Thoughts from the Pastor
This summer we here at The Reformed Church of South River are going though Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. It is a series of sermons that we are calling, “Love, Justice and the Doorway to the Kingdom of God.”
I thought it would be a good place to start my ministry of preaching and teaching here in South River because it is where Jesus begins his public ministry in the Gospel. In fact, that is how I am going about a lot of my first decisions here. Feeling paralyzed by so many options and so many directions, places to go and things to do (do you ever feel like this?), the only way I can even begin to begin is with a prayer and the simple question, “What do I think Jesus would do right now?”
It is a simple question that rarely has an easy answer. This is because most often the answer seems to be, “find someone to love who does not know that I love them and show them what it means.” It is an answer that forces me out of my comfort zones and into the lives of others. It is an answer that demands I take a chance and reach out to the people I would not otherwise have a reason to connect with. The stranger, the other, the estranged; why would I take the time and effort to try to know them? After all, I’m so busy and tired already!? The answer is because this is what Jesus did, this is what we are called to be, and this is where we enter into the beauty of the Kingdom of God in Earth.
Is it comfortable or easy or profitable? No, but being a follower of Jesus has never been about those things. Nor has it ever been about “saving souls” or going to heaven. Being a follower of Jesus is about stepping into the love and hope and faith that breaths life into you and reaches out to others too. In the Christian life, we do not follow commands that get us to the Kingdom of God. Instead, we let our actions and out minds be taken over by the love of God that the Kingdom is made of. Slowly, day by day, we become new creations that are constantly looking for ways to be more radically loving.
Can you think of a person, or a group of people who need to be loved? If not, perhaps it means you are called to step out of that comfort zone and into a new friendship or help. At the same time, are you someone who needs to see the love of God more? Then please, let me or another member of the Church community know.
The future of us as a church will depend on how well we can reach out to love those around us. What Justice can we fight for, what care can we give, what hunger can we fill, what loneliness can we defeat together. We do these things because we are a Jesus people; the salt of the earth, a city on a hill, the hands of Christ in the world. We do these things because in the community of love they help build, we see and enter into the Kingdom of God as is grows like a tiny mustard seed.
May God continually breathe the life of faith, hope and love into each of you. May you let it grow by reaching out to others with it. And may you see the Kingdom of God that reveals itself in the process.
~ Pastor Mike Ozaki ~