Thursday, October 29, 2015

Framed Thanksgiving

by Dr. James R. Brooks, Lead Minister

What is in a frame?  

I invite you to survey the frames in your home and or workplace.  What do you place in picture frames?  

In my church office, you would find framed items from my ministry.  Such as diplomas, ordination certificate, from churches I've served, including the bulletin from my first sermon.  Some awards I've been blessed to receive are framed.  One wall is given to a print of Matthias Grünewald's depiction
Jamesof the crucifixion.  A wonderful piece created by my son joins a collection of family pictures. 

You will not find framed regret.  Is this so of your framed items.  Bittersweet are the images of loved ones lost.  
I could not find a frame that held regret, or shame, or guilt, or sadness.

I believe God prefers it that way.  To frame regret or guilt or the others could be to frustrate the work of forgiveness and reconciliation.  Besides, what interior decorator would approve of us framing the links of Jacob Marley's chain (from A Christmas Carol).

How bright God's smile at the items you have framed.  Items of hope and love and joy and peace.  From the frame, these items witness to us of God's glory and grace.

Framing these items reminds us of God's blessings.  The framing provides the opportunity to share the witness with others.  I image there is at least one frame ready to help you tell others about your experience of Jesus.  Telling a grandchild of the joy when you had their parent as a baby?  Sharing with a co-worker how blessed you were the day you married your spouse?  What story would you tell?

What is in a frame?  Our Thanksgivings made real before our eyes.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Power of Your Voice

by Dr. James R. Brooks

What is the power of your voice?

More than you may know, thus be thoughtful in your speech.

We may ask, what difference do the words of a stranger make upon the lives of others?  or our own?

It is a 40 minute drive from my house to the wedding reception for the amazing couple.  Earlier in the afternoon, my son and I were at the wedding.  I had the honor to participate in the martial ceremony.  This couple and their families are dear to us. 

My arrival late is a distress to me.  Distressed am I to dare disappoint any to whom I have given my word of arrival.  Distressed due to the drama of the events of my leaving the launching point of my journey.  All driven to a point when I arrive at the gate to the parking lot where $20 is demanded of me to rest my car in a space.

Honestly, I was thankful that I had four $5 to hand over.  I would not have to search for an ATM.  I had enough to pay the bill.  Honestly, I was thankful and willing to hand it over as I stuck it out my hand to the attendant.

Was it the wedding gift she noticed on the passenger seat?  She asked if I arrived for the wedding.  Did she see the distress on my face?  Her hand reached out for the requisite monetary deposit.  

I nodded “yes” and verbalized the same.  I was there for a wedding.  With a smile of one bending the rules, she waved me in and withdrew her hand.  My car came to rest in a space with the four $5s still in my hand.

With a pause, I gave thanks to God for this blessing that brought joy into my world.  A world that had been beaten with chaos and controversy.  

A joyful moment that I spent with my saviour, Jesus Christ.

I thank my friend Amy for the reminder.  Blessings have been on my mind this week.  

More than once this week have I felt such blessings upon my life.  Especially in the face of the thorns of a chaotic and broken world.  These other stories are seemingly too tender to tell today.

What difference does your voice make in the life of a stranger?  My story may sound trite.  I assure you that it is nothing of the kind.  The power of the moment I shared transformed me.  It saved me from chagrin and collapse.

Your voice has power.  You can chose to witness to the love of Jesus Christ.  You can choose to change the life of another with your word and your deed.