5-3-15 “The Light in the Window”
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The Light in The Window? 5-3-15 1 Jn. 1: 5-7; Mt 5:14-16
This past week I attended a funeral of a senior at the University of SC.? There must have been a thousand young boys there in blue blazers.? ?The young man died of an overdose.?? The young man appeared to be handsome, nice- had lots of friends, smart, his family even went to church.? Friends, we have to do something to keep our young people alive and give them hope- let them see the light of Christ and give themselves to Him. ?? There is a light in our window.?? I think it got there one Christmas.? Like Tom Bodette- ?we?ll leave the light on for ya.?? The Methodist minister in town said, ?I see your light in your window each night- what is that about??? That light is a prayer of welcome for all the prodigals out there- for those who stray away from hope and meaning, purpose and truth- to come home to the light. ???? I THERE IS AN IMPORTANT LIGHT TO HOLD OUT- One of the great images of the church for many years is a lighthouse.? The job of the lighthouse is to both show you the hazards and to show you the way into the harbor where the still waters are.? Jesus is that light.? We are called to reflect that light- and shine it.? As we hold forth the teachings of love and truth- grace and holiness together we bring something to the world that it does not normally see. ?????? Several have asked me, ?Okay so we have a new building, where do we go from here??? Well the building is not an end in and of itself.? It is a tool to reach children and families with the faith hope and love of Christ.? ??Our mission statement formed years ago- and that I think is still very valid, says that we exist to ?call the wandering heart home to Christ.?? We are to be like a light house.? It is not about the numbers or the money or the building.? In fact, we have said in our thinking that we do not want to purposefully become a mega church.? Yet we also know we cannot put signs out saying, ?we are full- and you are not welcome.??? Our task is to be a lighthouse.? The church is an ark- but we are also? an ark that lights up and says ?get inside? its raining out there.?? I am totally convinced that if we seek to love each other and to hold onto the light of the faith and hold out the light of the faith God will guide us- and be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.
II. OUR TASK OF LIVING AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT- We should not just talk about the light- we should live in the light?? Our passage says, “Let your light so shine before people that they may see your good works and glorify your Father.”? 1 John says, “if we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another.”? Let us walk and not just talk.? 40 years ago some started this church.??? I hope we can have the vision that we do not want to keep our light under a bushel. Let me give the example of Peachtree Presbyterian in Atlanta.? Peachtree is a model church in many ways- the largest Presbyterian church in our denomination.?I love Peachtree.? I have been there many times, and held our graduation ceremony there.? Many of you once were members there.? ?It ministers to a diverse group and is mission and outreached focused.?I wish we could do half of what Peachtree does for missions. ?But Peachtree has lost 3,000 members in the last five years.? Part of the reason is what is going on in our culture- but I refuse to buy that.? There are other churches around Peachtree that are growing.? Part of it is it stopped?starting new daughter churches.? ?When you stop being a light- you grow dim.? God will not bless your witness if you are embarrassed or withdraw.? We have something to say that no one else can.? Peachtree had it as a goal to start a church a year and to build three Habitat houses a year for the needy.?When it did this the?church ironically exploded in growth.? ?Some have said we should not start new churches because of the denominational problems.? I say that is all the more reason to start a church.? Never does the Bible say to stop your witness when the church is in decline.? It should be just the opposite.? Everyone knows there are subdivisions popping up everywhere in the Chapin Irmo area.? There are new really good schools going up, and the low crime rate- sparked in large part by our faith and values-? will attract people to our area.? But if we say we don?t care that these new folk have a place to come as long as we meet our church budget and our sanctuary is full is so very sad.? If you want to keep your values- if you want to keep the low crime rate then continue to reach the new people for Christ.? That is done best when we start new churches.? Many would rather join something new and plug in right away.? Today the confirmation class joins.? Statistically, about half of this class will stop coming to church, Sunday School, and youth group in the next two years.? Probably one fourth will never come back to church.? This is my challenge to this class.? Do not snuff out your light.? Pass on the light of Christ to the next generation- do not let the light die with you this day.
III. OUR TASK OF HOLDING UP THE LIGHT- Don?t hide your light under a bushel.? Instead glorify God- let your light out.? If you believe Christ has helped you- then that is a reason to tell someone else about your faith.? There is a sense in which we are called to find content and peace in the light of God.? But that does not come at the expense of reaching out to others.? You don?t have to know everything about the faith to share it- in fact some of the best and our best evangelists- are children who simply invite another child to church or Sunday School.? Don?t let fear make you hide your light- someone needs you to be brave. Don?t let your own comfort level keep you from inviting another to join you.? Christianity is an inviting religion- whosoever will- let them come to the light? I have seen some of our teenagers pick up other teens and bring them to lock ins or conferences. ???? One of the things I have really appreciated about this church in its past is its willingness to be flexible and to put reaching out to others ahead of being comfortable.? It has been this attitude that has seen us through some tough times and has been a guiding light for our future.? ?As we grow, we must be patient and flexible with each other- just like a good family does.? We must respect each other- our differences- but also not lose sight of the light that brought us together in the first place.? There is room here for young and old.? We have added this sanctuary- one of the largest and most beautiful around to accommodate people.? We have added space for children and freed space up for adults and youth by doing so.? We are not like the people who move to Chapin and as soon as they see what a great place it is put up a sign that says, ?Keep out and go away.?? Our church is a lighthouse- calling the wandering heart home into the harbor of Jesus Christ.? The world needs that. ???? There was a long running TV show called ER- ran from 1994- 2009.? Dr. Mark Green was a character-star and he was dying of inoperable cancer.? He decided he would go to his boyhood home of Hawaii to die.? He gathered his children around him and gave them his last bit of advice- ?Be generous? is what he said.? Now there are many things we could say, but this is not a bad word of advice.? Be generous with your time- your money- your life- your smile- your kindness.? The Bible says ?a generous person will themselves be blessed.?? Be generous with your faith.? Share it in action and in words.? Don?t hide it- but let all the world see it. ???? One of the things that isn?t told that much is the role the church played in calming things in Baltimore where riots were destroying the whole west side of the city.? One hundred seventy-five ministers gathered on North Avenue- a hot spot in the city.? They joined arms and stood between the rioters and the police? They had no idea what kind of reception they would get, but what they found was that thousands of citizens joined them.? They marched toward burning cars and looters and they scattered.?? Even some gang members, surprisingly, joined behind them in the end.? It is the pastors and church members who need to go to our communities and tell our young people to get off the drugs and to avoid alcohol abuse.?? I am not saying this because I am a saint- but because I know God saved me from drugs- I have friends who died in the 70s or ruined their lives with drugs and alcohol.? We have the light. We have hope and meaning in a world without both. ??We need to hold it up.? These confirmands stand in sharp contrast to the young people who stray away from the light.? But there is a light in my window.? I pray that there will be a light in yours as well.