Nov 20 2014

We Your People, Ours the Journey: Sermon: Gift Receipts

“Gift Receipts” (November 16, 2014) What do we do with the gifts given to us? Will we hide and hoard them, for fear of losing them, or will we invest them and give them away in what we love and what the world needs, so that we might be faithful servants and stewards of God’s […]

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Nov 20 2014

Virtual Methodist: Pour your Spirit upon us

Just back from a really stimulating day with other chaplains at the Clinical Pastoral Education Retreat to Dromantine. It fell to our group to lead worship at the beginning and for it I wrote the following responsive prayer based on the first part of Isaiah 61 (I came home to discover that Stocki had referred to the latter part of the same chapter in his Surmise today promoting the upcoming Four Corners Festival – it is a truly inspiring chapter of scripture… perhaps that is why Jesus chose to read it to his home Synagogue in Nazareth.) I may have written it for a group of chaplains, but, if the Pope is correct in defining the contemporary church as a “field hospital” for those wounded in the world (a concept which we explored today) then it is an appropriate prayer for all those who are part of the church…

Sovereign Lord pour your Spirit upon us,
Anoint us to bring good news to the poor and the powerless
Wherever we may encounter them on our journeys:
Send us out to bring healing to the heartbroken.

May we proclaim pardon for the imprisoned,

Whatever form of captivity people find themselves entrapped in:

May we announce that this is the year of God’s grace.
May we bring comfort to all who mourn and are weighed down with grief

May we bring bouquets of blessing in place of funeral wreaths

the perfume of joy in place of the aroma of death
and clothe them in praise in place of deep despair.
Sovereign Lord pour your Spirit upon us. AMEN


Shalom


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Nov 20 2014

Mitchell Lewis: The Last Judgment in Stone

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his … Continue reading The Last Judgment in Stone

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Nov 20 2014

Commmonplace Holiness blog: Salvation Can Be Lost

A List of Scriptures that Teach or Imply that Christian Salvation can be Lost. WARNING: This is a very long list of Scripture passages, along with some comments from myself and a few historic Bible commentators. Don’t expect to read…

Continue reading

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Nov 20 2014

Ponder Anew: Comparing Hymns and Contemporary Songs (part 2)

As most of you know, I believe wholeheartedly that a healthy church chooses congregational songs with theologically rich text and well-crafted, singable music. This is the second part in our discussion of the differences between hymnody and contemporary worship songs, and what that means for their use in corporate worship. Click here to check out […]

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Nov 20 2014

Pastor Darian's Musings: Why Not To Go To Church: Turning the Question on Ourselves

The last time I took a Sunday off, there was a flood.
No, that statement does not mean that I haven’t taken a vacation since Noah built the ark. Look back through old blog posts on this site, and you’ll quickly see the value I place on time off!
I was in a city where rainfall began early on a Sunday morning and continued throughout the day. Flash floods were rampant, and increasing inches of water broke rainfall records for the city. I awoke that morning with plans to visit a local church that I frequented on vacation—until I turned on the television. A weather reporter clutched his blue poncho around his suit, the other hand clutching the microphone. He yelled over the wind:
Do not go out unless you absolutely have to!

But I absolutely have to go to church, I told myself. I had planned to go to church. I couldn’t let a little rain keep me from worshipping the Lord. If I were not on vacation, I’d have to be there for my job!
I went outside to discover that streets were closed and cars had hydroplaned. I was in a city that was only vaguely familiar to me, and the dark clouds made even the recognizable roads strange. Back in my room, watching Blue Poncho Weather Guy try to get his microphone under his hood, I decided not to go to church.
The weather can easily be an excuse not to go church, but it also reminds us that circumstances are beyond our control. Sometimes wisdom tells us to stay home, but legalism tells us to go to church because “it’s what we do.”
When I began working on this blog series entitled, “Why Not to Go To Church,” my intention was to listen for ways the church could become a place where people want to be.  I wanted to dig more deeply into why people were not attending church on a regular basis. What I discovered was the importance of shifting that question to ourselves.
1. Why do I go to church?
2. Why do I not go to church?
For those of us who are active in the church, sometimes we just need a break. The trouble develops when a “break” from worship becomes a habit. The habit becomes a routine, and the routine no longer includes the worship of God. This is the time of year where rain and cold keep us at home in fear of catching the flu or another bug from one another. We may initially stay away in fear of catching “something.” If we’re not careful, we’ll start avoiding the One who is trying to catch us.
Behind every answer to those questions are stories. The responses are more than mere excuses or reasons. Each word carries a load. As the body of Christ, we should listen carefully to each other’s reasons, excuses, rationalizations, and truths. Sometimes the floods of life, both figurative and literal, keep us from where we most want or need to be. When that happens, God meets us where we are.
I was glad when they said to me,

“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

(Psalm 122:1, New Revised Standard Version)

Are we continually encouraging each other to go into God’s presence? Are we asking ourselves why we go or don’t go to the Lord’s house? Are we really listening to the answers?
On that rainy Sunday morning in a vague city, I returned to my room and pulled out a new CD by Michael W. Smith. I put it in my computer and turned up the volume. I made a cup of coffee, opened a package of cookies and settled into a chair with a book. One of the songs that I heard is in the video below. The chorus says:
Your plans are still to prosper.

You have not forgotten us.

You’re with us in the fire and the flood.

You’re faithful forever.

Perfect in love.

You are sovereign over us. *

We go to church because he is sovereign. We don’t go to church, but he’s still sovereign.
Wherever we are in our answer to, “Why?” let us not forget that the house of the Lord belongs to the Lord. It is a house with no limits, for all are welcome. Will you go into the house of the Lord with me?
all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian

This song is from the new album SOVEREIGN.
SOVEREIGN on iTunes: http://mws.cta.gs/002
Michael’s official website: http://mws.cta.gs/006

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