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  • Pastor Linda Settles

Faith that Builds

Theme for 2023: Faith Forward – The Year of Extraordinary Faith!


Does anyone remember the square wooden blocks with the ABC’s and numbers printed on them? They would entertain me for hours! Not only could I make shapes out of them, but they helped me to recognize my letters and numbers. I also loved Legos. They were blocks too, but blocks that connected to each other. Legos allow you to make endless shapes from simple houses to starships.


Building blocks open up a world of imagination for children. But they’re also a spiritual illustration of how our Christian journey should be.


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Matthew 5:9


Look at the various areas of your life and see if you have laid down building blocks of peace. Are you building a peaceful home life? Does your family love to be around you or do they step lightly so that they don’t wake the angry giant? Are you laying building blocks that create a peaceful atmosphere on your job, the charities you volunteer with, the friends you associate with, and the church you attend?


Jesus calls us to be peacemakers. In fact, He has given us a ministry – the ministry of reconciliation! I know, we’d rather have a glamorous gift that draws folks to us. We dream of singing like an opera star or preaching like Billy Graham, but that’s not our lot. We are called to a different task. We are to look past the frailties of humanity and see the new creation Christ has made.


From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we no longer know him in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; look, new things have come into being! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ: be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:16-20


I’m so thankful that God didn’t hold my trespasses against me! So why do we so often do that to others? We are quick to point out the speck in others’ eyes, but we ignore that big old log blocking our eyes. But church, Jesus has given all of us a gift. We don’t have to live that way anymore. If we’re in Christ, we are new creatures. But not just us, those with whom we disagree, too! Have you ever thought that your enemy, your archnemesis, the one who gets on your last nerve, loves the Lord, too?


So get your building blocks out, put your thinking cap on, and open up your heart to new ways of being in relationship with others. God has entrusted us with this ministry, and if we would take it seriously, it would change the world! Block by block, person by person, heart to heart, if we would use our faith to build bridges rather than barriers, imagine the kind of world this would be. Perhaps the kind of world that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed about…


I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.


I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Friends, we have the ability to drive out hatred, racism, injustice, and every type of oppression. Our faith gives us building blocks so that we can bridge the gap between us and our neighbors, even our enemies. Blocks of love, joy, peace, humility, and so many others. Blocks that will build others up and not tear them down. Blocks to build bridges of justice and righteousness so that all are welcome at the table. Then we will all be…


…fellow citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone; 21 in him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually

into a dwelling place for God.

Ephesians 2:19-22


Ooo, I like the sound of that! Being a dwelling place for God. In other words, if we practice reconciliation, if we work for justice, be the peacemakers, truly pray for our enemies, God will dwell in the midst of us. Hallelujah! That’s a faith that builds and not breaks. A faith that moves us forward together, and a faith that cannot be shaken. So, practice with your Legos, then act with faith, building bridges of love and mercy along the way.


Join us for worship this Sunday, as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and as we continue our sermon series, based on our theme for the year - Faith Forward: The Year of Extraordinary Faith! This Sunday’s message is: Faith that Builds. You can worship in-person or you can also join us online at 10:00am. For online worship go to www.umcgt.org.


Bach Concert This Sunday, January 15 at 3:00pm. Come and hear this glorious concert of truly gifted musicians, and the amazing things that our new organ can do!


CDF Survey Thank you to everyone who completed a survey! Your voices matter and I am looking forward to receiving and sharing the results with you.


Leadership Training On January 28, from 10am to Noon, we will have a training session for those on the Leadership Board and the Nominations Team (NLDT). The training will be held at Union Memorial. If you are a member of either team, please RSVP your attendance.


WOW is Back! The Word on Wednesday Bible discussion came back with a bang as we discussed self-control. The class is structured so that you can drop in on any Wednesday. Each week a different Christian virtue will be discussed. We kick off with a time of fellowship and potluck dinner at 5:45p. If you have questions on the potluck, please contact G-Gay Harris. If you want to come for the Bible study only, that begins at 6:30p and ends at 7:30p. Let’s move our faith forward by studying the Word together!


Faith Forward Challenge How are you doing with it?


First 15 – use the first 15 minutes of each morning to engage in:


GRATITUDE 5 minutes being grateful


RENEWAL 5 minutes reading


WORSHIP 5 minutes in prayer and meditation


First Day – spend the first day of the week in worship


First Fruits – increase your generosity of time, talent, & treasure


What a way to start your year! In fact, we could start our meetings with First 15, start Sunday School with First 15…get it? Set the tone for the day or whatever the activity is, by spending the First 15 minutes with God. Then spend the first day of the week in the house of God with the people of God. And may I encourage you to consider God first, before we plan our time, talent, and giving elsewhere. When God is our priority, things begin to change! Moving forward in faith by putting our Faith First! Take the challenge!


Blessings,

Pastor Linda

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