Why do I have the feeling that the number of people opening this email will be fewer than normal?
Over the course of the past two days I have heard three sermons. I have heard three different speakers describe God at work in their lives, and the lives of others. Each of the three was uniquely different ... and I haven't even been to church since Sunday!
I do not recall the name of the first speaker (but I could look it up). He spoke of two traits he has which are 'mixed blessings' (or might I say, the combination of blessing and curse). The first trait is his difficulty in saying "no" when asked to help someone. The other is that he is a perfectionist. The combination of these two traits has made him to be highly successful. It also led him to the point where he would go days back to back to back without any sleep. It took some caring friends and family, a pastor, his co-workers, a counselor and a psychiatrist more than a couple years to lead him into making the proper adjustments. His word of Gospel reminded me that rest is a special gift from God.
"On the seventh day God finished his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation." (Genesis 2.2-3)
The second sermon was delivered by a father/son tag team (I think I remember their names, though I might not recognize them in the street). You would call it a eulogy, but I heard it as a message of God's faithfulness from generation to generation to generation. Their word of Gospel reminded me that hard work and laughter are special gifts from God that go together like mashed potatoes and gravy.
"When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them.' The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad." (Psalm 126.1-3)
The third speaker's name and face are very familiar to me. His message was a reminder that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46.1) His message to me was simple and clear. It was a reminder that two things never change: God, our Savior, reaching out to us with his goodness, forgiveness, mercy and love ... and our need to be drawn ever closer to him through his word and sacraments. Families change, our life-settings change, and one generation is replaced by another ... but those two facts will never change.
Three sermons, but really, just one message. God is continually at work in all of creation (which includes us and our lives) ... even when we are ignoring him ... coming to us through different people and multiple means ... seeking to draw us into the comfort and strength of his presence ... removing our fear and regrets ... filling us with his peace, freedom and joy.
"It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night ... For you, Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep! ... The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him." (Psalm 92.1-2, 4-5, 12-15)
Our God and his word are filled with encouragement. He makes me want to shout it out and into the life of every person I meet. So, why was I thinking that fewer than the normal of people would be opening this email?