Hmmmm… feels like we have a million things to share with you this morning!
It was our exiting pastor’s last sermon yesterday, fittingly titled “Dealing with Disappointment”. We are all disappointed that these things had to happen (3 staff members let go at our church), and of course it was very disappointing for her–she threw herself into the work of leading, organizing, and helping us grow. (As did the other staff members.) She had many dreams for us, high hopes, and prayed much for us. It is because of her that we have become a people with a strong purpose/motto, that has been “hammered” into us: “We Exist to Invite Ordinary People to Encounter Christ and Thoughtfully Follow Him in the World”. (See–I didn’t even have to check, I knew it off by heart!) Sharon seemed beautiful with God’s Spirit as she spoke yesterday… I’m sure these notes will not do her justice. However!
She warned us that disappointment deepens if we blame God; our love for him fades, along with our serving. The scripture reading was from Luke 5 and 7, where Jesus healed the leper, and then was asked the question by John the Baptist (by proxy–he sent 2 of his disciples), “Are you the one we’ve been looking for?” Jesus did not answer that question directly, but said to tell John about the miracles he’d been doing. This answer is actually a quote from the Old Testament, except that Jesus adds the part about lepers being healed. Leprosy is also a metaphor for sin. When Jesus healed the leper, he entered into the leper’s reality by actually touching him. It was anathema to touch a leper for the Jews, because it would make them “unclean”, and involved cleansing rituals to correct. Jesus became sin for us.
Jesus concludes his answer to John with “Blessed is he who takes no offense in me.” I didn’t realize that this is actually a blessing on John, because he did not take offense in Jesus. He simply had questions, and we should ask questions when we have them–God invites us to pour out our hearts to him. However, we should not “take offense” in him, or blame him–charging God with wrongdoing. Sharon said that one key for dealing with disappointment is to be thankful, and my heart went out to her as she said that she “thanked God for her promotion”, as I know this job-loss must be embarrassing for her. But she ended her sermon with these things:
- God is too kind to be cruel, and too deep to be understood.
- We should give up souvenir Christianity for a deeper walk with God.
- The harder you hit a nail, the deeper it goes.
- The harder you bounce a rubber ball, the higher it goes.
- The harder you crush a flower, the more scent is released.
- The more you crush tea leaves, the stronger the tea.
And the congregation applauded.
K, that was long enough. The other things will have to wait!