What beautiful weather! I was shocked when I came out of church on Sunday and the external thermometer in my car said it was 80 degrees. Missouri weather sure is fickle! I’m hoping the Farmer’s Almanac is wrong about “the mother of all snowstorms” occurring this week. Even so, that would be just about normal for Missouri weather!
Have you found a church to attend yet? You need to, you know. There are enough churches in town that you can find one that fits your personality and worship style. Look around, visit, and make some new friends. Whether big or small, find a place where you can hear the Word of God preached and where you can find God’s presence to carry you through. We at Ebenezer Presbyterian want to invite you to join us. We have a traditional, yet flexible worship style and meet each Sunday at 11 a.m. and would love to add another voice to the worship. We are a praying congregation. Have a need? We will pray with you for God’s answer to that prayer. Want to learn from God’s Word? I promise you that each Sunday brings truth that you can use in your day-to-day life. We are also in a Christian education revisioning process, so come and help us plan what our Sunday school will look like in the future. Come as you are. You are always welcome. Hope to see you soon.
During this Lenten season, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I reflect to those around me. One of my favorite contemporary Christian artists, Sara Groves, sings about this concept. In the chorus of You Are the Sun, Sara proclaims, And I am the moon with no light of my own, still you have made me to shine, and as I glow in this cold dark night, I know I can’t be a light unless I turn my face to you.
What do people see when they look at me, when they look at you? What image do our lives portray to those with whom we interact? Is the light of God reflecting into each interaction, or have we turned our trajectory so that God’s light no longer can be seen through us? Have we so covered our faces with other priorities that the light cannot reflect?
What does it mean to reflect God’s light? First, think about the story of Moses on the mountain. As he sat in God’s presence, the literal light of God filled Moses face (Exodus 34:29-35). The change on Moses’ face was so significant that the people literally recoiled and were frightened by it. Therefore, Moses wore a veil across his face to conceal God’s glory from the people. I truly believe that, like Moses, when we spend time in God’s presence in prayer and contemplation, in the Word of God and in worship, we are changed. The most significant change is spiritual, of course; however, there is also a change that occurs on our faces, in our body language, even in the way we talk. That “glory” we receive from God reflects off of our open and willing hearts and shines on those around us.
How can I know if I am reflecting Christ or merely my own agenda, my own attitudes and desires? One simple way to gauge my reflection comes from the fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5:22,23. Journey with me through this description of God’s glory expressed through God’s people by the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE. Anyone who has attended more than one wedding has heard the love passage from 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, etc. Even the hardest heart, the grouchiest relative, the toughest person is “tenderized” by the presence of Christ in his or her life. The love of God, resident in us, begins to reflect outward to those around us, bringing the light of God to others, as well. We find ourselves seeing with the eyes of Christ, looking for the beauty in each person, no matter how deeply hidden, beginning to look past the flaws and thorns of others to the beauty (or the possibility of beauty) within—kind of like the God loved us, even when we did not love Him.
The fruit of the Spirit is JOY. Many years ago a friend gave me a wooden plaque cut in the shape of the letters “J O Y,” the plaque stated, “Joy is Jesus.” We tend to mix up happiness and joy. While a dictionary may relate the two, in a spiritual sense they are two very different concepts. The Old Testament book of Nehemiah relates “joy” to “strength” (8:10). It is that ability to smile and to know that things will be okay in spite of the circumstances around me, in spite of my feelings and emotions. On the other hand, happiness is almost always related to circumstances and situations. Peter states that we have joy even though we don’t see Jesus because we believe we have faith: “you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls “ (1 Peter 1:8,9).
The fruit of the Spirit is PEACE. I’m not talking about “whirled peas” here (world peace). This fruit is more local. In fact, this peace grows one person at a time. The fruit of peace comes from the knowledge that, whatever comes our way, God is still in control and has not left us without help. It kind of reminds me of family shopping in a department store. While the older children run around (much to their parents’ chagrin), the youngest child holds on to Mom’s jacket, looking around, but never straying from her zone of safety. As I walk through this world, I often stray from that hem, from the security of God’s presence with me. When I do, anxiety and fear buffet me with thoughts of what could or will be. Yet, when I go back to Jesus, when I turn my face once again back to Christ and remember that my Big Brother is with me in every situation, I can set aside the fears and anxiety and say with the songwriter, “It is well with my soul.” As Paul reminds us, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption [as a full legal heir]. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15).
Well, I suppose this will need to be continued next week. I hope you will open your Bible to Galatians 5 this week and explore the fruit that comes from walking with God. By the way, it isn’t a onetime thing, but rather a process. Occasionally a spatter from something in our lives might get on the “mirror” and distort what we reflect. Don’t worry about it! Just stop, say a prayer, get things right with God, and move on. Remember, you are the only Bible some people will every see!
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church