Monday, July 30, 2012

offer what you have

John 6: 1-21
 This story is obviously important to the life and ministry of Jesus and his followers.  Some version of it is told by all four gospel writers.  Although each version is a little different;  Matthew, Mark and Luke all make a point to mention that this happened directly after the death of John the Baptist which John leaves out.  Matthew and Mark both include the attempt by Peter to walk on water too but Luke and John don’t.   In this version Jesus asks Philip how they are going to feed everyone but in the other three versions the disciples themselves pose the question to Jesus.  (NIV, LASB)
Eye witness testimonies are notoriously flawed.  Everyone sees things from their own perspective.  Time may also play a part in the variations between accounts of Jesus’ miracles and the parables he uses to teach.  I doubt that one of the disciples acted as a secretary.  It is a little silly to imagine one of the disciples following Jesus around with a pen and scroll.   Saying “Master, can you repeat what you just said, my pen ran out of ink”
Sometimes it is easy to get so caught up in the details that we ignore the lessons being taught.  Even though these 4 accounts of the same event in Jesus’ life differ they are remarkably consistent on the important parts. 
Jesus and the disciples came to this spot by the Sea of Galilee to find rest.  We are getting close to the end of Jesus ministry and they were exhausted from all the crowds, traveling, and by many accounts from mourning the loss of their friend, John the Baptist.  It had been a long three years.  Rest was not in the cards though. (NIV, LASB; Barclay) The scripture states that it was near time for the Passover so pilgrims from all over the area would be coming that way to go to Jerusalem. (Barclay, 1976)  Just as soon as they sat down here comes this throng of people wanting to see Jesus.  They had heard about all his miracles and teachings and wanted to see him for themselves.  Instead of getting upset at the crowd for not letting him rest he saw this as a wonderful opportunity, a teaching moment and some versions say he had compassion for them.(NIV LASB)  He knew how hungry they were for leadership, knowledge and faith- Just something to believe in, that he was willing to sacrifice his rest for their salvation. Oh if they only knew how much more he was willing to sacrifice for them.  
Jesus knew there wasn’t a town for miles and nowhere to buy food so in jest- Jesus asks Philip- “where can we find food for all these people?”  What does Philip do?  The same thing we would do if we felt God was asking us to do something impossible- Panic!    He starts making excuses about why it couldn’t be done- No stores for miles, it would cost too much- it just couldn’t be done.   Then, here comes Andrew with this child and a picnic lunch for one.  This was barely enough food for one small boy much less 5,000 men and who knows how many Women and children who weren’t counted. 
Jesus takes what is impossible and makes it possible. (NIV, LASB)
How many times are we like Philip?  We know God is asking us to do something but from our perspective it seems impossible.  Maybe our excuses are like Philip’s- there’s not enough money.  Or maybe the excuses are all our own- I’m too old or too young, I can’t get around like I used too, I’m not smart enough, talented enough, I don’t have enough time, what if they make fun of me, It’s too much of a commitment.  We can all come up with a laundry list of excuses not to do what God is calling us to do.
How often are we Andrew in this story?  We realize that something needs to be done and we have an idea of how to address it but we doubt.  We doubt the quality of the solution, we think the problem is too big, although we hear a solution we are pessimistic about its success so we start looking for ways it will fail. (Homiletics)
When God asks us to do something we quickly forget that he already knows our shortcomings.  He is already aware of our “not enoughs”.  God simply wants us to be the child in this story- Bring God what you have and be willing to share it.(NIV LASB)  That’s all.  When we try to see the big picture it is often too overwhelming so we choose to do nothing. 
Let’s take a problem we hear about repeatedly on the TV.  Children starving in some foreign land.  If someone asked us to fix it we would probably do what Philip and Andrew did- make excuses- it’s too big of a problem for us to tackle.  We wouldn’t even know where to start!
How many commercials do we see every day that tug at our heart strings with images of sad starving children with the commentary- For just a dollar a day you too could make a difference in the life of this child.  And you can- most of these agencies are legitimate and good causes and a dollar a day very well may be all the difference to the child you sponsor but my point is this.  We can all spare a dollar a day- one less coffee, soft drink, quarter pounder with cheese- whatever we spend our money on- we can usually spare a dollar.  But it seems so far out of reach when you say for a donation of $365 you can make a difference.  We get so caught up in how big the investment is that we forget how simple it would be to reach.   Maybe your dollar a day isn’t enough to really make a difference but when you combine it with someone else’s it can make a huge difference. 
Each year there are over 200 million cases of Malaria and it kills over 600,000 people mostly under the age of 5. (nothing but nets)  The primary method of preventing contact with the mosquitoes carrying the disease is a $10 net that covers the sleeping area of a child or family.  (nothingbutnets)  Just since 2006 the year a program called nothing but nets began, deaths from Malaria have decreased 25% (World Health Organization World Malaria Report 2011).   This is a big problem but because people give what they can and combine that with donations from others it is making a difference- Imagine No Malaria is an extension of the nothing but nets program.  It is an effort by the United Methodist Church to take it a step further.  The children at VBS this year will be raising money and combining their small offering with others from around the country to continue to provide bed nets but also education and access to medical treatment.  Watch and see what God can do when we offer what we have- saving lives $10 at a time.  
Not once has God ever asked us to do something on our own (NIV LASB).  We may feel that way sometimes but that is our own problem of perception.  God wants to help.  He puts people in our lives who want to help all we have to do is ask.  But that also requires sacrificing our pride that we can’t control everything, humility acknowledging that we can’t do it all, courage to share a radical idea and sometimes the willingness to take that leap of faith.    What can you offer to God today?  Let him decide how much is enough.
 if we are simply able to bring what we have to the table and offer our meager amounts of talent, time, or resources God can make it into something wonderful. (NIV LASB)
Maybe trying to conquer malaria or the world hunger problem is too big to comprehend but there is much that needs to be done in our own communities.
Maybe you don’t have a lot of talent but you can read to someone who has lost their vision or send cards of encouragement to missionaries or wounded military.  Maybe you can’t see well enough to write but you can call someone who is sick.  Maybe you don’t get around well but you can knit scarves or hats for the homeless.  Maybe you used to teach but your retired- most schools would love volunteers to simply spend an hour a week letting a child read to them or even an hour a month having lunch with a child whose parents work and can’t come visit. 
Maybe you can clip soup labels or box tops for education or collect lose change for a mission project.  And maybe you don’t feel like what you have is enough- it’s enough to touch the life of one person and who knows maybe God is encouraging others to share what you’re passionate about, they are just waiting to hear your idea. 
God doesn’t ask us to give more than we have- He just wants us to be willing to share what we do have.  When Jesus “gave thanks” and broke the bread it doesn’t say he asked God for more- He simply gave thanks for what they did have- and it was enough.
The other part of this miracle is the bread and fish themselves.  Each time I read this story I imagined 5 loaves of bread like you would see at the grocery store the size of a football and 2 fish at least big enough to keep if you were the one fishing.  Not that that isn’t miracle enough but when I read this week that the five loaves were each the size of a dinner roll and 2 fishes probably the size of sardines it made this event even more amazing (Barclay, 1976).  And, it wasn’t that the child’s lunch was just enough- it was more than enough- the scripture doesn’t say that everyone got a bite- it says they all had enough to eat.  And even then, there were 12 baskets of leftovers.  They didn’t even have 12 baskets worth of food to begin with.    Talk about making lemons into lemon-aid- Jesus took a poor boys lunch and made it into a feast!
And if one miracle in one day wasn’t enough- the story continues.   Once again Jesus and the disciples seek rest- Jesus heads into the mountains to be alone and the disciples get in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.  Again, there is no rest for the weary.  We see them rowing just as hard as they can against the wind, waves and current.  They are almost to shore, beat up and exhausted only a ½ mile or so to go and out of nowhere Jesus appears to them. (Barclay)  I imagine they thought they were seeing things, delusional from being so tired but here comes Jesus walking on the water out to the boat- terrifying his poor friends.  (NIV LASB)
This time, Jesus doesn’t calm the sea, like he did at other times, he is simply present with them.  Offered them words of comfort and before they realized it they arrived right where they wanted to be.  How often are our lives like this.  We are trying desperately to solve life’s problems on our own.  We take full responsibility for something failing or succeeding, we don’t want to burden others with our problems or don’t know how to ask for help.  This scripture encourages us to know that when it feels like we just can’t work any harder, we are too exhausted to go on or the waves get too rough- Jesus is there.  He will show up. Even when we least expect it. 
God doesn’t promise to make things easy.  He doesn’t expect us to give more than we have.  He doesn’t expect us to do it on our own.  He simply wants us to offer what we have, be willing to share it with others and God promises to show up- even at the most unexpected moments- He is there, watching, loving, comforting, supporting and he promises that if we are following his call- he will get you there.
NIV LASB- New International Version- Life Application Study Bible  Zondervan 1991
Barclay, William- Gospel of John Vol. 1
Homiletics Magazine “The monster under Megan’s bed” 7/27/1997

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tear Down your walls

Ephesians 2: 11-22
Paul wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus and it was intended to be passed around to multiple congregations of believers throughout Asia Minor around 60 AD.  My how times have not changed!  It always amazes me how the teachings in the Bible from so long ago still speak to the challenges of today.
 During the time Paul wrote this letter the church in general was struggling with an Us vs. Them mentality.  The Jewish Christians felt that they were better than the Gentile Christians because of their heritage.  The Jewish Christians believed that because they were part of the original “chosen people of God” they were more important and closer to God.  The Jewish people of the time believed that the sole purpose of the Gentiles was to be fuel for the fires of Hell and that God only loved the Israelites. (Barclay, 1976)
The hatred for the Gentiles was so strong that if a Jew married a Gentile they would actually perform a funeral for the Jew. (Barclay, 1976) Wow!  That is a pretty strong sentiment. The Jewish temple even had a physical wall to ensure the Gentiles did not enter the holy places of worship. Doing so was even punishable by death!(Barclay, 1976)  Hopefully we don’t have the same contempt for our neighbors today but it’s amazing to realize that we still build walls, physical and metaphorical, to keep people out of our lives, out of our churches, and out of our country. 
 Paul addresses this division in this letter to the Ephesians by reminding them and us that through Christ they are all equal and that Christ came to bring unity and salvation to all people.  Yes, the ancestors of Jacob had been chosen by God but they had failed miserably at keeping his commandments.  The Gentile believers through Christ now had just as much right to be children of God as the Jewish.  The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ had torn down the barriers between the two to form a new Kingdom and to bring peace. 
  As you  know, after World War II, Germany was divided East and West.  The west was organized as a capitalist society much like the American, English and French countries chartered with helping it rebuild.  The East however was organized as a communist society like the country chartered with helping it rebuild- the Soviet Union.  12 years or so after the war ended the East Germans were frustrated by the differences between the economics in the East and West and decided to construct a wall.  It began as a barbed wire fence but over the next 14 years it grew into a well-fortified 12 feet high and 28 mile long wall. (New World Encyclopedia)  The Berlin wall was constructed like many of the personal walls we build in our own lives- out of fear.  East Germany was afraid of the immigration issues, labor inequalities and economic and political freedom of the West.  The Berlin Wall remained for 28 years.  What had once been one Nation, one people, one government was divided as a result of the sin, and hate championed by Nazi Germany. 
 We still use physical walls today to divide.  A couple very controversial fences lie between the US and Mexico as well as the walls and fences that separate Israel from Palestine and North Korea from South Korea.  I won’t pretend to know the political policies and personal fears that create these walls. Sometimes fences make good neighbors- sometimes they don’t.  
One of the walls we build may seem a little more innocent.  We hear all the time that Sunday morning is the most segregated time in America.  We use church walls to divide us by worship style, politics, race, socioeconomic class; the list goes on and on.
 Sometimes our barriers are not physical. It is a lot less obvious and a lot grayer.  Without even thinking we use words like “us” and “them” and ”those people.”  These words may seem harmless enough when they are used carelessly and without thought.  And they often seem harmless when we use them about someone else-especially when we’re in the majority.    We use words like Those Democrats or Those Republicans, Those rednecks or those hippies.- those whomever fit the situation.
 The simple use of us and them puts up an invisible wall.  Maybe this is part of human nature- each of us trying desperately to find something to be proud of.  We make sweeping generalizations or caricatures of an entire group of people. Stereotypes that are often false are often an attempt to make ourselves feel better about our own short comings. 
 Living and growing up in rural North Carolina I know that not everyone who lives in North Carolina look and act like the cartoon “Snuffy Smith”.  We don’t all live in Mayberry and act like the “Dukes of Hazard”-but this is a stereotype I have heard from others especially when I was their first introduction to someone from North Carolina.  On particular example was my freshman year in college- I met several people from the New England area.  After getting to know them I would hear things like- “I really thought you people acted that way. I thought people from the south were just as stupid as the TV made them out to be.” But still, we do it anyway.  We use stereotypes and prejudgments to put others down and to make ourselves feel better-even when we don’t like it when people who don’t know us do it to us. 
 The Jewish Christians were doing this too.  They had a form of spiritual pride that had been cultivated since Moses lead the Israelites through the wilderness.    They looked down on the gentile believers because they didn’t have the same beliefs, history and religious practices.  We still do this today. We often use tradition as a wall to divide us.  Sure, we will be hospitable as long as they don’t try to change things, or as long as they are willing to do it our way.  Jesus challenges us to not ignore our past but to build new traditions (NIV- Life Application Bible).  You see,  Jesus came to change the future not negate the past.  The past is what made us who we are but the past is not where God wants us to be. 
 Just because it is human nature to put others down in order to lift ourselves up doesn’t mean it is right.  It is also human nature to sin.  This may be a reason for our behaviors but not an excuse to continue them.   Christ challenges us to look toward a future of unity and equality with Him. 
Has the church today become an exclusive club for members only?  Do we require people to pay their dues, dress a certain way and be able to recite the Lord’s Prayer and Apostle’s Creed by heart before they are accepted?  How do we make the Gentiles of our time, the outsiders, feel welcomed in our churches?  How do we make them feel unwelcome?  Do we make them feel uncomfortable by assuming they know our sayings, traditions, songs, when to sit, when to stand, when to say what?
When is the last time we welcomed someone into our life, or into the church that was different than ourselves?  When is the last time we really took the time and opportunity to get to know someone who was homeless, a different race, different nationality, different sexual orientation, mentally or physically handicapped or different religion? Not just have pity on them or elevate ourselves in order to help them but really get to know them and let them get to know us? 
It is easy for us to stand on the outside and do mission work and offer handouts to others less fortunate but it is much harder to make ourselves vulnerable and allow them to get to know us. 
Each year The United Methodist Women have a suggested reading list that spans both- fiction and non-fiction and a variety of topics including Missions, Community, Social Action, Spiritual Growth and leadership.  One of the books on last year’s list was a true story titled “Same kind of different as me.”  This story is written by a black man who had escaped the cruel world of slavery and share cropping in Louisiana only to find himself homeless and a wealthy white art dealer from the upper echelon of Texas.    This book walks you through the unlikely friendship of these two very different people and how important it is for both of them to see the other not through the eyes of stereotypes but  as a brother in Christ- loving each other, sharing with each other and helping each other through the difficult times in life.  It is an honest, prejudice recognizing and wall shattering story.  And it shows how much richer life can be when we take the time to share it with others.  (Hall, 2006)
Maybe I am preaching to the choir- maybe I am working on a false assumption and there are no stereotypes here or maybe some of you are thinking “oh she’s not talking to me but this is great!  So and so really needs to hear this”.  I know I have sat in the pew from time to time and thought the same thing.   I am going to go out on a limb though and say that I am probably talking to everyone in this room on some level- I’m even preaching to myself.  We all have our fears, prejudices and bias.  It is one of those things that we all need to be aware of and  work on with God’s help. 
Several cultures throughout Asia use a greeting in which they place their hands together- fingers pointing towards heaven, bow to each other and repeat the word “Namaste” Although there are many translations for this gesture Most people translate this to mean “I bow to the god in you” and in turn “you bow to the god in me”  
We as Christians can learn a lot from this simple greeting.  If we can recognize from the outset that each person we meet is a child of God maybe we would learn to love each other as a brother and sister in Christ.  Start on the common ground of the love and peace of Christ.  This just may result in a change of behavior towards our fellow man- even those very different than us.  Maybe this simple change in perspective would bring about the peace that is in Jesus Christ- even when it is someone we don’t like so much. 
Like President Ronald Ragan is famously quoted   “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear down this wall!”  Christ is calling each of us to tear down the walls that divide us- the fear, distrust, and anxiety we feel when we attempt to judge others through our own eyes of prejudice instead of the eyes of Christ.   Put aside your fears and trust in God.

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 15 2012 the first sermon

Ephesians 1: 3-14
 God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  God never changes, and his plan for this world never changes.  The same thing he wanted for the Israelites in the Old Testament is the same thing he wanted from the first Christians and it is the same thing he wants from us today.  He wants to be in relationship with us.  Plain and simple.  He loves us so much that even when we stray he is taking every opportunity possible to offer us the chance to come back to him.  God is wooing us!  God uses every opportunity to remind us that he is there- we just have to recognize and acknowledge his presence and gifts. 
  I grew up in the church.  One not much bigger than this actually.  I was in church every chance I had- and only missed when I was sick.  Even then I watched preaching on TV.  I didn’t want to miss anything-my week just wasn’t right without God.
 When I hit my teenage years I quickly began to lose interest in the church and God.  My plan for my life didn’t include God.  Like most teenagers I was invincible and in control of my life.  I didn’t need this church stuff where people said one thing and did another.  Talked a good game about loving other’s as God loved us then said ugly things about people when we weren’t in church-camouflaging it with a good southern “bless their heart” I didn’t understand.
 I thought Christians were supposed to act like Christ.  So I left the church.  I thought I could do it on my own- have the “American dream” I was going to College, Get a good job, meet a man, get married, have the house and the white picket fence with my 2.2 children (not exactly sure how you have 2/10 of a child) but that was my dream. 
Sure, I went to church when I was obligated to do so and I still believed God existed but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. It all seemed to be going as I had planned.  That is until the last part of my plan when terribly wrong.  After trying for over a year to get pregnant I realized it wasn’t going to happen.  That is also when my marriage began to fall apart.  As it turns out I wasn’t really in control as much as I thought I was and God’s plan for my life was not the same as my naive image of my dream.
 I think of myself as an optimistic realist but all those Disney Fairytales I loved didn’t prepare me for the not so happy ending.   About the time my ex-husband and I started having problems my sister-in-law who was having struggles of her own and I decided to start looking for a church.  At this point I still wasn’t buying the whole God thing but honestly my “savior” complex went into over drive and I thought well if the church can save her, I would be there with her and take all the credit. 
Well, it didn’t, not then anyway.  But it did save me.  I had no idea I even needed saving.  God used my narcissism and do-gooder pride and used it to woo me back to him.  He used my failures and short comings to point out just how much I needed Him.  Although I had walked away from God- He had never walked away from me.  I just hadn’t been paying attention to all the ways he had blessed me and all the gifts and people he was using to try and get my attention.   Once I started attending Trinity UMC in New Bern, I realized I was not in control of my life and more importantly I realized God was and that it was not my plan that mattered.  I needed to submit myself and allow God back into my life.  And so began my journey to be here with you today. 
I don’t know what you think brought you here today.  Maybe you think it is to check out the new preacher, maybe it is because this is where you are every Sunday morning, or maybe you are here for the good lunch. 
Whatever the reason you think you are here today- know that God is who brought you here.  God is calling you, begging you to come home to Him, to be in a deeper, more faithful relationship with him.  To fall in love with God over and over again.  Even if you are here every Sunday in person- that doesn’t mean you are totally hear- We can always improve on our relationship with God.
 Mary John Dye the DS of the old Statesville district says this- every person who steps into a church is there for a reason.  God has led them there for a reason and it is up to us to make them feel welcomed, loved, and cared for and invite them into a relationship with God and the congregation. 
 This scripture talks about Predestination and it is a weighty topic that some people find pretty controversial.  Some people believe that predestination means that only a select few are set apart for salvation and eternal life with Christ.  As I read this scripture I see it in a different way.  The last part of this lesson states that having believed, you are marked.  To me this means that all people who have heard and believe are destined to be children of God.  All people.  Praise God that is all we have to do!
 There is not a test, or a list of qualifications, or a good dead requirement to receive the love and grace of God.  God’s love extends to all people- especially those who make mistakes.  God’s love is for us! You and me, the Imperfect, blemished, self- centered, proud, gossipers, addicts, cheats- whatever word describes our fault of choice.  That is really why we are here right?  
To praise God for loving us anyway and trying to learn ways to do it better, different, learn from our mistakes- as we hear a lot in the Methodist Church- Moving on towards a perfection that we can only find in Christ and we only hope we can get closer to with each mistake we learn from.  One of the things my Mom used to say when I was in my time of separation from the church was that church was AA for sinners.  People who aren’t alcoholics don’t need to go to Alcoholic’s Anonymous and if the people in church weren’t sinners we wouldn’t need to be there either.  This was her way of explaining to me that Christian’s aren’t perfect- just trying to do things right and often times we fail.  I was ok with this once I realized what she meant and people who are outside the church who are non-religious or nominally religious as Adam Hamilton calls them are ok with that too.  As long as we realize it and own up to it instead of being hypocrites about it.  All too often we do just as I perceived my home church to be.  We put on a facade of perfection to the outside world.  Not realizing they are smart enough to see right through us. 
 The other good thing about predestination is that it means there is a plan.   God tells us this throughout the Bible over and over again- that even when our world feels chaotic, he is in control.  We may only see in part but He sees the big picture.  God has a plan for you, me- he even has a plan for this church.  God’s plan is not to double our membership or start a new project-although that may be a result of His plan.  God’s plan is for each one of us to be head over heels in love with Him! 
When you are in love with someone- everyone can tell it- you smile, you blush, you say all the right things about the other person- your giddy with excitement that they love you too!  If we are truly in love with God- there is no way we can disguise it.  God’s plan is that we take that love for him and share it.  I don’t mean just inviting people to church- I mean sharing why you love God with others- helping them to see how they can recognize his love for them too.  He wants us to help others see how God is working in their lives.  Help them to see how God is wooing them.  All he wants is a relationship with them too.
  Think back to when you first started dating your spouse or significant other- How often did he or she do nice things for you- bring you flowers, cook a nice meal, or simply ask to spend quality time getting to know each other.  We tell our friends about these things- We share those stories all the time.  God does these things everyday not just on birthdays and anniversaries.  He sends you flowers, music to serenade you, he provides us with joy and laughter, a shoulder to cry on, and food on the table.   All this in an effort to spend quality time with us, show us his love and bring us into relationship with Him.  Yes, we have the free will to accept or reject this invitation- just as you had the choice to accept your spouse’s invitation for that first date or the marriage proposal.  But you are here today because at some point you said “yes” to God. 
You have at least said yes to getting to know God better.  Maybe you’re not in love with him yet, or maybe you have fallen out of love with God.  The spark may be gone but you hear him calling for you to come back.  Maybe God is using you to be a matchmaker for him. 
In North Carolina 53% of people claim to attend church regularly- this may be a little over reporting since “regular” can be up for interpretation.  I am guessing that some people consider regular to be Christmas and Easter.  But what that tells us is that there are around 47% of the population that doesn’t have a relationship with Christ at all.  What opportunities do we have to share God’s love with others? Again I don’t mean invite them to church- although that is one way to do it- more so invite them to know Christ and fall in love with him too.  Who knows- maybe they knew him a long time ago but have forgotten how much he loves them.  Maybe they have never known him at all.  Help and encourage others and each other to see how God is trying to reach them and foster that relationship with them.  This doesn’t have to be pushy or invasive but just living our love for God out loud may be all it takes to make someone ask- why are you so happy?
I was in love with God as a child but I chose to see the bad side of those who called him friend.  It was more obvious to me than the good stuff.  I fell out of love with God.  I thought I could do it on my own but God was still wooing me.
 My parents would point out all the good things about Christian friends but I thought that was the exception not the rule.   I needed a more painful wake-up call so God put up a roadblock to my plan.  God put my sister-in –law in my life to touch that deep part of my heart that wanted to help her.  God put the people at trinity in my life to show me and remind me of the loving God I had forgotten.  He was wooing me back into a relationship with him.
God brought me to that Methodist Church in New Bern, but it is the love of Christ in that congregation that made me stay.  It was their love and hospitality that took me in, helped me through my divorce and helped me fall in love with God all over again.  God is using you too. To be an instrument of his love and grace and to help those who have forgotten God or have never really known God to begin with.   It’s not about a new program or gimmick to attract people to our church- it’s figuring out how to attract people to Christ- and that is a very personal thing.  But that is all God has ever asked of us- to love him and to share that love with others. It’s both easy and hard at the same time.  But how can we say no?
And as the sayings go- if you build it they will come- if you feed them they will come and if you love them they will come- it’s not about increasing the membership of the church, it’s about introducing people to a relationship with the lover of our soul, Jesus Christ.  Just as in a relationship- your intrigued, you want to learn more about them, you want to spend time with them, spend time with others who know and love them too and gradually or sometimes suddenly you fall in love and you just can’t get enough.  Then people will ask you too “Why are you so happy?”