What Ed Learned On His Winter Vacation
Pastor Ed’s message this week took me back a million years to elementary school and the universal September ritual the first day back at school from summer vacation. As I look back I wonder if my teachers were not ready to start the long school year and needed a time-filler so they asked what we did on our summer vacations. I remember it was somewhat boring, a little bit of envy mixed with wish I could have done that but mostly sitting quietly and listening. This was different. Not only did we hear what Ed and Cindy did on their adventure to Israel, we learned vital spiritual truths. Different words for desert and rocks, a short story on migration to Israel in the early 20thcentury, and a vivid description of breakfast in the Midbar (Hebrew for a desert with flora and fauna) and a most vital message for today.
Two points particularly strike home: God is your Rock BECAUSE things go wrong! And Unity means we are CHRISTIANS FIRST! We have a God that is tough as flint contrasted with one who is like chalk. This is essential as life is hard. It is not “if” we will face hardship it is when and how often. When the storm comes it will be evident if you built your home on the rock or on the sand. Imagery in the Bible was a reflection of what was seen. A trip to Israel, as related by Pastor Ed, makes this clear point clear. I have never been to the Holy Land and likely never will. Fortunately, in God’s great design, everyone can see in our natural world reminders of God’s character and nature. A glance to the east on a clear day reveals the High Sierras in all their purple mountains majesty. A glance at Psalms 121 states, “I will lift my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” And even when I cannot see the mountains, I am assured our God neither slumbers nor sleeps.
When life gets hard, one way God shows up is through His people. The unity of Christians, not uniformity, allows us to respond in Christ-likeness. We are many; we are diverse; we are individually gifted with skills, talents and resources. Pastor Ray Johnston stated we need to be an inspired church, not opinionated stick-in-the-muds. When we are inspired by the love and grace of God and in unity, pull together our diversity, we become the instruments of life in God’s hands, not an institution locked down like a defensive bunker. I have heard from several sources within and without the church, we Christians are known for what we are against. So whether we are conservatives or liberals, Republicans or Democrats, Dodger Fans or Giants Faithful, it is time we rise together and with our lives in unity make a difference in our communities by living out who we are for, the One True God, Jesus Christ our Lord.
We start with one another at GateWay. We start with our Oikos Cards. We start by joining a Connect Small Group. We start by making a reality our idea that everyone who calls GateWay home is a greeter with a sincere welcome when we are on campus. Welcome home Pastor Ed and Cindy.