By Jonathan Shively
Focus Texts: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Psalm 133
Today’s texts brought two things immediately to mind.
The first is that some of us tend to sabotage ourselves and the mission God has for us. How do we sabotage? Well, sometimes by taking actions that we know work against the desired outcome. But much of the time, the sabotage is much more insidious. We expect failure, even before we begin. We anticipate outside influences, many of which never materialize, but in the process, we undermine our own positive action. And then there is distraction, the lure of those things that take us off our focus.
Isaiah 56:1 says, “Thus says the LORD: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.” Maintain justice, do what is right. Stay focused. Allow God to work out God’s mission through and with us. Question: When and how do you practice self sabotage?
The second thing that came to my mind was how important it is for the church to actually live out the things it teaches. Today’s churches seem to be more defined by their position in conflict than they are by their position in reconciliation. Many Christians come across this way as well. Perhaps this incongruity between the power we ascribe to Jesus and the failures of our lives together as Christians actually prevents the Good News from reaching the hearts of non-Christians.
Psalm 133:1 puts it very succinctly, “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” This unity is not an “everything goes” conformity, but rather a transforming and transcendent form of unity that comes about through whole life discipleship in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, too few of us exhibit this type of unity through the life of our churches. Questions: How is your local faith community exhibiting the unity of Christ?
These two factors, self sabotage and a failure of integrity, have a direct impact on our ability to serve as evangelists. It doesn’t matter how concise our theological argument is, how passionate our plea is, or how artistic our biblical interpretation is. The gospel message is good news, that all enemies, including self sabotage, have been defeated, and that in Christ Jesus a new unity is discovered. This message is one both to hear and to see, lived out in our lives as disciples and the church’s common life of faith and service.
Media Resource: Video clip from the movie “Freedom Writers” showing the strength of community, a glimpse of what we might hope people might experience in the church. http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/freedom-writers/i-am-home
Invocation By Rachel Witkovsky
God of light and darkness, we come to you in worship today to be in your light.
We ask that you teach us to let our own light shine out.
The brilliance you have placed in each of us.
May our good works and acts of service show others your glory.
Let us love unconditionally as you taught us and may that love be a beacon to lead others to you.
May they see your wondrous powers through us and glorify your name on high. Amen.
A Drama by Rachel Witkovsky
This drama is entitled “Fresh Start” and exemplifies a welcome that is characterized by integrity and generous welcome.
Suggested Hymns and Songs for Worship
We are one in the spirit (They’ll know we are Christians by our love) by Peter Scholtes
We are one body by Dana Scallon
In Christ there is no east or west by John Oxenham
For the healing of the nations by Fred Kaan