Isaiah 55: 6-13
MATTHEW 18: 1-7


September 29, 2019

SHANAH TOVAH … this evening marks the beginning of ROSH HASHANAH, the celebration of New Year on the Jewish Calendar.  So, another day has dawned … the possibility of a new beginning … a new start.

On Friday, Megan called out from the back seat of the car ‘Dad, you are supposed to take exit 21 not exit 22” as we headed down I-295.  She knew how to get to the parsonage but didn’t know we would still get there after I took the unexpected exit making it easier for me to stop at WAWA for gas.  She had never gone that way before.

Some of you are very gifted in knowing where you are going and where you have been while others rely on your GPS, mine is named Katie by the way, maps, or someone else who takes on the role of navigator.  Our van’s journey to Red Bird this summer didn’t follow the planned route but we ended up at the mission not long after those who took the prearranged highways.

We each have destinations in life and most of us have certain destinations that we expect to reach each day.  It might be as simple as going to work and coming home or it might be complicated by the need to go shopping, visit a doctor, meet someone for lunch, or even go to the mall.  As I noted this week on what would have been my mom’s 99th birthday, Ethel Delaney had a daily routine … each and every day in her latter years of life, she would wake up, get dressed, go out to her car and then drive to Tim Horton’s on Evans Street.  That would be breakfast or sometimes just coffee.  She then went out to a plaza on Transit Road to people watch at the Wal-Mart or McDonald’s.  Mom then headed down Main Street towards the town her brother had lived in sometimes stopping at Hoffman’s for a hot dog or ice cream while remembering her brother and how they did crossword puzzles together or shared their thoughts about the previous evening’s Jeopardy.  She then headed towards home perhaps stopping at Helen’s Kitchen if she was hungry but she had to be home by 3 to beat the traffic.

How do I know all of this?  One of my neighbors tailed her car on occasion to make sure mom was still driving ok and Charlie Rizzone gave me the reports.

So, where are you headed today?  Is God the essential element of your journey?  Is God and Jesus Christ part of the conversation?  Are you like me and in desperate need of being healed of something that is keeping us from being as close as we could be to our loving God?  As we should be?   Do you care?   Who is noticing whether your daily journey features God?  I can tell you that God is noticing … God knows.

Well, I would hope you care where you are headed because you are here today although perhaps the breakfast plans are more on your mind or in the rumblings of your stomachs. But as I consider the importance of faith … I can firmly and emphatically state that faith is not proven nor defined by church membership nor is a gold star in the book of  church attendance keepers the stairway to heaven for any of us.

Faith is the firm and conscious life decision that you can fake to others but you know the truth … you know whether you put God and Christ first just as clear as knowing whether you take regular or decaf.  Faith, when it is real and alive transitions our lives from being merely human participants in a journey of time passages into people with an eternal destination living lives with justice as a focal point blended with a universal love of all.

And, friends … that eternal destination as described by God through Jesus Christ requires change not just a card or t-shirt or bumper sticker that claims you love Jesus.   We heard today, “If you don’t turn your lives around … you will DEFINITELY NOT enter the kingdom of heaven.”  JESUS using the words DEFINITELY NOT and the access of to heaven in the same sentence that says we need to turn our lives around.


Beginning today and continuing until Advent, I am going to attempt to provide each of us … you see, I am right there with you in needing to find the proper faith direction for my life … with a set of guidelines and suggestions to turn things around.  Get us and our faith back into the SHAPE God deserves us to have.   This is not an endless treadmill we are going to be traveling on … if you are with me, we are going forward in a faith journey in a way that should help us sense the Holy Spirit more in our lives; help us share our faith with others without fear; and prioritize God, Christ and our faith life in a way that holds God as Holy rather than as a mere three letter word carrying virtually no meaning nor relationship into how we live our lives.  Those around us will notice!

Just like any diet or exercise program, we each have to make a decision … IS GOD of VALUE?  Is CHRIST our Lord, Master, and Savior?  Are we people of faith or are we just people who enjoy associating on occasion with others in a building called church?  Jesus said it clearly in our lesson when He responded to his disciples asking who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus basically told them to stop worrying about their rank in heaven because first they had to have the ticket to get there … “If you don’t turn your lives around …” And, yes this requires homework not just a once a week pause.

So, I guess the beginning for this process is spelled out in Isaiah’s words, “Seek the Lord when He can still be found.”  Obviously, the prophet’s words carry a bit of prophecy in that we know that God is not going away … God is not vanishing but for many including those who attend and belong to churches God can easily get lost amongst the world and the world at its best … I should say the world at its worst and I do believe that there is an evil power in existence easily seducing humans on a daily basis even though that evil power failed to seduce the Son of God in those moments when Jesus was starving and hurting.  The world at its worst wants you to be so over occupied with your things; your desires; your outcomes that God and Christ become lost amongst the blowing leaves and soon many can no longer find God because God’s call .. God’s teaching … God’s directives counter what the world thrives on.  Become overwhelmed with the world for too long and you might never find the Lord again.  So, it’s time to seek the Lord … for your benefit, your children’s benefit, and the world’s benefit.  You will be better for the others around you if you are in the Light of Christ.

My friends this morning the challenge we each have is how to refocus, how to get back into faith shape, and to willingly make a decision that we need to be healed from the world to rediscover the light of Christ.  That Light can provide a bright pathway for our short journey here and if we turn our lives around from the darkness and into the Light then we be doing exactly what Jesus is needed to eventually enter the kingdom of heaven.

In his book, ‘Here I Am,’ Quentin Schultze writes that people of faith … true believers … share a vocation while also having our own stations in life.  Our vocation he says “is to be caring followers of Jesus Christ who faithfully love God, neighbor, and self.  God calls each of us to this overall task of caring for the world.  We have to discern how to care faithfully in specific contexts.  Our stations include our jobs, situations and relationships.”  Schultze reflects that “God calls us to both our shared vocation and the various stations where we can work out our faith concretely.”  You see God is calling you and me to workout!

It is that kind of workout that this sermon series is going to focus on.  WE need to rediscover our faith vocation and how to weave our faith into our stations of life.  Faith is about our interactions with the world not just our smiles within the building we travel to on Sunday’s.   We are called to follow Jesus; activists and true believers holding Jesus as Savior, Lord and accepting that God is something more than a name in the Bible.  That takes saying that Jesus teachings fit our lifestyles even when our friends disagree.

Yes, you will go out with celebration, and you will be brought back in peace, even the mountains and hills will burst out in song before you; ALL the trees of the field will clap their hands.” << CLAP YOUR HANDS>> God’s creation … God’s love … God’s eternity … peace and joy … Friends, it is time before another Christmas sales season begins to become like a child again full of innocence and wonder with a willingness to let our unseen God who created the universe truly be our God not just that name … and to have Jesus who died for our sins and taught us how to live God’s way actually serve as our Lord rather than worrying about store clerks saying CHRISTmas while willingly welcoming the whispering and nudging of the Holy Spirit.  BUILDING OUR FAITH … A WORKOUT FOR LIFE … Eternal life.

And, on Friday Megan took the top off of her ice tea and there was a message inside and it read, “Sacred One teach us love, compassion, and honor that we may heal the earth and heal each other.” This Ojibwa Native American prayer is the what we need and it reflects what we will have when we turn our lives around for Jesus … changing who we have been to fulfill the possibilities God calls us to be.  Our vocation … our lives … our eternal salvation.

Are you ready for the Workout for Life? Today begins ROSH Hashanah, the celebration of the coronation of God as king.   “Sacred One teach us love, compassion, and honor that we may heal the earth and heal each other.”






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