Sermon notes from today’s service in Ennis. Montana – Rev. Steve Hundley Taken in poetry as I listened – written through JanBeek’s filters.
Church: A Miracle of God
I can’t scold you today – Not because we are in this place, Not because I’m in a good mood, But because of the love in this space.
Because of the words of Paul (the ones our Paul read so well today), I am encouraged to join in With what Gentle Jesus had to say.
He wrote to the Thessalonians While he was out traveling, making a tent, “We were gentle among you,” He said. “We spoke soft words – whispered encouragement.”
Paul’s words to other churches Were not so gentle and kind. But to the Thessalonians, He set aside Sternness – and praised the ties that bind.
The Gospel is a powerful book. It can and does transform lives. We are astonished at how God’s Word Teaches, changes folks, lives, and survives.
The church, like the one in Thessalonica, Is a place where people love and give. They pray for you, they stay with you, They make life better and help you live.
Our old church in McAllister, Montana was built in the early 1900s. It has no running water, so when we use it for church services once a year, we have to rent a porta-potty, chase the mice away, and clean the mouse droppings from the chairs and alter.
But, it is a place that reminds of how simple God’s church can be. It doesn’t have to be a large, elaborate cathedral to be worshipful.
It is not the building that makes a church. In the early days, many of the “church services” were held in people’s homes. Some people in today’s world still hold their worship services in living rooms, tents, or on an open hillside. The Miracle of God that is His Church is not the place, but the people.
Wherever we gather, with the focus on worship of our God, He is with us. That’s what Paul was telling the church of Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 was what our scripture volunteer, Paul Carlson, read to us today:
“Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous, and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory. And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.”
As Christians, members of His Church, that is our goal: to hear His Word, and respond to it by encouraging, comforting, and urging fellow Christians to live lives that demonstrate He is indeed at work in us. That is what makes our church “God’s Miracle.” Not the building, but we, the people.
Whether we are in our old McAllister treasure, or our salmon-colored church in downtown Ennis, our job is to love one another, support one another, and spread the Word to those who may not know the Peace of Christ that “passeth all understanding.”
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
God Bless You, my friends. I hope you have the joy of a supportive church family. And I pray that you are one of those who is God’s hand at work in this world. Have a lovely Sunday night.
Today is my mom’s birthday. She’d be 104 today. I woke early and was greeted by this gorgeous sunrise peeking over the beautiful Madison Range.
As I zoomed in on it, it became more vibrant.
Orange was my mom’s favorite color. Good morning, Mom! I see you smiling down from heaven. I remember your best days, and set aside the years when Alzheimer’s robbed you of the sparkle, the tenacity, and the wisdom that marked your best days.
Always involved in activities, Mom loved the Rebekahs (female branch of the Odd Fellows), and her bridge club, which weekly met in our living room. Even into her 80’s she loved her 20-Ands Club. She represented a lot of “Ands.” She was an impeccable dresser, beautifully groomed. Managed always to stay fit. She was probably the person who invented the “Selfie”!!
I wrote this poem on December 18, 2004 with Mom in mind. I used phrases she spoke in her last weeks on earth. She was big on giving orders – right up to her last days – even telling God when to take her “home.” She died the day after I composed this, on December 19th.
Before I Die
Before I leave this earth I have a few requests Listen up, my dears, Tomorrow there’ll be tests.
Take my diamond necklace And convert it into cash. Use it for my funeral, Then live life within the dash.
It’s too late for me, friends, To change the things I’ve done; But you have time to listen And teach others of God’s Son.
“The Dash” is all the years Between birth and when you die. Those in-between years Are where your stories lie.
Take my gold and silver, Go out and help the poor. Make amends for all the years I lived from store to store.
Take my many angels, Give them to folks who are Ill, hurting, or lonely. Tell them about the star:
The star of Bethlehem that Was where the angels went To see the newborn baby – Our Lord from Heaven sent.
Take my many clothes and find Folks who are in need. Take the food that I have stashed. Go to the hungry. Feed!
Take my shoes and slippers. Take them all and give Them to the cold and homeless. Help them to warmer live.
Take my chairs and tables, The lamps and bedding, too. Give them to a Home or Mission. They’ll help out quite a few.
Then look around your house, friends. And see the excess treasure. Take it to the needy. You’ll be blessed beyond all measure.
Live your life within the dash In loving generosity. Before you leave this earth, Reach out in pure humility.
Take your gold and silver. Go out and help the poor. God will bless you richly, and You will never want for more.
And we did give most of her angels away – my friend/former student, Lorei, hung them with a note on the doorknobs of the other residents at her care facility where mom lived. Mom had dozens of angels in her collection! And, we gave her clothes and other “stuff” to the people and places that could use them.
However, I have a few of her angels in my “Sanctuary” upstairs. My maiden name is “DeAngeles” (translates to “of angels” – in Italian). Mom lives in me… and today I celebrate her sunrise, her best qualities, and the gifts she instilled in me: self-confidence, unconditional love, tenacity, and a love of poetry.
Happy Birthday, Mom! I am “Living in the Dash” just as you taught me.
When I posted this, it was supposed to be a tribute to a fellow blogger who shared Maya Angelou’s poem, “Continue.” But, when my post aired, the poem was missing. I have since tried to find it, but to no avail… until now.
I wrote, “I love this Maya Angelou poem. I had not seen it before. Have you?” And then, there was no poem for you to see!!
One thing I did find during my search was this quote by Maya Angelou, “My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”
This is our month on JanBeek of gratitude and kindness… and Maya’s heart and talent surely expand the love this blog is meant to share with you.
I continued my search for her poem titled, Continue, and finally found it!! It was on Phil Ebersole’s blog with a sub-title of, “Thoughts about politics and the passing scene”