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A Sent People

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We have just finished a message series on The Beatitudes called “Bless This Home.” The Beatitudes are the first twelve verses of Matthew chapter 5 in which Jesus begins The Sermon on the Mount. Immediately after concluding The Beatitudes, Jesus says (emphasis mine):

Salt & Light Image13You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-15

What do salt and light have in common?  Answer: They just are. Salt is salt. It is not complicated. It is what it is, and it does what it does. Light is Light. It shines. That’s just what it does. What this means is that Jesus simply calls us to be what we are … what He has made us … salt and light.

And what does that look like? Salt seasons things. It makes food taste better.  It preserves and adds flavor. It can even heal. What about light?  Light brightens dark places and illuminates our paths. Light is good. By being present in the world and pointing people to Jesus we are being salt and light where God has placed us – in our neighborhoods and communities.  We bring the counter-cultural Kingdom of God (The Beatitudes show how different God’s Kingdom is) into the culture of our world.

At Redeemer by the Sea we have a long history of viewing God’s mission as being a lighthouse. The challenge with a lighthouse, however, is that it is stationary. We are now beginning to understand that our Lord calls us not to hide our light, but to make it visible. Even though our building itself is situated on a on a high hill, we must admit that it can remain obscured, covered, and even invisible to much of our community. That is why we are beginning to recognize that God is calling us to move out into our community, joining Him in His mission there. I heard this expression that explains it well … “God’s Church doesn’t have a mission – God’s mission has a Church.” We as God Church, His people, join Him in His mission and we do that by being salt and light wherever we go.

Matthew chapter 28 is well known for Jesus commissioning His people to make disciples as we are going through life. However, it can often be difficult to move into new territories and into new places.  That is why we take comfort in the prophets and the people of God that have gone before us.  Consider Abram in Genesis chapter 12.  God simply sent Abram. He did not give Abram all the details. There were some big unknowns, and certainly Abram had to leave his comfort zone.  But he did, because it was God who was sending.   And what was God sending Abram to?  … A new land and a new people; to make his life in that place and in so doing to become a blessing to those who would follow. God wanted Abram to transform the community to which God was sending him. Through Abraham (God’s new name for the transformed Abram) God would make for Himself a people: a holy nation dedicated to His glory.

We can also take comfort in the prophet Isaiah, who when called by God (Isaiah 6) was terrified. Isaiah did not believe he was equipped for the role that God was giving him. He was worried about his ability to speak and represent a holy and righteous God. And yet as the angel takes the coal from the altar and places it on Isaiah’s lips, God communicates that He is doing for Isaiah what Isaiah cannot do for himself. He is atoning for Isaiah’s sins. And while it may sound cliché, God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.

And so it is with you and me. God has called us not to simply remain holed up inside our sanctuary; inside the familiar comfort of our church family. We certainly enjoy that family, and we rejoice to be refreshed by Word and Sacraments, with praises filling the house of the Lord.  But we realized that those are the tools given us to equip us for our mission to be a sent people joining Jesus on His mission to seek and save the lost. Those are the marks of a people being salt and light wherever God sends us.

May you be blessed to be a blessing,

Pastor Augie.

Tell Everyone What He Has Done!

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I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us– yes, the many good things he has done…”  – Isaiah 63:7

When something great happens in your life, you want people to know.  Looking back at the last year at Redeemer, we have seen some great things happen!  …

We have seen our number of Growth Groups increase.  We have worked together to completely break through our goal of providing 1,000 hours of Community Service by our members.  We have improved our Worship Experience by making changes to our sanctuary and beginning a process of training new and existing Sunday morning worship teams.  We’ve increased community awareness of Redeemer by hosting a Family Fun Fest as part of our 25th Anniversary.  Plus we’ve added a solar system to our facilities that should provide most if not all of the electricity that our congregation and school currently consumes!

As great as these happenings are, some even greater things have happened.  Redeemer has been a place where family and friends have consistently heard and shared the Word of God.  We have regularly welcomed new members into our midst and celebrated the Sacraments together with an increasing number of baptisms and first Communions.  God has certainly been moving in our midst!  Is that something we would want to keep to ourselves?

Clearly we want to “tell of the kindness of the Lord” as the prophet Isaiah suggests!  To do so, we can begin by simply sharing what God has done in our lives and the hope that He give us.  1 Peter 3:15 tells us “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  Do you have hope?  Tell others!  And be clear that the reason you have hope is not because of new government initiatives, or a strong economy, or even a good return on your investments … but because Christ is Lord!

As we prepare to celebrate one of the most joyous & hope-filled times of year, let us recognize that of all the great things that God has done, the greatest is that He sent His Son into the world to take on human flesh and be “Immanuel” – God With Us!

May this season of Advent & Christmas, and the beginning of a New Year fill you with joy and hope, knowing that Christ is Lord.  And may you join us in telling everyone what He has done!

Telling of Christ with you,

Pastor Augie.