Updated: Mar 28, 2019
As we look to our future as a congregation, it is important for us to know what assets we have to work with. During worship on January 6, the assembly was invited to consider gifts they have to offer individual and that the congregation has to offer. Following are some excerpts from that sermon. If you were not there, feel free to email your responses to Pastor Lecia. If more time has helped you think, feel free to amend your responses by email. Congregational leaders will be meeting on Saturday, January 19. Part of our time will be spent looking at our assets and the needs of our community as we seek to discern God’s vision for our future. Please be in prayer for our congregation, our leaders and our discernment.
Matthew 2:1-12 Legend upon legend has been told about these wise men who came to visit Jesus, to the point that many of us don't know where the biblical story stops and the artistic rendering begins. Western tradition has decided there were three magi and given them names, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. Eastern Orthodox traditions raise the number to 12. Various countries of origin, professions and ages have been attached to them, but perhaps the gifts they brought are more important than those who conveyed them. Gold, frankincense and myrrh. Not your typical gifts to welcome a baby into the world, now or in the first century. Matthew does not ascribe any particular meanings to the gifts, though scholars through the ages have tried. Frankincense and myrrh were both expensive items imported for the East. They were tree resins with various medicinal, cosmetic and religious uses. Frankincense has been seen as a sign of Jesus' divinity since it was the incense that was often used in temple ceremonies, as an offering to God. Myrrh foreshadowed Jesus' crucifixion, as it is used both as a painkiller and to scent the anointing oil used to prepare a body for burial. While the gold has been explained as a symbol of Christ's earthly kingship, it would become important as they made a hasty trip to Egypt and stayed there for several years. While we do not know the true motivation behind each of the three gifts, we cannot doubt the devotion of those who offered them. Martin Luther compares the three gifts to the three articles of the creed or to the virtues of faith, hope and love, noting “every Christian can bring these gifts, the poor man no less than the rich man.” We all have something to offer the Christ-child, whether rich or poor. As we seek to follow Jesus and join God’s work of restoration and reconciliation, we have many assets to share, as individuals, in our congregation and in our community. What are three gifts you can offer as an individual? (Questions to consider include What do you enjoy doing? What is/was your favorite part of your job? What do you do when you have “free time”?) What is something our congregation has to offer the world? What is the best part of our community? Matthew 2:12-23 When we look at the world around us, we are surrounded by need. There are people crying out, as Rachel weeps for her children. There are those in power who see children and others as their pawns, there are children dying from lack of care. Where do you see pain and suffering in our world? God does not turn a blind eye to the trouble in the world, in fact, when we weep, God weeps too. What has God laid on your heart to be concerned about? Many times, the problems of the world seem too big, like we cannot possibly hope to make a difference. For now, I would ask you to think about our local community – our neighborhood, our school district or our county, but not beyond our metro area. Take some time in silent prayer, asking God what concerns God's heart. You can share those by email. As our congregation is seeking God's vision for who we are and who we are becoming, we look for what God has called us to. I know that God has a purpose for us, that there is a reason why Risen Lord has made it through upheaval and continues to be here at the corner of Whiteland Rd and Saddle Club. As we think about that calling, I am reminded of what theologian Frederick Buechner wrote about vocation: “It comes from the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work one is called to by God. There are different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Super-ego or Self-Interest. By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work that you need most to do and that the world most needs to have done...Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.” Just as each of us individually seek our own vocations, I invite you to be in prayer that God will help us discern our congregation’s vocation. Please share your gifts & concerns with me by Wednesday, January 16 in order to help us know the assets we have that are being offered to God’s work of restoring the world. In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord, Pastor Lecia