December 30, 2009

Where Has Everyone Gone?

Time has passed since Jesus was born. The wise men have traveled on. The shepherds have returned to their sheep, and the cattle are grazing in a meadow outside Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus are alone.

And Joseph wonders, “Where has everybody gone?”

Most Christian Churches are filled with worshippers on Christmas Eve, but at Sunday morning services after Christmas, ministers and those in attendance must wonder, “Where has everybody gone?”

There are approximately 235 million Americans who consider themselves Christians, but less than forty percent attend church regularly. Pollsters suggest the actual percent is probably less, because many people answer questionnaires according to what they think they should be doing rather than what they are doing.

If you haven’t attended a worship service recently, I invite you to acknowledge God’s presence in your life this Sunday. 

Each one of us needs to be reminded often of God’s love in a culture that increasingly ignores God, and your faith will be strengthened and enhanced when you worship with others.

Next Sunday, will you take a break from work and self interests to concentrate on the Lord?  Will you “remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy?”

December 21, 2009

There Was Room in the Inn

Wallace Purling, a second grader who had trouble keeping up in the classroom, was chosen to be the innkeeper in the church Christmas Pageant. Wally was big for his age, so his refusal of lodging for Joseph and Mary would be convincing. Besides, he only had a few lines to learn.

On the night of the pageant, Joseph appeared, slowly guiding Mary to the door of the inn where Wally waited.

When he heard Joseph knocking, Wally opened the door and asked brusquely, “What do you want?”

“We seek lodging for the night,” Joseph answered.

“There is no room in the inn,” said Wally loudly.

“Sir, we are weary and my wife is heavy with child.”

Now Wally looked down at Mary, and there was an embarrassing pause until the prompter whispered his cue from the wings.

“No, be gone,” said Wally. 

As Joseph and Mary began to walk away, this Pageant suddenly took a turn that made it unlike any other.

“Don’t go, Joseph,” Wally ad libbed. “You and Mary can have my room.”

A few people in church that evening thought the Christmas Pageant was ruined. Others considered it the best Christmas Pageant they had ever seen.

December 12, 2009

Fishers of Men

Morehead City, on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, is well known for its hospitality, excellent seafood and charter boat fishing. 

One summer afternoon on a boat docked in Morehead City, two fishermen were cleaning their catch of Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish when a stranger approached. When the fishermen looked up and saw the man staring down on them, they heard the stranger say, ”Pete and Andy, I’ve been looking for you. I have an important job for you to do, and no one else can do it. Follow me.”

Without hesitating, the fishermen immediately put their knives away and walked off with the stranger.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, this is what happened two thousand years ago when Jesus invited Peter and Andrew to follow him. The story is moved into the Twenty-first Century to demonstrate more clearly what a daring and courageous act it was for Peter and Andrew to turn their backs on everything they knew to follow Jesus.

Peter and Andrew were not men of great faith when they first met Jesus, but when they decided to follow him their lives were changed forever.

When we accept an invitation to follow Jesus, our lives are also changed, and our doubt becomes faith, our fear becomes courage and our greed turns to deeds of righteousness.

Blessings from Gpa Westerdahl

December 2, 2009

Taking Christ Seriously

Taking Christ Seriously

During World War II, an American airman was shot down near an island in the South Pacific known for its  cannibals. He made his way to land, crept into the bushes and hid, fearful for his life, but the natives found him, treated his injuries and nursed him back to health.

When the airman recovered, he spoke with the chief on the island who told him there had not been a murder in his life time. There was no jail, no poverty,  no drunkenness, no divorce, no brothels and no disease. There was one doctor, and he spent his time fishing.

When the airman asked the chief how he accounted for this wonderful state of affairs, he looked reproachfully at his guest and said:

“You ought to know. Your ancestors sent us missionaries.  

  We are Christians and we take Christ seriously.”

People have tried to find peace in science, politics, education, government and law, but nothing we have done in these and other fields of human endeavor has given us the satisfaction we seek.

Friends, isn’t it time we, in this frightened, selfish, materialistic world, take Christ seriously?

Blessings from Gpa Westerdahl