Happy Thanksgiving! On behalf of Central's staff, pastors, and our families, let me assure you that we are thankful for you and for our life together as a congregation. I've enjoyed reading the Charge Conference reports that have come my way recently and seeing the year-in-review photo slideshow that has been prepared. We have much to be thankful for in how this congregation seeks to love God, ministers to people of all ages, with people of all ages, and reaches well beyond our city block to follow Jesus and love neighbor. Thank you.
We finished up the fall A Disciple's Path class yesterday (you can learn more about the class by clicking here). Our classmates noted the importance of intentionality and effort in discipleship.
Nothing in the rest of our lives is achieved without setting a goal, making a plan, and working toward it. Why would being a disciple of Jesus Christ be any different?
The call to stay awake continues this week (and will into December). This time it's St. Paul's turn to jostle us. In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Paul encourages us to encourage one another to be right-minded, focused, alert for Jesus' return.
We live in a society where many people are consistently tired. Some go for days (or longer) on auto-pilot, sleep-walking from responsibility to responsibility to release. We are advised to not only eat better and exercise regularly, but to get enough sleep.
The shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas is tragic on many levels - people who gathered to worship God in a space meant to offer grace and peace were attacked, a close-knit community is rocked by a significant portion of their population being killed or wounded, churches throughout the country have to wrestle again with how to be welcoming and wisely cautious, our country is confronted with yet another incident involving gun violence and mental illness. All of this grieves, infuriates, and bewilders.
I didn't see a single Martin Luther costume yesterday. I suppose people are saving him for tomorrow. Tomorrow - October 31 - is famous for more than being All Hallows Eve. It's also the day that Martin Luther published his 95 Theses. These theses opened the door to future debates between the Roman Catholic leadership and those protesting (which later led to the rift that created the Protestant denominations).
The gospel lesson for Sunday combines one of the more familiar stories from Jesus' life, with one of the least familiar. You can read both in Matthew 22:34-46.
This is the conclusion of Jesus' back-and-forth with those bent on besting him in arguments. The Sadducees have tried and failed and this passage includes the Pharisees' last effort (and failure).
In the coming days you'll receive stewardship materials via mail or your neighbor. Even before you receive them, we encourage you to consider what you anticipate being able to contribute to Central in 2018 in terms of time, talent, and financial resources. You'll be asked to estimate what you can give next year.
The more I reflected on Jesus' parable in yesterday's gospel reading (Matthew 22:1-14), the more I was inclined to see in it a call to sanctification, to holiness. Rev. Cattenhead's sermon certainly pointed us in that direction. My sermon went that way, as well.
In a sense, Sunday's parable is "out of season." We need to remember the placement of it to catch its meaning. Jesus has already entered Jerusalem for what we now call Holy Week. He is between turning over tables and being crucified. This is the most intense week of his life, ending with the most unjustified capital punishment ever.
The children, as expected, did very well leading us in worship yesterday. I'm grateful to everyone who gives time, prayers, and support to make our children's ministry excellent.
More times than any other Sunday I can think of, the word "rules" was used yesterday. "Rules" must be one of the early vocabulary words for children; it's certainly a word they are quite familiar with by elementary school.