This Sunday at Holland's UMC Print E-mail



Dear Holland's Family,

Grace and peace from Him who is, who was, and who is to come, even the Lord of the Harvest!

Our summer sermon series, Summer School: Lessons from Levi, began this past Sunday with a look at Jesus' parable regarding the great sower of seeds.  In that sermon we were able to give some focus to the recent mission team deployed from Holland's to El Salvador and our work with the Evangelical Methodist Church in that country.   During the 8:30 service we commissioned our second Appalachia Service Project team of the summer and sent them off to Spruce Pine, NC.  They have arrived safely and are doing important work among some people in great need of help.  Pray for all of them, missioners and families served.  Our team will return home on Saturday.

I love the part of the world in which I am privileged to live - The Old North State.  Do you remember our state toast?

            Here's to the land of the long leaf pine,

            The summer land where the sun doth shine.

            Where the weak grow strong, and the strong grow great.

            Here's to down home, the Old North State.

You also might recall the tune that was used to promote NC tourism a few years ago.  It ends with these words: Lord, it's just like living in a poem, I like calling North Carolina home.

I do love this part of God's world, and don't expect, in this life, to ever again move beyond the bounds of my home state. However, as we begin to think about this coming Sunday at Holland's, I want to share with you a story about another of my favorite states.  I have even said in the past that if I didn't live in NC, the state on which I'm about to comment would be high on my list of places to settle.

The former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist was born in Shorewood, Wisconsin.  After law school, his first practice was in Phoenix, Arizona,  While he was there he heard this story which pretty much sums up life there.

In the early days of the settlement of Arizona, the Archbishop of Los Angeles sent a missionary out to Phoenix to try to establish a church.  After two years, the priest returned to tell the archbishop that he could not establish a congregation in Phoenix.

"Why is that so?" asked the Bishop.  "Are there no people there?"

"Well, yes, there are people there," said the priest.  "But those who live there during the winter have no need of heaven, and those who live in Arizona in the summer have no fear of hell."

Foremost on the "spiritual mind" of some people is the question of heaven and hell.  Indeed, a movie that is garnering much attention these days is Heaven is for Real.  Our preaching text this coming Sunday, Matthew 13:24-30, speaks indirectly, if not directly to the issue of heaven and hell.  The sermon is entitled Harvest of Grace.

In this parable Jesus continues his teaching from last week's text (Matthew 13:1-9).  The Master Story Teller tells us of the wheat and the weeds (tares).  As you read this parable you will notice that the Lord's prescription on dealing with evil in this world is pretty simple.  Jesus says, don't be overly anxious over what is perceived as evil.  Just know that the Lord of the Harvest will do His work in due course.  This is not to suggest that we should not be aware of, or apathetic toward, evil.  After all, the farmer in the story knew there were tares growing amongst the wheat.  Likewise, we know there is evil in the world and we should be seeking ways to deal with it as best we can.

What really intrigues me about this text is that the tares are scattered throughout the wheat field.  I'm wondering if those of us who imagine that we represent the good wheat in this story might also have few (or more) tares growing in our lives.  If so, aren't we thrilled that the Master Harvester will do the threshing when the time for such arrives?  We'll consider that more in worship this weekend.

I hope to see you on Sunday for our weekly celebration of God's grace!


Pastor Gary