Time for this week’s Church Write-Up.
A. The pastor at the LCMS church preached about I Kings 8. Solomon is dedicating the Temple, while acknowledging that no earthly Temple can contain God, since the heavens and the heavens of heavens cannot contain him. The pastor talked about how people like to use exalted language to pray, but they also fear God because God knows all of their deeds and their innermost thoughts. Solomon had a conception of divine forgiveness, but his theology only got him so far, since he believed in God’s vastness. In the New Testament, however, God became incarnate in Jesus Christ, and that demonstrates to us God’s love and mercy. Moreover, the pastor appealed to Romans 8 in claiming that the Holy Spirit intercedes for believers when they are so overwhelmed and burdened that they do not know what to say in prayer.
The youth pastor explained that we can pray to God, even without a Temple or a church building. The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD and was replaced with a Temple to a pagan god. Still, Solomon declared that God could not be contained in a Temple, and that shows that we can pray to God anywhere. We should do so more!
B. I attended the largely African-American Baptist church, for the first time in months. The sermon was about Exodus 33. The setting is the aftermath of the Israelites’ sin with the Golden Calf. The Israelites had stripped themselves of their ornaments, and that was because they were repentant of their sin, as they had used ornaments to construct the Golden Calf. A sign of our repentance is that we want nothing to do with our sins. God is frustrated with the Israelites and offers to send an angel to guide them to the Promised Land, rather than going with them himself. Moses was not satisfied with that, for, after going with God, going with an angel is only second best. Moses went out to the Tabernacle outside of the camp, where people went to seek the LORD, and there Moses and God talked, as if they were friends. That, and the appearance of the cloud of God’s presence, inspired the Israelites to worship God. In the course of the discussion between Moses and God, grace and God’s knowledge of people were emphasized. We should continue our devotions to God, the preacher said, because then God knows us, as a father knows his children. God then resolves to go with Moses and reassures him that God’s presence will bring rest.
The preacher issued a Gospel invitation, using A, B, C, D. Admit you are a sinner, believe that Jesus is who he said he is and died on the cross for your sins, confess your sins, and decide for Jesus. The preacher said that, whether we decide “yes,” “no,” or “not yet,” we are still making a decision.
C. Service was a big theme this past Sunday. The LCMS was having a service fair in which people set up booths about how to serve in and outside of the church. I skipped that. While I was walking to the African-American Baptist church, I noticed people from the Pen church doing a service project. This was the Sunday of the year in which the Pen church skips church services and devotes the Sunday to service projects. At the African-American Baptist church, I learned that it will be having a service fair in September. I couldn’t dodge the theme of service! Maybe I should have gone to that LCMS service fair!
BTW, the African-American Baptist church ran a humorous video, in which the pastor has to leave giving the sermon to clean the freezer, man the phones, and teach unruly kids in Sunday school. The point, of course, was that volunteers are needed!