Living the Gospel

Life Notes—January 6, 2011

“…Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor…”  Luke 18:24 

“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you…”  Luke14:13-14

I have known Joe longer than any other friend.  Our mothers put us in neighboring cribs in the church nursery in our youngest months.  We have been around each other off and on for our entire lives, although the “off” periods typically stretch many years.  Joe has always been ahead of me in applying his faith to his life, and I look up to him for that. 

Earlier this week, Joe posted a narrative on his Facebook page entitled, “The Best Christmas Party Ever.”  Here’s the summary: the preacher of a small church in the small town where Joe lives preached on Luke 18:24 (above).  He challenged his congregation to choose one thing they valued and sell it.  They did and this small congregation raised over $11,000.  With that money, they threw a huge Christmas party!  Invitations to the party went to 107 people, whose names they got from the local welfare office.  Each person on the list was contacted and asked what they would like for Christmas.  The local events center was rented, decorations hung, Christmas dinner catered, and mountains of presents were purchased and distributed to the poor of their community.  At the banquet the preacher said, “We just wanted to let you all know that God really does love you, and that he has not forgotten you at Christmas.”  If you’d like Joe’s narrative of this event, let me know (ghildenbrand@sunflower.com). 

I admit events like this, and the scriptures above, make me feel more than a little guilty.  I like comfort.  I like my warm home and my big screen, HD TV.  I like having many musical instruments, even when most collect dust.  When I compare an extravagant banquet thrown for the poor to my meager and infrequent mission efforts, I question my commitment to following Christ.  That is until I look at what is done for the poor through my church, locally and globally.  I look at the various missions (Jubilee Café, Family Promise, MiLK, etc.), the support groups, the covenant groups, the visiting, relief and health ministries, and I know we are right in the middle of some of the greatest suffering on earth. And where my church is, there I am also. Are we doing enough?  Maybe not, but we’re doing something.  It’s about recognizing the poor and disadvantaged and letting them know God loves and cares for them.  There are many ways to share that message, and most ways do not require us to become poor and disadvantaged.  Mother Teresa told a friend of mine once we can only lift others up from a position higher than theirs. 

This Sunday, Tom’s downtown sermon title is “Going About and Doing Good,” based on the scripture Acts 10:34-43.  Life worship is at 9:40 in Brady Hall; traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Mitch will preach at the west campus, where worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.  His sermon is “Become a Super Fan,” based on Joshua 24:14-18. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  I can do more in 2011, how about you?

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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