Christ’s Ascension

Introduction
This past Thursday was Ascension Day, and today Ascension Sunday. I have never done a sermon on the Ascension, so I don’t know what images that conjures up in your mind, but I know for some it conjures up pictures of the Amish and Mennonite communities gathering at Greenwood Furnace or other such parks for a day of picnicing. During the Reformation, Ascension Day was celebrated as a feast day in the church and it seems the Amish and Mennonite are still keeping that tradition. Ascension Day is the celebration of the ascension of our Lord, Jesus Christ, from earth into the heaven. Luke gives an account of the ascension in both his books. It is the bridge between the books of Luke and Acts.

Luke 24.44-53
Acts 1.1-11

Have you ever had to leave someone for a period of time, to go on a trip perhaps? Or maybe you remember sending your child off to their first day of school? Or maybe a loved one knew they were dieing … It’s at those times people say the things that matter most. They are preparing the other for departure or a time of separation.

Jesus knows he is leaving. He has 40 days with his disciples. And he now comes to the last. What are his last words? What does he want the disciples to remember? What are the most important things for them to know?

Jesus says three things to his disciples:

  1. Jesus points to the OT scriptures that are fulfilled in his suffering, death and resurrection, bringing forgiveness of sins and this, to all the nations.
  2. The disciples are witnesses of these things. They are to tell others what they have witnessed.
  3. But not until the receive "power from on high" or as Acts makes clear, they are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

It is the second of these which we will look at today.

Be Witnesses
Be witnesses to all nations beginning in Jerusalem (Lk 24)
Be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1) (ever-widening circle.)

Witness – the disciples are eye-witnesses. They lived with Jesus; they witnessed the miracles, they witnessed his dying and death, some placed him in the tomb, they witnessed the empty tomb, and now for 40 days they witnessed Christ among them. Jesus revealed from the Scriptures that this was foretold, he explained why it happened this way. And now they are commissioned to tell what they have witnessed, not just to those who are like them or those who are in their city or those who are in their nation or people group, they are to witness to all nations, all peoples.

As this community of believers is commissioned to this work, so are we, as the community of the faithful. We are called to witness to our neighbors next door and our neighbors across the world. And there is still a work to be done. I find it phenomenal that what was witnessed in Jerusalem has now circled the globe. It is amazing that you can go to BibleGateway.com and the Bible is in about 25 different languages, and in some languages it appears in different versions. But we still have work to do.

The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism was formed in 1974 to bring an awareness to the need and work toward world evangelism. During that time 2/3 of all humanity was estimated unevangelized. A commentary writer estimates that only 30,000 full-time Christian workers are at work among the 1.8 billion members of the twelve thousand unreached groups.

A UM News article, recently stated that the UM is now seeking to send more missionaries, after they ceased in 2002 because of a shortage of money (investment income.) If we really believe this is what the church is about, that was a terrible a mistake. The UM is looking to send at least 20 new missionaries. There are currently 229, including 50 within the US. I believe if we really are going to take Jesus’ last words to heart, we must do better.

A commentary writer states, "He is not mentioning an optional ministry activity for individuals with crosscultural interests and churches with surplus funds. The Great Commission is the primary task the Lord left his church. The church must always be a missionary church; the Christian must always be a world Christian."

On May 10, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of the Houston Area became president of the Council of Bishops. In her acceptance remarks, Huie spoke of her yearning to return to the time when Methodism was seen as a movement instead of an institution.

As a movement, we reach out beyond our borders, beyond our comfort zone. We will have a concern for all peoples. Our Wesleyan roots point us to cross other seas. Wesley himself came to the colonies as a missionary. Methodism is in the US today, because of missionaries from England.

Mission that cares for the physical
The disciples asked one last time in Acts 1.6, “now are you going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” The disciples understood that restoration to be spiritual, political and social. Our Wesleyan heritage also points us to care for the whole person.

World Vision Summer 2006 issue states:
In developing countries, 6 million children die each year, mostly from hunger-related causes.
In 2002, an estimated 608 million people were caught in disasters—almost one in 10 of the world’s population.
What are the main causes world hunger? *Armed conflict is now the leading cause. Fighting uproot families from their homes and farms, leaving them hungry and without access to their own food sources. *Natural disasters. *HIV/AIDS. *Finally, poverty and hunger lock people into a vicious cycle: the poor are hungry, and hunger traps them in poverty.

The United Nations established Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which would reduce extreme poverty in half by 2015 and eliminate it altogether by 2025. Less than 1% of US federal international humanitarian assistance. 2% of charitable donations and 2% of Protestant denominations giving goes to foreign missions.

$40-$70 billion a year is needed to achieve the MDGs, but we spend $20 billion a year on ice cream; $26 billion on jewelry. It would cost each American 50 cents a day to reach this goal.

Good News in Mission
Equip (a John Maxwell ministry) indicates
*In China, 35,000 people per day are giving their hearts to Christ.
*In Iraq, four churches in Baghdad run over 1000 each in weekly attendance
*In Iran, more people have given their hearts to Jesus than in the previous 1500 years! Over 2000 house churches have been started there by university students who are new followers of Christ.
*Therefore the need for the Million Leaders Mandate. (which is being established in China as we speak.)

Conclusion
A call for worship: Luke closes with the disciples worshiping, filled with great joy, praising God in the temple. They have witnessed a great thing. They celebrate the reign and rule of Jesus Christ as he returns to his throne. Ascension Day is a day of celebration!

A sending forth: This introductory section of Acts ends with angels appearing and asking, "why do you stand here looking into the sky?" Ascension Day is day of sending, we are to go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses, to continue the work that Jesus began, to continue the work the first disciples began.

Definitely Different

Genesis 32.22-32

Jacob prepares for confrontation
But during the night Jacob got up and sent his two wives, two concubines, and eleven sons across the Jabbok River. After they were on the other side, he sent over all his possessions. This left Jacob all alone in the camp … (Gen 32.22-24a)

Jacob wrestles God
… and a man came and wrestled with him until dawn. (Gen 32.24b)

The encounter leaves Jacob with a limp
When the man saw that he couldn’t win the match, he struck Jacob’s hip and knocked it out of joint at the socket. […] The sun rose as he left Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. That is why even today the people of Israel don’t eat meat from near the hip, in memory of what happened that night. (Gen 32.25, 31-32)

Jacob refuses to quit!
Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is dawn.” But Jacob panted, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Jacob receives God’s blessing!
“What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “It is now Israel, because you have struggled with both God and men and have won.” “What is your name?” Jacob asked him.  “Why do you ask?” the man replied. (Gen 32.27-29)

Name changes in Scripture …
• Abram/Sarai > Abraham/Sarah
• Saul > Paul
• Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” (John 15.15)
• Jesus said, “You are Simon, the son of John–but you will be called Cephas.” (John 1.42)

Lessons from Jacob

>> Get in the game!
In 1922, Texas A&M played a football game against then top-ranked Centre College. A&M was sufering from a lot of injuries, at the time. Interestingly, the head coach remembered a former player (E. King Gill) who was up in the press box working with reporters for the game. The team called on Gill to suit up and be ready to play if necessary. Texas A&M finally won 22-14. Because Gill stood ready the entire game, it has become a tradition for the entire student body to serve as the “Twelfth Man.” They stand during the entire game to show their support. They are always in the stands waiting to be called upon if they are needed.

What about you? Are you standing, ready to play when called upon?

>> Be willing to put it all on the line, to face your fears and to take risks!
Jacob decided to return to his homeland. The decision meant certain confrontation with his brother, Esau, who had earlier intended to kill Jacob. He took a huge risk in returning home!

>> Play hurt, if necessary!
Jacob’s hip was knocked out of joint in the struggle. But he didn’t quit. He continued fighting, even though he was injured, until he received the blessing!

>> Expect to be changed!
Jacob left this struggle with a limp. It is impossible to encounter God (or, more accurately, to be encounted by God) and not be changed in some lasting, real way!

>> Show what you’re made of!
Jacob’s name change acknowledged a change in his character. He went from “Trickster” to “Prince of God.”

What I’ve learned about Alexandria/Barree in this process …

  • You are willing to let go of past
  • Your future is more important than your past
  • You are not ready to quit
  • You are willing to embrace change in order to fulfill God’s mission

>> Expect God’s blessing!
One more lesson from Jacob: Expect God’s blessing! Jacob was blessed because he didn’t quit!

And, in response to God’s mighty acts in Jacob’s life, he named the place where he wrestled for God’s blessing — Peniel (“face of God”)! Today, we have the opportunity to name what God has done among us, what he’s doing in us, and what he will continue to do through us!

O God, thank you for encountering us, and for changing us! I pray that you will continue to encounter us so that we may do more effective and fruitful ministry in this valley. Guide us now as we name what you are doing among us! Amen.

[Note: Following today’s sermon, the congregation chose the name of Hope United Methodist Church. May this congregation bring the hope of Jesus Christ to the Juniata Valley and beyond!]

Silver Boxes

Ephesians 4.29

An overview of the verse:
Bad talk:
Do not use talk that is unwholesome, foul, dirty, abusive. Swearing, vulgar, gossip, talking down to others, tearing others down or belittling, finding fault.

Good talk:
Say nice things: give compliments, be cheerful, tell the truth, put on a positive attitude. Edify: build up.

Ministers grace:
Not just that they benefit another but they are words of grace. We know that grace is a gift. Our words should be gifts, like giving presents away. Florence Littauer talked with children about this concept, one little girl aptly spoke, “our words should be like little silver boxes with bows on top.” And thus when Florence Littauer put this into writing she named her book: “Silver Boxes: The Gift of Encouragement.”

“Is it edifying?”
This teaching and book arose out of a family practice in the Littauer family. When raising their family they liked to memorize verses that were practical to everyday life – verses that they could teach their children and that would effect their behavior and interaction with one another. This verse encouraged the family to speak positive rather than negative words to one another. Their words to build up, to do a favor for the recipient. At times they would ask one another, “Is it edifying?” If someone said something sarcastic or negative, they asked, “Is it edifying?” Even a parent was allowed to be questioned by the child, “Is it edifying?” So common was the practice that one day their overheard their son explaining it to a friend who was over to visit: “If she asks you ‘Is it edifying?’ that means you’ve said something bad. The best way to get out of trouble is to say you’re sorry and watch what comes out of your mouth from then on.”

Ephesian Church
Apparently the Ephesian Church was having some problems saying bad things to one another. And the Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church:
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

In the church, we should watch our words. In our homes, we should watch our words. In the workplace or school, we should watch our words. Wherever we are as Christians, we should watch our words. As Christians, we should communicate differently.

For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. -Matthew 12.34

Florence Littauer speaks of many kinds of boxes: toy boxes, gift boxes, secret boxes, mailboxes, flower boxes, school boxes, stolen boxes special boxes, boxes of peace, safe-deposit boxes and boxes of broken dreams.

Gift Boxes/Stolen Boxes
Encouraging words are remembered more than material gifts. Those of us are  older can quickly look back over our lives and identify probably both those who gave us gift boxes of encouragement and also those who spoke words of discouragement and hurt to us. There is such power in our words, those words live on in us. Words have the power to both make a person and destroy a person, especially our children and youth, when they are at impressionable ages.

Career
As young people choose careers, they may choose a career according to where they have been encouraged or discouraged. Some of us have grown up with boxes of broken dreams because what we didn’t do what we really wanted to do with our lives because that path was always discouraged for some reason or other.

Church
The week before last, Sarah Ayers accompanied me to Valley View to play the piano for the Chapel service. In talking she mentioned conversations she and Lindsey have had with other college students and how many of them are turned of to the church because basically because they did not receive encouraging words, they did not receive gift boxes. But their boxes were stolen away. What they had to contribute was not accepted. They were not made to feel a part, a significant part of the Church. In Sarah’s reflection she very much voiced an opposite experience for Lindsey and herself, of how the church has supported and encouraged them. May we continue to make our children and youth welcome and embrace them as the church.

I, personally, remember both the person who sat in the back of the church and would not even look at me when I sang a solo. (And you will remember my telling you how shy I was as a young person – that was like putting a bullet in me.) And I remember the person who took me aside after service one day, and spoke an encouraging word.

We can give boxes, we can steal boxes. Our children can come home from school on top of the world because they received a school box, an encouraging word from a teacher, and we can either uphold that box or we can smash boxes that box.

Receiving Boxes
Some of us are better at receiving boxes than others. Some of us will give silver boxes away and it will seem that the person rejects that silver box. There can be many reasons for this.
~Some people who have not received silver boxes along life’s way, do not know how to receive silver boxes. It may take repeated attempts on your part until they will actually receive the box.
~Some people may have consistently received negative words, even abusive words all their life (or physical/sexual abuse) and to tell them something positive about themselves, they don’t believe it. They reject your good words because they cannot see the good in themselves.
~Sometimes people have just learned some bad news or they aren’t feeling well.
~Sometimes it may be their personality (Personality Plus)
~as Christians, they believe it is not right to accept a compliment.

At one point Littauer asks, “Have you kissed a frog today?” You know the fairy tale where the frog when kissed turns into a handsome prince. Our words have the power to do just such a thing. Sometimes our words open up a possibility for people to live into. Littauer tells as story of a daughter and mother-in-law. This young woman always had trouble choosing a mother’s day card because her mother-in-law was not that picture perfect woman. But she began sending her cards that told of the mother-in-law she wished she would be and her mother-in-law soon began exhibiting those traits.

Conclusion
As God encourages us we are called to encourage one another. As we come to know God’s unconditional love, we are called to share that love with others.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. -Psalm 19.14

A Christian Heritage

Psalm 22

Introduction
This is a Psalm of lament, which as most turns from lament to praise. It is a Messianic psalm, especially evident in vv 16-18, sometimes called the Fifth Gospel account of the crucifixion. This doesn’t discount it’s present setting, a psalm of David, where David is in trouble, even near death and is calling out to God. Turns from not sensing God’s presence to praise, knowing God is there, and finally to answered prayer. Today, I want to look at a few verses that speak to the family.

Forefathers/mothers trust
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
       they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved;
       in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

Trust is a confession of confident hope in God’s love. In the psalmist’s time of need, he remembers the trust his forefamily had and how God delivered them.

Who in your family are your first generation Believers? Who in your family first came to know Christ and laid a spiritual foundation for your family?

In my family:
Loose family reunion: strong spiritual presence
Aurandt family ancestor, church planter in the area (planted three Lutheran churches – Waterstreet, Yellow Springs, St. John’s)

Creator God/stewardship of parents
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
       you made me trust in you
       even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you;
       from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Psalm 139
God as source, as Creator.
Trust at an early age, the psalmist credits God with this.

“I was cast on you”
Infant Baptism: giving of a child to God. In continually lifting that child up in prayer.

Also translated: “you have entrusted me to my mother’s breast” Parenthood is an act of stewardship. God has given the gift of a child – his child, his creation – to you. He has entrusted the care of that child to you: the physical care, the spiritual care. For that child to be raised so that one day he/she may like the psalmist say, “you brought me out of the womb” and “you made me trust you”

If we believe that we each have been placed here for some work. That God has uniquely gifted us for participation in the body of Christ and to share Christ with world. Then as each child is born into this body, we recognize that God has some purpose for that child. As a congregation, as a parent, we must continually give that child to God and his purpose. We must pray first that that child will know Christ, as Lord and Savior and secondly, that God will guide that child to walk in way God has prepared. That God will reveal his will for that child’s life. And that’s a prayer that every parent should pray, no matter what age, what stage of life, their child is at.

Future Generations
30 Posterity will serve him;
       future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness
       to a people yet unborn—
       for he has done it.
Tied to vv 4-5 with the trust of our ancestors

My mother’s salvation story: dad working in the strip mines, living in Pottersdale. Mom, by herself, singing “He washed my eyes with tears”. Mother never sat me down and said, "Now I want you to know this story." I came to know it because it was such a large part of who she was. She recalled and gave thanks for her salvation. I beleive a part of why I am here today is because of her story and the spiritual foundation she laid.

Why are you here today?
Who sowed those seeds in your family? Who laid a spiritual foundation for your family?

What kind of spiritual foundation are you laying for your family? What of your life is going to be remembered? What signs of commitment to God are regularly evident in your life?

One day we will all be gone, but these pews will be filled with people yet unborn, because you lived a faithful life, because you laid a spiritual foundation.

“He has done it.”
It is the work of God; no work of our own. “He has done everything.” Each generation will join in telling the story of redemption and of God’s kingship. As a messianic psalm, it tells a part of redemption’s story. Jesus died on a cross for us, so that he could bring us new life, eternal life. As v. 26 says, “may your hearts live forever!” And as we join in the telling of this redemption story, we add our own personal story, we tell our family’s story – what God has done for them; what God has done for us!

Surrender

Today, we’re going to talk about one more discipleship essential: surrender.

Jesus said, "If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will save it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself or waste your life? If you are ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in his glory and in the glory of his Father and the holy angels." (Luke 9.23-26)

>> Follow Jesus: Learn to live a life of surrender!

Jesus modeled a life of surrender. Check out Ephesians 5.21-33 and Philippians 2.5-8. I love what Paul wrote, "I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2.20).

>> Deny Yourself: Be a good steward!

I think part of denying ourselves involves putting our priorities in order. It involves being a good steward. Paul wrote, "You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully" (2 Corinthians 9.7). See also Malachi 3.

>> Take up your cross: Live a life of sacrifice!

When I think of sacrifice, I think of Abraham being called by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac, in Genesis 22.

Jesus invites us to be teachable, passionate, compassionate, and surrendered disciples!

O God, you the Way; help us to be fully devoted followers of you! Help us to be teachable, being shaped to be the people you’re calling us to be. Help us to be passionate and compassionate – people who love God and love people with all that is within us. May we always be fully surrendered and yielded to the work of your Spirit in our lives, in our church, and in our community! Amen.

In Christ

Ephesians 2.1-10

This passage about what God has done in Christ Jesus, not just through Jesus, not just with Jesus, but in Jesus. Your and my destiny is incorporated in that of Christ.

Vv 1-3 are a description of our pre-Christian past. We were dead … in sin. The spirit that was at work within us was the spirit of darkness, of evil, he who worked disobedience. All of us lived here at some point, following our sinful nature. We were objects of wrath – we deserved God’s wrath, God’s punishment. Paul takes a serious look at sin, but he goes on to look at God’s mercy.

Because of God’s love and God’s mercy, God made us alive in Christ. We are no longer dead.

There is a union portrayed in this passage – a union of us with Christ – a union in which we participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And Paul doesn’t stop there … that union also allows us to participate in Christ’s exaltation; that is, we are seated with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. We have a sharing in Christ’s triumph over the cosmic powers.

This echoes to what we talked about two weeks ago in looking at the passage that precedes this. In Ephesians 1.17-23, we specifically looked at Paul’s prayer for believers to know …  God’s “incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above all rule and authority, power and dominion …”

Being in Christ, we share in his sufferings, but we also share in his triumph, his victory, in his power.

As believers, we are transferred into a new dominion, which began in the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ. We, too, are raised to a new life. We are now freed from the things that once held us captive, that once tied us down, that once had us bound. Those things no longer control us. For we belong to Christ, and we are in Christ … so as Christ was nailed to the cross, our sinful nature was nailed to the cross; as Christ was raised from the dead, we, too, are raised from death to a new life … in Christ Jesus. It is all in Christ Jesus. It is all by God’s initiative, by God’s grace, through faith (believing). It is a gift. It is nothing we have done, but by what is done by God in Christ.

I recently saw an ad for the Unitarian Universalist Church, which stated, “Deeds, Not Creeds.” Take a minute and think about that phrase. Would you choose that as the slogan for your church?  What are creeds? The Apostle’s Creed (UMH 881) is a statement of what we believe. Although the Apostle’s Creed is not word for word in the Bible, everything stated in it is biblical. It is a concise statement of the Gospel. Creedal statements appear in the New Testament writings; they appear as early as the first century church.

“Deeds, Not Creeds” tells me that if there is not a statement of belief, then they must not believe in anything … but they do believe in one thing, according to this slogan … they believe in deeds; they believe in doing good works.

Look at what Paul says in this passage about deeds. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. We just talked about how we are in Christ. That salvation is accomplished through the work of Christ. That it is not by anything we do. And now Paul says the same thing about good works or deeds, that these were prepared in advance for us to do. We do not do deeds by our own initiative, but again it is God’s initiative. It is by God’s plan. It is by God’s enabling, by God’s grace.

Salvation comes first, then works. Belief in Jesus Christ and what is accomplished by God through his life, death and resurrection comes first. Being found in Christ come first. And then, as Christ exemplified a life of good works, we too are raised to a life of good works.

Paul knows the temptation of falling back on our strength, relying on our own resources. And when we have a natural gift, it is easy to rely on that natural gift. But Paul warns against this. His emphasis here is on that which is accomplished in and through Jesus Christ. To impact the world for Christ, we must be found in Christ. There is a phrase I came across as a musician, “He who sings, prays twice” (attributed to Augustine). The meaning is you don’t rely on your own talent or ability. A person can sing words about Christ, but is the anointing work of the Holy Spirit that touches hearts and lives with those words. That can be applied to any gift or talent. My sermon is just a bunch words, unless submitted to God and anointed by his presence. A meal prepared for someone in need, can just be a meal, or it can be done in prayer, sent forth in prayer, asking God to bless the household which receives it. That is ministry.

In conclusion: we are found in Christ. Who we are is a gift of God. God reached out to us, in Christ Jesus. In Christ, we die to our sins; in Christ we are raised to a new life; in Christ we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Through this gift of God, in Christ we do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Compassion

There are a few essentials of discipleship, it seems to me: teachability and passion, to name two. Today, I want to talk about compassion.

Around here (where we’re in the process of merging two congregations), we are asking the question, "How will this look different?" One way I think we must look different is that we must be people whose compassion and love for people leads us beyond these four walls to reach people where they are!

Come or Go?
Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be too much (if anything) in Scripture calling on people to "come" to us or come to church. The emphasis, rather, is on the people of God "going" to the hurting and unreached people! There is no record of Jesus ever telling lost people to go to church. Instead, Jesus sends his disciples out on missions of love and mercy to minister to spiritually lost and empty people!

Love
1 Corinthians 13 is often called the "love chapter." If you’ve been to a wedding, chances are you’ve heard it. However, the author, Paul, isn’t talking about marriage, specifically; he’s actually talking about life in the context of the church. This section is sandwiched in between two chapters that deal specifically with life in the church. It’s a great reminder that we must love people in everything we do!

Today, I want to talk about loving others in two parts: loving one another (in the church) and loving our neighbors (out there).

Love one another
The Apostle John has some great words to say about how we ought to love one another. Read these selected readings from 1 John.

Love your neighbors
Jesus, as he often did, once told a story to communicate how we should treat our "neighbors." Read Luke 10.25-37.

"If we are the body"  (Casting Crowns)

If we are the body
Why arent His arms reaching
Why arent His hands healing
Why arent His words teaching
And if we are the body
Why arent His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way

So, who will you reach out to this week? In what ways can you express your love for a family member, a friend, a neighbor, and/or a co-worker?

O God, thank you for your love for us shown to us through Jesus Christ. Help us to love one another in ways that please and honor you. Help us also to love our "neighbors," people with whom we come in contact in the world. Help us to reach out to people who especially need to know and experience your love — the hurting, the oppressed, the sick, and the poor. May the way we treat others honor you! Amen.