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A Different Promise for a New Year

 

Jeremiah 31:7-14
Psalm 147:12-20
John 1: (1-9), 10-18

 

1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'”) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” (John 1:10-18, NRSV)

 

Let us pray: Gracious God, you have redeemed us through Jesus Christ, the first-born of all creation, whose birth we celebrate as the child of Bethlehem. Bless us with every spiritual blessing that we may live as your adopted children and witness to your glory with unending praise and thanksgiving. Amen.

 

Words. Words. Words. Our lives are full of words. There are written words, there are spoken words. We are bombarded by words. Some of these words are good and positive and helpful while others are not. While I was enjoying the multitude of bowl games over the last few days there were the endless beer commercials, numerous credit card and debit relief ads and the plethora of weight loss ads. By Saturday evening I was numb by all the words. In our world of words we have learned that when we speak we must be careful with our words, especially in our politically correct culture. What may seem like innocent words to one person can be hurtful and damaging to others. Words make a big difference. Words. Words. Words.

 

Words are important. This is the idea that John begins his Gospel and his daring theological claim that Jesus was “in the beginning” with God, that Jesus was “the Word of God” and “That all things came into being” through him. John begins with God who is the Word.

 

“In the beginning was the Word; the Word became flesh.”  The Greek word for Word is “logos” from which we get our word, logic.  “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” is then translated:  “In the beginning was the logic and the logic was with God and the logic was God.”

 

Before there was anything, before there was matter, before there was light and life, there was a plan.  In the beginning was the logic and the logic was with God and the logic was God.  The brilliance was God.  What John is saying is before something was created, there had to be a plan behind it; and from this logic, all light and life was created.

Words.

Words.

Words. Some words mean more than other words do…

 

John states that Jesus whom we know as Savior was the Word God uttered when God said, “Let there be light.” Jesus was the Word that came down the mountain when God spoke to Moses.  Jesus was the Word the prophets spoke when they said, “Thus says the Lord…”  Jesus was and is the Word. Words. Words. Words.  Some Words are more meaningful than others.

 

Jesus is not just the messenger from God; Jesus is the message.  Jesus does not simply teach us how to live; Jesus is life.  Jesus does not simply point to the Light; Jesus is the Light. Words. Words. Words.

 

The Bible, the Holy Word of God is full of wonderful and powerful words. But even those life-changing words are not enough.  Take music for example, music is so much more than notes on a page…when it is played with passion it can bring out our emotions, it can move us to tears, it can change our hearts and touch our deepest feelings.  Love is more than telling your spouse you love them; it is living it out each and every day of your relationship. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, the magnificent Word of God is more than just words written in this Holy book.

 

The Word of God is not simply good words to live by and rules to guide our lives. It is God Himself.  The Word become flesh.  The Word, which was in the beginning with God, the Word, which created all that is, the Word, which is light, and life, became flesh born of Mary in a manger in Bethlehem.

 

We in the church use Words each and every week to profess our faith.  We say we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  We say the Apostle’s Creed, or the Nicene Creed, we affirm our belief in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yes, that is what we say when we combine those Words and say the Creed.  But are those just words for us?  Do we say them because the bulletin or the prayer book says that is what comes next?  Do we say them because we have memorized the Creed and it is rote to us, it just rolls off our tongues each week?  Words. Words. Words.

 

Do we really believe the Words we say?  Do we really believe that God in Christ is the Savior of the world? Do we really believe that God can make a difference? A difference in our lives, our families, our jobs, our financial situations, our broken hearts, your failing health, and our violent city?   Do we really believe that God cares about our community, our city, our state, our nation, our world, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine or any other nation?  Or are they just Words we say each Sunday?  Do we know what we say when we say these words? Do we really believe that God will forgive all our sins and save us from the relentless guilt that is part of our lives?  Do we really believe that can do all of that?  That is what it means to be a Savior.

Words.

Words.

Words.

Do we mean what we say when we say them?

Or are they just Words for us?

 

Years ago, when our children were much younger, bedtime was a challenge in our house.  Every night one of our three children had an issue with going to bed. Most every night one of them would plead for mama or daddy to lay with him or her because they were afraid. “Daddy I hear noises…” I responded by saying, “It is okay Mama and I are downstairs and you will be okay.” A few moments later and then we would hear that same voice pleading again, “Mama, I am scared please come and lay down with me…” Monnie would respond, “Don’t be afraid it is nothing, just go back to bed and close your eyes.” After a while the voice, even more sacred this time would return, “Mama, I can’t sleep, can I sleep in your bed?”  We would finally give in and say, yes.   The next morning we would ask the child what they were afraid of.  Our children would talk about the noises and sounds they heard.  We lived in a really old house that was on a busy street so it made sense.  But I realized that the words of comfort that Monnie and I offered to them were just that words.  What our children wanted was our presence with them, our flesh, and our warmth, something tangible to calm them and calm their fears and help them sleep.

 

That is the promise of God in these Words from John, the word became flesh and blood and lived among us.  Words. Words. Words.  Sometimes Words can give life and calm troubled hearts.  Words. Words. Words.  May Jesus the Word become flesh and live in your heart and in mine now and forever.

 

Let us pray:

The Most Extraordinary Request

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51:1-12
John 12:20-33

 

12:20 “Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. 27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—”Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.” (John 12:20-33, NRSV)

 

Let us pray: God of suffering and glory, in Jesus Christ you reveal the way of life through the path of obedience. Inscribe your law in our hearts, that in life we may not stray from you, but may be your people. Amen.

 

We wish to see Jesus.

Pretty basic.

Pretty simple.

Sir, we wish to see Jesus.

 

In many ways that is the basis of why we come to church, it is what we do and who we are. In the modern age where we are all about goals and mission statements.  Having this request as a goal just might be the best we could do. We wish to see Jesus.

Isn’t that why we come to church?

Come and See…see what?

See Jesus.

 

Some Greeks come up to the disciples and request to see Jesus.

What does that mean?

Well, Jesus tells us.

 

Here we are in the fifth week of Lent.  One more Sunday, Palm Sunday, before we celebrate Easter and the resurrection.  We have this pivotal story in Jesus life as described in the Gospel of John.  The entire Gospel of John has been pointing to this climatic moment.  Three times already in the Gospel of John Jesus says “My hour has not yet come.”  He said it in chapter 2 before he turned water into wine when his mother suggests that he do something before the wine runs out.  Jesus turns to her and says, “My hour has not yet come.”  Then he says it twice in chapter 7 to his brothers and then to the authorities who were trying to arrest him.  “My hour has not yet come.”

 

Now, suddenly these Greeks come and ask to see him and he responds “O.k. now is the time.  My hour has come. It is time for me to die.” I don’t really know why now, why is this the hour for Jesus?  I can imagine a few things.  He recently raised Lazarus from the dead, a miracle that angered and shocked the authorities.  The authorities realized that with miracles like this, raising someone from the dead, Jesus would get too popular, would challenge their power and authority.  Scripture goes so far to tell us, “From that day on they planned to put Jesus to death.”  So Jesus surely knew how he had angered them and knew that his time was coming.

 

And when the Greeks come and wish to see him, it only reinforces that their fears are coming to fruition.  These Greeks represent the broader world and indicate that Jesus’ ministry was starting to take off, his popularity is growing.  In a strange convergence, Jesus’ hour has come because both his supporters and his opposition wanting to see him meant that more and more people were following him.  His popularity and his hatred only leads to more eyes on him so his hour has come. Jesus knows that everything is not as it seems and that his followers don’t really understand what it means to follow him.

 

It is still that way today.  Garry Wills wrote a book in 2007 entitled “What Jesus Meant” which talks about the vast difference between the popular Jesus that the world thinks about and the Jesus of the Bible.  Wills says about the Jesus of the Bible.

 

“He preferred the company of the lonely and despised. . . . He crossed lines of ritual impurity to deal with the unclean, the lepers, the possessed, the insane, the prostitutes and adulterers, and collaborators. . . . He was called a bastard. . . . He had a lower-class upbringing . . . chose his followers from the lower class. . . . Jesus not only favored the homeless, he was himself homeless. . . . He was in constant danger of being arrested and assassinated. . . was called an agent of the devil . . . consorter with loose women, a glutton and a drunkard. . . . The puzzled disciples trotted behind, trying to make sense of what seemed to them inexplicable, squabbling among themselves about what he was up to. It would never have occurred to them to wear a WWJD bracelet.” (“Foreword: Christ Not a Christian”)

 

Jesus challenged everybody and everything in his life.  He even challenged his own religion, and every step he took in his life was a step closer to the cross.  Instead of teaching about how to get ahead in life and how to have a lot of fans, he said things like, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies it bears much fruit.”  Instead of teaching how to be successful, he said things like, “Those who love their life, lose it.”  And then he laid down his life, even though he didn’t have to.  (Idea from John Buchanan sermon, 4-2-06)  He could have gotten out of it- he was the son of God after all.  But he knew what he came for and he was willing to suffer for it.

 

He was willing to die, because he knew as he told us that “When I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.”  People will look up at the cross and see why I came.

 

The message and meaning of the cross is what Jesus told us that the way to gain your life, the way to live your life fully, is to give it away, in love, for his sake.  The message of the cross is the message of the Christian life, which is always about giving.  The Christian life is not so much about conquering, converting, and growing as it is about giving, serving, and loving. (John Buchanan, 4-2-06)

 

Why did Jesus have to die?  To show us how to live.  Yes, he died to save us, so that we might have eternal life.  But he also died so that we might live, so that we might have abundant life.  And how do we do that?  We lose our life, when we give it away for others.

 

I saw something in this text this week that I have never noticed before.  When Jesus says that unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies it is just a single grain, what he is basically saying is that unless a grain dies for others it ends up alone.  I take that to mean that unless you live your life for others you will end up alone, just you and your little life.  To be alone, really alone, uninvolved, isolated, is really to bear no fruit.  There is nothing to bear, no fruit, no productivity.  Loving our life so much in this world, loving ourselves more than others, not giving and caring and loving leads to a fate worse than death.  It leads to a life of loneliness, disconnection and unfruitfulness.

 

Jesus died, because he refused to compromise, he refused to give in to the ways of power and authority, he refused to give up what he knew was the way to life.  Jesus died because he believed that the way to real life, the way to eternal life, is to live for others.  He died to show us that in living for others we become who God created us to be.

 

He died to show us that there is nothing in all of life or death to be afraid of, for when he died and was lifted up he drew all people to himself.

 

Sir we wish to see Jesus. And what does seeing Jesus mean? It means we see the cross. It means you we see how to live and how to die— for others.

 

Let us pray:

 

Promises for a New Year

January 4, 2015 (The Second Sunday of Christmas)

 

1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'”) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” (John 1:10-18, NRSV)

 

Let us pray: Gracious God, you have redeemed us through Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate as the child of Bethlehem. We thank you for the grace that we may live as your children and witness to your glory. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.

 

Here we are once again at the beginning of a new year. We are beginning 2015 and saying goodbye to 2014.

Normally at this time of the year only four days in to the New Year I am already upset because the best laid plans I have made to follow through on that New Year’s resolution are all for naught.  But not this year!  This year is different because I decided not to make any resolutions for 2015.  Well except for one; I am not making any.  I have promised myself that I will not live with the guilt of failing to keep it this year. Why put so much pressure on myself to be a better person, to lose weight, to get in shape?  No resolutions this year! Besides if I keep them then I think of myself as a great success and if I don’t then I think of myself as a huge failure. And there you have it is all about me!  If I think it is all about me then I am in for a rude awakening. After all it is not all about me or us!  At the beginning of the year or the end of the year or anytime in the year. It is so much bigger than that!

 

Our Gospel lesson for today sheds some light on who it is all really about and who is ultimately in charge. The Gospel of John begins like the other three gospels with an account of Jesus’ back ground. The Gospel of Mark introduces Jesus to us as an adult, telling us that Jesus was “a man from Nazareth.” The Gospels of Matthew and Luke begin with Jesus’ birth narratives and Jesus’ miraculous conception and virgin birth. But John, goes back even farther.  John goes back to the beginning of time itself.  Before anything else had been created, Jesus was. John is making a huge theological statement about Jesus stressing that Jesus/God was the creator of all that is, that is why John begins with the Word.

 

Words. Words. Words. Our lives are full of words. There are written words, there are spoken words.  We are bombarded daily by both written and spoken words.  Some of these words are good and helpful and others are not.  While I was watching the multitude of bowl games this past week there were the endless beer commercials, numerous credit and debt relief ads and the multitude of weight loss and make – your – life better claims that are forced on us.  Midway through the week I was numb from watching.  Words. Words. Words.

 

Some words mean more than others do…

 

This is the idea that John begins his Gospel and his daring claim that Jesus was “in the beginning” with God, that Jesus was “the Word of God” and “that all things came into being” through him.  John begins with God who is the Word.

 

John states that Jesus whom we know as our Savior was the Word God uttered when God said “Let there be light.”  Jesus was the Word that came down the mountain when God spoke to Moses.  Jesus was the word the prophets spoke when they said, “Thus says the Lord…”  Jesus was and is the Word. Words. Words. Words.  Some are more meaningful than others.

 

Jesus is not just a messenger from God; Jesus is the message.  Jesus does not simply teach us how to live; Jesus is life.  Jesus does not simply point to the Light; Jesus is the Light.  Words. Words. Words.[i]

 

The Bible, the Holy Word of God is full of wonderful and powerful words.  But even those life-changing words are not enough.  Take music for example, music is so much more than the notes on a page…when it is played with passion and emotion it can move us to tears and it can change our hearts and move our deepest emotions. Love is more than telling your spouse you love him or her; it is living it out each and every day of your marriage.  The Son of God, Jesus Christ, the magnificent Word of God is more than just words written in this Holy book.

 

The Word of God is not simply good words to live by and rules to guide our lives. It is God himself. The Word became flesh. The Word, which was in the beginning with God, the Word, which created all that is, the Word, which is light, and life, became flesh born of Mary in a manger in Bethlehem.

 

We in the church use Words each and every week to profess our faith. We say we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  We say the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed.  We affirm our belief in God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yes, that is what we say when we say it.  But are those just words for us?   Do we just say them because the bulletin says that is what comes next, do we say them because we have memorized the creed and it is rote to us, just rolls off our tongues each week? Words. Words. Words.[ii]

 

Do we really believe that God is the Savior of the world? Do we really believe that God is the Savior of our families, our children, our lives and our souls? Do we really believe that God is the savior of our loneliness, our broken hearts, our jobs, our financial situations, our faltering economy, our failing health?  Do we really believe that God can save our community, our nation, our world, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa or Israel, Palestine, hunger, homelessness, addiction and brokenness?  Or are they just words.   Do we know that is what you will say when you use those Words later in our service.   Do we really believe God will forgive all our sins and save us from the relentless guilt that is a part of all of our lives?  Do we really believe that God really can do all of that?  That is what it means to be a Savior. Words. Words. Words.  Do we mean what we say when we say them?[iii]

 

Because if we mean them they are far more than Words. They are an acknowledgment that life is about so much more than “me”. It is a confession that God really can heal and forgive and provide. It is a testament that God was present in the beginning, even before the beginning and God will be present beyond the end, bringing about new beginnings.

 

That is the promise of God in these Words that God who is the Word became flesh and blood and lived among us. Words. Words. Words. Sometimes words can give life, and hope and a fresh start… It is not all about us. It is about Jesus, the Word made flesh.

 

Today the first Sunday of a new year, 2015 and we embark on the next journey of life…will the Word become more than just Words, Words, Words, may the Word, Jesus, become flesh become flesh and live in your heart and mine now and forever.

Thanks be to God.  Amen.

[i] The Reverend Dr. George Sinclair, Government Street Presbyterian Church, Mobile, AL.

[ii] The Reverend Dr. Craig Barnes, Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburg, PA

[iii] The Reverend Dr. Craig Barnes, Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburg, PA

To Welcome and Receive

“To Welcome and Receive”

Jeremiah 28:5-9
Matthew 10:40-42

 

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes

me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the

name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a

righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of

the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these

little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose

their reward.” (Matthew 10:40-42, NRSV)

 

Let us pray: Faithful God, your love stands firm from generation to

generation, your mercy is always abundant. Give us open and understanding

hearts, that having heard your word, we may seek Christ’s presence in all

whom we meet. Amen.

 

It has been two summers now since my last trip to Guatemala. I have

been to Central America a half a dozen times on mission trips in the last twenty

years. One of the most important things that I have learned about travel to Central

America is the all-important packing and information list. It is usually a one page

piece of paper that spells out some vitally important survival tips for the trip. For

example, how much to tip the people who handle your luggage, how to make your

trip safe, what is the appropriate attire, even though it is hot, shorts should not be

worn because it is a sign of disrespect. Make a copy of your passport in case you

lose it. Where and how to exchange money. What immunizations you will need.

Malaria pills, insurance, and liability forms.

 

The packing list includes all kinds of items: ear plugs, hat, motion sickness

pills, flash light, small battery operated fan, rain poncho, water bottle, camera,

water shoes, sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above, mosquito repellent, antiseptic

hand wipes, an extra pair of shoes in case one gets muddy, snack food, and several

other items I won’t bore you with. But if you were going you’d want to know about them.

 

I am extremely grateful for the detail of the “what to pack” list for

Guatemala. But I can’t help but compare that list to what Jesus tells his disciples

earlier in Matthew chapter ten. He tells them to “Take no gold, or silver, or

copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff.”

(Matthew 10:-9-10, NRSV)

 

Jesus’ disciples don’t have the luxury of such a packing list. Jesus simply

says “Go to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Proclaim the good news that the

kingdom of heaven has come near. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers,

and cast out demons.” He tells them what to do and where to go but gives them

no packing list. He simply says you will rely on the hospitality and kindness of strangers.

 

This is played out in our two verses of scripture from our gospel reading for

today. And there in our short passage is this one line: “and whoever gives even a

cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple – truly I tell

you, none of these will lose their reward.” It is such a little thing, don’t you think,

of all the things Jesus says, it is so simple; to give a cup of cold water.

 

We often hear Jesus’ call to discipleship as an impossible mission. We

imagine it requires a huge sacrifice, and yes, sometimes discipleship is a huge

sacrifice. But this time, Jesus seems to say, it’s nothing more than giving a cup

of cold water to one in need. Or offering a hug to someone who is grieving. Or a

listening ear to someone in need of a friend. Or offering a ride to someone without

a car. Or volunteering at the local food bank. Or making a donation to an agency

like IPM or MEAC Or…you get the idea.

 

Discipleship doesn’t have to be heroic. It can be small and simple.

Discipleship can be any number of things: acts of devotion, tenderness, and

forgiveness that go largely unnoticed but they keep our relationships healthy and

alive. You see the life of faith is composed of a thousand small gestures and

simple acts. Except that, according to Jesus, there is no small gesture. Anything

done in faith and love has great significance for everyone who is involved and thus

it impacts the world that God loves so much.

 

You probably have heard as many times as I have Loren Eiseley’s famous

story of “the star thrower” – the one about the guy tossing starfish after starfish

into the sea. When asked why, he replies that if they don’t get back in the water

soon, they’ll dry out and die. Looking at a beach strewn with thousands of starfish,

the other person responds that he can’t possibly hope to make any difference. To

which the guy says – “To the ones I throw back, it makes all the difference in

the world.”

 

Exactly. Because Jesus has promised to return to redeem everything in

love, to fix all that is damaged, heal all that is broken and hurt, and wipe the tears

from every eye, in the meantime we are free to devote ourselves to acts of mercy

and deeds of compassion small and large. We don’t have to try and save the

world – that is what Jesus has promised to do! – But simply being aware that even

the smallest act of care and kindness for another person can change everything!

Even a cool cup of water can change the world to those to whom we give it and,

according to Jesus, such acts have endless consequences.

 

Can you imagine that, that each and every act of welcome, hospitality and

kindness is filled with Christ’s love for the world, a love we can share anytime and

anywhere with gestures that may seem small and insignificant but are vital in the

lives of those to whom we offer them.

 

The good news is that many of you are already doing this. You are already,

in countless ways making this world God loves so much a little better, a little

more trustworthy, a little more joyful through your gestures of love, mercy, and

compassion. You see, there is no small gesture, no small act of kindness, no

insignificant welcome and it is precisely through these small acts, the cups of cold

water, hugs, helping hands, and listening ears that you are caring for the world God

loves so much.

 

So, I change you, as we leave this sanctuary today and go out into a thirsty

world and offer a simple cup of cold water, a genuine smile, to a lonely stranger, a

heartfelt prayer to a hurting friend, a warm casserole to a grieving widow, a $20

bill to a hungry person, a second chance to someone who made a mistake, a

listening ear to a confused and unsure neighbor. You get it. Now go and do it.

Let us pray: