Proper 20 (25) (September 21, 2014)
1 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
2 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
3 Exult in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
4 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.
5 Remember the wonders he has performed,
his miracles, and the rulings he has given,
6 you children of his servant Abraham,
you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones.
37 The Lord brought his people out of Egypt, loaded with silver and gold;
and not one among the tribes of Israel even stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they were gone,
for they feared them greatly.
39 The Lord spread a cloud above them as a covering
and gave them a great fire to light the darkness.
40 They asked for meat, and he sent them quail;
he satisfied their hunger with manna—bread from heaven.
41 He split open a rock, and water gushed out
to form a river through the dry wasteland.
42 For he remembered his sacred promise
to his servant Abraham.
43 So he brought his people out of Egypt with joy,
his chosen ones with rejoicing.
44 He gave his people the lands of pagan nations,
and they harvested crops that others had planted.
45 All this happened so they would follow his decrees
and obey his instructions.
Is music a gift or a tool? Why do we have to make a choice? It’s like food. Is it a gift or a tool? It’s both. It’s easy to see food as a gift when you think of the variety of tastes, textures, and smells God has caused it to be associated with. Filet Mignon, chocolate, corn on the cob, and sweet red apples are gifts! But we eat to survive and to maintain our strength. Mothers can use food as way of blessing their families. In those senses food is a tool that serves a functional purpose. It’s unhelpful and unnecessary to say that food is either a gift or a tool. Likewise, music is gift we can delight in, enjoy, and thank God for whether we’re enjoying pop, classical, jazz, or bluegrass. But it becomes tool when we use it to enable the word of Christ to dwell in us richly, to teach and admonish one another, and to express gratefulness in our hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).
“Our large cities have substantial communities of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Muslims. Their native neighbors soon discover that they are, in many cases, much more godly, more devout, and more pious than the average native Christian. What, then, is the meaning of evangelism in this kind of society? It cannot be the sort of ‘recall of religion’ which has often been the way evangelism was understood. They do not need recalling to religion; they are generally very religious already”
(Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 4).
Our music Monday post comes via Hillsong again this week with a song called “God Is Able.”
September 14, 2014
14th Sunday after Pentecost
Welcome and Announcements
Call to Worship and Invocation
Songs of Worship
Christ Is Risen
Nothing But the Blood
You Are My All In All
Worship Through Prayer
Songs of Worship
My Savior’s Love
Worship Through Giving
Worship Through God’s Word
The Life of Joseph
Song of Preparation
Lord, I Need You
Worship At the Lord’s Table
O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
As I set out this morning I didn’t think running a long run in the rain was going to be one of my goals. Right before I went out, I changed into a long-sleeved tech shirt instead of the short-sleeved tech shirt I had on. As I think about it, it was appropriate that I ran in my Richmond Marathon shirt today. One, because last week I visited there for the NASCAR race and two, because it rained for the first 5 or 6 miles during that race. While today’s run didn’t look like running in a downpour, at times it felt like that.
Miles 1 and 2 were pretty uneventful and right about at my current pace goal of 9 minute miles. My hope is to bring that down considerably as the fall continues and we work back into winter. Just after I crossed over US 11, it started to sprinkle and then rained harder and harder until it was a full on rain. At that point I was soaked – no use in quitting now! I was also very glad I changed shirts – up to this point the long sleeves were making me warmer and now they were providing me warmth. It rained for most of the next 5 or 6 miles. Finally when I got back into town, it slowed down a bit and finally gave up. Since this was my first 10 miler in a while I had to keep talking myself into the next mile and not giving up.
One of the cool things – was both Saturday two weeks ago and today is that soon after the run my body was swarming in endorphins – yes, the beautiful bliss of the runner’s high. It’s actually a really cool feeling. I’ve learned over the past few weeks, it comes on by a “just right” workout – pushing yourself, but not pushing too hard. Both of my last two long runs – must have been just right. So I am pleased with myself and hopefully this week return to a full slate of runs at the regular distance. The Star City Half-Marathon (Roanoke) is just a little over two months away and I would really like to run this race well.
Proper 19 (24) (September 14, 2014)
Exodus 14:19-31; Psalm 114 ; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35
1 When the Israelites escaped from Egypt—
when the family of Jacob left that foreign land—
2 the land of Judah became God’s sanctuary,
and Israel became his kingdom.
3 The Red Sea saw them coming and hurried out of their way!
The water of the Jordan River turned away.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs!
5 What’s wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way?
What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away?
6 Why, mountains, did you skip like rams?
Why, hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob.
8 He turned the rock into a pool of water;
yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.
Isn’t it amazing? In this short Psalm we are given a shorty Hebrew history lesson. The songwriter reminds us of Israels miraculous exodus from Egypt and how God provided and did amazing things for the Hebrews on their way to the Promised Land.
Just recently our Sunday School class finished a long study called Faith Lessons. A good portion of the FaithLessons centered on the Hebrew Exodus. We reminded time and time again of what God did for the Hebrews on their way out of Egypt and yet they forgot and God remembered – time and time again. This song reminds us that God brought water out of the rock – yes, the people tested God, but God brought water out of the rock. It happened twice. You would think when God provided it the first time they would remember that God could do it again?
How many times does that happen in our lives? We know that God has provided for us over and over and over and yet…we come to one of those hard times – one of those rock times – and we complain that God isn’t helping us. Perhaps what we need to do in those times is to remember this psalm – instead of complaining we should tremble at the presence of the Lord, Why? Because He turned the rock into a pool of water; yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.
Today we remember 9/11/2001. It’s been thirteen years. We were living in New York at the time. I had just been hired at Schenectady Christian School, but hadn’t started yet. It was a beautiful late summer day in Upstate New York. A clear blue sky…no humidity…the day was perfect. The girls had gone off to school and I was in my office working on a sermon before heading off to a 12 to 8 shift at RadioShack. I remember Pam coming over to the office and telling me a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center…I though that was odd considering it was a beautiful, cloudless day. 15 minutes later she came back and told me the fateful news that we knew this was no accident – a second plane just crashed into the second WTC tower. I’ll never forget watching the news coverage. There in Fort Miller just a little over two hours north of New York City, it was a calm, beautiful day – and we watched in horror the events in NYC. I’ll never forget holding James in my arms as I watched the first tower fall. I cried. It was like a bad dream that just didn’t get any better. Believe it or not, I did go to work – we actually had a pretty good sales day…seems like the events of the day made people want to buy cell phones and satellite dishes. But we watched the events unfold on the televisions in the store that day.
Where were you when the world stopped turning?