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“So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest”. Galatians 6:9
As I watched the piles of school supplies grow, I once again marveled a the generous hearts of RRPC. Not just generous with sharing food or notebooks and pencils, but generous of spirit, wanting to share God’s love in tangible ways with our neighbors. We do it when we collect items for asylum seekers and refugees, the schools and Storehouse West. We also do it when we give of ourselves in volunteering in the community, such as Relay for Life or mentoring in the schools. In our prayer life when we lift up our neighbors, we are opening ourselves to God’s leading. I often hear accounts of how many of you are living out faith in loving neighbors.
It can be hard to keep this up. The needs seem overwhelming at times. It can be disheartening. And yet, when I see things like the results of our supply drive or our Thanksgiving baskets, I am reminded, we are not alone in loving our neighbor. Together we can lift up our neighbor, and God is present with us, the Holy Spirit guiding and encouraging us. With God’s help we can and are doing amazing things.
Serving Christ with you,
Throughout August, I am stepping aside from the prepared scripture selections for preaching and will be preaching on texts and topics that a few of you have suggested. This is a good challenge for me, becaused often these are parts of scripture that I may have taught but not preached. We will be exploring the Kingdom of God, the role of Law and Grace, our good friend, Job, and then, Samson and Delilah. That’s quite a variety — should be interesting!
Given that in the weeks leading up to this we have listened for God’s Word in places more familiar – the Parable of the Good Samaritan and Mary & Martha, to go to the less familiar places to listen to God’s Word can open up new understandings and expand our faith horizons. It also means more work for us, because we don’t have as many preconceived ideas about meaning and interpretation, much less application to our lives.
In case you would like to read ahead, here are the Sundays and the texts we will be exploring:
August 4 – Matthew 13-31-33, 44-50 -The Nature of God’s Kingdom.
August 11 – Job 1:1, 2:1-10, 38:1-24 – Job and God – A Relationship in the midst of suffering.
August 18: Romans 7 and 8 (portions)and Exodus 5:6-21: Law, Grace, and Daily Living.
August 25: Judges 16 – Samson and Delilah and the Fearful Power of God.
See you in Church!
Serving Christ with you,
As I write this, we are smack in the middle of Vacation Bible School. Our mornings have been noisier than usual with kids singing, learning, playing, making friends. There are many teachable moments . . for the volunteers. Children are great discipleship examples in many ways. Dave Shambach and I were doing a skit about carrying around your worries, and he was loaded down with a huge tub of worries. He would not let them down and before I could persuade him to let them down, the kids ran up and started to help him support the tub! If he wasn’t ready to let go, at least they would help carry it until he was.
What a wonderful witness to Jesus they were. Often we want to “fix” people – have them put down their worries, get over their grief, just do what we think they ought to. And yet, Je4sus often sat with folks until they were ready to do hat. Sometimes people just need us to lighten he load. help carry it until they are ready to set it down. That often looks like listening more than talking or giving advice; or just being present rather than needing to “do” something. Other times it means a home cooked meal ready for whenever they just can’t face the kitchen. And prayer – that powerful way to share hope and faith with one another.
How blessed we are by the witnesses all around us who continue to testify to the love of Jesus Christ among us. Those witnesses come in all shapes, sizes, and ages!
Serving Christ with you,
Since coming to New Mexico, my gardening has had mixed results. I have done well with flowers – geraniums, begonias, and such. But, my tomato plants have suffered under the insatiable appetites of the tomato hornworms and thus, not done well. Nothing has produced much. And last summer I was gone too much early on in the summer so I didn’t even get anything planted.
Each year, though, I have learned something. I have done research on how to hold hornworms at bay. I have come to understand more about container gardening (new for me), and growing vegetables in the high desert. This year I am hopeful that my plants will thrive and bear much fruit.
This is how our spiritual journey can be as well. We can get mixed results. Some aspects of faith thrive in us – mission work or worship – while others struggle – prayer and scripture study. There are times when it seems everything is eating away at our faith – questions, doubts, concerns of our own lives and the world. We end up with just a green stalk – no leaves or blossoms – no growth.
The good news is we can learn through these times. We learn that God continues to nourish us and strengthen us. Grace allows us to be replanted and try again to grow and bear fruit. We learn the power of forgiveness for ourselves and others. We grow our courage to love.
May this season be one of new life, beautiful blossoms and abundant fruit!
Growing in Christ with You,