During Lent, we have been taking a theological journey together. As we wrestle with big questions about faith, I feel moved to offer my own testimony and confession. I offer it to you as you think about what you believe.
One of the most wondrous truths is that God, through the compassionate person of Jesus Christ, offers to all of us immeasurable forgiveness and love. Since all of us are imperfect and capable of sin, we cannot possibly earn this grace which has been freely given to us. The church, however, has been tempted from time to time to imply that the gift of Christ is not so freely given. Instead, we must in some way earn his forgiveness. Conversely, we are told we can do many things which would send us straight to hell. Things get complicated when the church has the audacity to say with any authority who will go to heaven and who will not.
I deeply believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His resurrection teaches us that God’s love can never be defeated by any human scheme to separate the just from the unjust, the sinful from those with less sin, the loved from the unloved. In the resurrected Christ there is no fear, for in God all is made new.
It is with this knowledge of forgiveness and the immeasurable richness of Christ, that we cannot but have a joyful and Christ-like response to life. We come to worship in a community, not out of a perverse sense of obligation, but because we yearn to offer God our praise and be present to others in community. We serve the poor and the forgotten, not because it will look good, but because we cannot offer anything less than a wondrous response to the grace we have known. We counter fear and prejudice, not out of our own fear, but because we feel called to break the chains of oppression which diminish the earth and humanity, and prevent others from seeing the glories of heaven. When we give of our money, we give not out of fear of retribution. Instead, our giving is in joyful response to what God has already given to us. Motivation to do what is right flows from love. I profess the resurrected Christ because I believe in the boundless love of God which brings me joy and animates my life, and the church in which I am privileged to serve.
We invite you to be in worship during the sacred time of Holy Week (April 13 – 20) beginning with the pageantry of a jubilant Palm Sunday procession into the 10am worship service and progressing through the Tenebrae Worship Service and dinner on Maundy Thursday, a noon time Ecumenical Pilgrimage on Good Friday and concluding with an awesome celebration of Easter Sunday with our Sanctuary filled with flowers, and glorious music including brass and tympani along with our Bell and Sanctuary Choirs. Please share this invitation to worship with us!
We invite all to reflect and celebrate and give generously during these next weeks as we conclude our Stewardship Campaign. This coming Sunday, April 6th, is Consecration Sunday; I look forward to seeing you during that morning’s one, very special, worship service at 10am. Our Stewardship Committee is inviting all members and friends of First Congregational Church to make a 2014-2015 pledge before or on Consecration Sunday.
You are invited to pledge not because you must, but because you may. Come to this place to share in the love and the grace made known in the resurrection, and offer your heartfelt and faithful care for the world, in response to the love you have known. Amen.