God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to Save a Life

A song has been stuck in my head since I came back from the Wisconsin Conference meeting. I have been singing “How to save a Life” by the Fray.
Step one you say we need to talk
He walks you say sit down
it's just a talk
He smiles politely back at you
You stare politely right on through
Some sort of window to your right
As he goes left and you stay right
Between the lines of fear and blame
And you begin to wonder
why you came

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up
with you all night
Had I known how to save a life
How to save a life
How to save a life

Jim Griffith one of the keynote speakers said people are searching for is a church that places a high value on saving one life. How to save a life. What does that mean for the church and how it worships and practices in a community.

This idea came as Jim told a story about Tony Campolo. He was at a conference in Honolulu and couldn't sleep. Well after midnight he wandered down to a diner to get something to eat. The place he found is where the local prostitutes came at the end of a night of turning tricks. There, he overheard a con¬versation between two of them. One, named Agnes, said, "You know what? Tomorrow's my birthday. I'm gonna be thirty-nine." Her friend snapped back, "So what d'ya want from me? A birth¬day party? " The first woman replied, "Why do you have to be so mean? It's my birthday. I don't want anything from you. I've never had a birth¬day party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?" When they left, Tony had that nudge we get from God. He asked the shop owner if Agnes came in every night, and when he said yes, Tony invited him into planning a surprise party. Together they arranged for a cake, candles, and typical party decorations for Agnes, who was, a complete stranger. The next night when she came in, they shouted, "Surprise!"-and Agnes couldn't believe her eyes. As people sang, she began to cry so hard she could barely blow out the candles. When the time came to cut the cake, she asked if they'd mind if she didn't cut it, if she could bring it home-just to keep it for a while and savor the moment. Tony led the guests in a prayer for Agnes, after which the shop owner told Tony he didn't realize Tony was a preacher. He asked what kind of church Tony came from, and Tony replied, "I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning.” The shop owner couldn't believe him. "There isn't a church like that. If there was, I'd join it."

Jim Griffith went on to say we as the church should place a high value is placed on the redemption of a life. Churches need to be about the business of saving a life. Our history in the church is a history of redemption, of lives that are saved. To understand the heart of people we need to preach a message of adoption: if you feel as if nobody wants you, remember God wants you. God understands the value of one life. This week as I sat down to work on my sermon I think that was why “how to save a life: was stuck in my head. In chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke we see this God who thinks nothing of throwing a party for undesirables. The chapter begins, “Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them." Jesus then tells them stories. A shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in order to find and rescue one lost sheep. A father with two sons who has one that got lost and yet is welcomed back home. A father who has a second son who has never done anything wrong and yet can’t accept a father who welcomes the lost. A woman who having lost one coin searches everywhere until she finds it. Each story ends with a celebration of the lost being found. Are we willing to through a birthday party for a prostitute? Are we willing to give up a little of our comfort in order to save one life.

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