Greetings; may the grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord be with you all.
In Romans 12, Paul challenges us with these words:
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect…
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.”
Places can have power. This place where God has gathered us, Santa Fe Presbyterian Church, can be a place of power. We claim that our vision for our church is to be “An Oasis of Hope in Jesus Christ; come see, be fed, go tell.”
If that is to become reality, Here in this place, we must witness miracles and transformations, healing and reconciliation, prophesy and power, in ways that most of the people have never experienced or could even imagine. Here we must see glimpses of heaven, and of what it really means to be a community in Jesus Christ.
To be in a place where people can “belong”, no matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like, or what their lives have been like.
Let’s be honest, we all come here with our prejudices, we all make assumptions about the people we meet. Sadly, we bring those with us even here… and yet here, in this place, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here we should find it easier somehow to show who we really are. Here we should be able to take off the masks we wear out there in the world beyond those doors. Here we must be something different than what we and the world expect us to be. Here we must begin to see that it is possible to see others and ourselves differently. That is why I have always said, that here we should get a glimpse of the “real” world, and out there lies the “other” world, the “false world” where we try to hide the truth about everything from each other, and ourselves.
So yes, here we flirt with being something different. Here we are often different. But I say to you here we must be something different.
Here, by the mercies of God we must not be conformed to that world, here we must be transformed into something much greater and magnificent in a way that most have not experienced. Here we must discern and become a true “Oasis of Hope in Christ.”
We cannot just sit back and let it happen, we must pursue it, work for it, yearn for it. You are the Body of Christ, called by God and anointed by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.
So forget all the reasons you thought you had for coming here, set aside all the assumptions and all the expectations and truly present yourselves as living sacrifices, as people willingly set aside for some special purpose. And offer yourself to God in Jesus Christ to make this place and everyone of us here holy and acceptable to God. We “offer ourselves to God” because being here and being a disciple of Jesus Christ means that our lives proclaim, “it is not about me.”
The more our lives bear witness to this attitude, the closer we move to truly becoming “An Oasis of Hope in Jesus Christ; come see, be fed, go tell.”
Your servant in Christ, Mitch