Today we welcomed Helen Kemp as a guest speaker.
Where I Stand
I should like to share with you a glimpse of my passion.
I chose to follow Christ even when I wasn’t sure of the validity of believing in someone my eyes could not see only thinking believing was the right and expected thing to do.
Last Sunday Pastor Dick said things were being shaken.
The Bible says, “that everything that can be shaken will be.”
shaken. I am a literalist on the word of God but I’m not thinking of the tsunami that just occurred in Indonesia but a spiritual wake up call to the family of God, the state of our world, and even to the core of our personal faith. I have always been challenged by Jesus when he says, “Who do you say that I am” this is our bottom line quest to be able to personally answer this question.
There was a time in my faith journey when I was confronted with this question. If you had known me then from my action’s you would probably have said no, she’s a Christian and you would have not known the wrestling of faith I was going through. I had become smug and arrogant as though I had rounded up all the answers a Christian could ask. I was at the Baltimore Civic Center to hear Richard Roberts son of Oral Roberts. I went because their TV program always said, “Something good is going to happen to you.” I went with no expectation of an encounter with God. I had a simple question is faith real or is this all just been some fairytale? We were asked to pray aloud these words,
“In the name of Jesus”. Somewhere in this action I had a sense of Jesus presence I had never experienced, and I heard him say, “You are doing all the right things, but you don’t even know me.” It hurt me to my inmost being to hear those words and in an instant, there was a fire in my spirit that welled up and caused me to surrender all my doubts and change my Christian Commitment and at that moment I knew without doubt that my faith and Jesus as Savior was real. My passion is Christ as the word says, “to know him in his death and resurrection” He is more than any denomination. He is a friend of sinners. To call him Lord and personally accept him is not the same as knowing about him.
I witness to you that I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation. Look at the cross like I do. At the top God reaches down to us and from the foot of the cross where we stand, he asks us to reach up to him. This is our faith. The arms of the cross remind us to open our hands and arms to others. This is our faith in action. Remember faith without works is dead. That is worthless. I am so blessed to be a child of God and a member of the family of God. I pray for and with you. I celebrate with you and grieve with you. The megachurch is a trend not the priority. The strength of the small church is her ability to offer Christ and a personal relationship to all people and to be a family. Even the Family of God is not always peaceful and in full agreement but like a bushel basket, to be filled pressed down and running over with the gifts given to each member for the Kingdom of God and his glory.
His word is a revelation, inerrant, faithful, and true.
“We Are Family”
The family created at birth include: parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. The modern family structure has had to adapt to very influential changes, including divorce and the introduction of:
increased interest in adoption
stay-at-home father and due to social media
all these factors have contributed to the creation of alternative family forms, generating new versions of the American family.
The nuclear family has been considered the “traditional” family since the communist scare in the cold war of the 1950s. The nuclear family consists of a mother, father, and the children. The two-parent nuclear family has become less prevalent, and pre-American and European family forms have become more common. Beginning in the 1970s in the United States, the structure of the “traditional” nuclear American family began to change.
Here are a few facts about the modern family:
The percentage of married-couple households with children under 18 has declined to from 45% in 1960 to 25.6% in 1990 and 23.5% of all households in the year 2000.
The percentage of single-parent households has doubled in the last three decades, but that percentage tripled between 1900 and 1950.
Statistics show that there are 1,300 new stepfamilies forming every day. Over half of American families are remarried, that is 75% of marriages ending in divorce, remarry.
Americans are putting off life’s big milestones. Today, the median age at first marriage is 29 for men and 27 for women—the highest in modern history.
In 2013, more than one-in-four (26%) of people ages 18 to 32 were married. But in 1960, well over half (65%) of Americans were married.
Mothers are also waiting longer to have children. In 1960, women ages 15 to 24 accounted for 40% of mothers with infants. By 2011, that number had dropped to 22%.
Today, an American woman, on average, is expected to have 1.9 children,
Compared with a total fertility rate of 3.7 children in 1960.
Families today are more blended and differently constructed. Our family had two half-brothers’.
Nearly half (44%) of young people ages 18 to 29 have a step sibling.
Intermarriage among people of different races is increasingly common. In 1980, just 7% of all marriages in the U.S. were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity. One of my nieces is in an interracial marriage. In 2010, that share has doubled to 15% of all new marriages in the U.S.
So how has this effected the country and the church?
From an article I read on the internet, in 1960, 37% of households included a married couple raising their own children. More than a half-century later, just 16% of households look like that.
I recall a study where middle school kids were shown shows like Leave it to beaver and Father Knows Best and the sociologists and teachers were sure the students would be bored senseless. But to their surprise when afterwards the comments from the children were, “Can we go there? “Can we be a part of that family?” So, what’s missing? I believe spending time with someone and listening to them is deeply lacking is the neglected ministry anyone needs to create a relationship. God has both qualities in abundance not only for children but every person.
As the family structure has altered, fractured relationship barriers have been created. Even substitutes like social media have only succeeded in increasing loneliness and depression. When I began teaching Sunday School here in the 1980’s teaching the Lord’s Prayer was easy and holiday crafting for Father’s and Mother’s Day was expected and planned for.
At that time, we were a church with 50 participating in Sunday School classes and home church meetings were well attended. Today teaching about a heavenly Father to children that are from a family unit that may or may not have a father figure or a male adult a is referred to as a heavenly parent-caregiver as the role of a parent may not be one of love and care in a child’s experience. Since the decline of regular Sunday school attendance among children teachers find it nearly impossible to prepare lessons or plan for crafting for parents on holidays. Instead a teacher is trying to reach at risk kids with more relevant alternative family structure methods. The role of the church is protector, relationship driven and counsellor and for many families.
HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS OF MATTHEW, MARK AND LUKE
Matthew 12:50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Matthew 19:29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.
These words from the harmony of the Gospels at first may seem harsh not focused on those we know so well related to us by birth but as he always did he was asking us not to be temporal (earth bound) in our thoughts and actions but placing priority on the kingdom of God and expanding our ministry to the members of the family of God we are related to. When I taught Spanish at Carroll Lutheran School my chief goal was to inspire my students to open their understanding with another human being through their language. When we studied the Aztec and Mayan civilizations, I asked them to think of how the Spaniards and the native tribes would have viewed each other when they met for the first time and what they could have done to break down the barriers that separated them and find their human commonality.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” And Jesus began to define the relationship “neighbor” with a parable.
A great example is expressed for us in the story of the Good Samaritan whose ministry and acts of mercy were not dependent on shallow human decision standards. If we were the injured person by the side of the road would we be willing to accept help because someone had a different appearance, or because we had long ago decided they were an enemy would ethnicity, or prejudice.
I would like to share how our church has changed…a family in this church has been ministering to a member suddenly challenged with drastic life and health challenges. A member gave a moving testimony about how they had been included in family activities. A member has never shared how when they found loss too deep their need for a prayer partner had been answered. When families were adopted for Christmas members of this church didn’t ask for details but made sure they were blessed with gifts, a prayer and a personal visit. They offered a glass of water in return and a Christmas card. People who needed home repairs and tasks met had plenty of help. There are many other examples of Gods family in action giving without thought, without expectation of return, as acts of grace. The widowed, lonely, ailing, sorrowful, orphaned cared for in Jesus name.
As this year of our lord 2018 comes to a close, let us not only think of the events of the year like the news highlights of the day but let our thoughts be on God’s goodness, his mercy and grace to us and through us to others. Not dependent upon ethnicity, or the human standards we measure people with against ourselves. Some of us have had to say goodbye for now to those we loved in our sorrow let our consolation be that they will visit us in our thoughts and memories. Keeping them ever present until we are with them again. Jesus asked us to let the dead bury the dead and put our hand to the plow.
Practical as Jesus always was, he said, don’t live in the past but move forward in the path he places before us as we walk with him. In the year and times to come we pray that our Christian witness will be to be a living witness to every man, woman and child we meet, each one a member the family of God. Diversity was Gods design just read the list of our faith family tree members each one brought unique skills and talents. Our relatives through the scarlet bloodline of Gods family not strictly Hebrew, not only male, not only pure of race or even life status, according to our standards good and bad alike but each worthy of mention as a unique contributor. The founding fathers of America brought with them all their differences and like a quilt sewed us together as a unique country in all the world. There is no nation on the face of the earth where every person is good or safe as human nature is still flawed. Each person must make the decision for or against sin. Gods way is to build relationships not barriers mankind has devised through human building materials, pride and prejudice. Let us to resolve as a member of the family of God to be Jesus to someone we meet this year not for a holiday but all year through. 50