“Do You Have a “Guiding Word” for the New Year?”

Have you chosen a “word” yet for 2019? I ask this because quite a few people responded to the sermon I preached a couple of weeks ago. In fact, many of you shared your “word” with me after worship—shalom, peace, love, grace, compassion, hope, thanksgiving, blessed, and many more, including ALOHA.

This exercise came about because I mentioned in the sermon a tradition started by a Methodist pastor in Raleigh in which he chooses a word to live by for the new year. Then, on the first Sunday, he shares why that particular word is meaningful to him, and also the ways he hopes to “lean on” and be guided by it each day.
I shared that my word for 2019 is “KINGDOM”
(as in the Kingdom of God, or more precisely, as in “Kingdom Living).” I explained how this word is so important to us, to our lives of faith and in how we go about living each day. It was also my way of launching a three- part sermon series on “Kingdom Living.”

For many of us, God’s Kingdom is not something that regularly comes to mind when we consider matters of faith; and, besides, it can be hard to understand all that the Kingdom means. That is what I discovered back in the fall when I began my study on the subject. The reason is because the Kingdom is so pervasive to everything; like a stream, it is a theme that runs through the whole Bible. What’s more, God’s Kingdom is the central focus of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels. He even announces at the beginning of his ministry “the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
Yes, the Kingdom is here right now, all around us, wherever the Light of the world is breaking in, working to make a difference in people’s lives and in our world.

Sometimes it is easy to see, like yesterday,
when over a hundred of us (young and old) came together to pack 10,152 meals to be sent to the neediest places in the world. A big shout out goes to the Brevard College women’s lacrosse team, who came and joined in the fun.
Another example came last week when you as a congregation donated over 1,200 pounds of food and $300 in funds for our youth to collect and take to The Sharing House. Most certainly, you can think of a lot more examples of seeing the Kingdom in our midst.

Other times, the Kingdom isn’t so visible with all the darkness and bad news and worry that hangs over us. Those are the times we can only fall back on our faith, and on God’s promises. But the Kingdom isn’t just out there in the world; it’s living inside each of us. That’s why Jesus calls on us to be his hands and heart wherever we are. And, it is also why he has given us his “body” the church, our church. In our fellowship and generosity, in our caring and serving, in our welcoming the stranger and sharing ministry to all, we reflect the best of the Kingdom.
Speaking of a word, here is another for me— gratitude. I am so grateful to serve a church that truly seeks to follow Christ and cares so passion- ately as “to move out to serve.”

Bless you all!

Mike

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