Hello! I was away on vacation last week and came back to a busy, busy, busy week at the church. We had our annual women’s event on Wednesday night (we’ve done a breakfast the past few years but changed the format a bit this year and did a dinner, which was great!), some youth group stuff on Friday night and a huge yard sale on Saturday. VBS starts tomorrow and we have a Youth Group Week of Service the week after. July is a busy month, but thankfully things are slowing down in August!
Here is this morning’s sermon. I kept things super short because we had communion and a baptism, but it was still a really wonderful message to preach. Enjoy!
Rehoboth Congregational Church
July 12, 2015
The Good News That Brings Us New Life
One fact remains that does not change: God has loved you, loves you now and will love you always.
We hear these words in church every single week. Together, during our worship service, we confess our sins through the act of public confession and then we sit quietly as we think about the mistakes that we have made – throughout the week or even just in general. We reflect on the ways that we have not measured up to our own standards and we give to God those moments in our lives that we would – perhaps – like a do-over.
(Because – let’s face it – we all have those moments!)
And do you know what? Every week – no matter what we have done or what mistakes we have made (or how many times we have snapped at our husbands when we probably should have just taken a deep breath) – we are assured of God’s love, forgiveness and grace.
THIS is the good news that brings us new life!
So here is the thing about us as human beings: We are not perfect. We’re not even close! We come into this broken world and are given virtually no set of instructions on how we are supposed to live our lives and nurture our communities. We often stumble along our journeys and make countless mistakes along the way.
But even in those moments we are still assured of God’s love, forgiveness and grace.
This morning’s scripture reading comes from a letter that was written to the church in Ephesus between 80 and 100 AD. Most scholars believe that this letter was written by the Apostle Paul (or – at the very least – someone who was strongly influenced by Paul).
This passage is theologically thick; it paints layer upon layer of the promises of God’s overwhelming and all-encompassing grace.
God has blessed us in Christ.
God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.
God chose us in Christ.
God chose us to be holy and blameless.
Our destiny is to be adopted by God.
God’s grace is freely bestowed on all of us.
In God we have redemption and our sins are forgiven.
Through Christ, we are issued an inheritance that includes a promise of eternal life in heaven.
Can you see what the author of this letter is getting at? It does not matter if we do not always live up to human standards that have been set in this world, we will always (always, ALWAYS!) measure up to the standard of grace.
These are promises made to us in our faith. These are promises demonstrated to us when – on the third day after Jesus had died – the tomb was empty. These are promises revealed to us when a light shines in our lives, even in our darkest moments. These are promises confirmed to us every time something good can come from something bad. These are promises proven to us in our lives when – time and time again – God’s love wins over evil. We are people of the resurrection and to live into this truth means to believe in the unexplainable – yet undeniable – good news that brings us new life.
It is not easy to live in this world and it is even harder to live faithfully in this world. But this scripture is telling us that we are brought into this world with nothing to prove. Grace has been bestowed upon us from the moment we entered the world and there is nothing we can do that will make God take it away from us.
We have to believe this.
We have to believe this as we are stumbling along our journey through life and faith. We have to believe this when we fall and – more importantly – we have to believe this when we are trying to pull ourselves back up again. We have to believe this in those moments when we are beating ourselves up for one thing or another. We have to believe this when we are holding ourselves to a standard of perfection and not grace.
We have to believe this so that we know – every single day – that we are and have always been created, redeemed and sustained by a God who loves us unconditionally.
We have to believe this if we truly want to live out the Gospel in our lives.
So, my dear friends, believe in the good news that brings us new life! Believe that you are loved. Believe that you are forgiven. Believe that God will make you whole. Believe that you are enough just the way you are.
This is the good news that brings us new life!
Thanks be to God!