Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Wardrobe

I don't normally re-hash sermons in this blog but by popular demand- well, a couple of people asked at the door- here are the key points for "A 2013 Wardrobe" from Colossians 3:12:17-

Whenever we feel isolated or dismissed by others we should remember that we are "God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved."

Paul follows this affirmation with an instruction to "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; that we should forgive one another, and above all, put on love."

My challenge was that we use these seven virtues as guides for prayer in the new year- that each day we could ask God to help us grow in each characteristic:

  • Monday- Lord, help me be more compassionate
  • Tuesday- Lord, help me be more kind
  • Wednesday- Lord, help me be more humble
  • Thursday- Lord, help me be more gentle
  • Friday- Lord, help me be more patient
  • Saturday- Lord, help me be more forgiving
  • Sunday- Lord, help me be more loving
Wouldn't it be incredible if we were as easily recognized by these Christ-like characteristics as we are by the clothes we wear!

I closed- and close- with Paul's beautiful prayer in vv. 15-17:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Confessions of a Pastor

One of my favorite aspects of this calling is the opportunity to plan and lead worship.  Jonnia, Chris, and I approach worship planning with the genuine desire to create a service that will honor God and help people experience God. Many others assist in making this possible- accompanists, choir members, sound and graphics coordinators, ushers, and extended session volunteers- by sharing their gifts and time.

Unfortunately, planning and leading worship can make it difficult for me to actually worship. I am constantly aware of "all the moving parts."  As I scan the crowd I making mental notes of who's present... and who's missing.  My attention is drawn to last minute notes handed in the hallways or distracted by a look of concern on the face of a worshiper.  For me to get "lost in worship" can mean missing my cue!

But, this last week, in a darkened gym on the Third Sunday of Advent, I worshiped. My moment came as we sang a song we don't often sing.  The words of the song were moving, but I've sung them scores of times over the years.  This time it wasn't the words or the music that led me to worship... it was the voices. With each successive stanza I found myself blinking away a tear and my voice faltering as we united our voices with the voices of the ancient church and the prophets of old to sing, "Rejoice!"

It was as if together we sensed the promise of advent, the promise of  joy was ours. No matter the challenges, no matter how great the disappointments, no matter how crazy things seemed, we, as God's people could "rejoice!"  And I worshiped the One we call Emmanuel, Dayspring, Wisdom, and the Desire of nations.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!