It’s All Gift

Rev. Brady Finnern   9/9/2013

Rev. Brady Finnern is the Senior Pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in Sartell, MN

I love receiving gifts.  As a child I once opened all my Christmas gifts that were hidden deep in our cellar in early December mainly because I couldn’t wait until Christmas day. 

So while I had the joy of receiving the newest and greatest product on the market, I also missed out on the fact that opening them with my family and knowing people cared enough to think about a special gift for me.  

When I was at Seminary, chapel was offered every day.  One morning between classes I was walking past the chapel on my way to a cram study session, fully intent on skipping chapel.  I had grown up with the assumption that to go to church, Bible study, or any church event meant it had to be worth my time. 

If the sermon, music, and friendliness of the people lined up to my liking, it was worth it.  If the pastor, musicians, and people were not up to par, I would not go unless required.  In this instance I felt studying for twenty minutes was a more worthy endeavor than worship.

I was trying to slip past the chapel unnoticed, but a professor was walking purposefully in my direction.  When I addressed him with a soft hello, he gently pointed his finger at the chapel and said, “God has gifts to give.”  I remember walking toward the library and feeling strangely guilty but forgiven.  Most of the time I would see people point a finger at those who skipped worship with statements like, “You should be in church!” or “Where are you going that would be better than being in worship?”  However this professor said it was a gift? 

Everything in life has a cost.  It costs to obtain the newest clothing style, drink mocha lattes, have the right friends, and to buy the newest gadgets and technology.  Not only does it deplete a significant amount of resources and energy, it also causes a lot of stress: the stress of other people’s expectations, the stress over your future, and the stress of identity. 

But when you receive the gifts of God it is completely free! And on top of that, God provides His peace (Ephesians 2:8-9)(John 20:19), and that’s free too!  In faith, you have been given the free gift of Jesus Christ.  That means that everything that’s associated with Him is also gift, including reading the living and active Word of God (Hebrews 4:12), receiving the gifts in worship, receiving the words of forgiveness, receiving communion, and doing the simple act of praying.  These gifts are for you so that you are strengthened by Him throughout your life.

After my professor directed me to the gifts of God, I must confess that I ended up STILL skipping chapel.  Whoops!  But I realize that there is nothing more worthy for all of us than being in God’s house.  So, come!  Open the Scritpures.  Pray to the Lord.  He has promised to hear and answer, and most importantly, He has gifts to give.

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