Universal Principle #75984

NEVER LOSE YOUR CELL PHONE

This week has been dominated by the loss and replacement of my cell phone. It was accidentally lost during a foray from the house and the process of getting a replacement is, I believe a Job-ian fete.

I discovered the phone missing on Monday morning…looked for it everywhere. As if to punctuate the matter, we also got a foot of snow on Monday and Tuesday. If it’s outside, well, it won’t surface until sometime around the Fourth of July.

I called my service provider, heretofore known as “The Company That Shall Not Be Named But Starts With a ‘V'”. When I called, the person said–no problem (that means there’s going to be a problem). He instructed me to head on down to Salt Lake to the TCTSNBNBSWAV store where the helpful staff would replace my phone at the early upgrade price.

Tuesday morning, in between snow storms, I hopped in the Dodge and ran the 18 wiper fluid-squirting miles down the canyon to the store. After having to “check in” at a kiosk (even though there were three people in the store), I explained my issue to the young woman at the counter. She told me that, well, we can get you a replacement phone but you’ll have to pay full retail price for it (about the GNP of France). “Oh no,” I smiled. “See, I qualify for the early upgrade.” (Well, at least the guy on the phone made it sound special).

She fiddled with the computer awhile while I browsed around. When I came back to the counter, the manager was there staring at the screen. Without looking at me he says, “Well, see, we can’t give you the early upgrade price here in the store. You’ll have to do that online.”

Huh?

“Yeah, see, we’re on a different system than they are at the corporate level so we can’t give you a phone or a decent price for it here. You’ll have to call them or go online.”

Again, huh? I already called the company, see, and they sent me down here. I passed four or five teams of sled dogs to get here. Now you’re telling me I have to drive back up the canyon at risk of life and limb without even the satisfaction of a new phone? Isn’t this the same company? Don’t you have walls of phones here? Does this make sense to you? (I said all of this calmly, mind you, but my thoughts were more of the tower and deer rifle variety).

“Sorry.”

So, I drove back to the office and called the company again. This time, a helpful woman got me fixed up in five minutes, which is all I wanted in the first place. My new phone arrived today and it has more features than any human could want in a device, including the ability to download video. Video on a one-inch screen? Dude, I turn 43 tomorrow…I can’t see anything smaller than a foot! Oh, and it also came without a holster, so I had to spring for one of those, too.

The moral of the story? Whatever you do, never lose your cell phone! And, if you work with people in any capacity, try to remember that most people are just trying to get what they need with a minimum amount of hassle. There is still such a thing as customer service!

All in the Family: Part III–Abraham – Father of Nations (11/26/06 Sermon)

“All in the Family” Part III – Abraham: Father of Nations
Genesis 12:1-9

As we continue our series on Jesus’ family of origin in Genesis, let’s review where we’ve been. We’ve talked about Adam and Eve as the first “children,” who tried to grow up too fast and cast off God’s parenting and love—an act that represents humanity’s bent toward self-interest and instant gratification. That cycle of dysfunction and betrayal of God’s creative power spiraled down into total depravity…so much so that God decided to wipe out humanity with a great flood. Noah, however, was righteous and through him God decided to take another chance on humanity by saving him and his family in the Ark. After the flood, the text tells us, God became resigned to the fact that humanity had a disease called sin—but despite the human tendency to stray from God, God decided to stick with them, save them, preserve them in an act of grace.

Those first eleven chapters of Genesis, then, are a way of setting up the rest of the Bible. We might say that these chapters describe, in some way, the spiritual if not historic origins of humanity—all the families of the earth. We learn why we are the way we are, about our need for God and for God’s saving power.

Today we move from this broader narrative about the whole human family to a more specific one—the family of Israel. Knowing that the families of the earth were continually perpetuating the dilemma of sin and evil from generation to generation, God responds by choosing one man…and through him one family…to be the vehicle through which the whole human family might be saved.

We meet Abram at the end of Genesis 11—he is the son of a prosperous herder, living in “Ur of the Chaldeans” (in the cradle of civilization—Ur being about 70 miles south of present-day Baghdad). Abram seems to have been a man simply minding his own business, with nothing special about him when God calls him. Abram was probably like his neighbors in the rest of the ancient Near East as far as religion goes—likely a polytheist, worshipping many gods.

In most ancient cultures, humans, the gods, and nature were in a kind of circular relationship of causation. If a Mesopotamian farmer wanted it to rain, for example, he would have to perform certain rituals (often sexual in nature) to get the sky god and the earth goddess to consort together in a kind of intercourse in order for the skies to be fertile and bring forth rain. These gods could be cruel and arbitrary, but were also able to be manipulated and controlled through these elaborate rituals.

But the biblical worldview was quite different. From the beginning of Genesis, we read about one God—a God who is not intertwined with creation…a God who has no consorts…a God who creates from nothing…a God who stands apart.

In contrast to his neighbors, Abram engages this God and begins to act as a monotheist…believing and following this one God. The text implies that God’s choosing of Abram really comes down to the fact that Abram was one who was willing to listen. He was simply willing to buck the trend and put his trust in one God. That should give hope to those of us who think we have to have everything figured out before God can use us!

God comes to Abram with a proposal—a deal, if you will: “Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.” The core of the proposal, the promise, concerned land and descendants—a new home and a nation to populate it—a chosen people through whom God would bless the whole world.

This proposal must have been hard for Abram to grasp on at least a couple of levels. One, he was being called to leave behind everything he knew and set out on a journey with no idea of the destination. People in the ancient world generally didn’t travel like this…they tended to stay in place. Ancient cultures generally believed that their gods were territorial—that if you left your homeland you also were leaving the protection of your familiar gods. If he were to take on this journey, Abram would be leaving behind security and have to put his trust completely in this one God who, very unusually, promised to go with him.

The second wrinkle in God’s proposal hit a little closer to home. Abram was being promised descendants—to be blessed—to be the father of a great nation. The ancients understood that blessing was something to be passed on to an heir—in those days a son. Abram had no children. His wife, Sarai, was barren—and now Abram and his wife were both old (he was 86). Their chance at having children was long past. God’s proposal and promise to Abram must have seemed ludicrous (in fact, in Genesis 18, Sarai laughs at the whole prospect). They were already deep into thoughts about geriatrics when God comes to them talking about pediatrics.

Still, Abram starts the journey to this land. Here’s where geography can help us grasp what’s going on. Take a look at a map of the Middle East and you’ll see that Abram’s journey takes him from Ur over the Fertile Crescent to Canaan on the Mediterranean sea. The land that God was promising to Abram, the land that God would again promise to the Israelites in the time of Moses, was fertile and desirable…but there’s a hitch.

Throughout history, this area of the world has been the ground of empires. The Egyptians in the southwest, the Babylonians (and, later, the Persians) in the east, the Assyrians in the north. Farther west were the Greeks and later the Romans…all of whom occupy significant territory and trade and conquer more territory within this geographic region. These empires bump against one another, wax and wane, but are always on the move.

I think of it this way…throughout the rest of the Old Testament, these empires might be represented as rooms in a very large house—each one having it’s own space but always trying to take the others’. And if these empires are rooms, then God puts Abram and later the Israelites right in the hallway between them. They will constantly be under attack, constantly subject to the whims of larger empires, constantly on the move in exile and mission. To put it another way, God was not trying to build an empire through Abram—but a family that would be forever on the move—a family that would ultimately move out from its territory (whether voluntarily or by force) and impact the whole world with a message of blessing.

So God begins to work with Abram, but Genesis reveals to us that Abram has his flaws. After arriving in the land promised to him, Abram soon discovers that the land is locked in a famine, so he is forced to go to more fertile Egypt for a time. There, as a prosperous herder, he fears for his life. His wife, Sarai, is beautiful and he realizes that the Egyptians might fancy her and bump him off in the process. So, he concocts a scheme with Sarai to lie about their relationship…to say that she is his sister. Despite God’s promises, Abram is still afraid.

Then there’s the whole idea of Abram and Sarai having children. Sarai doesn’t believe that God can deliver on the promise of an heir through her, so she decides to circumvent the process and have Abram sleep with one of her servants, Hagar. If the servant is able to have a child, then Abram would have his heir. Ishmael is born, but God makes it clear that Ishmael is not the promised child (though God cares for Ishmael and his mother, and the child becomes the father of nations himself—Muslims trace their lineage back to Abraham through him).

Still, God sticks with Abram…even giving him a new name. Abram meant “exalted father” while Abraham means “the father of a multitude.” Abraham and his family will be marked as different from the rest of the world, not only through their loyalty to one God but also through the mark of circumcision. God is forming a new family, and has not given up on the promise even as Abraham is skeptical. God has made a covenant and will stick to it.

What we also see as we look at the story of Abraham is how this covenant is played out in a relationship. God doesn’t merely send Abraham out on a mission and then stands back to see if he’ll do things correctly. God engages Abraham personally and Abraham talks with God seemingly person to person. In Genesis 18, for example, Abraham bargains with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. If there are 50 righteous people, says Abraham, will you keep from destroying the city? Eventually, Abraham gets God to go as low as ten. Abraham was not afraid to engage God on the journey.

We see, then, that Abraham’s journey with God is more than geographical…it’s spiritual—a journey that carries all the way through his succeeding generations in the Old Testament, to the time of Jesus, and all the way to us. This was the point the writer of Hebrews was making. Abraham was the beginning—by faith he journeyed where God told him to go, but he also realized that he would not be the one to reach the final destination. Look at Hebrews 11:13—“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them at a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth…they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one.”

In this relationship with Abraham, God was setting the agenda for the renewal of creation—a renewal of the whole human family. But that renewal would not happen in a God-altering moment—it would happen over time and through the relationship between God and humanity. That “better country” is the place where the relationship between God and creation is fully renewed. We’re not there yet, but God is calling us, like Abraham, to start moving in that direction.

The covenant journey of Abraham pushes the narrative of the life of Jesus in the New Testament as well. People in the Bible are changing their addresses. It is hard to find anyone who is in a serious drama with God who is not on the move. No one ever finds God by nailing life down. Maybe that is because faith is always discovered along the way.

Jesus was a wanderer whose constant call to his disciples was “follow me” (note—not “stay with me” or “sit down and think about me”). Jesus was always calling people on a journey toward the realization of God’s Kingdom—to live and work as though they had already arrived there. It’s no coincidence that the first Christians were called “people of the Way”—people on a journey toward a new way of life. They would move out from the promised land into the rest of the world and take the promise with them.

The message of the Gospels seems to be that you cannot follow Jesus without moving, and you can’t move without leaving something behind. Some disciples were asked to leave behind their families and professions. Others were asked to leave their sin, or their wealth or even their grief over the dead. Jesus is always moving on, and he expects his followers to be on the move as well.

The first disciples had a hard time with this, and kept wondering when Jesus was going to settle down. They were waiting for him to establish the kingdom right then and there, so at last they could stop walking around …. Like the disciples before us, we don’t know exactly where Jesus is leading us right now. I really think that is okay. We are not asked to be clear about where we are going. We are asked simply to turn our eyes upon Jesus.

We live in a kind of nomadic culture these days. Everybody seems to be on the move. Did you know, for example, that the census bureau data about Park City indicates that the average residency here in our little burgh is just three years? I’ve known lots of people who have moved here and moved away in just the time we’ve been here. I meet people every week who are either coming or going.

But while we seem to be a culture that moves a lot physically, we seem to want to stay rooted in one place spiritually. A writer named Joseph McClelland puts it this way: “In many ways, if we depend upon our “roots” to define us, we create a rigid little outline of what our relationship to God is. We take on the attitudes, and accept the priorities of the communities in which we live. But what we gain in physical comforts we lose in spiritual exercise: It is far easier to grow lazy and complacent when we are rooted in a place.

“Once you settle down on your own land, turn the humble tabernacle into a great temple, and exchange nomadic customs for agricultural and urban ways, it seems peculiar to pattern your life after a pilgrimage. Since you are not really going anywhere, you begin to think that God stays put, too.”

But the story of Abraham tells us that God doesn’t stay put. God is always on the move and calls us to be as well—moving out to engage the mission of following him, to be a blessing to others, to go into the unknown and uncomfortable as a way of changing the world and renewing God’s creation.

The more we journey with God, the more we see possibilities because we know that God always follows through on his promises. Isaac, the promised son, was indeed born to Abraham and Sarah. Sarah’s barrenness, which may also represent the barrenness of humanity, the end of the line without God, was overcome by God’s fruitfulness and faithfulness. The promised family became a reality with God’s help. The impossible was made possible by God. Knowing how that works takes a lot of time, a lot of walking with God. We have to be in it for the long haul.

A pastor baptized a baby. After the baptism, the pastor said to the baby, in a voice loud enough to be heard by parents and congregation, “Little sister, by this act of baptism, we welcome you to a journey that will take your whole life. This isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of God’s experiment with your life. What God will make of you, we know not. Where God will take you, surprise you, we cannot say. This we do know, and this we say – God is with you.”

Where is God calling you to go in your life these days? Wherever it is, know this…God is with you. That’s the promise!

Tryptophan Dreams

I sit at my desk this evening woozy from a long afternoon of scarfing down turkey, stuffing (always my favorite) and various pies. It was lovely meal and, now being a bit older and more aware, I have been a good boy and haven’t gone back for more.

In my hazy trytophan-induced stupor, however, I experienced several dreams in succession:

  • The Thanksgiving NFL day games were meaningful…like, even competitive.
  • My sermon was already written for this Sunday.
  • The band Rush called me to see if I’d be available to join them on the next tour as Neil’s stand-in on drums…but the bishop said I couldn’t go.

But then I woke up.

I do like Thanksgiving above most other holidays, however. One reason may be that it’s one holiday that I don’t have to work and can sit at my own table with family and friends and just talk away a whole afternoon…no presents or crowds or high expectations. That’s something to be thankful about.

Secondly, Thanksgiving always reminds me of years past and other great family meals–my grandma making her "special drink" for us every year (cranberry juice and ginger ale–which was very exotic at the time), playing football in the mud with my cousins, watching the Macy’s Parade and sticking through it to the end to see Santa, enduring my aunt’s jello salad (green jello with bananas in it…who thought this up?)

There’s much to be thankful for this year, and much to continue praying for…peace in a violent world, hope for those in need. Thankgiving is a day where our dreams might turn toward that great dream that Jesus called the Kingdom of God…a time when we’ll all be able to sit at the same table together.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

“All in the Family”–Part II: Noah and the Story of Salvation (11/19/06 Sermon)

     One of the most beloved Bible stories—one that everyone knows even if they’ve never opened a Bible is that of Noah and the Ark. Among the first toys that my children received was a toy Ark with a smiling Fisher Price Noah herding smiling animals into it’s crowded hull. We went around the church this week and uncovered several Noah’s Ark play sets, all with the same smiling, cute, cuddly animals inside—alligators resting comfortably next to antelopes and gorillas cavorting with giraffes. As a child I also learned songs about Noah – particularly that one about Noah building the “Arky-Arky” because there was going to be a “floody-floody.”

     It’s a story that, in fact, seems to predate the Bible itself. Other ancient Mesopotamian cultures had flood stories like this—stories like the Gilgamesh epic or the Atrahasis epic which are very similar to the biblical story, where a hero is saved from a major deluge by building a ship at the command of the gods. It’s not surprising that Israel has a similar story, but the story as we find it in the Bible is quite different from the others and, indeed, very different from the cute and cuddly portrayals of it we give to our children.

     Last week we looked at how Adam and Eve, the first humans (or, the first children according to Irenaeus) tried to grow up too fast and rejected God’s offer of growth and maturity. They decided they didn’t need God to govern them, and thus voluntarily chose to do what God had commanded them not to. It was that act of rebellion that caused immature humanity to experience the pain of trying to sustain life on their own terms—the pain of hard work, child-bearing, and comparing themselves to one another. They had, as the apostle Paul would say later, “exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped the creature (themselves) rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25)—the lie being that they were in control.

     As the story of Noah opens in Genesis 6 we see that humanity had not learned from their Fall and the curse it brought upon them. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually” Genesis 6:5). The human creatures had refused to acknowledge God as their Creator—refused to honor God as God. The rebellious children of Adam had betrayed God and his intent for creation, selfishly consuming creation rather than being stewards of it.

     What is God’s response? Look at Genesis 6:6 –“the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” The writer paints a picture of God’s heart in these verses. God is not an angry and distant tyrant deity who is throwing a fit because no one will listen to him. God is a parent who is deeply troubled by the alienation of his children’s affection. It is a seemingly hopeless situation that must be dealt with seriously.

     So God, seeing no other options, decides to “blot out” humanity by reversing the creative process. You may recall in Genesis one that one of the first tasks of creation was God’s holding back of the watery chaos—separating land from water, making human habitation possible. Now God sought to unleash the water from its boundaries as a way of sweeping the slate clean and starting over. The great creation experiment had gone terribly awry. The evil “heart” of humankind in verse 5 troubles the “heart” of God in verse 6. God feels pain in his heart for humanity—interestingly, the word “grieve” here in the Hebrew is the same word used in Genesis 3:16 to describe the “pain” of childbirth that Eve would experience—God identifies with the human creation rather than being fully and divinely detached.

     Here’s where the traditional view of God seems to deviate from what the text tells us. Traditionally, most of us have been taught that God is unchanging and fixed in his character and approach to humanity. “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever” we chant. The witness of the Old Testament, however, is that God is anything but a stubborn, stony-faced deity who arbitrarily smites people for minor offenses. The God of Israel is a person and personality—one who celebrates, feels pain, responds to human actions, questions, and pleas for help. Read the Old Testament and you’ll see scenes like Abraham bargaining with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, and God wrestling with Moses about his call—just two of many examples where God is interactive, changeable, influential. God is not captive by a certain set of behavioral rules imposed by popular theology. As Walter Brueggeman puts it, “[God] can change his mind, so that he can abandon what he has made; and he can rescue that which he has condemned.”

     So, it is in deep anguish that God decides to erase creation and start over. Even then, however, God is still open to exceptions. Enter Noah, who was the exception to humanity’s total depravity. Genesis 6:9 tells us that Noah was a “righteous man, blameless in his generation” and one who “walked with God.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that Noah was the epitome of perfection – the phrase “in his generation” may mean simply that Noah wasn’t as bad as everyone else! At any rate, the text seems to indicate that Noah represented a possible alternative to human sinfulness—that Noah might be a kind of “second Adam” through whom God might re-boot the creative process.

God enters into a relationship with Noah, offering him a chance for he and his family to escape the impending flood of judgment. He is instructed to build an ark—a ship five times the size of the Mayflower, a ship with no rudder—essentially a life raft. He is to bring aboard his whole family and two of every kind of animal, male and female. It is a monumental task—essentially the rescue of a remnant of the entirety of creation.

     In contrast to the happy faces on those toy arks, Noah doesn’t really have much to smile about. He knows in advance his neighbors are going to die. We’re never told how he feels about that (in fact, Noah doesn’t say much of anything in the whole story). There’s no indication of what the neighbor’s thought of his building a monstrous boat in the middle of dry ground—no procedural manual on how he gathered all those animals and kept them from devouring each other (or his family). We don’t know what Noah thought as the rains came down, or what he felt when seeing the bodies of his neighbors float past the boat in the midst of the deluge. The story doesn’t tell us…but I’m thinking that smiles were few and far between. We know, in fact, that one of the first things that Noah does when he eventually exits the Ark with his family is to plant a vineyard, make wine and get drunk (Genesis 9:20-21)—a fact that commentator suggests is evidence that Noah was trying to medicate his survivor’s guilt over the whole affair. It is a grim period of pain and suffering for both God and the remnants of his creation.

     Much of the focus that Christians have brought to the story of Noah is directed at trying to verify the historical veracity of the story. Archaeologists have searched for evidence of a world-wide flood (there is no such evidence) or have tried to locate artifacts from the Ark on top of Mt. Ararat. Mesopotamia was subject to widespread flooding, which is the reason that variations on the Noah story appear in ancient writings and mythologies. A flood covering a few dozen square miles would look to ancient peoples as though the “whole world” had been covered in water.

     But the point of the story doesn’t depend on its historical factuality. It is the paradigm for a great journey—a journey from one God-ordained creation that went bad to another God-directed creation that was full of possibility and hope. In fact, if you think about it, the Noah story connects very much with Thanksgiving-like pilgrims who set out on a ship from the Old World to cross the sea to a new one, so Noah’s journey takes humanity from the old creation marked by evil and corruption into a renewed world. The slate had been wiped clean and a new Adam (Noah) had been planted in a new world—a new garden and was instructed to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 8:17).

     But things were not the same in this new creation. Something had changed, but it wasn’t humanity. Despite the horrors of the flood and the pain of judgment, God now understood that the heartsick condition of his human children was a permanent disease. Look at Genesis 8:20-21. Noah built an altar to God after exiting the Ark, but when God smelled the “pleasing odor” of Noah’s sacrifice, “God said in his heart—note the language…here is God again speaking from the heart in the same way he had struggled back in chapter 6– ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humankind, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.’ God’s heart still embraces and grieves for his children, but he now recognizes that on their own they are completely hopeless. They are incapable of redeeming themselves because of their rebellious nature, which is easily passed from generation to generation.

     But here’s where God shifts—rather than consign evil humanity to the dustbin, God makes a covenant—a promise. God promises that no matter how evil, corrupt, wicked, and rebellious humanity becomes, God will relent from destroying them. Look at the second part of 8:21—“Never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done.” Go to 9:11—“I establish my covenant with you,” God says to Noah and his sons. “Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood.”

In other words, God now promises that he will stay with, put up with, endure, and sustain the whole creation despite the diseased state of the human family. Like a steadfast parent, God decides to love humanity in spite of itself. Instead of pouring out the destructive waters of a flood, God will instead unleash rivers of mercy and springs of living water. God’s heart, hurt as it is by human sinfulness, is even more filled with compassion for his wayward children.

     The “bow” in the sky was to seal this covenant promise of God. Whenever it appeared, God told Noah, God would remember the covenant. The “bow” here, of course, refers to a rainbow, but the word has an even broader implication. It is also representative of a bow that is used to shoot arrows. This bow, however, was relaxed—not poised to unleash God’s weapons, but a sign of God’s promise to keep from shooting arrows of wrath toward his children.

     It is hard to imagine what this promise cost God to make. The rest of the Bible is a testament to God’s infinite patience, discipline, and steadfastness. God’s heart would be grieved many times by human sin and infidelity—things that still grieve God today. Yet, God was willing to take the initiative to pay the price in pain and suffering to stay with us…even to the point of entering into humanity itself.

     The coming of Jesus was the ultimate expression of God’s covenant promise toward humanity. Jesus came as God in the flesh, John tells us at the beginning of his Gospel, to show us how to become children of God—“children born not of natural descent, nor of a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:13). In Christ, God would fully identify with his human children, dwell with them, suffer with them, heal them, teach them…even be victimized by them and killed by them on a cross. Jesus was proof of how far God was willing to go to stick with us and redeem us.

     The Noah story lays the foundation for our understanding of Jesus and of God’s love for us. Even now, we use water at baptism to signify the cleansing of body and spirit that wipes away the old nature of sin in us and makes possible new life in Christ. Jesus would use the sign of water to talk about his mission—most famously in John 4 where he tells the Samaritan woman about the “living water” that he represents—a refreshing, revitalizing, renewing way of life. He talked about God’s Kingdom as a new reality—a new world where justice, mercy, and peace would prevail over the corruption of human sin and worldly power. That Kingdom would be complete at his return.

     In short, he represented in his person the new creation that God had promised from the beginning. As the apostle Paul would put it in 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ…”

     See, there is hope for the human family…but that hope does not lie in our own efforts. Hope comes at God’s initiative, through God’s compassion, through God’s sacrifice in Jesus Christ. When we embrace that hope through faith, we can be transformed ourselves and transported to a new world that is full of life.

     On this Thanksgiving Sunday, perhaps what we should be most thankful for is the fact that God has promised to stick with us. Because of that promise, that covenant, it makes sense for us to think hard about our own covenant with God. The Noah story tells us that we are never too far gone to return to a relationship with God. We can reclaim our baptism, let the living water of Christ wash over us again, and find ourselves refreshed by the promises of God. We can be forgiven, we can start over, we can be reborn.

     If you find yourself today feeling like you are about to drown in the depths of despair and sin…know that God has offered you the promise of new creation. All you have to do is reach out a hand and allow him to rescue you. The new creation awaits…and it can happen today.

Click Here for a study guide with daily Scripture readings that go along with this sermon.

Coming This Sunday (11/19/06)

Coming up this Sunday we’ll continue our sermon series "All in the Family" with a look at the story of Noah. We’ll go beyond the Fisher Price image of a smiling Noah and smiling animals in an orderly Ark and look deeper at how the story fits in the saga of the human family and how it foreshadows the coming of Christ. Services are at 9:00 and 10:30AM. Join us or check back here for the sermon text on Sunday afternoon.