Holidays & The Human Condition -Nov. 27, 2022
Pastor Mike (00:00):
All the things that really matter most we don’t have time for, but yet the things that are just worthless, you know, we could sit and scroll for hours sometimes, or we can binge watch a series, and I’m not condemning any of those things. But what I am saying is, is don’t tell me we don’t have the time to do what is most important.
Hannah Hunter (00:17):
Hey, beautiful people. Welcome back to Sundays with The Gathering. I’m Hannah Hunter, the director of Digital Reach here at The Gathering Place in Palm Beach Gardens. As we head into the Christmas season, pastor Mike brings us a message on holidays and the human condition. How even in the face of such hurt and brokenness, our world still longs for peace, love, hope, and joy
Pastor Mike (00:36):
As a congregation. Um, you know, we, we, we’ve been kind of going through this journey about being deliberate about kind of our own personal growth, especially acknowledging that when we’re in the holiday season, that uh, sometimes it magnifies all of our places that we really need growth. You know, we, we, we see where maybe, you know, the temper is not, um, where we like it to be. We, we see that sometimes, you know, that God is challenging us to, to open our arms a little bit more, because a part of the way of peace is just to accept that people are different and have different understandings in us. We spent a few weeks just working on, you know, this triggers, you know, finding out, you know, like what takes us off in church, not in church, in, um, in our family life. You know, like, we we’re like, Hey, what’s going on there?
And, um, and why’d I get so mad? And we realize that underneath of it, you know, first of all, there, there’s, uh, there’s some stuff that God needs to heal inside of us. And then also we understand that, um, you know, that sometimes while we’re in the healing process, we can’t just like live in a cave. We still have to live with people. And we, and we realize that we have to do that work of forgiveness and also understand, you know, the biblical, uh, concept of reconciliation. And sometimes reconciliation looks very different from being, hey, living together, being together. And also reconciliation is being, Hey, I’m like, I’m okay at peace with you going your way, and I’m going my way. I wish you the very best. Well, now we’re, we’re in a new season in a sense because yeah, you know, we’re, a lot of us have Christmas on our minds, and I don’t know about you, but how many of you out there started decorating early for Christmas this year?
I’m just curious. Yeah, I, I’m one of, I never did, did this. I used to be like a, a strict rule that like, I wouldn’t do anything until after Thanksgiving, but literally like the, the, the week leading up to Thanksgiving, I put my Christmas stuff up. But, but God reminded me also that, you know, why, why is it that we want to jump straight to Christmas? I think sometimes that there’s some things that, that, again, we just want to get to the, to the end. We want to get to the prize instead of allowing to go through the journey. And that’s the season that we’re in right now is Advent. Now, a lot of times when people think about Advent, they think about advent as like, this, this transitional kind of important but not important season in the church. It’s like, okay, this is the buffer between what we’ve been doing and Christmas.
And, and I want you to know today that Advent is something so much more than that, because Advent has its own message that I think is really important for the church. And it ki and I think that’s the reason why in the church calendar, it’s actually the first season of the New Year. So in church world, like this is, this is New Year. But, but what Advent does is first of all, it reminds us of, of who we are supposed to be as a church and as followers of Jesus Christ. It also challenges us to, to look at our world and see if our world is really aligned to the promises of God. And it, and, and it, and one thing that advents should do for all of us is, is cause us to start asking those ethical questions. You know what I mean? Are, are we living in the just and righteous world that God intended for us to have?
And another thing that Advent shows us is human condition. It shows us, it speaks to us about man, like where we really need God. Where where does the soul still need to be saved now? Now I get it. You know, a lot of us have our personal stuff that we’re still dealing with, and you’re like, how in the world can I do talk about these big ethical stuff when, when my inside life is still a mess? How can I, how can I move forward when, um, you know, or think about God’s future when I have a hard time just getting by week to week? Well, I want you to know, though, that sometimes it helps us to lift up a little bit and see that, hey, what you’re going through right now is, is, doesn’t have the final word. And actually it’s so much bigger, you know, for us, my family, this, you know, past weekend or this past week with Thanksgiving, um, I don’t know.
It gave me a time to step back and, and realize how thankful I am and where I got it in the very beginning of Thanksgiving Day. And it surprising place is that for the first time in a long time, I sat down. Cause I went to William to experience this. It’s our three year old son, but we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, and when I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and I’m, and I’m enjoying it and all that, all of a sudden I had this like understanding that came to me about wow. Where God had brought me and, and where God has continued to to send me. And so I’m sitting there watching the parade and I started thinking about like, when was the last time I saw like a real parade? And guess when it was, it was actually when I was living in Moscow, Russia.
So last time I saw a real parade, and of course it was, it was the 9th of May when, when, that’s like when Russia celebrates their victory day. And what they do is they, they parade all their, their military stuff, you know, all the rockets and missiles that they’re sending in Ukraine right now, they were given a whole preview that for, for many, many years. And we, we would just watch this stuff and, and it was supposed to like just celebrate this victory. And I’m like, wow. Now here I am watching a bunch of balloons and, and dancers and, and kids and, and marching bands. And it just kind of gave me this a natural perspective of kind of like how our world longs for something way more, you know, peace, joy, the jollys, the good feelings and, and all that stuff. But yet in that same world, there’s a lot of brokenness.
There’s brokenness in our families, there’s pain that we experience, you know, individually. I mean, golly, yeah, there’s, there’s a war and it’s still hitting close to home for me with, you know, with my family and friends in relation to Ukraine. But then there’s other parts of the world that are experiencing suffering. And then, and then also, I mean, just think about it like a week ago, I mean, we have a, a nightclub where pe people are getting shot, people are dying in Colorado, and we’re like wondering what in the world is going on here? So while we want peace, and while we’re moving toward this Christmas and peace on earth and goodwill till men to men, we still have, let’s just name it, we have a lot of hatred. We have racism, we have bigotry, we have, you know, we don’t understand people’s different lifestyles.
And so some people think it’s right to actually kill people for that. I mean, there, there’s a lot going on. And, and we say, how can I have hope? How can I have peace? Well, what was going on with the Israelites, their, their world was, was a was messed up too. And, and in the time of Isaiah, just to give you a little bit of a, a culture background and what was happening the northern part of Israel, which I mean most people don’t have any idea what Israel is like, but, but then just, just run with me, okay? So like, like North Florida was getting invaded by the, as Syrians, not the Syrians of today, okay? Us Syrians another, another people. And, and everything was gonna fall apart. In fact, everything gets lost. And, and, and Isaiah writes these words, words of hope later on, few hundred years later, the southern kingdoms.
So in other words, like, you know, Fort Lau, Fort Meyers, Fort Lauderdale, all, all the South Palm beach and everything, like, lemme just give you the geographic perspective, gets taken by the Babylonians. And, and basically in both cases, the Israelites felt so small, they felt like their world was, you know, caving in on ’em and they felt like there was nothing they can really do. And in fact, on one side they lost everything. But these words gave them hope. And I wanna just read ’em to you. And again, this is Isaiah chapter two verses one through five. This is what Isaiah’s son of Amos saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of mountains. It will be exalted above the hills and all nations will stream to it. Many people, peoples will come and say, come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of God, of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths. The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords in the plow shares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord. If you read that closely, I mean, it sounds like a ridiculous fairytale. And I think sometimes when we hear the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, for some of you it might feel like a fairytale because you feel like you are being invaded. You feel like your world is falling apart. You feel like you’re losing control. But here the scripture reminds us of old, that God has a vision and a future for all of us, for all people.
Now just imagine if, if you know, your, your, your, your country is losing everything, you’re losing ground, you know, you’re gonna lose your capital. Everything is, and all of a sudden this, this crazy prop says, but this is what God is going to do. He’s gonna make God’s temple the highest place of all mountains. I mean, this is gonna be the place where all the people are going. And so just imagine these words, you know? Cause right now the, the news reports of that time was saying that the, the armies are, are coming in like a flood. They’re coming in at us, are coming in at us, against us at all sides. But here in the future, all the people will come like a different flood. Not to overtake, not to destroy, not to put us in exile, but they’ll come and say, Hey, we wanna learn God’s ways.
We wanna see, we wanna do life a different way. And again, I think some of us who are, who are here today, and some of us who are listening, you know, you, we, we look at the broken wor world and our heart breaks. My heart breaks and we say, God, is there any hope? Is there any future? And what what this passage in Isaiah reminds us is that you and I are called to something much bigger than what we’re currently experiencing and we have to lift our eyes up and we have to see that yes, God has another plan. And, and yes, maybe those people that are just, just getting under your skin and driving you crazy, maybe there’s, there’s people that have a different political orientation than you. And you say, how can they be a follower Jesus and vote this way and want the world this way?
Or, or how in the world can, um, you know, people do this stuff, whether, you know, whatever side you’re on, any argument of the world, what the scripture promises is, is that, that God says that in one day, you know, above my standards gonna be lifted up above all things. And people are gonna see that this is what really matters and that the teachings of God are good. And so people, what you have to do today is embrace that and trust that. And, and yes, it’s tempted, it’s tempting for all of us to, to go into, you know, just running the, the streams of what the world is teaching us. It’s tempted to just go and, and just kind of pretend that, you know, I live in my little Christian bubble, and and as long as it personally doesn’t touch me, I’ll be okay. But the scripture teaches us something different that God wants to bring life to the entire world.
And so I want to, I want to challenge you to not read your Bible as if it’s just a fairytale, but but read it as it’s a call to life and a call to living that Yes. That right now, yeah, yeah. In our world, you know, we, we say that in order to, to survive and to remain, uh, maintain your national sovereignty, you have to train in war. But, but God’s way says no. That in one day people will be healed and disputes among different nations and ethnic groups and, and different tribal people, it will be reconciled because God will set all the things. It’s not a fairytale. But so many times we don’t read this stuff. So many times we forget about dreaming. So many times we lose what that first candle right there in the advent candle says, we lose hope. And we have given up.
And maybe some of you right now today have just given up and saying, you know, is it worth the fight? Is it worth going through it? And I’m here to tell you it is, we have to kind of get our sense of the identity. You know, like the, the medieval church had had a unique understanding about Jerusalem, you know, and every time they looked into the Old Testament and they see like these, these passages where the, the nations are gonna flood to Jerusalem, you know, they had a unique understanding. And so they kind of saw Jerusalem in four ways. And this is something I wanna encourage you to think about of Jerusalem, to see it in four ways. One, they, they, they, they saw it, you know, whenever they read it in the scriptures, they saw Jerusalem is yes, this is the, um, a historic place.
It’s the, it’s the city that was in Israel that is in Israel. And so for the medieval church, they started this tradition on, on pilgrimage about going to the places and praying where Jesus walked learning about it. Cuz they felt that if they could actually, you know, put their feet on the soil, if they could actually, you know, go to the places where Jesus prayed, if they could actually see the seas where, where Jesus taught that, that something would click in them and they wouldn’t just see the Bible as, as just reading into their own world until it, but they’ll, they’ll see it from the world of Jesus. And in fact, um, you know, here in, in our, in our local district, I mean, we’re gonna be doing just that. Um, you know, our district superintendent announced that, that she’s inviting all churches to go with her and pastors who would like to, to, to go to Israel in April, 2023.
And guess what? I signed up for it because there’s some people in our church that are interested in that. And so if you want to learn how to walk, go to the places where Jesus, um, prayed and walked and see these temples, and see these sights that are written in, in Isaiah and other places of the Bible. You have that opportunity. But, but what I want to, what I want to challenge you is that why is this important? Is that so many times when we read the Bible, we remove it from real life, you know, or we, we superimpose some kind of message on the scripture and we gotta understand that first of all, this is about real people, real places, real things that happen in history. And yeah, there was a lot of messed up stuff. But what we see in it is that God was faithful all the way through.
And God said, not only I’ll get you through this, but you know what, I’m gonna lead you even further. The other thing that the, the, the, the medieval church saw what Jerusalem meant. They saw it as, as a symbol of the, of the church, the modern church of the church of today. Um, because they saw that when, when the gentiles were or non-Jewish people were coming to faith, they said, Hey, that’s us. That is the church. And so whenever you start reading things in the, in the prophets, which during advent we start reading it because it challenged us to say, are we living in a world that God intended for us? And if not, what are we supposed to do? So the Israelites believe that, that what they were supposed to do was to live out God’s kingdom, live out the world in such a way as that we demonstrate in every area of life that there is God and that he’s meant to be followed.
And so that was what, how the, the earl, the medieval church started to interpret the, the scripture saying, Hey, this is what we are supposed to do as a people. We’re not supposed to be cloistered into like a little cave and, or, or just, you know, go ahead and, and wait for heaven and we just judge everybody else to hell. No, we don’t do that. We bring God’s life right here, right now. The third thing that the medieval church understood about Jerusalem was that it was also the faithful Christian. So, you know, let, let’s take a step back. So we, we see the church as, um, you know, drew, when we read about Jerusalem, we see it as a physical place. We see it as a call to the church to live out God’s ways and to, and, and to, to really bring God’s righteousness and justice and mercy in a, in a real way, in a real world.
And then also that’s what the individual’s supposed to do. And for some reason, like, and, and mainstream Christianity, we, we’ve forgotten a lot of this stuff. You know, we, we, we think about salvation and we just make it only a spiritual matter. And then, and then yet we live in the world. We live in a real world with flesh and blood and real things, and we just like divorce those things. And the scripture tells us, us, no, that, that we have to reconcile and pull all these things together. And then finally, the fourth thing that they saw in Jerusalem as they saw it as the city of God, that’s gonna come down again from God. In other words, that was, that’s the, the big future that no matter, you know, cuz sometimes we do our very best efforts and we, and we see glimpses of the kingdom of God here and there, but you know what?
We still want more. And the promise is that more is coming. So whatever you’re going through, whatever, you know, we see, if you see the news and all that and you feel discouraged, just know that this is not the end. But the problem is, is that a lot of us fail to live with a purpose. Matthew chapter 24, verses 36 to 44. But about that day, or our no one knows, not even the angels in heaven nor the son, but only the father as it was in the days of Noah. So it will be be at the coming of the son of man for in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the arc. And they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.
This is how it’ll be at the coming of the son of man. Two men will be in the field, one will be taken, and the other left, two women will be grinding with a hand mill. One will be taken, the other will be left. Therefore, keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this, if the owner of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would’ve kept watch and would not have left his house to be broken into. So also, so you also must be ready because the son of man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. This is the second reading for this, this week of, of, of advent. And, and one thing that people read this, and there’s a lot of interpretations on this, but there’s some things that, that we need to, to hold onto about that, that really connect with our life here.
First of all, you know, Jesus is coming back. The scripture promises that Jesus will come back and he will, he will establish, uh, his entire kingdom. But, but that time only God knows. The other problem is, and this is the warning that Jesus could us, and this is what scares me to death, is that Jesus says, just like in the day of Noah, no one’s really gonna care. <laugh>. I mean, that’s basically he saying, he’s like, no one really cares. No one’s really living as if Jesus has come back. No one is really like having a purpose to say, you know what? The way I’m I’m living, I mean, I can just go with the flow and be like everybody else. And none of us are, are thinking that wow, one day the king of all kings, the Lord of all lords is actually gonna come back and establish his final rule in the world and bring the peace, justice, righteous that all of us long for.
And you know what, no one is even thinking about that. And just like in the days of, no, I mean, it’s hard to imagine, you know, and and I don’t care really care about what your, your, your opinion is about the, the flood or not. But, but what we see in scripture is this, is that, um, you know what, people just just live their life. God gave Noah this call to build this arc because God said, enough evils gone too far and something has to be done. And even when Noah was building this arc, no one even took notice. And the only time they realized that something was going on is when Noah finally got into the arc. And I’m afraid that sometimes we as a church, we live that way, we get so consumed with all the activities of life and all of our plans.
And, and you know what, and it, and it feels like with all these devices and all these activities that we have that’s supposed to make our life more simple, we have all I hear is more and more excuses of why we can’t do the things that God has called us to do. You know, I don’t have the time to do my devotions because of this and this and this. I’m my work, I’m doing all this stuff, and now I’m working from home and I’m answering emails at late at night and I’m doing all this things. I don’t have time for my family. All the things that really matter most we don’t have time for, but yet the things that that, that are just worthless, you know, we could sit and scroll, um, a social media app for hours sometimes, you know, or we can binge watch a series and all that, and I’m not condemning any of those things.
But what I am saying is, is, but don’t tell me we don’t have the time to do what is most important. The other thing that, that I think sometimes is amiss is that, you know, I know that God keeps on revealing God’s plan as we’re moving forward, but let me just get, let’s bring a little context to Jesus time. You know, when, when Jesus wrote this, the majority of people who read and heard Jesus’ teaching were not thinking about left behind series. They, they, they weren’t because the, the, the concept of being left behind in, in this world, they were thinking from a Roman world kind of context, which means that if you were taken up, it was actually a bad thing because you were taken up by the Romans or you lost your life and all that. So that, you know, it was just like life was short, live life, you know, don’t do that.
It wasn’t like how our mon monitors saying, if you’re taking up, that’s good. Like, woohoo, I missed all the judgment, I missed all the things and now burn people. No, that was not what it was talking about. But, but even in that, you know, which I, I, I appreciate people that, that will, that will try to look at the scriptures and bring this stuff to light because they’re trying to call the church to a faithful living. But what happens is, instead of us being faithful, we just get more secure in our little security blankets and our little salvation blankets. And we don’t interact, we don’t engage in our world, and we just live for ourselves. And that is what Jesus told us not to do and what he brings us to, that one la last thing and I think is so important, and I believe this is what God is saying to all of us today, man, there’s a lot of stuff that tries to dilute and distract from your attention.
You know, like we all feel the pressure now of the holidays. I mean, there’s all these dang sales and there, and there’s all these gadgets that we don’t even need, but they look really cool. And they, and they’re, and they say that they’re cheap, but they’re, you know, and they are, but, but they’re all like temporary for the soul. And Jesus’ words to, to his hear is on the, on his, one of his last sermons in Matthew is the same that he’s saying to us. And that is stay awake. And I believe that God is calling the church today to wake up. And one of the biggest misunderstanding that this really gets under my skin that we churches have bought into is that we think that salvation is only a spiritual and personal thing. But if we look at the big story, and if we look at where the story is going, like I’m talking about the end of the book in Revelation, what we see as that salvation is one, it’s reconciling all things to God.
In other words, like every, every kind of separation from God is being brought together. It’s, it’s also very real. And, and this is the part where I just like, I don’t know how to get it through to the church and, and I don’t know how to communicate it well, but, but somehow we’ve divorced the, the realness of the gospel and we think that it’s only spiritual. And then like, you know, we, we, we could say, okay, well I’ll do some little acts of mercy, but the gospel doesn’t go much further than that. And we don’t see that the gospel is really meant to change every aspect of life. It is to set all things right, even about, I mean, go back to Adam and e the whole tending and caring of the guard and good creation. This is what the gospel is. And somehow mainstream Christianity has walked away from this stuff.
I mean, the gospel is also about doing the work of the soul. It’s about actually, you know, start making take away that helping get rid of that bad attitude, you know, and eventually God will take away your cussing too. I promise I’m on that journey, you know, <laugh>. Um, but, but I’m just saying, you know, like this is what the gospel does. It’s real life. It, it deals with the soul, it helps heal our emotions, it helps transform our mind and actually redirects our will. And another thing that the gospel does, it heals our relationships. And I’m not talking just about the, the, the relatives that get under your skin. I mean, it does that too. But I’m talking about a gospel that brings people that are traditionally far apart because the, like, maybe ethnically, socially, economically, and, and it, and it says, you know what, we can do life together.
And I long for a gospel like that. I long for a church like that. In fact, you know, at the gathering place, you know, we ask people to be a partner because we believe that God has, has called us to extend God’s redeeming love. And on our partner card, you know, we want to hear what God is saying to you. And so some people have filled it out and a lot of people haven’t yet, but I know it’s coming. But on that partner card, you know, what are the things that people are, are saying is that the things that are breaking their heart is this, they’re, their, their hearts are breaking over. Children and families. They’re, their hearts are breaking over all this division about, in other words, that there are people in our world that, that have that, that the mainstream world says they’re not good enough, they’re not worthy.
God loves everybody, but this kind of people and and our people are saying, no, you know what, you know, we, we wanna see, I mean, just lives coming together. We want, we wanna see a diverse church. I mean, that was something that was spoke about, like, we wanna see the nations. We want to be a church that’s multicultural. We also want to be a church. This is what people are saying that, you know, my heart breaks over food insecurity, and you know what? My heart breaks over housing issues. These are the real things that, that are happening. And what I’m saying is, if we could just get a pulse. Cause if your heart is just feeling a little uncomfortable about this, if you’re feeling a little bit discontent, I want to tell you God’s heart is breaking any even more. Because you know what, yes, God is in this place, but if you want to really see God at work, if you wanna see God and encounter God, you know, where go, where God is.
And when God is, you know, I mean, and, and I, and I hate to tell you this, but when we leave this place, God’s just not sitting around, hanging out. But God is right where the people who are hurting and suffering and crying, and if you want to be where God is, go where they are too. In fact, you know, I think sometimes we maybe need to rethink our mission statement. You know, our mission of the gathering plays, bam, right there extending God’s redeeming love. But, but sometimes I think we have to experience and extend God’s redeeming love. You know, because if we don’t get this stuff inside of us, if we don’t become reconciled persons, if we don’t, if we don’t, if we’re not willing to make bridges with people who have a different culture and a different beliefs in us, and actually learn how to live in peace with them, then how in the heck can we extend that to the world?
It has to be a change in our heart. Last scripture, Romans chapter 13, verses 11 to 14, and do this understanding in the present time, the hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is near than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light, let us behave decently. Can you imagine what the church did that, what that would look like? Let us behave decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual morality or debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think how to gratify the desires of the flesh. In other words, you know, Paul was talking to, to a church that he didn’t even meet yet, and he’s speaking to, and God is speaking to us today and saying, you know what? It’s time to wake up and the day of Jesus is coming more and
Pastor Mike (29:51):
Pastor Mike (29:53):
And you know what? You’re not just here to just spend time.
Pastor Mike (29:59):
Pastor Mike (29:59):
Are you investing your soul in? Now for the early church, this whole put on Christ, th this was directly linked to one’s baptism because one baptism was, was tied into their identity as a new Christian, as a new person. And I think sometimes a lot of us have forgotten our baptism and forgotten the vows that have been made at our baptism. But you have, Christ has been put on you. If you’ve been a born again believer and you’ve been baptized, I mean, your, your soul is new and, and therefore you’re not called to live this other way. So let’s just take a step and, and check in with our soul. You got a lot of things pulling at you. I got a lot of things pulling at me. But what if we were to, to just drop those things and have hope that God has something more for us, but we have to ask ourselves some questions. So I’m gonna, I just want you to maybe do an inventory. How is your relationship with God? What needs to change? How is your soul like, I mean, in this sense of the word, like, you know, do you still have a lot of rough edges that you just got so comfortable with living with?
Or are you allowing God to, to refine you and, and challenge you? Are, are you at least at work? You know, are you allowing God’s salvation to be at work in your life or are you just pretending it’s not there? It’s okay to admit that we have flaws and we have issues, but, you know, how are you doing with that? How are you spending your time? I guess that’s the thing. Are you spending time or investing time? Are you just, you know, just living and just going through? Or are you living with purpose, man, the holiday season? You know, this is a touchy one, but you know what, let’s just put it out there. Where’s your money going? It’s weird at this time. You like, we, we feel com with this compulsion to, to spend more and more. And, um, but yet then on, on things of the kingdom, you know, it’s so easy to, to, you know, those who call this a home church to neglect the ties and neglect the offerings, you know? And yet we say that this stuff is really important. You know, how is your charitable giving? If it’s not right, what do you have to do to make it right?
What about your relationships? How are they? Is there somebody that you gotta make a decision to forgive? Now, I know that reconciliation takes time and all that, but, but how are your relationships? Are you still holding offenses and grudges? Is there still that, that sore part that you need, that you need Jesus just to heal? Maybe you need a good cry. And then how do you deal with people that are very different than you? Do you look at ’em with like judgment and suspicion or with wonder and curiosity? When you look at people that are different, I’m, I’m talking about like this radically different. Some, I mean, people that are like, you know, different skin color, different language, all those things. Can you see that they’re created in the image of God, that there are children of God that are loved by God just like you? Because what’s what’s amazing is that, that until, you know, we wait for that final consummation of God’s kingdom, God shows the Israelites vision that, that all people can still be blessed. And the vision is for us all to live in some kind of a, a relative peace. And I really believe it is possible,
And it all begins with the big thing, and that is to be reconciled with God. So whatever you have to do to get reconciled with God, I encourage you to listen to what God was speaking to you as I was asking those questions, and to not ignore ’em, but to act on them. If you need help with that, if you need someone to talk to, I just wanna know I’m available. I’d be happy to walk with you on that because I, I’m still on that journey too with us as a gathering place. You know, we got a lot of people that are visiting from out of town and I’m so grateful you’re here and I pray that you find a church that you can get behind and be a part of their mission. But if you don’t have a place locally and you want to get behind, you wanna learn more, again, we’d love to talk about you. We have a lot of ways to, to share, you know, about what God is calling us to do. And then finally, this last thing, you know, we believe that God’s love is so radical and so awesome that it changes everything and that God wants, really wants to reconcile the whole world. And it happens by us being aligned with God’s mission. And that is the extend God’s redeeming love. And if you want to make a real difference right here in this world, in a very real way, then I wanna invite you to consider partnering with us because we can’t do it alone.
The mission is too big and too great, and there’s a lot of also great churches that are a part of God’s work. And you know what? It’s time to get in. So let us pray. So, Lord, during this season of Advent, I just ask that it, that you, it could stand on its own, that it will not just be a transition period to, to Christmas. But Lord, as we read the stories and promises, as we, as we read the, the, the story of the Christ child, God coming to be among us, that we can see that it’s the beginning of your promises being fulfilled, but there’s so much more yet to be done. And so today, God, may we lift our eyes from what we’re in right now and begin to have hope for your future, for our lives, for our community, for our family, and for the world. We humbly ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hannah Hunter (36:34):
Hey, beautiful people, this is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of Digital Reach here at The Gathering Place in Palm Beach Gardens. Thank you for joining us this week. We love getting to share our journey in Christ and community with you. And if you’re in the Palm Beach area, we’d love to get to connect with you in person at our Sunday worship service at 1115. For more information about our community and faith, check out our website at the gathering place, fl.org org. G thanks for listening.