God challenges us to love with reckless abandon, see the best in others, and celebrate the gifts, talents, and contributions of all people. God invites us to live as people of hope!
I recently went to a big box home improvement store and was more disoriented than usual. A short walk through the main entrance set me on a holiday parade unlike any I’ve ever seen.
Right inside the front doors, I was in the land of pumpkins and scarecrows, ghosts and headstones, spiders and even an 8-foot tall, lighted Darth Vader yard inflatable. Just a few steps later, I took a trip to Pilgrimville, surrounded by a floor to ceiling display of turkey-shaped items, autumnal decor, and a cornucopia centerpiece bulging with plastic gourds, corn, and feathers. Not to be outdone by these two “minor” holidays, the rest of the seasonal featured area was populated with a virtual forest, complete with artificial evergreens, sparkling lights, and glistening bows of every size and color.
“What on Earth is going on?” I wondered. “What season is it?” Outside, the leaves are only beginning to change, but inside there is a collision of these three holidays.
Don’t read me wrong – I am not anti-holiday. Instead, I am for the holy-days. Instead of asking, “What on Earth is going on?” we should ask ourselves, “What, in God’s name, is going on?”
Some years ago, there was a gentleman who would occasionally pace the sidewalk on Sunday mornings in front of a church I was serving. Our next-door neighbor was the Orthodox Cathedral for the region. As he meandered back and forth between our campuses, he carried a large sign that read, “Culturally Irrelevant.”
I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with this man, so I am only guessing what he was thinking. Maybe he had been let down by the church. Maybe he was frustrated with the disconnect between religion and his daily life experience. Maybe he had been asking himself, “What on Earth is going on?” In any case, I took his sign as a compliment.
As followers of Jesus, we live in this world, but are encouraged not to conform to the world’s ways. In many ways, the church is called to be counter-cultural, or as the man’s sign said, “Culturally Irrelevant.”
Jesus calls us to love all people, even our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. We are told to forgive over and over and over, rather than filling our days with wrath and vengeance. Instead of hoarding for ourselves, we are expected to share with those in need. Jesus tells us to move through each day trusting that God will provide for us, rather than frittering away our time in worry. God challenges us to love with reckless abandon, see the best in others, and celebrate the gifts, talents, and contributions of all people. God invites us to live as people of hope!
As Christians, we are invited to challenge and transform culture, not the other way around. We cannot – and do not – withdraw from the harsh realities of this life, but are instead called directly into moments and cultures of fear, hate, and greed. God’s huge and transformational love doesn’t necessarily make sense to the culture of our world, so we constantly live in a collision of cultures, asking, “Who are we?” “What are we about?” “What’s most important to us?”
It’s time to reconnect our faith and our daily lives. It’s time to recognize the holy moments in each day. It’s time for the power and promises of Jesus to flow through us, no matter the season.
Happy Hallothankmas!Pastor LowellSo here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life —your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.Romans 12:1-2 The Message