May 20, 2018: Happy Birthday

Pastor Steve Mechem

Acts 2:41-47 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.


Audio only.

May 13, 2018: Having

Pastor Steve Mechem

1 John 5:9-12 New Revised Standard Version
If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.


Audio only.

May 6, 2018: Commandments

Pastor Steve Mechem

1 John 5:1-5 New Revised Standard Version
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

When I was in youth ministry I would do this ice breaker.
I would say of pair of things, and the kids would declare which thing they preferred by moving (running) from one side of the room to the other. Imagine 40 kids, dashing back and forth. It is an energetic, chaotic exercise that lets you see how much you have in common with others, Its easier to do than explain. So lets do it. I won’t make you move, we will do by the raising of hands.

pepsi - coke
a real book - kindle
designated hitter - no designated hitter
pizza - steak
reality shows - scripted TV
mountains - beach
rock and roll - country
movie- play
indoors - out doors
black and white- gray
let your kids, friends win so that they might feel good- win if you can because that’s the way it should work
look up every questionable word in scrabble- celebrate creativity
strictly follow the rules - judge each situation

A “rule,” according to Merriam-Webster is a statement spelling out the proper procedure or conduct for an activity.

One might say (probably incorrectly,) that the world is divided into two types of people- rule followers and folks who make judgements based on situations.

Rule followers can’t understand folks who embrace gray because, lets face it, when we don’t follow the rules, anarchy and chaos rule.

People who look at individual situations can’t understand folks who embrace rules and see things in black and white because every situation is different and a strict adherence to the rules doesn’t take the situation into account.

When my son, Caleb, was younger, I coached his soccer team. I learned the rules to the game as best I could. One thing I learned was that, often, in the flow of the game, if an infraction occurs that doesn’t interfere with the action, the referee just says “play on” and play continues. A rule was broken but the situation didn’t mandate a stop in play. The rules didn’t change, but the situation dictated different action.

Rules are a way of life,
in sports
at school
at work
in a community
in government
in families.

Quite often, Religions are based on rules. We call them commandments. A “commandment” is a hard fast rule that is expected to be followed. It is given by a religious leader, or found in a religious book, or it is understood to be uttered by God.

There are the five pillars of Islam.
There are the five moral precepts of Buddhism.
While hinduism doesn't have a number, there are multiple rules about right living, religious observance, fasting, menstruation, diet, behavior, etc.
And of course, you know there are 10 Commandments in Judaism. Actually, there are many more than that.

613, according to rabbi Simlai, whose sermon, entitled 613 is recorded in the Talmud. He made the claim that there are precisely 613 commandments in the Torah of the Hebrew Bible.

613.

Of those 613 commandments, 248 are positive- do this, perform that

365 commands are negative- don’t do this, refrain from that.

Add to the 613 commands in the Torah, the thousands of interpretations of those commands found in the Talmud and Mishnah and you have a lot of rules to follow.

Many of the 613 commands cannot be obeyed today because they are directly related to activity in the temple which was destroyed in 70 c.e.

Still, 271 of those commands, are still as relevant today as they were when given to Moses.

And our Jewish friends, depending on their particular practice of faith, follow none, some, or all of these commands.

Interestingly, while most Christians don’t adhere to most of the Hebrew Bible Commands, (although they like to force some of them on other people) they have created their own.

My grandmother, Peachie, was a wonderful Christian.

She had a set of rules based in her faith. One of those rules was that there was no card playing in the house (Rook was okay, but not regular playing cards).

She also pitched a fit if you set anything, including another bible on top of a bible. That was sacrilegious.

Most Baptist Church covenants include the following rule “We abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drink as a beverage.” It is a rule recited monthly in many baptist churches. It is a rule ignored daily by many baptists who recite it monthly.

I attended a Christian College in the late 1970’s where dancing was against the rules. Students were encouraged not to dance on or off campus with the threat of expulsion.

Many of us have been told that cussing is a sin against God, not just taking the Lord’s name in vain, but also using taboo words which are considered socially indelicate or profane.

Some of you were told that going to the movies was wrong and violated the will of God. Perhaps you have been scolded for reading Harry Potter books, because they are… To be honest, I quit listening to the why, but they are bad for some religious reason.

After I became a Christian, I got rid of all my rock and roll albums (some said it was the best collection in my high school), and decided to listen only to Christian music. It was a rule I followed for several years!

Judi was once reprimanded by a woman in our church for hanging clothes out on the clothesline on a Sunday.

Rules. There are so many out there. Deciding what rules are valid and valuable is an ongoing activity for people and societies.

In religious understanding, following commandments is important because following rules means you are obedient to God. In Christian faith, obedience to God’s commands, God’s rules, is evidence of your love for God.

Jesus himself said, “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me.”

And John intones, “Now by this we may be sure that we know God, if we obey his commandments.”

Okay then, to Love God, we obey God’s Commandments.
But, which ones?

The 613?

The 613 plus talmud?
The 613 minus the ones pertaining to the temple?

There are the 10 commandments that God wrote on tablets. Are those the commands that we obey to show our love for God?

Let’s ask Jesus, as a lawyer once asked him, what is the greatest and most important command. Jesus answered this question thusly, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

While Jesus’ answer doesn’t exclude obeying other commands, it certainly tells us what is of first priority.

And then there is the fact that Jesus added to the commandments by proclaiming a new one (he calls it new, but it is primarily new in its application).

Speaking on the last night of his earthly life he expounds,
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

Jesus further states that by keeping that command, you show your love for God. “If you keep my commandment, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

The scripture, after taking all the law, the hebrew bible commands, into account, declares that love fulfills them all.

Paul writes, “for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” AND “love is the fulfilling of the law.”

He goes on to declare that the whole law is summed up in a single command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

And love understood is not lip service or a philosophical fragment, it is activity. Paul writes, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

So many rules out there. We keep some. If we are honest, we probably break others.

But really, it seems that there are only two rules which matter most:
1) Love God!
2) Love people!

Love yourself, love your family, love your neighbor, love the people around you, love the stranger, love the different, love the other, love the left behind, love your enemies.

Don’t talk like you love them; act like you love them.

Love God.
Love People.
That is what matters!

Amen

May 2018 New Outlook Newsletter

The Outlook for May is now available here.

April 29, 2018: From Where Love Comes

Pastor Steve Mechem

1 John 4:7-11 New Revised Standard Version
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.

According to dictionary.com, the definition of the word “source” is “the point or place from which something originates.”

You are sitting on your deck. You hear a chirping sound. The sound is quiet at first but becomes louder, or maybe it is only louder because you are focusing on it. You begin to look around for the sound. You look around the deck and then move down the steps and walk around the yard, hoping to find the source of the sound- maybe a bug, or a bird, a trapped raccoon or an alarm of some sort. You find yourself obsessed with finding the source, looking everywhere, listening closely. You are interested in discovering the source because of your natural curiosity, and because, once you identify the source, you can decide how to respond to it.

Do you remember the show “Lost”? It was this crazy, confusing, wonderful TV show about a mysterious island that drew certain predestined people to it. The show’s first episode begins with a plane crash on the island. Among the survivors are a group of until then strangers who have been marked by the island to come.

The island is full of mystery- polar bears in the tropics, strange hatches, a smoke monster, odd symbols, repeating numbers, bunkers, electro-magnetic forces, time shifting, the “others.”

As it turns out the island is the home of a mystical light. The light is goodness and the source of goodness in all the world. If the light is extinguished, goodness leaves the world.

Strangers who are drawn to the island have been identified as possible protectors of the light, the protectors of the source of goodness.

The scientific theory known as the Big Bang states that the universe began as a very hot, small, and dense superforce. 13.7 billion years ago, this singularity began to expand rapidly and the universe was born. The source of our ever expanding universe is said to be this relatively small, dense clump of material that expanded (or exploded). Fascinating!

In the Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker has a conversation with his student, Rey.

Luke: What do you know about the force?

Rey answers awkwardly, “Its a power the Jedi have that lets them control people and make things float.”

Luke: “That’s impressive. Every word in that sentence was wrong.
The force is not a power you have, it is not about lifting rocks, its the energy between all things, the tension, the balance, that binds the universe together.”

Rey: Alright. But what is it.”

The force is the source of balance. It runs throughout the universe and flows through all things.

When one writes a term paper, one must be very careful to cite the sources of information gathered. When one neglects the source, one might get an “F.”

One of the philosophical arguments for the existence of God is labeled the “first cause,” or “first source.” The argument basically states that there is a cause, a source for everything. And if you go back far enough, you discover that at the beginning of all things, there is a source, and that source is named God.

We have been focusing on the theme of love over the past couple of weeks. (Well, actually, I think I spend most of my time in the pulpit talking about love, its primacy, its necessity, its priority. One time, a member of a congregation in which I was serving serving, chastised me for spending too much time talking about love and grace. I can live with that criticism.)

Last week, we discussed what love looks like. This morning I would like to address the simple question, “from where does love come?” What is love’s source?

Is love simply an emotion, a feeling, an urge? Is it a commitment, a pledge? Or is it something deeper, something beyond us?

Well, the bible clearly states that “God is love.”

Notice- not God embodies love, or is full of love, or shows love. Specifically God is love, θεός αγάπη έστιν. Simple Phrase. God. Love. Is.
God is love.

It is God’s nature. It is God’s personality. It is God’s DNA. It is God’s motivation. It is God’s activity.

God is love.

Many theists, including most Christians, believe that God is omnipresent. Everywhere, all the time. God is in and throughout all of creation.

God is in the seed that becomes a plant that becomes a tomato.
God is in the egg which hatches out the cardinal who sits on your bird feeder.
God is in you, and me, and every person who has ever been. (even the ones we don’t like.)

If God is omnipresent, God is everywhere in everything,
on a cellular level,
on an atomic level,
God is written into the dna of creation.

If God is there,
and if God is love,
then love is there!

Therefore, love is omnipresent.

In the every fiber of our being, we find the love of God.

The source of love in us, and in others, is God.

Love comes from the heart of God and finds itself flowing throughout creation. Therefore, when we love, when we act in love, we are accessing the source. Love is God acting through us.

I go so far as to say that even for people who
reject the idea of God, it is God’s love that fuels their own.

Now, to be honest, many religious texts, including some of our own, seem to portray God as something other than loving. God is perceived as wrathful, as vengeful, as full of anger, as homicidal, as genocidal.

But, as John reminds us, God is love.

And Jesus tells us that in him, we see God. We understand what God is like by observing Jesus. In him, we see God, a complete and full representation of the God of the universe, the Creator, Sustainer, the source of Love.

So, we look at Jesus to see who God really is.

Jesus taught …
he proclaimed a coming, and now present, Kingdom of love and grace where men and women treat with each other with respect and kindness,

he told stories emphasizing God’s love and our response to that love,

he taught us to love God, love ourselves, love our neighbors, and even, and especially, love our enemies,

he taught us to be humble, merciful, to make peace, to give, give, give to the poor.

Jesus gave some simple instructions on how to live:
turn the other cheek,
walk the extra mile,
respect other people,
eschew judgement,
embrace each other as brothers and sisters,
listen and learn.

Jesus accepted and elevated tax collectors, Roman collaborators, would be terrorists, revolutionaries, children, prostitutes, failures, religious leaders, religious antagonists, sinners, the less than upright.

Jesus healed the sick, the blind, the deaf, those damaged by evil, the broken.

Jesus raised the dead.

Jesus sympathized, Jesus empathized, Jesus
interceded, Jesus befriended.

Jesus challenged bigotry, misogyny, narcissism, unabashed wealth, religious elitism.

Jesus broke long held traditions and rules for the sake of people.

Jesus’ heart broke as he encountered the heart break of the world.

Jesus was kind and compassionate to hungry crowds, concerned parents, chronically sick people, a woman about to be beat to death, an immigrant’s daughter, the soldier’s personal servant, an outcast at a well, a criminal on a cross.

Jesus lived a love filled life.
Jesus named evil for what it was.
Jesus died a sacrificial death.

All in the name of love.

God is love.
Jesus shows us what God’s love is like.
Jesus calls us to love like that.

And while the task of love can be daunting, we have an inside track.

After all, the love in us comes from the Source of all love.

Embrace it, imitate it, live it, be it.

Amen!

April 22, 2018: What Love Looks Like

Pastor Steve Mechem

1 John 3:16-17 New Revised Standard Version
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?


Way back in 1984, Tina Turner released the song, “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” Its lyrics are a harsh reminder that human relationships are minefields and that one may be better to eschew emotional ties altogether.

“What's love got to do, got to do with it
What's love but a second hand emotion.
What's love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken.”

I hear the same pain in these lyrics as in Simon and Garfunkel’s famous verse,
“I am a rock,
I am an island,
and a rock feels no pain,
and and island never cries.”

And sometimes, when the world is overwhelming, and painful, and mean, and hard, we find ourselves doubting the validity of love as a social norm.

But I want to say, to declare, that love, rather than being a second hand emotion, is in fact the lifeblood of creation and is essential for life to work well. It is not a social norm, it is the social norm.

John writes:
“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help”

What does love look like?

Love looks like words spoken.

a word of greeting,
a word to a stranger,
a compliment,
a gentle reminder,
a word of encouragement,
a kindness spoken,
an affirmation,
verbally supporting someone who is being gossiped about or bullied,
speaking out for justice and fairness,
reminding others that love is the only way. As the Martyr and Saint, Bishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador preached, “Let us not tire of preaching love, it is the force that overcomes the world.”

Love looks like an attitude.

Love isn’t just a word said, it is something that comes from deep within us. It is an attitude of the heart, the mind, the σπλαγχνα.

Understand that there is a difference between an attitude and a feeling.

Feeling-love is caught up in the moment, is based on an energy, erupts and flames out.

Attitudinal love is in it for the long haul. A Paul describes it, Love doesn’t quit!

Leanord Sweet writes that Biblical Love is “a volitional love, not a feeling love or an emotional love. It is love embodied and enacted that is unconditional, unrestricted, untamed.”

The attitude of love shows up in the way we treat our family.
The attitude of love show up in the way we treat our neighbor.

Jesus said we were to love our neighbors. But sometimes that is hard.
Perhaps our neighbors don't treat us as kindly as we would like.
Perhaps our neighbors are messy or don’t take care of their yard the way we think they should.
Perhaps our neighbors party late and loud.
Perhaps our neighbors do not look like us or talk like us.
Perhaps our neighbors put political signs supporting the other party in their yard.
Perhaps our neighbors hang a Chicago Cubs W sign on their garage.
How do we love neighbors like these?

I love what C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity “Do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor; act as it you did. As soon a we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you act as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

Oh, by the way, neighbor, as defined by Jesus is everybody.

I believe Love is an attitude and I am saddened that I don’t recognize it in much of the Christianity I experience in 2018. Remember- the Christian faith is founded upon the idea of Love as expressed in Jesus Christ.

Love shouldn't look like hate. As obvious as that sounds, the two are often mixed up. In our nation, people use the Christian religion, a religion founded in love, as a basis for hate.

Gay people, Transgendered People, People of Color, strangers and refugees, people who practice other religions are hated, discriminated against, mocked, treated unfairly, even killed in the name of a religion that espouses love.

This story happened some time ago but I sense the same attitude thrives in church circles today. I read this account in the book, Reconciliation Blues.

Dolphus Weary was one of two black students attending a well known Christian College in 1968. He was doing well. He had good grades and played on the school’s basketball team. He thought his race was a non-factor at the school.

Leaving the Library on April 4, a fellow student approached him and told him that Dr. King had been shot.

He ran to his dorm room and turned on his radio to listen to the news coming out of Memphis. He was devastated.

From the book, “As he sat on his bed holding back the tears, he could hear voices down the hall: white students talking about King’s shooting. But Dolphus quickly realized that they were not just talking; they were laughing.

“I couldn’t understand what I was hearing,” he says, “These Christian kids were glad that Dr. King - my hero - had been shot. I wanted to run out there and confront them.” Instead, he steeled his nerves and laid prostrate on his bed. Finally, as the newscaster delivered the awful update- “Martin Luther King has died in a Memphis hospital”- Dolphus could hear the white voices down the hall let out a cheer!”

It is time for those who practice a religion that espouses love to stand for love- to look like love, to embrace love, to be love. Nothing else is acceptable. Dr. King taught that love must be our regulating ideal.

Love as an attitude doesn’t look like self-centeredness. When you do the right thing for others because you want to be recognized or rewarded, please don’t confuse that with love.

A fisherman pulls a large Walleye out of the water one day. He says, “I will give this fish to the Prince. He loves Walleye.”

The fish, who knew he was a goner, upon hearing these words, thinks to himself, “there is hope for me yet.”

The fisherman approaches the castle with his fish and tells the guards, “I have a great Walleye for the Prince.”

“Good,” says the guards, “The Prince loves Walleye.”

He loves me, thinks the Walleye, I will be safe.

The guards bring the fish to the kitchen. The head chef looks it over and says, “This is perfect. The Prince loves Walleye.”

The fish smiles a little.

The Prince strolls into the kitchen, examines the Walleye, and says “I love this fish. Prepare it by cutting off its head and cooking it in olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.”

With its last breath the fish cries out, “You lie prince. You don’t love Walleye. You love yourself!”

Love looks like words spoken.

Love looks like an attitude of the heart.

Love looks like action.

Love is often expressed through words. And that is good. But love that is only words is not love.
Love is an attitude. But it is an attitude that shows itself in action.

Love is Activity.

Love chooses to act!

Love responds to need.
Love responds to injustice.
Love responds in help, in compassion, in grace.
Love serves.
Love engages.
Love stoops, love lifts up, love walks beside.

Unfortunately, love is often treated as commodity. It is something we give as trade for people’s correct response.

I will love you if…
you behave correctly,
you believe the right stuff,
come to the right church,
hate the people who I hate.

In the church, we talk a good game about love, but our love is so often conditional, limited, and reserved.

Love as action is built on the simple belief that all are children of God who deserve our love, our respect, our compassion.

Love looks like Jesus
From the incarnation,
to his association with anybody who would have him,
to his teaching about love and nonresistance and non-judgement and acceptance,
to his ministry among the poor and the sick and deserted,
to his sacrificial death on the cross,
to his resurrection from the dead,

Jesus is showing you, and me, what love looks like.

And that my friends, is what love has to do with it.

Amen.

April 15, 2018: Bless the Children

Pastor Steve Mechem

1 John 3:1-2 New Revised Standard Version
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Children are amazing. And sometimes maddening. You gotta love ‘em.

All children are precious. But you’re own kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews- they are especially precious. The world, from your perspective, revolves around them. They are the best, the most talented, the brightest, the most creative … even if they aren’t, they are to you.

Kids create joy in the lives of those around them. I have sat in huts and lean to’s with families in extreme poverty and witnessed moms and dads gleaming with joy as they hold a new born child in their arms. All I can think is … one more mouth to feed, one more burden to carry, one more obstacle to overcome. But that mom, that dad, holding a little bundle of life, seem impervious to the hardships ahead. They are truly excited and full of joy.

I think they are full of joy because children bring hope- a present with meaning, a future extended, order in a disordered world.

Kids… you gotta love ‘em

Kids are passionate. Listen to a child try to convince their parent that he or she wants something in the grocery store. Their passion is out of control. It is deep, it is heartfelt, sometimes it is quite loud.

Then again, kids can be sullen and pouty and lethargic. And you love them, will all your heart.

Kids are silly. They are funny. kids make us laugh. Their laughter is contagious. We are never quite sure what they may say or do next. One person said that kids say the darnedest things.

Kids are inquisitive. They are like sponges, soaking up the world around them.

They love to ask questions. From the time my children could talk, they asked. Why is the sky blue? Why is pizza round? How big is God? Why are vegetables good for you?

Kids’ inquisitiveness can go beyond questions. They can be downright nosy.

And they can spend forever studying a worm on the sidewalk, just trying to figure out how it wiggles.

And yet, kids can be knuckly-headed. It can seem as if they don’t hear or understand or learn anything sometimes. You can tell them the same thing over and over without any seeming result.

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids can be fearless. And sometimes, that fearlessness becomes recklessness. And that recklessness can be scary- with trips to the emergency room for stitches and X-rays and casts.

And at the same time, these fearless kids can be easily frightened- the dark, lightning storms, when a giraffe sticks its head in your car window.

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids can be incredibly honest- to the point of being rude.

I ask this question of anyone who has had children come up for a children’s sermon. Have you ever held your breath and prayed that they would not say something that might embarrass you or your family?

I could not tell you the number of times kids have called me fat or made fun of my belly, much to their parents’ absolute embarrassment. They usually aren't being mean; they’re just being honest.

And yet kids can also be incredible story tellers. And sneaky. Some of us can relate to Peggy Ann McKay with her tales of woe from the poem earlier. Perhaps your adult child has told you about some of the whoppers that were told to you long ago and which, of course, you believed because you always believe your child.

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids can be moldable, and rigid, and impetuous, and cautious.

Kids can be messy. Have you ever had to clean up the kitchen after your children surprised you by making a meal? Oh my! How did syrup get on the ceiling?

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids can be selfish. The word “mine” is learned soon after “mom” and “dad.” And yet, kids can be amazingly altruistic, giving freely of themselves, from cutting off hair to donate for wigs for sick children, to giving away toys and clothes for the poor, to convincing you the stray puppy needs a good home.

Kids can be gullible.

Kids can be stubborn. Try to get a child to eat peas if he or she doesn’t want to.

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids dream big dreams. They see themselves as professional athletes or superheroes. It is to their detriment that as a culture, we are too quick to clip their wings.

Kids sparkle.

Kids cuddle.

Kids are clumsy.

Kids are creative. Perhaps your refrigerator is covered with creativity involving paints and macaroni and crayons.

Kids can be cranky. Kids can be whiny.

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids teach us, about life, and faith, and trust and love. Perhaps this is why Jesus instructs us that we have to become like children to experience the Kingdom of God.

Gerry Spence says, “Children should become the role-models for us for they are coated with the spirit from which they came - out of the ether, clean, innocent, brimming with the delight of life, aware of the beauty of the simplest thing.

Not only do they teach us, but Kids are also watching us.
They learn fairness, kindness, respect from us.
We also teach them about prejudice, and homophobia, disrespect, selfishness, misogyny, and hate.
Often, it is not with our words we teach, but with our actions and our responses to life.
The Kids are watching us.

Kids love unconditionally. It is natural for children to accept and graciously respond. It is natural for children to forgive when wronged and desire relationship. They are taught as they grow to become suspect, to be alienated.

Kids are full of potential. When we look at a small child, we have idea as to who or want they may become. We may put them in an expectational box, but they often break through it.

We began this morning’s worship with a Shel Silverstein poem, I share another one with you now (its my favorite):

One picture puzzle piece
Lyin' on the sidewalk,
One picture puzzle piece
Soakin' in the rain.

It might be a button of blue
On the coat of the woman
Who lived in a shoe.

It might be a magical bean,
Or a fold in the red
Velvet robe of a queen.

It might be the one little bite
Of the apple her stepmother
Gave to Snow White.

It might be the veil of a bride
Or a bottle with some evil genie inside.

It might be a small tuft of hair
On the big bouncy belly
Of Bobo the Bear.

It might be a bit of the cloak
Of the Witch of the West
As she melted to smoke.

It might be a shadowy trace
Of a tear that runs down an angel's face.

Nothing has more possibilities
Than one old wet picture puzzle piece.

Well the only thing that has more possibility than an old wet picture puzzle piece is a real life child.

John, a great friend of Jesus, wrote the following,

“Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either.

My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially God’s children now. The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is.”

From today’s choir anthem:
“And there is nothing, or no one
Who can separate, they can’t separate you
From the truth that you’re someone.
You are family, you are meant to be,
A child of God!”

You my friend are a child of God. You my friend, are loved by God- totally and completely.
In all your wonderfulness, God loves you.
With all your blemishes, God loves you

God calls you “child.” Embrace it. Celebrate it. Become it.

Amen.

April 2018 New Outlook Newsletter

The Outlook for April is now available here.

March 2018 New Outlook Newsletter

The Outlook for January is now available here.

February 2018 New Outlook Newsletter

The Outlook for February is now available here.