2900 County Barn Rd. Naples, Fl. 34112

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We have been able to visit national parks the last two years. Besides being magnificent places to visit we noticed how many people were taking selfies, with the beauty of the park behind the person. Here in Naples during one of the winter break school weeks we were walking along the beach towards sunset time and again so many people were taking selfies with the gulf and sun as the backdrop. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself but it is also an indicator of where our society is focused. We worry and think more about ourselves than anything else. It is not a new phenomenon but it has been becoming more and more prevalent in our society.

The problem is that a self-oriented person is the exact opposite of what a Christian person strives to be. Years ago I was watching Danny Ainge doing an interview on ESPN. At the time he was in the championship playoffs and the reporter asked him what was foremost on his mind. He responded, God, my family and basketball is somewhere down the list. A Christian should always strive to put God first in their life and then other people and finally the self somewhere down the line. That is the simple command by Jesus for all to follow, love God and one another. It really couldn’t get any simpler than that.

The struggle is within each of us and the perceived need to take care of ourselves before we reach out to others if we do at all. Of course we need to care for ourselves so we are able to do the work of Christ in the world but if care of the self leads to a disregard for others we are not fulfilling the command of Jesus. It goes beyond a personal approach as well. In the U.S. we are losing the aspect of the “Common Good.” There are a number of people who do not give to charities in our country, who amass wealth and property only for the self. The self also shows up in churches throughout the country. The majority of churches struggle to meet budgets each year even though the members of the church have enough funds to fully fund a budget. They are worried about the self and not trusting enough in God.

It is a faith issue. We put our faith in ourselves rather than God. We have been taught to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and be strong. We don’t need anyone’s help, we can do it all by ourselves. This is the struggle of humanity, self or other. Our lives should be a combination of self and other. All people should work for the common good of society and for people of faith the order or importance is God, other and self.

Whether it is a half a world away or across the street murder is wrong. Every human being knows this. One does not have to be religious to know that taking another person’s life is wrong. If one is a religious person it goes against what God commanded and it hurts God and all humanity.

Sadly humanity has not learned to care for its own. Humanity seeks in many ways to destroy. Whether it be a mass shooting, an individual being murdered, a nation overthrowing and killing others of another political region, it is wrong. Humanity cannot get past tribalism and the attitude of might makes right.

Some evangelical preachers like to boast about the second coming of Christ and it is more of a threat to follow their rules rather than what is inherent in humanity and God, love for all humanity.

I have said before on Sunday mornings, if Jesus is to return I don’t believe it will happen until humanity sees each person as one made in the image and likeness of God. We need to treat each person with no bias of any kind and with love and compassion as we would a brother or sister.

We are one human family.

Those two words are important to our health and well-being.  Yet a lot of times we neglect them.  In our fast paced society we don’t take time to rest.  The desire to do more, be active is a symbol and symptom of our society.  We do not take enough time to rest even though Jesus tells us to.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  If you notice he is actually not saying rest but where to find rest.  We find our rest in him.  Which leads us to, how do we find rest in Jesus?  The best way is to set aside some time in the day to sit in prayer and meditate on God.  The first thought to this idea may be, “I don’t have the time!”  That, my friend, is the very problem.  We think we have to always be doing something.  We are not called human doings, we are called human beings.  To be with Christ is to find rest in his presence.  Rest and pray.  Three simple words that we can incorporate into our lives on a daily basis to become more healthy, more compassionate, more loving and more like Christ.

All we have is today.  Let’s make the best of it.  One scripture verse that has this theme is, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Most of the time we think all is well.  Depending on the day we seem to either worry or look forward to the tomorrows we take for granted.

We got word over the weekend of a colleague who was in an automobile accident.  Her husband died as a result of that accident the following day.  For those of us in this denomination in Florida, it has shocked us.  It is one of those events that cause us to think that we may not have tomorrow.  By the grace of God we are given one day and it is today.  AA and other twelve step programs use the slogan, ‘one day at a time.’  If that person makes it through the day without picking up a drink or drug, it is a great day. 

Let us live for today, yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come.  Today is a great day!

Much has been said recently about privilege, especially white privilege.  As a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant heterosexual male I fit the stereotype of one who has the opportunity to experience that privilege.  I don’t get the looks in stores or other places I go that some people of color have experienced in their lives.  People like me can go blindly through life not realizing how privileged we are or we can be aware of it and act accordingly.  I have also been in a country where I experienced for a brief time what it is like to not speak the language and look different than everyone else.  It helped me to understand what any immigrant group or group that is not Anglo face as they try to live in these United States.

People that look different are often singled out as a threat of one form or another.  It is not only a problem in this country today but is a problem of humanity.  It seems that someone always has to be on top of the hill.  That means that another group is below them.

Jesus however teaches us differently.  As the Gospel stories tell us he often sought out the marginalized of his society, much to the anger of those in power.  If we call ourselves Christians, then we should look on anyone as a treasured child of God, no different than ourselves.  It is that simple.

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MAYFLOWER CONGREGATIONAL UCC

2900 County Barn Rd 
Naples, Florida 34112

Office Hours: 
8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mon - Fri.

Sunday Worship 9:30
            Refreshments 10:30

Church Phone: 239-775-0055
Fax Number: 239-775-3253

Pastor Alan's Cell: 239-227-8500

office@mayflowernaples.com
pastor@mayflowernaples.com

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