"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9 NRSV)
Here we are at the beginning of a new church year already! In these pages you will find information about worship, Sunday school, studies, activities, and opportunities for witness, fellowship and mission. We are blessed to be part of an active community of faith! I’m looking forward to this new church year and what God may bring to each of us as we journey together.
In the quote above, Paul is addressing a church that is in the midst of a tumultuous time. He was seeking to give advice as to how to “keep the faith” in the midst of all that was going on around it. It brought to mind this vignette I read in the Wall Street Journal years back:
“I wish I were big enough honestly to admit all my shortcomings; brilliant enough to accept praise without it making me arrogant; tall enough to tower above deceit; strong enough to treasure love; brave enough to welcome criticism; compassionate enough to understand my human frailties; wise enough to recognize my mistakes; humble enough to appreciate greatness; staunch enough to stand by my friends; human enough to be thoughtful of my neighbor; and righteous enough to be devoted to the love of God.”
They entitled it “Sincerity.” It seems to me that this would make an excellent focus for prayer and devotion. If I prayed this with “Lord make me…” instead of, “I wish I…” it might focus me towards God’s transforming love in a powerful way. As I hear Paul reminding the Church in the quote above, we tend to follow the way our minds focus and heart looks. Peace comes when these are focused on God’s “excellent things” and we follow what’s on God’s mind.
If you’re looking for peace in the midst of all the challenges of the day, I invite you to join me. Looking forward to seeing and walking with everyone as we enter into a new church year!
“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)
I have always loved this parable. It reminds me that God is never on break. God is constantly searching after us. Writes Ann Childs, “God feels about us much the way a football player feels about the ball; fall on it, hang on to it at all costs to legs, arms and head.” The kingdom of heaven happens, because God finds us, touches us and we open our hearts to receive that great love God freely offers.
Notice each one of the ‘pearls’ has a final worth of such value that all else is dispensable for the sake of one. The buyer must sell out to buy. So, God’s way is one of complete sacrifice for each one of us. God’s sacrifice is shown to us most fully on the Cross! On those days when I feel that nothing that I do is right, when I feel alone, or unlovable; there is “Good News” for me… and for you!
I Remember years ago there was a bumper sticker that went around churches saying, “I found it.” The Good News is that in truth it is the other way around; God searched and found YOU! That is what worship is all about; giving thanks for a gift received and opening ourselves to receive it anew! To say thank you to God who would not give up on us and ask what we might do for God in gratitude. In the words of the hymnist, “I sought the Lord and afterward I knew He moved my soul to seek Him … seeking me. It was not I found O Savior true. No I was found of Thee.”
Come join us in worship and give thanks for a gift received!