Archive for the ‘Philippians’ Category

Philippians 2:1-13

  1. Way In

    Reading Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi

    Got me thinking about the perfect church

    Did some “serious” research

    I Googled “perfect church”

    What I found about the perfect church

    85,200,000 hits

    Serious and humorous

    Some churches that believe they have achieved the perfect church

    Atlanta, GA perfectcurch.org

    Founded in 1957 and, “the message went from the pulpit to the radio airwaves, from television to newspapers and worldwide magazines.”

    Another perfect church – perfectchurch.com

    Hard to tell where it is, lists “family” in Hawaii, Illinois, Texas, and South Carolina

    Some make fun of the notion of a perfect church

    Looking for a cool church

    with authentic, non-judgmental members

    convicted to serving God with the right mixture of tradition and cutting-edge

    People forgive each other and love children (even welcome children)

    Enthusiastic and energetic preacher

    Makes the Bible come alive

    Tells great stories, inspirational

    Preaches just long enough

    Works with kids and spends all their time with shut-ins

    Makes 15 visits every day and is always at the office when needed

    Church is neither liberal nor conservative, but just the right mix of both for the full truth

    Worship is a smooth and seamless flow of beautiful hymns everybody knows, with prayers and liturgy that make us weep every week

    Also among those 82.5 million hits (didn’t go past 1st page) was a poem

    If you should find
    the perfect church
    without fault or smear,
    Please, don’t join that church,
    you’d spoil the atmosphere.

    If you should find the perfect church
    where all anxieties cease,
    Then pass it by lest joining it
    you mar the masterpiece.

    If you should find the perfect church,
    then don’t you ever dare
    To tread upon such holy ground
    you’d be a misfit there.

    But since no perfect church exists…
    made of imperfect men and women,
    Then let’s cease looking for that church,
    and love the one we’re in.

    Of course it’s not a perfect church,
    that’s simple to discern,
    But you and I and all of us
    could cause the tide to turn.

    So let’s keep working in our church
    until the resurrection,
    And then we each will join God’s church
    without an imperfection.


    Paul started the church at Philippi

    wrote the church this letter from prison

    “I thank God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.”

    Not a perfect church, Paul wrote to encourage them anyway

    Church is the people

    No perfect people

    So, no perfect church

    but here’s what the church can do

  2. Tell the Story

    “Make my joy complete”

    You don’t have to be Christ (we can’t)

    but be filled with love, compassion, and sympathy

    don’t worry so much about WWJD

    rather, let us commit to DWJD – Do What Jesus Did

    welcome the stranger

    seek out the outcast, the ones that don’t seem to fit in

    visit the sick, even the ones in jail

    feed the hungry, clothe the naked

    Do What Jesus Did

    Notice how he walked through the community

    Taking time to get to know people

    Inviting them to come and follow him

    …to come – taste and see – that God is good

    “be of the same mind,” the church can strive to be like Christ, a living reminder. How?

    Do not operate out of selfish ambition or deceit

    Don’t do it for what you can get out of it

    Look upon others before yourself

    Not your interests but the interest of others

    God is in Christ, Jesus is Lord, but this is his lordship:

    emptied himself, poured out for others, a servant

    humble and obedient before God, even to death on a cross

    This is the one we call “Lord” and “King”

    “Therefore …”

    the church’s job is to work out your (pl.) own salvation

    for God is at work in you

    to work for his pleasure

    “Obey God as you have always obeyed me”

    “Make my joy complete”

    As it does for God

  3. So What?

    God never requires us to be the perfect church

    Just like god doesn’t care if we can all sing as beautifully as others

    A beautiful singing voice is a true gift – one to be enjoyed

    But that never means that those of us who have just a regular singing voice are left out

    The Bible says only to “make a joyful noise.”

    (again) God never requires us to be the perfect church

    given the candidates for membership and leadership; regular imperfect people, and pastors, this is not possible.

    God knows that

    Jesus did say something about being perfect – twice in the gospels, both in Matthew

    Mat. 6:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    “therefore” means we have to look at what he said before, which is:

    “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you”

    Mat. 19:21, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor … then come, follow me.”

    These 2 ways of perfection aren’t a trap Jesus sets for us – they are ideals

    But his best disciples never had to do these things

    Followers of Jesus don’t have to be perfect

    “love your enemies”

    We know what that means

    We can understand the attitude

    We feel Jesus on this, but we can’t be perfect

    How do we know who all our enemies are?

    Some may be obvious, but there may be some we don’t even know about

    Sell everything you own and give the money to the poor

    Everything? Yes, everything. Jesus is plain on that.

    But the 12 never had to do this to be disciples

    Peter never had to do this to be the Rock Jesus built the church on

    But we know what Jesus means

    We know that he wants us to have the attitude of compassion, reconciliation, and forgiveness

    Perfect? We don’t need to be heroes – perfect saints

    Just follow in his ways

    What God wants

    to do his will, be the living reminder of Christ, the Body of Christ

    be like Christ, be of the same mind

    he is Lord, and poured himself out for the sake of others

    “Work out your own salvation”

    Does not mean we can save ourselves, or can earn it

    That is the work of God in Jesus Christ

    “Work it out” is to be responsible for living as if we are his followers, working out our living after the example of Christ

    work it out “with fear and trembling”

    doesn’t mean to live as if we’re scared to death of God

    but to remember that we do stand accountable before God

    the fear and trembling comes from respect and honor – awe, not fear of God’s reprimand

    trust in God, he hasn’t poured out himself in Christ as a living example of love and commitment, trying to have us live cowering in fear

    rather empowered us in his example to live as the beloved community

    Our lives, as the people of God, have been transformed by the image of Christ.

    The church, acting as the body of Christ, is called and sent to complete the ministry he began

    To unite all people as the kingdom of heaven

    What about us?

    We see the example given to us, and have heard the command of Christ to go and be the church, spreading the good news

    There is no perfect church, so don’t waste your time looking for it

    This will never be the perfect church

    But if you’re committed to it being your church, anyway

    Trust that by grace, we may be perfected, getting better all the time … a perfecting church

    What it means to be a “perfecting church”

    Following the living example of Christ

    Humility, seeking the welfare of others

    Imagine the community built around everybody looking about for everybody else

    Don’t look for the church that has it all worked out, look for


    People who welcome kids

    People who make mistakes

    People who enjoy being together – in fellowship

    People who don’t mind working for a living

    People who turn up with the best they have to offer Jesus, for his church, and for his sake

    I had an image of that as you were greeting your new pastor

    Before I met all of you, in the warm reception I got from the PNC

    Then as I met more and more of you

    Hearing how you prepared for me

    Panting our rooms in the manse

    Providing the goodies I mentioned last week

    The continued warm welcome with meals and snacks

    Hearing your stories, getting to know you

    “It’s a little thing” you may say – “it’s just how we treat each other.”

    But it’s a beautiful thing to experience

    You know what I mean

    You’ve been cared for when you were sick or in need of support

    Pastoral care or a call from a concerned member of the church family

    To me, it’s more than just a little thing, more than just “the way we do it.”

    It’s like little glimpses of the kingdom of God

    A peek at the perfecting church, the one that’s getting better all the time

    So let’s pay attention to that – perfecting – getting better all the time.

    Pay attention to what it’s like to experience god’s love in the love we know in each other

    This is the church God is calling us to be

    Standing with and for each other – in prayer and presence together

    Enjoying being together

    Sharing our stories, our hospitality, our lives

    Now we know what makes God happy

    Keep this text before us >

    Not perfect, but perfecting – getting better all the time

    Be the church, the living reminder of Christ

    Like the beloved church at Philippi that Paul writes to

    Make my joy complete

    Be of the same mind

    Having the same love

    Being in full accord, and one mind

    Getting better all the time

So may it be with us. Amen


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Luke 3:7-18, Philippians 4:4-7

1.  Way In

This is not the sermon I turned in for the bulletin

Thursday I decided to step away from the lectionary this week

Today’s sermon is about prayer – in particular, answered prayer

and it’s about grace

and it’s about God, and God with us

God with us, from laWnM'[

so this is an Advent sermon

There’s a drawing on the wall at the Open Door Community

There are 2 people in it

wealthy-looking man driving an expensive car down the road

he is driving through a mud puddle in the road

splashing mud all over the second character

homeless man sitting on the curb

covered in mud and water after being splashed by the driver

caption shows both men’s thoughts at the moment

both are saying, “there but by the grace of God go I.”

the rich driver grateful that God has blessed him

with wealth and “the good life”

the homeless man seems grateful

for not being greedy and uncaring like the mud-splashing driver

the rich driver seems to believe that he is the recipient of God’s grace

and the man on the curb has missed God’s grace; or he would be rich, too

Like I said before, this is a week where the sermon isn’t what I thought it would be

looking first at the gospel reading for the 3rd Sunday in Advent

John the Baptist preparing the way for the coming of the Messiah

but since  Thursday, I have been thinking more about the epistle, Phil. 4:6

“do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be make known to God.”

Thursday’s headline in the Sidney Daily News, “Levy Passes”

this is good news for the children

classes and programs are funded

busing and services are improved

surely God is pleased for the children, too

has God answered the prayers of the “yes” voters?

but the levy passed by one vote: 4,452 to 4,451

were the “no” voters praying, too?

a colleague said they heard prayers being lifted up

people on a fixed income

concerned about how they would pay their taxes

surely there were prayers being offered

perhaps even more so as the election date neared

then as votes were recounted

perhaps more prayers then

as anxieties grew on both sides

“keep on praying,” “pray harder, pray more”

did one side finally convince God of the right thing to do?

did God turn away from the “no” voters?

and smile on the “yes” voters?

If the passing of the levy is the answer of prayers, is it over?

is this like winning the state championship?

surely both sides pray to win the game

and the winning team gets the trophy

… a sign of their victory

… a sign of God’s favor

then what?

the game is over

the trophy goes on the shelf

if that team doesn’t win next year, what happened?

did they fall out of God’s favor over the year?  who sinned?

what if neither the “yes” nor “no” victory was God’s answer?

what if the answer is that our work is not done?

do we presume that our system of making decisions is complete/perfect?

that we work out the options, make our plans, then ask God’s blessing on it

as if God’s only choice is to cast the ultimate tie-breaking vote

2.  Relate the Scripture

Listen again to what Paul writes in Philippians

in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God

then it doesn’t say, then the side that wears God down the most, or prays the loudest, or prays from the right church will win

then Paul writes, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

3.  So What?

Prayer is important

going before God is important

prayer brings us where we belong

on our knees before God

with supplication and thanksgiving

somebody said that we never stand as tall as when we fall to our knees before Gods takes us down not up

when we pray we describe our need and sing God’s praise

but it doesn’t stop there

The side whose prayers match the outcome walks away with more

not just the trophy of answered prayer

in fact, you can find more examples of God’s most faithful people suffering persecution than enjoying lives of ease

our struggle has never been easy

God heard the Hebrew children cry out from slavery in Egypt

and God set them free from their cruel master

yet their life as the chosen people has not always been the life of ease and comfort

yet there is worship and joy in God’s presence

Paul writes in Romans that, for God’s sake, “we are being killed all day long, we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered,” but this does not separate us from the love of God, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:36-37)

The school levy passing in Sidney is a contest over who could pray the most

the “yes” voters are more than conquerors

in fact, both “yes” and “no” voters are more than what vote they cast

as the church was being formed in the book of Acts, Peter proclaims:

“I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (Acts 10:34-35)

Our work as Christians is not done when the votes are counted

in fact, our work has just begun

this vote is an important step along the journey, but it does not set the course for Sidney Schools

there will be other votes, other budgets, other crises

and our responsibility as people of faith is not to just turn out at election time

If we believe the Bible, and truly want to follow Jesus, let us hear the words of Paul and Peter

let us realize and claim that we are not just called to pray and gloat when we “win”

but to realize that much is expected from the ones who have much

to remain faithful to God’s word

act like we believe there is no partiality

and understand that God’s favor rests upon the ones who:

do what is right and acceptable before him

as Micah reminds us:

do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with our God

Our work. as people of faith is not done

give examples of what we’re doing in the community to make a difference

Central School, Alpha, Agape. Jackson Towers, Turkey Trot

I mention these a lot lately. Don’t I?

this is important

how we build community

and serve our Lord

what else can we do?

to make a difference – freestyle with some more of these

Let these be our grateful response for God’s good grace

So let it be.  Amen.

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Installation of Rev. Kazy Hinds

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Piqua, OH

February 22, 2009

Philippians 1: 1-11


I. Way In

A.     Still inconceivable to me that my cellular phone can give me directions

1.      I can put an address in

a)     or ask for the hospital in Lima

b)     or a restaurant in Troy

c)      or the nearest gas station

2.      and my phone will show me a map, directions, and a pleasant-sounding voice to get me where I’m going

3.      VZ Navigator has been a real life-saver

a)     helped Kazy and I find places:

(1)   our churches

(2)   way back home

(3)   antique stores in Tipp City

(4)   presbytery office, presbytery meetings, etc.

4.      Drawback

a)     so used being able to punch in any address and find it

(1)   I do mean anywhere …

(2)   e.g., the community center in Houston (pron. it right)

b)     problem is, you do this enough, find enough obscure places … and find them easily

(1)   Until I KNEW WHERE I WAS GOING –or I THOUGHT I really knew my way around

(2)   just turn off VA Navigator see how true that is – lost as an Easter Egg

B.     It really comes in handy when I come to Piqua

1.      Kazy is here all the time, plus she has a better sense of direction than me

2.      I have been a little turned around here

a)     especially coming the “back way”

(1)   you know, the way that goes by the Brick Barn

(a)   which, by the way, is a SFPC family’s business

(2)   I just can’t do that way without VZ Nav yet

(a)   just ask Kazy

b)     I made the trip once and was looking for the building that was my landmark, just behind the church

(1)   and they had torn it down

c)      or it gets me to the parking lot out there off of _____

(1)   but it doesn’t tell me that I will be pointing the wrong way for the parking spaces

d)     and I was totally on my own finding that alley that comes in the back side of the parking lot

(1)   where at least, I’m pointing the right direction to park

3.      But the good news is:

a)     once I get close enough to see the big rock church …

(1)   I know that I’m going to make it

b)     it’s a very lovely building

(1)   I remember seeing the sign for the first time – God’s Table

(a)   I love that expression of hospitality

(2)   I love seeing your cornerstone – in Jesus Christ

(a)   a testament t a faithful presence, and witness

4.      And I love this beautiful sanctuary, with the gorgeous dome

a)     it’s been great to explore your church in the traditional way

(1)   playing sardines

5.      And I have appreciated hearing the stories of the church

a)     going back for generations

b)     as a presence in the community

c)      a landmark

d)     a testimony to the life and ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ

e)     and that’s a piece of the history of this church

C.     Now you don’t need me to stand here and tell this church your history

1.      but I want you to know how I and others appreciate your witness on this corner

D.    Bridge – and at this moment I am reminded of …

1.      Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi

a)     carries the message for …

(1)   this church as it prepares for the installation of Kazy Hinds, whom you have called as your Pastor

(2)   and as a reminder to the other churches represented here from our presbytery and maybe others from the community

2.      Paul’s’ letter to the church at Philippi was …

a)     a reminder of the good work begun among them

b)     an encouragement to continue that work

(1)   that it may be completed by the day of Jesus Christ

II. Tell The Story

A.     Paul writes to the church assuring them of his gratitude and joy for their friendship and shared ministry

1.      prayers of joy for their diligence in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ  – since Day 1

B.     Paul assures the church of his confidence:

1.      That God, “the one who began a good work among them”

2.      will “bring that work to completion” by the day of Jesus Christ

C.     Paul knows he is right in his thinking about the saints at Philippi

1.      he knows of their prayers and love for him

a)     they sent Epaphroditus with gifts and greetings for

2.      and their affections sustained him in his other works

a)     and at the time of his writing the letter – from jail

D.    Paul greets the saints there …

1.      in the love and compassion of Jesus Christ,

2.      with every assurance of his prayers

a)     that love may abound in the community

b)     and that wisdom may prevail

(1)   so that they may carry out the ministry of Christ’s church in such a way as to bring about the glory and praise of God

(2)   Until Jesus Christ comes again, and come again he will.

III. So What?

A.     Preaching an installation service, I have been thinking about my “hearers.”  Who am I preaching to?

1.      Pastor Kazy?

a)     the eager, gifted, capable, called minister?

b)     who is also my spouse, whom I will have to answer to if I say anything untoward”

2.      this congregation who has received and called Pastor Kazy?

3.      and, this afternoon we also have ministers, offices, and congregants from other churches in our presbytery – even our own exec., maybe churches from other denominations, even other presbyteries.. I am truly preaching before  an august body

B.     So the answer is “Yes.”  That’s who I’m preaching to – THE CHURCH

1.      I don’t mean this building – this stone church

2.      I’m preaching to the church

a)     The Body of Christ, the people of God; gathered for worship, fellowship, service, and spreading the good news of the gospel

b)     I’m preaching to the church

(1)   “Here’s the church, and here’s the steeple…

(2)   open the doors and there’re all the people”

c)      the church – it’s the people

(1)   it’s you, it’s me – it’s us

C.     The word is coming form Paul – having started a historical church

1.      like Westminster Church in Piqua

a)     a building that is a landmark,

b)     congregation that traces its history back to Christian meetings in ______

(1)   and we all understand how the perception of the church has changed in the community

(a)   I think we all understand that the steeple chimes no longer call the faithful to worship

(i)      certainly there are some whose respond in faith is if it were a phone call from God

(ii)    perhaps, though, there are other neighbors who merely tolerate the chimes, thinking they’re quaint, or ignore them altogether

(b)   I think we all understand that the language of faith does not ring today through the halls of commerce or administration in the same way as it once may have

2.      And I think, church, that we are also the saints Paul’s letter is addressed to

a)     because he wrote to encourage the church that:

(1)   the good work God began

(2)   will come to completion by the day of Jesus Christ

(a)   I think the 1st generation of apostles believed Jesus was talking about returning pretty soon

(b)   but we’re still waiting

b)     so Paul’s word carries over into each generation of the church, living faithfully until the day of the Lord

(1)   not coasting, or resting on our pious couches

(2)   but continuing the work of ministry Jesus started …

(a)   proclaiming the good news of the gospel

(i)      producing the harvest of righteousness

(ii)    so that the church – in the day of Christ – shall be pure and blameless

D.    What does this mean for you … the church?

1.      That’s what we will all be praying for you about

2.      But we know that Pastor Kazy has already begun a vibrant and enthusiastic ministry here

3.      The congregation has welcomed her leadership and pastoral ministry

4.      Now you are ready to continue, with prayerful discernment …

a)     the ministry of Jesus Christ with her as your Pastor

E.     So that God, the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ

1.      So be faithful to the sharing of the gospel

a)     stand firm in one spirit, strive side-by-side for it

2.      Church, write the name of Pastor Kazy on the list of pastors, and add this new day to the history of faith here

a)     strive for every good work of mercy, hospitality … even evangelism and witness in the heart of this village so that the good news will be proclaimed

(1)   for this will produce the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

3.      And for this church, and every church represented here today …

a)     So may it be –.  Amen

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This is my last sermon delivered as Pastor of the Elmwood and Westminster churches in Syracuse, NY.  I begin service as the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Sidney, Ohio on Sunday, September 21, 2008.  Today’s sermon outline is more loose than usual, today was a day of farewells for pastor and congregation.


I. Way In and Text

A.     Philippians 1:3-11

1.      Gratitude and joy for your friendship

a)     Like Paul said, “because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now”

b)     “from the 1st day”

(1)   since Day 1

(2)   you have welcomed my family and me

(a)   treated us like … not just welcome guests, but family

(i)     been in some of your homes, you’ve been to ours

(ii)   shared with us in your most treasured celebrations – and in your times of most personal sadnesses

c)      for this, I am grateful, my heart is filled with joy

2.      Confident in you

a)     you understand the importance of pastoral leadership

(1)   you have honored me in that role

(a)   and for that I give thanks to God

(i)     it is truly one of the greatest joys of ministry

b)     YET I AM CONFIDENT that this congregation also has the ability and willingness to:

(1)   discern for yourselves where God is calling you to ministry

(a)   you-yourselves have listened to the urgings of God’s spirit

(i)     and responded to the needs of the community

(b)   this is where the Food Pantry came from

(c)   opened to other groups for worship and fellowship

(d)   and I have confidence you will keep on listening to the urging of God’s spirit and to the voices of the community

(2)   I pray that this congregation will continue to produce leaders from within

(a)   That members of the congregation will rise up and step forward

(i)     to take up responsibilities of leadership and of “followship”

(ii)   and God will continue to lift you up

(a)   with new leaders among you

(b)   and developing the potential for ministry and care that dwells within each of your hearts

(b)   always remember this

(i)     reminding them that the church is the people (do the hand thing)

(ii)   building and pastor are important, but it is the people that make up the Body of Christ, existing for his sake in the name of God

3.      Prayers for you

a)     as Paul moved on from Philippi, developing churches in the era of the new church..

(1)   he always prayed for the Philippians

(a)   giving thanks for their friendship

(b)   that love may overflow with knowledge an d insight to determine what is best and do it in the name of Jesus Christ

b)     and so I will always pray for you

(1)   giving thanks for your friendship and love

(2)   and that your love will not just be sufficient …

(a)   but will overflow

(i)     with knowledge and insight

(ii)   to figure out what is best for the church of Jesus Christ – on this corner, in this community, at this moment in time

(a)   and DO IT – in his name, for God’s sake

II. So What?

A.     In the last few weeks, I have been preaching the good news of the kingdom of heaven

1.      reminding you of it’s foundation in Jesus Christ

2.      and of the way that preachers have always come and gone

3.      the constant thing is the church

a)     and I don’t mean the building

b)     the constant thing is the Body of Christ – the church

(1)   the expression of the good news of Jesus Christ

(2)   who teaches us to proclaim the gospel of forgiveness, discipleship, service, and building community in his name

B.     We have had a good run of this past year

1.      but never overestimate the role of your preacher

a)     I don’t say this to put her or him down, in fact I pray that your pastoral leadership will always be pastoral and prophetic,

(1)   he or she will guide you and encourage you, preach and teach, provide pastoral care and spiritual growth

b)     and I pray that your next pastor will be a living reminder to you of the ministry of Jesus Christ that we are all called to

2.      I say not to overestimate the role of your pastor to emphasize how I pray you will never underestimate your role

a)     you are the ones

(1)   officers stepping up to take on leadership and ministries of mercy

(2)   … carrying on the work of our Food Pantry

(3)   … carrying on with education and fellowship

(4)   … and you do this all in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord when you do it faithfully and joyfully

b)     you are the ones who may never know the lives you touch

(1)   maybe you’ve heard the stories

(a)   former Sunday School students, VBS, others

(2)   Maybe you haven’t’ heard the stories

(3)   Just remember that the ones of us who have decided to follow Jesus may never see the fruits of the seeds we planted

(a)   but we are called to keep on planting them anyway

C.    So here’s the thing I want to leave you with

1.      these texts I have preached on since July 15

2.      and this story

a)     just started to re-read a favorite book when I was a kid, Kon Tiki, by Thor Heyerdahl – I hope you remember it, too

b)     the account of a Norwegian explorer  who, in 1947, undertook a project of sailing on a balsa wood raft across some 4,000 miles of open sea from Peru to Polynesia

(1)   to see whether it was possible that people could have survived such a journey in the 6th century…

(2)   people thought he was nuts – crazy

(3)   NAÏVE

(a)   “of course it can’t be done”

(b)   “you’ll never make it, your parents will be so sad to lose you at sea”

c)      well Heyerdahl and his crew of 5 did it

(1)   101 days; 3,770 nautical miles

d)     despite it’s not making sense to many in the scientific and nautical world

3.      Now, I’m not trying to talk you into a raft trip across the Atlantic Ocean – please, don’t do it

a)     but do remain true to the gospel of Jesus Christ – even if it seems naive

(1)   it’s not complicated, it’s like we’ve been saying

(a)   feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick

(b)   build up the community, for Christ’s sake

b)     call on others to come and join you

(1)   but don’t be discouraged when a few show up

(2)   don’t be afraid, little flock, Jesus himself couldn’t get but 12 to really hang with him – and he couldn’t even count on all of them all the time

c)      keep on asking each other where you see God

(1)   THESE are the ways in which you should go

(2)   even if it’s kind of a new way of doing it

(a)   God doesn’t’ want the church or her life and ministry to get stale –

(b)   Neil Young, “It’s better to burn out than to rust”

4.      So, as Paul closes his letter to a favorite church in Thessalonica

a)     You, beloved, are not in darkness

(1)   for you are all children of light

b)     Therefore encourage one another, and build up each other, as you are doing

c)      Be at peace among yourselves

(1)   admonish the idlers

(2)   encourage the fainthearted

(3)   help the weak

d)     see that none of you repays evil for evil

(1)   but always seek to do good to one another and to all

e)     Rejoice always, and pray without ceasing

f)        for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you

(1)   So may it be.  Amen.




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