2 Corinthians 13:11-14
By Interim Pastor Doug Marshall
Thought for Meditation:
The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God.
The Son is not the Father. The Father is not the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is not the Son.
A Trinitarian Life
I am on a presbytery committee that supervises people who are in the process of being ordained as pastors. One of the steps that they have to do is write a statement of faith and then read it to the committee, after which we ask questions. A couple years ago, after one young lady read her statement of faith, she was asked a question about the Trinity. She said that she sometimes connects the Trinity with Batman movies. That caught our attention. Batman is the Father. Robin is his faithful sidekick – the Son. Batwoman is the Holy Spirit, the sexy counterpart who only shows up when the ratings need a boost. That is a description of the Trinity that I have never heard before.
Today is Trinity Sunday. Every year it comes the week after Pentecost. All our songs and liturgy this morning focus on God who is revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have a confession to make. I believe in the Trinity, but if I’m honest, I don’t spend much time thinking about it. I don’t remember studying the Trinity in Seminary. In 28 years of being a pastor I’ve only preached one sermon on the Trinity. I don’t even remember hearing anyone else preach about the Trinity.
I have a sense that the Trinity is one of those doctrines that we all give lip-service to. We don’t necessarily disagree with it but we don’t really think about it, wrestle with it, or try to figure out how it makes a difference in our lives. Every now and then we pull it out, dust it off and then put it up on a shelf where it is safe, and can be ignored.
The Trinity is one of two basic Christian doctrines. There are two beliefs that set Christianity apart from all other religions – the Incarnation and the Trinity. Every other religion, Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, and any other non-Christian religion, will reject one or both of those beliefs.
We know about the Incarnation, Jesus is fully God and fully human. We may not fully grasp it, but every year at Christmas we talk about and celebrate the Incarnation. I doubt that Trinity Sunday will ever rival Christmas as a Christian holiday, but I’d like to suggest that we need to spend more time thinking about, praying to, and worshipping the Trinity. What I’d like to do this morning is briefly explain the Trinity, then share with you three truths about why the Trinity matters.
There is no place in the Bible that explains the Trinity. In fact, the word Trinity is not even mentioned in the Bible. There are, however, passages that point to the Trinity, including the two that we read this morning. Psalm 51 shows that the Holy Spirit was not something new at Pentecost. In fact, the Spirit was present at Creation. Paul’s benediction in 2 Corinthians is one of the clearest statements of the Trinity, but it doesn’t explain it.
The Trinity was first mentioned in 170 AD, and was developed as a doctrine in the 4th century, at the Council of Nicea. Augustine, the great theologian of the early church, made a series of simple statements explaining the Trinity:
The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. The Son is not the Father.
The Father is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the Son.
That is the Thought for Meditation in the bulletin. Augustine added one more statement that sets the Christian belief in the Trinity apart from all other religions – “There is only one God.” There are three separate persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each one is God, but there is only one God.
A pastor was preaching about the Trinity, trying to explain it as I’ve been trying. In the middle of his sermon someone shouted out “We don’t understand what you’re talking about!” Some of you may be thinking the same thing right now. The pastor responded by saying “You’re not supposed to understand the Trinity. It’s a mystery.” It is important to have a basic understanding of the Trinity, but we will never take away the mystery. Our job is not to understand God, but to worship God. Therefore, rather than trying to explain the Trinity, let me share with you three truths about the Trinity that make a difference in our lives.
First, the Trinity suggests that we are not essential. I’ve heard pastors say that humans were created because God needed an object to love. God is love and needed someone to love. Therefore he created humans. The Trinity means that within God there are relationships of love: The Father loves the Son and the Spirit. The Son loves the Father and the Spirit. The Holy Spirit loves the Father and the Son. Before humans were created, God existed in a perfect relationship of love. God did not create us because he was lonely and needed companionship.
You can’t love something that is essential. You simply need it. Love is always a choice. God didn’t need us. He chooses to love us. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more than he loves you right now. Let me say that again, there is absolutely nothing you can do that will make God love you more than he does right at this moment!
The truth that you are not essential means that God can run the universe without you. God can solve the problems of this world; poverty, hunger, injustice, violence, without your help. God can run this church without you or me. God can run your business, your house, even raise your children, without you. I’m not saying that he wants to do any of those things without you, but God can. No one is so important that he, or she, is essential.
That isn’t a putdown. Instead, it is an incredibly freeing message. Because we are not essential we are free to receive God’s love for us. We are free to bask in that love and rejoice in God’s love. We are also free to respond to God’s love by worshipping, by loving others, and by participating in God’s work in the world. We are not essential.
The second truth that the Trinity shows us is that God is personal and relational. There is a tendency for theology to become heady and abstract. We define God with concepts and principles – God is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. God is the prime mover. The Westminster Confession of Faith was written back in 1648 and for years was the primary theological document for Presbyterians. Listen to how it defines God:
God is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty; most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal most just and terrible in his judgments; hating all sin, and who will by no
means clear the guilty.
Does that move your heart? Is that a God you want to love and worship, and be in a relationship with? There are truths in these ideas, but they are too abstract and impersonal. God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is personal and relational.
When our daughter, Alli, came home she said that she wanted to watch all the Star Wars movies. Last Saturday we watched the first one, Episode IV. Friday night we watched the second one – The Empire Strikes Back. How many of you have watched any of the Star Wars movies. In Star Wars theology god is The Force. It is a power that is impersonal. The goal of the Jedi knight is to understand The Force and be connected to it so that he can control it. When God becomes abstract concepts and principles we try to understand God so that we can control God. But the truth is that we can’t control God. God is a mystery, beyond our understanding. However, we can be in a relationship with God. God is personal and relational God. The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit all love each other.
That leads to the third truth about the Trinity. We are invited to be in a relationship with God. We know God not by defining God and understanding him, but by being loved by God and loving God in return. We worship God not as an abstract idea or principle, but as God reveals himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. We love God not because of programs and projects, but because we have first been loved.
Here is a fantastic thing: you don't need to understand the Trinity to worship the Trinity, pray to the Trinity, and enter into the life of the Trinity. Let me see if I can illustrate that. Several years ago I read an article about the sun. Let me quote it.
Deep within the core of the sun, the temperature is 27 million degrees. The pressure is 340 billion times what it is here on Earth. And in the sun's core, that insanely hot temperature and unthinkable pressure combine to create nuclear reactions. In each reaction, 4 protons fuse together to create 1 alpha particle, which is .7 percent less massive than the 4 protons. The difference in mass is expelled as energy, and after one million years, through a process called convection, this energy from the core of the sun finally reaches the surface, where it's expelled as heat and light.
That doesn’t make a bit of sense to me. Maybe some of you understand that, but I don’t. However, I don’t need to understand how the sun works to get a tan, or to know that the sun brings warmth and light and helps my garden grow. I don’t need to understand the Trinity to be loved by God, to worship God and to believe that God wants a relationship with me.
Friends, the Christian life is not a spectator sport. We don’t watch God from the sidelines. We can’t worship God from a safe distance. We can’t study and learn about God while keeping him at arm’s length. The Christian life means participating in the life of the Trinity. God is a personal God who wants a relationship with you.
Think of the three members of the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, holding hands in a circle, dancing and celebrating their life and love for each other. They stop, break the circle, and one of them reaches out to you, inviting you to join the dance. The good news of the Trinity is that we are not essential. God chooses to love us. Our God is a personal and relational God, who invites us into a relationship of love.
John 14:16-18, 25-26
By Interim Pastor Doug Marshall
Thought for Meditation:
When the Father laughs at the Son and the Son laughs back at the Father, that laughter gives pleasure, that pleasure gives joy, that joy gives love, and that love is the Holy Spirit.
The Presence & Power of God
The Scripture lesson I just read is probably familiar to most of you. It is the Pentecost story. However, unless you were following along on the screen you might not have understood it. What you heard was the passage being read in English, along with Greek, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic. All mixed together like that it probably was very confusing. That is similar to what the people of Jerusalem experienced on the first Pentecost.
On that first Pentecost the apostles were all in one place and the Holy Spirit came upon them. The Spirit, in the form of tongues of fire, touched each apostle and enabled them to talk in other languages. At least fifteen languages are mentioned. We only had five languages, so it would have been even more confusing and chaotic that what we just heard. Luke also tells us that it was loud. It sounded like “the rush of a violent wind.” The noise of the wind and the apostles speaking in different languages caused the people of Jerusalem to be confused and amazed. They had no idea what was happening. Peter got up and preached his first sermon, explaining what was going on. What I read was the first part of his sermon. Peter quotes the prophet Joel who prophesied about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Peter continued his sermon telling the people about Jesus; his life, death and resurrection.
You probably know the basic story of Pentecost and have heard about the Holy Spirit. I know that we have a few closet Pentecostals but most of us don’t spend much time thinking about or talking about the Holy Spirit. We have what Karl Barth described as “Flat-tire Christianity” - Christianity is like a tire without any air, without the Spirit in it.
I have a cartoon that describes where many of us probably are. In the first frame a preacher is reading the Pentecost story. “First I head a sound like the rush of a mighty wind…” In the second frame the preacher continues, but he looks a little bit agitated. “… then I saw flames of fire coming down out of heaven…” In the third frame he looks miserable. “… suddenly, I heard many voices speaking all at once in strange tongues!” In the fourth frame he still looks terrible and his wife says to him, “I told you not to eat pizza before bedtime, dear!”
Obviously, in a 20 minutes sermon I can’t say everything there is to say about the Holy Spirit. Even with a 45 minute Sunday school class for two weeks we can’t cover everything. This morning I want to share with you two thoughts about the Holy Spirit.
The first thing I want to say about the Holy Spirit comes out of our first Scripture lesson, from John. In this passage Jesus is saying goodbye to the disciples. This is part of his farewell speech. He tells them that he is going away. He is going to leave them, but he promises that they will not be alone. He will send them the Advocate who will be with them.
The word Advocate is sometimes translated as Comforter or Counselor. This is one of the names that refers to the Holy Spirit. The Greek word is “Paraclete.” It means one who is called alongside another. The Holy Spirit is sent by Jesus to come along side us, to teach us and give us peace. The Paraclete helps us keep the commandments. The Advocate is God with us. Through the Holy Spirit God is present in our lives.
Judy Bucknell died in the summer of 1980. She was 38 when she became homicide victim #106 in the city of Miami. Her death would probably not have drawn more attention than a short obituary if not for the fact that she kept a diary which somehow made it into the hands of a reporter for the Miami Herald. The reporter described her life as one of outward success. She was attractive and had a successful career, yet she was tormented by an inward loneliness. She had many acquaintances but few friends, many lovers but little love. In her diary she wrote, “Where are the men with the flowers and the champagne and music? Where are the men who call and ask for a genuine, actual date? Where are the men who would like to share more than my bed, my booze, my food...? Who is going to love Judy Bucknell? I feel so old. Unloved. Unwanted. Abandoned. Used up. I want to cry and sleep forever.... I'm alone and I want to share something with somebody." She never did. Judy Bucknell died from the wounds of a knife. Yet in many ways her heart had died long before, from loneliness.
Judy’s story is by no means unique. Our world is filled with persons who struggle with loneliness, people of all ages. Mother Teresa told the story of visiting a home for senior citizens, a retirement center, a nursing home. If was a beautiful place, with all the extras you could want. There were about forty residents at this home, and Mother Teresa said that most of them never smiled and sat looking at a door. She asked the Sister who was in charge about this and the Sister replied, “They are always waiting for someone to come to visit them. They dream of a son or daughter, some member of the family, or a friend coming through that door to visit them.” Mother Teresa summarized it by saying, “Loneliness was an expression of their poverty, the poverty of seeing themselves abandoned by relatives and friends.”
Of course, it isn’t just old people who are lonely, or people who have no family or friends. We can be surrounded by people and still be lonely. The irony of our modern world is that we have created a variety of ways to communicate with other people – telephones, cell phones, email, Facebook, text messaging – yet so many people struggle with loneliness. Mother Teresa described the problem. “In the developed countries,” like our country, “there is a poverty of intimacy, a poverty of spirit, a loneliness, a lack of love. There is no greater sickness in the world today than that one.”
My friends, some of you probably struggle with loneliness. I have at times as well. The good news for us today is that the Holy Spirit is the presence of God in your life, loving you and giving you life. You are not alone. You are loved. I invite you to take a deep breath. (Inhale) In Greek and Hebrew the word breath is the same as the word for spirit. Breathe in the Spirit (inhale) and know that through the Spirit of Jesus you are loved, and God is present in your life.
There is a second lesson I want to share with you this morning. The Holy Spirit is the power of God for our lives. Let me read to you two verses from Ephesians. It is part of a prayer that Paul prays for the Ephesians. Certainly, he prays that they would accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. But he also wants them to experience and abundant, joyful Christian life. And so he prays:
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:16-17).
The message is that strength and power for our lives come through the Holy Spirit.
During the depression a man named Mr. Yates owned a sheep ranch in western Texas. Because it was during the depression he barely scraped by. He was in constant danger of losing his ranch, his home and everything he owned. His family lived in poverty, with barely enough money to buy food and clothes. He felt defeated and powerless.
One day a man knocked on his door. It was a man from an oil company who wanted to drill a wildcat well to see if there was any oil under his land. They signed a contract, drilled down into the earth, and at a little more than 1000 feet they found a huge oil reserve. At first it put out about 80,000 barrels a day. 30 years later it was putting out more than 125,000 barrels a day. Mr. Yates owned it all. He was an instant multimillionaire. Yet before he found the oil Mr. Yates and his family lived in poverty. He owned the oil, but didn’t know it was there.
Let me suggest that this story describes how many Christians live out their faith. We have power of the Holy Spirit yet we live in spiritual weakness. The Spirit makes us alive, fills us with the fruits of the Spirit and gives us the gifts of the Spirit, yet we live bland, timid, powerless lives. The Spirit that filled Jesus at his baptism; the Spirit who made it possible for Jesus and the apostles to perform miracles; the Spirit who enabled Peter to preach on Pentecost, after which 3000 people committed their lives to Christ; the Spirit that transformed Paul from a man who persecuted Christians to one who proclaimed the gospel; the Spirit who filled the lives of people throughout church history, Augustine, John Calvin, Fanny Crosby, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa; the Spirit that built this church and has enabled it to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the people of this community for 200 years; that same Spirit is available to every one of us. The Holy Spirit fills our lives and is the power of God working in us and through us.
One of the things I’ve discovered here at Sharon Church is a healthy and wonderful desire to rebuild this church, a desire to strengthen its ministry. That desire points to a wonderful future for Sharon. I’m convinced that God has great plans for this church. However, there is one thing that could derail those plans. It is the belief that we are not capable of doing the ministry that God wants us to do. It is the belief that someone else will do the work. We might even need to hire someone to do the work.
This problem is not unique to this church. Every church I’ve been part of has struggled with this. The problem is that although people know that they are called to serve they don’t really believe that they have the ability to do a good enough job. Therefore, rather than risking failure or looking bad, we sit back and wait for someone else to do the ministry. That may be the ministry of serving as an elder or deacon, or a Sunday school teacher. Maybe that is the ministry of sacrificial giving, actually giving 10% of your income, or even more so that Sharon is not held back by our finances. Maybe that is the ministry of serving on a committee or reaching out to our first-time visitors. God has called everyone to some type of ministry. Yet I would imagine that many people feel inadequate, incapable of doing what God has called us to do.
Friends, the good news is that in spite of the fact that we are inadequate, the Holy Spirit is present in our lives and is working in us and through us, giving us the power and ability to do whatever it is that God is calling us to do. The Holy Spirit is the power of God working in us and through us.
On this Pentecost I encourage you to remember that you are not alone. The Spirit is present in your life, loving you, bringing you peace and joy. I also encourage you to remember that the presence of the Spirit gives you the power you need to live as God’s faithful and obedient children.
Let us pray: Come Holy Spirit of God. Fill us this day. Help us to know that you are with us, that you love us, and that you give us the strength we need to live as your faithful and obedient children. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
By Interim Pastor Doug Marshall
Thought for Meditation:
It is out of the exciting renewal of our own faith that the excitement of sharing with the outsider comes… It is simply the excitement of God's love in us that empowers us to have compassion for all people and to share with all people ourselves, and therefore our Lord.
There’s a story of a church that had a unique problem. The church had been around for a long time, and over the years the pews in the sanctuary had dried out. As they dried out they lost so much weight that eventually some of them began to float. During worship one of the pews would rise up in the air, and float around the sanctuary. If a person didn’t pay attention, it might hit them in the head. A few windows were broken. It was very distracting to the tranquil and worshipful atmosphere.
The church formed a pew committee to look at options of how they could solve this problem. They thought about buying new pews, but remembered that the pews had been purchased with the memorial money from Miss Susie and Uncle George. No one knew who Susie or George were but getting rid of the pews was out of the question. They looked into the idea of using steel cables to attach the pews to the floor, but that was way too expensive. They decided that the best way to hold down the pews was to add more weight to them.
The first thing they did was buy new hymnals hoping that the weight of the hymnals would keep the pews on the floor. It wasn’t enough weight. They thought about buying some scrap iron to put on the pews, but that didn’t look very nice and would scratch the pews if the iron was moved around. They finally decided that the best solution was to put warm bodies on the pews to hold them down. The committee sent out a call to all the members of the church and told them they needed them to come to worship. The following Sunday the pews were fairly full, but there still weren’t enough people to hold all the pews down.
The pew committee then explained the second part of their plan. Every member was expected to invite a friend or a neighbor to come to worship and fill the pews. The problem with that solution was that it was a Presbyterian church. The average Presbyterian invites someone to church once every twenty-four years. At that rate, the pews were not likely to be filled.
That silly little parable brings us to the topic of our Scripture lesson this morning – evangelism. Philip was one of the first deacons, but he is usually known as Philip the Evangelist. Let’s look at his story. At the beginning of Acts 8 Saul persecuted the church in Jerusalem. Many Christians left the city, including Philip. He went to Samaria where he preached about Jesus. Many of the Samaritans became followers of Jesus.
Our passages starts with an angel of the Lord telling Philip to go south. He started walking on the road that went from Jerusalem to Gaza, about 60 miles. As he walked he had an encounter with “an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home” (Acts 8:27-28a).
The word “Ethiopian” was the term that Jews used to describe any black person, not necessarily someone from Ethiopia. Some scholars think this man was from Sudan, though no one really knows. In the culture of the New Testament era, Jewish attitudes toward Africa were very positive. Black men were esteemed. There was an exotic mystique about them.
This particular man was also called a eunuch. Servants of a queen were usually castrated so that there wouldn’t be any potential for a sexual relationship. According to Deuteronomy such a man would not be allowed into the Temple, though another passage in Isaiah moderates that a bit. This eunuch had a position of power. He worked as the head treasurer for the Candace. That was the title given to the queen mother, the woman married to the king.
Finally, we hear that this man had come to Jerusalem to worship. He might have been a Gentile who was attracted to Jewish practices and to the Jewish God. Or, he actually might have been a Jew. There was a group of black Jews who had lived in Africa for four or five centuries. Either way we know that he had some sort of spiritual interest and openness.
The Holy Spirit led Philip to the chariot where he heard the eunuch reading Isaiah. The Ethiopian eunuch was a man of prestige and honor, a man of power, yet he didn’t have the power to understand scripture. Philip asked him a question. “Do you understand what you’re reading?” Evangelism is much more effective when you start with a question, when you start where a person is and then really listen. When the eunuch asked him to explain Philip used the scripture to talk about Jesus. By the end of their conversation the eunuch believed in Jesus and was baptized. I’d like to share with you three reflections that come from this passage.
First, the Good News of Jesus Christ reaches across the barriers that divide us. There were several differences between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. They were from different races, different cultures and probably had different languages. The eunuch was in a position of great power whereas Philip was not. In spite of the barriers that divided them, through Jesus they were able to connect. Philip was willing to reach across this barrier, to this foreigner, to this man of power. The Ethiopian eunuch was willing to accept Philip as his spiritual guide.
No matter how you get your news, it seems very clear that our world is filled with barriers, everything from the riots in Baltimore, Shiites and Sunnis, Christians and Muslims, Russia versus the USA. There is also an economic barrier between the rich and the poor, a cultural barrier between liberals and conservatives, and who knows how many other barriers. There are barriers within the Presbyterian denomination and there are still barriers within Sharon Church.
The good news of Jesus Christ reaches across the barriers that divide us. In Jesus we are one people. Yes, there are differences but we have more in common than we will ever know. Let’s not allow our differences to divide us and keep us apart. Let us not be afraid to reach across the barriers and share God’s love in Jesus Christ with those who are different. And when someone reaches across a barrier to you, let go of your fears, let go of you hurt, and welcome that person as a brother or sister in Christ.
The second lesson is that Evangelism is primarily telling other people about Jesus as he is revealed in the Bible. The eunuch wondered who Isaiah was talking about. Philip’s response was to use the scripture to tell him about Jesus.
Three great theologians got together in heaven and made an appointment to see God. Martin Luther was the first one. He talked with God for about an hour and came out with a smile on his face. “Now I understand what justification by faith is all about.” John Calvin went in and after an hour or so came out with a smile on his face. “Now I understand predestination.” Karl Barth went in. Two hours later he was still in there. Eventually God came out and said, “Now I’m not even sure who I am.”
Karl Barth is considered by many to be the greatest theologian of the 20th century. He had a lot to say and said a lot. Unfortunately, he is not easy to read or understand. However, there is a story about Barth that I love. He was being interviewed by someone about his theology. His interviewer tried to get at the core of his beliefs. Finally Barth said something like this. “At the center of my theology is the belief that ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’”
At its core, evangelism is simply one person telling another person about Jesus. How has Jesus worked in your life? How is Jesus working in your life right now? The Bible is the primary place that God speaks to us, the main way that we learn about Jesus. It is the written word of God that points to Jesus, the living Word of God. Therefore we need to be reading the Bible, learning about Jesus, and telling others what we know about Jesus. That is what evangelism is all about.
Finally, in evangelism, spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, God is the primary actor. This story starts with an angel of the Lord telling Philip what to do. Philip obeyed. Then the Spirit tells Philip to go over to the chariot and walk with it. Philip obeyed. The text doesn’t say it, but as Philip talked about Jesus he was relying on God’s strength and inspiration. Every preacher needs God’s help for the message to actually be heard. The fact that the Ethiopian eunuch believed and wanted to be baptized was God’s work in his life. The road that they were traveling on was a desert road. The presence of water along the road was an act of God. At the end of the story the Spirit takes Philip away. All through this story God is the primary one at work. Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch were responding to what God was doing.
I know that evangelism is a word that most of us are not comfortable with. I have a sense that the main problem we have with evangelism is not that we’ve seen or experienced it done poorly. The real problem is that we are not confident in our ability or in our knowledge. Here is the good news – it doesn’t depend on you! We have our part, but ultimately, evangelism depends on God, not on us. God is the one at work. We are called to respond to what God is already doing. Having said that, let me offer you four ideas, four attitudes, that will help us do evangelism well.
First, as we tell others about Jesus we need to do so with humility. We are not the experts who have all the answers. We are not any better than anyone else. We are sinners who are telling others how we have experienced God’s grace and forgiveness.
Second, we must share the good news about Jesus with love. Our motivation is that we have been loved and we want to share that love with others.
Third, as we share the gospel we need to do so with simplicity. We don’t need to say everything there is to say about God. In fact we shouldn’t say everything. Evangelism should involve as much time listening as talking. We need to keep the gospel simple. I love how Dick Gregory explained Christianity. He was one of the leaders of the civil rights movement. He was challenged one time to explain the gospel in ten words or less. This is what he said. “We’re all bastards but God loves us anyway.” Keep it simple.
Finally, as we share the good news of Jesus, we must do so in faith. How people respond to our message doesn’t depend on us, but on God. We simply pray and trust that God will work through our words and our actions.
I understand that at the Spring Clean up the pews in our sanctuary were cleaned and cared for. I don’t think we need to worry about floating pews. However, just to make sure, I encourage you to invite your friends, your family, your neighbors and the people you work with, to come to church and fill our pews. Hopefully, while they are here, they will hear God’s word and experience God’s love. Even more important than inviting them to church – listen to their stories and their questions, and tell them how Jesus has worked in your life. AMEN.