In today’s Scripture passage, Jesus shares his prayer for us to be “one” - just as God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One. Jesus viewed our “oneness” as the most powerful message we have to share with those who will come to believe in Christ.
United Mission Week may have ended last night, but we might still hear the echo of United Mission Week worship in our Sanctuary today. Each evening this week, students and volunteers have gathered to worship. The worship attitude that unfolds in them from Sunday to Thursday reveals an ever-deepening love for God’s presence being experienced in community.
Today is the final day for our group of United Mission Week participants. I’m sure by now, the realization that this group of people will not be together in the same way tomorrow is setting in for them.
Today we reach the midpoint of United Mission Week. Two days (Mon/Tue) of serving and blessing in our community are completed. Two more days (Wed/Thu) remain to be revealed.
This is an exciting summer week for our church family! As you read this, there are 300+ United Mission Week students and volunteers coming together to serve local families and individuals through construction projects, and through partnering with local non-profit organizations to serve the elderly and needy children in our area.
I want you to imagine with me a room filled with 300+ United Mission Week students and volunteers as they sit down together to have breakfast this morning. Yes. It is noisy and hectic and may look impossible at first glance. But trust me, there are skilled, patient and loving volunteers who will make sure everyone has their fair fill of eggs, bacon and waffles before heading out to serve in the community today.
A great deal of research has been done based upon birth order, behavior and personality. I am the youngest of two, the little brother. But I am also Dean and Doris’ son, Liz’s husband, Patrick and Blaire’s dad and my grandchildren’s Pop. There is a great deal of security in knowing our place. Again, it defines us, gives us a known.
When I ask people, what they do, the normal response is, “I am _____” In other words, we define ourselves by our work. It’s common not only to say, “I am ____”, but also to value and define ourselves by our work. It makes us feel secure to know we have a place, a value or a definition based on our work. As long as we have that picture of ourselves we feel secure.
We have one common fear, the unknown. If we could only know exactly how everything works, if we could only know what the future holds, if we could only know everything! Then, oh then, we wouldn’t be afraid! Or would we? It seems the more we know, the more frightened we are.
The term “original sin” brings many images to mind. Contrary to what many of us think, or were taught, original sin has nothing to do with sex. Consider the temptation of Eve by Satan. “Eat the apple and you will be in control, like God.” We think, “If I’m in control there is nothing to fear.”
One of the most iconic and odd American millionaires was Howard Hughes. He built great wealth and a unique reputation. As one of the wealthiest of his day he was asked in an interview, “How much is enough?” With a smile, he replied, “Just a little bit more.”
“The fear of God”....”Put the fear of God in them”, those are phrases that cause us to pause and ask, “Is this trembling, frightful feeling what we feel when we consider an encounter with God? Sorry for the pun, but I FEAR this is the way we do feel at times.
There are few nations in the world where the founding idea was as simple as one word, “Liberty.” It is defined as a: the power to do as one pleases. b: freedom from physical restraint. c: freedom from arbitrary or despotic control. d: the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges. e: the power of choice.
Yesterday, we celebrated the 4th of July, America’s day of independence. We celebrate this day in all kinds of ways - hotdogs, fireworks, family gatherings, parades and various displays of our patriotism. Most of us are proud and grateful to be citizens of the United States.
Today we celebrate Independence Day as a nation. I am grateful to live in the USA. I hold a deep appreciation for the freedoms we have. And while our American independence came in separating from a ruling monarchy, I wonder if we haven’t taken the idea of independence too far in the US. Self-sufficiency has very little to do with God’s kingdom.