Sermon: The King is Here
Sermon: "The King is Here"
1st in the "A Secret Kingdom" series.
Delivered August 22, 2010 by Rev. Eliot Winks.
Sermon Text: Romans 10:8-17
Well let me introduce myself. I assume everyone knows who I am, but that is not always the case. I'm the Reverend Eliot Winks. I'm an Anglican priest, and I worship here at Central with my wife and my daughter Caroline, who you might have seen twirling and dancing up the aisles. She said she wanted to hear daddy preach, but she's gone off to Sunday school thankfully.
But I work for the International Missions Organization. I'm not in a parish at the moment, which is why we're free to be part of the community here, and we've really been blessed by our time here with the Central family, and I'm just so grateful to John and the staff for giving me the privilege of coming and preaching and teaching on occasions since the quality of teaching at this church is so good. To be included in that rotation is wonderful.
I love movies. If any of you know me, you'll know that I love movies, and I don't know if you love movies. Some people just don't like movies, but I love movies, and I spent a number of my years working in the movie industry, and that might be one of the reasons I love movies, or it might be vice versa. Maybe I worked in the business because I love movies.
And for me, the movies I love the most, that resonate with me the most, that I can see over and over again are movies that give you a full experience, a full human experience if you will, a full range of emotions, from joy to sorrow. The ones that kind of take you through the ringer, laughing one minute and weeping in the next because that's a bit like what life is, isn't it? Some days we're laughing, and the next moment, we're, we're weeping.
Now grant it, I don't want movies like that every day. Some days I do just need a little bit of escape, and so, yes, I watch Will Ferrell. I'll admit it. Yep. Yeah. Yeah. Or Old School, or you know Office Space. And occasionally I might even be caught watching a chick flick, but mostly that's for my wife's benefit, you know, because I'm a good and loving husband.
But really, the movies that stay with me the most are, are the ones that give you that full experience, that really teach us something, for me that teach us something about the world and about what it means to be human, to really live fully.
Because I think that's an image of God's call to his people, to live lives that are, are fully engaged, lives that experience joy and sorrow, that, that embrace the full expression of what it means to be human, what it means to be God's people, to be his children.
In fact, we can look and see that our God is a God who embraces the fullness of emotion. We see in Scripture that he celebrates, but we also see that there's great sorrow at the condition of humanity, the condition of his people. So it's God first and foremost who shows us how to embrace our emotions, how to live fully.
And we're pretty good on the celebrating side, I'd say. You know, we, we find a lot of reasons to celebrate. And in fact, as followers of Jesus, we know that we have lots to celebrate. Not that life is wonderful every day of the week. We know that's not true. Many of us have learned that first hand in the last few years.
But we know that no matter what, in the midst of the darkness, in the midst of the storm, as we were singing a few minutes ago, we still know that Jesus is King. We still know that we have hope within us and joy within us. We can still celebrate new life. We can celebrate the fact that we know and love and serve the Creator of the universe, a God who is ferocious in his love for his people, and unending and tenacious in his desire to see us walk in wholeness and holiness and righteousness...a word we, we don't really like much in the Church anymore...to walk as full and vibrant human beings every day of our lives. And that is something worth celebrating.
You know, when we, we come to church, and we come to a worship experience on Sundays, in many ways, worship is intended to be a microcosm of, of human experience, if you will. We're supposed to come here and celebrate with great joy, but we're also supposed to come and feel awe and wonder in the presence of God.
We come to the table together, and we feel the weight of the cost that it took to bring us back into communion with God and with each other. It's a place where we can come to celebrate the birth of a child, the joys that are going on in our life. But it also is a place where we can come when we're in sorrow and we're hurting and where we feel pain in our lives. We can come and experience all those things here fully and let them out and give them to God.
But we don't always do that, do we? There, there's a, there's a staidness, kind of holding back in how we worship and how we embrace God sometimes. Sometimes, I wonder if we hesitate to really let go in church because we feel a bit like Fred Allen who once said, "The first time I sang in a church choir, 250 people changed their religion."
Now you might be one of those people, and I might sit somewhere else, and that's okay, but God didn't call us to make a harmonious, melodious, wonderful song. He certainly called Ryan and the worship team to do that. Otherwise, we'd kick them off. But he called the rest of us to make a joyful noise, to just raise our voices, a cacophony of joy before him.
And it's not just our worship sometimes I think that, that lacks vibrancy and vitality. I think it's sometimes how God's people engage the world, how we avoid embracing everything that is out there, how we avoid embracing all that God would intend us to be and how he would have us engage with our neighbors.
Sometimes it's almost like there's a, a fog-like, wet blanket hanging over God's people, tamping down our emotions and, and hiding our faith lives almost to the point of suffocating us.
You know, when I, when I look at the Bible, I see something totally different. I see so much emotion in Scripture, from the point where, from the very beginning where God is weeping for his creation to all sorts of characters and people and situations in Scripture where we see a whole gamut of emotions.
The prophets who one moment are, are weeping with sorrow over the fallenness of God's people, and the next moment, they're pulling out a sword, ready to kill anybody who comes near them. They would be great guests to invite to dinner. You'd never know what you were getting from them one moment to the next, but they were fully engaged with the world.
David, King David, who wrote the Psalms, we see as we read through the Psalms some of them are incredible hymns of praise to God, and then some of them are some of the most broken words ever, ever spoken. "There is no health in me."
We see in the lives of these people emotion and faith and relationship lived out in full-on, 3D, high def, 7.1 surround sound for all the world to see! Oof! Now that is a life fully lived, and just thinking about it makes me queasy. I bet it makes you queasy too. The thought of living it all out for the world to see in front of us...owey!
It's interesting that, that for two weeks now I've been given the task to come up with and preach on sermons, which are somewhat uncomfortable. Last week, we talked about change. I was at the other end, and John was down here. Change, a very uncomfortable topic.
This week, we're talking about faith and emotions and making them public, a somewhat uncomfortable topic for God's people. And yet the reality is as Christ's followers, we're not called into our comfort zones. In fact, we're just called the opposite. We're called outside of our comfort zones.
But you know, this idea that, that, that our emotions and our faith life are private is not biblical at all. Like I said, the Bible points us to something very, very different. It's, it's an ethos in America that these things are private, not public, and it's that ethos which is held back God's people from fully living as God intended us to be, fully embracing the life that we received because of Christ's sacrifice. It's held us back from being God's witnesses in the world to transformation and hope.
And so this morning I want to spend a few minutes looking at a couple of big biblical examples of why it's important for us to engage the world fully in both action and emotion, to show the world the truth of our faith lives, to engage it as fully vibrant people.
And Scripture is full of great examples of joy and sorrow, of lives lived out in incredible ways. One of the best examples I think of joy is found in Psalm 47. So if you want to follow along, it's going to be on page 518 of your pew Bible and page something else of your personal Bible. I won't dare to try to figure out what page. So let me pray, and then let's, let's open up Psalm 47.
Gracious Father, we thank you that you love us so much, that you're ferocious for us, that you're ferocious to set us free from all that holds us back. We thank you that you're a God who celebrates over us and who mourns with us, and we pray that you would open your Word by the power of your Spirit, that we could become more fully those men and women you've actually created us to be, in Jesus' name, Amen.
"Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.
For the LORD Most High is awesome,
the great King over all the earth.
He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.
He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.
God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted."
As somebody said in the last service, "Amen!" I mean, really, I'm not sure you can find a more powerful call to joy and celebration in all of Scripture. Now, somebody will probably come up to me afterwards and say, "Well of course you can. Here it is." And that's great. Okay.
This is an incredible call to joy and celebration, and not for all the wonderful things we, we celebrate...birthdays and weddings and graduations...but for a cosmic reason because this is the Word that all of humanity, all of the universe has been waiting to hear, that there is a King on the throne, that there is a good and righteous and just King sitting on the throne of the universe. And that means we can stop worrying about who's in charge. We can stop pretending that we're in charge.
See, this is the word that God is not just our King, but he is a great King over all the earth and over all the nations. And Jesus is seated at his right hand as King of kings and Lord of lords. So whoever else thinks they're king or lord is not true because Jesus is King of kings and Lord of Lords.
And when we have a good and righteous King sitting on the throne of the universe who is ferocious in his desire to defend and love and protect us, it means that we can stop doing that job ourselves. We can stop acting like kings and queens. It means that we can let our guard down. It means we can stop protecting our lives and let the full life that God has for us creep in and seep in to who we are because the King is here.
And yet, and yet, you look outside the doors of the church. Well you probably don't have to look that far. Maybe look in the mirror. Maybe look in the pew, down the row, and we realize that it doesn't always look like there's a King on the throne, does it? There's plenty of stuff messed up and out of order, and we know that sin is still obviously alive and well in the world.
And one of the reasons that people still act the way they act and are doing some of the stuff they're doing is that the word that the King is on the throne hasn't reached the ends of the earth. And so lots and lots of people, billions of them, think that they need to be king. Even lots of Christians, dare I say, think that they are king of their lives and maybe other people's lives. Or maybe they give the place of king over to someone else in their lives. Word has not yet trickled out, word of Jesus' kingship and his sovereignty.
This, this message of light and hope to a dark and dying world is still hidden. It's a hidden treasure, hidden in the midst of the world. Sometimes I fear it's a treasure hidden in our midst right here.
It reminds me of a, a story, more like a, a parable or a fairy tale. It's a story that's been told over and over again in all sorts of different forms. Tolkien's told it. Donaldson's told it. C. S. Lewis has told it. I bet the list could on and on, but it's the story of the king.
The king leaves his kingdom for a period of time and leaves somebody in charge, and it's not long before the person who's left in charge thinks it's all about him, and instead of ruling and leading and defending the people, he starts subjugating and enslaving them. And so the people who were once full of joy and peace and hope suddenly become a people of fear and greed and loneliness and selfishness. They cease to interact with one another in healthy ways and start to horde all sorts of stuff.
But of course the good news is the king returns, and he returns to find his kingdom in a mess. The people he left who were full of joy and celebration, he now finds them cowering in the corner and trembling in fear.
And the first thing he does is he sets the captives in the dungeons of the castle free, and word trickles down to the town around the castle that the king has returned. And so joy begins to, to rise up in people's hearts and lives.
And then he sends out messengers all across the land to speak to the lords and ladies and say, "Lords and ladies, the good king is here. Fear not." And at first the lords and ladies, they don't know what to do with this word because maybe it's just a ploy by the evil king to get them to come to the castle for some nefarious reason. Nefarious; such a great word, isn't it? How often do you get to use that in everyday life?
But finally, they go, "Okay, you know what? What do we have to lose? I mean, our lives are already a mess, so let's go see. Maybe the king is back." And they get to the castle, and sure enough, there's the king greeting them at the gates to the castle.
And it's as if, it's as if this wet blanket's lifted off of them. They breathe almost like it's for the first time in their lives. And they feel life pulsing through them again. They feel hope rising up again, and joy rising up again. And their children are standing beside them confused because they don't know who this person is, and they have the joy of introducing their children to the good and true king.
And I tell you, the party they have that week is like unparalleled. The music and the food and the outfits and, I hope, a bit of dancing. Whoo! I hope I didn't scare anybody. And it's just an incredible celebration as everybody celebrates the return of the king and the change of the kingdom.
And then at the end of, end of the celebrations, they're all packing up, getting ready to go, and they're, they're packing up their horses, and they're filling up their carriages, and they're getting ready to climb into their SUV's, and they're chatting amongst each other, talking about what a great, "How great it is to have the king back. What a great party it was!"
And of course, there are a couple who say, "Yeah, but maybe the music could have been a little better. I don't know. We'll work that out next time." And they're just full of joy. And they head off, and they, they head back to their houses and all of that.
But here's the problem: that not everybody in the land knew that the king had returned. See, in their, in their concern about whether or not the king had really returned as they headed to the castle, and in their busyness packing up and getting back to their normal lives back in their own houses, they forgot to tell anybody else.
They forgot to share the word along the way that the king had returned. And so most of the land didn't know that. Most of the people wandered around still without hope and joy. They continued to behave in the old ways, hoarding and hiding. They didn't know that when, when they were attacked by soldiers from foreign lands that they could, they never even thought they could band together. And it never occurred to them to call on the good king because they certainly wouldn't have called on the bad king. And so they fought all their battles by themselves, and the toll was grievous, the wounded and killed innumerable.
And of course, life wasn't suddenly all, you know, ice cream and strawberries for those who had been at the castle. All their problems didn't suddenly go away, but they did have hope and joy with them. They still got overwhelmed by the challenges of running their families and their lives and their busy, busy worlds.
And in particular, two habits they had developed under all those years of oppression seems really hard for them to kick. One was that they just tended to isolate themselves in their own castles and not interact with the world. And when they did get outside the castle to go to the market or something, they kind of drew in on themselves and kept to themselves and made sure that they didn't go all that noticed because if you got noticed under the evil king, you never knew what might happen. You might get dragged off to the dungeons, or worse. And so they, they kind of kept to themselves.
Of course, the challenge of this story is that it's not really just a story, is it? Because here in this world we too have a new King. And here in this world, there are plenty of people who haven't heard even though we hold lots and lots of parties. Many, many people have yet to receive the good news of the return of the true and just King.
Let me give you some statistics that might help bring this picture out from analog to 1080p HiDef digital for you. There are seven billion people in the world give or take a few. The seven billion can be divided into 24 people groups, or what the Bible calls "ethnos."
There are 24,000, 24,000 people groups. There are 24,000 people groups. Sixteen thousand of them have received the gospel in some way, have had an opportunity to hear about the new return of the King. That leaves 8,000 people groups who've never had that opportunity, who've never seen a Bible, never even heard the name of Jesus.
In those 8,000 people groups, there are three billion people. Of the 16,000 groups, 16,000 people groups that have had a chance to receive the gospel, only 800 million have actually received Jesus into their lives. That leaves over three billion who've yet to receive word of the King.
In fact, 1.37 billion of those people think that they're followers of Jesus, think that they have new life in them simply because they live in what's called a Christian culture. What they don't realize is that there has never been a Christian culture.
George Barna, the Church researcher, tells us that in the United States alone there are 95 million people who are what he terms "virtually unchurched." That means they go to church less than two times a year. That makes them the 11th largest unreached people group in the world right inside the borders of our own country.
I think you get the point that whether we go to Timbuktu in West Africa, or we go down to Appalachia, or we go into Baltimore city, or we go down to Towson, or we go out onto the concourse between services, there are people everywhere who've yet to hear that there's a new King. There are people everywhere who've yet to receive the word of hope and grace and freedom.
Now I'm not going to lie to you. I'm not going to stand up here and lie to you and tell you that everyone who hasn't received Christ, everyone who's not a Christian, lives a horrible life because you know I'd be lying to you. And I've heard people say that, and I don't know how they get away with that.
But we all have non-Christian friends who live great lives! They're fun, and they're funny, and they're giving, and their joy-filled. And sometimes I, I have non-Christian friends I'd rather be with than my Christian friends! Honestly. I bet you do too.
But here's the thing: we're not talking about a good life now. We're not talking about a King who's come to put our lives in order this week, or next month, or for the next decade, or even the next century. We're talking about eternal things here, things that span all of creation. We're talking about people who are dying for eternity even though they have great lives now.
God has given us this great word of hope, and yet sometimes we fail to share it. Sometimes we think maybe they'll come to the castle by themselves. They'll hear the party, and they'll come drifting in and discover that there's a new King. Sometimes we think that if we're nice to people, and we change tires for people on the side of the road, and we're really friendly and good to our coworkers and all of that, that they'll, they'll know there's a new King on the throne, that they'll wake up in the middle of the night because of our behavior and suddenly go, "Oh, yeah, that's right! There's a King on the throne."
Now you maybe have been such a really awful human being, and now you're a really loving human being. You might be one of those few people...and I know a couple...who your life before and after Christ is so different that it really does cause people pause. But for most of us, that's not true.
And so the question is...How does anybody know that there's a new King unless they're told? How can anyone come here and learn about healing and wholeness unless they're invited?
The apostle Paul speaks to this very point in his letter to the Romans, chapter 10. I'm going to read from The Message version because I think Eugene Peterson brings out a little more emotion to it. That is going to be the TNIV and feel free to read along. No, it's not! It's The Message. Nice work! Wow! Wow. Awesome. What a crew we have here. Well I don't need to look down then.
"How can people call for help if they don't know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That's why Scripture exclaims, 'A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God!'"
Clap your hands! Stomp your feet! Celebrate because the kingdom is here in our midst. That's what this is saying. When God's people are out there sharing the Word, it's worthy of celebrating because it breaks through the darkness. It changes the order of the universe. It makes the very darkness tremble when it comes in. And that's awesome.
I'll be frank with you. I, I said in the last sermon, the line I've written is, "I'll be honest with you," and somebody came up to me after the sermon and said, "Well when you say, 'I'll be honest with you,' it kind of implies that up to that point you haven't been honest with us." So I want you to know I've been completely honest up to this point.
I'll be frank with you. There are times in my life, you know, you see this passionate guy up here, and you think I'm probably, you know, out there talking Jesus with everybody all the time. It's not true. There are plenty of times in my life; there was one on a recent trip that I'm still praying about how I let it happen, where I hesitate to share the good news of Jesus.
And when that happens in my life, I'm brought face to face with a whole bunch of questions. Do I actually believe there's a new king in the universe? Do I believe there's a new King in my own life? Has he made a difference? Do I find it too hard to talk, not just about Jesus, but do I find it too hard to talk about love and hope and grace?
Am I afraid that people won't like me? I'm a people pleaser. Is it possible that I just don't like people enough to want to see them set free and brought into the kingdom? Let's be really frank about something. When we're nice to people and fail to talk about love and hope and freedom, when we interact with people day in and day out and year after year, and we fail to tell them about the King, it's a bit like we're standing there and waving and smiling and saying, "Hey, I hope you have a good time in hell." Really. Really.
Now listen, I'm not here to make anybody feel guilty. That's not my job. For freedom we were set free. And if you feel guilty, I apologize. But my job here is to bring us all together face to face with a harsh reality, something Jesus does over and over in Scripture. And that harsh reality is that the world is dying, and every single person in it is terminal.
You know, when he was writing about World War II, C. S. Lewis once observed that "War does not increase the death rate. It just speeds it up for some people," because every one of us is headed to the same place. And there is only one solution: to walk hand in hand with Jesus through the gates of death and on into eternity. And yet so many people don't know that that's an option for them.
I think one of the challenges for us as the Church is we, we often hope or think, or I don't know, maybe pretend that God is going to operate as the world operates. And we know that's not true, right? Kingdom dynamics, kingdom laws, kingdom rules, everything in the kingdom is kind of upside down to the way the world is.
There are sometimes when I'm preparing a sermon and I think, "Maybe I should stand on my hands with my feet in the air while I'm preaching this because this is just so upside down to the way we operate in the world."
You see, if, if we ran the kingdom and we wanted to get news of the new King out, we'd, we'd hire the best PR firm, right? We'd hire ad writers. We'd get full page spreads in...well, some people would do it in newspapers, but nobody reads those anymore. So we'd probably do them on websites. We'd tweet people. Does that make you a twit? I can't, I'm not sure.
We'd send emails. We'd get on Facebook, and I'd Facebook the 300 friends of which I only know 50. We'd have a whole marketing campaign, but the kingdom isn't like that, is it?
And I think it's not like that because God knows that we tend to ignore most everything that comes our way. Have you ever noticed that if you put a sign up on a door, it's guaranteed no one will ever read it? I mean, really. And I'm guilty of it too! I'll put a sign up on a door, and I'll forget it's there and walk right past it. You know, you want to make an announcement. You put it on the door. No one's ever going to know what you announced because we ignore so much because we're bombarded by so much.
And so God's chosen a different way. Rather than bombard us with messages and all sorts of stuff, God's chosen something a little more subversive. Maybe something that'll touch our hearts a little more directly.
Paul speaks to this in his second letter to the Corinthians. He uses two parables. Here's the first: 2 Corinthians 3:2 and 3.
"You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."
A letter from Christ, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts, not full page spreads in newspapers, not ads on internet sites, not tweets. Us! We are imprinted with the story of the resurrection. It's imprinted on our souls and our lives, and we're the medium by which it's carried out to the world.
Paul continues this metaphor in the next chapter. Expands it a little bit. He says:
"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
That light of Christ has been placed in us. The Worship Arts Team thought as we got ready for this sermon series that we're doing on, on the gospel, and, and how it's hidden in our midst, they wanted to bring jars up here. And I thought, "Isn't that a wonderful idea?"
And of course I asked Gideon, "Could I be dramatic and smash one of them in the middle of my sermon?" And there was this long pause. "How about not on the first Sunday?" That's very smart since I'm not preaching any of the other Sundays.
But God places that treasure, not in, not in chalices, gold chalices, but in clay vessels, us, and things that are not inherently beautiful though I'm looking out and I see God's beautiful people. But we're beautiful for a different reason. Not because we're encrusted with jewels but because we have God's light shining in us.
And that's how the message is intended to get out to the world. We're God's living letter in which he announces the return of the King. He's placed his light in us because it can go to the ends of the earth in ways that no other medium or message could. We can go places that technology can't reach, but that can only happen when we're willing to engage the world fully, to uncover our emotions, to uncover our faith lives and set them free, to make them public, not private.
You see, it's for that freedom that Christ set us free. It's for that freedom, that fullness of life that Christ gave his life.
You know, at the end of my days, I hope, well I hope people will say a lot of things about me. I hope they'll say I was a really good dancer. Now that's probably not going to happen as you can tell. And I hope maybe they'll say I was a good father, a good husband, a good friend.
But what I really hope they'll say is that he embraced life fully and gave it everything he had, that he embraced the one life every day without reserve. I can certainly see days where that doesn't happen, but I want people to be able to look back at my life and know that on a moment's notice I was ready to party with them over the birth of a child, to celebrate a wedding anniversary, to come into their lives with joy in those moments.
But I also want people to look back and know not unhesitatingly, but that they know that I was ready to walk in the valley of the shadow of death with them. I want people to know that I was ready to stand with a friend when his wife walks out on him. I want people to know that I was ready to be with a neighbor when they had a miscarriage or when a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I want people to know that I was ready to stand with one of my students when she was raped, that I was ready to go to the funeral home and the graveside with a neighbor who loses a child. I want people to know that I was ready to not just celebrate and party with them, but to enter into their grief and sorrow because that's the call of God's people. That's what we were created to be, created in God's image, to bring his image and his Word and the letter of his love with us, both in celebration and in sorrow.
You know, those, those grand processions in Romans, chapter 10? Those aren't just processions of partiers, but those are processions of mourners as well because as God's people secure in his love, we know we can enter into mourning and still have a thing to celebrate. And what a way to shake the foundations of the world.
When we do engage with God in that, when we do pour out the treasure in our lives, when we do become fully human, as God has called us to be, we'll be entering into the greatest adventure of our lives. We'll be entering into God's rescue plan for all of creation. And in that process, we'll find ourselves telling people about Jesus before we even know it. We won't, we won't be able to stop ourselves because it will rise up out of us.
We'll find ourselves living missional lives, demonstrating the love of Christ all about us in ways we never expected. And everywhere we go, we'll bring the truth that the King has returned, the truth that the throne is occupied. And we'll truly be acting out our calling to be living letters, to be jars of clay filled with joy, to be secret agents of God out in the world wherever we go.
And when we do that, when we embrace that life and walk that path with all that we have, at the end of our days, people will say we lived life to its fullest and allowed life to touch us in deep ways. But more importantly at the end of our days, we'll hear the King of kings and Lord of Lords say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
And when we do, when that last day does come, we can close our eyes in confidence, knowing that we didn't let fear hold us back from being the men and women that God really called us to be and the men and women that God created us to be.
So what we'd like to do this morning is take a few minutes to pray, to ask the Lord, to seek from the Spirit what it is in our lives that holds us back from being fully human. What is it in our lives that holds us back from really living into the full life that Jesus has given us? What is it that holds us back from sharing with the world the word of the new King?
So I'll just open us with a quick prayer, and then, let's just pray quietly. And if God puts something on your heart, feel free to shout it out because I bet there's someone else in the room who feels the same way. Someone came up to me after the last service and said, "Yeah, there was something I wanted to share, and I was afraid just to share it."
Yeah, okay. I understand that. So if there's something God puts on your heart, just shout it out and give it up to him. Bring the light to it. And then I'll close us up in prayer after that.
So let's pray. Father, we, we, we all have fears that keep us back from letting you fully into us and letting ourselves fully go to be your men and women as you've created us to be. Place on our hearts now, Lord, those things. Help us to see them and help us to give them to you that by grace we might step beyond those. I'm afraid that people won't like me.
Father, we, we acknowledge that we, we all have something that holds us back, and we desire to hand that to you. We desire that your grace would move in us now for we know that your Son said, "Fear not for I am with you even to the end of the age."
And so we, we pray that we would always know that you go before us and with us, beside us, behind us, and all around us. We pray that you'd pour out your Spirit upon us that we could each day give up a little more of our control, give up a little more that holds us back so that we could at the end of our days know we've been fully human and fully walked into what you've creat
© 2010, Rev. Eliot Winks
Central Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD 21204 410/823-6145