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Easter Is The Time To Release Your Gifts!

By Intersections

Release Your Gifts! Easter Makes it Possible!
What is released when you combine Easter with technology? A strange question, right? But Christopher Lim, a 25-year old ruling elder at the Indonesian Presbyterian Church in Seattle referred me to an insight by the inventor of the printing press. Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg was a German blacksmith, goldsmith, inventor, printer, and publisher who introduced the world to his press. In 1455, he envisioned the printing press’ power when he wrote:

God suffers in the multitude of souls whom His word cannot reach. Religious truth is imprisoned in a small number of manuscript books which confine instead of spread that public treasure. Let us break the seal which seals up holy things and give wings to Truth so that she may win every soul that comes into the world by her word no longer written at great expense by hands easily palsied, and multiplied like the wind by an untiring machine. (Johann Gutenberg, 1455)

Technology is about tools. While we associate technology with our modern, digital, age, the first stone cutting tools developed tens of thousands of years ago, as well as today’s simple pair of scissors all describe the tools used to accomplish work. Tech has undoubtedly become more powerful and accessible since 1455!

Comparing technology in the 1980s to today is still shocking to me. In 1983, I had the pleasure of teaching ten pastors at Bloomfield College, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-related school, while a pastor of a nearby congregation. I titled my course Ministers and Micros. Dragging their latest technology into the classroom underscored the students’ commitment.

The Osborne 1, a popular portable computer at the time, weighed in at 23 lbs.! I still recall the memory of the Rev. Ronald Johnson every week lugging his Compaq portable up flights of stairs and placing it on one of the classroom’s tiny desks. Power cords were everywhere since none of these early “portables” had long-lasting batteries! As a class of ministry trailblazers, we helped each other learn how to use the best available tech and techniques to produce the best ministry outcomes.

That class was important because church leaders have a responsibility to access and effectively use the best available technology to connect God’s love to the world. Gutenberg said, we must not allow “truth to be imprisoned” but released! Tools release God’s gifts!
Leaders in every walk of life, from the small business to the shore boutique, from nonprofits to community groups, have a similar responsibly today. Use the best available tools to release our best gifts. We are the sharers of the Good News! Content creators, network builders, storytellers, producers and directors, elders and deacons, supervisors and staff, artists and designers, musicians and performers, community developers, doers of justice and workers for Christ’s peace, all leaders in the church. We use tools of theology, and master the tools of technology.

In 1983, I referred to the intersection of theology and technology as TheoTech, and I believe the church now more than ever, needs to hang out at that same corner if the Good News of Jesus Christ is to widely seen and heard, and transform the lives of families and our neighborhoods!

In Spring’s Eastertide, consider what your life would be like today if Jesus never burst forth alive from the tomb? What if the earliest women and men who witnessed the risen Lord didn’t make a way to share the story? What if the Gospels were never written, copied, and published around the world? What impact would the Great Reformation have achieved without Gutenberg’s printing press?
Imagine what would happen if a chick never broke through its shell? That’s what Easter is all about, breaking through shells of isolation, barriers, and disinterest. What would Cape May be like if Cold Spring Presbyterian Church remained inside its red brick church for 300 years? Well, our doors are open! Everyone is welcome inside in order that everyone is equipped to be sent outside to release their gifts!
In person and online, from conversations across the street to advertisements in the Shoppe, we are releasing our gifts! And you, all of us, have gifts to offer! We all have TEA. Tea? Yes, an acronym that represents our Time, Energy, and Attention.

Sunday, April 7, during worship after the Offering for Local Missions, I added Honoring Time, Energy, and Attention in the Neighborhood. I want us to briefly share what we have seen or heard, or what you have said or done, that has helped, blessed, or encouraged others.

We don’t need names or circumstances, just brief portions of TEA? Did someone go out of their way to help? Have you witnessed anyone doing a special act of kindness? Maybe you visited someone feeling lonely, or on your Prayer Walk you prayed God’s blessings on who and what you encountered. Did you enjoy inviting someone to worship, or to dinner? It only takes a few minutes to inspire others to offer their own acts of kindness.

In what ways do you release the “imprisoned” truth and “spread” the “public treasure” Gutenberg wrote about so passionately more than 600 years ago? What seals need to be “broken” so that we become transformative neighbors? Let’s focus our efforts together to release our gifts to boldly transform our community using tools of every kind to share the Greatest Story ever told!

He is risen! Release your gifts!
Pastor Kevin

2019-01-06 Message- Star Words, Following The Jesus Star

By Sermons

Today is Epiphany, the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Did a few of your ordered Christmas gifts arrive after Christmas?! Sure, it happens. While upsetting, we and the recipient are likely to appreciate the gift. The Three Kings did not arrive late. They were right on time before they even met him, they knew he was worthy of their best. We, too, celebrate the day when the Star of Bethlehem, a very bright moving star, came to a rest just above the spot where Jesus lay, ending its journey from the East and leading a caravan of Magi to the Christ child. The word Epiphany literally means a season of light and Jesus is the source, he is the Light of the World! He is the shining Star.

Celebrities in our culture are VIP’s from sports, to entertainment, to politics. Some stars are rising and others falling and we should be careful not to follow their words too carefully. You just don’t know where they will lead you! We can also be our own “star” as if wearing the T-Shirt that reads, Its All About Me. The Three Wise Men remind us that we are not the star, but rather Jesus is and we have an opportunity to reflect his light, no tonly in our community of faith, but even better, to the community at large! That is our mission as a church. And God invites you to give your very best, too. Can 2019 be the year you give Jesus your very best so that you can live your very best selves, the abundant life Jesus’ promised to us? I think it can!

Today, as you are sent out after worship, I will open this box of Frankincense and Myrrh and if you’re ready to give your best to Jesus, go ahead and take a piece. We have plenty for all of us. But its up to you.

Wow, the Three Kings presented their best and they didn’t even know Jesus. Now here we are, all these years later, and we have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord, we know that God did not send his son into the world to condemn it, but that the world through him would be saved! Now that’s Good News. Star Words for the year ahead.

2019-01-06 Message For Kids- Frankincense, Myrrh, And Its Never Too Late to Give Our Best

By Sermons

The Three Kings, the astronomer, astrologer, Magi, knew something about Jesus before they even met him. The knew he was special because they saw the brightest star in the sky, brighter than anything seen before. It guided them to Jesus. And they present gifts to Jesus fit for a king. Gold. Frankincense, and Myrrh. We’ve seen gold. But Frankincense and Myrrh are pretty unusual. Here is a special box of these unique nuggets which are derived from the gummy sap that oozes out of the Boswellia and Commiphora trees when their bark is cut. It’s so rare that these items were essential currency and worth a great deal. So the Three Kings gave Jesus something very special. They just didn’t reach into their pockets and see what they found. They prepared and brought their best. You know? God loves us, and wants us, our very best and even loves us when we seem to offer our worst! But as we look forward to a new year, I wonder if you’re ready to give God your unique best? Your best time, energy, and attention. If you’re ready to do that, please take some Frankincense and Myrrh with you. Carry it with you, or keep it in a special place in your room to remind you that God loves you and you decided to give him your very best this year.

Gift Assessment

By Intersections

The Clerk’s Corner by Rob Riehl, Clerk of Session

Now that the customary exchange of Christmas gifts has passed, we have decided which gifts received are worthy of our keeping, which gifts can be “temporarily” put aside, and which are “unwanted” that can be given away — be given a “new life”: perhaps re-gifted to a friend or relative, donated to a charity, or become a “prize” in a fund-raiser raffle! Of the gifts we choose to keep, we select which ones should hold a prominent place of display and which will be kept in a place of easy access. Of the gifts we put aside, we determine which will be put in the attic or basement for “the short term” – and the remainder stored off-site for “the long term”. Those gifts we placed “out of sight” can come back to haunt us: what were we thinking? Why did we hold on to these unused gifts for so many years? What do we do with them now? Whether you received just one, a few, or many gifts, each gift calls you to make an assessment and a resolution. What will you do with each gift?

As Christians, we believe that God has blessed us in many ways with His many gifts; among these are the gift of life itself and the opportunity for eternal life with Him. We are especially reminded at Christmas that our Creator Father God gave humanity the gift of His Son Jesus Christ so that we can know Him personally and intimately – to be in continual communion with Him. This is the greatest gift to be offered to us, freely given and undeserved, out of eternal love for us created in His image! Once we realize the incomprehensible magnitude of this gift, we are confronted with the assessment question: what do I do now?

In a recent meeting of our Men’s Ministry group, we speculated on the one question that Father God might ask of us at Judgment Day. The one proposed question that stayed with me is this: “What have you done with the gift of my Son?” Truly a sobering question and one that compels me to assess my relationship with God. Where have I placed this gift of God in my life? Have I put this gift aside and neglected it? Or have I embraced, honored, and treasured this gift? Have I shared this gift of His Son with others? The secular-atheist world has rejected it, marginalized it, and strives to dispose of it; let not any one of us be found on that side of the assessment!

With the new calendar year upon us, the secular world suggests that we make “New Year’s Resolutions” such as a new diet or weight-loss program, learning another language or skill. As believers in God, let us consider a resolution that really matters — one that truly creates a new life with eternal consequences: resolve to not only know more about God, but get to know Him personally and intimately. Once you have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord, you will abandon everything inferior. So open this gift! Eagerly embrace the gift your heart has been seeking — the unique plan God has called you to become and to accomplish in this life; this is your divine purpose and mission. Do not put this gift aside or store it hidden away — and then forgotten! What other gift could enable and empower you to become greater than your perceived self-image, to become more Christ-like, and then partner with your heavenly Father in furthering the restoration of His will “on earth as it is in heaven”!

There is a local church “reminder” sign (which I drive by everyday) whose message reads: “Be a mirror. Reflect the glory of God in everything you do.” For those of us who are aligned with Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we are reflecting the greatest gift bestowed upon humankind by the Father. This truly is “the gift that keeps on giving” — of ourselves, our talents, and our resources to the greater honor and glory of God. All we need do is willingly accept God’s gracious gift and be thankful for His mercy, grace, and love. No greater gift can be received — and then given! 2 Corinthians 5:17; Psalm 34:8; Luke 12:18; Corinthians 13:12

Mr. Rob Riehl, ruling elder