Rev. Val Fowler guest preacher.
Have you ever received a PROMISE from God?
Was it words or a feeling? How did you know it was from God?
Was there a tangible SIGN to go along with the promise? Abram and Sarai saw stars in the sky as an answer to their prayers. They also participated in a covenant ritual, that might seem barbaric by modern standards, but was standard operating procedure for making a covenant or contract. Is there some way that you have ever SIGNED off on a promise God made to you?
Do you ever think much about heaven?
Is it somewhere that you plan on getting to?
What kinds of choices would increase your chances?
The idea of earning our way into heaven is a cherished belief of many Christians. The only ones who get to heaven, by this view, are the ones who work hard to get there.
But this flies in the face of “Grace”, a core Christian doctrine, that asserts that God”s love is offered not according to what we have done to earn it, but according to our need for it.
Would heaven be any different than grace? That is, do we get to heaven by hard work or does God welcome us because we need heaven?
It’s a radical theological idea, perhaps, but I think Paul may have some of this thinking in his Letter to the Philippians. Paul describes the faithful as “citizens of heaven”, which means that we already have a foot in the door!
One Great Hour of Sharing
Today, it’s all about the fish banks used for the One Great Hour of Sharing special offering. If you don’t have a fish bank they can be found on the back table in the Sanctuary.
- Which Bible story best explains why we use fish banks?
(a) Jonah getting swallowed by the big fish, tells us how God is trying to aim us in a better direction.
(b) The calling of the fishermen.
(c) The feeding of the 5,000, multiplying the bread and the fish.
(d) The Creation story, fish are part of God’s beautiful Creation.
(d) The Greek word for fish is “ICTHYS”, which was a secret code during times of persecution meaning “Jesus Christ, Son of God”
- This is the best place to put my fish bank:
(a) in my car, it’s a good place to put change from store purchases
(b) on my dresser, a good place when I empty my pockets at night
(c) at the dinner table, so the whole family can participate
(d) do you have another good idea?
- When the fish bank is bulging and tearing because of so many coins in it, here’s the best solution:
(a) ask for a second fish bank
(b) tape the corners so nothing spills out.
(c) find a bigger container
On Sunday we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
I visited a Greek Orthodox congregation one time where those who participated in communion had to meet with the pastor during the preceding week to demonstrate their understanding and readiness to receive from the bread and the cup.
In my own church many years ago there was a boy who stood at the communion table with everyone else. I could tell that the words I was saying about communion went right over his head, but I noticed that he was watching every move I made with the bread. I dawned on me that he was hungry; his family was frequently without enough food. He simply wanted to eat some of that bread!
Which of these two are welcome at the Lord’s Table, one, the other, neither or both?
Do we have to qualify or prepare for communion in some way, or is it more about God’s generosity?