiliating manner possible in His day.
So we ask where was His joy? By our standards, He really never had a responsible job. He did not convert great multitudes. Jesus, however, did not measure His life in terms of economic or numerical success. He was ultimately concerned with the quality of light and truth that He could bring to human souls.
He really did not enjoy the things of this world. He was not wealthy in a material sense. What He did enjoy were the beautiful gifts of God in this world. “Consider the lilies of the field” He said, “even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these”. (Matt 6:29)
He really did not experience much friendship. People came to Him, to hear Him, to use Him, to get something from Him, but they were equally willing to leave Him when He needed them. In His darkest hour in Gethsemane, He was totally alone. The most important friendship was with His father in heaven and that never failed Him. His friendship with His Father sustained Him through His trials and crucifixion.

Pastor's Monthly Message February 2013

Love Over Duty

We do many things in life out of a sense of duty. We obey speed limits, come back to to work after the weekend, observe the laws of Nation and State. All of this is out of a sense of duty. There are many Christians who also see their relationship with God as acting out of a sense of duty. We worry that He is stalking us, peeking around some corner ready to "get even" if we do too many bad things. So with grim resolve we are determined to read the Bible, go to church, give our offerings while we mentally check off our list of Christian attributes.

Duty certainly has a place in everyone's life. We admire it for what it is. It is a wonderful teacher, a bell that wakes us up from moral slumber. It is a stick that prods us on and reminds us that life is greater than our own small passions. Like children, we would rather play than work, and therefore, need something to motivate us into more noble living.

However, we should not be bullied into thinking that duty alone is enough to transform us, cleanse our hearts and lead us back to God. It is not strong enough for that. At some point, it is love that must transform duty. We should obey God, not because we fear him, or even because it is "the right thing to do". In the end we need to obey him because we love him. We should ache to serve him. We should yearn to be like the one who is the center of our highest ideals and fondest affection.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness". We understand "hunger" and "thirst". Perhaps the most real things we experience are "hunger" and "thirst". "Love" is another work which breaks through the barriers of the heart and moves us like nothing else can.