Looking at Galatians 5 we begin to think about how the Holy Spirit generates the character of God in our lives. We spend most of this message thinking about why this is important when we could just instead gather a list of rules that would guide our lives. Why do we need the Spirit?
Guest deacon Justin Thumhart opens I Timothy to talk about finding the courage to step into God's calling. Using an example from Lord of the Rings, he challenges us to let go of our comfort and find our place in a larger world of mission and blessing.
Starting off the new year we think about Ephesians 4 and the goal of a mature Christ-like community. This is different from thinking individually about our personal Christian life. Rather it is to recognize that our ability to work with each other towards maturity is a sign to the world of the reality of Christ's presence among us and a support to the truth of our message in a world of competing life choices.
Thinking about New Years we take up Paul's personal reflection in Philippians 3 on his own spiritual journey from an inward concern for establishing his own righteousness to an outward life based on the gift of righteousness from Christ.
John 3:16-17 and 1 John 3:16-17 remind us that the gift of Christ brings us to a new life with God that is at rest, not ruled by condemnation that comes from outside or inside. Scrooge is an example of someone who is transformed from an inward self focus to an outward others focus, freed to live a new life.
Jesus came as a baby and as a child. God works through ordinary processes to bring extraordinary blessings. How can we welcome children as gifts to be developed and nurtured so they too grow to love God and neighbor, as Jesus did.
We look at Isaiah 9:6-7 about the child who will be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. The leader we need is wise, compassionate, available and committed to creating a peace that is more than an absence of conflict, but a restoration of wholeness where each works for the benefit of all. Christ is the leader we need. As those who bring the kingdom of Christ, we are the leaders our world needs.