During this Lenten season, we’ve been sharing a worship series entitled, Hands. In this series, we’ve been looking at some of the things Jesus did with his hands as a way to learn what God wants us to do with our hands not only during the season of Lent, but in every season of our lives. What have we’ve learned so far?
When Kate and I first started dating, I quickly realized something. She had not seen any of the movies from my childhood. I’d make a movie reference and it went right over her head. Now, her parents are good people who didn’t let their daughters watch movies of a crude or immature nature. So, consequently, Kate had been deprived of most of my favorite movies. Now, my parents were pretty discerning too, but I grew up on a healthy diet of Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Chris Farley, and Adam Sandler--in large part because I had friends whose parents weren’t quite so discerning.
Have you ever noticed how many phrases in the English language refer to our “hands”? We say things like: Raise your hand. Can you lend me a hand? Look at your hands. You better watch your hands! May I see a show of hands? Hold my hand. I had the winning hand! Did you wash your hands? Give her a hand! You’ve got to hand it to him. Let’s all join hands. Hands are part of our everyday language and lives. And so, this Lenten season, we’re talking about hands. Through a worship series entitled Hands, we’re talking about some of the things Jesus did with his hands, as a way to learn some things God wants us to do with our hands.
I’d like to begin this morning’s message by inviting you to look at your hands. Hands they are an interesting part of the human anatomy, aren’t they? In fact, scientists say our hands are one of the things that separate us from other creatures in the animal kingdom. Our hands are one of the things that makes human beings human.
I’ve been thinking lately about risk. Not just because of the recent volatility of the stock market. Life is inherently full of risk and we spend our days trying to determine which are good risks and which are foolish. A well managed portfolio with risk tailored to your age and stage in life? Good risk. Skydiving without a backup parachute? Foolish risk.
Today we come to the fifth message in this series. And I’ve entitled this morning’s message iResolve to Practice the Art of Forgiveness. You see, if we want to get this year off to a great start, we all need to resolve to practice the art of forgiveness.
So, earlier this week I watched an interview with Marc Randolph. Randolph is an entrepreneur and the co-founder of a fairly successful company you may have heard of. The company is called Netflix. Over the last twenty years, Netflix has grown from a small video rental startup into a multi-billion- dollar corporation.
Anyway, during the interview Randolph, who successfully started five other companies, was asked if he could name some traits that make for an effective entrepreneur? Randolph thought for a minute, and then he said, “I think one of the most important traits an effective entrepreneur must have is an incredibly positive attitude! That’s because starting a company is tough! And sometimes, having a positive attitude is the only thing that keeps you going!”
In 1945, as WW2 was coming to an end, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote a speech reflecting on the tragedy of the war. “If civilization is to survive” he wrote, “people of all kinds must learn to live together in the same world, at peace.” Unfortunately, Roosevelt died before his speech could be delivered. And yet, the words he wrote still ring true, don’t they? I mean over and over again in the last few years we’ve witnessed terrible tragedies caused by the fact that people who differ from each other can’t seem to find a way live together in peace. And over and over again in the last few weeks we’ve we heard a lot of rhetoric.
A couple of months ago a friend of mine sent me an email entitled, “Questions People Ought to Ask, But Never Do.” It was a list of questions somebody thinks we should all be asking, but usually don’t. For example, the email said, “If the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, what’s the speed of dark?” Good question!
Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? I don’t know if you are aware of it, but there is a great deal of debate about whether we ought to make resolutions or not. For example, some people say making New Year’s resolutions is pointless because studies show that most people break them within the first few months.
Well friends, here we are – the Sunday after Christmas. The packages have all been opened. Leftovers have been eaten. Our guests have gone home. In fact, some of you may have already put away the decorations feeling that Christmas is over for the year. It is the week after Christmas, and it feels anti-climactic. We are in the valley between the holiday high last week and the dawning of a new year ripe with possibility. Today, we are just stuck in the middle. We are in a “gap.”
Have you ever been the first person in your family to do something special? Maybe you were the first person to graduate from college. Or perhaps you were the first person to travel outside the continental United States. Or maybe you were the first person to enter a professional field, like medicine or accounting or law.
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.