Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Dear Linwood Friends,
Every Sunday special!
Sunday is – and will always be – the day of the resurrection. It was on “the first day of the week” that Jesus confirmed His victory over sin and death. Each week when Sunday comes around, we are reminded that the work of salvation was anchored in human history. Our faith is not based upon is a parable or a fable or a fantasy that inspires us, but upon a real work of sacrifice offered at a time and place. The ancient creed is right on the money – “Jesus died; Jesus rose; Jesus will come again!” All three are (or will be) historical realities.
Worshiping on Sunday also reminds us that Christ’s death and resurrection long ago impacts our days – our history – in a real and deep way. Our faith is not primarily a “feel good” faith, but one that promises us life in all its fullness (which includes all emotions and all circumstances). Faith is meant to intersect the realities of our days and our lives.
This leads me to what I see as modern day misconceptions – sometimes subtle ones – but misconceptions nonetheless.
The first is that faith is supposed to “feel good” and if you are at the point where you “feel good” about what you believe then you are a successful spiritual person.
The truth is that while Christ can and does bring an inner security and peace, the faith itself is highly uncomfortable, asking us to allow our hearts break over our own and the world’s sin, and asking us to undertake radical change, asking us to engage in the great struggles and issues of the world around us. Being a Christian and being comfortable don’t go together.
The second is related to the first. It is that whatever I believe – as long as I am sincere in my belief – is good and right. And, if something is good and right for me – that is good enough.
It is nice to be sincere – but it is also possible to be sincerely wrong! Our sincerity has nothing to do with something is truth or error.
The third is that God – who by now must be getting rather old and out of touch – can be fooled or manipulated or taught new and improved ways to run the world.
God is the eternal God of truth and justice from the very beginning. While our understandings of that truth and justice change over time (hopefully for the better) that is not an indication that God has changed His mind and now got on board with our understandings. We seek to be transformed by the mind of God, not to try to get God to conform to what we think is right.
One more. The fourth is the perception that Christianity in general and worship and the Bible in specific are dull and boring.
Nothing would be further from the truth. This summer our theme is “Footprints of the Faithful.” We are going to be profiling various Biblical figures each week. These are vibrant, exciting, and fascinating people – and so is the faith they profess and live.
I hope you will be joining us for worship this Sunday, at 10:45 a.m. in the Tabernacle. We have two special elements to add to this special day. First, we are going to have The Elders of Jazz lead music on Sunday. This is a return visit for The Elders. In their own words, “The Elders of Jazz are amateur Dixieland musicians who play to praise God in their own, joyous way.” The hymns they play will be familiar, but the style is both lively and deep. It is impossible to listen to them without tapping a toe – or some body part.
Also this Sunday is “Mission Sunday.” Last year the Linwood Council of Christian Life decided to embrace the mission “Living Water for the World,” an organization that works with villages in third world countries to install and maintain water purification systems. We are joining with projects in Guatemala. This Sunday we have the privilege of getting more of the story and the details of this work from folks who have been a part of the mission teams that have installed these systems. This is an example of faith translating into real people doing real work that makes a real difference in the lives of others.
I know that many of you come to Linwood for some much needed “R & R.” But, if you can also handle some excitement, join us Sunday morning!
Linwood Park Pastor
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