Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beginnings in the Bible

We are working our way through a series of sermons on Beginnings in the Old Testament. We started with The Beginning of Creation- Genesis 1. With his word, God brings creation out of the nothingness of chaos. He says: “Light” and there is light. And, to crown creation off, God makes a man and woman and makes them in his own image. He breathes into them the breath of life. Over and over again, God looks at all that he has made and says: “It is good.” Then, when it is all done, God says: “It is very good.” The next week, we looked at Genesis 3 and The Beginning of Sin and Forgiveness. Human beings were given everything they needed in the Garden of Eden and told they could eat anything they wanted except for the tree of the knowledge of good and of evil. The serpent tempted Eve and she ate; Eve gave it to Adam and he ate. God comes walking in the cool of the day and cries out: “Where are you? What have you done? Who told you that you were naked?” In Bill Cosby’s rendition of this story, God whistles and says: “Alright, everybody out of the pool.” And, even though disobedient, God still promises to protect human beings. He will bless them and they will multiply. It’s our story. We don’t want to be a part of creation; we want to be creation. Last Sunday, we looked at Genesis 12 and Abram and Sarai. God called Abram at 75 years old and promised to make him and Sarai a great nation. Their names became Abraham and Sarah and they went out not knowing where they were to go. Faith for all of us is going out not knowing. We want it all to be nailed down for sure, but God calls us to trust him with our lives- not a part of our lives, but the whole of our lives- and when we do it’s called salvation. God was asking them and God is asking us three questions for faith’s sake. God asks: “Will you trust me with your life? Will you entrust yourself to a part of my family? And, will you go out and be involved in the world as a blessing to others?” In the sermon, I asked: “When did you begin to trust God with your life?” Many of us started trusting God years ago with our lives. It doesn’t mean that we sat down and said: “OK God do your thing.” No, God called us to move out, to take action with our own lives, all the while trusting in God’s guidance and leading. Trust is that many times we thought God wasn’t doing a good job and took our lives back. Or, maybe we never really trusted God and set out on our journey to figure things out for ourselves. Often, we try to figure things out for ourselves and then try to get God to get on board with our plans and our direction. That’s the reverse order. God, who created us, calls us to set out but to trust him all the way with every part of our lives. Often, it’s in retrospect, in looking back that we can see God’s guiding hand. Even when we thought we were on our own, God was laying claim to our lives. What an amazing thing, when God took Abraham by the hand and led him out under the night time sky and said: “Look up! I will make your descendants as many as the stars in the sky. And, Abraham believed. People often ask me: “How do I know the will of God for my life?” In my experience, we know God’s will for our lives, but we have trouble trusting it. Alright! Today start trusting God all over again, or may start trusting God for the first time with your life. Leave where you are and go. Blessings! Dave Nichols

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Spartanburg MOBILE MEALS

I want to say a good word for MOBILE MEALS. It is a ministry of which most of us are somewhat aware. It exists behind the scenes, never calling attention to itself, but it does a wonderful service to the community. Each day a visitor/volunteer rides around and delivers hot meals to people who need them. In addition to the meals, love is served. A connection is made that is real. A few weeks ago I was privileged to be invited to Spartanburg’s Mobile Meals Board meeting as they organized for another year. I was invited because one of my members- Kim Jolley- is now serving as the Chair of the Board. I was asked to eat lunch with them and then to offer a prayer of blessing and dedication for the new and returning officers. Stories abounded about the good work that they do every day. The Chaplain of the group offered a story about a woman he had met. He read scripture and told the story and cried. We heard the financial report. I got the feeling that it was more upbeat that it had been in the last few years. Like all non-profit groups, they have suffered many losses from the recession. They receive some money in grants, but most of their income is from churches, groups, and individuals who give generously. Jane McQueen is the director of the program and does a wonderful job of bringing together people from all walks of like and faiths to provide this ministry of love. A meal is one thing, and is much needed- a hot meal at that. Many would have to go without were it not for Mobile Meals. More than that, volunteers give a human (and dare if say it?) and a divine touch. Love is the greatest need of all. Food is the vehicle. I am proud of Kim Jolley, who is just one of the many Bethel people who give themselves in service in Spartanburg. I am grateful for the work of Mobile Meals and recommend it, if you’re looking for somewhere to volunteer your time or give a worthy donation. So many times, we are overwhelmed by the great needs in our world and community. There is just so much to do; there are so many needy people. And, since we can’t do everything, we settle for doing nothing. What if all of us decided that we could do something, even a little, to make a difference in the lives of some? Meals on Wheels is just one example of a group of people who are determined to give and share with others who have needs. The next time you sit down to a hot meal remember that there are others who do not have that luxury, and Meals on Wheels reaches out to many of them. In some neighborhood, maybe your own, there is a man looking out the window and waiting for a visit from someone who cares. He is waiting on a hot meal, surely, but more than that, he is waiting on a person. Someone is waiting for you to reach out in love and service. Someone is expecting you. Someone is looking out their window wondering when you’re going to be there. Thanks God for Mobile Meals and for all of you who give in the name of Christ every day. Blessings! Dave Nichols

Comments on Lectionary - Sept. 1

That Jesus would be healing comes at no surprise to any of us. Nor, is it surprising that Jesus is healing on the Sabbath. So, when the re...