Throughout Epiphany we dove into the ways we step up and respond to God’s call as disciples of Christ saying “Hineni! Here I am.” As we look toward the cross in the season of Lent, we will explore the many ways God calls us and what that means for our journey of faith. Each of us has a calling; big and small. God is calling us in many different ways and all throughout our lives. God calls us to things, away from situations, as we are in the moment, in miraculous and mysterious ways, and in ways that are not always easy. This Lent explore how God is calling you and how we are called together to respond faithfully, resting in the promises of eternal life with Christ.
Hineni. It is a Hebrew word often spoken by prophets and leaders of God’s people of old in response to God’s call. Literally, it means, “Here I am.” Symbolically, it means, “I am ready to step up, fill the gap and raise the bar of what it means to be a believer.” As we look at this new year, with Covid behind us, we are no longer satisfied with excuses and lackluster performances. As believers, it is time for us to say to this God who has made us, claimed us, forgiven us and called us, “Hineni. Here I am.”
When you get beyond the flowery, metaphorical language of streets paved with gold, harp music and a buffet with no calories, what is heaven really like? While no one has made that journey and returned to describe it, we can point to passages in scripture where the metaphors and images point to a reality that we as believers call our sure and certain hope.
With the hectic pace of Christmas, we can often overlook what difference Christmas makes other than jamming up our calendars, overspending on gifts and wondering what it is all about. This Advent, as we prepare once again for Christmas, we will explore the very practical impact Christmas has on our relationships, in our world and deep within our hearts.
Sunday School taught us the Bible stories we all grew up with, but not always the whole story. In this sermon series, we’ll reexamine familiar stories from the Bible; those Bible stories that you know so well. Or do you?
Alex Haley, author of Roots, once said, “If you ever see a turtle on a fence post, you know it had some help along the way.” The same is true about us. None of us are what we are today by going it alone. Family, friends, teachers, coaches, pastors, neighbors, coworkers have all accompanied us along this journey called life. The Christian faith was never meant to be something that we go it alone. That’s not a rule, that’s the gift of our God giving us one another to do life together.
We asked people to submit questions they had regarding faith or the Bible or theology that they’ve struggled with or about which they have wrestled. The pastors then sifted through these questions to put together a four-part sermon series - and were astounded with the depth of questions! Some will be turned into complete sermon series: “Who is the Holy Spirit?” Some were more political and more appropriately tackled at an adult forum: “Because of our division, will God punish the USA like he did ancient Israel?” And some, quite frankly, stumped the pastors: “Where does our soul go immediately after we die?” (I have no idea!) But of the remaining questions, we lumped them into four categories, each one aptly suited for a sermon. Below is that list of questions you have for your pastors.
Our God is unimaginable. At the same time both other-worldly and completely familiar. He knows us intimately and regards us a nothing more than passing wildflower, here today gone tomorrow. The paradox that is our Father in Heaven is not that He is unknowable but that there is always more to understand.
One cannot read the book of James without walking away with a couple of bruises. He cuts through the flowery words, skips past the niceties, omits the pleasantries, and hits us between the eyes. “Faith without works is dead.” “Tame that tongue of yours.” “Don’t just be hearers of the word, but doers.” Speaking to Easter People who have heard the Gospel, James comes not with a warm embrace but packing a punch.
Taken from Tim Keller’s book, Hope in Times of Fear, our Sundays throughout Lent will show the upside-down nature of the Gospel, in which God uses the foolish things to shame the wise, the weak things to shame the strong, the lowly things to shame the proud. And in doing so, ushers into the world through our believing hearts a hope that cannot fail.