As we continue to celebrate God's greatest gift this Christmas season and look to the future He has for us in 2016, I am reminded of a familiar phrase you have no doubt heard before. It was boldly declared at the outset of a New Year, just months before the founding of our church. Where Good Shepherd's founding minister Virgil Zirbel would stand as a new pastor behind a pulpit, this phrase came from a new president behind a podium.
The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it - and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Perhaps you can remember watching this inaugural address on television, and hearing these words for the first time. Or maybe, like me, you didn't see it live, but have been struck by the power of John F. Kennedy's idea - that we ought not think about what we can receive, but should rather focus on what we can give.
As we have turned our attention to God's greatest gift this Christmas season, we have seen time and time again how we have received. Over and over the Scriptures declare that God gives generously, lavishly - and no more so than through the gift of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Because of His lavish giving, we can see what our God and our church has done for us. We have been welcomed home into the family of God! And, as a response, we can see what we can do together for our God and our community. If I may be so bold, perhaps we could update John F. Kennedy's statement for ourselves:
The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our community and all who live in it - and the passion of our faith can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Christians: seeing what God has done for you - see what you can do for your God! My fellow citizens of the Kingdom: seeing what God has done for you, think of what together we can do to extend the gospel to others!
As 2015 ends, and we look ahead to 2016, may we give generously - not because we need to buy or earn the love of God - but rather as a response to it!
Grace and Peace,