Thursday, February 11, 2016

Message delivered at Ground Breaking - 2/7/16

Ground Breaking Message


On a day like today it’s very hard not to want to take a moment and remember.

That’s what I’ve been doing all week.  Walking down memory lane, remembering just how much the house has meant to our church.

I know how much that house meant to our founding members.  It was important to have a home, to no longer have to move around from place to place to worship.  Having a home base helped to really solidify the feeling of belonging and the idea that God had a plan for Life in Christ, plans to give us a hope and a future.

I don’t have time to share with you all the memories I have of the house.  It just worked – the house worked for us.  We worshipped the Lord with all our hearts.  We made Sunday school work with the limited space we had.  Fellowship events were no problem.  We set up tables and chairs out on the grass and under some of those beautiful trees we had on the property and had a blast. 

I remember serving communion in a very tight space and that if I weighed then what I weighed now I probably would have bowled people over.  I remember our first Easter sunrise service and how the horse from across the street came and paid us a visit.  I remember the first Palm Sunday when we had palms on each side of the center aisle leading up to the altar.  It felt like walking through a jungle.  I remember Pete McKean passing me notes during the service.  I remember our kids running all over the property hunting Easter eggs.  The house was our home.  It was where we worshipped and studied and fellowshipped and just had fun.  We were a happy church and we had days and days of happy times, rejoicing together in the common faith we’d received through the Gospel and the common Savior, Jesus, who died and rose again to rescue us and give us eternal life.

So on a day like today it is good to remember.  Interestingly, the word “remember” is used over 200 times in the Bible.  What I find helpful is why God often urges His people to remember their past.

A favorite Psalm of mine is Psalm 77.  It begins with these words: I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.  When I was in distress, I sought the Lord…

The writer of Psalm 77 is a man named Asaph.  It is easy to identify the spiritual anguish he is suffering from.  Asaph and his people have suffered heartache and loss.  Their temple, their house, is no more.  Their enemies have been allowed by God to overtake their land and people.

Asaph is so upset that he begins to wonder, “Has God forgotten me and my people?”  Asaph writes, “Has (God’s) unfailing love vanished forever? Has His promise failed for all time?”

With all hope seemingly lost, Asaph then does something crucial to his spiritual life.  Listen to verse 11 of Psalm 77.  I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

Asaph remembers that God is holy and that His will is perfect.  He remembers that through His power, God works mighty miracles.  He prays these wonderful words: What god is so great as our God?

And then Asaph very specifically remembers how God saved Israel from Egypt’s slavery.  He recalls how the people fled the Pharaoh during the Exodus.  Asaph pictures the people standing at the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army bearing down on them.  All seemed to be lost but then a way of safety was provided.  The waters are parted; a way of escape is made.

Asaph describes the scene like this: Your path led through the sea, Your way through the mighty waters, though Your footprints were not seen.

The reason why God encourages His people to remember the past is not to live in the past but to move forward in faith in the future.

By remembering how God has acted on behalf of His people in the past fuels our faith that we can trust in His help or protection or forgiveness or love in the future.

Living in the past make for a stale Christianity.  I don’t believe that’s what the Lord’s will is for the church, for our church.

So, on this ground breaking Sunday, we remember our very first house of worship.  We give thanks to God for leading us to this place.  We rejoice when we think of all the ways that we came together as a community of Christ – receiving His gifts of grace in worship and sharing those gifts of grace with one another and our community.

God has richly blessed Life in Christ.  Remembering our past, we are confident He will continue to bless as we faithfully proclaim His Word and administer His Sacraments.  What God is so great as our God?

Our new fellowship and Christian education building will be one more tool and resource at our disposal so that we might continue to carry out our mission to live and grow in Christ ~ encourage and reach others.  It’s exciting to think of all the possibilities for fellowship and growth and outreach the future will bring.

As we move forward, then, let’s keep on remembering.  Keep on remembering God’s faithfulness to us in the past.  Keep on remembering that the work God has done in the place is greater and more awesome than any of us ever imagined. 

And as we remember, may God grant us the courage and faith to keep moving forward in order to share the love of Jesus Christ with joy and enthusiasm.  To God be the glory!  Amen.