Welcome to Summer! (Note: I’m writing this on an overcast day whose temperatures are the lowest in the past month, so I think that the people who are labeling the seasons are clearly confused -- in fact, we got a hailstorm on Monday, so I fully expect a balmy Winter to balance things out...).
Our Vacation Bible School is quickly approaching -- only a little over two weeks away! In an embarrassment of riches, we have almost more workers than we can use for that week, but we could absolutely use everyone’s help leading up to that week. First, if you could swing past the board in the Narthex to see if there are any materials that you could donate for the week, that would really help us out. I dunno about anyone else, but I’m looking for a lab coat, some lab goggles (the clunkier the better), bungee cords, and a 3-6 inch diameter funnel that you could fasten the bungee cords to on two sides. For every one of these items that we can have donated for the week, that prevents us from having to go out and purchase them ourselves as a VBS Team, so please take the time to look things over.
Second -- and by far more importantly -- we are asking for your prayers. We’re praying that the right kids are drawn to our VBS this year, and that we can effectively minister not only to those children, but to their whole families as well. Please pray that our leaders keep the right heart and actively remember that not only their actions and words but especially their hearts are to be honoring to the Lord throughout the week. So pray that they all work well together, that they fully invest themselves into each moment of their service to the children and one another, and that in all of this, we put God first and foremost in our focus.
In our message this week, we continued on in our series looking at the letters of Christ to the seven churches of western Turkey (i.e.; “Asia Minor”) in the first couple of chapters of Revelation. This time, we looked at the church in Smyrna -- a city devoted to the worship of Rome (literally).
In a city rich with temples, rich with lavish building projects, rich with a high standard of living, the Christian church was poor. But then again, maybe we could look at that differently. The people of Smyrna were poverty-stricken in their empty desire to build temples to gods who’d never hear their prayers, poverty-stricken in their desperate need to try to be a second Rome in order to impress others, poverty-stricken in their driving focus on the accumulation material wealth... not unlike our modern culture that puts its emphases on empty confidences, a desire to impress, and a focus on quantifiable successes. But the church in Smyrna was rich in being God’s temple, rich in being impressed with God as the First and the Last, and rich in being reminded to focus on deeper, more lasting wealth from the Lord.
Jesus told the church to hold on, to root themselves in their faith -- not because He would save them from tribulations to come, but because He would walk with them through them. “Be faithful,” Jesus told them, “even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
So, if the argument could be made that in many ways, you and I are living in a modern Smyrna, then it’s worth asking the question, “Where are we putting down our roots to build our confidence?”
Are we trying to feel rich in the same things that the world wants to feel rich in, or are we focused on what will ultimately earn us crowns in Heaven?