Tuesday, March 30, 2010

YouTube - Holy Week 2010 0001

YouTube - Holy Week 2010 0001

I hope everyone has a spiritually renewing Holy Week as you journey to the cross with Jesus. May the cross remind you of God's love poured out to you through Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Those God Moments

“I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
Have you ever had something that happened in your life that made you overjoyed?
Have you ever had something happen made it impossible for you to be quiet?
Something that brought so much joy, pleasure, and happiness to you that you were overcome and you told everyone you knew who would listen.
This is what happens to Jesus’ disciples as he rides into Jerusalem.
For the three years of Jesus ministry they had been waiting for this moment.
They had heard Jesus talk about the kingdom of God.
They had seen Jesus heal the sick, give sight to the blind, make the lame walk, and preach good news to the poor.
They had seen Jesus challenge the religious and political powers of his day.
And what they were expecting was revolution.
This moment was their way of announcing that Jesus had come to do what they were expecting of him.
They are overjoyed.
And they have to yell out.
Blessed is the king who comes in the Lord!!!
Jesus comes to bring peace and glory!
Jesus himself seems happy to participate in the festivities.
This morning is a happy moment.
And all they can do is shout to the heavens in thanksgiving!
In fact, Jesus tells the Pharisees who want the disciples to keep it down that even if they were to be quiet the stones would shout out.

I have had this happen to me in my life times when I felt God’s presence so closely that I had to say something.
I had to yell and tell the world.
The day my kids were born.
The day I graduated from college.
The days that I helped a fourth grade kid pass his spelling test.
The day of my ordination.
The day of my installation as your pastor.
The times when I fed homeless people in downtown Philadelphia.
The day I followed a man on to the street who had been kicked out of church for not wearing a shirt, and made sure he knew that God loved him, and he was welcomed in church.
The day of my confirmation.
How about every Sunday when we are together?
I could go on and on..
But how about you?
What are your God moments when you feel the Holy Spirit so strongly that you know the kingdom has come to earth.
Have you had times when all of creation shouts with the joys of God?

How about a really sunny day when it is about 75 degrees, and you have a nice steak on the grille, some friends or family are over you are sitting there taking in the sun and enjoying one another’s company.
That is a day to give thanks to God.
It is a day that all of creation reminds you of God’s love for you.

I was thinking about how important it is for us to recognize these times in our lives.
How important it is for us as people of faith to be able to see and understand when God is telling us everything is all right.
Because we all know about the times when everything does not feel all right.
We all know when it is hard to see God.
It is not that God is not in those moments too.
It is just that we need to be able to know when God is telling us that everything is fine, so that we can handle those other moments.

Soon Jesus’ disciples will experience the horror of his crucifixion.
Soon the shouts of peace and glory will turn to shouts of “crucify him”.
So it is important at this moment to pause and to say all is well everything is as it should be.
This is what we hoped and longed for, this is what makes everything else worth it.
Can we even see Easter morning without Palm Sunday?
Palm Sunday helps us to see what we expect to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
What the disciples are overjoyed about is the feeling that through Jesus they experience God.
They have experienced the kingdom of God on earth.

That is what happens to us.
We experience in Jesus Christ God in our lives.
We are able to say this is what it feels like to be with and near God.
And then in the darker moments we are able to see through them to the bright vision of our expectations of what Jesus does for us and the world.

While I was working in a school in Dorchester, MA I was responsible for helping this one kid learn his spelling words for the week.
We would go out in the hall and practice, then he would go home, and the next day he would take the test.
For most of the school year even with my help he failed.
His home life was not good.
I would always say, “Can’t someone at home help you with this?”
He would always tell me no.
Anyway, one day for some unknown reason he passed his test.
That day he passed his test was one of the great days of my life.
It was as if I had passed the test myself.
I don’t take any credit for it.
I saw it as a sign of the kingdom of God.
That some things do work out.
That people can help others.
That we can triumph over adversity.
That there is some justice in the universe.

What we celebrate this morning is the triumph of Jesus ministry.
Not its full completion.
But what Jesus was able to do up to this point.
Jesus disciples had learned what it was to be part of the kingdom of God.
That it was about serving others, about justice, about love, about caring.
And now they were ushering in Jesus to Jerusalem into the center of religious and political life.
Maybe they did not fully understand what it all meant.
But they knew they could not keep it quiet.
They knew that is was good.

Perhaps all of us would benefit from not keeping our God moments to ourselves.
I am always impressed with people who are able in the moment to be able to see God and give thanks for all God has done.

Last weekend I went to a workshop in Hartford given by Church World Service because I am going to be the co-chair of the Concord Crop Walk this fall.
This older couple from Guilford, CT gave a talk about all the places that they have traveled in the world where they had seen the way that Church World Service uses the money they make at their CROP walk they have run for the last 15 years.
They showed us slides of all these people whose lives had been changed because Church World Service was able to bring water to their villages.
People from some of the poorest places in the world now have hope because of the work of people like this old couple.
Their joy in what they had seen and the work they had done was evident.
They were able to see God at work through the CROP walk and Church World Service.

Being able to see God in the people and things around us is vital to being able to share our faith with others.
It is vital to being able to thank and praise God for his goodness to us every day.
It is vital to the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But even if we don’t the rocks and stones will.
Even if we forget how good God is others around us sometimes remind us, like an older couple witnessing to the work of God, or like the fourth grader who finally passes his math test.
Or like the Sun that beats down on us and reminds us of God’s love.
Or the rain that brings life to the earth.
Or the trees that keep us breathing.
Or the rocks that build our churches and houses.
Yes, blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven.
Thanks be to God who gives us every good blessing, and who brings us peace and glory to our lives.
Let us go forth and shout with the rocks and the stones for all the good God is doing in our lives.

Monday, March 22, 2010

YouTube - ChurchWorldService's Channel

YouTube - ChurchWorldService's Channel

Concord's Crop Walk September 25th 2010.

Why we help those in need

As most of you know our congregation this year is making an intentional effort to reach out to the poor and homeless in Concord and around the world.
This year we are involved in what we are calling the Heart for the Homeless campaign.
So far we have done some pretty wonderful things.
We have given clothes away to about 200 people.
We have collected and given away 100 mittens, hats, and socks.
We have collected and given away over 100 blankets.
We have collected and given away about 150 coats.
Right now we are collecting health kits for church world service we have already collected over 40 kits.
On April 6th we are going to have an orientation to see if there is enough interest in helping a refuge family.
In May we are going to start collecting kitchen items for people put into temporary housing.
We are going to walk this year (as we do every year) in the Concord Crop Walk.
Once a month we go to cook a meal at the Friendly Kitchen.
Every week we collect food for our local food pantry.
All of this is great.
It is important work.
But this morning I want us to think about the reason why we do this work.
What is it that motivates us as a church to reach out and help those in need?

We might be tempted to think that all of this is merely for the sake of helping others.
And surely that is a piece of why we are doing our Hear for the Homeless campaign.
But the most important reason why our church does it is because of Jesus Christ.
In fact, I would argue that every good deed we do weather we know it or not is because of God.
That without God there is no charity.
We help others because in Jesus Christ we are given the most extraordinary extravagant gift.
Jesus Christ died on a cross so that you and I might know God’s love.
It seems extreme does it not?
But that is what Jesus did for us, and in return we live not for ourselves but for others.
We live to serve and love Jesus.

This morning’s Gospel story is a foreshadowing of that extraordinary extravagant gift that Jesus gives us.
Mary takes an expensive perfume and uses it to anoint Jesus feet.
The perfume she uses was worth about one year’s worth of salary for an ordinary worker of that time.
Think about it.
Mary basically gives away a year’s worth of wages.
For what?
Well, for her savior.
She does it for Jesus who has given her everything in her life.
She is sitting at that table eating a meal with her brother who was dead but is now alive because of Jesus.
She knows how much Jesus means to her and therefore her heart is filled with his grace and love.
Everything she has she gives to Jesus from her heart and soul.
More than this she then uses her hair to clean Jesus feet.
I can imagine that being there was a bit odd for the others at the table.
This was simply not done by single women at the table.
But Mary does not care she wants to show Jesus her love for him.
So she gives him all of herself in an extravagant way.

That is what we are doing in our Heart for the Homeless campaign we are stretching ourselves as a congregation for Jesus.
We have these conversations on the Outreach committee about not overdoing it.
We do not want to overwhelm people with request for things.
We understand that it is somewhat difficult for us to always be bringing in coats, clothes, or whatever we ask for at that time.
But…on the other hand what is our limit to what we give to Jesus.
What is it that you will not do to serve your Lord and Savior and show him that love.
Are we asking too much?
But when put in the context of what Jesus gave for us there is nothing that we can give that is too much.

I think about this with my parents.
My parents gave me everything that I have in my life.
They fed and clothed me for more than twenty years of my life.
Even now that I am adult they still would do anything they can for me.
Whenever I do something to help my mom I always think this is nothing compared to all that she did and does for me.
Therefore, it is never an inconvenience because I know what she went through to raise me and give me the best possible life.
The same is true with Jesus there is nothing we can give to Jesus that is more than the extravagant gift he gave us on the cross in Jerusalem.

So we give and we share extravagantly because that is what God did for us in Jesus Christ.
When we give we do not give merely to give, but as a Church we give in the name of Jesus Christ.
There are many organizations out there who are doing really good work to help others.
But our focus is not just on the physical needs of people, but their spiritual needs as well.
When we give someone a coat we also give them the hope that comes with having faith in Jesus Christ.
This is why when we are helping others we must remember that the relationship is just as important as the giving of the item.
When we were doing the coat drive I told the people that came to volunteer that it is really sad that we live in a world were some people do not have a coat, and others of us have too many.
This is a really horrible injustice.
But that our faith gives us hope that our God of justice will someday make it right.
That we believe in a world were all people have what they need to live.
We believe in a world were no child goes to bed starving to death.
And we believe that Jesus has sent us to give hope and faith to the world.

What Mary reminds us in the Gospel this morning is that Jesus is central to all that we do in this world.
Everything that we do for someone else is about Jesus Christ.
Because Jesus has filled our lives are with his grace and compassion.
That is why we feed the poor.
It is why we reach out to the homeless.
It is why we give of ourselves, our time, our money with extravagant generosity, because Jesus Christ gave us grace to fill our souls, and hope to share with the world.

I want to share one final thought this morning.
And that is that there is not always a happy ending at the end of our help.
We might give everything we have to helping the poor and well they might still be poor.
What I have decided is that it is worth it anyway.
Certainly Jesus gave everything he had to the world while he was here.
And well they killed him for it.
Judas betrayed him, his disciples fled from him, and the world spat on him and mocked him.
But Jesus thought the world was worth it anyway.
That the journey of giving and forming relationships with people like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus was still worth it.
I would say the same thing for us.
It is worth to do everything we can for those in need even if at the end there is no reward or payoff that we can see.
It is worth it, because in the giving we are changed.
In the giving we grow to be closer to Christ as Paul says, “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
This is why Mary gives Jesus such an extravagant gift, because the perfume meant nothing to her in relationship to what Jesus meant to her.
This is why our church is stretching itself to give more to others, because we know the extravagant gift Jesus gave us.

What we give the world is more than help, more than coats and blankets.
We give them the extravagant gift of Jesus Christ.
Who is love, hope, and faith for the world.
We give extravagantly because Jesus gave extravagantly to us on the cross.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Beloved Story

The story of the prodigal son is a hard one to preach on.
Not because the theology is hard to understand, Or because it calls us to a radical realignment of how we understand God and ourselves.
But it is hard to preach on because it is so familiar to us all.
Every one of you has heard this story more than once in your life.
You have heard numerous sermons about it.
And I am willing to bet that all of you love this story of a wayward son being allowed back into the family fold.
Any radical ideas in the story itself have been taken away by our familiarity with it.
So this morning I am not trying to say anything new about this story.
It is what we all think it is.
This is a story about the extraordinary grace and forgiveness of God.
I want us to merely hear that important point again, and once again bask in the glow of this beloved story.

I think one of the reasons, why we love this story is because it is so accessible to us all.
We all have families.
We all have difficulty in those families.
In this story we see ourselves as the brother who runs away from home, takes our heritage and sells it on righteous living.
Or we are the good son the one who stays home works hard, and never asks for anything but the joy of serving.
We all too some degree or another know what it is like to play these roles in our lives.

If you are a parent you know what it is like to have your children disappoint you.
You have felt the sting of children wasting their opportunities to have a good time.
You know what it is like to stand in between two warring children as they fight for your attention, and fight with one another.

We love this story because it is a story about a dysfunctional family just like all of ours are at some point or another.

Once, I was helping this woman once whose children were fighting over her inheritance.
Not that she had much to leave.
But one of the kids thought that the sister was getting too much.
So he refused to have any type of relationship either with the Mother or his sister.
How dysfunctional is that?
How silly is it when families fight over money?
But it happens all the time.
In our own dysfunctional families we sometimes do fight over money, or who is loved more by mom and dad.
And it is happening in the story of the prodigal son.
What the Father is trying to get his sons to understand is that money is nothing, love is everything.
He is showing them that we should have extravagant love and grace for one another.

And that is also irrational.
No father in those times would act the way this father acts.
No father would let the youngest son sell half the family property.
It is crazy…consider how important land is to Jews.
The land is God’s promise to them.
And the son sells it, and for no reason other than to be able to go and have a great big party.
No father would then welcome back that son.
No father would run to meet their son.
Running in those days was seen as unmanly.
Furthermore no father would kiss their son and go on in such a way as this father does.
The neighbors would say, “It is all so dysfunctional and crazy”.

Perhaps no Father in our day and age would act this way either.
Right after I got my license my Dad would sit by the window and wait for me to get home if I was even five minutes late I would have to give up the car keys for the rest of the week.
He did not run out to greet me and thank me for disobeying him.
My paternal grandfather would not allow me to hug him after I turned a certain age.
“That is not what men do.” He told me “They shake hands.”
So here is this father acting very unmanly.
And well as much as we love this story we have to admit that the Father’s behavior is not exactly good parenting here.

And again with the older son the father acts irrationally.
Instead of just telling him that this is how it goes and that is the end of it.
He goes out to beg him to come into the party.
Again this is not the manliest way to handle this situation.
How about, “I am your father and you will do exactly what I say.”
That would be a better way.
Wouldn’t it?

But in the middle of this dysfunctional family is a sissy of a man unable to keep his kids in line.
Instead he is patient, loving, forgiving, slow to anger, willing to listen.
What he wants is simply for his family to be together and to rejoice in their love.

This is what God wants for us.
This is what God does for us God sits in the middle begging us to come into the party.
For those of you who feel that you have squandered your inheritance and wasted away your life in righteous living, God is running out to greet you and invite you back into the party.

In New York we used to have certain crowd of people hanging out at the church.
I would go out and talk to them.
I then would invite them to come to worship.
They would always say, “Pastor, we can’t go to church we are bad people.”
And I would always say, “Bad people are the exact people who should be in church.”
This is where we come to seek forgiveness, for second chances, for love.
There are no perfect people in this church only sinners seeking God’s forgiveness.

If you feel that your whole life you have done everything right.
That you have gone to church, studied God’s word, trust in the Lord with all your heart, tried to follow every commandment.
If that is you?
Then God is inviting you to the party too.
This is a party that is filled with people who are not perfect, who are sinners, who need forgiveness.
As long as you can accept that people are not as good as you, then you too can come to the party.

One time we had young people hanging out in the church parking lot playing ball, and one of the members told them to get off church property.
He came and told me the story.
I said, “Did you tell them that Jesus loves them.”
“No, why would I do that.”
That is what we are here for.
That is why God has given us his grace to reconcile others to God just as we are.

In God’s house there is a party.
And the question is; are you going to come to the party?
Or are you going to miss it because you are too dysfunctional to see the Father’s invitation.
Are you too caught up in your sin, or are you too caught up in your self-righteousness to come to the party.
God is willing to be the fool for us.
God is willing to go the extra mile.
God is willing to be talked about by the neighbors who say, “That father’s a fool for letting his children walk all over him.”
Are you ready to be welcomed?
Are you ready to have your sins forgiven?
Are you ready to forgive the sins of others?

If you are then rejoice this day because God is ready for us.
This beloved story reminds us that God is ready to forgive our sins, and beg us to come into the house.
The house that might be filled with a dysfunctional family, but one that is dysfunctional in love and grace.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Another Year of God's Grace

Today as some of you know is my birthday.
I was reflecting on the passing of another year of my life.
Here is what I think a year is a long time.
A mean a lot can happen in a year.
For me this year was filled with change.
This year my children grew in leaps and bounds.
For example, Charlie now talks in complete sentences that are understandable.
That was not true last year.
Phoebe, is able to get up and get herself dressed, including be able to zip her own coat.
That was not true a year ago.
In this year our family has moved….my wife and I both got new jobs.
So a lot can happen in a year of our lives.
It has also been a long year for Concordia.
There has been a pastoral transition.
New people have come, some have been baptized…some people have moved away, died, or left.
A year can be a long time.
For some of you personally I know this year has also brought many changes.
Some good some bad.
Kids have grown, people have graduated and moved on to college, some people have loss jobs, some have started new ones, some have lost people they loved.
A lot can happen in a year.
We can change… we can gain new insight.
So today I am thankful for this past year, for the growth and change it has brought.
What I am also aware of as I pass into another year of life is what has not yet been done.
All the things that I still need to work on or change about myself.
As much as I have changed I have also stayed the same.
I am still a sinful person…I am still imperfect…I am still just a little off in the head.
But this year…well this year I have the opportunity to change that all around.

That is what Jesus gives us all in the Gospel for this morning, another year.
Jesus gives us more time to repent, to grow, and to bear good fruit.
This morning Jesus talks to the crowd about two instances of suffering that were hot topics of the time.
They were interpreted by some to mean that bad people get what they deserve.
That the reason people perished at the hand of Pilate and in disaster at the tower of Shiloam was because they were sinful.
Jesus rejects this theological insight.
“No” he tells them they were not any more or less sinful than anyone else.
We don’t always suffer because we deserve it, or maybe put in a different way we do suffer because we deserve it.
We suffer because we cannot avoid the effects of sin in the world.
Our sin is too great to be overcome.
And as a natural cause of that people die.
But it is not that God desires this to be so.
It is not because God causes these things.
Instead what God offers us is a life of repentance and forgiveness of sin.
What God offers us is more time to bear fruit.

I can tell you that there are many people out there who we would say deserved to die who keep on living.
There are many people who we would say don’t deserve to die and well they do.
That is just life.
Death is in some ways random.
We don’t like to think that of course.
We like everything to make sense, we like for everything to work in order.
Maybe even more we like to think that we can somehow control everything.
I am here to tell you it does not work that way.
This is why a year is such a long time.
Because every day we are alive it is a gift.
None of us is promised anything but today.
And today is the day that God has called us to repentance, to bear good fruit, and to live in the kingdom of God.

That is what Jesus invites the crowed into this morning a life of repentance and forgiveness.
Not because it will guarantee them that nothing bad happens to them.
But so they can receive the benefits of living with God right now.
Imagine living a whole life without God!
It might be ok I guess, but to do so would mean that we would miss out on all the benefits of knowing God in our lives.
Especially when the time came for us to die.
How would we know God’s grace and eternal life.
That is why Jesus tells us “or you will perish like they did.”
Meaning we will perish without knowing God’s goodness and mercy.
What we will think is that God is vengeful.

This is the paradox of faith.
That our lives are not perfect.
That we are judged by God and found wanting.
But that God is also merciful and loving.
Jesus tells us this morning that God does demand of us that we bear fruit, but also that God is merciful and patient with us.

Jennifer is a woman who has been living with guilt her whole life.
When she was pregnant with her first baby she was an alcoholic and drug addict.
And even though she wanted to stop she drinking when she was pregnant she couldn’t.
Her child was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and addicted to drugs.
You might think that this woman is horrible, because what she did was horrible.
But you know what she has been clean and sober for 18 years.
She made amends with her life, and her kids who are now healthy and relatively productive members of society.
You see God gave another chance.
Did this person deserve that chance probably not, but God gave it anyway.
And God gives that same chance to each and every one of us.
Every day is an invitation from God to grow, to bear good fruit, to repent, to change.

That in and of itself is a miracle.
But Jesus tells us this morning that God even does more.
God cultivates us, God digs around us, and puts new fertilizer under us, and cares for us so that we can grow.
I believe everything in my life is God somehow helping me grow.
That every day I am given a new chance to do better, and be better.
But it is only with the help of God that I can grow and produce better fruit.

Jennifer realized this while in recovery.
One night she was in her room, and for no reason she can explain she got down on her knees and surrendered her life to God.
She gave up the illusion of control.
She asked God to be in her life, for forgiveness, and to help her every day.
Now every morning she gets up and gets on her knees and prays for help from God.
Her friends and family will tell you she is a completely different person now that she is clean and sober.
Jennifer will tell you that is only by the grace of God that she is different.

Maybe your story is not so dramatic as Jennifer’s and maybe you are thinking that you are a better person then her.
But this is Jesus point, we all need to repent, we all need to change, we all need to bear better fruit.
And that only happens when we are able to surrender to God.
It is only when we come to see that it is only by the grace of God that we live another year.

And so here I am this morning another year older.
And what I pray this morning is that God will forgive my sins that God will help me to grow and bear better fruit.
I am thankful that today I have another year of living in God’s grace.

This morning may all of us repent, grow in our faith, bear fruit, and be thankful to God for his grace that gives us more time.
Let us give thanks to God that he has planted us, dug around us, and given us the best fertilizer to grow and bear fruit.
Thanks be to God for another year, and for the grace he gives us as we grow. Amen

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pieces in the Puzzle

One of my mentors reminded me after I graduated seminary and was ready to start my ministry in my first call that the work I was about to do was not mine.
That in my first call I would reap the rewards of the pastor who was before me, and that I was doing work for the pastor who would follow me.
It was a reminder to me that the work we do is not for us it is always for those that come after us.
I will tell you that he was right.
All the work I did in that church was made possible by my predecessor faithful ministry.
For example, she had done an excellent job of youth ministry.
Therefore, we had four very dedicated young women in their late twenties who were all instrumental in leading our congregation.
It was not I who nurtured their faith or their love of the church.
I simply reaped the rewards of my predecessor’s hard work.
I don’t even know the outcome of the work I did in that place.
I only did what I thought was the most faithful thing to do at the time hoping and praying that it would produce good down the line.
I am aware that the work I do here is not mine either.
It is the work of those that came before me, and the work I do is really for whoever will come after me.
The good or the bad that we do in this life has not only consequences for us but for those that come after us.
And what we do now we will never fully be able to understand what it all means.
This is the message in all the texts that we have this morning.

Abram cannot fully see what God has in store for him.
What he knows now is that he has no legitimate heir.
He knows he is getting older.
What he cannot see is the future beyond what is happening to him now.
It is out of his site.
St. Paul reminds the church at Philippi that his hope for the future lies in his faith in God.
That he knows that his true home is not here but in heaven with his savior, and everything Paul does has eternity in mind.
Finally, Jesus knowing that his rejection comes at Jerusalem reminds us that his road is to be faithful to God’s call regardless of the consequences.
Yes, Herod is out to kill Jesus and he is going to succeed too but Jesus knows that is not the end of the story.
That God’s plan goes beyond even the death of His son.

You see the future is always unclear to us.
The past is done.
What we always have is today.
And today God is calling us to be faithful.
Just as God called Abram, Paul, and Jesus to be faithful.
So too God calls us to be faithful and to lean into God’s future.
To run the race of faith with courage and a hope that God has a plan and is working all things out for good.

This week at the Lenten lunches one of my neighbors Jen Steinhousen gave the talk about faith and life.
She used this brilliant illustration and I asked her if I could steal it for my sermon this morning.
I have already apologized to Bill and Gail Magan who where there and have already heard it, but I thought it was perfect for my sermon this morning.
She told us that God’s plan is like a puzzle.
Each of us are integral pieces of that puzzle.
That without any of us the final puzzle would not work.
So we are all important we all have a role to play in God’s plan.
But the only person with the lid to the puzzle is God.
Only God knows what the final plan looks like, and we are just pieces in the greater plan.

Even though we don’t know the final plan we can still.
I think our call is to faithfully fall into the vision that God has for each of our lives.
Every day we can affect the people around us.
Every day we can tell someone about God’s love.
Every day we can help someone in need.
Every day we can teach our children how to love and live in peace.
Every day we can make a difference in this world.
Remember you don’t exactly know the outcome of what you do, but as a person of faith you know that what you do for God is part of the plan of God.

Everything we do should therefore be done knowing that God has a stake in the outcome.
Think about Abram.
He did not know exactly what would happen when God called him away from his home land.
He did not know how he was going to become the father of so many descendants in his old age.
What he knew was that God had made a promise, and he believed in faith in that promise.
Paul did not know why God called him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, and I am sure he did not know why he had ended up in jail.
What he knew was that God was using his life for a greater purpose and he had faith in the greater plan.

God has made a promise to every person here this morning it is the promise that we too will be gathered under the wings of God’s love.
That God is like a hen who gathers us under her wings.
God created us and sustains us.
He did not put us here to fail and to leave us desolate.
God put us here as part of the plan and future we cannot see.
We have faith in God that in God’s plan it all works out for God’s purpose.

Today you might be struggling with your life.
We all do at some point in time.
You might be like Abram and unsure if your life really has purpose and meaning.
You might feel like Paul locked in prison for no reason.
You too might feel like that the end is written and the prophets are killed and hate and destruction always get the final word.
But remember that God’s plan is always bigger then our vision.
The final destination is always just ahead of what we can see.
Our job is to live faithfully just like Abram, Paul, and Jesus.
It is to lean everyday into God’s future.
And to believe that the work we do does help the next generation and the people that come after us.

I am reminded of a poem called the Bridge builder by Will Allen Dromgoogle
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You've crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him."

Leaning into God’s future we too build bridges for those that come after us.
We build those bridges to warn of danger spots and to make the crossing easier.
In faith, we walk and we leave behind us faith so that our children or the youth too may walk in faith.
We don’t know the end, what we know is that today God calls each and every one of us to lean into God’s future and to build a bridge for those that come after us.
May we have faith to lean into God’s future this day and every day.