Sunday, May 31, 2009

Praying with the Spirit


Romans 8:22-27

Charles Spurgeon wrote that "any fool can sing in the day. When the cup is full, a person draws inspiration from it." But what happens when night falls and the cup is empty? Spurgeon wrote that when he experienced the "bliss of spiritual liberty," he could climb near the throne of God and "sing as sweet as seraphs."

But confine me, fetter my spirit, clip my wings, make me exceedingly sad, so that I become like the old eagle -- ah! then it is hard to sing.

In fact, it’s unnatural to sing during times of trouble, except perhaps to sing the blues. But, as Spurgeon wrote: "songs in the night come only from God; they are not in human power."1

I. THE PROMISE OF PENTECOST

Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day on which we celebrate the promise, presence, and power of the Holy Spirit. It’s this Spirit who empowers us to sing even during the darkest of nights.

It was on the Day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit fell on an uncertain and powerless community. But, just as Jesus had promised, the Spirit of God transformed that body into a powerful witness to God's gracious love and healing presence. On that day God connected the church to the power of the resurrection. It’s as biblical scholar Beverly Gaventa writes: just as the resurrection is the “first fruits of God’s triumph, the Spirit is the ‘first fruits’ of the appropriation of that triumph by believers.”2 So, just as Jesus has risen from the dead, the Spirit comes to us as the sign of God’s triumph over death.

II. THE SPIRIT'S EMPOWERING PRESENCE

Our text this morning doesn’t speak of Pentecost, but the same Spirit that came powerfully upon the church that day is at work in our lives, empowering us and sustaining us, even in the darkest of moments. That is the message of Romans 8. As Spurgeon pointed out, prayer and song don't come naturally to us, especially when we suffer physical or emotional pain. As I hear these words of Paul, my mind and heart go to my friend, and former teaching assistant, Eric.

Eric is in his mid-30s, has a wife and kids. He’s a beloved youth pastor, and will do anything and everything for you. But now, a stage four cancer has taken hold in his abdomen and in his brain. Stricken by this cancer, he’s experiencing constant pain, and I expect that death is a likely possibility – though they’ve not yet given up hope. I am greatly saddened by this, but at the same time my faith is encouraged by the reports that I’ve been getting. Oh, he’s not getting any better, but despite all of this pain and suffering, he’s still singing praises to God and encouraging others. I wonder: How does he do this? I mean, Eric is a naturally joyful person, but at this point being joy isn’t in his own power. And that’s the point that Paul is making – we can’t sing out to God unless we allow the Spirit to pray with and for us, even when we have no words to share.

Everything we know about Paul suggests that he understood the meaning of suffering. He experienced shipwreck, imprisonment, beatings, and a thorn in the flesh. While all of this could overwhelm even the strongest person, he found strength in the midst of his suffering. In Romans 8 Paul acknowledges that "we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words." Yes, when we experience that dark night of the soul, when we can’t find the words to speak to God, the Spirit is there interceding for us. Indeed, the Spirit knows our hearts and hears our cries and groans, and shares them with God who is always listening for the voice of his children.

I really don't know how this works. I don't know the mechanics of this kind of prayer, so I can’t teach it to you. I would if I could, but it’s not in my power. All I can do is say that when such a prayer is needed, the Spirit will provide the means. I know that some people think that when Paul talks about groans too deep for words, he’s talking here about praying in tongues. He may. I don't know. Indeed, I don’t think this is true. What I do believe is that when the moment arises, God will hear my cries, just as God heard the cries of the Hebrews in Egypt and the cry of Jesus from the cross. So, even if I can't speak for myself, I know that God still hears what is in my heart. Indeed, he hears the cries of all God’s children!

III. SINGING IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT

One reason why I take comfort in the promise that God hears my cries, is that this promise is set in the context of other promises. Indeed, if we continue to read through Romans 8, we’ll will find some of the most powerful and hopeful promises in all of scripture. Listen to verse 28: "All things work together for good to those who love God." Then, in verse 31, Paul writes: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Again in verse 35, he writes: "who will separate us from the love of Christ?" And then in verse 37 Paul writes: "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."

As I listen to these promises and draw strength from them, I also know that there’s a question that troubles so many in our world: Why do bad things happen to good people?

As I stand here today, I can't explain why some people suffer and others don't. I'm mystified by Parkinsons, AIDS, and Alzheimers. Good people lose their jobs and their homes. Tornadoes and hurricanes destroy churches. But, as I listen to these promises, I’m reminded that God is present and active in our lives, even during times of darkness; when sadness and grief, pain and suffering, threaten to overwhelm us. And so I draw strength from the promise that when words fail, the Spirit is there to intercede for us.

And when the darkness falls, and words seem absent, perhaps we can heed the example of Paul and Silas. Finding themselves beaten and jailed at Philippi, at midnight they began to sing out in praise to God. As Luke tells the story, while they sang, an earthquake shook the jail and freed them from their chains. They could have escaped, but they didn't. And because they stayed in the cell, they had an opportunity to share their faith with the jailer. Luke writes that by morning that jailer and his whole family had been baptized, all because Paul and Silas sang praises to God in the night (Acts 16:16-40).

As we ponder the message of Pentecost, I pray that we will find strength in the knowledge that if God is for us then no one and no thing can be against us and succeed. Indeed, filled with God’s Holy Spirit, let us remember that we’re more than conquerors. But, as we celebrate, may that celebration be tempered by the knowledge that Jesus found glory in the cross. Therefore, let us sing joyfully, boldly, and heartily before God, giving thanks for God's overflowing presence, keeping in mind and heart the message of the cross.

Pentecost is a reminder that the Spirit of God has fallen abundantly on the world. Walking in that Spirit, we can live lives of joy and thanksgiving, even when darkness falls, for when we can’t find the words, the Spirit will speak, bearing witness to the healing grace of God.


1. Charles Spurgeon quote in Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, eds., Westminster Collection of Christian Meditations, (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998), 386-87.

2. Beverly Gaventa, in Walter Brueggemann, et al., Texts for Preaching, B, (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), 352.



Preached by: Dr. Robert Cornwall Pastor, Central Woodward Christian Church Troy, Michigan Pentecost Sunday May 31, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Called to Leadership

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

There are many kinds of leaders, some gentle, some tyrannical, some fun and some not so fun. Some are honest and others are crooks. When you think of a leader, maybe you think of Donald Trump or George Steinbrenner, both of whom are well know for saying: “You’re Fired!” Barack Obama, like Ronald Reagan, is known for his charisma, while Abraham Lincoln was known for his strategic vision. Some leaders are known for being micro-managers, while others take a more hands-off approach. You may have noticed, that everyone I’ve mentioned is male, which may derive from the fact that the glass ceiling remains in place. It may have, as Hillary Clinton suggested, begun to crack, but we’re still waiting to see how or if women will change our leadership styles. One of the issues that women wrestle with, in ways men have not, is how to balance work and family. We’ve just assumed that men will put work first, family second. But for women, the choices have always been more complicated – especially for younger women.

How do we lead in the church? Do we follow the models from corporate America? Is the pastor the CEO, with the Council functioning as a sort of Board of Directors? Or should we look at other models? Several years ago people began to talk about the Servant Leader. There was a famous book by that title, and Robert Greenleaf pointed to Jesus, suggesting that he was a good model of leadership. Ultimately, however, I’m not sure how influential that model really was or is on the church. My sense is that Peter Drucker has been more influential than Robert Greenleaf.

I. THE CALL OF MATTHIAS

Today is, in the church year, Ascension Sunday, and our attention is drawn to the first chapter of Acts. In the first eleven verses, which we didn’t read, Jesus gives the gathered Disciples one last word. We might even call this word, the church’s marching orders. He tells them that they will receive the Spirit and then they’ll go and “be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” These words were given not just to that original gathering, but as we’ve learned in our Bible study on Acts, these words were meant for the church in every age.

As a Missional people, Jesus has commissioned us to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth, beginning here in this place. Now, according to Luke, Jesus told the Disciples to wait for the Spirit to come and empower them for service. But while they waited for this empowerment, they continued to pray and worship, and consider the life and teachings of Jesus. It was during this interim period that Peter stood up in their midst and pointed out that the church’s leadership team was short a person.

Peter told them that while Jesus had called twelve apostles, Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, and Judas’ tragic death at his own hands, had reduced the apostolic band to just eleven. Surely they must raise that number, so there could be balance, and so Peter asked that the church put forward a candidate to fill this important office.

If you continue reading, you will discover how they made this choice. With our own congregational meeting just two weeks away, it might be worth looking at a different model, one that we might find a bit odd. That’s because their model was something like flipping a coin. Luke says that after the community put forward several candidates, all of whom fit the criteria for the office, they cast lots and the lot fell on Matthias. From then on, Matthias would be the twelfth apostle. Of course, we never hear anything about him, ever again, at least not in Scripture. Tradition says that he went to Ethiopia and preached the gospel, dying a martyr for his faith. But we really don’t know what happened to Matthias.

II. DEFINING CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP

While I’d love to speculate about Matthias’ fate, what I’d really like to talk about this morning is what this passage says about Christian leadership. Before we go to Luke’s list of qualifications for Christian leadership, I thought it might be helpful to offer some definitions. Robert Banks and Bernice Ledbetter, people I know from my days at Fuller, point out that leadership and management skills are needed in the church, but they’re different. Management, they write, has to do with “coping with complexity,” while leadership involves coping change. Leadership, they suggest, is more proactive than management. Of course, church leaders do both, but very often we end up doing more management than leadership.1

Max DePree, the former CEO of the Herman Miller Company, suggests that the primary job of a leader is to define reality. In choosing Matthias, Peter told the church, our reality is defined by the resurrection of Jesus. That’s our message. Because Jesus is alive, we're alive!2

William Willimon says that while not every church member is a leader, everyone has "a stake in leadership, all of us have a responsibility to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, all of the church needs leaders who help us to meet the challenges of discipleship in our time and place." Although we may not all be leaders in the usual sense of the word, each of us is called to bear witness to Jesus in what we do and in what we say. So, in that sense we all help define reality! 3

III. QUALIFICATIONS FOR LEADERSHIP

With this background and set of definitions in mind, as we consider our own calling to live and work in and through the church, in the service of the kingdom of God, especially as we prepare to choose new leaders for the congregation, Peter’s message offers us some interesting suggestions as to the qualifications for Christian leadership.

1. LEADERS ARE SPIRITUALLY PREPARED

Peter’s list of qualifications includes two spiritual characteristics. Judas' replacement had to be a witness to the resurrection and had to have walked with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry. Although none of us can fulfill these requirements, I think there are some modern equivalents. Both of these requirements speak about a relationship with Jesus Christ. Those who lead and serve in the church, Peter says, are to be people who have a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Of course, since we're all different, we’ll live out this relationship differently. Some of us are loud and demonstrative, like Peter, but others of us are quiet and reserved – maybe Matthias was that kind of person. We need both in the church, because the key here is not style but what goes on in the heart.

2. LEADERS MUST BE RECOGNIZED BY THE CHURCH

You can't lead if people don't accept your leadership. Although the church in Acts 1 used an interesting form of decision making, they recognized Matthias's calling, invested him with the authority to lead, and then released him to witness to Jesus. Is this not what we’re called to do as a church? Whether we use elections, appointments, installations, or ordinations, what we’re called upon to do is recognize each others gifts and callings, and then enable each other to bear witness to Christ in our lives.

3. LEADERS ACT AS PART OF A TEAM

Peter knew that leadership is a team effort, which is why he asked the church to find a twelfth apostle. This congregation is no different. We are a team of witnesses to God’s work in the world. Each of us has different gifts and callings, and we need each other if we’re to achieve God’s purpose for our congregation. As pastor, I have certain roles to fill as a leader in the church, but the ministry of the church is much bigger than what I do. Indeed, the letter to the Ephesians suggests that God gives pastors and teachers to the church to equip the body for the work of the ministry, not to do the ministry others are called to share in (Eph. 4:11). So, while some of us have very visible roles and others work often behind the scenes, each of us is necessary for the work of the ministry of this church.

4. SOME LEADERS WORK BEHIND THE SCENES

I want to reinforce that last statement about the importance of those who work behind the scenes. Now I don’t know whether Matthias was an upfront leader or a behind the scenes one, but the very fact that we never again hear from him reminds us that not everyone gets recognized for their contributions. Many servants of the church disappear into the fabric, and we need to lift them up. We need to be reminded that the unsung heroes are the foundation of the church’s ministry. Each in his or her own way, helps the church grow, mature, expand, and serve God’s kingdom, whether inside or outside the walls of the church.

Max DePree says that if defining reality is the first task of leadership, the second task is saying thank you. So, as we near that point where we change leadership teams, I’d like to stop and say thanks to everyone, whether serving out in front or behind the scenes, who has contributed to the work of the ministry this past year. Well done, good and faithful servants of God.


1. Robert Banks and Bernice Ledbetter, Reviewing Leadership, (Baker Books, 2004), pp. 16-17.
2. Max DePree,
Leadership Is an Art, (Currency, 2004).
3. William Willimon, quote from
Pulpit Resource – exact reference unknown.


Preached by:
Dr. Robert D. Cornwall
Pastor, Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Troy, MI
Ascension Sunday
May 24, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Confronting the System with Love

1 John 5:1-6

Perhaps you can remember watching those old Western movies, the kind that John Wayne appeared in back in the forties and the fifties, back before Clint Eastwood’s more complicated Westerns began to appear. In those movies of yesteryear, there were good guys and bad guys, and you always knew who was who. Sometimes, they even wore different colored hats – one white, one black – just so you didn’t miss the point.

We call this dualism, and dualism lets us see everything in black and white, either/or terms. You’re either with us or against us, and if you’re against us then you must be evil. And if you’re evil, then I may have to destroy you. We like to see ourselves living on the right side of things, which means that our opponents must be evil. As a nation we’ve spoken of our enemies in terms of evil empires and an axis of evil. It seems to make sense to us, but maybe life isn’t so cut and dry. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln was right when he pointed out that both sides during the Civil War believed that they were on the side of truth, and both prayed to the same God for victory. Lincoln hoped he was on the side of God, but he was willing to admit the possibility that he was wrong.

As we read our text this morning, we’re confronted with a very dualistic message. John puts everything in stark contrast. You’re either a child of God or you’re something else, a child of darkness perhaps. In John’s mind, maybe because he’s fighting for the survival of his community, there doesn’t seem to be much room for any shades of gray. As I read this, I hope and pray that I’m on God’s side, but I want to keep in mind President Lincoln’s warning – just in case!

1. Confronting the Domination System

Although I may not see things in as black-and-white a fashion as John did, I do believe that there is both good and evil in the world. And, therefore, we have a responsibility to discern what is good and what is not, so that we can make good choices in life.

It’s in the context of this need to discern the truth that we encounter John’s use of the word kosmos, which is Greek for world. While the gospel of John, which has a different author, speaks of God’s love for the world (Jn 3:16), in this letter we hear about Jesus conquering and overcoming the kosmos. In our text this morning, our author is talking about what we might call “the System,” or what Walter Wink calls “the Powers.” This system is hierarchical, racist, sexist, unjust and unfair. No matter how hard you work, you never can get off the treadmill. We sometimes call this the status quo, and the “powers that be” will defend themselves with everything at their disposal – including violence.

The good news, according to John, is that while God loves the creation, Jesus has defeated the “Domination System” by way of the cross. That is, Jesus took on the “Powers” that dominate our daily lives, the “system” that tries to keep us in our place, and defeated it on the cross.

Unfortunately, history has demonstrated, that we’ve often failed to learn the lesson of the cross. Indeed, too often the church has blessed and benefited from the System. We’ve discovered that the temptation to become an extension of the state is strong. Remember that when Constantine decided to hitch his future to Christianity’s rising star, the church was only too eager to join up, and it didn’t take long for the church not only to become an agent of the state and but also become corrupt.

Although church and state may be separate in America, history shows that even here the church can get sucked in by the system. Indeed, a recent survey suggests that the more people go to church, the more likely they are to support the use of torture to protect the nation’s security. This is true, despite the fact that Jesus was himself tortured and killed by the state in the name of national security.

There is a message here for us: While the world relies on violence and oppression to achieve its purpose, Jesus has overcome that system through his own death. Unlike the system, Jesus embraced nonviolence and love, and while that led to his death, in the end he emerged victorious.

2. Finding our Identity in Christ

Over the last few weeks, as we’ve read through this first letter of John, we’ve heard a lot about loving God and loving neighbor. We’ve been reminded that God is love and that those who abide in God will love their neighbor. In writing this letter, John reminds his community that their sense of identity is wrapped up in the cross of Jesus. Even though this might seem like foolishness to the world, this is our identity. That is, our identity as Christians is rooted in Jesus, for as John says – everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. And for John, belief is more than intellectual assent. It’s a commitment to live for and with Jesus, and that means showing our love for God by obeying his commandments. Fortunately for us, those commandments, according to John, aren’t burdensome. We just have to love our neighbors!

If we’re going to confront the “System,” then we have to know who we are as followers of Jesus. And if we are children of God, then we will deal with the world as God deals with it, which means that instead of using the world’s tools, and fighting fire with fire, we follow Jesus and overcome the world with the tools of love.

This love may be confrontational, but it’s also liberating. It’s the kind of love that Martin Luther King used to help achieve civil rights legislation, which opened lunch counters, voting booths, and schools to blacks and other minorities. This isn’t an easy kind of love to live, but it is world-changing.

3. Death and Resurrection – the Means of Victory

John says that the cross is the defining element of this love. It defines love because it’s sacrificial and humble. It doesn’t seek its own way, but seeks the best for the other. Although the System thought it had won when Jesus died, the System seems to have missed the point. They thought they had issued the last word, but according to Scripture they were wrong. Although John doesn’t explicitly refer to the resurrection, I do believe that it is the resurrection that gives the cross its power. John says that there are three witnesses – the water, the blood, and the Spirit. The first may refer to birth or to baptism. The second to death and the Eucharist, while the third, the Spirit, reminds us that God isn’t done yet. The Spirit is, for me, a reminder that in the resurrection God has defeated the World. Or, as Beverly Gaventa puts it: “the death and resurrection of Jesus demonstrate that the world is bankrupt and its judgments are overturned by the God whose love alone is capable of overcoming the world” [Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching, B (WJK, 1993), p. 324].

Therefore, may we truly be people of love, people who, as followers of Jesus, are willing to put our lives on the line, even as he did, so that hearts and minds of the world’s inhabitants might be transformed, and the System can be defeated. Then, we will see that love reigns over all!.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

No Fear -- A Mother's Day Sermon

1 John 4:7-21

Mothers are often fearless, especially when it comes to the safety of their children. As you might expect, scientists having been studying this phenomenon, and they think they’ve figured it out. Apparently, it has something to do with hormones, or more specifically, a drop in peptide levels that occurs during lactation. When this happens, fear vanishes. Scientists made this discovery by studying mice, but it doesn’t take detailed studies of mice to know that mothers normally will do everything they can to protect their young. Just try getting close to a grizzly bear cub or a lion cub and you’ll quickly discover that their mothers don’t take kindly to such offenses.

Although I’ll take the scientists at their word, I prefer John’s explanation. It might not be as scientific, but it makes sense. According to John, love is the answer to fear, not fluctuations in peptide levels! But, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us.

1. God is love!

I’ll admit that sometimes John sounds like a broken record. It seems like every other word is – God is love. But, for some reason John thinks we need to continually revisit this idea. In part it’s because love is our foundational confession of faith, upon which everything else is built. Or, to put it another way, if we are born of God, then we will love, for God is love. You can’t have one without the other.

But, John wants to take this confession one step further. He wants us to know that Jesus is God’s gift of love to us. It’s in Jesus, whom God has sent into the world, that the true nature of God’s love is revealed. And more specifically, it’s in the cross that this love is revealed. That is, God’s love, as revealed to us in Jesus, is sacrificial – God is willing to give up everything so that we might once again experience oneness with God and with one another. This is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us – that we might be one with God and with each other through Christ – who is love in the flesh.

2. God’s love is Reciprocal.

If we affirm that God is love and that Jesus is God’s fullest expression of that love, then the next question has to do with the way in which we participate in that love. John suggests that God’s love is reciprocal. We love, he says, because God first loved us. The question is: How do we, who are human, return love to a God who is invisible to us? It’s one thing to say -- I love God – but what does that require of me? The answer is: we love the invisible God by loving the neighbor whom you can see. Or, to quote Jesus, you love and serve him, “even as you do it to the least of these” (Mt. 25:40).

3. No Fear of God

If God is love and Jesus is God’s fullest expression of that love, a love that we reciprocate by loving our neighbor, then love should define the way we see the world. Or, as John puts it – there is no fear in love. That is – fear is the opposite of love, and if we experience love then fear should not be present in our lives.

I realize that Proverbs says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7), but the author of Proverbs has something different in mind from what we consider fear. In Proverbs the fear of God is reverence and awe, not terror, which is our normal definition of fear. Now, I may be dumbstruck when I’m in the presence of God, but I shouldn’t be shaking in my boots worrying about whether God is going to hit me with a lightening bolt. You know what I mean, like in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy and her friends first meet up with the Wizard in the great hall. All that fire and noise – that would be frightening, but I don’t think that’s how we should envision our relationship with the loving and gracious God revealed to us in Jesus. Our relationship with God isn’t a backslapping kind of friendship, but we needn’t stand in fear of God, thinking that God is angry or malevolent.

I realize that the church has often taught something very different. Indeed, we can find texts, even in 1 John, that speak of wrath and anger and punishment, but if we take this confession seriously, that God is love, and that Jesus is the fullest expression of that love, then our portrayals of God must not focus on wrath and punishment. Many of us have heard or experienced messages of “Turn or burn.” Indeed, Jonathan Edwards gave a famous sermon that spoke about “sinners in the hands of an angry God.” Somehow, I can’t connect that kind of confession of faith with the confession that God is love and that there is no fear in love.

Now, I do believe that God holds us accountable, but I also believe that God, like any good parent, indeed any good mother, will not torment us or throw us away, even when we’ve been a bit bad. So, fear of punishment can’t be our motivation for faithfulness, nor the basis of our relationship with God.

4. No Fear at all!

With this confession in mind, I want to stay with the issue of fear. You may have seen those bumper stickers that say “No Fear.” Now, in cultural context, the message is this: “Go for it.” Or, “Just Do it.” I mean, go skydiving or do a triple twisting somersault with a forward rotation on your skis, because there’s nothing to fear!

Well, I’m not so sure about the skydiving part or the extreme skiing, but metaphorically speaking, if there’s no fear in love, indeed, if “perfect love casts out fear,” then the message of the day is this: Be bold in your service to God and humanity, because you have nothing to fear, expect perhaps fear itself!

With that, we come back to Mother’s Day. Little children know when their mothers love them, and when they experience that love, they’re not afraid of trying things. Children who know that Mom or Dad loves them tend to be curious and engaged. They ask questions and explore their world. They do this because they have a sense of confidence, which comes from knowing that mom or dad is near by ready to protect them. They know too that they don’t have to fear punishment because of their explorations. Now Mom may set some boundaries for their protection, but they’re not arbitrary and they’re not set up for punishment. Unfortunately, as we grow older and put some distance between ourselves and our parents, we often lose that sense of confidence and we become more fearful.

And here is where the rubber meets the road – we live in a world that capitalizes on our fears. There are lots of fear mongers out there in the world, ready and willing to pounce. Politicians and pundits regularly point out why we should be afraid. The Department of Homeland Security has developed a whole color-coded system to let us know how much fear we should be feeling. While we don’t hear as much about it as we used to, that doesn’t mean that it’s not deeply rooted in our psyche. So, watch out, if you hear a code red warning!!

Now, there may be reasons why we should be cautious in life, but when fear takes hold love disappears. Fear divides us from one another. It makes us cynical and even paranoid, and while we may sometimes joke about paranoia, paranoia is dangerous. It can lead to exclusion and even violence. The message here, then, is this: if we embrace the God who is love, as revealed to us in Jesus, then we can say no to fear and begin to reach out into the world and begin building bridges to those who are hurting and standing on the margins of society, those who need to experience reconciliation with God and with neighbor.

And, since this is Mother’s Day, a day when we remember and honor the love of mothers, perhaps we can best experience the day by experiencing the love that transforms our lives and overcomes the fears that seek to control us and keep us from participating in God’s mission in the world.


Preached by:
Dr. Robert D. Cornwall
Pastor, Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Troy, Michigan
May 10, 2009
Fifth Sunday of Easter