"Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." JOHN 12:24 (NRSV
This past week as I prepared for a funeral the passage above came to the forefront of my mind. Most of us think of this passage as a scripture when we die or someone passes. However, with Jesus' teachings and the Holy Spirit's guidance could this passage be about our life today?
Could this passage be talking about our dying to self. When we do this it also makes us die to our neighbor. At first this seems quite disturbing to a modern mind. But when we give it a closer look we can see that in order to be of service to others we have to die to them; that is, we have to give up measuring our meaning and value with the yardstick of others. To die to our neighbors means to stop judging them, to stop evaluating them, and thus to become free to be compassionate, loving and part of growing God's Kingdom. Fruits of the Spirit can never coexist with judgment because judgment creates the distance, the separation, that prevents us from really being with the other.
May we all die to ourselves so we, the single grain of life blossom into the fruit of God's love. Hope to see you later today as we celebrate "freedom" in Christ. Pastor Carl
Loving Lord, Father of all creation we turn to you this morning and ask for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to be upon our sister Alyson. Keep her safe oh Lord, as she mourns her husband's death. Father, be with us all as we journey through this life looking to the day that we too join our brother's and sister's in Your kingdom. Lord, I ask for prayers for my family. I pray for those who are struggling with their faith and Your presence. Lord be with those in need today and help guide me to where I need to be. Lord, forgive me of my sins and lead me not into temptation as I prepare to deliver to your people the words that you have laid upon me. God, may you bless this nation as we celebrate our independence this week. Lord, I pray this in Your Son's name, Amen
Acts 11: 25 Barnabas went to Tarsus in search of Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him to Antioch. They were there for a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching large numbers of people. It was in Antioch where the disciples were first labeled “Christians.”
What does it mean to be a christian? This was a question posed to me by one of our youth not to long ago. As we discussed answers we had heard the number was ridiculous. It actually reminded me of how the leaders of Israel took ten commandments and made 613 new ones. So we decided to narrow it down and look at what the Bible says directly.
We decided that maybe the question for a christian should be, who do we belong to. Referring back to the movie "toy Story " again we see the characters wonder who they are? Woody tells them, "look under your boot Buzz, you too, Jessie, who's name is written there?" Andy's name was written showing they belonged to Andy. In the early church the name christian became a name meaning that you belong to Christ.It was given because the people of Antioch, a very diverse cultural city, could tell those who were marked with Christ by the way they were thinking and speaking. They knew who they belonged to to. In other words their life was changed.
Do people know who we belong to by our thinking and speaking? Do they know we are "christians" by our love, speech and thoughts? Oh there are many other ways to let people know in the 613 ways, bumper stickers, shirts, crosses around our necks, and going to church but I am not sure they are the true answer to the question; what does it mean to a christian? Happy Father's Day and I pray we will see each other as we take a look at the Trinity in worship.
Gracious Lord, thank you for the people you put in our lives. Thank you for the questions that make us dig deeper in life. Father, help me on my journey to grow in faith, understanding and compassion to the world around me. Lord, help me not water down your Word to make it fit and instead work in the Word you have delivered to me. Father, bless my families as I continue my walk. Lord I pray this in the name of Your Son Jesus, Amen.
34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
I am not sure about the rest of you but I am excited to see the new movie, Toy Story 4. The one with the spoon. One of the reasons I love this series is that it is about friendship, a close, sincere, genuine friendship. Like, "I would do anything for you" kind of friendship. I remember in one scene, Buzz Lightyear said, “Woody once risked his life to save mine, and I couldn’t call myself his friend if I wasn’t willing to do the same. Now who’s with me?” From rivalry to being secure in Andy's love.
At the root of our Christian faith we, too, must be secure and trust in the love God has for us. In the verse above, we must notice how radical of a saying it is. They lived in a time where the gods around them from Egypt, Greece, Rome and Canaan, made by man, did not love them. The understanding that a god would love a man was unheard of. But we as followers of Jesus know He showed us His love and this love shapes our lives for the better. At the core it changes how we deal and treat others, how we are all equals and are loved the same. Jesus, their Lord and master told His followers he didn't call them servants but friends. And it is here He asked of them to live in God's love and to love one another the same way. We, followers of Jesus Christ, are to reflect the love that God has for us to all those around us. Let it it start here at E.O.C.C.. Let our motives, interactions and communications be grounded in that deep love that we know in Christ and be the proof God is among us. I pray that I see this love as we gather this morning for worship and our annual meeting. PC
Almighty and Holy God, may all honor be yours. Lord, I want the world to know me as Your disciple. Guide me through the Holy Spirit to live in such a way that my love for You is reflected in the love I share with others. May my love for brothers and sisters in faith be equal to the love I share with my family. Lord, forgive me in my selfishness, forgive me in my sinfulness as I work and journey through the trial of life. Father, thank you for the blessing I witness from the time I wake until the time I rest my head. You are truly giving and merciful. I pray for this church family, our communities and the world around us. May they all know I am a christian by my love. I pray and lift this up in the name of Jesus. Amen
6 While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. 7 It isn’t often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. 8 But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. 9 So, now that we have been made righteous by his blood, we can be even more certain that we will be saved from God’s wrath through him. 10 If we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son while we were still enemies, now that we have been reconciled, how much more certain is it that we will be saved by his life? 11 And not only that: we even take pride in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the one through whom we now have a restored relationship with God.
June 6th 1944: This day is remembered as the turning point of WWII for the allied forces. Listening to a Veteran years ago that was on the beaches of Omaha I remember him saying that the hatred of one united a world of many. –Barack Obama said “It was unknowable then, but so much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only six miles long and two miles wide.”
I believe a key reason we so admire the victorious D-Day invasion troops was: their quest was true, for the good of mankind and it was to set other people free from oppression and terror. The apostle Paul tells us how Jesus gave His life unselfishly, beyond what we could ever do. He died “for ungodly people,” came to save us while we were still enemies. Going far beyond anything we could have done for ourselves, He gave His life to set us free, spiritually, forever. Paul in essence is saying, the love of One united all with our creator and this is a gift we should be sharing.
I hope you can join us today as we celebrate Jesus's love through communion.
Father, thank you for sending me Your Son who bought me eternal victory. My Lord Jesus, You defeated hatred and death, not by hating or trying to kill, but instead taking the worst they could do upon Yourself so I might live free. May I learn this in my own life to trust enough to love even though the world screams for me to hate or take revenge. Lord, I thank you for inviting me to share in Your victory over hatred and death. Lord, I pray this morning for the victims of violence in this world especially those in Virginia. Lord I pray this in Your Son's name, Amen.
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006