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Monday, August 03, 2009

Church News 8/4

"The Nathan Ministry" was Fr. David's stirring sermon topic on an otherwise dark and rainy Sunday morning, Aug. 2.

Beginning with II Samuel 11:26-12:13a, we considered together the ministry of the prophet Nathan. Nathan took on the unenviable task of reproving and correcting King David after he caused Bathsheba's husband Uriah to be killed on a battlefield so that David could marry her and obscure the timing of her pregnancy with his child (which occurred while her husband was still living).

"How do we reach people going the wrong way on a one-way street?" Fr. David asked, pointing out that many make the mistake of doing this in an accusatory or condemning fashion, something that almost never achieves the desired result. What is needed is Nathan-like Ministry among us.

He pointed out that Nathan first told a story -- in this case, the story of a poor man whose only possession was a pet ewe lamb that he treated like his own child. This lamb would have eventually been the mother of a flock that would have provided the poor man and his family with wool, milk, cheese, and the ability to barter for family needs. But a rich man with many flocks decided it was easier to appropriate the poor man's lamb and kill it for a meal than one of his own.

The story made King David very angry. He said the rich man deserved to die but should at least give the poor man four lambs as punishment for his lack of pity. Then Nathan told him that he, David, was the same as the rich man -- someone to whom God had given everything but who took from Uriah first his wife and then his life. David's heart, mind and soul were reached and David recognized the serious depth of his sin, his despising of God, and he repented.

"People get to a place where they make excuses for their wrong behavior," Fr. David explained. "We all do it, and when we do we aren't honoring God as we should. It takes a Nathan to point this out in a direct but loving way." Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, many of us are empowered with prophetic ministry, ministry such as Nathan exercised. As prophets do, Nathan didn't condemn King David himself, he pointed out what the Lord had to say about David's actions and David's consequential future.

"God's desire was to reach King David despite the terrible thing he had done. God judges but also forgives, " said Fr. David, "and as God's people, as God seeks to use us for the sake of others. As God moves us, we have a 'Nathan Ministry' to open to our neighbors the understanding of Christ's gift to us, that once our hearts are reached with God's Holy Truth and we truly repent, we are redeemed and cleansed in Him." Truly our souls long to be reached, opened, forgiven, and cleansed through this 'Nathan Ministry' and God seeks to reach hearts, minds and souls through this 'Nathan Ministry' working in our lives reaching others in God's Holy truth shared with God's holy love.

NOTES: The Vestry of the former All Saints has taken action to transfer the financial responsibilities of our church to the new Vestry and the new All Saints effective Aug. 2. We pray for God's blessings on our new church and the work of our new Vestry on behalf of our congregation.

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