Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Great Invitation: Readings for January 8, 2017

Hello Everyone,

2017? Really? All ready? Well, we are here and we can all work together in our homes, our work places, our church communities, and our communities to share the Good News of God's love and salvation with a world (and our local communities) that desperately needs to hear and believe. So, how do we share the Good News?

The Confrontational Model: The stereotype is that we go to people to confront them with their sins and the errors of their ways. We try to convince them that they are wrong; they are going to hell because of their sins; that they need to confess and seek God's forgiveness; and finally change their ways (be converted) to become a believer. I don't think that is a very effective way of bringing people to Christ, but the idea continues in Christian movies like "God Is Not Dead".

The Relational-Invitational Model: We, you and I, know what God in Jesus Christ has done for us. We have experienced God's love, forgiveness, and salvation and we have seen the changes that God's Spirit works in us. We are also changed people that have been given the True Life that is Jesus Christ. To share the Good News all we need to do is invite people into this relationship that changes everything. We invite them into the life of the community that gathers to worship the One Who Forgives, Saves, and Welcomes. Isn't this the way we relate to people in our everyday lives? When you've seen a great movie, don't you tell others? When you find a great new restaurant, don't you invite friends and family to join you for a meal?

With that in mind, we are starting an new Sermon/Worship series called "The Great Invitation." Each week on the Sundays after Epiphany we will develop this theme using the Lectionary Texts that are assigned for the week. The series topics are:

January 8, Baptism of Christ Sunday: Heavens Are Opened
January 15: Come and See
January 22: Follow Me
January 29: #Blessed
February 5: Salt and Light and Righteousness Abounding
February 12: This, not That
February 19: And Now Your Reward
February 26, Transfiguration Sunday: Shine!

This Sunday, which is "Baptism of Christ Sunday", our texts are:

Isaiah 42:1-9 – The first part, verses 1-4, are considered to be the first of four “Servant Songs” in Isaiah. Christians often interpret these songs as pointing to Jesus Christ. The purpose of the servant, as identified here, is to bring justice to all people. The second section, verses 5-9 are about God’s work in past (creation, redemption, saving the people) and the new things that God declares.

Psalm 29 – The Voice of God, the One who is to be worshiped!

Acts 10:34-43 – Peter’s sermon (extremely short) to the family and friends of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion. Synopsis: God shows no partiality, the message began with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit anointed Jesus, Jesus performed good works with healing, Jesus died on the cross, God raise Jesus from the dead, and we are commanded to preach the Good News.

Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus comes from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. John says “No.” Jesus says, “We must.” When Jesus comes up out of the water the Heavens Are Opened, the Holy Spirit comes upon him, and a voice from heaven says “My Son, I am pleased.” Did you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit at your baptism? Have you ever felt the presence of the Spirit?

One thing to think about before Sunday. Who are one or two people you know who you think should be invited to worship? This person or persons could be family members, co-workers, next door neighbors, or a friend. Think about it, please.

Have a great week.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

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