The Rev. Dr. John Judson
March 26, 2017
Matthew 6:22-7:5; Genesis 1:1-5
He had something that he wanted me to see. Keith was one of my best friends, and after high school we had gone separate ways. I had headed west to San Antonio for college and he had headed east, in the piney woods of east Texas for college. Now for those of you non-Texans, which I assume is most of you, the piney woods are dense forests like those in the UP. You can drive for miles and miles seeing nothing but trees and deer. Sometime during my freshman year I drove over to pay him a visit and as darkness fell, he invited me for a ride in order to show me this surprise. We were headed down some narrow two lane highway, the trees whipping by, barely able to see anything on a moonless night. The Keith said, “Watch this.” He flipped a switch and it was daylight ahead of us. I wondered if the light was so bright it would knock the trees over. He glanced at me, smiled and said, “Aircraft landing lights.” “Are they…” I began. He replied instantly, “No they are not legal. But aren’t they great.”
I think about Keith and his lights every time I hear Jesus say that we are to be the light of the world; that we are to be those who shine the light of God’s love and justice into every dark place in the world. That where there is hate, we are to shine love. Where there is pain, we are to shine care. Where there is bullying, we are to shine protection. Where there are lies, we are to shine the truth. Where there is loneliness, we are to shine community. We are to be the light of God in a hurting world. Yet the question always arises, how are we to do that? How are we, ordinary people, supposed to be the light of God in the world? The answer is by increasing our SLQ; by increasing our Spiritual Light Quotient. Or if you prefer, our Spiritual Lumens Quotient. Our SLQ measures the amount of God’s light we have available to share. For you see we cannot shine God’s light into the world if we have not taken in the light. We cannot share what we do not have. This is what Jesus means when he speaks of our being full of light; that we can only be filled if our eyes, are open to seeing the light God offers.
The issue then becomes how do we do this? How do we open our eyes in order to receive the light? How do we increase our SLQ? Fortunately, Jesus offers us the answers in these pithy teachings we read this morning. So here goes.
First, we are to serve God. Often when we hear this statement, that we must serve God, what comes to mind is going out and doing things for others. We remember Jesus story about when we serve one of the least around us, then we are serving him, and by extension God. While that is spot-on, it is not what Jesus has in mind in this passage. Listen again to what he says. “No one can serve two masters.” The issue is who sets the agenda for our lives. Who gives us our marching orders? Who is the one who will direct how we live? This is what a master does. And what Jesus wants us to see is that we are to give this place of honor in our lives over to God. In others words, we are to look to God…and nothing and no one else, to set the direction and boundaries of our lives. What happens when we do this is that we look to God. We look toward God, and we begin to take in the light of God’s love and mercy. We begin to take in the light of God’s compassion and care. We begin to increase our SLQ. We become light bearers to the world capable of shining light into the dark places around us.
Second, we are to trust God. Jesus begins talking about trust by reminding us to not worry. “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your…” and he tells us all the things we are not supposed to worry about. What I have found however is that when someone tells me not to worry, I spend as much time worrying about not worrying than I do worrying about what I was not supposed worry about…if you get my drift. So, I want to turn this around and get to the heart of it, which is that we are supposed to trust God. After all, God is the one who feeds the birds and clothes the grass…and loves us. Thus, we are to be people who, even in the most difficult of circumstances, trust that God is present, walking beside us, and caring for us. And as we begin to trust, our SLQ increases. It increases because to trust, we must be open. Because to trust we must be open to what God can and is doing in our lives. Because to trust is to receive from God what we cannot give to ourselves. It is having our arms wide open, palms up, waiting for God to shower light upon us. When we trust God, we become light bearers into the world capable of shining light into the dark places around us.
Third, we are to confess to God. In the final part of our reading this morning we hear Jesus telling people that they are not to judge others. While this may not appear to have anything to do with raising our SLQ, it actually does. For when we judge others we act as if we are God. We believe that we know what people think, why they do what they do, what are their motivations and that we have all the light we need to “fix” them. In essence we don’t need God and so we pull a shade down across our spiritual eyes so that no light gets in, whether it is light from God or it is the light reflected in the other person. For what we need to remember is that one source of the light of God is other people. For every person has within them the light of God. It may be a dimly burning wick, or a spotlight, but it is there. So, when we judge, we blind ourselves to all the light that might make us capable of shining God’s light into the world. This is where confession comes in. When we confess our pride, our arrogance or our fear, whatever it is inside that causes us to judge, we remove, as Jesus says, the log from our eyes. Isn’t that a great image; a log in our eye. For when there is a log we can neither receive nor send light. But once we confess and remove the log we once again increase our SLQ and become light bearers to the world.
We live in a world that is desperately in need of the light of God in Christ. We need the light in our schools. We need the light in our places of work. We need the light in our communities. We need the light in our families. The challenge then is for us to increase our SLQ. It is to serve, trust and confess to God in such a way that the very light of God will come streaming into our lives, in order that we might shine it out again like aircraft landing lights…making a difference in this God’s good creation. My challenge to you then is this, when you awaken each morning, sit on the edge of your bed, spread your hands apart and say to God, “Fill me with light, that I might be light to the world.”
Rev. Amy Morgan
March 19, 2017
Matthew 6:1-6, 19-21
It’s like Christmas in July. It’s like eating a Thanksgiving dinner on a Tuesday. It’s like shopping for a bathing suit in February.
We’re reading that scripture about money, and it’s nowhere near stewardship season.
If it isn’t bad enough that the church takes three whole weeks each fall to focus on how much we should give and why, now we have to hear about it in the middle of Lent, too?
We hate talking about money in the church. It’s embarrassing. The church is here to help and comfort and support its members, so we hate to ask for anything in return. Especially money. Even in stewardship season, we emphasize that giving your time and your energy is just as important as giving your money. If you can’t give much, that’s okay. Do the best you can. We’ll be fine.
The ironic thing is, you know who LOVED to talk about money? Jesus. That’s right. He healed people and loved people and taught people God’s way. And he still managed to squeeze in 288 recorded references to the almighty dollar. Or denarii.
So why did Jesus talk about money so often? A lot of people think it’s because he hated rich people, or he was a socialist, or a communist. I could make the argument for any of those possibilities.
But there are other possibilities as well. For instance, Jesus might have been a venture capitalist.
I asked one of our Confirmation students a few weeks ago, who happens to be a strong supporter of free-market capitalism, for scriptural evidence that Jesus was a capitalist. And, clever guy that he is, he immediate responded: the feeding of the 5,000. Small investment compounds and trickles down and everyone gets what they need.
I’m still thinking about that one…but it made me reconsider the way we approach money in the church.
In essence, we do everything wrong. We ask you all, members of the church, to give money. But unless we’re involved in a building campaign, we don’t make anything with it. We don’t recognize outstanding donors. We can’t show you growing profit margins or increased market share. We don’t even do a great job of talking about your return on investment.
But we’re a church, you might say. It’s not like a business. It’s different.
Okay, but I’m not sure Jesus saw it that way. He told this parable about someone sowing seeds, and when the seed hit the good soil, it produced a hundredfold. One to one hundred is a pretty good return on investment. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. This tiny thing that becomes something huge that houses flocks of birds. In numerous teachings and parables, Jesus talks about this small thing becoming great, like a startup company in somebody’s garage turning into Apple. Small investment. Huge return. Essentially, said Jesus, that’s what the kingdom of heaven is like.
The problem is, the church is terrible at communicating this to the benefit of the body of Christ.
There’s a great TED Talk by a guy named Dan Pollatta. He’s the founder of the AIDS Ride and Breast Cancer 3-day events and the president of Advertising for Humanity. He wants to change the way we think about giving to non-profits. He knows we’re doing everything wrong. He says there’s a double-standard when it comes to the non-profit sector vs. the rest of the economic world.
Non-profits, he says, are held to a different, constrained standard when it comes to employee compensation, advertising and marketing, risk-taking for revenue development, time expectations for return on investment, and market investment. In short, anything we label “overhead” is demonized in the non-profit sector, but in for-profit the motto is “you gotta spend money to make money.” Pollatta says we “confuse morality with fugality,” denying non-profits the opportunity to grow to the scale needed to solve huge social problems not addressed by the for-profit economy.
What Pollatta is proposing is not some Robin Hood economics of taxing the rich to help the poor. It’s not socialism or communism. In fact, it doesn’t involve government at all. His solution is much more radical and much more challenging. He believes we have to change people’s hearts and minds, change the way we think and feel about what charities do in our society.
He thinks that the way to really change the world, to help people, to solve big social problems, is to give non-profits the same advantages as the for-profit economy.
But in the church we are shackled by scriptures like this one from the gospel of Matthew. Don’t advertise your piety. Give in secret. Pray in secret. Don’t invest in worldly things like your church facilities or staff or advertising or any other kind of overhead. Focus on heavenly treasure. You can’t love God and money, so just don’t talk about money at all. At least not at church.
It's like the church is this place where your bad choices are brought to light and your good deeds are kept in the dark. It sets up this double-standard where you are permitted to share your excitement about investing in Google or Coca-Cola, but you can’t share your excitement about investing in the ministry of the church. So then you don’t get that positive connection and feedback, which can lead to you not being quite as excited to give to the church.
And because the church wants to support you in your spiritual walk, we don’t advertise what you give, either. Again, this leads to a situation where you get your name in print for being a top shareholder or startup investor in the for-profit world, and even in other non-profits. But in the church, your investment is a secret so your father in heaven can reward you.
Now, maybe some of us have experienced that reward. Our family has a strong commitment to giving to the church, and it’s a meaningful part of our spiritual life. We’ve seen God working powerfully in our lives because of how we give.
But I will also admit that most days, I find it more rewarding to drive my new car or go on a family vacation than to give to the church in secret and store up treasure in heaven. Sorry, but it’s true. I’m hard-pressed to feel more rewarded by God almighty than by the almighty dollar.
So what do we do with this text, and others like it, that seem to impede investment in the mission of the church?
Let’s start by looking at the problem Jesus is addressing in this teaching. Jesus is calling out the hypocrites, which comes from the Greek word for “actor.” These are people who are acting like they’re following God’s will, but they’re only pretending. They strut the public stage, seeking praise and accolades for their generosity, but it’s all a show. They don’t really care. These charity shows were common in the Roman Empire and were a mainstay of Greek society. Being a benefactor was a matter of social status. You wouldn’t think about giving anonymously or not being publicly rewarded for your generosity.
Now, the church today may have many struggles, but hypocritical giving is not one of them. I don’t know any pastors who are complaining, “You know, I’m really tired of these people advertising to the world how much they give to the church. If our members would just quite announcing on Facebook that they are going to church to put their offering in the plate, that would be great. If I see one more Instagram photo of someone writing a massive check to our ministry, I’m gonna scream.” I mean, this is just not our problem.
But it was a problem for Jesus in the first century. You see, around the first century, the Jewish teachers and leaders were busy interpreting the Torah, or law, in ways that encouraged people to be faithful in their everyday lives. Part of that interpretation included what came to be known as Tzedakah. Now Tzedakah can be loosely interpreted to mean “charity,” but it comes from the same Hebrew root as righteousness, justice, or fairness. In Judaism, giving to the poor is not viewed as a generous, magnanimous act; it is simply an act of justice and righteousness, the performance of a duty, giving the poor their due.
So it would stand in opposition to that understanding of charity to give in a way that celebrated the giver, that brought praise or benefit to the donor. In fact, the Jewish rabbis eventually developed a merit system for giving, ranking different attitudes of giving from least meritorious to most commendable. Giving begrudgingly was the bottom rank, of course, just above not giving at all. Higher up the list is giving when you don’t know the recipient's identity, but the recipient knows your identity. But higher than that is giving when neither party knows the other's identity. That whole “Don’t let the right hand know what the left hand is doing.”
But the highest form of Tzedakah, the most meritorious form of charity…is giving to enable self-reliance. Giving so that there is no one in need. Giving that addresses the systems of oppression and injustice that put some people at the mercy of others.
Giving that effectively addresses those huge social problems our society faces is the highest form of charity, of righteousness, justice, fairness. This kind of giving has no room for hypocrisy. You have to actually believe in a cause. You have to research effective strategies and best practices. You have to dream big and plan for growth. You can’t fake this. You have to be a serious investor if you want to see major returns.
I think Jesus expected to see major returns on investment. Something small turn into something great. And he knew it would take money to do that. When he said to a rich man, “sell everything and follow me,” it wasn’t because he hated wealth. It was like your stockbroker telling you, “put everything you have into this new Jesus IPO.” He had wealthy followers who supported his ministry on earth and helped fund the early church. They took their earthly treasure and turned it into heavenly treasure. They put their money where their heart was. They invested in what they believed in.
And I know that is true for many of you. You give generously, sacrificially, and privately. There is no hypocrisy in your giving. You care deeply about this church and its ministry, and you want to see it grow and thrive. You want to dream big, audacious dreams.
That is why we have enough pledges to balance our budget this year. That’s why many of you increased your pledges to support church staff and programs. You love this church. This is where your heart is.
We are one of those rare unicorn churches. We are a growing, thriving suburban mainline church. We are uniquely situated in the American religious landscape.
And we are ready to grow. We are ready to expand our scale.
But it’s going to take some investment. A grain of wheat. A mustard seed maybe. But a little more to produce something even greater.
It’s going to take investment in those things we think churches shouldn’t spend money on. Staff. Marketing. Fundraising. Infrastructure. Innovation. We may have to wait a few years for the return on investment, just like you would for any for-profit company.
And you won’t get your name on a wall. No trumpets to announce your offering.
But that isn’t what you all are looking for. Because you’re not hypocrites. This is where your heart is. You’re making that private investment.
Since this isn’t stewardship season, I’m not going to ask you to pledge. I’m not authorized to ask you to increase your pledge for the year. And I’m not even going to ask you to give over-and-above your pledge to a particular cause. I know that’s a shock given the theme of this sermon.
What I’m going to ask you to do is dream. If this church had all the money in the world, what would we do? How much money would it take to accomplish the biggest dream you can dream for this church and the community it serves?
Let’s not operate out of a sense of scarcity, but out of a sense of abundance. If the heart we have for this place can grow with the size of our dreams, I’m certain the treasure needed to support those dreams will follow. Because this is where our heart is.
Glory be to God, Amen.
Rev. Dr. John Judson
March 12, 2017
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20; Matthew 5:17-20
He was “that guy.” He was that guy that no one really wanted to play with. Let me explain. One of the best things that my former congregation ever did was to build a gym. They needed a larger fellowship hall and so rather than simply extending the old one, they built a gym. And the gym was the most widely used part of our facility. It was used by basketball leagues, scouts and any number of other groups. One of the groups that used it was a twice a week men’s pickup basketball league…of which I was part for almost fifteen years. It was one of those leagues where men and women, by the way, of all ability levels could come and play. You kept your own score and you called your own fouls, with the understanding that you only called a foul when it was pretty egregious. But then there was that guy; that guy who we dreaded playing with because he called everything that even remotely looked not only like a foul, but traveling, double dribbling and anything else one could think of. It made games long and torturous. No one liked playing with that guy…which is why I wonder why anyone would want to hang out with Jesus…because he seemed to be that guy.
I say that Jesus is that guy because of what he said in this morning’s passage. ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore, anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is legalism at its best, or perhaps at its worst. And Jesus doesn’t stop there. Oh no, he says things like, Moses said you shall not murder, but I say if you get angry you are a murderer. Or, Moses said you shall not commit adultery, but I say if you look at someone with lust in your heart, you have committed adultery as well. Jesus certainly seems to be that guy, who plays above and beyond the letter of the law.
And it didn’t stop with Jesus. The church took up the mantle of being that guy. The church focused on keeping people in line through an application of extreme legalism of all forms. You don’t believe our particular theology…foul, you are out. You don’t agree with how we run the church…foul, you are out. You smoke, drank or danced…foul you are out. The church spent almost two thousand years defining and refining the rules and regulations that insured that everyone toed the legalistic line. One of my favorite stories of this church is that back in the 1800’s they kicked a church member out because they caught him harvesting his wheat on a Sunday…for the second time. They had warned him the first time, but he didn’t listen, so he was gone. The church it would seem was just following Jesus call to be more righteous than the Pharisees. But what if this is not what Jesus actually meant? What if Jesus was not calling for a return to legalism. What if he was the guy who simply wanted to encourage us to focus on playing the game and not on enforcing the rules?
Before we move forward I want to explain what I mean by “the game.” I am talking about the game of life, not the board game, but life itself. The game of life is, according the scriptures, to be lived in such a way that all human beings find love, joy, peace, fulfillment, abundance and blessing. It is supposed to be the kind of life Jesus described in the Beatitudes when Jesus spoke of those who are blessed, who are cared for and loved by God. What this means is that the game has two components. The first we can see in our text from Ecclesiastes. “That it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot (5:19). Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.” This is the component of enjoying the good things that life gives to us. The second part is our participation in insuring that all people have those same blessings. Do we have enough to eat? Then others ought to as well. Do we have a place to live? Then others ought to as well. In essence the game of life is a team sport, where we work together to insure all people can enjoy the life that God and God’s creation make possible. With that in mind let’s return to Jesus.
I want to argue that this, meaning playing the game, is what Jesus was focused on. I say this because he tells the people, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” I realize that this sounds like Jesus is doing the opposite; that he is focused on the rules and not the game. It may do so because we often associate “righteousness” with rigorous rule following. But that is not what righteousness is all about. Righteousness is a positive descriptor. It is focused on doing what is right rather than focusing on what is wrong. So to say that our righteousness has to be greater than that of the Pharisees is saying our lives need to be lived in a more self-consciously positive, loving way, rather than a negative, rule keeping way. Because when one is focused on the rules, when one is “that guy” then the game never really gets going. You are stuck at the free throw line, rather than being on the court, or in this case the Kingdom of Heaven, being actively engaged in being the blessed and blessing people of God.
So what then about the rules? What then about Jesus’ statements about being angry is the same as murder and lusting is the same as adultery? Two things. First, Jesus understands that rules are necessary. Without rules all one has is chaos. Can you imagine trying to play any game without rules? Basketball would soon look like rugby and bridge would soon look like go-fish. Second the rules are God’s rules intended to promote the playing of the game. They are given for the benefit of the people because they focus on helping people live the game more fully. Care for the poor, the stranger, the refugee. Treat the property of others as you want your property treated. Be honest in business dealings. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. These are rules that set the tone for the game, including not being angry, not lusting and the like because those actions get in the way of both being blessed and of blessing others. In essence, Jesus wants us to know the rules, but only for the purpose of being a people of blessing.
Jesus is not “that guy.” Instead he is the one who calls each of us off of the bench and into the game; the game of doing what is right by God and for neighbor and creation. This morning, I want to offer you a different kind of challenge, and that is to participate in our Lenten projects that are game changers, if you will, for people we will never meet. The first is to give a donation to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering…all of which goes to change people’s lives. The second, is called Sole-Hope. All you must do is to find your old jeans or other denim and bring them to the church as we to begin the process of helping people make shoes which will ward off life debilitating diseases. They are both simple acts, yet they are righteous acts; acts that bless others in the name of Christ. They are acts which get us in the game; the game of life helping to insure that all people get to experience the fullness God has to offer.
The Rev. Joanne Blair
March 5, 2017
This week, we begin the third quarter in our study of Brian McLaren’s book, “We Make the Road by Walking.” For those of you following the book, you know that during the season of Lent this year, we will be concentrating on what is known as “The Sermon on the Mount” in the book of Matthew.
Since this is the first Sunday, I think it is appropriate to “set the stage” for the next few weeks by reviewing what has happened prior to today’s reading. The point of this, in Matthew, is to link Jesus to the Old Testament prophecy and already accept his authority.
Thus far, we have been assured that the genealogy of Jesus is from the line of David, and that Jesus was brought up in Nazareth. Jesus has been baptized, the Spirit of God is upon him, and a voice from heaven has claimed him as, “my Son, the Beloved.”
He has gone into the wilderness and been tempted by the devil, started his ministry in Galilee, called his first disciples, and been curing people with diseases and demoniacs.
Listen now for God speaking as we read Matthew 5:1-16.
In her book, “Gospel Medicine”, Barbara Brown Taylor reflects on the joys of childhood when she would stand on her head. “Trees grew down, not up,” she writes, “and the sky was a blue lawn that went on forever. For as long as I could keep my balance I could tap dance on it, while birds and clouds flew under my feet. My swing set was no longer and ‘A’ but a ‘V’ and my house seemed in danger of falling off the yard- just shooting off into space like a rocket- leaving a sidewalk lined with pansies that led to nowhere. I liked standing on my head because it made me see old things in a new way.”
Many parts of the Bible are considered to be “upside down”, as we hear of the “first being last”, etc. And this is certainly true in the Beatitudes. Jesus constantly reversed the general value system of the day… and, alas, the general value system of still today.
As Jesus went up the mountain, he sat down (as one did when they were going to teach), and his disciples sat around him. Jesus was speaking to his disciples and those others who would choose to follow him. As Jesus articulates God’s blessings, he is outlining the call to discipleship in relation to the character they should already have.
He also describes the costs in their lives, as well as in God’s future.
Beatitudes are not new to Jesus, or Matthew, or the New Testament. They are found throughout the Old Testament in the Wisdom and Prophetic writings. The Greek word used for blessed in today’s scripture is “mak-ar-ee-os”, which means: blessed, by extension fortunate, well-off, happy. “Mak-ar-ee-os” is not asking for something. It confirms that which already exists.
The Beatitudes are certainly not practical advice for successful living! Rather, they are prophetic declarations made on the conviction of the coming-and-already-present kingdom of God. They are are not direct calls to action… rather, they are promises. And they are true, based on the authority of the one who speaks.
But how can we remain passive, when we have been blessed in such a way as this? We have been entrusted with a mission to the world.
At this point in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has called only the first four of his disciples. As he is teaching them, he is teaching all who choose to follow him. And so, he is teaching us. We are expected to locate ourselves among the potential disciples, eavesdropping as Jesus declares: “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.”
Thus, as followers of Jesus, “We” are the salt of the earth and “We” are the light of the world.
We know that salt was a prized preservative before there was refrigeration. It was also used in ancient sacrifice… and, of course, still today it enhances the flavor of many foods.
Needless to say, salt was considered a small thing of great value. To be called the “salt of the earth” by Jesus is something special.
And, anyone lost in the dark appreciates the direction given by the smallest flicker of a candle. But we are not just to be guided by the light, we are to guide others. The light of God is within us, and we are to live in ways that testify to the glory of God. To be called the “light of the world” by Jesus is, again, something special.
But “something special” is not an award; not a recognition to brag about… not that which makes us better than someone else.
Rather, it is a call to mission. God has entrusted us to live God’s message as disciples of Jesus Christ. To humbly love and serve with thanks and praise to God.
Salt and light… such common, ordinary things which have the power to change everything with which they come in contact.
There are people who make the headlines for their service and dedication to God, and well they should. We could certainly stand to hear more of these stories! But there are also so many people who quietly just “live it.” In the past month I have been so touched by the number of situations I have encountered with people in this very congregation who “just live it… just do it.”
How uplifting it is to have to limit myself to just three examples!
I was concerned about someone who lives alone and has been struggling lately, worried that she was falling through the cracks… only to learn that someone from this church has taken it upon herself to repeatedly reach out to her, make sure her needs are being met, and know that she is not alone.
Someone else has taken it upon himself to consistently call some of our members who are not able to get out, who may be struggling with various issues, and who feel that their world and circle of friends is shrinking. This has been going on for months and months.
Last week, one of our guests from SOS ended up here at the church (after SOS was over and gone), and one of our members (who already had to have been exhausted!) stayed with her… and her four children for the entire day. They camped out in the youth room for the day and he supposedly “worked” while caring for, supervising, and supporting them for the day.
These are just three examples.
No one asked any of these people to do what they are doing. They are just letting their light shine brightly. These people are salt and light. They are blessed. And they are a blessing.
Like basic salt and every day light, we are called to be useful, life-giving elements in this world. And we are called to give glory to God in the process.
Every thought we have, and every thing we do should be in praise and thanks to God.
Some of us are “luckier” than others in the ways of the world. We may have more money, or better health, and we often confuse this with blessings from God.
As understood in the Bible, happiness is the condition of being spiritually blessed. It is an inner assurance and confidence of God’s love, grace, and eternal care.
Each of us has the greatest blessing of all… the love and faithfulness of God. And that blessing is ours regardless of any trials we may be facing.
In the coming week I invite you to celebrate that blessing each and every day.
Start each day with the affirmation: “I am blessed.”
And then ask yourself, “How will I be a blessing to someone else today?”
Pastors and Associate Pastors: Dr. John Judson, Rev. Joanne Blair, Dr. Kate Thoresen, Rev. Ted Thode