Believe It or Not

(Acts 5:27-32; John 20:19-31) – J G White
11 am, E2, Sunday, April 28, 2019 – UBC Digby

As I kid, I was fascinated by the cartoon panels of Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  Amazing facts and stories were told that were incredible: but true!  

In a Sudanese marriage ritual, newlyweds have a milk-spitting competition to decide who will become head of the household.

In 2018, Huntington, New York, changed its name to “Hauntington” for Halloween.

It took more than 1,000 elephants to carry the materials to build the Taj Mahal. (cartoon 04-25-2019)

I owned a book of comic pages from the paper, watched the TV show, and heard there was a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum… wow!  I loved it all.

What impossible things to you believe?  

What does it mean to believe?

We read another story from the day of Jesus’ resurrection, and a scene from one week later.  What we call the story of ‘doubting’ Thomas. That disciple who just could not believe what his nine friends told him: their executed and buried Master was alive again.  They’d seen Him.

What is believing?  

Canadian scholar and popular speaker, Jordan Peterson, gets asked, ‘so you believe in God?’, and he says: this is not a simple question with a simple answer. And he’s right. What do we mean by ‘God?’  What do we mean by ‘believe in?’ Thousands of books have been written about this. And when it comes to spiritual questions, it get very personal. You and I come to our own sense of who God is, and what believing in God truly is.  

When we have confidence in God, and in Jesus as a main way God reaches us, we can also wonder about other people.  How to reach them. Do they believe it, or not? And, if need be, how can I help them be a believer? What is our part in getting others to believe the Good News?

As John told us – chapter 20 – nine of Jesus’ disciples met Him on the evening of that resurrection day.  Christ tells them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” So then, the first person they tell is their friend who missed that meeting – Thomas.  They tell Thomas. Does Tom believe it, or not? NOT! He just can’t believe them.

Sometimes we do tell others about the One we believe in – and they don’t believe us.  

Charles Finney, the father of American revivalism, identified four agents as leading one into conversion: the Holy Spirit, the truth, the messenger, and the sinner. To illustrate the interrelatedness of the four agents, Finney frequently asked his hearers to imagine that they were standing on the bank of Niagara Falls. Imagine seeing a man headed toward the edge of the falls, “lost in deep reverie,” unaware of his impending plunge to destruction. You cry out, Stop! and the man suddenly realizes his situation and averts disaster. With horror, he leaves the scene and you follow him.

When he sees you, he says, “That man saved my life.” According to Finney, there is a sense in which the bystander (messenger) saved the man. But upon further questioning, the man says that the word Stop! (the truth) was the “word of life” to him. After even more questioning, the man decides, “Had I not turned at that instant, I should have been a dead man.” Finally, after stating that it was his (the sinner’s) act, he cries, “O the mercy of God; if God had not interposed, I should have been lost” (the Holy Spirit). (D. Leslie Hollon in The Ministers Manual, 2007, p. 72)

All these elements are involved in the personal conversion experience.

Our role continues to be as messengers. It is a hard task, so often.  People have real issues with the God thing.  I’ve known people who say they can’t believe in God because of all the suffering – the unfair suffering – in the world. Sometimes it is pain that they bear – bad things that happened to them.

Others find they can’t believe in a God because of all the nasty things all the religions of the world have done in history and keep doing today.  Surely none of us are right.

And to others, the whole Supreme Being thing just does not make sense, and is completely invisible.  

So, we can’t work miracles; we can’t give real belief in Christ to someone else.  God’s part in creating faith in people seems essential.

There are many ways God appears and transforms people. One thing God seems to do is to show up, and show up wounded.  Remember in the story, Thomas just can’t believe Jesus is back. He says he’d have to see the wounds in his body to believe it.  Thomas does not say he’d have to see Jesus’ face and know it was Him. Not that He’d have to hear Jesus’ familiar voice. Thomas wants to touch the wounded hands and side.  

When Jesus shows up again, a week later, with Tomas there, it does not say that Thomas touched the wounds of Jesus. Just meeting Him turned out to be enough.  

So, I wonder why Thomas wanted proof by seeing the wounds of Christ?  That must have been important to Tom. Was this because of the traumatic torture and execution that Jesus suffered?  Was this because of some pains deep inside that Tom himself had? One thing our Jesus story shows is that God meets us where it hurts most. So we want to meet the real God, who knows all about our pain and our healing.

I think of a devout couple in Windsor, who talked about their young son dying, years before.  The son had a wife and young daughter. As he was dying, something of God became so real and comforting to them.

I think of a young man and his wife in Parrsboro, who started coming to the Church, right after his father suddenly died.  Spiritual connections were made in that time of loss and grief.

I remember baptizing a man on his deathbed, at home, who had been led to the Lord by a neighbour.  I remember the man saying he did not know the first thing about how to pray. He did not know. But we started to pray, just weeks before he died.

I had a ministry colleague (JHH) whose specialty is pastoral counselling.  He used to say his main work, his best work with people, was where pain and faith meet.  His theme Bible verses are Philippians 3:10 & 11. I want to know Him/Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  

God’s part in reaching people is meeting us where it hurts, at least in part. This is a big part of the truth.  Because everybody hurts. There is no healing where there is no injury or illness. There is no joyful reconciliation where there has been no broken relationship.  There is no setting free where there has been no entrapment or slavery.

All our Bible material suggests that Jesus, alive again after His execution, has a body that is different from before.  People don’t always recognize Him; He just appears in locked rooms; etc. But it is a body that bears His wounds. God shows His wounds.  

This is the One Thomas wanted, and when he met Jesus, Tom rejoiced, saying, “My Lord and my God!” Perhaps, for many people we know, it is a God who has hurt like them that they need to meet.  Is it Jesus, who shows the scars of His pain, that you and I still need, more than ever.  

Believe it, or not?

To Associate

Devotional at Annapolis-Digby Baptist Association
Saturday, April 27, 2019 – Digby Baptist Church – J G White
(2 Corinthians 8:1-6; 9:-18)

Those earliest days of Church, glimpsed in a letter like 2 Corinthians, show us how the scattered groups following the Way of Jesus cooperated. This example is of an offering taking by some congregations to help the one in the city of Jerusalem. Corinth gets this letter, with its reminders to follow through on their support.  The good example of churches in Macedonia is given. Perhaps the letter worked and believers in Corinth got inspired. It was an important and challenging thing be to one across the Mediterranean at that time.  

Today, we have our own challenges when it comes to being a family of Baptists who are together.  Too easily we separate and get isolated.

Allow me to offer a rather historical devotional today.  For I consider, from time to time, the use and misuse of a Baptist Association.  What are we here for? We are asking this in our days, across Atlantic Canada.  At least a decade ago, in a neighbouring Association, the Moderator was inspired to talk often about Association as a verb.  This is something we do, a way we act.  We associate together.  Right on! How we do this is always changing.

I have a couple copies of an old Handbook of the United Baptist Convention of the Maritime Provinces. I think it was published in about 1922.  There’s quite a historical summary in it. Here are some excerpts…

Nova Scotia took the lead in the organization of an Association in 1797, when on July 14 a conference of churches was held at Cornwallis to consider the solution of some difficulties which had arisen in faith and practice. (p. 8)

It was first called “The Baptist and Congregational Association.”  At the 1800 meeting in Granville the name “Congregational” was dropped.

The denomination continued to grow until in 1850 there were 111 churches with 10,205 members, and more than 50 ordained ministers in Nova Scotia.  It then seemed advisable to divide the Nova Scotia Baptist Association into three bodies, and this was done at the associational meeting held at Nictaux in 1850, when the Central, Eastern, and Western Associations were organized.  (p. 9)

There are now five Associations in Nova Scotia, vis., Eastern, Northern, Central, Western and Southern.  (p. 10) As I said, this was abt in 1922.

It was in 1847 that the Maritime Baptist Convention was organized, including the Associations of our Provinces.  A sample constitution for an Association included this, Article 4:

The objects of this Association shall be the collection of statistical and other information from the churches; the cultivation of mutual acquaintance and fraternal union; the promotion of individual godliness and the spiritual prosperity of the churches; and generally, in the use of Scriptural means, the enlargement of the Redeemer’s Kingdom. (pp. 68-69)

In that early era, as Associations covered larger areas of the provinces, there were smaller gatherings that met, called the District Meeting or County Quarterlies. The old Manual says about these:

This organization provides the inspiration that comes from the fellowship of Christian workers; affords opportunity for an exchange of ideas and experiences; and, especially if held in the smaller rural churches which do not have the advantage of frequent services or well-organized activities, brings new enthusiasm to the entertaining church. (p. 65)

Some of these purposes back then can remain our reasons for associating together, today.  We might re-word things like so:

We associate so that Baptists get to know one another and act as one; so that the churches will do better, spiritually; so the Kingdom of our Redeemer will grow; so people will be inspired to serve!; so wisdom and experience can be shared with one another; so that small and larger congregations all will be encouraged greatly.

Our next question is how. How to associate in ways that such good things really happen? That’s to be answered later: today, tomorrow, and all year long.  

The Last Enemy

(1 Corinthians 15:19-26; Luke 24:1-12) – J G White
11 am, Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019 – UBC Digby

I guess I’m one of those people on earth who lives his life in such a way as to have ‘not an enemy in the world.’ But we all have enemies. Not necessarily other people. But illnesses. Tragic circumstances. Unfairness.  Bad, bad luck. Or, I have moments of being my own worst enemy.

We celebrate Resurrection Day today. In Paul’s great resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15, he wrote: The last enemy to be destroyed is death. The finality and power that death has always had is not there. The resurrection of Jesus reaches back in time, to Adam, so to speak, and forward to us, and into the future.

This day, we gather to say again that Jesus is bigger than death or evil and wrong. Eternal life is opened up to us all: thanks be to God! Hallelujah!  How do you live a life that is headed for resurrection?

Me, I am certain and uncertain before the mystery of eternal life. I think and feel so certain about it, and about the life hereafter being so good; but I can’t explain it, in spite of my calling to do so! I also have my doubts about it, and can be a real skeptic about all the Bible talk we have of life after death.  I have a lot of questions. But, I feel quite at peace about it, and not compelled to figure it out more. I’m very curious about what’s after death, but not anxious. If I were a true poet, I’d speak as Emily Dickinson did:

I never saw a moor;
I never saw the sea,
Yet know I how the heather looks
And what a billow be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven.
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the checks were given.

I try not to nod my head to all the usual turns of phrases or cliches about those who die.  ‘He’s gone to a better place.’ ‘She’s looking down upon on us now, smiling.’ ‘They’re reunited now, and what a great time they must be having!’  

You’ve probably noticed I almost never say that stuff. What I usually say is this: Whatever problem a person can imagine about the afterlife with God, it won’t be a problem. Like, who we will see there we don’t want to see, or who will be missing and how we’ll feel then. And those unanswerable questions about why some terrible thing happened here: somehow, what’s next will be so grand, and so right, that those questions won’t even matter to us.  

As I pondered life and death, and life after death, this Holy Week, I thought about an old friend. Let me tell you about David.

I started 2002 as the new Pastor of a Church in Windsor, NS. I soon got to know David and his family.  He was a few years older than me, with a bigger-than-life personality. He was likeable, ambitious, energetic and hard-working. For years, he and his wife and three kids had been a central part of the Windsor Church.  But by the time I got there, David had entered Divinity College as a mature student – in his 30s – and was doing an internship in a nearby Baptist Church.

In the spring of 2003, Dave graduated from ADC, and was called upon to become the pastor of one of the oldest churches in Hants County. He & his family had been living nearby for years. David and his wife kept their trophy and engraving business going.  

In his first official pastorate, Dave was a go-getter.  The local paper had an article about him, with a photo of him at the church on his motorcycle, which he regularly used to get there and to make pastoral calls in the countryside. There was some excitement and hope for his leadership in that little country church.  He helped renovate space for a nursery, among other things. He was a lot of fun in our Hants County ministerial group. Despite a few health problems – diabetes was one, I think – he’d get us to go with him to McDonalds, or such ‘healthy’ places to eat out.

I think it was in October of 2003 he was ordained to the ministry; his father and one brother were also Baptist ministers, and they took part, of course.  It was a big celebration; everybody was there because everyone knew David.

It must have been sometime just after Christmas that Dave ended up in the hospital in Halifax.  Some things were going wrong that just got worse. Vision problems, mobility challenges, other things.  It was a bit of a mystery. As he got worse, he and the family were slow to let a lot of people in to visit him.  His mental health seemed affected, as his vision completely failed as other problems increased.

Weeks in the hospital turned to months. He worsened; no one seem to know what was causing all this.  It was a terrible time for his wife and three teenage children. By the end of March, a special prayer service was to be held one evening in Rev. David’s little country Church.  I led the main prayer that night. It was a long prayer that I prepared. I looked it up.  Ever write a thousand word essay? My prayer was about 985 words long.

After about the first week of April, there seemed to be no hope. The supportive measures that were by then keeping David alive were taken away – a hard decision for the family.  

He died on the morning of April 11th.  He was forty years old. It was Easter Sunday, 2004.  

At the end of my very long prayer two weeks before, I had prayed this:  And if Dave comes to healing and peace only through death itself, help us again to rejoice, for this final enemy has been destroyed at Calvary and with the empty tomb of Easter!  As we end our prayers, help us exclaim with St. Paul: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Dave’s 40 years, and one year of being a pastor, are victorious: he still matters in God’s world.  It is our extraordinary Faith that proclaims: the final enemy, death, has been destroyed at Calvary and with the empty tomb.  With the eyes of faith we see that even the meaningless deaths and the deeply disappointing losses are not the end of the story for those who died or for those they left behind.  

We sometimes proclaim this about our own dying:

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.

What do we think we mean when we sing this?  The death of Death? The destruction of Hell? We don’t chat about this stuff during visitations to the funeral parlour, now, do we?!  

But this is what those woman glimpsed when they went to the cemetery, to tend to the body of Jesus.  This is what the eleven disciples, and others, found incredible, and dismissed at first as ‘an idle tale.’ This is what Peter started to believe when he ran to the cemetery himself to check it out.  

Death did not win. The last enemy had fallen.  
Christ is risen!  Hallelujah.
He is the first raised up, of those who have died.
We will be some of all the rest.
Hallelujah!  Amen.

Great Expectations

(Psalm 118; Habakkuk 2:9-11; Luke 19:28-40) – J G White
11 am, Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019 – UBC Digby

A couple days ago a ministry colleague (Rev. Trent C T) mentioned a book his church reading group is going through, about the impending climate crisis.  The minister said the book is horrifying reading before bed! William Ophuls’ Apologies to the Grandchildren has a chapter called ‘The Certainty of Failure.’ It says things like this:

So the question is not whether we will experience turmoil and suffering as the crisis unfolds, only how bad they will be.

In this light, we are obliged to accept the certainty of failure and to lay our plans accordingly. The worst- case scenario is that deep collapse will cause us to fall into a dark age in which the arts and adornments of civilization are partially or totally lost.

We are living through an age of great fear and anxiety.  What is our cry to our God when our world is going from bad to worse?  Environmentally. Or:
Politically         Ethically/Morally         Economically
Spiritually/Religiously         Socially        Healthcare

What do we shout when we have trouble Personally?  
relationships      family      finances
loss and sadness      aging       health

We rejoice today with Myra and family on the birth of her grandson.  But we know other things happen. Sharon’s younger daughter in Halifax has a friend who just gave birth to her first child.  But the parents have been told that their baby has a terrible syndrome, and is not expected to live more than two years.

Nevertheless, we wave palm leaves today.  We shout ‘Hosanna,’ which means, ‘Lord save!’  How does the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem feel to you?

Joyful? – the church has always celebrated this!  It is like a prelude and a dress rehearsal for Easter.  

Hopeful? – you know the whole Jesus story and the ending is good.

Mixed emotions? – the crowd that cheers is going to turn against this Christ.  You hear your voice among the scoffers, perhaps?

Don’t feel much? – same old story that is a bit out of date with your life now. It is only part of your life because of this one hour we happen to be here.

The one detail that caught my attention this past week was Jesus’ words about the stones crying out. Pharisees in the crowd said: “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.”

Jesus replied to them: “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

What have you thought about these stones that would cry out?  Stones on the ground? Inevitable that the whole world rejoices in Jesus?

Or, would the rocks speak up for justice if the crowd was silent, the crowd celebrating a new ruler in their lives to replace the old powers?

This past week in the news we heard that a military coup ousted longtime President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.  Yet the future is uncertain, and the present volatile. We think there was a hint of this in the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem that fateful day long ago. Great expectations that He’d take over. He seemed to oppose the religious authorities. He brought healing and hope to so many people. Would he next overthrow the control of the Roman Empire in Israel? He must be The One!

And Jesus even declares that if His crowd quieted down, the rocks would shout out.

People are about to march and peacefully protest, joining with the protest of all creation, to shout about what is happening to the environment.  Monday, April 15th, Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia joins tens of thousands of conscientious protectors around the globe in rebelling against a course set for ecological and societal breakdown.

Back in the winter, down in Sandy Cove, people took part in the International Women’s March.  

Last year, there was a peaceful protest at the Hospital over the troubles of our healthcare that are continuing to grow.  

As we think of what each group expects and hopes for, we look at our Palm Sunday scene with Jesus.

Perhaps Jesus is alluding to a scripture verse, Habakkuk 2:11?  “The very stones will cry out from the wall, and the plaster/beam will respond from the woodwork.”  ‘If these walls could talk,’ we say. But this is very serious talk from the gyprock.

Habakkuk was a prophet in Judah six hundred years before Jesus. In the era of the prophets Jeremiah, Zephaniah and Nahum.  In the time when an empire was taking over the Middle East, and even the Jewish capital of Jerusalem fell. Many Jewish leaders and people were taken captive and carted away to the north, into Babylon.  As Psalm 137 says, ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, and there we wept, when we remembered Zion,” which is another name for their holy city, Jerusalem.

Natural human responses to oppression, to disasters, to unfairness, to hurt and pain and grief, are anger and action and aggression. Jesus takes the opposite approaches. He gets tortured and executed and buried.  

Perhaps every Sunday we can see is our peaceful protest in the world – because we are getting in touch the with hope, hope of bettering things.  Why gather and cry out to God if it is no use? Why parade into this building for worship if there is no power or purpose to declaring we are with Jesus?  Perhaps every Palm Sunday, we should march through our town with branches in our hands and scriptures on our lips.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem when he entered it that day.  And I have wept over you, from time to time: even recently.  But my theme song lately continues to be Amy Grant’s
We believe in God
And we all need Jesus
‘Cause life is hard
And it might not get easier
But don’t be afraid
To know who you are
Don’t be afraid to show it

We have this Story.  Jesus is God coming into the world to deal with our injustice, unfairness, pain, grief, sickness, trouble, oppression, and violence.  Christ comes to deal with what hurts us from the outside, and from inside each one of us.

And Jesus does this without using violence, without using force, without using fear.  He submits to aggression and injustice. He subverts it, somehow. God waits through it, and survives wrong and evil and death, and comes out the other side, bringing us with Jesus.  

Six hundred years before Jesus, even Habakkuk proclaimed 
the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
as the waters cover the sea. (2:14)

Financial Health

(Philippians 3:4b-14) – J G White
11 am, Sun, April 7, 2019 – UBC Digby

You’ve heard the old story of the preacher who declared, one Sunday, “I’ve got good news for you and bad news for you”?  “The good news is that we have enough money to repair the steeple! The bad news is that it is still in your pockets.”

The tenth chapter in Dennis Bicker’s book, The Healthy Small Church, is titled ‘Financial Health.’ So he’s talking about churches being healthy in terms of finances, not about individuals. Though the two go hand-in-hand; any church is a congregation of people.

Speaking of this tenth chapter, you have probably heard Churches teach, for the past hundred years, God wants us to give a tithe.  At least a tithe: ten percent of your income into the offering place. The first ten percent. Just like the firstfruits of the produce of the Israelites of old, living in the promised land.  You may have heard the pastor announce the Sunday morning offering with Proverbs 3:9 Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce.

Or you have had the occasional sermon preached to you from Malachi chapter 3. 8 Will anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, “How are we robbing you?” In your tithes and offerings! 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me—the whole nation of you! 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.

We have some good New Testament words that balance our offering attitudes.  2 Corinthians 9:7 is famous. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

The tithe guideline of 10% – as the baseline – is not actually what most people choose.  We choose some other part of our resources. For congregation members to be generous, and even sacrificial, givers, a number of things have to fall into place.

We each have to plan.  Plan what we will give.  Not thinking about it, or not changing what we do, are also ways we plan by not planning.

Each person or family has their own ability to give. This is very significant. It can be easy to assume that certain people in our pews have a lot to give, to guess that some are generous givers, and suppose that certain folk have very little to share.  Many assumptions can be wrong.

I think of my former church family, with an elderly retired pastor and his wife in it – who went to our Pastoral Counsellor for advice, because they were considering bankruptcy.  And they went to the Pastoral Counsellor we had at that church because they knew he had gone bankrupt.   

In another former church, I had a wonderful couple who had moved back to his home village after the first twenty years of their marriage living in her native New Jersey.  At about age 50 they moved to Nova Scotia, and built a wonderful house on some of the family land. They were great musicians, and contributed so much to the three little churches I pastored.  They were sometimes apologetic about how little they could give financially. I think they were house poor.  The husband at times was holding down three jobs – all over the county.  The wife did not manage to find much work. They were burdened, I think, heavily burdened, with the mortgage of their big dream home.  

Most of us have made poor moves when it comes to money.  And we have paid for it, literally! This also happens at the community level.  A church, as a whole, can be unwise when it comes to finances. But financial health can still be a goal.  Our God wants us to be wise and well when it comes to our resources.

We also hear the divine calling to be a church family that welcomes, equally welcomes, people who are financial secure and those who have no money to spare, and others who need financial assistance.  

What members do give also depends upon the people wanting to give financially and support what is going on.  Dennis Bickers counsels us: people give to a church with a mission, a church on mission.  Many other experienced people give us the same advice. The security blanket of some funds stored away for a rainy day can be false security.  It is against our Nova Scotian culture not to conserve and save up for the future, or not to value historic buildings so much, or to start a building project before we have all the money.  But might our Saviour try to guide us away from endowment funds, from fundraising, or from keeping people happy just to keep them giving?

Are our main activities focused upon Christ? Is Jesus valued, and valued greatly?  I love that phrase in Philippians 3:8. Evangelist Paul says: I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  The surpassing value of knowing Jesus.  All Paul’s former religious obedience and achievements no longer counted.  Knowing Jesus was now the most valuable thing.

The way of Jesus for His people is, of course, to serve.  To make a difference. To bless and transform. So, when believers know this is going on, they are more likely to be supportive.  When people can join in and make a difference, the fellowship is working.

Every little ministry counts.  Like A Little Box of Change.  Do you have one? We are filling these up to help children across the globe.  Speaking of change, do you ever read what’s on our Canadian coins? D. G. Regina.  What’s that?  A Latin phrase.  Dei Gratia Regina: by the Grace of God, Queen. The word grace and the word God are on all our coins! So, remember, whenever you spend any money, that by the grace of God you have money to spend, and spend wisely!

Maybe you have a Toonie Can for Team Rima, and are filling it up to help get some refugees to a safe country: to Canada.  Perhaps you go to Tideview Terrace once a month to be with some residents there for their service, and keep them included in the Church of Jesus.  Speaking of that – the Church could save a few dollars every week if a couple of you volunteered to deliver the Sunday bulletin to some shut-ins who are getting it mailed to them (hint hint).

What do we do that is of value?  Of value because it is part of Jesus’ Way for us to follow? I plan to talk with our Deacons tomorrow about what we can do next.  What do the people of our community need that we, a church, are positioned to help provide. Our Master has good for us to do in our neighbourhood.

God is a God of abundance!  God our Provider, we sometimes say and pray.  Other times, what we think we need, financially, isn’t what God wills for us.  

Frederick Buechner claimed that Jesus’ math was atrocious.  Jesus said that Heaven gets a bigger kick out of one sinner who repents than out of ninety-nine saints who don’t need to.  He said that God pays as much for one hour’s work as for one day’s. He said that the more you give away, the more you have. (Listening to Your Life, 1992, p. 301)

Do we believe this craziness? The financial health of our Church depends upon it. Upon the math of Jesus, the economy of God, the generosity of the Spirit.  

So I’ve got good news for you, and bad news. The bad news is this: we, the church, have way too much stuff that is going to waste: wasted on ourselves. The good news is that God has plans to help us give everything we have.  Our world needs us.