Loving God, full of strength and wisdom, ready to answer our prayers of hope. Thank you for always being there waiting to bless Your children. You are the source of all that is good. Thank for the opportunities You give us to show Your unfailing love to others. May we be aware of Your presence and the “Divine appointments” You have for us each day. May we say yes to Your Spirits prompting and step out in faith, being Your light bearers in a world that is in so much need of light. Show us whom You would have us serve each day and may we have the eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart that is open and pliable for You. May we be Your hands, feet, voice and love in the world.
December 28, 2014
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Worship Theme: New Year
Ecclesiastes 3:1-12 NIV
Revelation 21:1-6 NIV
A Year In Review
Read Revelation, chapter 21:1-6…
I can’t believe how time has flown this year. Here we are almost at the end of the year and a new year approaches. I am sure, as we look back, we can see the good times and the bad times we have been through in the past year. We, as a congregation, have seen changes within our church. We have seen others step up when there was help needed from places we may not have expected. We have seen prayers answered in ways that we never could have imagined. We have seen out attendance grow as we seek to be that light in the community. We have seen new life being born in our church…just to name a few.
We have also seen some tough times. We have seen times when we weren’t quite sure where God was going to lead us. We have seen times when we were worried about the health of some of our saints among us. I think one of the biggest is the loss of many of our Saints within the church.
But through this all, there is one thing that never changes. We have time and time is a gift from God. There are times when we feel we have too much and times when we feel we don’t have enough. But we have the assurance that our God is the God of time and all things happen within His time frame and not our own. And no matter how we may try to get more time one thing is for sure…time goes on. What we do with it is our choice to make.
We can rest assured that as we go through time our God is always with us. God has a plan for our time and if we trust and obey our time here on earth will glorify Him and not ourselves. As we trust Him for our daily bread we live life abundant. As we let go and let God our lives are transformed into what he intended all along.
Perhaps if we chose His way and not the highway we will affect a change in the lives around us, not to mention our own lives. Just think of the possibilities… And when we come to the end of our time we will know we spent our time wisely and will here that “well done my good and faithful servant” when we reach our eternal home in the sky. But it takes time…
The scriptures that were read this morning are all about time. They talk about there being a time for everything…about a time when God will make all things new… Time is a precious commodity. As I said, time is a gift from God. We can either work on God’s time or try and work on humanities time span. Listen to what the scriptures from this morning tells us and chose which time line is the best for you, for me, for all of humanity. Which one is a better way to spend our precious time…our extraordinary gift from God…?
Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything. Can you imagine what it must have been like to hear the stories of God’s people from your ancestors? Imagine you are a young child and you are listening to the stories of your people. There were so many ups and downs it was like a rollercoaster. There were good kings and bad kings. There was time of blessings and times of exile and judgment. There were times of weeping and laughter, morning and dancing, kind of like the opening of Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities,” it was the worst of times and the best of times, but within this gift from God the mix of life happens. Good and bad…light and dark…day and night all happen. God has set a time for everything under heaven and in heaven. Time is God’s and God’s alone and our Creator chooses to share it with the created…even within the realities of life.
Revelations talks about a new time to come…a time when God will make everything new. Our God is a God of the new. Life with God never remains the same. It is always moving, changing, perfecting, and morphing into something new. But…it takes time. It is not as if we can change our calendars to January 1 and Boom everything has changed. But as we live our lives…as we “do our time” here on earth…we can believe by faith that God’s word is true and that little by little things are being made new so that we may know the fullness of life even though the various season of life that we go through.
We have been given a set amount of time here on earth. When we show compassion we are feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming that stranger clothing the naked and visiting those in need. It is the compassion…the Christ-like compassion that the “King” notices. With compassion comes kindness, patience, and love for others. What we do with our time has eternal consequences.
We have all heard the phrases and may have even used them “I have no time for that…you’re running out of time…you’re wasting my time…you don’t use your time wisely…thank you for your time”. We are forever trying to have “more time.” But perhaps we need to change what we do with the time we have. Maybe, just maybe, what we do with God’s gift of time needs to be “tweaked a little” in our lives. Perhaps it is not more time that we need and what is needed is to put more “quality” in our time.
We are coming to the end of one year and a new year is dawning on the horizon. What will you do with your new beginning? What will you do with the gift of time shared with you by the Creator? As a matter of fact, each day is a new beginning…a new day dawning for you and for me. What will you do with your new day? Will you squander it on the “me” or use it for the “thee” who gave it to you. To everything there is a season. What will you do with the season that you are in? Will you focus on the time passed or look ahead for the future? This new time we have been given…this New Year…this gift from God…should be used wisely, in ways that will enhance your relationship with God. How will you celebrate this new day dawning? Will you stay looking in the past or will you boldly go forward, with our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, into a new frontier? Which will you choose? You never know…like Ester, you may be called for a time such as this… Maybe…just maybe…when we choose Christ we will be used to bring glory and honor to the Father. How AWESOME is that?
Let us pray…
God of New Beginnings, we thank you for the year that has past. Even with its rollercoaster ride at times, you were there through it all. Help us to boldly face our new beginnings with the confidence that you will continue to be with us, making everything new. May we have hope for each new day as we sojourn on this journey of life. It is in the name of our Shepherd, Lord Jesus Christ, we pray.
God of Hope and Peace, full of compassion and healing, I pray for the gates of Heaven to be open and Your hope, peace healing and grace would pour down from Heaven upon Your people and Your land. We are thirst for Your showers of mercy to rain upon us…renewing us…redeeming us…flowing upon the dry parched land of our souls. We pray for Your grace to forgive those who trespass against us so that we too will be forgiven. Forgive us, we pray, for those times when we have ignored Your nudging to forgive others and hold onto anger and bitterness. Forgive us, we pray, for those times when we should have shown mercy but have taken on “self-righteousness”. Help us to set aside our differences and our agendas and see each other as beloved children of the Most High God in order to understand and believe that everyone is of Sacred Worth to You. May we bring wholeness and healing, hope and peace, joy and healing, mercy and grace. Help us to be Your hands, feet, face, voice and grace to a world full of despair and chaos…
God of Christmas, full of love and forgiveness, where true joy and hope are found, thank you for the ultimate Christmas gift that keeps on giving, the gift of that first Christmas when You became flesh and walked among us. May we accept that gift and not only accept it but open it each new day instead of leaving it on the shelf for the tomorrow that never comes. May we not be selfish and keep the gift to ourselves but share it with abandonment with those around us. May we help them to open and share Your gift of love that poured down from heaven in the form of a baby that was laid in a manger…a feeding trough…who became the Bread of life…eternal life with You. May the Bethlehem Star shine bright within us as we strive to live as Advent people each and every day of our faith walk with You. Amen
God of Peace, on this Sunday of Advent we are reminded of the Peace that You give all who believe. Thank you that even though the world around us is in chaos, You still offer that peace that goes beyond understanding. Thank you that that our Risen Lord Jesus taught us how to live in peace with one another. Oh, if we would just learn that lesson there would truly be a “Peaceable Kingdom” here on earth. May this Advent be one that we, as humanity, would embrace that peace and treat each other a little kinder, with more compassion and hope. May we, as humanity, learn that vital lesson that Jesus taught…everything and everyone is of sacred worth. You are our hope, our peace, our joy and our love. In You there is no fear of rejection…no fear of worthlessness, no fear at all for Your love and compassion casts out all fear… May we be at peace within our Spirit so that we may reach out to those in need of Your saving grace. May we be Your light bearers of change…of hope…and of peace…
Forever God of Advent, full of hope, peace, joy and love. Thank you that You loved humanity so much that You came down in a form that we would understand…the form of a human child…and taught us how You want us to live. Forgive us for those times that we forget the true meaning of this season. You are not found in the noise and confusion, You are not found in the tinsel and garland, You are not found in business of the season, You are found in the quiet, still, small voice of our hearts. Thank you for the most precious gift of Yourself found in our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. May we share the perfect gift of the season, You, with all those who live in darkness. May we be light bearers for the world that still is in need of light for it’s eyes.
God of my life, giver of all that is good, my Refuge and Rock, thank you for Your ever present love for me. Thank you that I never need to fear in my life because my life itself is in Your hands. May I trust and love You with abandon as I step out in faith and follow where You lead me. May I “free fall” for You so that I may soar on wings as eagles. As I take that “leap of faith” with You each and every moment of my days, I am so blessed by You. You will never let my foot slip as I take each step on the awesome journey You have orchestrated for my life. Help me in my times that I may doubt…strengthen me in those times when I feel I can’t take another step…lead me into life eternal as we dance the dance of faith, hope, love and joy together. You truly are the music of my life…the song in my heart…You are the Lord of my dance…