November 12, 2019

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This months Website is 

sponsored by

Gregg & Deb Griewski

in

Memory of 

Sam & Verna Goetz

 

If you would like to sponsor a month

contact the office.

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Jason DeShaw Concert

Please join us in an evening of story-telling and song as Jason shares his journey of recovery & learning to live with mental illness & alcoholism. 6:30 pm at the Mobridge-Pollock School Theater. Event is free.

Last week's Sermon

November 10, 2019

  

Haggai 1:15b-2:9 & 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

November 10, 2019

“Balancing nostalgia”

Remember when thirty seemed so old
Now lookin' back, it's just a steppin' stone
To where we are, where we've been
Said we'd do it all again
Remember when

Remember when we said when we turned gray
When the children grow up and move away
We won't be sad, we'll be glad
For all the life we've had,  And we'll remember when

 

These are the words to the last two verses of the song "Remember When" recorded by American country music artist Alan Jackson and released in October 2003.  Alan Jackson wrote this song as he reflected on the life and the love that he shared with wife.  It is a nostalgic look back …one that has no real regrets. 


A couple of years later country artist Toby Keith takes a more humorous approach to taking a nostalgic look back as we get older in the release of his song: “As Good as I Once Was.”  The song is about a gentleman reflecting on his days of youth, recognizing that he is not as young as he once was.  He cannot do some of the things like he once could.  But if push came to shove, he could do it once at least that it what he thinks.  Towards the end of the song there are two lines that go:


Now my body says you can't do this boy
But my pride says oh yes you can...


If you watch the video that Toby Keith put out with the song, you will see that his body was right as he gets carried out on a stretcher after joining in on a barroom brawl.  There are times that relying on nostalgia can get one into trouble.  I remember visiting with Nellie Siemon several years ago and she made the comment.  “I just don’t understand why I can’t do the things I used to could do.” 


I remember thinking, “The fact that you are 98 years old might have something to do with it.” 


It is easy to get nostalgic as we get older.  We look at the way things are now and remember how things used to be and wonder, “Why can’t we be like we were when we were younger?  Why can’t things be like they were when we were younger?  When things were simpler …things were better.” 


The returning exiles of Judah were suffering from a bad case of chronic nostalgia.  In the midst of attempting to pick up the pieces of their own lives by rebuilding houses and reestablishing their farms and business, the word of the Lord comes to them through the prophet Haggai that they need to rebuild the Lord’s house, the temple, as well.  Their houses are rebuilt and the Lord’s house still lays in ruins.  The returning exiles were so focused on their own concerns and their own needs that they forgot about the Lord’s house.  They were so focused on “number one” that they failed to realize until the prophet Haggai reminded them, that God is number one.  We cannot fault the returning exiles as we all need a little reminder of who is or at least should be number one in our lives. 


At any rate, with the prophet Haggai’s prodding, the people went to work to rebuild the temple as the Lord requested.  This is not an easy task that the Lord has put in front of them.  Their country is in shambles.  They have no money and very limited resources.  But limited finances and resources were only part of the problem that was hampering the rebuilding of the Lord’s house.  The biggest obstacle the people faced was lack of drive due to a bad case of nostalgia.  The people were remembering the temple as it was before it was destroyed.  If they weren’t remembering it from their own personal experience, they were at least remembering it through eyes and stories that were passed down to them. 


Back in the days of the first temple, it was glorious.  It was a thing of beauty and splendor.  It was built in the time of King Solomon.  Not only was the temple glorious, it was also built in the time of Israel’s glory days.  It was a time when the country of Israel was enjoying success and notoriety as a country.  The country had wealth and power. 


Now the country was in shambles …still attempting to rebuild its image as a country.  As a struggling country with limited finances and resources, there was no way possible that they could ever rebuild a temple that would even begin to compare to back when …back in the glory days.  “Oh, remember when…  We can never build anything that would even compare so why try?  What ever we do will never measure up to the past glory and majesty.” 


It was kind of like that high school sports team that is struggling to do the best they can with the talent that they have to work with and yet all the rest of the community can talk about is, “Remember when we had all those years of state qualifying teams?  Yep.  Those were the good ol’ days.”  It was disheartening to say the least.  The new temple reflected their new reality.  People were giving up hope.  Into this discouragement and hopelessness, the word of the Lord comes again through the prophet Haggai. 


The Lord acknowledges how the people are feeling.  The people are right in thinking that the temple will not compare to that in the past.  God knows their struggles.  God understands their hopelessness.  But into that hopelessness, God encourages the people to look into the future.  Look beyond what they can see with their eyes.  It is not how magnificent the temple is that really matters.  What matters is what the temple represents.  The temple represents that God is present with the people with where they are at. 


God is present in the messiness of their lives as they try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.  God is present with the people as they struggle to rebuild, not only the temple, but also some sense of normalcy.  For the people to achieve some sense of normalcy, they need to be reminded of God’s presence among them.  One of those reminders that God is among them is the temple.  So, get to building.  The splendor of the temple is not the precious metals and stones that are put into the building.  God is what gives the temple its splendor and majesty, not the materials.  Without God, the temple is just another structure.  It is not about what we can build or the work we do.  It is about the work that God can do through us that brings glory to God. 


It is easy in the church to get caught up in that nostalgia of “remember when.”  Remember when our pews and Sunday school rooms were filled?  Remember when we used to have to set up chairs for the Christmas Eve service?  Remember when our choir loft was filled?  I have to admit that even I am guilty of it.  Remember when I first came, we rarely had less than 100 in worship?  The problem with “remember when” is that we get stuck.  We are so busy mourning what is past that we do not imagine what can be in the future which means we do not put the energy into today. 


The other problem with “remember when” is that we do not stop to recognize what we have today.  We do not celebrate what we have right now.  Sure, we do not have the numbers in worship that we had twenty years ago.  But look at what we do have.  We had 9 baptisms in this church last year.  We have the reassuring sounds of young children in our worship.  We have young families who have experienced welcome here and want to be a part of our church family.  We have new life.  Sure, the new life will not be like the old life.  But that is ok.  We have new life.  That …that is something to celebrate. 


There is hope for the future.  But the hope of the future is not about us.  It is not about the numbers of baptisms or young people we have in our church.  The hope of the future is about what God can and will do through us.  It is not about what we put into this church, but rather the love and grace that God can bring out of this church by working through its members.  Hope is about forging on knowing that God is in the midst of the struggles and challenges.  Hope is about going about the work of the church even knowing that we will never be like we were “when,” but envisioning that God can and will do even grander things in the future. 


Today is stewardship Sunday.  It is a reminder to us here in the Church that the work and worship of the church goes beyond these four walls.  The work and worship of the Church is to care for God’s created, and to share the blessings of God with others.  Stewardship is about - remember when God reached out to us in love and grace.  Stewardship is about remember when God comforted us …remembering when God struggled with us. 


Stewardship is about remembering the past but not living in the past.  Stewardship is about remembering the past where our faith traditions came from and then putting our faith in action.  Stewardship is about envisioning a future of hope and then going to work to help bring that hope to reality. 


Remember when… When we put our foolish pride aside and put our faith in action allowing God to work through us, as a church and as individuals, it is then that we can look back, remembering when, with no regrets.  Amen.