Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Forgot to post this sermon from Mother's Day 2012. title Mother Love.
1 John 5:1-6
5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child.

5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.

5:3 For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,

5:4 for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.

5:5 Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

5:6 This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.
John 15:9-17
15:9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.

15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.

15:11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

15:12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

15:13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.

15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

15:15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

15:16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.

15:17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
Happy Mother's Day!
A boy forgot his lines in a Sunday school play. Luckily his is mother was in the front row especially to prompt him.
She gestured and formed the words silently with her lips, but it did not help. His memory was completely blank. Finally, she leaned forward and whispered the cue, 'I am the light of the world.'
He beamed and with great feeling and a loud clear voice announced, 'My mother is the light of the world.'

The Gospel of John chapter 15, the words of Jesus, spoken to the disciples on the last night of Jesus' earthly life. Jesus is speaking from his heart, saying “abide in My love!” teaching to love as he has loved. Not as others love, but as Jesus himself loves! Maybe your parents had a hard time conveying their love. Jesus says very plainly here how much he loves and cares for his followers. And since we are so loved, we are to love others. We do not HAVE to obey, but we wish to, because of that love. Both of our scriptures today speak of this obedience to God because of the Love of God, through Jesus :)

Good parents give of themselves, loving and caring for the family, make sure kids have place to sleep, enough to eat, warm clothing in winter and so on....some parents are not able to do these things well. They have other issues that prevent them from doing better. FORTUNATELY we have a loving perfect parent in God!God loves us unconditionally, as we are and not as we should be, because none of us is as we should be. When we recognize how loved we are, we are better able to love others well. We can grow out of the trouble we may have grown up in, because of that profound love. And loving others means-as good parents do- to offer ourselves, and our gifts.

Here at church for example, we offer our gifts—our weekly monetary gift of course, but also our time, our talents -making music, making food, organizing events, wiping tables or washing communion plates, any number of ways to help out. We offer our gifts because we are blessed! When we put God first, everything we do can be an offering! So we are wiping tables, singing a song, to honor God. Since God is love, we want to do for God in loving ways!
When we are loved well, we feel cared for and want to care for others.
When our children are babies, we change diapers not because we want to, we do so because we love them! So we change them and clean them up well because they can't do it yet. We want to do well to keep them healthy and happy. Just out of love. When we were little kids we wanted to do what our parents asked because we loved them. Now we want to do as Jesus says, because of the incredible love shown us, even in spite of all we do that is not Godly. So we do what we can and do it as well as we can. To honor God. And that is a way that the Light of Christ shines through us to others.

We may think we will help others when we get all squared away. We can't give this week because we can't afford steak. Can we afford burger? Cottage cheese? Then we are ahead of many others. We are called to help others, regardless! We may not have much, but we can still help! Because there is always someone worse off, there is always someone who needs our help. Right now, each of us has a place to return to, a place to lay down at night. It may not be a palace, but it's home. It's a place where we are comfortable and feel safe. Thank you, God! Sadly, even today in the 21st century USA! there are many people who do not have a place to call home. Over and over the Bible tells us to care for others, especially the widow and orphan. In those times the widow and orphan were the most likely to be homeless. And in a society in which men were well into their 20s before marrying a younger woman, there were apt to be a LOT of widows and orphans...therefore a lot of folks who were homeless or nearly so. Today it is often a single parent family, or a family of a military veteran who are homeless. You and I have homes. How can we not help those without?

A couple of years ago, Jeff Hoyt, executive director of Hands of Faith spoke here at 2nd Cong. We were inspired, collected a good offering for the ministry and folks here were interested. 1st Presbyterian has been involved in Hands of Faith and wondered as we began talks of coming together, if 2nd would care to help with Hands of Faith. Several of us said YES! This is clearly something we were meant to do. A commitment from each of us of a few hours spent together, a home-cooked meal, can mean so much to these folks who are working hard to get their lives back on track! let's help them see that God is the ultimate safe haven, even in hard times. God is the perfect parent, the place of rest, of comfort. Jesus' light will surely shine through as we help.

Jesus says, “you did not choose me, I chose you!” now of course the disciples DID choose to follow Jesus, but Jesus, who was in the beginning, actually chose them---and us-- first. And he appointed the disciples..and US-to go and bear fruit! To show the Love of God by loving and caring for others!

We are in a time of sea change for traditional churches. More churches are the church not just OF the community but FOR the community. Churches reach out to others to be a blessing, showing the love of Christ. One of the interesting facets of this time of change is that young people are coming into churches, because they have first joined mission projects and then learned about the churches involved and they begin to attend. People who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious” are finding that some of us who are religious are actually spiritual too! that is the Holy Spirit, the gift of God, is the Truth. The truth of God.

Our Loving parent promises that
..for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. OUR faith...can help conquer the world!? Can a few folks in a midwestern town make a difference in the world?! Yes! Absolutely! Two church families, coming together to share their love of God and compassion for others can make a difference right here and far beyond this corner of Beloit! What each of us does has a ripple effect. We can never be sure just how far our words and actions will reach. Our work together, to help the homeless, the hungry, to help children and to reach out to all kinds of people will fill our community with the Light of Christ! And who knows what effect this can have on those folks we reach out to!? At the very least, families will remember that a group of folks helped out when they were struggling. This church can become a beacon of the Light of Christ for people all over this area. When we abide in Christ, he abides in us. And we can accomplish so much together. God has surely brought us together for this day and time, for God's purposes.
Today, Mother's Day, can bring up complex feelings. You may be reminded of a wonderful relationship with your Mom or another relative, or your own kids. Or it may remind you of losses, of your mother or maybe a child. Or the loss of the nurturing that you didn't receive from your own mother. Can we think of today as a day to celebrate the love that runs all through life? The love that we experience holding a baby, the love that we may have found in family members or dear friends. An unconditional love..the love that we know comes from God :) Good parents offer a lot of themselves. Our Heavenly parent offered up the very best....God's own Son who laid down his life for his friends...and us.  

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