The apostle Paul met a young man named Timothy while traveling in Turkey. The two struck up a close relationship that lasted a lifetime. But it might not have always been easy. Together, they dealt with issues of an interracial marriage, reputation, traveling, and even minor surgery. The result of it all, though, is what we seek, too: strengthening in faith. Welcome, brothers and sisters, to the means by which the Spirit does that: the gospel in Word and sacrament.
American League baseball umpire Bill Guthrie was working behind the plate, and the catcher for the visiting team was repeatedly protesting his calls. Guthrie put up with it for a few innings, and then pulled the catcher aside. “Son,” he said softly, “you’ve been a big help to me in calling balls and strikes today, and I appreciate it. But I think I’ve got the hang of it now, so I’m going to ask you to go to the clubhouse and show whoever’s there how to take a shower.” Conflicts are unavoidable; how we handle them is optional. Today, let’s learn from the conflict between Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:36-41. More than that, let the Spirit guide you to respond to your conflicts in ways that bring glory to God and good to his people.
Think of all the ways you respond to snail mail or email. Delete, delete, delete. Or recycle bin, recycle bin, recycle bin. But then comes a letter that makes you smile. You don't delete or recycle it. You anticipate opening it, savor its message, and smile over it. May the Lord give you more of these kinds of letters than any other! Of course, God’s Word is his letter to us. Today, we’re asking God to teach us and shape our minds through a letter sent from one church to another. A letter contained in his Word, Acts 15:22-35. It's an old letter, but it's meant for us today.
There are many decisions we make each day without thinking about them. One question that plays into this decision-making process is, "Is it worth it?" Is it worth it to stay a few extra hours at work? Or is it worth it to go home so you can return the next day refreshed, ready to work? As we enter the season of Epiphany, we learn from the Magi who set out to worship their newborn King. This journey had its detours along the way. So was it worth it for these Magi? This weekend we will dig into the question, "Is it worth it?" We are blessed to be able to gather, just as the Magi did, to worship our newborn King.
What will the market do this year? Will inflation continue to rise? Will the Omicron variant mark the end of COVID fear? And how 'bout them Packers? Everyone has an opinion, but no one can answer those questions with certainty. Together, let us come into God’s presence and ponder spiritual truths with fellow saints. You decide if from the spiritual truths you encounter today develop New Year's resolutions. This much is certain: from God’s truth you will better know your future. Nice to have you with us and happy new year!