Give it Away!

 

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Meditation on 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Nov. 19, 2017

Merritt Island Presbyterian Church

   “6 The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  8And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 9As it is written, ‘He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.’  10He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. 13Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, 14while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you.  15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 

 

***

 

We had a great crowd for our annual Thanksgiving dinner last Sunday! Our church family filled up the fellowship hall.

 

We enjoyed one another’s company and ate delicious food. Thank you to all who came and brought side dishes and desserts that made our meal truly a feast! Many thanks to our Fellowship committee and others who generously gave of themselves, laboring Saturday and Sunday to set up, prepare the main dishes, serve, wash dishes and clean up. When Jim and I left after Praise Band rehearsal Sunday night–the lights were still on in the fellowship hall kitchen. The workers’ cars were still parked outside.

Then on Friday, Tammy and Robyn, our preschool director and her assistant, and Pat, our elder who serves the preschool, got up before dawn to prepare for the preschool’s Thanksgiving dinner. Carl got up early, too, and came to help cook, serve and clean up.

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The program for families started at 11 with 3, 4 and 5 year olds parading in, wearing paper bag costumes they had made that morning.

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They lined up on the stage and sang to the tune of Frere Jacques: “Mr. Turkey. Mr. Turkey. Big and Fat. Big and Fat. I am going to eat you. I am going to eat you. Just like that! Just like that!”

 

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And they sang, “Count your blessings, name then one by one…” They led us in a prayer of thanksgiving.

Then it was time to eat and fellowship with one another. Parents and grandparents told me they hadn’t expected such an event–so elaborate a meal, so large a gathering, so sweet a program. I think they hadn’t expected the generosity of spirit.  Many times in the day, Tammy said, she was so filled with love and joy, she fought back tears. “It was an amazing blessing from God,” she said.

 

The funny thing was that Pat, Tammy and Robyn worried that they wouldn’t have enough food. When the dinner was over, the serving tables were still loaded with food, and there was more in the oven! So they decided to give the remaining food to Ambassador Christian Academy. This is the K-12 charter school for students with special needs with whom we share our facilities and grounds.

Pat sent me a note to tell me what happened when they invited ACA:

“First the football players came and heaped their plates with food.  When they were finished, they folded all the chairs, put them in the Annex and thanked us for the food.  The teacher told us that, for many of these children, this will be the only Thanksgiving meal they will have.  After the football team, the teachers invited different groups to come and fix a plate of food.  They were all so polite and thanked us for the food.”

When everyone had eaten, there was still a lot of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, rolls, macaroni and cheese, and pies! So they gave it to the school to freeze and serve to the students later.

“ Many of these children do not have food and are hungry,” Pat said. “… Tammy, Robyn and I felt so good about sharing our food.  What a wonderful shared experience that was for the 2 schools. …. Sometimes we are so anxious to help others, but forget the need right in our own backyard!”

I was so happy and proud that Robyn, Tammy and Pat had shared our abundance with students and staff of ACA–and brought them joy and nourishment. Although I wasn’t there to hear what ACA’s administrator said about the preschool sharing their feast with them, I know Joy well enough to guess.

“Praise God!” she’d say of the gift of love and grace and the faith that stirred us to give. “Thank you, Lord!”

Then she’d look for a way to pass it on.

***

Our epistle lesson in 2 Corinthians today is also a thanksgiving celebration, with the promise that the harvest is rich for those who sow bountifully. Sow sparingly and you will reap sparingly. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

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If you don’t plant, what’s going to grow in your garden? Anything of value? Just weeds. In the apostle Paul’s agriculturally-based society, the sight of sowers, scattering seeds by hand is commonplace. “Ahh,” they would say at this analogy, nodding their heads. This passage brings to mind Jesus sending out his disciples to minister in his name, to sow seeds and make disciples. Jesus says in Matthew 9:37, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out more laborers in the harvest.”

Paul’s reference to sowing seeds is in a different context, but with the same desired outcome of building the Kingdom! His sowing seeds is providing financial support to help other brothers and sisters in the faith do ministry. He is inviting the relatively wealthy (mostly Gentile) Corinthian church to help the Mother Church–Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, struggling with poverty and persecution.

Will the Gentile Christians be anxious to give to the Jewish Christians? That’s a good question. For Gentile Christians were not always accepted by Jewish Christians in the 1st Century Church. They lived in separate communities and had a long history of animosity toward each other. So Paul has a challenge–not only because he is asking for money and it’s human nature to want to hold onto our worldly wealth and want to accumulate more, but because he is asking Gentiles to give money to Jews.

Other challenges for this fundraising campaign include the problem of the Corinthians’ wealth. It could actually get in the way of their giving! Just because a congregation has money doesn’t mean they will give more to the poor than a church with less. Generosity comes from faith in a generous and gracious God. Generosity is a fruit of the Spirit, Paul says in Galatians 5:22, a gift from God, he says in Romans 12:8.

God’s grace is evident in the generosity of the Macedonian churches, he says in 2 Cor. 8, who were not wealthy, but gave as if they were. They gave, in spite of “severe affliction,” “their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity…For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry of the saints…”

Paul anticipates resistance to his invitation for the Corinthians to give to another church. He uses Scripture–Proverbs and other Wisdom books–to support his argument. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind,” he says in verse 7, “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” He argues for the benefits of giving for the giver. While we usually interpret these as spiritual blessings, such as peace and faith, Paul doesn’t rule out material blessings. But everything we have, we must be willing to share. For it has been given to us to bring glory to God and to grow the Kingdom. He says in verses 8-11: And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousnessYou will be enriched in every way, ” he goes on in verse 11, “for your great generosity.”

What strikes me in this stewardship passage is Paul’s emphasis on the unity of the Body of Christ, expressed in our prayers for one another, our longing and love for one another, and our willingness to share our resources for the sake of the gospel. Giving generously to help the faithful is not just a nice thing to do, an act of compassion; it is an act of worship, and emerges from our relationship with the Lord. Giving generously brings glory to God and produces “thanksgiving to God through us.”

For whenever Christians receive a precious gift, we recognize that Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) We know God uses friends, family, neighbors, and strangers to be vessels of blessings, instruments of God’s grace and love. And what do the faithful say when something wonderful happens?

“Praise God!” and, “Thank you, Lord!”

***

On Saturday, more saints gathered at our church to labor for the Lord. They cleaned and painted our fellowship hall.

 

They gave generously of themselves, without expecting anything in return. They gave because they love their church! And they want to welcome the world to come inside, come and experience friendship. Come and experience the love and grace of our Lord! For we have been blessed by the indescribable gift of God. And we want to pass it on!

The Kids Klub say it best in their Christmas Program, when they sing, “Give it away, for Christ has come. Give it away, joy for ev’ryone! Love came down for all, peace for great and small…. God gave his son, Hope for eve’ryone. We cannot keep it quiet anymore. We’ve gotta give it away!”

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Let us pray.

 

Holy One, we thank you for your love and grace and your indescribable gift to us–salvation through belief on your Son. We thank you for calling us to minister for you and providing us with opportunities to give generously from the many blessings you have given us. Help us, Lord, to let go of worldly cares and belongings and trust you–that you will supply all our needs and that we will always have enough of everything. Build up our faith so that we won’t hesitate to share abundantly in every good work–to scatter abroad and give to the poor, for your righteousness will endure forever. Make us cheerful givers! Produce in us the joy of thanksgiving. May we always sing your praises and give you thanks for every good and perfect gift that comes from above. In Christ we pray. Amen.

“Oil for My Lamp”

Meditation on Matthew 25:1-13

Nov. 12, 2017

Merritt Island Presbyterian Church

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“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” 7Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” 9But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.”  10And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.  11Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us.” 12But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.”13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

***

Last Thursday night, about 15 of us gathered to make angels or Christmas trees out of our old hymnals.

Pat Smith and other volunteers had done the same craft recently with our elementary Kids Klub. I guess they figured if the kids could do it, maybe the adults could, too! We had fun, folding and folding pages.

Talking and laughing. Here’s what they look like after Pat has put on the finishing touches.

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The best part of the craft was being with my sisters and brothers in the Lord. We are friends, but not just friends. We are family!

That’s what Pastor Frank Pomeroy’s wife, Sherri, said about their congregation– First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. She spoke on Monday, a day after a 26-year-old man walked into their worship service and opened fire, shouting, “You’re gonna die.”

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Grandparents and mothers threw themselves on top of grandchildren and children, attempting to shield them from the bullets of Devin Kelley’s assault rifle. He killed 26 people, including a pregnant woman with her unborn child. Twenty others were injured.

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Frank and Sherri’s 14-year old daughter, Annabelle, was among the fatalities.

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Later, people in the church would recall seeing the shooter, dressed all in black, at their fall festival a few days before. Some thought it was a good sign that he was attending the festival; maybe his heart was softening toward the church. He professed to be an atheist, posting rants on Facebook, calling Christians, “stupid.”

On Monday, an emotional Sherri spoke to the media as Frank stood beside her. She thanked family, friends and “complete strangers” for the outpouring of love.

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She said that they had turned down reporters’ invitations to speak about their daughter, celebrate her life. She didn’t want their loss to overshadow the losses of others. “We lost more than Belle that day. The one thing that gives me a sliver of encouragement is that Belle was surrounded by her church family that she loved fiercely–and vice versa. Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners. We were a close family. We ate together, we laughed together, we cried together and we worshiped together.

“Now most of our church family is gone. Our building is probably beyond repair. And the few of us that are left behind lost tragically yesterday. As senseless as this tragedy was, our sweet Belle would not have been able to deal with losing so much family yesterday.”

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After the shooting, I received an email from our executive presbyter, Dan Williams, with the subject line, “Church violence resources.” “We all were shocked, saddened, and grieved by another senseless act of violence within our nation this past Sunday, with the tragic mass shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas,” he says.  This followed a shooting at a church in Tennessee this past summer,

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and the one in Charleston, SC, over two years ago.

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These circumstances may be causing you to assess what can be done to guard against such events within your congregation.” “If anything,” he goes on, “these recent events remind us of the unpredictable nature of life, and the need to be prepared for any possibility.  I urge all of our congregations to look into the issue of church security, and make plans now for how to deal with possible threats.  Hopefully, such plans will never have to be used.  But, it is better to be prepared than not.”

I didn’t need to look at the resources to know we are not prepared for what the church in Sutherland Springs experienced. “No place is safe,” I remember thinking. “Not even our house of worship.” I felt sad and a little afraid. I didn’t know it, but I needed more oil for my lamp.

***

Our gospel today is a passage from a long section on preparedness–how we should live as we wait for Jesus to come again. As chapter 24 opens, Jesus teaches his disciples privately on the Mount of Olives, telling them that the Temple will be destroyed. They ask him when this will happen and what will be the signs of his return– and the end of the age. Wars and violence, Jesus says, nation rising against nation, famines and earthquakes, the rise of false prophets and false messiahs. People will hate his followers because of him. “The one who remains faithful to the end,” he says, “will be saved.” Then he tells 3 parables about the Kingdom, encouraging hopeful, faithful working, watching and waiting. For God alone knows the day of Christ’s return.

The first parable is the faithful and unfaithful slave, put in charge of the household while the master goes away. “Blessed is the slave,” Jesus says, “whom his master will find at work when he arrives.” (24:46) The parable of the talents follows today’s passage; the servants who have been good stewards of the master’s wealth will be rewarded.

The section of preparedness leads to Jesus speaking of his return in glory, when the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Those who lived lives of compassion, mercy and generosity–feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison, and welcoming the stranger–will receive an eternal reward. “Truly I tell you,” the king will say, “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Today’s reading is the parable of the 10 “bridesmaids,” or more literally “10 virgins” — young, unmarried women. Calling them “bridesmaids” presumes that ancient Jewish wedding customs are the same as ours today, but they aren’t. The unmarried women’s role is to escort the bridegroom in a procession to his house for the wedding feast. They don’t attend the ceremony and the proceedings where the families work out the financial settlement before the wedding. There is an unexpected delay. All of the women fall asleep with their lamps, which burn maybe 15 minutes without needing more oil. Both the wise and the foolish women fall asleep.

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The wise have collected oil in jars to refill their lamps. They aren’t going to miss the wedding feast, the high point of the celebration!

Much of the preaching on this passage focuses on the foolish women, who don’t have oil to relight their lamps when they awake to a shout in the middle of the night. The bridegroom has arrived! But no one would have needed oil for lamps if the bridegroom hadn’t arrived till morning. Those who were “foolish” may just have assumed that since it was so late, he wouldn’t come till the next day.

But there were just as many wise women as foolish.

The wise were ready with just enough oil for the journey, no more, no less. They weren’t being mean in not sharing their oil. Everyone has to have their own oil for their own lamp or they cannot make the journey in the dark. Those who wait until the oil has run out and try to get some at the last minute, arrive too late at the banquet–and are barred from entry.

So what does this parable mean for us? The bridegroom is Jesus, who will return for His Church, His Bride, who, incidentally, isn’t mentioned in this story. The wedding feast is the great celebration with Christ’s return at the end of the age, when the Church comes from east and west and north and south to sit at table in the Kingdom of God.

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And what is the oil? Theologians don’t all agree. I feel certain that the oil is our faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ–in his sacrifice for our sakes. This is what leads us to live righteously, mercifully, peacefully, and compassionately. The Lord responds to the foolish women, who didn’t have the oil of faith, “Truly, I don’t know you.” This brings to mind Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God …”

Faith leads us into relationship with Christ; we want to know Him, His Word and His will so that we might obey and be pleasing to Him.

And where does our faith originate? Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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Jesus provides the oil for our lamps. When we seek to follow him, he gives us more and more! Jesus, the light of the world, illumines our way.

***

Since the shootings last Sunday, I have been thinking about and praying for the little Baptist church. Working as a religion journalist taught me that this kind of pain may be too much for a congregation to bear. It will be hard for them to carry on.

Pastor Frank said he wouldn’t go back to the building. The structure will become a memorial to those who died. Here are some of them.

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Frank said he would lead worship for the remnant on a baseball field. He hopes they will be able to build a new church on another property someday.

I urge you to pray for this little church, our brothers and sisters, though they are already “old news.” Live each day as the Master’s faithful stewards. Seek to build up and not tear down. Don’t take your congregation for granted. Treasure these precious moments we share in worship and fellowship. Every day, we draw nearer to the heavenly banquet. But our Bridegroom walks beside us–guiding and strengthening us through these dark days.

And he is coming soon, though God alone knows when.

Keep your lamp brightly burning. Don’t let your oil run out!

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Trust the source to give you more and more faith!

Jesus, the light of the world, will illumine our way.

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Let us pray.

Holy One, we thank you for your gift of faith–that we hope in the promise of your unconditional love, forgiveness and eternal life through your Son. Thank you for our family of faith–for the love we have for one another and for this place of worship you have provided for us. Help us to be more grateful for what we have and never take our congregation for granted. And we ask that you would help the little church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, find a new home. We pray that the church would go on and grow larger and stronger than before. We ask for comfort and healing for all who lost loved ones in the shootings last Sunday. Let us all feel your loving presence throughout this journey until we are together at the heavenly wedding feast, when all tears and pain have passed away. Until then, give us oil in our lamps. Keep us burning brightly so that all the world may come to know you. In His name we pray. Amen.

Children of God!

 

Meditation on 1 John 3:1-3

All Saints’ Sunday

Merritt Island Presbyterian Church

Nov. 5, 2017

 

     See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

***

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Nicholas Winton was a 29-year-old stockbroker in London , preparing for a ski vacation in Dec. 1938, when he got a call from his friend, Martin Blake. Would he come, instead, to Prague and help him assist refugees? Blake was an associate of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia. The committee was established in October 1938 to provide assistance for refugees created by the German annexation of the Sudetenland.

Winton was born in 1909 to parents of German Jewish ancestry who had moved to West Hampstead, England. They converted to Christianity and had Winton baptized in the Anglican Church as an infant. Winton wasn’t a particularly religious or altruistic person back then; he earned a good living as a stockbroker. He was a bachelor who loved to sail, ski, and travel. He was a champion fencer who hoped to compete in the next Olympics; then they were canceled because of war.

Here is a photo of Winton with his brother and sister:

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But he did give up his vacation to go to Prague to visit his friend. He went to the refugee camps, filled to capacity with Jews and political opponents of Hitler. It was winter–frigid and snowy.  Conditions were horrible. Refugees huddled in makeshift tents, with nowhere else to go. Winton saw a map that shook him up; it showed the Germans’ ambition to take over the whole of Europe.

Jewish people living in Prague heard about Winton, the English friend of Blake’s, and the British Committee for Refugees in Czechoslovakia. They started knocking at his hotel room door, pleading for help. Winton decided that he could at least try and save the children. His motto was “If it isn’t blatantly impossible, there must be a way of doing it.”

He wrote letters all over the world, asking for safe haven for the children. He wrote to President Roosevelt, but received a reply from an embassy official: “the United States government … is unable to permit immigration in excess of existing immigration laws.” That didn’t stop Winton from taking applications for thousands of children. Finally, Sweden said yes to 25 children, who flew with a Swedish spy posing as a member of the Red Cross. Then Winton got a call from his boss, demanding that he return to his stockbroker job in England. He was a “money chap, not a humanitarian,” Winton would say many years later. “He had bags of money and all he thought about was money.”

Winton defied his boss and continued his work for the refugees. England would eventually say yes, so he returned to London to find foster families for each child so they could come into the country. He would also need to provide a guarantor of 50 pounds for every child. He wrote more letters to families on unauthorized stationery printed with  “The British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia, Children’s Section” and named himself “Honorary Secretary.” He sent cards with photos of children from which parents could choose the one they wanted. His plan worked.

He found British families for 669 children. Most of their parents would later die in concentration camps.

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Another 250 children, scheduled to leave Prague by train on September 1, 1939, were unable to depart. Hitler had invaded Poland and the Second World War had begun. All but 2 of the 250 children would die.

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It troubled Winton that he was not able to save all of the children whose parents had come to him for help. He would have been able to help at least 2,000 more, he said, if only the U.S. had allowed them to come.  This is the White House in Dec. 1938.

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They weren’t his children. They were strangers. But their lives were valuable. They shared the same Creator. They were children of God.

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***

 

As we are children of God, the writer of I John tells us. We are not only children, but “little children,” he says affectionately. Today’s passage begins with an exclamation of joy for the amazing gift from God. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” With this gift, is the expression of God’s love. God’s love makes us his children. We are chosen by God to receive his love, to be God’s “beloved” as we read in 1:7, 4:1, 7 and 11. But we can also interpret this to mean the gift itself is God’s love so that we may “abide in him” (2:28) and love as Jesus loved, striving “to walk just as he walked” (2:5). First John commands us to love one another and to love, as 3:18 says, “not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”

This early Christian community to which the author of 1 John writes is experiencing persecution, the cause of which is that the world doesn’t know Jesus. (1 John 3:1). The letter also speaks against false teachers who claim to have a special fellowship and knowledge of God. They believe they are sinless, addressed in 1:8: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” They don’t believe Jesus is the Christ or the Son of God (2:22; 5:1, 5) or that Christ has come in the flesh (4:2). Christ’s death has no significance for them. For if they believe they are without sin, they also believe they have no need for God’s forgiveness or Christ’s atonement for sin.

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First John offers a challenge to the “children of God.” Are we bearing the fruits of righteousness? “Children of God” do not conform to “the world.” They seek to imitate the Lord, choosing to do what is loving, what is right. What a huge, moral challenge this is for us–to do the right and loving thing in a world that scorns sacrifice, generosity and humility. But Christ urges us to imitate God’s mercy. He says in Luke 6:35-36: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

First John promises our transformation into Christ’s likeness but also that we are already changed and changing. Our transformation will be complete when Christ returns for His Church. First John 3:2 says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.”

***

Jim and I watched, “Nicky’s Family,” this week; the documentary was made by one of the 669 children that Winton rescued.

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It wasn’t until about 50 years after the war that some of the surviving children learned about Winton and how they managed to escape. Winton didn’t even tell his wife the full story until one day, in the 1980s, when she found a scrapbook in their attic with all the children’s names and photos and newspaper clippings from the time.

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Winton’s answer to his wife’s questions was that we should forget the past–and keep looking to the future, seeking to do good for others.

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The scrapbook eventually made it into the hands of the producers of a BBC TV program, “That’s Life” in 1988. Winton didn’t know that the people surrounding him in the studio audience were among the children he had helped escape the Nazis in 1939. At one point in the program, the presenter asks, “Is there anyone in our audience tonight who owes their life to Nicholas Winton? If so, could you stand up please?” Dozens of people beside and in back of him stand. Winton turns in amazement and silently wipes away tears in both eyes.

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Since then, hundreds of survivors have come forward to share their inspiring stories. Among the children he saved are filmmakers, poets, pediatric geneticists, physicists, journalists and authors, pastors and rabbis, mathematicians and a British Labour Party Politician and former member of Parliament. Nicky lived to see thousands of descendants of the children he saved. More than 370 survivors have never been traced. They still may not know the full story.

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The documentary features Winton sharing his story with schoolchildren in his quiet, unassuming way, using self-deprecating humor. They listen intently and laugh at his jokes. Some will later be inspired to acts of love and kindness, shown at the end of the film.

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After the war, Winton worked for an international refugee organization and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Paris. He got married, and he and his wife, Grete, raised 3 children.

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Robin, their youngest, had Down Syndrome. He died from meningitis the day before his 6th birthday. This affected Winton greatly, so he founded an organization that helped  people with learning disabilities and their caregivers and families. He also established homes for the elderly in Britain. Later in life, the quiet, unassuming man received a great deal of attention because of his decision to forgo a skiing vacation and help Jewish children escape the Nazis.

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He was knighted in 2003.

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He received the order of the White Lion from the Czech government.

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The Czech government also named an elementary school for him and nominated him for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

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Czech astronomers named a minor planet for him.  Statues of Winton and the rescued children stand in Liverpool Street Station in London where the Kindertransport children arrived.

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Another statue of Winton stands in Maidenhead and at a railway station in Prague, commemorating the last Kindertransport train.

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Winton died at the age of 106 on July 1, 2015, 76 years to the day since 241 of the children he saved left a railway station in Prague on a train.

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It troubled Winton to the end of his life that he was not able to rescue another 2,000 Jewish children whose parents sought his help.If only the U.S. and other nations had welcomed the strangers in need and had valued the life of every person.

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As he always said, “If it is not blatantly impossible, there must be a way of doing it.”

For we share the same Creator. We are ALL children of God!

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Let us pray.

Holy One, we give thanks for all the saints who have served you throughout their lives, and set a good example for us. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Help us, Lord to always seek to do good, to do what is right and loving, even when others do not agree. Thank you for calling us your children, your beloved, and giving us your love so that we may share it. We look forward to that day when our transformation is complete–when what we will be is finally revealed, when we see you face to face. Guide us in your will until that day. Grant us vision to see the world through your eyes so that everyone to us is your precious child, someone you love. In Christ we pray. Amen.