Isaiah 60: 1-5
LUKE 15: 1-10

August 9, 2020

There is a challenge in the land this morning … it is a PANDEMIC not bearing a scientific definition nor deadly proportions and not necessarily aligned with the global pandemic of the Coronavirus that is real, devastating, and deadly but it is a pandemic nonetheless that is killing the very souls of humanity. And, one that I would argue has impacted more people negatively than perhaps any other negative reality of the times we live in; perhaps with more negative impact on the species than any other in human history … it’s found in our desire to bring the other side down and to cast shadows over those we choose to disagree with. Using means that can reach the world in an instant … the cursed pandemic of our times does not require any medical testing to determine if we have it … just look to see how many of your friends are tired of the theme of your social media posts. Who has blocked you or hidden what you write. Who is tired of your rants and memes loaded with untruths and political bias. How many people dismiss you or avoid you or are those people created by God just people you prefer to avoid or reject anyhow because they’re not exactly like you?

Examine how many items you retweet or excitedly post with messages running counter to the basic call of God to faithfully love all of our neighbors, to do justice for all people, and to walk humbly with God. How many messages are you repeatedly sharing that diminish smiles and cause others to have heartaches and headaches because they feel that their friend … you … has a new focus in life, which is to cast stones against their essence of existence and as you attack who they are. They think that you are pouring out boulders in a vain attempt to prove you are right.

PANDEMIC comes from the Greek PANDEMOS, which means all people. So, here in this pulpit … as the pastor of this church … as a very flawed man … I am here to declare this morning that we each need to take a deep breath to rediscover the joy God offers us as being one with all the people not just some because we were created ALL in the image of the HOLY. We all are loved EQUALLY by the CREATOR … God’s grace!

Jesus teaches us again and again about God’s love for all humanity not just some but the focus is on the entirety of human creation and how we can each choose, as individuals, to align ourselves with the One who created the oceans with their waves and the stars with their glittering light at night. To have that joy or we can choose the world’s dark clouds of divisiveness as our earthly connection and castle.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount addresses the human condition and at one point He reveals one revelation that separates those who have figured it out … the PANDEMOS of believers … from those wrapped up in themselves. People of faith understand that when ‘Jesus calls’ to, “STOP collecting treasures for your own benefit here on earth. STOP!!! Instead collect treasures for yourselves in heaven!” This requires rejecting worldly alignments that counter God’s Scriptures. It means being the GOOD SAMARITAN even when those in power say don’t help those people. We the people of God are called to do it now and live our lives now as people of faith not waiting until we are buried or on our death beds … use our time, our words, our actions … and yes, even our possessions for God’s purpose now because Jesus taught, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” We pray “THY KINGDOM COME on EARTH as it is in HEAVEN” but we are the ones who need to implement that prayer through our time, our words, and our actions! We are the ones called to bring God’s kingdom here and in doing so we can rediscover the hope and joy in our faith.

Are you reading a few verses each day from the Gospels of Jesus Christ? Rediscovering the GOOD NEWS … think about it a second. If someone told you today that you were going to be getting some good news .. wouldn’t you smile? Wouldn’t you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Of course … we all want good news. If the phone rings and the person on the other end says, ‘I have some bad news’ … immediately your heart drops but friends I think … I believe … I know that we can smile together in our faith …. SIMPLY SMILE … we can do it! You can do it and it begins with the GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS that is available for free to any person in the world with a BIBLE, a Smartphone, a computer or a tablet. There are audiobooks for those who can’t read; GOOD NEWS in every single language the world has so we each can find GOOD NEWS every day … Simply by reading the Gospels of Jesus Christ. And, as we discover or rediscover together Jesus’s teaching we can make this a better world by following Him and putting our treasures, our words, and our actions into alignment with heaven bringing a little bit of heavenly light here to earth. Thy Kingdom … thy will be done.

In this summer of hope … this summer of change … this summer when this church held an incredibly successful and blessed VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL online this week when others said it could not be done … when this church ran a ONE ROOM SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSROOM for children while others were bemoaning that churches were closing our doors claiming that somehow we were shutting God and faith and worship down; I am pretty sure many of those voices are the ones misleading our children saying that they can’t pray in school or carry their Bibles to school when they can.

We are a church friends … God does not require a building … God requires action when we have faith! God requires change in our words, our posts, and our lives but God also offers hope when we come home to God; it’s hard for God’s hope to reach us and direct us when we embrace the world’s guidance hiding away the Good News. And, let me make this totally clear … no matter who makes the claim; God cannot be hurt by any human being because human beings do not have the power to harm the Holy; God created us … and we aren’t God! I wonder about those who say such things.

But, did you hear the prophet this morning … I certainly did!

ARISE … SHINE!!! Your LIGHT HAS COME and the LORD’s GLORY is upon you!” I want to dance and sing and jump up and down and experience what Kirk Franklin, that great preacher, singer and faith leader calls … SOME HOLY GHOST KIND of NOISE! I want to be CRAZY for my KING as David Crowder wrote in his song!

Friends, “through the darkness that covers the earth and gloom impacting the nations, the Lord will shine upon you!” If you let God in … If you want to give your earthly words, posts, actions, and life to God THE LORD WILL SHINE UPON YOU … ARISE and SMILE!!! GOOD NEWS … such incredibly good news … how can you not smile … simply smile if the Lord God is shining on you and you have figured it out? When you understand Jesus Christ’s directives for living and then understand His salvation saved you and me from our all too extensive list of sins and failures that’s incredibly GOOD NEWS …. CELEBRATE SMILE! But we don’t stop because of that joy; we don’t say enough is enough now back to the world … instead each day we each need to again strive to get into that Holy Light!

Oh I so want to make some HOLY GHOST KIND of NOISE today!! I want to jump up and down … I want to do high fives and celebrate and dance … don’t you?

But, I am again thankful to people like you who have stepped up … people like many of you who declare with full confidence that no human being can ever hurt God because God is still God and that God calls us to follow God’s directions not to exploit emotional disconnection and division through our tweets, texts, and posts. We are a church that has demonstrated that church happens with awesome power and joy even when the doors are closed! Last Sunday evening we celebrated Holy Baptism outside in the back … LEIA SKYE undergoing the waters of God’s love …. We didn’t need the building and we gathered safely together as we will again tonight.

We share in the Lord’s Table Every Wednesday morning using God’s technology … such joy … so many of you are posting redemptive stories of love and justice for all that warm my heart. Are you using your social media to tell others about your church where you worship on Sunday … its so easy to share links to worship and study. It’s so easy to celebrate faith.

Today’s Gospel lesson includes one of the most joy-filled stories from all of Scripture. Did you hear it amidst the global noise and distractions that are our constant companions? Did you understand it … the words come from Jesus but if you believe this morning friends it is your story and I know it is mine.

Oh, I pray you believe … Have you rejected the evil of the world to embrace the lessons of love from God? Do you hold the directives from the prophet Micah as your life’s directives knowing that in those words the prophet explains what the Lord expects from humans created in God’s image because those simple words reflect God?

If you are lost this morning and are not sure what you believe … if you focus on sharing the world’s garbage but not the connections of your faith but want to smile uncontrollably, dance for joy without hesitation … as Paul writes to “rejoice always in the Lord again rejoice”. If you need that but are missing it please reach out to this church through our website,, or call us.

But friends we heard in the Gospel today … Jesus shared in what was read this morning … it is a history lesson and a truth of today and tomorrow Jesus said, “I tell you, joy breaks out in the presences of God’s angels over one sinner who changes both heart and life!” Just one sinner … ONE only ONE … I was that one once … changing heart oops and life. Friends, you can’t have faith without actions so to say your heart is changed but your actions, posts, and life isn’t well you need to do some work.

But, if you believe … if your heart and life are changed … first that’s AWESOME NEWS for your life here and in eternity but you, like me, caused some big time partying in heaven on that day when you got it … when you believed the truth of God’s message and calling and took Jesus on as Savior and Lord … JOY BROKE out in heaven in that moment in the presence of God’s angels!” Now, that’s something to smile about isn’t it … and one day you and I will be in heaven and will join in the party of future believers when they change their hearts and lives for Jesus Christ. PARTY TIME … MAKE SOME HOLY GHOST KIND OF NOISE … High Five Gabriel; do angels high five?

The other element of the Gospel lesson is that God cares about the missing ones; the ones not in the group; and focuses on the one even though all have God’s love. God wants to make sure that the grace God has shown through Jesus … that the potential life of joy with hope that is available for each is delivered and that is not showing disregard for the group already celebrating but true love for those who have not joined in yet.

Donna posted a meme on FACEBOOK the other day that some of you have attached a heart to and some of you have already shared. It came from a source called SPIRITUAL AWAKENINGS. It was a beautiful photo of a tree in the midst of this gorgeous sunset. The words from SPIRITUAL AWAKENINGS were “Don’t let people pull you into their storm, PULL PEOPLE into YOUR PEACE.” So profound … we are in the midst of a pandemic of negativity that attempts to counter God’s love … we have some claiming that humans they dislike have the power to hurt God, which is an abysmal lie …

But Donna added her simple words … BE KIND, BE CALM … our children are watching.

Friends this morning SMILE … ARISE and DANCE and SING … if you have not yet changed your lives and are busy being like the negatives in the world .. it is time for you to FOCUS in on God … BE KIND … BE CALM … OUR CHILDREN are WATCHING but our God is noticing and hoping that all of humanity finds Christ’s light … the GOOD NEWS; the SMILE CREATING NEWS!

SIMPLY SMILE and live with joy! You can do it!



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