Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.


Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.


Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)


About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.



The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.




Monday, June 15, 2009

"CARRYING EACH OTHER IN FAITH"

Luke 5:17-26

These four men fought through the crowd when he saw their faith, carrying their paralyzed friend on a stretcher. They fought through the crowd, because they believed that Jesus could help their friend. And, when they got close to the door of the house, they couldn’t get in, but they could tell that Jesus was inside. So they climbed up on the roof, still carrying their paralyzed friend, and a couple of them dug through the thatched roof, dug a section out so large that they could lower their friend in front of Jesus, right there in the room where he stood.
This must have caused everyone to take notice. Surely, some materials and dirt fell into the room when they dug. But, Jesus waited for them to finish their work. And, after they were done and lowered their friend in front of Jesus, we are told that “WHEN HE SAW THEIR FAITH,” he said: “My son, your sins are forgiven.” And, people started saying: “who does he think he is?, saying, ‘your sins are forgiven?’ Jesus looked at them and at the man: and said: “get up and walk!” And, the man on the stretcher was set free; he got up with limbs made strong by the almighty and he didn’t just walk, he jumped and praised God, right there as his friends gave thanks.

When Jesus saw their faith (not the man’s faith), he forgave and he healed the man. So far as we know, the paralyzed man didn’t say a word. We don’t know whether he believed or not. We know that his friends believed, and maybe even believed for him. THAT IS FAITH. BECAUSE THAT IS LOVE.

THESE FOUR FRIENDS LOVED THEIR FRIEND AND BELIEVED THAT JESUS WOULD HEAL HIM. THEY HOPED FOR HIM, EVEN IF HE HAD NO HOPE LEFT. THIS IS FAITH, BELIEVING FOR ANOTHER.

Now, we usually think of an individual person having faith for himself or herself. But, it just may be that for most of us, someone else believes for us before we have the faith to believe for ourselves. Someone comes before God and prays for us; someone believes in the God-given potential and promise within us even when we can’t see it ourselves. In a Charlie Brown movie, there is a song that goes like this:

“If just one person believes in you, harder enough and strong enough, believes in you, deeper enough and long enough, believes in you; then, maybe even you can believe in you.”

Paul talks about “faith working through love.” I think that is what we see here with these four men, and it touches the heart of Jesus. When he saw their faith/their love for their friend, he opened his heart to the man, the concern of these four friends.

Yes, we think often of what an individual believes. But, maybe we ought to take comfort in what WE believe. Because there will come a day, when you really need someone to believe for you. There will come a day, when you need someone to pray for you. And, that day will come for me as well. There will come a day, and it may be today, when it’s all you can do to just make it to worship, and you need to hear the songs of thanksgiving and praise, even if you haven’t got the heart to sing them yourself. But, you can hear those songs, and fill them touch your heart even when it is worn out.

When you come in to this place, you come into a place where we believe in the importance of your life, and we believe in God’s love for you. We live in that faith. And, we come to be reminded and to remind each other of that living faith, that love of God which surrounds us.
When you believe in God’s love for another person, that means God’s Spirit is working within you and through you. That is the power of God’s Spirit reaching out through you. Unless you feel God’s love for another person, you can’t speak to them a true word about God. If you feel God’s love for another, you will be a channel of God’s grace to them, whether you plan to be or not, whether you say anything or not.

Paul speaks of the love of God being poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This love of God is active, it causes you to see with new eyes, to feel with new hearts, to experience other people as children of the living God.

That’s what the community of faith is all about. When you’re tired and worn and weary, you find rest with the people of God. Of course, God has claimed everyone as his child. In Christ, God has designated every human being as part of the people of God. What God has willed, and what we do are two different things. We are called to be part of a community of faith.
A few miles away, members of two congregations and the families of Rev. Allen and her husband, are gathered before God as their son, little D.J. is baptized, and they are gathered in their faith, and they are believing for little D.J., looking upon him with the love of God in their hearts, believing in his dignity and the hope he has as a child of God. And, we are gathered here, holding little D.J. in our hearts before God. And, where a community continues to believe in God’s grace for a child as he grows, then that belief grows within him, day by day.

We need each other in the community of faith. We really do. If I’ve learned anything over the years as a pastor, it is that need of others in the church. Our faith, when it is isolated from others, can become false; it can become made up; it can come to just serve our interests and not have much to do with love of God and neighbor. But, the faith that I share with others, and join together with others in the church; well, that faith is tested by the living faith of others; and, it is tested to see if it really is true, if it is really that love of God poured out into our hearts. Because, as 1 John says: “if I don’t love my brother or sister whom I can see, then how can I love God whom I can’t see?”

The struggle to continue in the way of reconciliation, is right at the heart of faith. It is right at the heart of any family that stays together. Because, there are so many circumstances and actions and inactions that cause us conflict and hurt in our relationships, whether they be at home, in the wider family, among friends, or in church. And, sometimes, we just get weary, weary with arguments, weary with misunderstandings, weary and just wanting peace. But, where there are people, there is sin and imperfection of all types, and that goes for us, even when we are with those we love. And, our hearts get weary at times and just want to give up. Why does it have to be such hard work to get along? Why do we say such stupid things? Why do others? Why does conflict always rear its ugly head? Well, it does. But, for those who have faith, the dawn comes. For those who have faith, shouts of joy finally come after those times of weeping.

The community of faith teaches us how to endure in life, how to believe in difficult times, how to lean on others and support others in times of trouble. What the church really teaches in the long run is how to love and not grow weary, how to love with a love eternal, with a love that comes from God, a love that is so great that it raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and reaches out to gather more and more children into the fold.

So, where are you today? Are you here believing and loving and feeling that powerful healing of God in you, and reaching out through you today to others? Are you, perhaps, just worn out, and just hoping that somebody here is believing for you, because you are too numb to carry yourself before the Lord. Maybe a couple of us here today are like that man paralyzed and not knowing where to turn. And, the faith and love of his friends carried him before the Lord. That is faith – it works through love.

Sometimes the person who shows us God’s love is not the one we expect it from. I remember being in S.C., and having a real serious church conflict over race relations in the community. And, one of my elders, Archie was real mad at me over this. And, I guess I was pretty mad at him too. And, we were there celebrating the Lord’s Supper. And, I had served the 4 elders the communion bread, ‘this is the body of Christ broken for you.’ The last one I served was Archie. And, then I served the cup: “This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.” And, somehow I messed up and didn’t get any bread for myself during the serving. I didn’t even realize it. It was a tense Sunday in many ways. But, right before I was about to close the communion part of the service, I saw Archie motioning to me: and whispering, ‘you didn’t get the bread, you didn’t get the bread.’ And, he got right up, went to the communion plate and brought it to me and served me. I COULDN’T HELP BUT SMILE AND HE DID TOO. THIS IS MY BODY, I HEARD IN MY HEART, BROKEN FOR YOU. DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.

ARCHIE REACHED OUT THAT MORNING AND REALLY BROKE DOWN THE BARRIERS OF MY HEART, AND HIS HEART. FAITH, WORKING THROUGH LOVE. SOMEONE, EVEN WHO IS MAD AT YOU, THAT BELIEVES THAT GOD LOVES YOU AND THAT YOU ARE A BROTHER IN THIS FAITH OF CHRIST.

Sometimes others carry us before God. We don’t always know who or when. And, sometimes we carry others before God. Thank God for this bond we have in faith. None of us can make it alone; all of us can make it together. Amen.

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