In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.
The United Church of Dorset, Vermont was established in 1768 and this current stone building was built in 1832. There have been people serving Christ here for more than 250 years - and this is just one small church at one moment in time. It is part of a much larger picture that has continued since the first churches were established by the apostles. Paul wrote to the Ephesian church to help them see that they were part of this larger picture. They were part of God’s plan to spread the hope that is found in Christ. We, like the Ephesian church, are given an inheritance of redemption. When you go to church today look around at the those with whom you worship and be grateful for their faithfulness. Remember those who have served here in the past, each in their own way, contributing to your life and the life of your church. Renew your commitment to being part of God’s plan to bring the hope of Christ to your everyday world through the church of Jesus Christ.
We remember with thanksgiving those who have faithfully followed you. Give us a greater desire to work with our brothers and sisters to fulfill you purpose through the church where we live.
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
Today, Sunday, Christians will worship in many different kinds of churches. I am so grateful for my church, the other churches I have been a member of in different places I have lived, the churches that my children attend. I have learned so much from watching the faithful, the saints in the land, who have committed their lives to Jesus and have served him through his church. True, they weren’t always perfect, but they stay the course, admit their mistakes, and reach out to one another in love. These are my delight. These are the ones who have said, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
Thank you for all the faithful ones that bring growth, delight, and joy to my life. Thank you for my church and the faithful ones I see there.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
There was a light dusting of snow on the mountains and the daffodils were blooming at Hyatt Lane in the cove. I was trying to get a picture of both the mountains and the daffodils without a car on the road. Then as I was just about to get a break in the cars, one car parked and these two friends got out. Instead of just giving up and heading back to the car, I decided to wait patiently until they finished taking their pictures. I could tell from their conversation that they were good friends out for a day to enjoy the mountains and see the daffodils. I watched them walk arm in arm back to their car. So I decided that the picture that I wanted with the mountains and the daffodils, the one that I had waited on, wasn’t the best picture. It was this picture of two friends enjoying the beauty of God’s world together that God gave me this day.
We so need each other to walk the Christian life. True that each person must decide to follow Christ individually, his own choice and not the choice of his family or his culture. But once we make that decision we need brothers and sisters in Christ, whom we love, who are our joy and crown. When we stand together we stand firm in the Lord.
Thank you for teaching us the importance of loving each other, of having friends to walk along the road with us, to find our purpose. Help us to help each other to stand firm in the you.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
I love my church. I love that I have always been a part of a church. I love that my children have found a church home. Churches are not perfect, but they were never meant to be. Church is not always easy for church is about relationships and those are rarely easy to maintain but essential for growth. Church is a place where forgiven sinners seek to encourage one another to keep growing in Christ. Being an active part of a church is getting harder. There are many things to pull you away. No longer is being an active member of a church seen as being of value by our culture; a culture that honors being self-made and individual rights over the common good; a culture that doesn’t think it needs church anymore. Every time I go by a church I breath a quick prayer for the believers that worship in community there. I pray that your church is so important to your life that you can do nothing else but be faithful to the family that meets with you there to worship and to serve.
Thank you for church. Help us to be faithful to our church. Make our churches a place where we think more about encouraging and supporting others than ourselves.
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
You can’t see the garden without stepping through the open gate. The open gate invites all into the garden. These beginning verses of Luke are like this open gate written for Theophilus. It is a story of who Jesus is. It is a story that we are a part of and it is a story that we are to tell to others. So many times I have just skipped over these verses - it is just the beginning, not that important, but when I read this commentary written by James R. Luck from “Feasting on the Gospels--Luke, Volume 1: A Feasting on the Word Commentary” it made me think about these verses in a different way. I give you his words:
Even in the rites of baptism, whether young or old, whether sprinkled or immersed, we are doing nothing less than weaving the story of an individual into the fabric of all those who have gone before us. It is a story of adoption and naming and grace and love. This is our story. Our responsibility as congregational leaders is as simple as it is daunting: we are to help others live into our Christian stories, so that they might become part of the story; so that they might become a living, breathing sacrament of God’s grace.
Maybe these words spoke to me so strongly because I have now watched three of my grandchildren be baptized and will watch another one be baptized very soon. Truly I have seen the story of grace of Jesus woven in my life and now to see it woven into the lives of my of children is blessing beyond blessing.
Author of All Stories
Help me weave the story of your love into not only my children and grandchildren but to all who need to “become a living, breathing sacrament of God’s grace.”
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
At first glance, it looks like one single, little flower working hard to push through the rocks. But when you look closer you see that it is more than just a single flower but a plant of many parts, each part serving its own function. Together each part not only helps the plant survive but reproduce and make many more plants, some in the same place and some carried away by water, wind, and creatures to grow in a new place. Christ meant for the church to be like this. We all have different gifts and when we use them to support and help each other then we grow together as a community and can spread the love of Christ both near and far.
Help us to see the value in each person. Help us to help each other find the purpose that you have for us so that together we can share the love that you so richly lavished on us.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
When I think about giving glory to God I think about grand praise, beautiful words of poetry, and beautiful art. Last summer we traveled through several national parks in the west with amazing mountains, canyons, valleys, and waterfalls. These all also speak to me of God’s glory. I remember one time we had stopped to see a breathtaking waterfall and as I opened the door to get back in the car I looked down at my feet and there were theses small pine cones. Each one was different and each one was beautiful. I realized that I saw as much of God’s glorious world in them as I did in the grand waterfall. The important thing about the gift of church is that it is made of amazingly different people, each one with a beauty all its own, like these pine cones. Each member of the church of Christ, no matter how small, has access to a power that is more than we can even image or grasp. And the purpose of that power, to tell the story of Christ and to glorify God. So I now seek, no matter how small the gift, to live my life to bring glory to God and I seek to do that through the power that is at work within me.
Thank you for the gift of church and the power that you have given every member of the body of Christ. May we do all things for your glory.
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Two small flowers pushing their way though the fallen log remind me of the power of living in community. Community can only be accomplished when we allow Jesus to join us together. For it is through his grace that we are brought together. When we learn to see ourselves and each other as God’s precious children then we can become a dwelling place for God with the rich fellowship of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
In these days of deep division in our world, teach us to love each other. Help us to love one another the way you loved us and then dwell in our midst.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
When we hear the words “house of the Lord,” we often think of a physical place on earth. But even the oldest of these physical places are temporary and not “forever.” For King David the physical house of the Lord was the tabernacle, but I think that he was thinking about more than just a physical place. He was describing his great desire to abide in the presence of God.
Physical houses of the Lord come in many styles from simple wood frame buildings to stone cathedrals. It is a joy to be in such places to worship, but I think that God promises us more than just a physical place. I believe that we can abide in his presence and experience his love and mercy in our lives on earth and then we will dwell with him forever.
I bow in gratitude for your great goodness and love that will follow me all my days and for the promise dwelling in your house forever.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
It was the spring after the fires in the park as we walked on the Cove Hardwood Trail. Everywhere were fallen and burned trees, but underneath them the spring flowers were beginning to bloom again. All varieties growing together after the devastating fires, pushing up from the scorched ground.
One of the most important things about being a part of a church is the strength that you draw from each other when you face fiery trials. When you walk in the light of Jesus, you find others who are following that light and you don’t have to walk alone. Like the flowers after the fire, you will bloom again.
Father of Light,
Thank you for the church and the people you put in our lives to walk with us in the light of your love. Cleanse us from our sins and grow us in the rich fellowship of your love in Christian community.
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