This is an important thing, which I have told many people, and which my father told me, and which his father told him. When you encounter another person, when you have dealings with anyone at all, it is as if a question is being put to you. So you must think, What is the Lord asking of me in this moment, in this situation? If you confront insult or antagonism, your first impulse will be to respond in kind. But if you think, as it were, This is an emissary sent from the Lord, and some benefit is intended for me, first of all the occasion to demonstrate my faithfulness, the chance to show that I do in some small degree participate in the grace that saved me, you are free to act otherwise than as circumstance would seem to dictate. You are free to act by your own lights. You are freed at the same time of the impulse to hate or resent that person. He would probably laugh at the thought the Lord sent him to you for your benefit (and his), but that is the perfection of the disguise, his own ignorance of it. (Gilead, HarperCollins 2004, p. 124)
Town Hall meeting invocation…
Lord God, before we get down to business, we want to pause a bit to honor You and to ask that You help us in our deliberations. These often involve conflict, so cause us to be open to discussion; help us to keep things calm and dialogical, and assist us in being tolerant—which means accepting others even though we’re convinced we’re right and they’re wrong. Perfect harmony we’re not going to achieve, Lord, but at least help us to be civil and to be good listeners. Bless our town. This is a good town to live in, and for that we’re grateful. Keep us close to You and in good relationships with one another. In Your most holy Name, Amen.
ESPN analyst and sportswriter Chris Broussard is under fire after calling homosexuality a sin during a televised discussion Monday, WORLD reports. Broussard, a well-known and committed Christian who has written about his beliefs before, was asked to comment on NBA player Jason Collins' announcement that he is gay. During the ESPN program "Outside the Lines," which also featured openly gay sportswriter LZ Granderson, the host asked Broussard to comment on Collins' claim to be a Christian. "Personally, I don't believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you're openly living that type of a lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that's a sin," Broussard said. "If you're openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian." In a statement released after the show, ESPN distanced itself from Broussard, saying: "We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today's news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins' announcement." Note that ESPN says they're committed to diversity, yet they are INTOLERANT of any view that deems homosexuality as sin. Christianity isn't included in their diverse universe, nor any other religion that has views which do not support various sexual behaviors. If a sports star said he/she was practicing incest or polygamy would their diversity also have been applauded? Tolerance is no longer a two-way street, and what makes this story so amazing is how blatantly ESPN applauds itself for diversity while demonizing those with alternative views. It is what D.A. Carson calls "The intolerance of tolerance."
One night a swimming instructor in a large university could not sleep, so he decided to slip into the gymnasium for a dip in the indoor pool. "I did not put on the lights," he said, "for I knew the place very well. As the roof was made of glass, the light of the moon shone through dimly, throwing my shadow on the wall. I noticed that my outstreached body made a perfect sign of the cross. That silhouette turned my mind to Calvary and its meaning. I was not a Christian, yet I found myself repeating the words of a hymn I had learned as a boy, 'He died that we might be forgiven; He died to make us good, that we might go at last to Heaven, saved by His precious blood.' I climbed down from the high dive and walked along the pool to ther steps leading to the pool, when I saw that there was no water; the pool must've been drained by the caretaker. Had I dove, I would've been killed. The shadow of the cross had saved me. I was so thankful to God for saving my life that I asked Christ to save my soul."
Representative Michael Capuano led Congress in a moment of silence for the victims of the Marathon bombing. He rightly said: “Clearly anyone who acts in such a manner is an evil person and deserves to be called as such." Sometimes (in wishful thinking) we hope that society will get better and learn to get along. Human nature and horrific events remind us regularly that things are not getting better. We may be more educated and technologically advanced, but we are still a violent race. Though formed in God’s image, we do not morally reflect our loving Creator.
When atrocities like what happened this week occur, we are appalled and dismayed, angered and disgusted…but not surprised. We recall Genesis 3 and the Fall of humankind. Adam left a heritage of dishonor, and that dishonor is still with us. Sin is treason against the One who made us; sin destroys what is good and true. We sadly understand that we live in a broken, fallen, sin-defiled world, desperately in need of redemption--a world for which our Lord Jesus gave His life. We know what people are capable of…and we know why. Eric Hoffer observed, “We are beasts masquerading as men.” When we are separated from God, that sin makes all sins possible.
Yet our hope and safety rests in Christ our Lord.
It's Maundy Thursday, and we're preparing to sit in the Upper Room and ponder the meaning of the Bread and Cup. Tomorrow we'll be walking the path of the cross at Breakheart Reservation, and on early Eastern morn is the Sunrise Service. In amid the activity we find ourselves thinking (I hope) of why Jesus came to die. I used to view Jesus as a martyr, hated for his teachings. I then came to understand the cross in terms of sacrifice...for sin...for me. The just (Jesus) for the unjust (me again). And this changed my life. Theologians call this the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. In simple terms, Jesus died in our behalf, taking our place, taking the punishment we deserved. God is just and does not overlook sin. It must be punished--and was--upon the cross. And the resurrection seals our salvation. The Father is merciful because the Son died for us...and that makes life worth living and death nothing to dread.
Romans 6:18 says, "Having been freed from sin, we have become slaves of righteousness." This brings to mind a reflection by Thomas Merton..."The mind is the prisoner of conventional ideas, and the will that is the captive of its own desire cannot accept the seeds of an unfamiliar truth and a supernatural desire. For how can I receive the seeds of freedom if I am in love with slavery, and how can I cherish the desire of God if I am filled with another and an opposite desire? God cannot plant His liberty in me because I am a prisoner and I do not even desire to be free. I love my captivity and I imprison myself in the desire for the things that I hate, and I have hardened my heart against true love. I must learn therefore to let go of the familiar and the usual and consent to what is new and unknown to me. I must learn to 'leave myself' in order to find myself by yielding to the love of God. If I were looking for God, every event and every moment would sow, in my will, grains of His life that would spring up one day in a tremendous harvest."
> Follow the Bible, using it as our only source of God’s truth, and our final authority. > Be practical and relevant to what’s happening in today’s world. > Use normal, everyday language. > Provide good, inspirational music. > Let visitors know they’re under no pressure to give money. > Be friendly, always.
50 Essex St, Saugus MA 01906 ph 781-233-2663 Sunday School 9:30 am; Worship 10:45 (Summer 10 am)