"Face the Challenge"
Energy was high in the Big Red Church on Sunday morning. Like the sun was shining bright in our lives, warming the room. The service went nicely. Our band is good at selecting songs fitting to the biblical texts. Each member of the band takes a few moments to introduce the next song with spiritual insights and such.
The theme this week was focused on what each of us alone and all of us together may accomplish in the world. We recognize that dark times are in play and we have no certainty concerning when they will end. So the service encouraged us to let our little light shine. This will bring blessing and benefit to all whom we encounter along the way of our lives.
Here is a recording of the service:
Here are the texts used in the service, along with some first impressions:
Psalm 1 / 1 Thessalonians 2:1-7 / Matthew 22:34-40
The Psalm contrasts those who follow the way of the wicked and those who follow the way of God. The latter are dedicated to discovering and following the law of God. This is not a law written on paper. It is the law of the universe by which all life has come into being and by which all life is sustained. The Psalm employs the metaphor of fruitful trees to illustrate the prosperity of the faithful. Those who turn aside from the way of God to follow the way of this world are lost. Seeking their own desires they enter the way of decline and destruction.
Thessalonians offers us insight regarding the life of the apostle Paul. He makes plain that his testimony to the inclusive love of God revealed in the gospel has brought resistance from the powers of the day. This opposition has not stopped the apostle from sharing the good news of God's grace. He makes clear that his motives are not to be considered as false. His presentation of the gospel is not intended to earn human praise. Rather, the apostle makes clear that his presence among the people is gentle and caring. He is wholly focused on sharing God's forgiving love with whomever will hear and believe.
Matthew presents Jesus in the company of religious authorities. They are determined to catch him in an error. Jesus is asked about the most important commandment of God. Jesus answers by affirming that we are to love God with all of our being. He goes on to state that the second command of God is that we care for our neighbor just as we care for ourselves. Jesus makes clear that keeping these two instructions opens the way to keeping the law of God as revealed by the prophets. This in contrast to the way of the religious authorities who have been seduced by the attraction of power rooted in pride.