FENELON FALLS UNITED CHURCH
Today we are blessed to have new members join our church family.
Psalm 145, verse 18 says “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” Hallelujah, you belong! In this place it is my hope that you can be strengthened with prayer, blessed with our love and encouraged with hope. May we live and serve together in such a way that we will receive a “well-done” from Jesus one day. Membership provides a spiritual family to support and encourage a personal walk with Christ. We are here to help, support, strengthen, and restore one another by refusing to gossip, by acting in love towards one another, by warmly welcoming those who visit, by discovering each other’s gifts and talents, by attending faithfully and by living a Godly life. I think today’s scriptures and the opportunity to welcome new members is the perfect day to take some time to reflect on us as a church.
When I was a teacher it didn’t matter where I went I would always see things and come up with an idea of how I could use it in my classroom.
It might be a book, a craft idea, something in nature----it didn’t matter what it was my “teacher mind” never shut down and I could find a use
for it. I find I have that same mind when I am out and about and see something and think that I might be able to use in a church service.
My daughter told me she was going to make a sign that said: “Every
family has a story welcome to ours.” I immediately had an idea for our New member service, “every church has a story welcome to ours.”
In Paul’s letter to the young disciple, Timothy, that we listened to
this morning, he provides instruction for how to live a good and generous life. In this church we don’t need reminders of all the blessings of God
we have been given (housing, food, clothes, the right to an education, family members and church members who love us). Paul reminds Timothy of what it means to be a follower of God. In this church we confirm
that a disciple looks outward rather than inward, is content, and pursues “righteousness, Godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” The message is one of abundance, provision and faith in the goodness of God. The reading of Timothy ends with a warning to the rich to “do good, to be rich in good works, generous and ready to share.” In this church we are ready to share as we generously collect for the local food bank, donate to charities and Mission and Service, to name a few examples.
Psalm 91 describes the spiritual rewards of intimacy with God. The Psalmist does not deny challenge. In this church we recognize that there are threats all around and they won’t go away but we know that God will protect and deliver us from destruction. In this church we trust that God’s vision will keep our spirits centered regardless of the storms of life.
In this church we know that God’s love insures ultimate well-being and calm in life and death. We use our faith to recognize the power within us that we can depend on no matter what is happening around us. We have the power to choose each and every single day. Today I choose to feel blessed, to feel grateful, to be thankful, excited and to be happy.
As Timothy asserts, God provides us with everything we need for our enjoyment. In this church we know that God wants us to have abundant life and to live joyfully: and this emerges from healthy relationships with family, friends, community, church, the planet and God.
Paul, writing to Timothy, offers some solid advice for how to take hold of real life. In this church we know it is not about amassing riches and more and more “stuff” but rather in loving and serving God, in being good stewards of God’s abundance, and in loving our neighbours.
In this church, we invite all to Christ’s table where all are fed and no one is turned away. The psalmist sings praises to God, and in this church we care for each other, we pray for strangers, and we are inclusive. We know one of our callings is to strengthen the connections between the rich and poor and we will continue to prayerfully find ways to do this.
The Beatles may sing “Money can’t buy me love” and many have heard the old saying, “you can’t take it with you” but in this church we know the love of God, family and neighbour are the only riches that ever really count and we can get them for free. We know these riches were bought for us by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that there is no poverty in these riches. They are a priceless gift of grace that keeps giving and giving. And here’s the best part; the more we spend these riches, the more we have.
In this church, and in the message of Psalm 91, we know that we are not alone in our struggle, that God is with us. We can live our lives without paralyzing fear, because we know God has not abandoned us. We have no control over where evil strikes and there is little we can do to stop it, but we can refuse to surrender to fear. In this church, we live our lives every day in the presence of our faithful God.
Psalm 91 tells believers that when we have a strong relationship with God that He will protect us. In this church we know that all God wants is for us to love Him, know His name and call Him for whatever our needs are. We value our relationship with God and take time to praise and thank God and ask God to help us listen for His voice.
In this church we trust God every day, even those days that we might question the why about something. It is liberating knowing that we have the freedom of having someone who will never break our trust. We know that God wants us to prosper and do well. He wants to give us hope in this world, and he wants to make sure we know that He has our tomorrow under control because He has our future plans already laid out. In this church we value the fact that God doesn’t want to hurt us, he wants to protect us from harm.
In this church we know that God wants us to trust Him. If I’m being honest sometimes that trust wavers with what is going on around me, but then I must be reminded about how powerful our Heavenly Father truly is. When we trust God with something we leave ourselves vulnerable to peace, faith, joy and confidence in our future. We know that God wants our hearts, our attention and our love. When we give him our heart we can trust him with it. In this church, we know that God desires our trust.
In this church we know that we grow in Christ by being in relationships with other Christians. We acknowledge that being a member is to belong and when you are a member you are a contributor to the work of the Kingdom.
In this church we respect that difficult decisions have to be made each and every day and that we might not always agree with them but as a team we can work together. We want everyone to have a voice and be heard. In this church we value forgiveness, grace and mercy knowing that we all make mistakes and we all say things, do things or think things we shouldn’t.
In this church we realize that anyone can talk about God and that we can come here Sunday after Sunday and sing the songs of praise. When we talk about God, we take pride in meaning what we say. When we call out the name of God, we sing and pray and share with meaning and significance. In this church, whenever God’s name is used, we use it reverently, respectfully and from a heart filled with adoration and worship. God is holy!
In this church we honour and respect the different reasons for people entering through the door. It might be to pray for someone or have someone pray for us. Maybe it is the coffee hour or a chance for conversation and connection. Is it the strength of seeing what others may be going through and reassuring us that if they can do it, we can do it too or is it to be of a support network? It may be to honour and support the work of our very dedicated Board members and volunteers. My hope is that it is for the sermons. It’s the music that is the ticket to get me here. Not only do we have a very talented music director and choir, but we have the chance to stand up and sing our hearts out (on or off key) giving praise to God.
In this church we believe that a faith worth having is a faith worth sharing and today we are so fortunate that we have new members to join us in sharing our Christian faith. When we call ourselves a “Christian” we are saying that we are a representative of God and that our actions are a reflection of God’s reputation. If the God we claim to believe in is merciful, be merciful. If the God we claim to believe in is love, be a loving person. If the God we claim to believe in gave himself to service and sacrifice, make sure we follow in those footsteps. If the God we claim to follow is holy and pure, strive for righteousness. Our God is an amazing God, deserving of our praise and worthy of our trust every single day. Being on God’s team truly leads to “life that is really life.” Thank you to our new members for joining God’s team with us today and may we continue to live lives in service to others and to the glory of God. Amen
Maxine Jordan, September 30, 2019