A Different Sort of King and the Seasons of Life
I want to put up two images of the Seasons of Life to contrast them. The first is of a tree that greens up in the spring, flourishes in the summer, is colorful in the fall, and is barren in the winter. The other image is of flowers and leaves that flourish in different seasons. The difference is our idea of who is in charge.
Some people look at their lives as the tree image. Fun-filled beginnings in the spring of life. Flourishing times in the middle. Colorful times in the fall of life and pretty barren in the end. They are or were in charge and now they are fading. Other people look at their lives as flowering in different ways at different times of life because the presence of God is with them allowing them to flourish.
Psalm 90:10 which we read last week said: The span of our life is seventy years, perhaps in strength even eighty; yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow, for they pass away quickly, and we are gone.
As I look forward to another birthday, I find myself in disagreement with the Psalmist. First of all, the actuarial tables suggest I have another 15 years to go, which would push me past the eighty mark. My regular visits to Planet Fitness may push that even further and in strength I could make triple digits as my
mother did. Not only were the numbers wrong for my mother, who lived to be 101. She did share the Psalmist’s grim view of life as full of labor and sorrow.
Life has lots of seasons and it is true that some are as full of labor and sorrow but even those can give way to a new flowering of life. For my mother and for me, if we are not alone in navigating life, if there is a King who has our back then all seasons can flower with possibilities.
This week’s Psalm is 95 is more in the Thanksgiving spirit. We are called to: Come before God’s presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to the LORD with psalms. Why? Because the Psalmist knew he was not alone. The presence of the Lord was everywhere, from the caverns of the earth to the heights of the hills.
In the final parable of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46), Jesus talks about the final judgment as separating sheep and goats. The surprise for the sheep is that Jesus was there all the time in the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned. They did not know he could be found there. They just moved to help those in need. The goats likewise are surprised that they missed him. They were not looking for him to be around needy people.
Jesus is truly a different type of King. He is not content to sit aloof from the world. He is with us. Matthew 26 begins with the plot to kill Jesus. The people in power did not see any kingship in Jesus. They were on their own and wanted to preserve what they had.
Interestingly the next story is of a woman anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive ointment. He would be imprisoned himself and hang naked, thirsty, and dying on the cross. Yet the woman saw God in this man. Likewise, the thief on the cross saw God next to him and received the promise of Paradise.
Last week, the reading from Zephaniah 1: 12 was grim saying that I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, “The LORD will not do good, nor will he do harm.” The people who do not not see God or see God as either impotent or disinterested, see their world collapsing.
Ezekiel, on the other hand, saw the world quite differently. Like the sheep in the parable, like the woman and the thief, like my mother, Ezekiel saw the wheel of God in motion bringing the people of Israel together to “Feed them by mountain streams with good pasture.” God can even bring dry bones to life.
When you see the presence of God in every phase of life, life is not just labor and sorrow, devoid of compassion. It is full of ever-new adventures. We have new chances to care for those around us. Now that is a reason for Thanksgiving.
Connie and I have been here for over four years now, sharing our talents with you. We did not have this as a part of our retirement plans particularly, but being a part of your ministry has been a blessed avenue to service. In the words of Matthew 25:23, these avenues help us “enter into the joy of the Master.”
Attached to this week’s message is a time and abilities form, which is also available to you in the narthex of the church. It is a way to say yes Jesus is my King. I can enter his joy by serving the ministries of our church. Together we help people see the presence of God in worship, in fellowship, in our women’s group, in visitation, in education, in feeding the hungry through our pantry in providing quilts to people in need of shelter. Let us know how you would like to serve.
Jesus, you are a King. Help us to see you in the world: Ministering to those in need we see you. Worshipping, studying, connecting with each other, we see you. May we use our talents to see you and enter your joy.
Grace & Peace, Pastor John
Advent/Christmas THIS SUNDAY – Set up and decorate the tree, set up the Advent wreath, hang advent banners, put up our Nativity Scene, and put up wreaths. Thank you for helping. We will serve Pizza and Drinks around noon.
LAUREN SCHAFER our Office Assistant’s hours are 12:30-3:30 M – W. Next Week Pastor will be in on Monday and Tuesday, November 27 and 28, and December 3 and 4.
New Members – Interested in joining Faith? We will have a new member orientation on December 3 after church. New Members will be received on Dec. 10. Let Pastor Bunge know if you are interested.
Confirmation Class – we are taking a break until January 28, due to holidays and semi-annual meetings.
Next Pantry – December 9 We are looking for grocery bags (Stater Bros. best) and boxes of cereal, bags of rice, macaroni & cheese, and canned fruit.
Choir – We are singing next Sunday. Join us for practice at 9:00 am ahead of worship.
Bells – We meet on Thursday nights. Let Irm know about your interest.
Monitor – We could use another 36-inch or larger monitor for the sanctuary if you have one and can donate it – Please let Pastor Bunge know.
Adult Class – Nelson Hall will be leading a class on prayer after the first of the year.
WELCA – The Next Women’s Bible Study will be Saturday, December 2 at 9:30 a.m. in the Fireside Room.
QUILTING – Thanks to all those who purchased lap quilts last week. If you missed out and would like to purchase one, let Emily Smith know, at 909.255.2452.
Jeanne Koenig’s surgery went well. A stint was put in Jeanne’s skull to drain the accumulating spinal fluid which is affecting her eyesight, speech, and motor skills. She is doing much better.
- Pray for the family of Nancy Lewis, a sister to Pastor Bunge’s sister-in-law, who passed away.
- Eric and Krissy Koger’s neighbor Shaun Grainger was hit by a motorist after an argument. The driver was arrested.
- Cady’s daughter’s friend, Brooke, passed away. Pray for the family.
- erwin appreciates our continued prayer for Lynda.
- Kyle and Dana would appreciate prayers for their son, Kevin’s, Mother-in-Law, Lisa, suffering from cancer.
- The Koenig Family –
Joe went through the removal of his cancerous kidney, but stage 4 cancer was found.
Daughter, Jessica’s leukemia is being managed, but leaves her tired. We are also praying for Lucas.
- Cesar and Kim would also appreciate prayers for their sons, Tim, and Kyle. Cesar’s Sister Maria also had a lump removed from her neck and the biopsy came back non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
- The Sheas would appreciate prayers for Rebecca and Chris Herandez in need of housing for themselves and the twins.
- Continued Godly journey for Brendan Simms, son of Bonnie Strack.
WED Dec. 8 – @ 6 pm Preschool Christmas Program. Fellowship hall.
SAT Dec. 9 – @ 4 pm Faith Lutheran hosts the Christmas Concert of the Inland Valley Chorale. Invite a Friend. Sign up to usher in the Narthex or call the office.
SUN Dec. 10 – Semi-annual Congregational Meeting – New Members received. SUN Dec. 17 – Advent Three
SUN Dec. 24 – Advent Four Service @ 10 am.
SUN Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve Service @ 7 pm.
SUN Jan. 21 – Semi-annual Congregational Meet
FALL FELLOWSHIP: Focus on Faith Family
NOV. 19 – The Baptism Celebration for Aiden Winters was
Great THANKS to Aiden and Paula for providing delicious
Ramon Noodle Soup and Pat Teeters for providing cookies.
SUN. Nov. 26. It’s TIME TO DECORATE THE CHURCH FOR ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS
After service. Thank you for helping us put up and decorate the tree, wreaths, nativity scenes, and the advent wreath. Thanks for planning to help. We will serve pizza and drinks around noon.
SUN. Dec. 10 – Semi-Annual Meeting following service. We will provide coffee and Hot Chocolate in the Narthex.
NOTE: UPDATE – COOKIE OUTREACH
SAT DEC. 16. We are asking you to please bring your cookies to the Church around noon. (The pantry is in the morning.) And stay, if you can, for about 1 hour to help us package them so they are ready for people to take on Sunday.
SUN DEC. 17 – Pick up Cookie Boxes. They are meant
to use to cheer someone or invite them to our Services.
There is a card attached with service times.
SUN JAN 7 – WELCA
SUN JAN 14 – Pat Motschall and Sharon Cady Host
SUN JAN 21 – Semi-Annual Meeting. Coffee and Hot Chocolate in Narthex SUN JAN 28 – All Congregation Potluck