Oh my, now to see if we can get down all the great messages that we’ve had today!
To start, our pre-service seminar (called "Characters Welcome", about Old Testament characters), was about Daniel. What an inspiration! This was a guy who stood his ground, and as a result was able to experience some pretty amazing miracles. We’d never thought about it before, but it was because he took that first step of putting his faith into practise, that God multiplied his faith and enabled him to stand firm "against all odds". That kind of brings him down to our level–like, we could do that too, if we just took that first step. Other important factors about Daniel: he wasn’t a rebel, but actually asked for permission to eat a different diet than what they wanted him to have; he did his very best at every job he was given; he had a support group (the three friends, who were thrown into the fire & survived). Daniel shows how important regular, daily prayer is; which was a main factor in giving him that "special insight", aka, knowing exactly what God was saying (which included dream interpretation). His prayer included giving thanks, even when he knew he could be executed for it, and getting on his knees–an attitude of humility. Both prayer and practise, I think, were the secrets of Daniel’s life.
On to the service! We started with… ("The Last Stand"??) that trumpet number that you always hear on Remembrance Day; and our vets taking up a wreath to place near the altar, followed by a moment of silence. In the Children’s Story, Carol showed how the poppy could be made with hearts, and explained why love is appropriate for Remembrance Day. The next section of our series from 1 John, was all about love (as much of that book is, of course). In fact, 1 John was written to address conflict in the church. Not the same as war-conflict of course, but… maybe it can be close to that sometimes! Perhaps we would be surprised to realize how people who seem so upright, can be vulnerable to some pretty basic sins… For example, the scripture we read when we got home (in a daily reading that we do) was about that time when Paul had to upbraid Peter, about sometimes treating some better than others. Peter, the Apostle, who was being used in amazing ways by God!
Hmmm… this is getting too long! But you know what John says (1 John 3)–about loving your brother, etc., whether you FEEL like it, or not! Otherwise, you can’t even say that you’re in God’s family. But you need to realize that we CANNOT love the way God does, unless he helps us to do it.
Sharon was affirmed today, as several people broke into applause after her sermon, and a few others mentioned in their prayers afterward (we had an open prayer-time) how thankful they were for her. We have not done her sermon justice here at all, but it was a great reminder that we can have confidence in God’s love and forgiveness, confidence that he hears us if we live in an attitude of forgiving others, that he will help us do amazing things! Like Daniel!