One night on Mackinac Island, I had the opportunity to talk with a young sailor who was standing watch on a small Great Lakes cruise ship. A ex-Navy man, he had served on an aircraft carrier in the North Atlantic. Sailing on the Great Lakes was more challenging than deep blue ocean sailing, he told me, because you get swells coming from multiple directions as the currents "bounce" off multiple nearby coasts.
Life right now in our country feels like we are sailing the Great Lakes, and the swells are coming from multiple directions. What does a pastor say when the storms we're going through seem to be coming from multiple directions?
Just as I sit in this coffee house this afternoon, trying to imagine what I might say to you in this weekly article, I received a message from a former parishioner in Elkhart, Indiana. A young attorney, she sent me an IM with a photo of her sermon notes from an October 11, 2008 sermon I preached on 2nd Corinthians 4:8-12: "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh." A few verses later, Paul says, "We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus..."
Kate, the young attorney, said in her IM as she found these sermon notes, "This is exactly what I needed to hear today. And what I need to hear for each day of the next month."
I have quoted scores of other preachers but never quoted myself, but here is what Kate had written down as the key points to that sermon in 2008:
How Not to Give Up
1. Jesus is the first and last.
2. God is a God of resurrection.
3. Jesus loves you. He loves me enough to die for me.
4. Fix your eyes on what is unseen. Stare/focus on who God is.
5. Keep the conversation going with God. The temptation is to (leave God...the church) and go off by ourselves, and that never ends well.
6. Turmoil is temporary.
7. Something better is coming.
Today the swells and the winds in your life may be coming from multiple directions. You may be struggling to get your bearing. Maybe the words of Paul, and a preacher from the "RV Capital of the World" back in 2008, can help you know today "How Not to Give Up."
Join us Sunday in-person or on-line at 8:30 (Classic) or 11 (Modern/Non-traditional) for worship as we conclude our series "INSPIRED." We'll be talking about letters: Have you ever received a letter that changed your life for the better?
Thank you for being faithful in wearing your mask as COVID cases rise as we enter the seasonal flu season.
Our Wednesday food ministry, providing free meals to the community, has grown dramatically. Be praying—and be ready to help—as we feed more and more persons dealing with food insecurity.
Also, join our great Sunday School team as we live out our commitment to be a congregation for young families, loving and discipling the next generation. Please call the church office or speak with Wayne, Pastor Nikki or myself if you'll join this team providing outstanding Christian community and faith-building times for children.
I am so blessed to be with you. Keep going in Christ!
Grace and peace to you,
First United Methodist Church1203 E. Seventh Street | Auburn, IN email@example.com | 260.925.0885