Archive for February, 2015

Walk a mile in my shoes

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

“Genesis 17:1-7, 15, 16: Mark 8:31-38: Romans 4:13-25”

StMarksApartheid in South Africa was a terrible thing and rightfully condemned by the world. Two sets of people in one land separated by the colour of their skin. One child unbeknown to itself born into an earthly life of good fortune, and one child unbeknown to itself born into an earthly life of misfortune.

The “same” children separated by a controlled fence between The United States of America and Mexico. The “same” children separated through royal blood line and those not and the “same” children in our communities separated unbeknown to themselves to be born into a stable home environment or an environment of physical or emotional abuse that may shape their understanding and actions that seem inexcusable to those who have not walked that path.

As a child, many times when someone nationally or in our own community was having their character attacked I remember how my mum used to mention the chorus from an old song that says

“Walk a mile in my shoes, before you abuse, criticize and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes”

It goes on:

“If I could be you, if you could be me for just one hour
If we could find a way to get inside each other’s mind,
If you could see you through my eyes instead of your own
I believe you’d be surprised to see that you’ve been blind.

Now your whole world you see around you is just a reflection
And the law of Karma says you’re gonna reap just what you sow
So unless you’ve lived a life of total perfection
You’d better be careful of every stone that you should throw

And there are people on reservations and out in the ghettos
And brother, there, but for the grace of God, go you and I..”

In sin there bar the grace of God we all went because we all, unbeknown to ourselves were to be born sinful because of things outside ourselves that took place 4,000 years before in the Garden of Eden.

We never asked to be sinners, yet we sin because we were born that way. Born into sin yet ironically, still of the blood line of our very first ancestors born as his created children and of the likeness of himself, God our Father.

 God our Father who gave his Son Jesus to walk in our shoes that in Him in the Grace of God we do go.

Saved not in works or merit, but saved in faith in Christ alone. The truth that we know and yet because it is so opposite to our natural thinking we are tempted to limit God to the size of our purposes or to doubt the breadth of God’s generosity or the surprising power of his activity.

It’s a condition in which we were born and that is why we not dwell on our own logic and human wisdom but on that of the Word of God. The same Word of God given to us as that to Abraham who as a hundred year old man and with his wife Sarah beyond child bearing years was to be given a Son that of which would come great nations and kings.

A promise from God to Abraham that against all probability we are told in verse 18 from today’s Romans text that in “faithful” hope he believed against “earthly” hope.

A promise that would see his birth lineage become the Jewish people of God, and a promise that would see the gentiles, us become part of that lineage as the people of God through the birth of Jesus to Joseph and Mary.

In Jesus, we are part of that bloodline and so, to us as to was Abraham the book of Romans through the Apostle Paul sets forth the gospel of justification by faith apart from works of the law and maintains that, since that is so, no one can boast about being able to obtain justification by works of the law, for both Jew and Gentile.

And in today’s particular text itself, Paul takes up the story of Abraham as a proof that justification is by faith, not works. After all, he says, the great patriarch Abraham was justified by faith, not by observing works of the law. He was justified while he was technically still a Gentile, since he was declared justified prior to being circumcised and moreover, as the law of Moses was not given until many centuries after Abraham was declared righteous, he clearly could not have been justified by doing works of the law.

In researching this message I found how the blood lines and associated promises play out as both interesting and comforting. Yet these are not mere words on a piece of paper, these are the Words and promises of God that are alive and working even when we don’t realise it.

The Word of God given to a sinner like me who when at my worst, in a car troubled and anxious in life and with the tell-tale signs of alcohol and tobacco smells and packaging as my passenger, was approached by what we would judge to be a homeless drunk, who peered through my window without judgement nor in a state such as my own, and announce both forcefully and with urgency “that Jesus knows who you are, and you are one of His.”

A few words said to me when I deserved them least, but needed them most that changed if not my life, changed how I viewed it and most importantly, how I was viewed by a loving Lord who has crossed the tracks, and though he did not sin, walked those paths and knows the pain and knows the need.

Jesus Christ knows who you are, and you are one of His and regardless of your current state, He comes to you today.

Today in His Word He comes to you and says you are mine and always will be, and in faith rather than in our self, He asks we take Him on face value. To accept in Holy Communion not just a piece of bread and sip of wine, but the very body and blood that He gave on the cross that you need not doubt, but know as He knows that the fence between sinners and God has been torn down that now here today, be we in soiled clothing and poor in spirit or joyous and abounding in faith-as one we can trust that in Him, God the Father sees not that little baby born to a life of self- hatred and self-abuse, sees not that little baby born of affluence yet still bound to a body of sin. Sees not what has become but still sees that little child who He knew would have to walk regardless of birth circumstance and location through the great tribulation of this fractured world.

The walk that He walked not that we see barriers between poor and rich. Not barriers between black nor white and nor heaven itself. But before God standing as one in faith hearing both collectively and individually-I know who you are and you are one of mine and I forgive you of your sins, and so come what may-I am in you and you in me and forever shall I stand alongside you on this earth, and the one to come. Amen.

The Great Flood

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Genesis 9:8-17, Mark 1:9-15, 1 Peter 3:18-22

The great flood

Pastor SteveOur first reading today talks of the great flood and funnily enough, yesterday I had dropped into the manse a box of books from a family member of a dearly departed loved one and when looking through I found a book about the great flood written in 1956.

It was very interesting and so, there went two hours of sermon writing time “out the window” so to speak.

It had many interesting points and seemingly in 1956, from his quotes it would seem that a large percentage of scientists actually believed that the bible stacked up not against their scientific outcomes, but actually informed, sat alongside and confirmed them to be true in regards to both creation and that the flood of Noahs time caused things such as the geological rock layers from a great floods after effects rather than from billions of years in formation. A flood of such ferocity that from the mixing and smashing of waves and so forth would see sand, rock and fossils settling from various weight and so forth to the levels as they are now from seeping through the soggy ground. Of course this can be said of forming the same over billions of years to the same effect, except, that going through these levels can be found tree trunks and other matter that dissects between them. How’s that work if not from a sudden almighty incident. Maybe a tree that stood firm for a billion years. That’s one tough tree.

Another thing that interested me was of course of what we already know. Being that oil is from fossils and coal from wood. But if we can imagine the mighty wash of the flood it makes sense that whole forests and schools of fish would be covered with soil that would later bring about those reserves to be found in a later period like ours.

As Christians that is a pretty universal understanding but what interested me was the thoughts from the author and many scientists of his time was that prior to the flood, the earth was not on a tilted axis as it is now. Meaning not the seasons as we know them now, but an even climate throughout that supports how the animals of all regions could gather in one spot and co-habitat in the one habitat as in the ark.

Could sound a bit like lunacy but good old google tells me that current day scientists such as Richard Gross of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has stated that earthquakes such as the magnitude 9.00 earthquake in Japan last year may have shifted the earth’s axis and shortened the length of an earthly day by 1.8 millionths of a second.

Hardly anything to worry about but if as many great flood commentators believe, that at the time of the flood that both the underground water gushing up and the climate to bring such rain was through the eruption of massive amounts  of volcanoes going off together, I imagine good old earth may have got a wobble up.

All interesting stuff from a “scientific”” nature.

But what of poor old Noah and his family because as based on biblical blood lines it is said that they took 120 years to build the ark. I imagine that adds up to a lot of ridicule from the locals watching them building a boat in the “middle of nowhere.”

And what of God who after seeing the world in such an evil mess, after his decree to start again still has to watch another 120 years of such evil. Evil not just of fornication and gluttony, but that God had taken such a decision there must have been killings, rape and torture of magnitudes we could not imagine.

So a cleansing of sin through the waters of the flood, and yet a way out for the remaining few led by Noah who still following and listened to God the Father. The same Noah that directly after the flood account is found in what must have been years in the making but told as if in the next moment, finds Noah smashed to the eye balls on wine.

So much for the greater than thou Christian brigade seeing themselves as a mighty fortress of piety and goodness up and against those heathen swine living a life of “wine, women and song.”

Of course I imagine Noah, along with Abraham, Moses and King David and the like were better Christian people than those like myself. Better yes, but sinless-no. All these guys stuffed up at one time or another, but what was different too each in different ways was like what was aid of King David on Ash Wednesday. King David called by God “as a man after his own heart”, not because he was sinless-but because in his sin and mistakes, he continually turned back to God in repentance, prayer and thanks.

The Ark was a vessel of safety too save those at that time who believed, followed as best they could and still worshipped and trusted God.

A rich picture that has continued again and again throughout the bible.

The decree from the Pharaoh in Egypt goes out that all the Jewish boys are to be killed and so Moses’ mother places him in a basket. A basket that becomes his ark and drifts to safety along the river into the hands of the Pharaohs daughter.

The exodus of the Israelites led by Moses.  The people of God who facing certain death trapped in front of the Red sea with the Egyptians chasing behind, only to have God part the seas that they pass to safety and destroy their enemies in the same sea behind them, and in finally reaching the promised land after forty years in the wilderness, the surviving Jewish generation led by Joshua are told by God to enter the land of milk and honey by crossing the river Jordan with the priest leading the way with the Ark of the Covenant out front. Being the chest they carried containing the Word of God on the stones to which was carved the Ten Commandments.

Water and arks that saved the earthly life of God’s people and yet, though they certainly served God’s purposes, like all things in scripture-all point to the great truth of Salvation in Jesus Christ His Son-the Ark of safety to heavenly salvation.

Jesus our Saviour, our Ark to heavenly safety and salvation through the waters of baptism that when attached to the word of God and in our faith in Christ alone for forgiveness, delivers on the promises from God himself.

The promise given to Noah in the form of a rainbow that never again shall the waters again become a flood to destroy all flesh, and though tsunamis and torrents have raged, we know that promise given to Noah has come to fruition.

The promise given to you in Baptism and though your lives still ebb and flow lurching left and right on our earth suspended in space wobbling on its axis as it too feels the sting of a broken world, it is still supported by the hands of its creator our all mighty God. Brocken, suffering, used and abused and a shadow of its days before sin arrived. Yet the same earth that will be replenished on the last day and be restored to its former Glory and again be home to lion and deer that will lye together in harmony alongside Noah, Abraham, Peter, James and John. Alongside black, white and yellow and alongside you.

On the sixth day God created humans, saw it was good and rested.

Baptised and with faith in Christ Jesus, God now looks at His sixth day creations through His Son Jesus Christ and sees not our sin, but the righteous of His Son and sees it is good, and most assuredly like His Son who on the cross announced “it is over” before rising back to His heavenly home, God the Father waits patiently that others may come to faith and stand alongside you within the multitudes washed clean by the blood of the lamb Jesus Christ our Lord, and after again and again having carried His people to the promised land, welcome us home and give us the rest, that we have taken from him. Amen.

The time is now..

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

 

The following stories all appeared one under the other in a city paper:

Islamic State burns 45 people to deathPastor Steve

ISLAMIC State militants are using a new tactic to shock the world as they move closer to a US stronghold in Iraq.

Muscle Barbie: ‘The guys are just jealous’

JULIA Vins is just 18, but the ‘muscle barbie’ has gained thousands of fans because of her unusual blend of wide-eyed pretty looks and muscular physique.

Welcome to the randiest suburb in Australia

THEY’RE single and ready to mingle. With over a hundred times more lonely hearts in this suburb than any of its nearest neighbors, we bet you won’t guess what’s made this area so hot to trot.

Abbotsford.

Maybe a lot of men wearing Budgie smugglers.

It would seem we live in a world where one person might chain themselves to a tree in a forest to protect it, while another lives with the constant dangers of rape, beheadings and now being burned alive for no other reason than they’re not of the same variance of the ideology of the perpetrators.

We have the great Western power seemingly making friends with countries that openly desire that the nation of Israel be wiped off the map.

Church’s not just welcoming those who live who live in opposition to God’s law-AS WE SHOULD ALL WELCOME, but  some Church’s not just welcoming but seemingly condoning it.

If we were in the heavens looking down and seeing all these jigsaw pieces come together in the one picture I would think we would feel like busting it up and starting a new one and the statements concerning the last days of:

As in the time of Noah

And leaders talking of peace but looking to war certainly come to mind.

This could be where I go down the street with my soapbox bellowing “repent for the end is near.”

Who knows, maybe it is or maybe it’s not because we remember that the apostles were all but certain it would happen in their time.

Martin Luther when asked what he would do if he knew it was his last day before death answered, that he would plant a tree which echoes to me the sign on the out the front of the plant nursery on the way to Gil. That says:

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, and the next best is now.”

Since ancient times Lent has been a time of preparation for the celebration of Easter, a season of spiritual spring-cleaning. During the 40 days of Lent, Christians battled against the powers of darkness and their sinful self by the practice of fasting and self-examination, meditation and prayer. Since it was a time of repentance, they often wore sackcloth and covered themselves with ashes.
Hence Ash Wednesday.

Problem for me is that a bit like New Year’s Eve’s resolutions, in my failed attempts at repentance it’s tempting to repent of repenting.
And there’s the trick that the dark side wants to push on us. See you’re still as bad as before, just give up on it.
Words with a bit of truth but like to Adam and Eve in the garden, used out of context and meaning.

Repentance is not becoming some great never to sin again person. Yes it is most surely striving too, but at the top is in repenting to see the error of our ways and turn back to God-seek and receive forgiveness and start afresh like a cricket batsmen who gets out early from a stupid shot must put it behind them, get back to basics and start a fresh in their next innings.

I mentioned once before that King David, the King mentioned as a man after God’s own heart was mentioned as such not because he was perfect, but because as soon as he was shown the error of his ways, he would turn to God and seek forgiveness.

These are turbulent times in our world and how they will play out we do not know, but like with our own thing that we are each dealing with, God seems to makes a habit of bringing deliverance from a crisis and if you planted that tree twenty years ago, though there has been droughts, floods, fire and famine-there it still is, stronger than ever providing shade in the heat and cover in the rain.

In the Garden of Eden God said there would be consequences if that apple was eaten, and then as there is now that is case the. Not from God getting in some payback, but from the sin that we brought on ourselves,

And yet when God looks down on all those jigsaw pieces of our world and sees the results of our sin, he also sees His Son on a cross in each of the physical and spiritual battles taking place, in every piece does Christ walk as he has in every piece of your own journey and that He knows that sin will still be in play until the last day, He asks not the impossible, He asks what would seem improbable in such a time in our world, that all would turn back to God and be freed from themselves to be free in Christ.

For those in fare away lands and in parts of our own where we have none or little influence, we can and should always pray that be the case.

For those here in our midst to whom which come before us, we pray this be the case and ask our Lord to guide us in mind and actions that they see His light.

And for us here, pray we, as we run our race continue to be blest to know the truth, that in Christ when we turn to God in asking forgiveness in the name of His Son and our Saviour Jesus the Christ, that we know from His Word and promise that is stronger than any mineral and greater than any condition we find ourselves:

That truly, Christ died on that cross for you, and through Christ and in the name of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit your sins are washed away and forgiven. Praise be to God. Amen.

This is the day

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

“This is the day that the Lord has made”

Mark 9:2-9Pastor Steve

In Japan there is a mountainous area that for centuries that has been called something that translates into “The place where you leave your mother”. It is named that because of an ancient custom of taking the very old and feeble up to the top of a mountain and leaving them there. A thick forest grows up this mountains side and on a day long ago a strong young man was carrying an aged wisp of a women on his back through the dense forest. As they moved upward, the young man noticed that his mother was reaching out and breaking small branches. “Why are you doing that mother?” he asked. She looked at him with eyes that were dimmed by everything except love, and said: “So you will not become lost on the way back, my son.”

An act of love not unlike what is experienced by the three disciples on that mountain top with Jesus. An event brought about by God the Father to reveal to them the truth of his Son Jesus. To reveal but for a moment the truth behind what is then and what will be. To reveal but for a moment the concealed splendour of his Son and the revelation that this is the one who they have been foretold of in Chapter 8, verse 38 of “He who will come at the end of this age in the glory of His Father with the Holy angels.”

An act of revelation to them of what is and what will be that they can draw on and trust in when they descend that mountain to find themselves confused and in fear as their leader hang from a cross and a revelation they can draw from after the resurrection to give themselves the strength and commitment to be themselves spat on, abused, persecuted and put to death as they too follow in footsteps of their Lord and Saviour and bring His truth to the world.

On that mountaintop they did not understand as surely as they would not when they see their leader, Jesus the Christ, the promised messiah, the man they followed doing miraculous miracles and speaking with unparalleled love and wisdom willingly walk like a lamb to the slaughter into the hornets’ nest to be beaten, whipped, ridiculed and be killed in a manner reserved for the worst of criminals.

Yet a precursor to the moment when all will become clear to the apostles as their minds are opened to understand what was in the Old Testament and what has come in the new. To see that at both on the top of that mountain and at the base of the cross they have seen God’s plan for our salvation come to fruition.

To understand the times leading to Christ. To know the realization of Christ as the messiah, the Savior and the mediator to God who has solved our problem of sin and brought us life and freedom – eternally and here now on our earthly home.

To see not a God that speaks in private like when to Elijah in his mountaintop experience or like to Moses on Mount Sanai when he received the Ten Commandments.  God the Father  whom when talking to Moses on Mount Sinai, said “You cannot see My face; for no person shall see Me, and live, so while My glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I shall take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen”.

God the Father protecting Moses from the result of human sin that if exposed directly to the Holiness of God, would have seen Moses like a piece of paper to a raging fire.

Yet here in the Gospel, Jesus the Son of God, the Word, the messiah and the Holy one that all have been waiting for is standing there on the mountain top next to three normal human beings-Peter, James and John.

What a great God is God The Father to not let our sin destroy us, but let us destroy His Son that we now can come here today in his presence clothed in the righteousness of his Son and kneel before Him at His alter and know the truth of not a God who looks to pay back rightful judgment for our transgressions, but our God who in Christ has taken the judgment on himself that we may receive his unending and bottomless amount of compassion, love and forgiveness.

On that mountain God told the disciples “This is my loved Son, listen to Him” and though they did, we know that standing at the foot of the cross before the resurrection they at the very least did not fully understand.

Here in God’s house, before his alter and in our lives we stand at both the base of our Savior’s cross and alongside side Him in His resurrection and heed the call that we listen to Him as His sheep who hear His voice, who He knows and that follow Him, who to I give eternal life, and that shall never perish, nor neither shall anyone snatch you out of His hand”

We listen and hear Him say: “My peace I give to you; (but) not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”.

Because: “Whoever believes in Me will not perish but have eternal life”

And “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”

Martin Luther stated, “Faith is a living, daring confidence on God’s Grace, So sure and certain that a person could stake their life on it a thousand times”.

A thousand times we could, but for God the Father one life was enough, and that life was His Son. His life that is built both heaven and earth and His life that is built yours.

A life not of hopelessness, but off hope. A life that sees you look in the mirror and see not a reflection of earthly anguish, but of God the Father seen through His Son Jesus hearing our weeping and catching our tears that they not well up and drown us despair, but see Him reach out with  His hands of Grace that flow through our lives.

The grace that gives us ears to hear on our last day “a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

And the faith that gives us ears to hear and hearts and minds to know His grace that sees us able to rejoice and sing out His praises as we dwell in our days here with our Lord, on this earth.

You are people of the Lord, and that God who did not spare his Son is for you, you can rejoice and be glad in all things because like those still walking this earth on its last day will see His arrival ushering in the dawn of the new heaven and the new earth, so too today at the rising of the sun the Lord seeks  that our hearts not be troubled nor afraid, but to know that we can we raise our heads and live in His peace and rejoice in the precious years, days or moments that have been given to us. Praise be to God. Amen

There is no other way

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

“1st Corinthians 9:16-23”

“There is no other way”Pastor Steve

Last week we talked about how the virgin birth of Jesus plays out in our lives and for those not present, or those present but catching up on some well-deserved rest, I would like to start by re-affirming  that message again, being: that back in the day, should two kingdoms be at war, sometimes in the desire to bring peace. One kingdom would give a Kings Son to be married to the other Kings daughter. Problem is that should things flare up, each is still tied by blood to their relevant family and kingdom. But when they had a child, that person could truly unite both kingdoms because he/she had the blood of both within them.

So too the virgin birth of Jesus. Born a human in a human body but not of human seed but of God Himself.  Jesus born of both kingdoms of earth and heaven. Jesus 100% human yet 100% divine and Jesus the Son of God, of One with the Father and of one with us, that we are of one with Him.

I mention this again in response to today’s epistle reading from St. Paul. Paul who when still called Saul was leading the charge against Christians to silence them, persecute them and even kill them. Hardly the one we would think to be chosen as a great disciple for Jesus Christ and yet as we know, Jesus pulls off a master stroke by converted this driven man, who once converted continues as before in his full frontal, lay everything on the line driven manner, only now not to suppress the gospel, but to bring it to the attention of any who will listen. The gospel he breaths and lives by, and the gospel he understands implicitly having been against his desires pulled from the way of salvational ruin and be given faith, forgiveness, and eternal life.

Paul stakes his life on the gospel because he knows that he had absolutely nothing what so ever to do with having either received or believed it and if we remember back to Christs words to him in his conversion experience Jesus gives him a great truth up front and centre when he says “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Not why do you persecute, Billy, Joe or Jane. But why do you persecute me? And in that one question again we see God our Father send His Son to this earth the mend the fracture from sin between heaven and earth, between God and humans, between life and death. A little baby, born a human in a human body but not of human seed but of God Himself.  Jesus born of both kingdoms of earth and heaven. Jesus 100% human yet 100% divine and Jesus the Son of God, of One with the Father and of one with us, that we are of one with Him.

A truth that should once and forever take away our human made legal gospel of:

If you really have faith, God will care for you.

If you are sincere, God will be on your side.

If you give up this or that you can be regarded as a true Christian or,

If you trusted more in God your troubles, worries or sickness would be over.

Statements of a legal gospel that is no gospel at all and ifs and buts that are the greatest enemy of the gospel of God’s grace in Christ for it then makes what God does dependent on what we do.

Paul knows these lies for what they are because he, like us have received the gospel and continue to receive it like the pious Christian man who on his death bed and under the attack of his conscience sees his thin veneer of eternal life through good works and deeds taken from him to be replaced by that which he sought to hide from himself of a life of jealousy, revenge and self-righteous pride.

The truth he sought to suppress from himself, yet the truth that saw him know the true gospel for the first time when in the last moments of his consciousness and asked by his daughter if he was still thinking of Jesus” replied “I am not able to, I can’t think any longer. But I do know that Jesus is thinking of me.”

A situation I have witnessed and up front and personal in a dementia ward where though I know that they probably won’t remember our service or the message, you can see and feel Christ there with them and when you are there, though they may forget the whole event, the able minded don’t as they see Christ still with these people holding them close.

That is the Gospel and that is the Gospel that the great apostle Paul knew when the light of Christ entered his soul not to reveal Paul’s greatness, but rather his cobwebs and see the truth that in Christ alone are we saved.

In Christ alone as seen in one of those services in the dementia ward where a lady upon taking Holy Communion asked who I was and where I came from. Either hard of hearing or off having never heard of the Lutheran Church and after my three attempts to explain were made in vain, the nurse jumped in and replied for me that “I was a Pastor from the Presbyterian Church” to which the elderly lady responded oh, that’s O.K. resulting in the nurse then turning to me and saying softly “today we are all things to all people.”

It was a funny and endearing moment for me and while I believe and adhere to the confessions of our church, the Church is Christ and Christ is the church and in Christ, when you came to faith, that for each of you though you did not hear it, we know from scripture that the heavens erupted in joy and praise to God for you that one sinner saved.

The same joy and praise given light in the book of revelations that though you still fell to sin, again we hear of all the company of heaven with trumpets playing, angels singing and praising God that you having been kept in faith by Christ have made it through the great tribulation to join them in eternal worship as described in chapter 21: verse 22 “(and) I did not see a temple in the city, because it’s temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. The city has no need of the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God shines on it, and the Lamb is its lamp. The peoples of the world will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their wealth into it (and) the gates of the city will stand open all day; they will never be closed because there will be no night there.”

Our earthly Christian Churches are the start of that reality, and while nobody in the church will object to faith, self-sacrifice, prayer, trust, social concern or true doctrine, God does not accept us because of these because they are the results of the gospel and not its conditions.

WE ARE SAVED IN CHRIST, So saved in Christ we like Paul can be all things to all people, not to simply try and please everyone by being someone you’re not. But by being what you are and that is a forgiven sinner who knows the unwarranted and undeserved grace of God.

The grace that though our hearts were closed, we received because the Lord held the gates open till we saw His light, and the gates of his earthly home that we hold open, shining His light here from this building, and shining His light from the open hearts of forgiven sinners that others not see the glow of righteous pride or judgement, but His radiant light shine refusing to be restrained by the dark cobwebs of our lives, but shining through and made even brighter by its contrast that others follow it to your witness. To your story that is Christ alone.

Praise be to God. Amen.