Acts 2:41-47 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. 43 A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. 44 All the believers were united and shared everything. 45 They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. 46 Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. 47 They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.
The passage above is such a great reminder to who we are to be in the Lord. This early group of followers, fairly small and unknown, living in a city that had crucified the very one they followed, Jesus the Lord. Yet they chose to live their faith that would change the world today. The apostle's teachings, prayer, fellowship and radical unity of spirit generously bound them together. They found such joy of gathering and learning from each other in the moment that they invited others, who invited others and so on until someone invited you. And now we are here, in this house of worship, and it’s our turn to keep the truth going.
We each have a role in God's story here at EOCC. The power of the Holy Spirit moved the first Christians to share their possessions, setting aside their own gain or desire to bless others. Their spirit made their lives joyous in the situation and location they were. How does your readiness to find joy in sharing where you are at reflect God’s impact on your life. How do you respond to being part of a congregation that specifically and intentionally exist to reach beyond our walls, to reach and uplift our neighbors and communities?
This weekend I experienced the joy of this congregation gathering where it is at and serving in great joy. I appreciated the underlying message that, while we may not be everything to everybody, we are unified in serving others. We are unified in serving God here and now, for loving each other at our own costs. For me that is what Thanksgiving is all about. We gather to share what we have, where we are at and the blessings God has given this community of believers here.
I have said this before, but I think it is worth repeating; we live in a world that wants," I need this or that in my life." And I hear many say n response to the world's lie, God is calling me. But the early church was never set up that way. In fact, it was a gathering to give unto others, to serve and share the hope , the gospel the this and that of life, even in the uncomfortableness of gathering where our Lord was crucified. The apostles did not look to what they did not have, but in what they did have where they were at. Then they invited others. May we live our lives inviting others into this congregation and God's kingdom here at EOCC. Happy Thanksgiving, pastor Carl
Lord God almighty, I give thanks to you for the divine purpose and timing that together weave opportunity throughout my life. I thank you for the trials of life even though I may not understand. I do believe oh Lord there is an answer to every prayer and with this awareness I accept and give thanks for the abundant good that is mine to claim and share with others. Lord, I pray for others to see your church as a place to gather and hear your Word, to pray, to serve others, and to give hope. May we see our role as the early church saw theirs. May we turn from the impact of the world today that says it about what I need and remember the teachings of Your Son, Jesus. It is through Him we pray, Amen
Philippians 4:4-7 4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
As Thanksgiving week draws near and the end of our Church year approaches, I think it is appropriate to be reminded of what Paul said while in a Roman jail cell, "Be glad in the Lord always, again I say be glad... bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks," Paul in writing this when he did is reminding us with Christ our joy is not based upon happiness at that moment but a confident heart rooted in hope. A hope that remains with us because Jesus left us with the comforter, the Holy Spirit.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving, deal with the chaos in the world and at times the disruptions of our church let us, God's people here at EOCC try Paul's approach to life; “be glad in the Lord,” and “bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.” Let us not give up in frustration or hurt feelings but instead let the Holy Spirit shape our thoughts and feelings as well as your interactions with others. As you do this see if you don't find greater peace in everyday life and the start of our new year.
Almighty and Holy God. Thank you for the Word we find in our hearts reminding us the teachings of Your Son, Jesus. Father, help me see more clearly the good of what is going on around me. I admit that in the chaos and clutter of doing I sometimes lose focus on the blessing I have have. Lord, I pray for the Boards of this church; I pray for the leadership and all the volunteers that try to make this world a little better. Lord, as I prepare to enter the Advent season proclaiming the good news may I not forget to sit in the peace you brought. Father, may I through the Holy Spirit glorify Your name in how I love and treat all people. Father, I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen
1 Timothy 6:17-19 17 Tell people who are rich at this time not to become egotistical and not to place their hope on their finances, which are uncertain. Instead, they need to hope in God, who richly provides everything for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others. 19 When they do these things, they will save a treasure for themselves that is a good foundation for the future. That way they can take hold of what is truly life.
This past weekend and many other times throughout the year I hear when people give extravagantly they feel filled with something they cannot get in other ways. In the passage above, along with the rest of chapter 6, the apostle Paul saw people lose their ways from the faith when money, or selfishness of their time was their life’s highest goal (cf. 1 Timothy 6:9-10). He urged Timothy to “run away” from a life that based its primary hope on finances and self. Instead, he called Timothy and the members of his congregation to a different view of what we today call “retirement planning.” He said to actively “do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others at the expense of themselves” was the best way to lay a good foundation for the future. Those choices would enable them to take hold of “what is truly life.”
Today so much around us tries to convince us that self and money is the most important part of a satisfying life, retirement. Advertising and most political manifestos are designed by subtle and very direct ways to make us think; If only I had...I would be filled with contentment. Paul is telling us, and experience shows me people are most content, filled when they are giving of themselves extravagantly. Sacrificing their time and financial resources to be rich in the future. Recently a friend was rewarded publicly for doing just this and he would admit, his retirement is fuller because of giving.
I hope to see you this morning as we recognize and celebrate within our family those who gave in a different way; our Veterans. Thank you.
Almighty God, Lord Jesus, thank you for being my ultimate mentor, guide, and accountability partner. Teach me to value what you value, to take hold of what is truly life. Lord, I thank you for the love I was surrounded with these past few day sof hard work.I pray for each who gave so generously to bring this community together, if only for a moment. Lord I ask for Your continued blessing to be upon Your children here. Protect us Lord as we obey the Word we know. Lord, I pray this in the name of Your Son Jesus, Amen
Christ lives in me, and I live by faith in Him and His love for me (Galatians 2:20).
Throughout scripture there are many saying about who we are to be in Christ and the new life He brings to us. If I asked you the question, as a christian what are you doing for the next 5, 10 or 20 years, how would you answer? Would you think, retirement and the free time you might have? Grandchildren? Vacations? Volunteering? As I thought about this question posed to me my first thoughts were family related or church related. However, as i thought more about this question the answer is; I want to focus on who I am becoming? What will I leave others to remember me by? That question lead me to questions about my character. Tough question that I want ot share with you?
Does the words out of my mouth in public match my actions when no one is near? ( but God)
Do my emotions show who is in control of my life? In other words, does the world and its behavior override the character God wants for me? I believe my character is best when Christ takes over the deepest parts of who I am and who I am becoming-- my heart, my mind, my soul and strength. I celebrate others success. I feel compassion for someone when they down or don't feel deserving of God's grace. I mourn with others and rejoice with others. I allow love to lead even when I could justify other means. Am I becoming more like Christ daily?
In 5 years will grace run out of me more or less? If I focus on who I am becoming and setting my goal to be more like Christ then the answer should be in 5 years I will have more grace to give.
I am becoming more about me and this world or more about who I am in God? Where is my focus?
What are you doing with the years you have left? I want to thank the men's group in making me discern what I am doing the next twenty years or the years I have left. What do I want to leave as my legacy? I hope we get a chance to see each other this morning as we celebrate ALL SAINTS DAY in this morning's worship time.
Almighty and amazing God I come before you knowing that you have forgiven me. Father, help me to grow in you. May I have the discipline to set aside the time daily to reflect on who I will be years from now as well as today. May my daily walk be lead by the gratitude of knowing what you have done for me. May my eyes be focused on growing in spirit and strength from above and not of this world. Lord, I know this is a challenge for even the most faithful but I also know Lord, it is possible. Thank you as I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006