February 14, 2016: The Courage to Confront

Confronting a problem, facing it head on, acknowledging the elephant in the room, takes courage.  Confronting something with something often leads to conflict, and most of us are not good with conflict.  But if we encounter something that threatens to harm someone or something that we care about, most of us will eventually confront what, or who, we think the source of the conflict is, with the hope of trying to do something about it, or at least trying to hold those we consider responsible for the conflict accountable for their behavior, or lack of behavior.

Elijah, who pops up on the scene in 1 Kings 17, has his first confrontation with the king, Ahab, shortly after Ahab begins to reign over Israel, following his father, Omri.  A little history, so this makes some sense.  The Davidic Kingdom had split after Solomon’s death; Jeroboam became king over the Northern Kingdom, also known as Israel, in 931 BCE.  Rehoboam ruled over the Southern Kingdom, also known as Judah.  Jeroboam was king over the Northern Kingdom for 22 years, and was succeeded by his son, Nadab, who was deposed and killed, along with the entire line of his father’s family, 2 years later, by Baasha.  He was king for 24 years; when he died he was succeeded by HIS son Elah.  Elah was king for two years before he was assassinated by one of his officials, Zimri, who was king for seven days.  Zimri committed suicide when he realized that the army was supporting another commander, Omri.  Omri was king for 12 years, and when he died he was succeeded by Ahab in 875 BCE.  Why all that detail?  It’s important to note both the turmoil and turnover that the Northern Kingdom went through – seven kings, four dynasties, in 66 years.  It wasn’t for nothing that Omri followed conventional wisdom and married off his heir, Ahab, to a Phoenician princess, Jezebel.  And it wasn’t for nothing that Ahab had temples built to the Phoenician god, Baal, for Jezebel.  After all, Solomon, the “wisest man who ever lived” had done the same.  For a couple of centuries the northern kingdom was actually known as the “Land of Omri.”  Conventional wisdom supported everything that Ahab was doing – the conventional wisdom of the wider world, that is.  But the conventional wisdom of the world is, very often, in opposition to what God would have us do.

So God sends Elijah to confront Ahab back in 1 Kings 17 – and tells Ahab there will be no rain until Elijah says – and what Elijah says is determined by what God tells him.  After 3 ½ years of no rain, things are getting pretty bad in Israel.  After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year of the drought, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab; I will send rain on the earth.” 2So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. The famine was severe in Samaria. 3Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Now Obadiah revered the LORD greatly; 4when Jezebel was killing off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets, hid them fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water.)   Ahab has been searching desperately for Elijah.  Ahab holds the messenger, Elijah, responsible for the message from God – so Ahab wants to get his hands on Elijah and force him to lift the drought.  Elijah encounters Obadiah first, and tells Obadiah to return to Ahab and tell him where to meet Elijah.  16So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

17When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18He answered, “I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. 19Now therefore have all Israel assemble for me at Mount Carmel, with the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 20So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel.

Elijah arranges for a confrontation: the 450 prophets of Baal against him, only him, who he presents as being the only prophet of the Lord.  They will offer a bull as a sacrifice on an altar, prepared with wood laid all around, and pray to their respective gods – Baal for the 450, the LORD God of Israel for Elijah, but neither group will light the wood for the sacrifice themselves.  As Elijah says, 24Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the LORD; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.  Everyone agrees, and the confrontation begins.  There is, of course, no answer from Baal.  At last, after hours of the 450 calling out to Baal, egged on by some mocking from Elijah, they give up, and Elijah takes his turn.  But first he has them pour water abundantly over the wood and the bull that has been prepared.  Not only will this force things, but it also takes away the final argument the people who support Baal can make; they believed that water was a gift from Baal.  So maybe, even though Baal didn’t act to light the wood on fire, maybe Baal would use water to prevent the fire from consuming the offer made to the Lord.  We all know what happens next: 38Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. 39When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD indeed is God; the LORD indeed is God.” 40Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” Then they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon, and killed them there.

Next comes the blessed sound of rushing rain.  At first only Elijah can hear it – but a cloud comes, visible from the top of Mount Carmel, where this confrontation occurs, and Elijah warns Ahab to get off the mountain and back to Jezreel before the rain bogs down the parched earth into mud, while Elijah runs ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel itself.  The drought is over.  The confrontation shows who is more powerful, who is in control over all of Creation – the Lord God, maker of heaven and earth.  For this short time the people remember:  “The LORD indeed is God; the LORD indeed is God.”

It is so easy to get seduced by the ways of the world.  It is so easy to get distracted by the advice of those who do NOT follow the Lord God, who do not follow God’s only begotten Son, Jesus.  Yet, I have some good news about this – not all confrontations have to be in-your-face.  The most difficult confrontation we have is within ourselves, between what our heads tell us to do, and what our hearts, led by the Holy Spirit, tell us to do.  

What did Jesus tell us to do?  In the Gospel of Matthew, as part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, starting at 5:43:  “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,* what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”   Be perfect.  A tall order.  But a goal we can all strive for.  When we confront our own behavior, that is in-our-hearts, not in-your-face.  That’s still hard, though.  How do we get there? 

By prayer.  By praying.  Some folks tend to scoff at the power of prayer.  That’s all we can do?  Pray? They scoff because they miss the concrete action that flows out of prayer, if we are listening to what God would have us do.  So let me tell you a true story about “that’s all we can do,” which comes from a B-52 website story, with some correction: the author of this piece is Elmer Bendiner, a navigator of a B-17 Flying Fortress, in World War II.  He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and the Purple Heart for his service.  This story is about one particular run, a bombing run over Kassel, Germany; he describes it in his book The Fall of Fortresses:.

Our B-17, the Tondelayo, was barraged by flak from Nazi anti-aircraft guns. That was not unusual, but on this particular occasion our gas tanks were hit. 

Later, as I reflected on the miracle of a 20-mm shell piercing a fuel tank without causing an explosion, our pilot told me it was not quite that simple. On the morning following the raid, Bohn asked our crew chief for that shell as a 'souvenir' of our unbelievable luck. The crew chief told Bohn that not just one shell had been found in our fuel tanks, but eleven!

Eleven unexploded shells, where only one would've been sufficient to blast us out of the sky!  The shells were sent to the armorers to be de-fused. The armorers told Intelligence why: When the armorers opened those shells, they found NO explosive charge! Empty? Not quite. One contained a carefully-rolled piece of paper with a scrawl in Czech.

Intelligence translated it. The note read: "This is all we can do for you now."

That might have been “all they could do” – and it was way more than sufficient!  If the Czechs who were being forced to produce that armament had been caught, they would of course have been killed.  Had they followed conventional wisdom, they would have been packing that ordnance with explosive charges.  They upended conventional wisdom by confronting evil in the only way they could – by leaving them empty.  That was more than sufficient!!  Who knows how many other Allied Force planes were not shot down because of those empty shells?

Elijah confronted the evil that Ahab was doing because that is what God called him to do.  God will not tell most of us to get to that level of confrontation of authorities.  Jesus knows that it’s enough to confront our hearts, our own inner struggles between the things God calls us to do, and the things the world tells us we should do if we want to be successful, powerful, in control, acceptable to others – pick your adjective.  What God wants us to do is to be in relationship with Him, through the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit.  When we have courage to confront our own mis-steps, our own failures, we become more like Jesus, and as a group we become more like the Body of Christ that Jesus would have us be.  May we have the courage, and the will, to listen to what the Lord our God would have us do, and then to do it, even and especially when it looks like“all we can do,” until Jesus returns in glory.  And even so, come soon, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Link to Passage: 1 Kings 18

February 7, 2016: The Consequences of Trying to Improve on God’s Directions

.... for the LORD our God is holy.  That is the last part of the last line of Psalm 99.  We just said those words together, at the end of our call to worship.  But we can forget that, as we work along, trying to focus on what we think we are supposed to do, rather than doing what God tells us to do. This story is a shocking example of what can happen when we get those two things – what we think we should do, versus what God tells us to do – confused. 

Way back in 1 Samuel 4, back before the cry of the Chosen People for a king, we hear about a battle between the Philistines and the Chosen People.  In this first battle, the Philistines defeat the Chosen People.  So the Chosen People discuss this, and decide they need the physical presence of the Ark of the Covenant, named formally as the ark of the Covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim (1 Samuel 4:4), and they bring Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who are entrusted to carry the ark.  You many remember, from the Exodus stories, that the Ark of the Covenant was a wooden chest clad with gold.  It was a chest; inside were the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments as well as Aaron's rod and a pot of manna.  The ark had a series of rings along the two long sides.  Two long poles were put through the rings, and priests carried the ark that way.  There was no direct contact with the Ark itself.  This was the way the priests carried the Ark the whole time the Ark was in the wilderness, and when they crossed the River Jordan to enter the Promised Land.  You may remember that when they crossed the Jordan, the priests carrying the Ark entered the river first.  When their feet touched the water, God held the water back so the people could cross safely.  When everyone was across, then the priests came up, and the water began to flow again.  The Ark was not typically carried forth in battle during this time at the end of the rule of the Judges.  But people remembered how to carry that Ark.  The problem was the folks carrying that Ark – Hophni and Phinehas had been abusing their role as high priests, and the Lord had condemned them.  

Remember what God had told Samuel during that first conversation?  1 Samuel 3: 11-14:  11Then the LORD said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”  

Eli knew this, and so did the people.  But they chose to have these two people carry the Ark.  And what happened?  The Philistines captured the Ark, and Hophni and Phinehas both died.  1 Samuel 5 and 6 tell what happened to the Philistines when they brought the Ark to the temple of their god, Dagon, and to the people; Dagon was toppled from his place in his own temple, and the people were struck with tumors.  In the end, the Philistines decided to send the Ark back to the land of Israel, to Beth-shemesh, on a cart pulled by oxen who were guided only by the Lord God.  When the Ark returned, the people of Beth-shemesh had Levites remove the Ark, they burned the wood of the cart, and celebrated.  But those in the wider area did not rejoice in the return of the Ark, so God struck 70 of the men.  They sent the Ark to Kiriath-jearim, where Abinadab and his family were consecrated to have charge of the Ark.  Saul and Jonathan died in battle with the Philistines at the end of 1 Samuel 31.  2 Samuel begins with David mourning the death of Jonathan and Saul, and the anointing of David as King of Judah.  Today’s reading begins with the unification of all of the tribes of Israel.  

2 Samuel 5: 1-3: Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. 2For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The LORD said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of My people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” 3So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.  

As part of that unification process, David decides to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant, and bring it to Jerusalem.  But there is what turns out to be a fatal flaw in their plans: they choose to build a new cart to carry the Ark, rather than use the poles to carry it.  Instead of following the guidance of God, they decide to do exactly what the Philistines did: they built a new cart.  Instead of priests carrying it, priests who are attempting to follow God’s will, they use oxen.  And it doesn’t go well at all.

  2 Samuel 6: 6-10, selected verses:  6When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah [one of the two priests accompanying the Ark] reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. 7The anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God. 8David was angry because the LORD had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. 9David was afraid of the LORD that day; he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come into my care?” 10 So David was unwilling to take the ark of the LORD into his care in the city of David; instead David took it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.  It wasn’t until stories of the blessings God showered upon Obed-edom came to David that he returned to bring the Ark – and this time, he did it by following the instructions God had given the Chosen People so long ago:  12b So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; 13and when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 

Why does this matter to us now?  Sometimes we lose track of what we are supposed to do.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up with our own ideas that we miss the point: God is holy, and also wholly Other.  It can be hard to keep that in mind.  We mean well – and yet we lose track of that wholly Other part.  We remember that Jesus came to earth for us, for our salvation – and we forget that Jesus is also wholly Other.  Wholly God and wholly human.  That’s what this season we are now entering is all about.  Jesus – wholly human – did for us what no other human being could do – can do now – serve as our Redeemer, because Jesus was and is also wholly God.  

Disciples got glimpses – the calming of the sea; later, Jesus walking on the water; the Mount of Transfiguration, where Peter, James and John saw Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah; the miraculous feeding of the multitudes; the healing of all who came.  But as Jesus trained them to be able to go and do likewise, they missed this great gift – the way Jesus was empowering them to follow Him.  And yet, they were not Jesus – because they, because WE, are fully human – and that’s it.

God calls us to follow.  God calls us to act.  God tells us what to do: and we are supposed to do those things.  We are also to maintain a healthy respect for this: Jesus is both fully human AND fully God.  Yes, Jesus is our brother.  Yes, Jesus loves us; this we know – for the bible tells us so.  And yet – and yet – we must remember the glory of God, the holiness of God, the love of God which is much more than we can ever attain or earn – and which is offered as a free gift, if we are willing to accept it.  But we are to follow.  We are to follow God.  

It’s the paradox of the world.  Newtonian physics and quantum physics – both are real.  As we strive to follow God, doing the things Jesus reminded us to do in Matthew 25: feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison – both jails and the psychological prisons that restrain people – we are obedient to God’s call.  And as we also live into the Great Commission, making disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and as we teach them what Jesus has taught us,  we will be showing reverence for God, and also love for God.  

January 31, 2016: Grace, Greed, and Gratitude

For those of us not into football, it may be helpful to note that next Sunday is the Super Bowl, Super Bowl 50, actually – the Denver Broncos are playing the Carolina Panthers in San Francisco.  People watch for all kinds of different reasons – some really care who wins, some really want to see the commercials, and some really want to hang out and eat with friends.  For anyone who will be watching, it will be a midwinter celebration.

As 1 Samuel 25 opens, there is a celebration going on in ancient Israel – the shearing of the sheep.  The winter is winding down, the sheep are gathered in and sheared, and there is a huge party.  David and his group of followers have been living in the wilderness near En-Gedi, protecting the locals, the shepherds and their sheep.  David had been a shepherd and he knew the value of what they had done, espccially when it came to protecting the stock of one of the wealthy, politically-connected locals, Nabal, whose own holdings included 3000 sheep and 1000 goats.  David and his men had extended a form of grace to Nabal.  So on this day of celebration, they ask for a bit of return.  The request is polite and gracious: 

5So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. 6Thus you shall salute him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7I hear that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing, all the time they were in Carmel. 8Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your sight; for we have come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”  

David is not asking for money – he is asking Nabal to send some food to the group who helped to preserve his animals and protect the shepherds.  David acted with integrity; now he is asking Nabal to remember them during this time of feasting and celebration.  Nabal was blunt and rude, and sent them away.  Nabal reacted to David’s grace with greed, and refused to share anything.David was infuriated, and ordered 400 of the 600 men with him to strap on their swords.  They set off for Nabal’s, intending to kill all of the males of the household.  But 

14But one of the young men [of Nabal’s household] told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he shouted insults at them. 15Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we never missed anything when we were in the fields, as long as we were with them; 16they were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. 17Now therefore know this and consider what you should do.”  

Abigail was a wise woman, and the supplies that they had put up for the sheep shearing celebration were huge. 

 18Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs. She loaded them on donkeys 19and said to her young men, “Go on ahead of me; I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.   Why not?  

Because, as the young man of the household said to Abigail, (from verse 17): “he is so ill-natured that no one can speak to him.”  True to her word, Abigail follows the young men of her household to David.  When she meets David, she falls on her face in front him, states that the blame is hers for the rude reception David’s 10 young men received, and then utters these words of prophecy: 26Now then, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, since the Lord has restrained you from bloodguilt and from taking vengeance with your own hand, now let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be like Nabal. 27And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28Please forgive the trespass of your servant; for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD; and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. 29If anyone should rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living under the care of the LORD your God; but the lives of your enemies He shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30When the LORD has done to my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you prince over Israel, 31my lord shall have no cause of grief, or pangs of conscience, for having shed blood without cause or for having saved himself.”   

Abigail’s words of wisdom and prophecy stop David from incurring bloodguilt.  Bloodguilt occurs when someone is killed, intentionally or not, outside of a situation of war.  When that happens one representative of the family of the deceased is allowed to take revenge on the killer, according to the old guide of “an eye for an eye.”  David is the Lord’s anointed – and Abigail recognizes that.  However, if David had followed his murderous impulses, he would have started a bloodguilt chain reaction that would have doomed his ability to unite the tribes of Israel and Judah against their common enemies.  Abigail’s words and actions call to mind the consequences of his behavior – all behavior has its consequences, for good or for ill – and David changes his mind.  David stops.  He thanks Abigail for her actions and her wise words, and they both return to their places, she back home, and he back to his stronghold.

In the meantime Nabal has been having one serious party.  36Abigail came to Nabal; he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she told him nothing at all until the morning light. 37In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him; he became like a stone. 38About ten days later the LORD struck Nabal, and he died.   A feast like the feast of a king indeed – no one has even missed all the provisions Abigail took to David.   It wasn’t for lack that Nabal refused to give David anything – Nabal had acted out of greed, and pride, which are, of course, the opposite of gratitude.  After he sobered up, and Abigail filled him on what had happened, the enormity of his pride and greed and the very real danger he had put himself and his household in struck him, literally as well as figuratively.  By not being willing to respond appropriately to grace, the grace David and his men had been offering to Nabal, grace that others in his household recognized and were grateful for, his behavior led to an entirely different consequence.

Abigail had invoked the image of slingshots and well-placed stones in her prophecy about David.  The authors of 1 Samuel purposefully invoke that image here, describing Nabal’s sudden affliction and subsequent death.  Just as Goliath had been killed by a well-placed stone, just as David described his death as being due to the Lord’s action on David’s, and thus Israel’s behalf, so too with Nabal, who, when offered grace as a child of the Chosen People, instead reverted to greed.  In spite of injunctions to care for the poor among them, in spite of the teachings in Deuteronomy 25, verse 4 to not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain – to not prevent even an ox to eat some of the fruit of its labor, Nabal responds with greed and its outward manifestation, selfishness.  Those are sins in the eyes of the Lord, in the eyes of ancient Israel – and as Paul writes two thousand years later, in Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death....

  This whole story of David and Abigail and Nabal is all about grace, and the choice between greed and gratitude.  Perhaps it was partly out of gratitude that led David to protect Abigail by marrying her after Nabal’s death.  It surely helped that she was also smart, beautiful who also had the gift of prophecy at least once, and was now a wealthy widow.  But there was also gratitude in David’s behavior – gratitude that her wise counsel enabled him to move further down the path of being able to unite the tribes in part because he had not incurred blood guilt.  The wages of sin IS death, and we know that later David did not act with restraint, when he seduced Bathsheba and ordered that her husband, Uriah, be placed in the hottest section of the fight with the Ammonites so that the Ammonites might kill Uriah in battle – the story is told in 2 Samuel 11.  We also know how the consequences of that behavior rippled down in David’s family for generations.  In the end, even with warnings from prophets throughout history, we are unable to successfully fight our sinful impulses all the time.  That is why it is worth repeating the entire sentence from Romans 6:23 now, in whole:  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

God knows that we need grace to overcome our impulses of greed, selfishness and even fear. Grace is personified in Jesus.  John 3: 16-21 describes this more clearly and concisely than I can – listen to these familiar words again:  16“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. 18Those who believe in Him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than Light because their deeds were evil. 20For all who do evil hate the Light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21But those who do what is true come to the Light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” 

  When we choose to help with Family Promise we show that our deeds are done in God.  When we choose to sign up to help with the Art Auction and the Walkathon by asking the places we frequent, the restaurants where we eat, the stores we patronize, the businesses we turn to for our haircuts and manicures, our dry cleaning and lawn care, we are acting to invite others to help in our efforts to support local missions, and the work of this congregation.  When we greet the folks who are downstairs now setting up for the Pinewood Derby and thank them for coffee hour, and talk about the great joy it is for us to be the charter organization for Cub Scout Pack 1980, we show joy and gratitude to them for allowing us to help them.  When we show up and help for building and grounds work days, when we come out to help with our Parents’ Night Out events – and there is one this coming Friday – we show the light of community, fellowship, friendship, and support to people where this church has been planted for the last 297 years, show that we are still called to serve as God’s hands and feet in this little corner of the world that God loves so much. 

The choice was Nabal’s, Abigail’s, David’s – to choose to respond to grace with gratitude, or greed, to choose to speak the truth and behave with integrity, to choose to take revenge at insults or to wait for the Lord to act, to choose life, or death.  May we continue to choose life, as we also continue to do those things that are pleasing to the Lord, until Jesus returns in glory.  And even so, come soon, Lord Jesus.  Amen. 

© Readington Reformed Church  2015