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Beyond the Pulpit

April 2019

Greetings; may the grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord be with you all

We live in a world that constantly bombards us with the message that we should  be a little more selfish.  We should put ourselves first, think about and pursue what we  want, convincing ourselves that we “need” it.

However, this is antithetical to the Gospel we profess to believe in.  When we be come so consumed with our selves, it becomes impossible to fulfill the commandment of Jesus who called on us to “love one another, as he loved us.”

But the sin of our self obsession runs even deeper.  For when we are fixated on ourselves, we not only take our eyes off of our Lord, but our sin distorts our vision of our very selves and the church as well.

The story is told, that one day Michelangelo was down at the quarry starring at the huge blocks of marble when a man interrupted his trance and asked, “Master, you are the greatest sculptor that has ever lived, how is it that you can know just what to chip away to shape such beautiful creations?”

Michelangelo replied, “I see the angel in the marble and I carve until I set him free.”

Our sinfulness hides the truly beautiful creation of God within us.  We are often blind to the rubble that imprisons who we really are, and therefore constrains our ability to live in genuine relationships.

We become trapped in a worldview of our own making where we stop listening to God and instead listen to the voice of the world which seeks to distract us and drag us further from God’s grace and God’s intention for our lives, and for the church.

But we have good news.  God so loved us that he sent to us a savior in Jesus Christ, who died for our sin so that we might be forgiven, justified, and reconciled to God.  This is why the Good Friday – Easter cycle is so important to us.

Jesus calls to us to be disciples, those who walk along side, because it Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit that guides us and strengthens us along the path and frees us from the rubble that once restrained us from realizing what God intends for us and the church to be.

The real struggle, and I dare say this is where we all are, is how do we stay on the path, how do we continue alongside Jesus in becoming the people we were intended to be?  How do battle against the desire to make it “all about me?”

Next to forgiveness and the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of the greater Community in Christ is perhaps Jesus’ greatest gift to us.  Within the community we find those who help us to live out the Christian life.  Within the community we are held accountable to one another and aided by each other to study, to engage in service, and to experience and recognize the hand of God at work in our lives.

Jesus promised that wherever two or more of us gather together in His name, that he would be present with us, and we are both comforted and inspired by his presence.  This is why it was important for the disciples to gather in the Upper Room after the death and resurrection of Jesus, they needed to be together.

This togetherness, this sense of community, is important since the road ahead will be long and difficult.  Fraught will obstacles, mostly of our own making, that threaten to confuse us, distort our vision, and separate us from each other and from God.

And so we must strive to concentrate on living a life in Community in Christ.  We must set aside our EGO and stop Edging God Out.   We must focus on Loving God and one another, serving God and serving others.  We must clear away the rubble that clouds and distorts our vision; concealing the beautiful creation God intends for us and this church to be.

So do not fear the obstacles in our path; let us confront what stands in our way; confess our failings and ask God to help us over-come them; so that we may truly and completely become a Community thriving as an “oasis of Hope in Christ.”

Your servant in Christ, Mitch