“Just Amazing!”

Easter Sunday

Luke 24: 1-12, April 21st, 2019

Sermon by pastor Tim Woodard

Easter Sunrise service outside at 7AM & in sanctuary at 10AM


 

“Hear these words from the gospel according to Luke, chapter twenty-four, verse one thru twelve.”

Luke 24:1-12

24 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.  2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they did not find the body.

4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.  5 The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.  6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”  8 Then they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.  10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.  11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.  12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

“Having heard this account of that first Easter morning, let us allow our hearts to be opened to its meaning.”

 

“Just Amazing!”

“Having heard this astonishing account of that first Easter morning, let us allow our hearts to ring with joy and renewed hope!  Let us bow our heads in pray.”

Just how much faith do we, do you and me, have?  When we set aside the Easter Lilies, set aside our chocolate bunnies and sugared jelly beans and all the joyful symbols of Easter, it still takes a lot of faith, and a lot of courage “To believe in the resurrection of Jesus (yes, indeed, it) takes a lot of faith and courage.” /Arland Hultgren/ Throughout history, many Christians have displayed their faith, with such passion and joy, it is simply amazing to behold!  A great many of them were persecuted and even executed for their belief.  It is one thing to have faith in this astonishing event, it is another to have courage enough to fully live our lives truly accepting all this event means for you and me, and all of humanity!  There are many, in our current time, here, and now, in the Twenty-First Century, whom proclaim to believe and call themselves Christians, but deep down in their hearts, they have their doubts.  We will talk about this more next Sunday… when we hear the accounting of Doubting Thomas, a Disciple whom would not believe until he personally saw the Risen Christ.  It is one thing to have proof of an event, it is quite another to believe based on faith.  Where do you stand on this Easter Morning?

We come together as mere human mortals: women and men, children and adults alike, wanting to believe in Easter, for if the resurrection is true, then our biggest fear of being mortal can be set aside.  The most amazing part of the Easter message from this account contained in the gospel of Luke, is that the women were the first to hear the message of Jesus’ resurrection – from not one, but two angels.  Two men dressed in ‘dazzling cloths’ could only be meant to portray to us that they were messengers from God, angels, who where waiting for the women to arrive so they could deliver this accounting of Jesus’ rising from his death bed!  We might ask ourselves why were the women the first to learn of this news?  Especially considering it was men who finally wrote these words down for us.  If it were not true, would they not have said: it was James or Peter, whom first heard this great and wonderful news; surely, this would have been the case, as they ultimately become instrumental and part of the leadership of the Christian movement – which was born out of this event.  No, clearly, it was the women who first went to the tomb that day, as they were subservient to the men and it was their responsibility to tend to the body of Jesus.  It was not the men’s responsibility.  This in of itself, speaks to the authenticity of the account.  There are many such details which taken one by one build up a strong ‘circumstantial case’ for the truth revealed to us – to consider.

Early scholars wrote about this point as well.  “Poor humble women, who were certainly not expecting it, are chosen to be the first witnesses of the resurrection, so that there might not be any suspicion of either deceit or violence.” /Geneva Notes/ In the society we live in, men are still believed over women.  Women, though they, though you, have found more and more equality in the work place, and in a great many roles which men have dominated throughout history, the struggle still continues.  Even in our scripture lesson the word of the women was at first set aside.  “Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.  But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” /Luke 24:10-11/ It was only after Peter ran to the tomb and saw for himself that the men began to accept what this might mean.

A theologian named, John Petty, reminds us that the Easter account continues.  “This is only the beginning of Luke’s resurrection story.  It will continue in the Emmaus story (Luke 24:13-35), Jesus’ final appearance to the disciples (Luke 24:36-49), and his ascension into heaven (Luke 24:50-53).”  Our dilemma, living in our current time, we have become very knowledgeable and scholarly as a people; we are well informed.  Consequential, we seek out truths through science, things which can be proven.  Even though, through the passion of well-spoken believers, millions have come to believe in the Easter account; the fact is – there is only secondary evidence of the resurrection of Jesus.  The burden falls on us and our faith to believe.  I believe.  What about you, do you believe?  Until we come to believe, we will not be able to carry the message of Christianity to others.  Our efforts to be a community of believers whom carry the message to others – will fail.  Our willingness to do the work of Christ, to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community – will fail.  Yet, today, is an opportunity for each one of us to once again reclaim this story, this mystical story as our own.  All we need is an open heart and a willingness to allow the Living Spirit of the Risen Christ to reside within our hearts.  That is all that is asked of us, you and me, to do.

The Easter story is the ultimate story of hope.  Eternal and everlasting hope which will free us from our mortal quagmire of despair, futility and our inability to fulfill our greatest dreams.  America was founded on the promises contained in the “Declaration of Independence.”  Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  Many have attained great wealth and fortune.  Others have attained great power.  Powerful wonderful words, which as citizens of these United States we cherish!  If words, in of themselves made it all true, we would truly be living in “Paradise!”  From the beginning of our history, we as a people, living in this nation, we have found that we must continue the struggle to find ‘true happiness’ in our own lives, within our own homes and families – before the dream comes true for ourselves.  Much sacrifice has gone into holding onto our dreams as a nation.  The same is true for Christianity and us as people of faith.  It takes sacrifice and commitment, to find ‘true peace’ and ‘true happiness’.   We all know that the only true hope for “Paradise,” is in the heart of the gospel accounts!  Easter is the ultimate hope!     

Coming to believe is a process.  It began at our birth.  Knowing about the ‘birds and the bees’ does not take away from the mystery of new life.  It is always a miracle when a child is born.  A child has more than just flesh and blood.  A child is given a unique personality and persona.  Each is a priceless gift from our Creator God.  Parents, whom have come to know of the love of God, have been able to pass this gift to their offspring.  Love freely received and passed on is worthy of celebration.  Seeing a child pass that love on to another and ultimately become part of that love triangle which makes life so, so special is part of the learning process.  Life, we know has its burdens and tragedies, yet, in the midst, are the miracle stories which cannot be denied.  Countless times, along my journey, I have seen the miracle of new life.  Not just when a child is born, but in others whom have been broken, lost and discarded by society.  When the faith of one has been passed onto another, restoring hope, breathing newness into another.  The miracle occurs when one’s loving faith and hope – touch the heart of another.  That is what Easter is all about.  That is what the women did on that first Easter morning.

“Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.” /Luke 24:10/ In their own words, from their hearts they told the disciples of what they saw, the empty tomb, and the appearance of the men in ‘dazzling’ cloths.  The words which were spoken to them.  “The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.” /Luke 24:5/ Only Peter was willing to hear their testimony.  Yet, they told their story, nonetheless.  Through their courage to speak of what they saw, even though many would not believe, their words put into motion a new wave of hope and a movement we now know as Christianity began.

Our job, for those of us whom have come to believe, “Our job at Easter is to echo the women.  Proclaim the Resurrection.”  Rick Morley, whom wrote this thought down for us, reminds us how important it is for each one of us to speak our truth.  Others will not come to believe, if we do not tell our own faith stories.  I have the privilege, the freedom and the responsibility to speak from my vantage point of faith – every Sunday; we all have that same opportunity – everyday!  I stand up here, but we each have the same responsibility to carry the message of hope to others, so that they too, will come to believe!

Having heard this astonishing account of that first Easter morning, let us allow our hearts to ring with joy and renewed hope!  Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Son of God, has Risen from the darkness of death and his Spirit lives on!  Therefore, the Love of God through Christ is alive today!

“Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” /Psalm 118:24/

Amen

 

“Jesus Came to Town”

Luke 19: 28-40, Palm Sunday April 14th, 2019

Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard

Read Statement of Faith


 

“Hear now the reading from the Gospel According to Luke, chapter nineteen, verses twenty-eight thru forty.”

Luke 19:28-40

28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples,

30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden.  Untie it and bring it here.

31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them.

33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

34 They said, “The Lord needs it.”

35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.

36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.

37 As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen,

38 saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.”

40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

“Having listened to this account of Jesus riding triumphantly into Jerusalem, let us consider its meaning and impact on our personal celebrations of whom Jesus is as he has entered our own lives.”

 

“Jesus Came to Town”

When was the last time you had someone over to your house, for dinner or coffee or just to chat and enjoy each other’s company?  Or, perhaps, people come to visit for a host of reasons!  Just this week, I was at home working on a writing, the doorbell rang.  It was the Pest Control guy; you know the bug exterminator!  He was scheduled, I had forgotten.  I let him in to do his work.  If I had remembered he was coming, I would have cleaned up my breakfast dishes before he arrived and made the bed.  But he came none the less.  The bugs, the ants, the cockroaches and such, they did not welcome him.  They did their best to scamper and hid, hoping to come out and play yet another day.  As the exterminator left, I must confess, I was glad he came.  Living in southern Florida, it is good to have someone helping to control the bug population in one’s home.  But, what about the truly, unexpected visitor… say, a friend you had not seen in years, or a relative whom has not been to visit in a great number of years.  How would you receive them?  If you had known they were coming, would you have done anything different to prepare?  Or maybe, it was someone from down the street whom you had a falling out with a few weeks ago.  Would you be ready to welcome them into your home today?

Today’s lesson is about Jesus of course, as it is Palm Sunday.  Today, is our celebration and observance of that triumphant day when Jesus came to town with shouts of joy and Hosanna!  ““Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  This all happened a really-long time ago.  We also know that this time of celebration shall be quickly followed up with the time of Jesus’s arrest, his trial, and ultimately his crucifixion!  That too, happened about two thousand years ago.  Important times for us Christians, us followers of Christ, to reflect on; reflecting on their meaning for us in our day-to-day journeys of faith.  Therefore, we set aside time, each year, to revisit these occasions and learn from them as-well-as to be reminded of the significance of their occurrence.

What I want us to now focus on is this: what if Jesus came to town this week, this Sunday?  Would we recognize him?  Would we welcome him?  Are we ready to receive him into our community, our church and even into our homes?

Let us also be reminded that the parade for Jesus was not the only parade that day.  Many theologians and biblical scholars would want us to remember that “…what the authors of the Bible take for granted and fail to mention is that while Jesus is parading in on a colt through one of the back gates, on the other side of the town, Pilate is parading in on a war horse accompanied by a squadron or two – of battle hardened Roman soldiers.” /David Ewart/ If you were there that day, knowing this, would you have paraded in with Jesus on his little colt, coming in the back gate?  We, me included, would have been a bit nervous, don’t you think?  But what’s this to do with us today, you ask?  This accounting is about what happened back then, not what is happening today, you say!

One scholar, a theologian named Frederick Buechner approaches this thought from his vantage point.  From where he stands, he sees this scripture from his understanding of the event, as he considers how Jesus and the disciples traveled into the city that day.  He sets up for us a contrasting point of view, especially as we knowingly consider what comes after the parade.  “Despair and hope.”  (He tells us!)  “They travel the road to Jerusalem together, as together they travel every road we take – despair at what in our madness we are bringing down on our own heads and hope in him who travels the road with us and for us and ‘who is the only one of us all’ – who is not mad.”  Strong words to be sure.  Yet, despair and hope often do travel side by side.  When misery comes to sit with us in our lowest moments, oftentimes accompanied by sadness, we long for a ray of hope, hope which we pray will reawaken our spirits so that we might continue forward in our journey through life.  In similar fashion, hopelessness is something most of us have experienced or know someone who has encountered it along their journey through life.  At such a time, they, we, are in desperate need of a glimmer of hope!

Let us take a moment to consider the situation.  Jesus had come to Jerusalem as a loving, compassionate healer.  He was a teacher whom spoke of a new way of understanding the teachings of God, through the prophets and men such as Elijah and Moses.  He was the Holy One whom made the crippled walk and the blind to see.  He was the Conqueror, Vanquisher, the Victor over death, as Jesus brought loved ones back to the light of life, after they had tasted the darkness of death.  They followed him and the disciples whom brought forth the young colt so that they too could perhaps be healed, or learn of his plans, his strategies and ideas to save them from the anguish of their lives and rescue them from the tyranny and oppressions of those whom governed them.  They were much like so many in our society today.  There are people all around us, perhaps quietly trying to sooth their anguish over the current state of affairs in many sectors of our society.  In similar fashion there are groups of people, segmented factions of our communities, whom are feeling pessimistic about their futures as citizens of these United States.  Many are feeling sadness and unhappiness in their hearts, wishing God, Jesus, or someone, would step-in and right the wrongs which they believe others have created!  The irony here is that our humanness is what creates the need, the desperate need for Hope.  Thus, hope and despair do walk side by side.  Not hand in hand to be sure, but as either gets more resilient – the other intensifies as well.  The desperate among us need hope.  The hopeful amid and within society, they need to reach out to the despairing!

Have we forgotten that where there is despair there is always a glimmer of hope; if only we will stay open to it?  Our Palm Sunday parades are about that hope!  Our willingness to welcome Jesus into our towns and into our churches and our homes – is all about that spark of hope which still resides in our hearts.  Palm branches are just a symbol of a warm friendly welcome.  A friendly smile can be just as inviting.  There are many, many ways to welcome a beloved visitor into our communities, our homes and our churches.  Most everyone of us knows how to do this, as we all know what it feels like, and how good it is when others do it, to us, or, for us!  We do… don’t we!  Yes, of course we do!  The vast-majority of folks whom visit our church say we offer a truly warm welcome.  It seems to be deeply ingrained into our church’s DNA!  Praise God!  Put that one in the asset column!  Welcoming visitors into our church is a wonderful thing and something we do well!  Welcoming folks into our church homes often requires our making time to be there with them in some special way, in order to receive them warmly as our quests.  It also takes our sincere showing of love and kindness, of course!  Visitors, much like children, they can sense when our welcomes our sincere or not.  Consequently, it is our sincere desire, to have others whom may very well be… very different then ourselves, in many and various ways, to come and join with us.  Truly, we genuinely welcome them to be with us today.

Jesus came to town, in that first Palm Sunday procession, to symbolically state his humble leadership to those whom were willing to hear his message of hope.  We still need his message.  He came into town, despite the pressing and enclosing danger to him and his disciples.  Jesus came and comes to our town, whether we have neither washed the dishes nor made the beds up clean.  Jesus comes to town, even when we have lost our way and the cupboards are empty.  There shall be time enough to mourn the things we shall lose and the loved ones whom shall depart from us.  Therefore, we need to focus on current opportunities to be with one another.  We need to be prepared for the unexpected guest who may stop in at any time.  We need to remember how far Jesus went to reach out to all those around him, in every way that he could.  His love for humankind spilled out in every word he spoke, in every teaching and lesson he offered and in every way in which he offered his healing and transforming touch.

Palm Sunday takes us into Holy Weeks activities, Maundy Thursdays Last Super, Good Friday’s humiliation, pain and death, then miraculously: Easter’s Sunrise (A true S O N rising and risen) and all that the Son of God has brought and brings to us!  Yes, today, we celebrate that Jesus came to town.   Let us raise up our Hosannas, as Jesus comes into our town, our church and our lives.

Hosanna!  And Amen!      

Pastor’s Note – April & May 2019

The time of Easter is quickly coming our way! Palm Sunday is just a few days away; that triumphant parade, as Jesus came to town with shouts of joy and Hosanna! ““Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” What a glorious day that must have been. In our own lives, we have welcomed in those who would lead us in one way or another. Yet, life is life, and a lot of forces are in motion all around us. It is not always easy. Perhaps, this-is-why, it is so important to take time to celebrate those whom come into town, come into our lives with integrity, love and grace. These are the ones we need to lift-up and shout out to – our modern-day Hosanna!

Jesus of Nazareth, born of the Virgin Mary, has already come to town! Palm Sunday is just a memory, a ritual we observe once a year. Yet, all that he left behind, his teachings, the miracles and his example of how to live and die with dignity and grace, is well worth remembering!

In the coming week, we shall observe that last night which Jesus spent with his disciples. We shall observe Maundy Thursday by reliving the full story of his trial, persecution and death. We do so, as a reminded of the fullness of his gift to humankind. On Saturday, we will welcome children from our community to hunt for Easter Eggs, (plastic eggs filled with candy) to be reminded of the coming resurrection (rebirth) of Christ; Our Savior, whom came to free us, one and all, from the bondage of sin and death. The children, as they find a few candies, inside the eggs, will ever be reminded that we joyfully prepared for the celebration of Easter. Prayerfully, as they grow older and mature, they will come to understand that we celebrate the ‘New Life’ which the ‘Son of God’ offers to each one of us. Young or old, we all long for the day when Jesus will once again come into our lives.

Happy Easter!

Pastor Tim Woodard

“A New Thing”

Isaiah 43: 16-21, April 7th, 2019

Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard

Communion Sunday & 5th Sunday of Lent


 

“Hear now these ancient words from the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter forty-three, verses sixteen thru twenty-one.”

Isaiah 43:16-21

16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, 17 who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:

18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.

19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

20 The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people,

21 the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.

“Having listened to this writing from the Old testament, let us now consider how this prophesy applies to our current time.”

 

“A New Thing”

Last Sunday afternoon, me and Pastor Winston, listened quietly while 35 of you participated in the first house meeting as the start of the unveiling of the New Beginnings program. What a joy to see so many of you getting involved in this discussion. During the presentation when you were asked to describe what passion means, all I could think of was the tremendous passion which our guest preacher, from Kitwe Zambia, Pastor Winston displayed for us in his sermon last Sunday. As his voice rose up to the rafters, with his alleluia’s and amen, I could feel his passion as he passed it on to each one of us; especially as he got everyone to join him in his responsive amen, and alleluia! That is what passion looks like! When I get up here to preach to you each week, that is the level of passion for our lesson I strive to achieve. Clearly, I do not always pass that level of passion on to all of us in the same way! Yet, as we speak about passion, in regards, to being, a vital and relevant church, we are being asked to consider how important it is for us to be passionate about what we are doing! The prophet Isaiah was seeking that same level of enthusiasm as he spoke to the people of his time, as he was seeking to give them new hope regarding the ‘new things’ which Isaiah was prophesying God was about to do!

Winston, he was very humbled by the generosity of this congregation. He asked me to express, passionately, how much he appreciates the gift which you bestowed upon him. Sunday afternoon, we, Lois, Winston, and I, went to the majestic movie theater in Vero Beach. We saw the Green Book, a fantastic movie! Winston mentioned that he has only been in a theater, here in the United States. If you have not yet seen this 2019 Oscar winning film, it is worth seeing. Then we took him out for a steak dinner. On Tuesday, I went over to see him at the home where he is staying, in Sebastian. I had mentioned to him my friend Pete whom was critically ill ten weeks ago. I had told him how, after being on a ventilator for three weeks, the doctors gave up on him. A priest gave him last rights, I prayed with him and the family for quite a while that evening. The doctors said his organs were failing; they also told us that the neurologist said the test said that his brain was scrambled, a total disaster. We were given no hope that he would survive the night. He did and a week later they transferred him to Kindred hospital, in Melbourne. For the next three weeks his eyes were glazed over, like a patient with brain damage. Three weeks ago, they transferred him to the ‘Life Care Center’ near Palm Bay hospital. I must confess this has been very difficult for me; I lost hope.

Winston insisted we go visit him, so we did. When we arrived his wife and two of his daughters were there. Together, we went to where he was having therapy. When he spotted us, he raised his left hand and waved. (I was stunned!) The therapist was putting ‘stick-on’ electrodes on his legs about six or eight of them. She kept asking if he could feel anything as she turned the switch which increased the electric current to the pads. He waved his right hand and reached down and touched one of the electrodes, thereby indicating that was enough! He could feel the stimulation. Then for about fifteen minutes we talked with Pete. He nodded his head and shrugged his shoulders. He also spoke to me in clear words. When I asked him what I might say to his friends he said: “Tell them hello for me and thanks you for their prayers.” I almost feel off the chair where I was sitting. At one point he rolled his eyes and tossed his head to the side as he chuckled in a way I fully recognized, in response to something we had said. He was displaying his full awareness of who he was, and is, all at the same time. Winston shared his spiritual experience and Pete was fully engages in the conversation. Winston said a prayer for us as we said goodbye. As we left. I realized what a gift Pastor Winston have given me. He had restored my faith and my hope.

It is important for us to realize; we each have opportunities to minister to others. Also, important to remember, every one of us, me included, needs to be nudged now and then to be reminded that it is God whom is in charge, not we ourselves. All we need to do is remain faithful and continue to serve and minister to others as best we can, every day. Hope is when we believe in the things which we witnessed God do for us in the past. In the case of the people of Israel, they needed to be reminded how God was there with Moses as they were set free from their bondage in Egypt. In my case, I have seen the power of God’s grace restore life to a man on his deathbed years ago in Middletown New York. He lived a quality life for three more years. I have also witnessed God’s mercy: when a man, and in another case a woman, was released from their pain, anguish and suffering and passed from this life into the next. We as a congregation, need to be conscious of how God has done mystical things with this congregation throughout its one hundred and thirty years in this greater community. We need to be reminded of this as we turn our eyes toward God’s movement among us as we travel into the time period that is yet to be. Let us not lose hope.

Mark Throntveit, a professor of Old Testament studies, tells us: “There is no need to limit God to past mercies. God is an ever-present help, to quote the old hymn.” When we look to the history of this church, when we acknowledge the years of ministry to the people of this region, we can take pride in it. At the same time, we can give thanks to God for the inspiration and leadership from those who came before us, whom understood ‘why’ this church was formed! You and I, we are being challenged to remember the why of our ministry and to reorient ourselves to keep putting the why we exist ahead of the how and the what we do as a church! This is a powerful task being put before us and it will test our faith. Let us allow our passion for serving the people of God, to rise above and beyond our doubts and hesitations!

Another theologian, Dr. Alan Brehm, restates this in a new context. “We are all called to take our faith in God from the past and bring it into the present, regardless of how hopeless or desperate the situation may seem.” My friend was as good as dead, and the doctors all agreed, there was no hope. His wife and daughters refused to accept their words. They looked to the past and saw how this father, this husband had persevered in the most difficult of time, and they too, refused to give up hope! Pete had always displayed his belief in miracles, so they hung onto that! Faith and hope are tightly tied together. We cannot have one without the other! With faith we can learn to trust in the power of prayer. Through that trust we can begin to reaffirm our willingness to hope! It is through our renewed attitude of hope – which shall propel us into our destinies!

We can apply this message, this lesson, to our New Beginnings program. It’s focus is inviting us to consider doing a “New thing.’ This process asks us to follow some simple basics, which we as Christians are expected to have already incorporated into our personal faith journey’s. Now, let us do this as a community. With faith and trust in God, we need to accept the truth of where we are now. Looking at ourselves in the context of life’s realities as they now exist in our sphere, our domain. We need to honestly search ourselves and see if we are truly living as followers, disciples of Christ. Being a Christian means we follow in the teachings of Jesus and are following in his example. Are we currently doing that? We need to come to grips with how we are or are not, ‘relevant’ to the community we are a part of, here in this area of Palm Bay. As we answer these questions, we need to find that passion which Pastor Winston stirred up within us. Pushing ourselves to be more essential and vital to the people of God – all around us! Let us ask ourselves: “What does our Creator require of us but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God?” /Micah 6:8b/ We shall do this best – when and as we simply trust God, to lead us in “A New Thing!”

Amen.