Sunday, December 9, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

A cold does not usually shut me down...except today. I realize preachers need to be able to talk and that was iffy today. So thanks to Jacob and Nancy for taking my responsibilities today.
It was not a wasted morning. I was at church in Atlanta and then joined Platte Woods on-line.
In early days in ministry we would record sermons on cassette tapes. We were doing that here a decade ago. At one church I was on radio. Those preachers who pioneered church on television were visionary. This media stuff seems to be here to stay.
Now churches are going live-stream, on demand, and podcast. To fail to leap into the digital age would be like having great radio when everyone is watching TV. We do not want to be an analogue church in a high def, digital age.
So I watched on-line this morning. The picture was great as was the sound. But of course, it was not like being there. The human touch is not displaced by technology. But technology is a wonderful asset for communicating the Gospel.
It’s been a (I could say so so day) but by grace even today has been a good day.  I hope you’ve had a good day too.
Steve

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

The theme this month is Technicolor Christmas. Basically we are moving from the black and white world of tules based religion ( law) to the vivid colors of grace and Spirit.
We talked about moving from gray, drab, colorless living to God’s vivid colors.
Anyway, on the way out of church today a person who was with us for the first time stopped to share with me. For years she had been colorblind until a procedure changed everything. She could see colors!
God graciously sends people our way to bring joy, grace, peace, and color - vivid, living, brilliant color.
It’s been a good day. I hope you’ve had a good day too.
Steve

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

We got home from church before the snow got heavy and the roads got bad.  Today made me think about our attitudes toward worship. When we gather we can expect some new insight or idea. Perhaps we feel inspired in our faith. Certainly we love the fellowship with one another.  We keep coming back to gather together.
Days like today tell us to use caution and good judgment about getting out. We live stream our services for days like this. We appreciate church and opportunities to worship the Lord.
There are places in the world that experience challenges to worship other than blizzard conditions. Some people must walk long distances to get to their place of worship. They are generally not challenged by snow but rather stifling heat.
Some people literally risk their lives to gather for Christian worship. That is far past our capacity to grasp.  We are thankful.
But  people keep walking to church. People keep risking. Snow melts and we come back strong. The people of faith are very resilient!
I am watching it snow. I pray for others who are not warm and safe this evening. I thank God for those who inspire.
All things considered...it’s been a good day. I hope you’ve had a good day too.
Steve

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

Time to think thanks! Thanksgiving is the national holiday reminding us to be a thankful people. As with many holidays we tend to forget the real reason and simply enjoy time off. While we are at it we go ahead and kick off the biggest consumer period of the year.  But that is another story.
But back to thanks.
We can certainly give thanks for our freedoms enjoyed in our country.
We give thanks for another opportunity to see family.
We are thankful for faith.
Today I am thankful for the way many of you have inspired me.  I thank God for Dale Gay and the grace he shared as we celebrated his wife, Karen’s, life this week.
I am thankful for Bill Vandever and his family as they showed love and grace in June’s Celebration of life.
I am thankful for our church and the way you live the faith and serve so well.
I am thankful for my family and the anticipation of time together. (I will try to run a 5k Thursday!)
And there is much more to come. I want to get a head start on being thankful for all that God has in store.
So, join me in nurturing your gratitude.
It is time to think thanks.
It’s been a good day. I hope you’ve had a good day to.
Steve

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

Today we were thinking about generosity.  At the 10:45 Traditional service I invited our veterans to stand.  This being Veterans Day and 100 years since the end of WW1 it seemed like a good idea.  As several of our members stood we expressed our appreciation for their service.
What stood out to me was their living example of generosity.  Those who serve and have served understand giving of themselves for a greater cause.  They understand sacrifice.  They understand being committed to and serving others.  They get it!
Generosity is something that is being lived out in our lives day by day.  In the Church we are asked to live out our generous natures by supporting the mission and ministries of the church.  We give so others may be reached.  We give so others may be served.  We give so a greater good may be accomplished.
The illustration about the post-modern architecture with stairways that go nowhere and pillars that support nothing speaks to many in our culture who view life as meaningless and without direction.  We seek to counter that understanding of life by reaching people for Jesus Christ. 
A generous life with generous love, grace, time, energy, talents, and resources make a difference.
It's been a good day.  I hope you've had a good day too.
steve

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

I was able to take part in our blood drive today.  I've been donating for years and it is really not a big deal except for the difference made in the lives of people who need blood.  Then it is a big deal.  Anyway, after the 10:45 service I went down and donated.  I noticed a young man on the cot by me.  When we finished we were sitting together eating an Oreo (that is the best part of it) and struck up a conversation.  He told me this was the first time he had donated.  Way to go Ben!  He did great.
It made me think.  While experience is a great thing there is something special about beginning.  I give blood regularly and tend to forget the real reason we do this.  We give that others may live.  How can we relegate this to ho hum status?
Could we say something similar for living the Christian life.  Many of us have been doing this for years.  Do we take grace, forgiveness, mercy and all the other joyful blessings of a relationship with Jesus Christ for granted?  Does the faith become duty?  Does the faith become boring? 
With a first time blood donor there was a healthy sense of anxiety.  There was a little bit of "how am I supposed to feel?"  There was excitement about being able to give.  He was ready to talk about his experience. He told me about his dad giving.  It was pretty clear to me that his dad was the inspiration for him donating. 
Anyway, Ben reminded me to not take opportunities for granted.  Don't take your service for granted.  Don't take your faith for granted.
Thanks Ben.  You blessed me - and who knows who else - today.
It's been a good day.  I hope you've had a good day too.
steve

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Reflections From Sunday Evening

We pray with and for Tree of Life Synagogue. The shooting yesterday is yet another act of evil perpetrated against people. In this instance the violence was directed against people of faith. These are our Jewish brothers and sisters.
Many people in our congregation will personally call a Jewish friend today and express our care and prayers.  This is not something we voted on. This is not a mandate or a protest. This is people stepping out to express the love of Christ.
Our troubled times are wracked by senseless violence. Many insist stricter gun control laws are required. Maybe. Many insist we need to arm more people to defend our institutions. Maybe.  Frankly, I do not see a political solution. I see real people speaking love and grace. I see real people initiating grass roots movements that extend the Gospel and the Kingdom of God into the world. I see local churches, with people who love God and care for their friends, rising up and turning the tide.
I don’t know how. This is not a new program. This is offering our best to God and seeing the Lord’s hand extending in ways we cannot imagine. Wishful thinking? Maybe. But maybe not.
It has been a good day. I hope you’ve had a good day to.
Steve