God created Sabbath for us, not as a measure of our goodness or way to prove our righteousness, but as a way to keep us centered on what matters. Keeping the Sabbath holy helps to keep our lives grounded in what is holy. Worshiping God reminds us that we are not God. We are God’s people, and we come here to remember that: we are beloved, empowered, sent out into the world as God’s servants. 

Rejoice in the Lord, Always

Rejoice in the Lord, Always

It’s a lot easier to accept things if we know we’re not alone. And you aren’t alone, Paul says. Christ is there with you. You don’t have to do this on your own. Life isn’t a test, and you don’t have to prove anything. This isn’t a contest, and there is no prize. Life is a gift, and it is full of joy. 

Or at least it can be… 

“Rejoice in the Lord always,” I tell you. “Again I say, rejoice.” 

Because you can do all things through him who strengthens you. might be crazy enough to work might be crazy enough to work

I won’t pretend to know how the Spirit is moving here today. I don’t know what windmills God has given you the vision to see, what giants you are called to conquer in order to make our community and world more just.
But here is what I do know:

God is not done with the world, and God is not done with us. No matter how bold, how audacious, how crazy and impossible it may seem.. God’s vision for the world is clear.

Giants will be confronted and conquered, New Life and resurrection will be preached and brought to our neighborhood, our village, our county, our state, our country, and to the ends of the earth.

The question is,
If this is God’s vision for us
Are we willing to appear to the world as though we are drunk?

Are we willing to be seen as crazy enough to follow the spirit, 

bold enough to dream God’s impossible dreams courageous enough to charge against giants?
I surely hope so... Because this is our Pentecost calling...

I Love You; Grow Up

I Love You; Grow Up

I think that’s a lot like what Paul was trying to tell the Philippians, what God is trying to tell us in this scripture. Success is not about all the credentials, about pedigree, about accomplishments; in fact, all of that is worthless compared to what really matters. Knowing Christ, living in him, being like him. 

What matters most, a wise soul once said, is “how well and gracefully you are able to give and receive love.” 

You just can’t do that if your own life is the center of your universe. You can’t. You won’t find it if the only path you’re following is your own. You just won’t. If all you believe in is yourself, well, that’s just lonely. Incredibly lonely. 

We need to know we are loved – every child needs that –unconditionally and completely – just as we are. But that’s just the starting place. God has so much more in store for us than that. God has a path towards life – a mature, full, rich life – where we can be truly great – by loving as Christ has loved us. 

Sharing Suffering, Sharing Joy, Sharing Christ

Sharing Suffering, Sharing Joy, Sharing Christ

What Paul hopes and prays for his beloved is that they will come to see their experience the same way, and that it will help them grow in love. Not “love” that’s sentimental or easy, but mature, and strong. One that faces head-in to the truth and has ”hard conversations,” a love that probes and discerns, that puts itself to the test in real-life situations and making moral choices in matters that count.” In other words, he prays that God will keep working in their lives, and they will let Christ do this work in them, so their lives will reflect the love of Christ. 

Philippians is full of joy, but it’s not an easy or facile word for them or for us. This isn’t, “Don’t worry, be happy.” This is down-and-dirty, real-life faith, written from the hardest of times and places. And it’s beautiful; it’s so beautiful. 

Next week we’ll look further at Philippians. If you haven’t read the whole letter yet, I encourage you to do it. It isn’t long – just a few pages. And if you have read it, then read it again. Let it sink in. Let it soak into your skin. Let it fill your heart. 

Let it fill your heart with joy.