“The whole earth is mine, but you shall be to me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation,” Exodus 19:5, 6. Dr. Harry Wendt wrote, “In referring to them as a priestly kingdom, God did not mean that they were to do nothing but perform rituals in the Tabernacle and Temple. They were to live under God as their King and serve him as priests in all they did.” In other words, a priest is a person who handles sacred things going to God for the good of others and from God for the good of others.
What are the sacred things that God’s people handle? “The whole world is mine” says our Lord. Nothing is excluded. This really takes a shift in thinking. The natural thought is that this world is ours to handle as we see fit. Rather than takers we become managers of the whole of life and its resources, participating in his creative work.
During our worship services each week there have been “Stewardship Moments” placing an emphasis on the Biblical understanding of stewardship. When we properly understand our role as priests, our vision as stewards is expanded beyond the walls of a church building. Care for one another, spouse, children, the aged, the hurting, the list goes on and on. Add into the mix caring for the earth that it might be sustained for generations to come. The list is extensive and can easily become exhausting as we seek to faithfully handle sacred things. It is important to remember that you and I are among the sacred things that belong to God. Remembering to properly care for ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually is also included in stewardship.
Why mention these things when POP is beginning a capital campaign? Aren’t we going to be talking about money? Yes, and that is something we need to do, Jesus certainly did not hesitate. Contributing above and beyond regular contributions will be encouraged that together, we might further the work of caring for sacred things among us and beyond the walls of our building. After all, doesn’t money already belong to God. We just handle it for a while.
In His Service and Yours,
There is a Chinese proverb that states: “When a butterfly flaps its wings in China, it affects the weather patterns around planet earth.” I am not sure that can be demonstrated scientifically. I am willing to accept that it is a possibility. I do understand that the proverb expresses the truth that what we do affects the larger community at the local, national, and international level.
At Easter, and every Sunday (a little Easter) we celebrate our freedom through Christ. One might interpret that to mean we are free to live as we want. What it does mean, is that we are free from sin, death, and the power of Satan. It also means that we are called by God to be responsible and to be willingly and deliberately serving one another. In each of the congregations, I have served, there have always been those who gave of themselves, often in simple quiet ways, so that others, might know they are loved and cared for. Prince of Peace Is no different. There is a sense of “that’s what we do here.” What we do here goes beyond our walls, beyond Topeka, beyond our nation’s borders, even stretching to the other side of the world. Visiting the sick, encouraging the discouraged, the prayers of the home bound, providing meals to brighten Easter celebrations (19 such meals were prepared and delivered by POP loving hands this Easter season) sends the message, “We care and God cares.” Providing a preschool that stresses the love of Christ has the potential of positively affecting more than the children and parents; but in this day of international travel someone on the other side of the globe.
There are exciting days ahead for Prince of Peace. What the future will bring will be revealed. We do know that what is done in service today, supports the proclamation of the living Christ far into the future.
In His service and yours,
Last year at this time a dark cloud of a new virus hung over the world. No one, not even the experts were able to predict how long it would remain. We were told it was spread very easily and was resulting in many deaths. We were encouraged to avoid human contact as reports came in of overcrowded ICU units and shortages of staff. We asked, “How long O Lord?” At times it seemed as if the sun would never shine again as the number of deaths climbed daily. The virus touched close to home reminding us that it is no respecter of persons.
Last Easter was very subdued as POP joined the crowd of churches that scrambled to find ways to offer services virtually and offer spiritual care without physical contact. We can only imagine what it would have been like without today’s communication tools. While some have used the tools to separate and divide; many have used the tools to unite and offer hope.
Now the sun is beginning to shine through the cloud. We give thanks to God for vaccines, those who developed them and the many who served in extraordinary ways. Yet we exercise caution, for it appears that the cloud is not totally dispersed. As, we are able, to return to in person worship, we will still provide live streaming of our services and drive thru communion. It is evident in the greetings, singing, and visiting that the in person services have been well received. It is evident that we missed one another, after all we are a community.
I like to look for positives when dark clouds descend upon us. One positive is a renewed appreciation for one another. This pandemic has revealed the importance of health care workers, of grocery store workers, of those who deliver our packages, of those who wait on us, etc. Perhaps now it will be the new normal to say, “Thank you for your service.”
Easter is a reminder that the “Son” does break through the dark clouds that come to us. The despair of the followers of Jesus was replaced with the sight of the risen Lord. By faith we imagine what they must have felt like, perhaps even giddy. By faith, our despair over things like the pandemic and even the threat of the grave is brightened with the presence and promises of the risen Lord. And the sun shines even brighter as we can be together in worship, to serve, to encourage and just enjoy the company of one another.
Together we proclaim the living Christ and live in peace.
Ah, the return of the 40’s, 50’s, 6o’s. I’m talking about the rising temperatures, forecasting the return of spring, not of returning to previous decades. At one time I thought it adventuresome to camp in the snow. Now my body longs for heat, at least to a point.
I have often heard people long for a return to a previous decade, a simpler time. I understand their desire is based upon a perception of previous times. It is true that our present time is fraught with conflict and turmoil. In reality, earlier times were also fraught with conflict and turmoil. I think of the world of my parents. They lived through the 1918 pandemic as well as WW1. They experienced living in the Dust Bowl when they placed wet sheets over the crib of their baby to protect him. Measles, polio and a whole host of other life-threatening diseases were easily spread. WW2, the Korean conflict, the list goes on and on. They didn’t want to go back, as if they had a choice. They were Easter people moving into the future. Now they are among the saints above.
Easter People moving forward, able to do so because of the first Easter. Jesus was born into a world of conflict and turmoil. He did have a choice as God. He could have decided it was just too much trouble and gone back to the Father. During the season of lent we are reminded that his choice was to remain even though it meant a Cross so that we might be Easter people.
Easter people have hope for the future, trusting he Who heals our brokenness is present today and all the tomorrows until there are no longer tomorrows. On that day Easter people will delight in hearing “Welcome home.” Until that day we remain. Not as people who are so heavenly oriented that all we can think about is the coming of the “Welcome home’” day, but we praise, give thanks and serve, bringing the risen Christ to family, friend, neighbor, the clerk in Walmart and the server who brings our food to us, etc. Easter people make a positive difference in this broken world as we live our faith each day. Easter people living in the peace of Christ, proclaiming the living Christ.
Dick Bruenger, Vacancy Pastor