Catching the Breeze from a Para-sailing Surfer

Last week I stumbled upon something beautiful. It was late afternoon and my head cold was starting to get the better of me. So I went down to Harvey Beach, here in Old Saybrook. I figured if I could sit for a while and look at some waves and feel the breeze I’d be able to face the rest of my day. It helped. What I didn’t count on was the teaching moment that trip offered.

I was sitting in my car with the windows down. There were two other cars in the lot, and a woman was walking her dog on the sand, but other than that I was alone and the beach was clear. I sat trying to breathe, hoping the cold medicine I took would kick in when another car pulled into the lot.  A gentleman a little older than me got out of the car. He was wearing a dress shirt and slacks, having every appearance of just having finished his work day. He stood in the sun with his arms out – not quite a prayer stance, but a gesture of openness and release seemed obvious to me as an observer.  After several minutes of checking the wind and feeling the sun, he made his way back to his car.

parasail (3)He opened the trunk, and looked at the water. Then he began pulling out equipment: a surf board, a harness, ropes, and a large para-sail. Part of the para-sail was filled with air, and he pulled out a bicycle pump to fill it. Several trips delivered all of these items to the beach and he went back into his car and closed the door. He emerged wearing a wet-suit; the guy who had completed his work day was now forgotten, it was now time to get out on the water.  On the beach he flew his para-sail up in the air like a child does to get a kite to fly. After a few minutes more and what had taken an hour to prepare since he had first arrived he was up on his board being propelled by the para-sail, and I watched him weave back and forth for several laps before deciding it was now time for me to leave and get back to my day. Was my head a little clearer having watched all this happen?

Maybe.

I’ve been thinking of this episode for about a week now (as my head keeps clearing from my head cold!).  Here was a person of considerable skill, investing his time and resources into something he loved, and not once did I see him check his watch or lose the smile on his face.  He simply loved what he was doing and lost himself in doing it. Before you rush to the conclusion that we should have a para-sailing club at church (though that could be really fun!); what I witnessed revealed God already at work outside the building.

What are you passionate about? What do you have fun doing? What can you lose yourself in, and the time goes by without notice?  Can you teach a skill to somebody or invite them to participate in it with you? Is there something you have desire to do or learn but haven’t? Who could show you how? Motivate you to learn? Mentor you in giving it a try? Where could we look to the needs around us and match up our gifts, experience and skill base and started networking things together. Frederick Buechner once wrote, “The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deepest hunger meet.”  (Frederich Beuchner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC. [San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1973], p. 119). Something new and exciting can happen when those two mesh. You never know – we might catch a breeze we could never harness before.

parasail (4)What if we stopped looking at church only as a tally of programs and attendance and instead looked at assets and relationships – what we could teach and what we could learn – all by sharing in partnership?

What might happen then?

Maybe then we could really sail.

PGS

___

 

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.” (Galatians 5:13-14 – THE MESSAGE)

Posted in Church & Mission, Church by Perception, Faith Everyday, Thinking About Church Differently, What We Seek | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

” ‘Not’ wearing the Emperor’s new clothes” a sermon on Matt 22:1-14

emperor.new.clothes.10/12/2014

Sermon on Matthew 22:1-14

” ‘Not’ wearing the Emperor’s new clothes”

http://youtu.be/119XYk1lcyc

St. Paul ELCA, Old Saybrook, CT

Posted in on Gospel of Matthew, Sermons | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Our moment in time

IMG_2565I love this picture, and not just because it is of my children (though that is a big part of it). I love it because it captures a moment in time almost perfectly.  It was July 1, 2014. We spent the day in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta. We were advised to stay out of Banff National Park and away from the towns as extra visitors and parades were scheduled for Canada Day. In the afternoon we spent our time at Upper Lake in Kananskis country.  The moment of bliss shared in this photograph tells the story of the afternoon. Joe skipped rocks. Mia jumped in frigid waters. All of us had a great time. Besides Tammie, her parents, my mother and the kids, there was hardly anyone else there. It was a near private lake in the mountains on a beautiful summer day as the country that hosted us was celebrating its national identity. Of our ten day adventure to see Banff National Park in Alberta and return to Glacier National Park in Montana, this was a side trip, not originally on the itinerary.  Yet on that trip, it was my favorite day, captured here, by my kids at Upper Lake.

There is more going on in the picture than a moment on family vacation, however. In the background are the mountains themselves, formed by both the layers of sedimentary rock thrust upward by plate tectonics and the glaciers of the last ice age that carved them. Geologic time is vast and old and yet ever here in this captured moment those mountains are still being carved and shaped by melting ice and rivers cascading down them. In a million years, what will this location look like?

A perfect moment is captured here. Human interaction and the meaning attached to it; complemented by the forces well beyond our experience or control that form this landscape.

In the grand scheme of human history our time on earth is but a moment. We are born, live and die within a nanosecond of the age of the universe (if even that much). Yet we have the ability to impact the lives of others (positively or negatively) with amazing capacity. We attach meaning to relationships, actions, and the things that appear to be constant in our own experience. Human history and culture apply their subtle pressures upon us as well, providing context and perspective. Like a glacier slowly carving mountains, these forces at work in our own experiences shape who we are. Sometimes the detours carry the most meaning. Our self-discovery becomes like this snap shot – a picture of real people in motion caught against a seemingly static backdrop, but constantly in motion.

We tend to approach God as distant to our everyday experience, or at least static in the background. The glaciers that shaped these mountains remind me that nothing is permanent. Faith forms and shapes people over time by story, practice and wisdom, sometimes like a flash flood; other times like a glacier.  At the center of the Christian story is the incarnation – God who enters time specifically in the human life, ministry, execution and resurrection of Jesus. Those who are shaped by this story begin to see it carving them by mercy, love and selflessness. We share that mercy, love and selflessness with others as we are weathered and made beautiful by that story.

I return to this image of my kids playing at the lake. It is a moment caught in time with joy and laughter against the backdrop of forces that will reach far beyond any of our life-spans when we will all be forgotten by the sands of time. Yet God calls out, “Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1b). Perhaps we should stop trying to make our permanent mark on the world that will eventually pass away, and instead invest in the people around us who can feel our care now.  The things we continue to discover and learn from Jesus – how to love, show mercy, forgive, welcome, and give ourselves away may be easily forgotten or ignored by the world around us, but to those we encounter in our brief moment captured in time, they might make the world of difference to the people we meet in real time.

PGS

Posted in Discovery, Faith Everyday | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“The Vineyard Problem,” a Sermon on Matthew 21:33-46 & Philippians 3:4b-14 (1st week at St. Paul)

Jesus said, “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country.  When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.  Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.’  But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’  So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.  Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”  Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.  The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”  When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet. (Matthew 21:33-46)

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:4b-14)

 

IMG_3886

Grace and peace to you on this day, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The new pastor started at church. After worship was over on Sunday one of the elders put his arm around him and said to him, “Well done young man. You do a nice job. So when are you going to make it your own?” He was trying to be affirming. “When will you bring your gifts, your skills, and your experience to this ministry?”

A week or so later the same pastor preached a sermon on seeing the big picture of the things God was up to among them and not getting lost in the details. That week after worship when he was taking of his robe in the back, somebody else approached him, and scolded him for not folding the napkins correctly after communion was over.

When I told a colleague of mine that I was moving here, he said, “You’ll do well. Because you bring who you are with you.” He meant it as a compliment and I received it as such, but it also true. We do bring who we are with us, and taking ownership is a good thing –  we each leave our imprint; we bring our gifts, skills and talents to everything we do within every relationship we have: with our families, with our classmates and  teachers at school, at our workplaces, with our neighbors down the street, and even here at church. Problems come not when we make things are own, but when we start to get comfortable.

Sometimes we get too comfortable.

I think that is the “problem” in the little story Jesus shares with us today.

The tenants got “too comfortable.”  The landowner gave them the land to live on and to cultivate on his behalf. Notice the produce itself is never what’s at stake here – they grew a bountiful harvest. What is at stake is the tenants got so comfortable doing it they started to believe that the Vineyard was their own.

The Vineyard owner sent his representatives to collect what was rightfully his – the produce from his vineyard. The tenants decided they did not want to give it up. So they treated his representatives unfairly, abused them, they beat them, they killed some of them; which seems a little extreme, but remember Jesus is telling the story to make a point. Here it is: This is what we do when we think the things God gives us are rightfully ours – we beat up one another, we kill one another (hopefully not literally, but we often do with our words) we even do to Jesus what these tenants due to the landowner’s son – we reject him, and kill him.

Why? Because we believe that the Vineyard, this holy ground, belongs to us.    

We start to look at one another looking for pedigree. Look how Paul introduces himself in this Philippians passage: circumcised on the eighth day (the right time) from house of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin (right family) keeping the law (good kid) the good religious leader (right training) and persecutor of heresy while seeing himself as blameless and righteous (right career). I could do that too.  I was baptized after two months. I went to Lutheran Day school, I attended a Lutheran College and  went to two Lutheran seminaries. “Not bad,” if I do say so myself.  I have twelve years of pastoral experience, and behind that years of campus ministry experience, youth ministry experience, and camp experience.  I haven’t turned thirty-nine yet, and I have been in ministry for twenty years. Don’t I deserve to have my own Vineyard? Don’t we all? 

What does your resume’ look like?

Think about the status you’ve achieved, the schools you went to, the people you’ve brought into your network, the place you live, the car you drive, the cash in your bank account, all the things you’ve collected and call “yours.” Don’t you deserve them for all your efforts? Jesus reminds us that everything we have – from things to relationships to opportunities – are given to us as gifts from God. They are all part of the Vineyard God has asked us to cultivate.  But we get too comfortable and start to see them as our own.

Thankfully Paul keeps talking after giving us his resume’. He says he has come to regard all things as loss. It is not that those things are not important – they make us who we are, and give us the means to bring who we are with us, but they are not the most important thing. Paul says, “I have come to regard everything as loss, so that I may gain Christ.”

The one thing that matters is regarding Jesus Christ as Lord. His life, death, resurrection and the new life he gives us – to tend to his Vineyard and produce good fruit that is what matters. We cultivate the Vineyard not for our own glory but for his. It is being grateful and generous because that is how God treats us. If we regard everything as loss, we won’t get too comfortable. Instead we will start loving and serving and sharing in a whole new way, because we’ll stop looking at each other as people who want something from us, or who fold the napkins wrong, and instead worked together, welcomed one another and shared in the joy of serving.

That’s what these tenants miss, they have some ownership, they are being who they are, even probably tried really hard. But they forgot WHO owned the vineyard and that’s when everything went wrong.

What about us?

I’ve wondered if we could write another ending to this story.

What if when the Vineyard owner’s representatives came,  they were welcomed, shown around, and told stories of the joy of the work, the honor of serving in the owner’s Vineyard, and the great yield that was ready for harvest. What if those representatives went home to share those stories with their master?

What if the son came and he wasn’t met with hostility. What if we didn’t crucify him (as we so often do) and instead gave him not only the seat of honor but his rightful place as the host of the harvest feast to which you and I are invited to participate.

What if when we saw others we didn’t look at what we could gain, but came to regard everything as loss, so that from the harvest feast, we began to share with those who need it most?

We have that opportunity – to cultivate this Vineyard and stand on Holy Ground;  to bring who we are with us – to make it our own, but to also remember whose Vineyard it is and celebrate!

We have the opportunity –  to see everything, not for personal gain, but to regard everything as loss as we join in the Vineyard owner’s bountiful harvest among us.

We have the opportunity – to welcome others as if they were Jesus himself.

Today is the crop walk. I know not everybody can participate but if you do, I want to ask you to do something.  In fact, do this wherever you are.  Split up. Don’t just walk together with your friends and family and people from church. Talk to others. Meet some people. See them as representatives of the Vineyard owner. Share who you are and what you bring with you – your gifts, skills and experience.  Meet Jesus out there.

IMG_3897Don’t worry about folding the napkins, but put your arm around each other and encourage one another to bring who you are and serve in the Vineyard.

We have the opportunity to stand on this Holy Ground.  

What will we do with it?

Let us serve together with joy and humility. Amen.

Posted in on Gospel of Matthew, on Letters of Paul, Sermons | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Call vote sermon: “The one Jesus keeps calling about” Matt 16:21-28

Preached at St. Paul, Old Saybrook, CT, August 31, 2014.

A reading from Matthew:

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

St.Paul.01Grace and peace to you, on this day, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

There is a lot going on in this passage from Matthew’s Gospel: a rebuke, an invitation, and a grounding in future hope – all of it centered on the cross.

The first part of this passage is an allusion to last week;

Jesus asked his disciples who people thought he was. Peter answered “you are the Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah.” Jesus responded, “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.”  Today we see the other side of it. Jesus tells everyone what his mission is: to suffer, die and be raised, and Peter wants nothing to do with it.

Jesus says, “Peter…Rock…Stop being such a blockhead!”

I find great hope in this. If Peter, the lead disciple who preached on Pentecost, calling thousands to faith in a single day didn’t get it, maybe there is hope for all of us!

The one who is called rock-solid is nothing but a blockhead.

We all show occasional glimpses of “getting it” – at the same time remaining blockheads.

After that rebuke comes an invitation, “If any want to become my followers they must deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow me.” Is this good news? Certainly it doesn’t sound like it. Who wants to deny themselves? Don’t we all want comfort and security? Who wants to pick up a cross? Besides being an implement of occupational terrorism, torture and death, they’re also pretty heavy – Who would want to carry that?

Besides that, Jesus invites us to give up our very lives. Sacrifice everything. Leave it behind. Can any of us, truly, do that? Would we even want to?

Comfort and security.  That’s really what we want. To live in a beautiful community like this. Perhaps to raise a family. Perhaps to make a living. Perhaps to retire here. Perhaps to enjoy the beauty here with nice church just up the road from the beach. Perhaps a new young pastor with a family of his own with both vibrancy and experience to keep things going & keep things secure. Perhaps for my kids a place to make new friends as well as great memories for our family. Perhaps for me a new endeavor –  a nice church down by the Sound filled with people eager to serve and support the work I’m doing.

But is that what Jesus asks of us? To be safe? To be comfortable? To live a good life?

Before you answer those questions for yourself, look to Peter.

He wanted a Messiah.

Not the Messiah they got. Not the Messiah Jesus is.
But the Messiah they were always told would come.

Someone to take care of them.
Someone to make the bad things go away.
Someone to bring them security, peace and easy living.
Peter & the disciples are not that different than us:
Good people who believe Jesus is Lord.
Good people want a good church to go to each week.                                                             Good people who want to live a good life.

Unlike them,  we have the benefit of knowing the end of the story. Because the end of the story – is really its beginning… We know Jesus will suffer and die. We know Jesus will be raised from the dead. We know his life, suffering, death, resurrection & the community built on the promise of the cross of Jesus Christ – changes everything.

It changed those 1st disciples, & changes us too.

We have a saying that things are “our cross to bear.” We think of it as responsibility:

It’s my loved one to care for.
It’s my disease to fight.
It’s my misfortune to overcome.

Here’s the deal…

I don’t believe Jesus is calling us to either a pain-free life or to bear the whole weight of the world on our shoulders. In the first case we know experientially it just isn’t true – you can’t escape the realities and hardships of life & anybody whose selling that version of the gospel hasn’t really read any of them.

But the second case is equally important. We are not called to save the world by ourselves. Anybody that tries that is going to get crushed by the world. Even Jesus – whose mercy mission of love forgiveness & restoration was crushed by the weight of the world as he died for the world. His resurrection broke all the rules we know about life and death and the new life we are called to take part in – but the key is – we do so together.
Two winters ago I was the chaplain at Calumet for February break. Going down toboggan run I went off course and hit a tree. Headfirst…Blockhead. But what happened afterwards was exceptional. The staff was on top of it. The ambulance came; put on the backboard & taken to Mass General Hospital in Boston. The next 7 weeks I wore a neck brace – I broke my head…Blockhead. St. Michael’s cared for me. People form former churches sent cards. Other churches in town sent meals. The bishop and staff called.

But the quintessential church moment for me came when I was still lying there at Mass General. The tests that would later declare I’d be OK, weren’t back yet. The pain medication hadn’t really kicked in. I was scared. The nurse was there. Tammie was there. My cousin and her husband who live near Boston were there. The hospital chaplain (a Presbyterian) came in. “Hi. Geoff” she said, and then her facial expression changed…  “You must be the one all the Lutherans are calling about!

Both Tammie and the Camp Calumet staff called the synod office and posted on Facebook-and evidently, news traveled fast.  When the world crushes you & others hold you up, that’s the church bearing the cross. Now imagine what could happen if the people in our lives – at work, school, that neighbor that drives you crazy, that family member, the friend who said they’d never go in a church again, knew that they were the ones the Lutherans kept calling about? The one that the people of St. Paul kept calling about? The one Jesus keeps calling about?

This last part of this passage is about payment & reward should be understood in the context of our life together. As individuals it’s pretty difficult for any of us to claim we can stand on our own two feet before God in judgment – we solely rely on the mercy of God in Jesus for that, but I think we instinctively get that communities of faith are judged (by others) by how effective we are. If we rest on our laurels, or cling to the past, or lock-up the doors to hide safely inside the reality is we won’t be around too long. But if we can be out in the community. If we can be agents of mercy, if we can be practitioners of hospitality, if we can be the ones that reach out to others because they are the ones that Jesus is calling about, then we – as bearers of the cross…have a good chance.

Jesus grabs hold of our whole lives through the cross – but he asks nothing less than our whole lives in return. To bear the cross – to bear his cross is nothing less than to hold on to the promise & join in him in looking for the ones Jesus keeps calling about.

Remember Peter’s response? “You are the Messiah.”

What does the Messiah do? – he rescues his people not so we can live an easy life or take the whole world upon ourselves. He rescues us from sin and rather and evil so that we bear that cross in the world.  Together. “I will build my church upon you” Jesus promises. Not just Peter but all of us. What is the body of Christ? You and me. We bear the cross of Jesus together. The cross that kills and buries us  and the promise of life that raises us each day from the dead – in life and love and freedom as the hope of the kingdom takes hold of you (the one Jesus keeps calling about).

Here is what I propose:

  1. As we start our time together let us remember the foundation of our faith –                the confession not only that Jesus is Lord – but that he is Christ, the Messiah, the one who comes to take away the sin of the world.
  1. Let’s not be timid about who we are and what we are about. We are called to be bold and courageous – bearing the cross (of all things) in the world. That’s not easy. Let’s never think it is; but let’s claim together that the cross is worth something that its worth everything – and nothing is going to stop us, even when we are being blockheads.

You’ve already done this:

-You saw there weren’t enough preschools in town so you started one

-You saw started a homework club for those who need extra help, because you knew it would make a difference.

-You support things like Calumet, send young people on mission trips and participate with other local churches to feed the hungry.

we can do more, looking for the ones that Jesus keeps calling about.

  1. Can we have a little fun? Can we bear each other’s burdens, get serious when we need to, get tasks accomplished, but also spend a little time laughing, joking, giggling, skipping, singing and experience this faith of ours for what it is supposed to be – pure joy?

An invitation to follow. The promise of the cross. A call to action in Jesus’ name.  You are the ones Jesus keeps calling about. Together we can look for the others. The cross isn’t about putting our feet up or putting the world on our shoulders, it is knowing the mercy & love of God – carrying it joyfully in the world to the ones Jesus keeps calling about.

I’m ready. If you’re with me, let’s get to work. Amen

____________________________________

St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, 56 Great Hammock Road,                     Old Saybrook, CT 06475 (860) 388-2398

Sunday worship @ 8:30 A.M. & 10:45 A.M.  

http://www.stpaul-elca.org

 

St.Paul.02

 

Posted in on Gospel of Matthew, Sermons | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“Make peace wherever you go” a farewell sermon to St. Michael’s on John 20:19-23

9/28/2014
Farewell Sermon to St. Michael’s on John 20:19-23
“Make peace wherever you go”

 

St. Michael’s Lutheran Church
New Canaan, CT
Pastor Geoff T. Sinibaldo

Posted in on Gospel of John, Sermons | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A word of thanks before we go…

(Here is a reflection to the people of St. Michael’s, New Canaan, CT before I begin my new call as pastor of St. Paul, Old Saybrook, CT. My last Sunday in New Canaan is 9/28/2014. My first Sunday in Old Saybrook is 10/5.)

pastor.01.2012People of St. Michael’s,

It is hard to express in a few words my gratitude for your partnership and ministry over our years together. (Quite literally) blood, sweat and tears have bonded us for a lifetime even though we now part ways as pastor and people. You’ve taught me many lessons, and I hope (even if in a small way) that you your life and faith have been nurtured by our time together as well. I am unsure what more I can say other than, “Thanks.” We have had some good times and fruitful ministry. I think these words from Ephesians sum it up well:

“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.     Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free – signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit.    This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life. That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the Christians, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you – every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask – ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory – to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians,oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him – endless energy, boundless strength! All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” (Ephesians 1:11-23 – The MESSAGE)

Remember who you are, and who you belong to – Jesus, our Master. Keep up the good work together in faith and the momentum of the Spirit will continue to push forward through you.   Live the new life in Christ God has given you in gratitude, and everything else will fall into place. Of this I am certain, even when the words are hard to come up with on my own.

With love and in the spirit of peace that surpasses understanding, I thank God for you; now and always. – PGS

Posted in Church & Mission, Church by Perception, Discovery, Faith Everyday, Special Days, Traffic Patterns, What We Seek | Tagged , , | Leave a comment