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More Than a Slogan

Luke 22:24-32

Ich bin ein beliner!

One small step for man…one giant leap for mankind

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

I have a dream…

There were many great slogans during the 20th century; these are but a few of them. The first one is President Kennedy’s statement of solidarity with the people of West Berlin during the Berlin Crisis.  The second is Neil Armstrong’s statement as he put the first footprint on the moon.  The third is President Reagan’s challenge to the Soviet Union to allow democracy and freedom to the East Germans.  The last one is, of course, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his great speech for civil rights.

            As good as all those are, the one that stands out in my mind is: Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.  To me his statement is a reminder that being an American is not so much about privilege, but about serving.  We have made government about doing for us; it’s the ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude.  Kennedy was trying to remind us that what makes America great is the people who are willing to serve and sacrifice to build a better nation.

            I sometimes have been known to paraphrase Kennedy’s statement this way: Ask not what the church can do for you, but ask what you can do for the church.  We tend to act like the church is here to serve us.  But like the nation, the church is made up of people, without people there is no nation and no church.  We sometimes treat the church we way to treat the nation: what can you do for me?

            Today, I frequently here a new slogan and it goes like this: What ever happened to customer service?  In some restaurants you are made to feel as if you are an imposition into their day.  Companies outsource to cheaper labor that barely speaks English and the customer suffers and would take their business somewhere else, but its same everywhere.  In the kingdom there can be no outsourcing, for we, all of us, are the source of service.  There is no one else to do it. The kingdom, in some measure, depends on us.

            Every year a slate of officers is elected in our church.   Many of you, if not most of you, have served in the past, and you probably will again.  Those who haven’t served as a chairperson have served on the various committees and will do so again.  Sometimes people serve as a means to gain power and control; but in the kingdom, it is God who is in power.  But mostly, people serve because they have been asked and are willing to do so for the good of the church.

            Today, as we begin 2008, we are asking our staff and officers to come and to publicly pledge themselves to serve you, the community through the church, and ultimately the kingdom.

Bro. Ron, pastor; Fred Romo, lay leader, Bill Heffington, delegate to Annual Conference; Alice Robison, nurture chair/alternate delegate; Harold Dickerson, Witness Chair; Alicia Farmer, Outreach chair; Lori White, youth director; John Ross, PPR Chair; Ralph Johnson, trustee chair; Julie Anderson, finance chair; Marilyn Ott, worship chair; Barbara Garner and Sherry Pfeifer, children coordinators; Caren Nichols, treasurer, Larhonda Melton, organist; Barbara Garner, Choir Director, Nell Lienhart, secretary; Karen Hawkins, custodian

           

MONDAY, JANUARY 21, 2008.  In Luke 12:13-21 Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and his barns.  This is a good parable for the ‘me-generation’ that we live in.  We get caught up in our own existence and troubles, as in normal for us, that sometimes we forget to look beyond.  This man could only see his current trouble and could not see a future problem.  In what ways do we get ‘short sighted’ and fail to plan for the future of our life with God? 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2008.  We have many slogans in the church:  Born Again; conservative; liberal; fundamentalist; etc.   We have used them so much that they have lost meaning.  Some have been used in ways that even the Bible doesn’t use them in.  They have been used as theological/political rallying cries that divide an already fractured church.  Whatever happened to just being Christian?   It is God that we stand or fall before, not each other.  What ever happened to living the faith before God and man without having to shout from the roof tops slogans that have little to do with the real faith?  The thing that matters more than liberal, conservative, etc., is that our faith is authentic (and no I don’t want that turned into a slogan).   What does it mean to be an authentic Christian?

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2008.  Liberal Christianity from around the turn of the 20th century was a movement trying to make the Bible intelligible to modern people.  Their idea was sound, their methodology and conclusions were flawed.  We all try to make sense of the Bible even though its worldview is an ancient one very different from our own.  Conservative Christians tried to hang on to the past to the point that they seemed to deny that the modern world ever happened.   The trick is to hang on to the Biblical essentials (not your or my idea of what is essential), to realize what is to be taken literally or metaphorically, and then live the faith.  That is not an easy task, but then Jesus never promised us an easy task. 

THURSDAY, JANUARY 24, 2008.  Christianity is the easiest hard thing you’ll ever do.  In one sense it’s easy to be a Christian.  It is simply trusting that in Jesus God has forgiven us our sins.  We call that ‘having faith in Christ.’  Yet, that simple thing proves hard when we are confronted with our old temptations, new temptations, events and circumstances that seem to call our faith into question, or when issues that have moral consequences both ways crop up.  Then the faith becomes more difficult.  What do you find easy about the faith?  What do you find difficult?  How do you live with the tension between the easy and the hard? 

FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2008.  I know there wasn’t a lot of scripture in this weeks guide.  But, I feel that sometimes we need to wrestle with the philosophical/theological underpinning that supports our faith.  What does it mean to be authentically Christian?  What is essential to the faith and what is not?  Does it matter if one is liberal or conservative:  If so, why?  Ask yourself: What is essential for my faith?  What does it matter to me if someone’s beliefs differ from mine?  How do I determine authentic faith?

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