Trick or Treat
“Trick or Treat!” A familiar phrase in this season, unless you’re the house that turns off the porch lights and doesn’t open the door! One of our neighbors goes all out (there’s always one!) with yard decorations, beautiful lights, & scary objects. Monday, October 31, marks one of the oldest traditions in the world, Halloween, or All Hallows Eve. It marks the day before All Saints Day.
People have varying views on Halloween, especially in some Christian circles. Some choose to ignore it altogether (porch light out), viewing it as a pagan holiday that celebrates the dead. Some go all out with “Bible costumes” such as Moses, angels, David with a slingshot…turning it into a general costume party of sorts. And some find themselves somewhere in-between the two. Churches have Trunk or Treat celebrations or Fall Festivals, so that children have a safe, non-scary place to have fun, and get candy! Ours was last weekend with close to 200 folks in attendance!
Now, let’s talk about the candy. I understand that a certain “trunk” gives away FULL-SIZE candy bars every year! Another car didn’t use their trunk, but you had to walk the plank to the treasure chest full of candy! And there was a talking head that moved from side to side, donuts on a string, Cookie Monster, I could go on and on. And then there was my trunk. With two scarecrows (from my yard) and some leaves (not from my yard). What was my theme? Fall, of course! Hey, I’ve got a year to do better. But it was great fun!
But there’s a candy debate going over the internet that concerns me. Candy corn – is it really candy or a sugary piece of wax? To some it’s a treat (I happen to like it with some peanuts) and to others it’s a trick and they want no parts of it. Don’t believe me? Listen to a child’s reaction when you give out Snickers vs candy corn. Trust me, it’s different.
But I’ve learned that occasionally what seems like a trick can actually be good for you. The prophet Jeremiah found that out the hard way. By now you’re wondering what in the world does candy corn have to do with Jeremiah, right? Stay with me.
Jeremiah, otherwise known as the Weeping Prophet, found himself in a scary situation. He was God’s prophet, the one who God had chosen before Jeremiah was even born:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah was destined to be a prophet of God. Handpicked by Yahweh. Consecrated as God’s messenger to God’s people. What an honor, what a blessing, what a “treat!”
Jeremiah did his job well. He told the people what thus saith the Lord everywhere God sent him. But the people continued to rebel against what God said, and they went their own way. Jeremiah continued to call them back to the Lord, but the people of God would not obey. Then it happened. What was an honor for Jeremiah became a reproach.
You tricked me, Lord, and I was really fooled.
You are stronger than I am, and you have defeated me.
People never stop sneering and insulting me. 8 You have let me announce only injustice and death.
Your message has brought me nothing but insults and trouble.
Jeremiah 20:7-8, CEV
This is some strong talk! But Jeremiah was facing people who wanted to shut him up and were willing to hurt him in order to do it. There are times when being faithful in ministry brings trouble to your door. It can cause you to question your call or to question the One who called you. What had been a treat for Jeremiah is now looking like it’s been a trick.
That’s when you talk to the Lord about it. What we have in Jeremiah 20 is one of Jeremiah’s laments to God. Yes, there were others. The practice of lament allows us to cry out to God about the trouble we’re having, while remembering that God has never left our side. And somewhere in the midst of your crying and wailing, you start to realize that what looks like it’s going to break you, is only going to make you stronger. So, what looks like a trick is a really a treat, a blessing. The Psalmist said it this way:
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. Psalm 119:71, NIV
In those times when you feel pressured because of your faith, that’s when you have to remind yourself of what God told Jeremiah:
For surely I know the plans I have for you,
says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm,
to give you a future with hope.
And don’t forget what the Apostle Paul wrote:
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Trust that God knows what God is doing. Insults will come, insults will go. We talked about the cell phone when it first came out and now we can’t live without it! Church, put your faith in Christ Jesus and He will see you through your tough times. And that’s no trick!
I look forward to being with you on Sunday at 10:00 am as we talk about Jeremiah and his Trick or Treat! If you cannot attend in-person (masks optional) our online worship is available at www.umcgt.org.
Consecration Sunday was glorious! Hats off to the Consecration Team: Tim Bennett, Dave Thorpe, Mary Johnson, Judi Hart, and Barry Streeter! We celebrated in worship, gave our pledge to the Lord, and fellowshipped over a delicious meal! To God be the glory. If you were not able to be in attendance last Sunday, you will receive a Consecration Card mailed to your home. Please return it to the church office at your earliest convenience. Thank you to the team for a fruitful time of worship!
History in the Making! Built in 1894, “African School No. 4” is the oldest surviving one-room schoolhouse for African Americans in Missouri. The building has been moved to Faust Park’s Historic Village, where it will be restored, furnished, and maintained. Green Trails Church is going to be a part of history in the making by helping to restore this 127 year old school! If you would like to be part of this historic event, I’ll have an informational meeting after church on 10/30. You can read more about it on the Parks website: https://www.stlcountyparksfoundation.org/schoolhouse.
Dondo Home Update on November 13, Rev. Wayne Lavender from the Foundation 4 Orphans, will be our guest speaker. Rev. Lavender will be fresh from Mozambique, and will update us on the Dondo Home and future plans for it.
Breakthrough Prayer We will end the daily request to pray at 11:24am at the end of October, however, I would encourage you to continue to pray daily for the church. Prayer is such a powerful way to move mountains in your life and the life of Green Trails!
Leadership Board Update will happen after church, this Sunday, October 30. Hear what the Leadership Board is working on.
Organ Update We will dedicate the new organ on November 20 in a glorious time of praise and worship! Thank you to all who donated and pledged. Remember, the deadline for fulfilling pledges is December 30.
Thank You! For all of the cards, emails, gifts, and well wishes for Pastor Appreciation Month! I am truly thankful to be among such a loving and compassionate community of faith. God bless you ALL!
I thank my God always when I mention you in my prayers…