"Living in Harmony" - March 7th, 2021
"Give and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back."
Message of Stewardship
from Claudia Tumaliuan
This week for my family was very exciting. We harvested our potatoes! Oh, it was so cool! We had big potatoes and teeny tiny ones the size of my thumb. And at the end of the day of gathering them all up, we filled up a beautiful basket.
You know, your offerings are a lot like that. It doesn't matter if you give the biggest check you've ever written or you just found some change. All of it is important and all of it is appreciated.
Pastor Michael's Sermon - March 7th, 2021
There is a story that appears in all four of the gospels. But as usual, each narrative is slightly different. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke the story appears near the end. But in John, we find it much earlier. As a matter of fact, it's in Chapter Two.
The author of John tells us that Jesus had gone to Jerusalem for Passover and when he got to the temple, he found people selling animals. Cattle, and sheep, and doves. And there are also money changers sitting around at many tables. Well, this made Jesus very angry.
He was so angry that he took some cords and he made them into a whip and he used the whip to drive the sheep and the cattle right out of the temple. Then he dumped out the coins of the money changers and he flipped over their tables. That's the part of the story that most of us remember the most. Jesus flipping over the tables. Then he shouted at those who were selling doves and he told them to take the doves out of the temple. He demanded that they stop making God's house a marketplace.
People in the temple asked Christ by what authority he was doing all of this. They said, “Show us a sign of your authority!” And Jesus told them, “Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it again.”
Of course this confused the people of the temple. They said, "Wait a minute!
We have been building this temple for 46 years and you think if it is destroyed you can raise it again in three days?"
But of course Jesus wasn't really talking about the building, was he? He was talking about the temple of his body.
As I mentioned a moment ago, this story is in all four of the gospels and is told slightly different in each. But what all the versions do agree upon is why Jesus was so upset.
Each account has him reacting in a somewhat different manner. But what upset Jesus is clear every time the story is told. Jesus was upset because the temple was being disrespected. The temple was not built to be a place for people to sell their wares. The temple was meant to be a place of praise and worship. A holy place. It’s sacred ground.
So to turn it into a place where people set up tables for financial gain? Well, this was horribly offensive to Christ.
Jesus was insisting that the temple be seen for what it was intended. The temple needed to be used for what it was supposed to be used for. Two weeks ago, I spoke to you of the importance of using the talents that God has given us because our talents signify what we are individually supposed to be doing to better the realm of God.
Today's story reminds me of a similar idea. Christ’s insistence that the temple be used for what it is supposed to be used for really started me thinking about our faith and how we ought to be using our faith for what it is supposed to be used for. During this reflective time of Lent, today let's once again look inward and ask ourselves a question or two.
What are we supposed to do with the message that Christ has delivered to us?
It does us no good to simply hold on to the word and keep it for ourselves.
What are we supposed to do to live out the temple of God's word in the way that it is supposed to be lived out?
You know, I could just start naming off examples of ways to live out the word.
Live your life compassionately, serve others, show love, be forgiving, committed, and prayerful, be gentle, patient, and humble. But I wanted to give you a perfect example of something that I think is what it means to really live out the word. But as I was writing the sermon I was having difficulty coming up with an example. So as I usually do when I get stuck, I closed my computer. I put it away with the understanding that God would soon provide me with the illustration that I was looking for. And by the way, this always works.
That evening one of our dear women within this congregation who I had been checking on earlier and left a message called me while I was at home to let me know that she was doing okay. We talked for a while and we laughed and just before we were ready to hang up, she said, “Can I tell you a quick story by the way?” I asked her if I could tell this story.
She told me that just a few days prior, she had been sitting in a waiting room at St. Joseph's hospital, and this woman is a singer and sometimes the songs that she sings are in different languages, so when she has time, she will often use her phone to listen to the songs to brush up on the many different languages that appear in her songs. She told me that on this particular day, she happened to be studying Swahili.
After a few moments a woman sitting across the room who turned out to be one of the hospital's chaplains and whom she had noticed earlier, asked her what she was doing and our friend said, “I'm a performer and sometimes when I sing, I need to use different languages, so I study them.” She continued saying, “By the way, you have a beautiful accent. Would it be okay to ask what type of accent it is?”
And the chaplain said, "Well, I'm from Africa."
Well our friend the singer said, “Well, then I have to show you something! You need to hear the song that I'm listening to it's called Jambo Bwana and it's in Swahili.”
She then asked the chaplain, “What is your native language?” And as the song played, the chaplain said, “It's Swahili. This is my native language”. The chaplain said, “Can you sing some of the song for me?” And so our church singer began singing and soon the chaplain joined in and as it turned out the chaplain had a beautiful voice so soon the chaplain was singing the lead and our friend was doing the harmonies.
And so they're in a drab waiting room, set to strangers creating music together, harmonizing together and the beautiful African melody filled the hallways as they were singing around 30 people in the hospital gathered. Doctors and nurses. And when the song was finished, the room erupted in applause. And although I'm sure the singing was beautiful, I'm also sure that the applause came because of other reasons as well. Because not only was their harmony in their voices, there was also harmony in the room.
There was harmony in their actions. There was harmony in their appreciation
for one another there was harmony in their hearts. Harmony of two different races, generations, two different paths, two different lives coming together without hesitation in a hospital. Coming together in a place of healing, in a place that over the past year has seen so much suffering in so much pain.
When I heard this story, I realized that this is a perfect example of living the message. This is the word of God being played out. This is living the message of Jesus Christ. This is how the message is supposed to be used. How our voices are supposed to be used. How our hearts are supposed to be used.
Harmony is not only for singing, it's also for living.
Holy God, help us to live as one. Living your word that we have received from your son who sets an example for us daily. It's in his loving name we pray.