February 2024 - Church for All People
Rev. Dr. David Palmer
Jesus prayed for his disciples and the future generations of believers to be of one heart and mind. – John 17:20-21
Can you imagine a church where Christians of every denomination worship and work together? Believe it or not, this happens every week on US military bases worldwide. I often describe my experience growing up in this kind of church as being part of a convertible church. This is because it was designed to be changed to accommodate a wide variety of worship styles and theological perspectives. The walls had depictions of religious art that celebrated Catholic and Protestant stories of faith. The cross had a swivel, so it could be turned to show the crucifix on one side and the standard protestant cross on the other. We even celebrated communion in three different ways every month.
This does not mean those who came were unclear in their understanding of faith. Instead, each person was encouraged and challenged to dig deeper to understand their faith so they could live more fully into who God had called them to be. As a young person in the church, I remember being surrounded by Christian leaders from various backgrounds who were passionate about their faith. They didn’t always agree, but they celebrated God and the diversity of their perspectives and worship together.
I wonder what it would look like for believers today to grasp the truth that Jesus is the true Lord of the church regardless of the denomination. We might learn to appreciate a Jesus who is larger than our own limited personal experience.
As we begin the season of Lent this month, we will hear several perspectives of what Jesus has done for us at the cross. This great mystery is far greater than any one person's understanding. Through the centuries, different groups of Christians have understood this mystery in diverse ways. Each of these has something to teach us if we are listening. You are invited to come and discover the depths of God’s love and grace through Jesus.
January 2024 - Message in a Bottle
Rev. Dr. David Palmer
You may have heard the hit single “Message in a Bottle” sung by Sting. The song is presumably about a story of a castaway on an island, who sends a message in a bottle to seek love. A year later, he has not received any response and despairs, thinking he is destined to be alone. The next day, he sees "a hundred billion bottles" on the shore, finding out that there are more people like him out there. This famous song describes the human need for connection as an SOS for all to see. The hope is that somebody will respond. This points to the ongoing need to know that we are not alone in our journey in life.
The great news is that God continues to speak to us and desires for us to know the comfort of a deep and abiding love. We are not alone. The truths of God are revealed to us in a variety of ways. The scriptures point out that “In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe (Hebrews 1:1-2).” This passage points out that God is sending us a message not only in a bottle, but through nature, the Bible, and even Jesus himself. This provides insight into the meaning of the opening of John’s gospel, in which he declares that the “word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In the person of Jesus, God’s love is revealed to the world.
I believe that it is imperative for Christians to discover how to hear and understand what God is saying to them. But how can we hear God today? What is the connection between Jesus and the scriptures? Are the promises of God from the Bible still relevant in the 21st Century? During the next month, I will be preaching on the important subject of God’s revelation and how we can hear God’s voice today. I hope you can join us each Sunday as we open God’s message for us.