Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Following God’s Call

In the time between now and Lent at Holy Cross we will begin to think about how we are each able to commit to participate in our mission together to provide people with the hope of the Gospel through worship and communion, pass on the faith through our children's ministry and school, and reach out to the community through our food basket ministry.   Please start your process of discernment by reading and praying about the following:  

It's really free? 

The true church has nothing to sell. We give away our greatest treasure for free. We freely give people the story of God’s love in Jesus Christ that can change and even save lives. We pray for all God’s children willingly without demand. We invite all to worship no matter how they are classified by the world or how they classify themselves. We generously provide without requirement for those in our community under stress through our food ministry. We do this because our Savior Jesus led the way and gave all of himself freely on behalf of a world in bondage to decay and death. In return, Jesus only asks that we answer the call of His invitation to life. This call is given in the closing verses of the Bible. “The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let everyone who hears say, "Come." And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.” (Revelation 22:17 NRSV)

The Cycle of Giving

We at Holy Cross are only able to give away the Gospel Message of Life free of charge because the committed disciples of our community have freely given of their own resources to make this happen. If you have heard the Word of God, experienced Jesus’ presence in Communion, felt the joy of community, been inspired by our dynamic and Spirit filled worship, found a sense of purpose by volunteering to help those in our community, it is all because other Christians have shared of their blessings to give you the blessing of Jesus. God partners with the generous of our community to bring healing, hope and renewal through the gift of the Gospel.

God Makes the Giver

The beloved Gospel story of Zacchaeus shows how a person once healed by God can come to use her or his gifts to help others. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." (Luke 19:5 NRSV) Zacchaeus answers Jesus’ call and comes down. Jesus willingness to dine with him showed that God indeed loved him despite way of life that had hurt others and left him all alone. Once he understands that he is accepted as he is by God, Zacchaeus could take stock of his life and decide to change. He makes a complete 180. He turns from extracting from others into one who gives for others. He not only tries to make amends, he decides to make a difference. Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." (Luke 19:8 NRSV) The sequence is important for the story, Zacchaeus hears the voice of God, learns he is included in the plan, and then follows God’s call to use his gifts to help include others. In the upcoming weeks I will be challenging us all (including myself) to open our hearts to follow God’s call for our lives today.

Follow the Call  

My prayer is that the threefold pattern in the Zacchaeus story can be a reality in your life. I hope that you hear the voice of Christ calling you to come into God’s presence. Once the truth that you are loved by God is plain to you, I then hope you can take stock of your life now. Maybe the Spirit will lead you to see what you have and what you do not have, what you can do, or what you might you have thought you could never do. Then you can decide how you can make a difference through your giving. The proceeds of which will be used to help others receive the gift of salvation spoken about in God’s Word.

Holy Cross continues to make it through tough times because our people have the courage to be generous. The reality is that in the church today financial resources will be tight. This is  not always a bad thing. God wants us to use that which we are blessed with to most effect. If you choose to be generous towards our common ministry, please know that every gift you make will have a profound difference for us in our work together as a congregation. Indeed that is how it should be. As Jesus noticed and affirmed Zacchaeus, we as a congregation should notice and value the contributions of all who make up our church. I look forward to sharing more with you about how we together will follow God’s call.

 Keep the Faith,
 Pastor Knecht