What Hallmark Card Day is it today? **** Grandparents Day — its rather fitting isn’t it as we at Trinity are starting our Celebration of 175 years as God’s People rooted in this downtown and moving into the future.
But 175 years is more than just about grandparents – it’s about great grandparents and great-great-great grandparents and then some!! Just think of the things that have changed from one generation to next over 175 years.
Do you think change was any easier for these generations in the 1800’s or in 1900? There’s a story in our history book about the first gatherings of the people worshipping God in the Methodist tradition – they did so in their homes, in small groups – or classes as they were called in Methodism. And when the circuit riders were in town, these classes would have a joint service out in a park or someone’s farm where tents were raised and preaching filled the air for yours. People were agitated into such passion that many on-lookers were moved to give their hearts and lives to Jesus.
These large gatherings created new life for the People of God in Berlin in ways that the classes and house churches did not.
Yet, when the visionaries among them suggested that they gather together in a church building, many scoffed and others feared the change. In doing so they tied themselves to the familiar and did not trust the call of God to the people.
Human nature has always resisted change, even in the midst of the promises of God.
That’s how it was with the people of Israel, living as slaves in Egypt.
They hated the harsh taskmasters who burdened their lives and drove them to an early death
The voice of these taskmasters broke the spirit of the Israelites, trapping them in cruel slavery
They groaned out to God to help them
God heard them
God responded to them
God sent a prophet with God’s plan to them
God called them to Godself, into a trusting and loving relationship
But what did they do when Moses told them this? >>>They refused to listen.
The slaves preferred the familiar taskmasters
The people did not choose life.
Peter was exactly the same. When Jesus spoke of a new reality to come with his death, Peter could not let go of the comfortable discipleship context – it enslaved him. Peter did not choose life in that moment because he knew that what Jesus was talking about needed Peter to change himself. Peter resisted that, even as he stood next to the Messiah himself. And Jesus rebuked him violently – your human understanding and ways are not the ways of God and if you don’t see that, then get away from me!
Human nature, not being God’s nature has always resisted change, even in the midst of the promises of God. Our Christian understanding of God is One who creates and creation is about change.
We humans falter too often to listen to the whispers of our God of change. We choose to listen to the voices of the taskmasters, the Devil, the small familiar classes… each seducing us back into slavery, away from Life with God. And today? Right now? What voices are keeping us from hearing the call of God for this congregation?
My observation as I begin my 4th year with you is this
The Voices of our memories of grandeur and importance in K-W keep us from hearing the call of God to us right now
The building that we are looking at this morning contains those voices who whisper to us of the glory days that we want back
But look at this building, inside and out
There is a reality here we cannot deny: we are a broken people enslaved as much to the memories of the past glory days as much as our building is broken and enslaving our resources given by God in trust
I am sorry if this hurts you. But it is the reality.
Yet, things do not need to stay this way
You have a choice now…..
God has heard our cries
God has felt our frustrations
God has send prophets
God is calling us saying “Trust me for you are my Beloved People and I come not to do harm, but to give you New Life!!
A New Life that begins by growing our spiritual relationship with our Creator and the Living Christ.
A New Life that will grow from our own personal spiritual development into a faith that can move mountains.
A New Life that will create us into a genuine spiritual and love filled community in downtown Kitchener
A New Life that will pour out to our neighbours here in the downtown, connecting with their spiritual lives and struggles in a world that screams slavery at us every moment
A New Life of Hope and Belonging for all, centred in a deepening and deepening Christian Spiritual Community with arms wide open and humbleness of hearts .
And if you do not know or understand what that means, join the groups where some of your fellow congregants are learning just how to do that through picnics and shared cooking, refugee support and partnerships. Step up into leadership roles and listen and watch how God is at work.
Choose Life, people of God
Choose Life now with God and choose to walk in God’s ways!!
The Israelites finally did and made to the Promised Land.
Peter finally did and witnessed the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the coming of the Spirit of the Living Christ.
Berlin Methodist Church finally did and was formed and reformed and rebuilt but all along, the People of Trinity made a difference in the world as was needed in that time.
Our time is now. The Needs are different. The Spirit is the same.
Listen to God call to you and Choose Life.