This morning the children, led by Peggy, prayed over about 40 personally packed shoe boxes filled with goodies destined to touch young children through Operation Christmas Child. We worshipped in song, including the hymn Marvelous Grace of Our Loving God by Peorian Julie H. Johnston. There were several announcements including our Christmas Decorating Party scheduled for December 1st, which is also our first Sunday with Wrights back. Vanessa’s lovely harp solo gave us reflection during the offertory.
With the major storm pounding the church, our time of prayer was briefly interrupted with the announcement that our brother Jim Irwin had passed from this life. Prayer continued as Jim’s life was commended; and our commitment to be with and to love-well Linda and all the family was lifted up to our living Head.
Mark Malan announced his planned transition in his work with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Mark has been in the FCC family a long time, been a long-time friend and colleague of Jim Irwin, and been a long-time full-time Intervarsity Staff member. He shared some of his history and two-way involvement and support with Jim.
Before the sermon we sang our prayer in the form of the moving and reflective Speak O Lord by Getty/Townend.
Mark’s sermon was partially a reprise of Richard’s August 18th message Sabbatical, From Hebrew Shabbat, A Rest from Work with some additional insight and a word against sabbatical envy. The Word was richly cited, including: Exodus 20, Mathew 12, Hebrews4, Ephesians 4, Romans 12, Isaiah 58, as were these two highly recommended books:
- Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting by Marva J. Dawn
- Making Sunday Special by Karen Burton Mains
What do we look forward to as the pinnacle and joy of our week? Are we different than those in our culture? Mark shared what has for him been a life-changing perspective on the Sabbath. He gave us these thoughts.
- We need to be rescued and only have right-standing with God if we accept that it comes by faith and grace (and not by our works).
- We must offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to be transformed by God, not conformed by the world.
Four things to think about:
- Ceasing – work, productivity, anxiety, trying to be God
- Resting – physically, emotionally, spiritually, in Him
- Embracing – Adopt in values, time, giving, our calling, wholeness
- Feasting – on God, music, beauty, food
Three simple steps:
- Thinking Differently (the renewing of our mind)
- Valuing something more than you previously have
- Acting more intentionally to be set apart for God
Finally, we should share with others practical ways we’ve found to honor and delight in the holiness of Sabbath. Making it a joyful day even for little ones (and not a day of religious practice lacking of joy) might involve saving up favorite toys for Sundays only. The ultimate sabbatical will be for each of us when we leave this world and transcend to be with our heavenly Dad.