Many of you know that this Advent season we’re preparing for the celebration of Christ’s birth by sharing a worship series entitled The Carols of Christmas. In this series, we are using some familiar carols that we sing around this time of year as a way to help us prepare our hearts and lives for the celebration of Christ’s birth.
Have you heard the story about the little boy who wanted to get ready for Christmas the right way? Instead of writing the traditional letter to Santa Claus, he decided to write a letter to Jesus – the real reason for the season. So, one day he got out pen and a piece of paper and sat down at the kitchen table.
“Dear Jesus,” he wrote, “I’ve been a really good boy this year.” Then he thought about some of the things he’d done, and decided to tear up the piece of paper.
He was born a long time ago in a far away land. He began with a small rag-tag band of followers, but throughout his life thousands were drawn to his charisma and charm. Unfortunately, his life ended way too soon. After his death, some say he appeared to them. And today, many continue to follow him faithfully.
A pastor went to visit a church member who was having some problems with her vision. “It’s been tough,” she said, “I can’t read the newspaper anymore without a magnifying glass. When I watch TV the screen is really blurry. I even have trouble recognizing my grandchildren when they come to visit me.”
“Wow,” the pastor replied, “That must be tough!”
“Yeah,” the woman said, “But to tell you the truth. In the midst of all this trouble with my eyes there’s still one thing I’m thankful for.”
I love the story of the small town that had three churches on the city square - one was Baptist, one was Presbyterian and one was Methodist. One year the town was invaded by a colony of squirrels that decided to make their homes in the attics of the three churches. Each of the churches had tried to get rid of the squirrels.
I recently ran across a financial planning website that listed some “Signs You May Be Receiving Bad Investment Advice.” The website said, “You may be receiving bad investment advice if your financial planner calls and says, ‘I have some bad news, and some worse news!’ When you ask him what the bad news is, he says, ‘All your money will be gone in 24 hours.’ When you ask him what the worse news is, he says, ‘I was supposed to call you yesterday!’”
Now, I want to get one thing out of the way from the start. The title of this sermon is, “America’s Got Talent and So Do You.” And, I have to be honest that I’ve never seen an episode of America’s Got Talent. Seriously. I’m a millennial and we don’t watch TV in the same way. For me, TV is a mixture of Netflix and YouTube. The only television I watch in realtime is sports and even that is through an app half of the time. So, I’ve seen clips of America’s Got Talent, like the girl with the ukulele. Grace VanderWaal? She was amazing. Like a young Taylor Swift back when Taylor Swift was good. I mean seriously, the new stuff is just not good.
Today’s an exciting day at Christ Church! Why? We believe God’s given us an incredible vision! God’s called us to be a church that’s “embracing people, our community and the world with the boundless love of God.” And today we’re launching a $6 million generosity initiative that will help us turn that vision into reality!
As many of you know, we’ve been sharing a worship series over the last few weeks entitled, There’s an APP for That. In this series, we’ve been learning that our faith has some apps that can help us deal with a number of the challenges we each face in our daily lives. Challenges such as: transition, work, worry, busyness, peer pressure and shame.
So, I recently ran across a magazine article about centurions. You know, people who’ve lived to be at least 100 years of age. It had a lot of great information, but the best part were the answers the centurions gave to some questions the author asked. For example, when a 107-year old man was asked to describe his “vision” of the future.
This month we’ve been sharing a worship series entitled, There’s an APP for That. In this series, we’re exploring how we can apply our faith to some of the challenges we all face in life. So far, we’ve learned that our faith has an APP for transition, work and worry! This morning I want to talk about the fact that our faith has an APP for busyness.
I want to begin this morning with some riddles? Are you ready? Here we go!
Number 1: What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches? Answer: A nervous wreck!
Number 2: Why was the baby inkblot so worried? Answer: His father was in “the pen” and he didn’t know how long “the sentence” would be!
Number 3: What did the astronaut say when he saw the eight-legged alien? Answer: “Don’t worry, its armless!”
Those, of course, are children’s riddles! But the topic they refer to is certainly not childish, is it? That’s because “worry” is something that many of us spend an enormous amount of time doing every single day.
This is the second week in our series, There’s an App for That, as we talk about how we can apply scripture to our daily lives. Last week, Pastor Morris talked about transition. This week, we’re talking about work. It’s appropriate, right? I mean, it is Labor Day weekend. Tomorrow is set apart to honor the labor movement and the contributions of workers to our country.
If you have a smartphone you probably know what an app is. Just in case you don’t, an ‘app’, or “application,” is a software program that can be installed on a smartphone or mobile device to help you do just about anything. As the iPhone commercial reminded us a few years ago, (1) “If you want to check snow conditions in the mountains? There’s an app for that! If you want to see how many calories are in your lunch? There’s an app for that! And if you want to find out exactly where you parked the car at the college football game? There’s an app for that!” There’s an app for just about anything in life. In fact, I as a new grandparent, I recently discovered a new app called JBaby! The app allows parents to send pictures from their smartphone to WIFI connected picture frames in the grandparent’s home. That way grandparents will always have up-to-date “framed” pictures of their grandchildren to obnoxiously share with their friends. By the way, have I shown you a picture of my new granddaughter?
Last Sunday, Duane Munford, a retired clergyperson in our church, reminded me of a scene from the Billy Crystal movie City Slickers. In the scene, Curly, who is played by Jack Palance, asks Mitch, who is played by Billy Crystal, if he knows what the secret to life is. Mitch says, “No, what is it?” Curly holds up one finger and says, “This.” Mitch says, “You’re finger?” Curly says, “No. One thing. You stick to it and the rest will fall into place.” “So,” Mitch says, “What’s the one thing?” Curly says, “That’s for you to figure out!” Well, at Christ Church we’ve figured out what our “one thing” is! And we’ve been talking about it for three weeks.
Maybe you’ve heard the story of the woman who bought a talking parrot? After a few days, she returned to the pet store to complain that the parrot wouldn’t talk. “Does the parrot have a mirror in his cage?” the pet store owner asked. “No”, the woman said, “why does he need a mirror in his cage?”
A number of years ago, Steven Covey released a bestselling book entitled, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In the book, Covey explores a number of traits highly effective people have in common. And one of these traits is that highly effective people are people who understand that “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!”
Someone once asked Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, to describe the secret to his success. Now, you might think he would say, “The secret to our success has been LOW PRICES!” But that’s not what Sam Walton said. Instead he said, “The secret to our success has been EXPECTATIONS! Expectations have been the key to everything!”