Greetings Of Peace and Joy!
blessed fourth week of Lent! I participate in worship leadership weekly, yet only have the honor and joy of preaching a few times a year. I am Minister Of.Children, Youth & Young Families, I usually deliver the Pastoral Prayer and then spend the balance of service making sure our young people are fully engaged in service. This is when I make the scripture activities such as Bible Bingo, and sometimes questions they can answer while listening to the sermon (most usually delivered by Rev. Gary Bernard Williams). Since yesterday was one of those rare days, I decided to take the opportunity to share with you some of what I would’ve shared with my congregation. The link to the MP4 with one of my favorite worship songs (no, I am not singing) and my message are in a link below. I welcome you to listen to that and let me know what you think.
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’
God is inviting Israel in the eighth century BC to re-enter the Promise Land into remain focused on what is good, pure, life-giving and nurturing. Babylon had been their prison, and much as consumer culture has enthralled billions today, so many of them were inthralled with the idolatry and earthly markers of success of their place and time. Currency and resources were spent on buying and possessing.
Today, we spend money and resources on buying more and more, and on more and more of what will, in the end, kill us, such as junk food instead of healthy food. While all die in the end, there is quality of life to consider highly. We export unhealthy food to those who usually would have eaten from the crops of local farms, and many of our inner-city people have easier and more affordable access to what I called Mess then to the nutrients needed for optimum spiritual, physical and intellectual health. In this section, I quote it from the world health organization and sojourners magazine as well as usin insights gleamed from other theological sources.
My sermon wis about Repentance for individual and collective sin toward God, which is inextricably connected two how we treat each other including the most vulnerable amongst us. We are conversely invited to the table of God where Grace is free, Jesus has already paid for everything on our behalf and everything we consume is good. This is a call and invitation for the church to be hospitable as well, because the church is here as a light on the hill and a foretaste of the Kingdom. Everything else in the message goes back to this core truth. God said come and Jesus continues through the power of the Holy Spirit to say come. By extension, Jesus’ disciples say come to all of those who need to taste and see that the Lord is good.
There is so much mess and clutter in the world. We look for our keys. My son, for one, can’t find his backpack most mornings. We seek approval, acceptance, success and all the rest. Nothings inherently wrong with any of that as long as we remember to seek God first. So, God reminds Israel to seek God in everything they do and that will ensure that they will prosper in the land. They’ve received this message before, but maybe this time it’ll stick. Well, we’re still working on seeking God first. Let us never give up and seeking God first and seeking to do what is right and just.
Guilt is not what God wants from us:
God simply wants us to Repent which is return to God and endeavor to change. This change is possible when we seek true transformation and pray and obey. Lent is a special dedicated opportunity to clean out, rebuild, recommit, and accept God’ invitations to come to the banquet. It is risky. It requires we sit next to people we usually might not sit next to. It requires we admit we have fallen short, which is a hard thing to do. It means excepting we are not the center of anyone’s universe. It means saying no at times to what we really want. The awards, on the other hand, cannot be counted.
If nothing else, being asked to trust God is the most countercultural principle of all. I think, if we could trust God, then the rest of this would probably be easier. I definitely have my moments and those moments definitely need to be repented for. Repentance is the process and practice of emptying out that mess at the cross and making room for abundance. No, not an end to suffering or even hunger, but it opens us to blessings beyond anything imaginable.
We have to choose and constantly make the decision to trust. Faith is something given to us as a gift and when we don’t have it, we pray for it until we do.
As we continue on this journey to the cross and beyond, I pray that you find your faith, that if you have an abundance of faith you keep it and share it. Share your story! Share your savior!