NOTE FROM PASTOR JR – 38TH ANNIVERSARY SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2019

This Sunday Covenant will celebrate 38 years of Ministry. Our vision statement development very early on was and continues to be “To be an inclusive community of faith – Offering Hope + Showing Faithfulness + Sharing Joy.” It’s a timeless vision in an era of tremendous change. So much has changed in the last 38 years but the message of Covenant has remained the same.

Someone has noted that “the only constant today is change.” If you type “change” into the google search engine you will find a seemingly unending list of associated topics. So, with all this talk about change and all the changes people face in the daily life, where does one find an unchangeable constant to anchor their hopes and their faith.

Perhaps Hebrews 13:8, offers us a clue. It reads, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” (CEB) If, as we believe, Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God’s self to humanity, then Jesus represents those things about God that are forever true and never changes. Chief among those things is God’s inclusive love.

There are hundreds of scripture text that speak to this but one of my favorites is Lamentations 3:22-23 which reads: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness!” (ESV)

When facing difficult and challenging changes in your life, make time to think about God’s love, goodness, and grace. Through them, God is still speaking hope into our lives. In I Corinthians 13, Apostle Paul says that when all is said and done “These three remain, faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love.” This is the 38-year message of Covenant that never changes.

Join us this Sunday as we celebrate Covenant’s 38th birthday as “Bring-A -Friend” Sunday. My sermon will include a skit by “The Joyful Souls Ministry” and is titled “38 Years And the Message Never Changes” based on “I Corinthian 13:4-13.”

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NOTE FROM PASTOR JR FOR SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2019

As I prepared to speak at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa Thursday, I noticed a professor was trying to get the attention of a student on the other side of the auditorium. The student asked, “Who, Me?” and the professor responded “Yes. You.” Most of us have had this experience. Our initial response to a call came from the uncertainty that the call was for us.

As a pastor, I have watched this occur many times spiritually in people’s lives. We hear God’s call to hope, forgiveness and love… even a call to service and our initial response comes from our uncertainty that call is meant for us. So, we ask “Who, Me?” And God answers “Yes. You.”

In Jeremiah 1, God calls out to Jeremiah and his initial response is “Who, Me?” and God says “Yes. You.” Like us, Jeremiah’s “Who, Me?” moment comes from a failure to trust that God’s call to us comes because God knew us before we were born and is the results of God’s unconditional love.

The Apostle Paul’s best-known writing about love in I Corinthians 13 should also be considered a description of God’s love for us. Read these words out loud to yourself: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing; but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. “(vs. 4-8)

Perhaps if we think of this as Gods love for us, we would be less like to initially respond to God’s call on our lives with “Who, Me?” And there would be no need for God to respond, “Yes, You!”

Join us for worship this Sunday at Covenant, where the sermon will be “I asked God, “ME?” God said, “YES. YOU.” The assigned scriptures are “Jeremiah 1:4-10 and I Corinthians 13:1-13.

NOTE FROM PASTOR JR FOR BAPTISM OF OUR LORD SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2018

The Baptism of Jesus is commemorated each year on the first Sunday following Epiphany, January 6. This year that was the first Sunday of the New Year. At Covenant, we have chosen to commemorate it as we normally do on this week on the Second Sunday of the New Year. That also means following the lectionary scriptures assigned for this Sunday requires us to look at baptism with a depth that goes beyond baptism being an outward sign of an inward spiritual reality taking place.

Rev. Michael Piazza shared the following this week: “I have no idea what the sign actually said, but, driving to the airport … it seems it said, ‘Hope Repaired Here’. It was tempting to turn around and see what it really said and what they really repaired. The thing is, as someone whose hope has been damaged a bit during the past couple years, it felt better to think that there really is a place that repairs shattered hopes.”

As I thought about his words, it dawned on me that there is such a place. It’s called our hearts. The assigned text for this Sunday from Psalm 139 & I Corinthians 6 goes to great lengths to remind us that God who made us, knows us, loves us, is always present with us, and we belong to God! That reminder is where hope is repaired!

Being baptized or re-affirming our baptism is meant be a time when we are reminded in our innermost being, that hope is repaired right here within us. “Baptism” reminds us that hope is repaired “When We Say Yes” to a relationship with God.

So, join us on this “Baptism of Our Lord” Sunday at Covenant. We will commemorate the Baptism of Jesus with Baptisms by Immersion and reaffirmations of Baptism with sprinkling as part of our worship. My sermon will be “Baptism: When We Say Yes” based on Psalm 139, 1-6, 13-18 and I Corinthians 6:12, 19-20.