Summary: Community is crucial to the follower of Jesus. It is not optional.

1. Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in OKC. I was not a resident of OK 20 years ago but have heard stories and read accounts of the event. Many of you were impacted directly by the catastrophe.

2. This disaster reminds us of the power of community and the challenge we have in our personal walk with God and our Fellowship with others -- people of all occupations went to help 20 years ago;

"In evangelical individualism people think of their personal relationship with God in isolation ("Just me and Jesus") and forge their destiny apart from any church authority. While holding relatively low opinions of history, traditions, and the church, they turn to the experiences of self and isolate themselves from their brothers and sisters in the faith. True spirituality is perverted as it becomes a quest for inner stimulation rather than growth in biblical knowledge and the application of truth in community. Healthy Christians do not live in isolation." Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God's Commandments in a Post Modern World, pp. 52-53

3. No "Lone Rangers"

a. Patriarchs and Jesus had communities

b. We are called to be community Acts 2.42-47

4. Some things I know:

I. We are all Part of Community

Slide -- Responders to the bombing/Rebecca Anderson, LPN from Midwest City, volunteered to help, was struck by debris and died a few days later, the only part of the recue team to die in attempt to help

A. We Are a Community of Faith

1. We live out our faith -- together

2. We live from common faith

a. My church (edah) -- Matthew 16.18

b. Living stones

3. Actions of one or a few affect all -- weep with those who weep

4. We learn to accept one another in the same way God accepts us

5. Strangers make sacrifices for strangers

B. Two Communities -- amphibians

1. Marshall Keeble -- If I miss 'em in Jesus, I get 'em in Adam

2. Our Community of Faith can Impact the Community at Large -- do good to all men, especially household of faith

II. Jesus is Aware -- Jesus Wept

Across the street from the bombed out Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, where 168 people died needlessly and senselessly, there stands a memorial. At the heart of that memorial is a nine foot statue of Jesus. But this statue is not one of a stony Jesus with arms out wide like you may have seen in the Ozarks or in Brazil. No, this is a nine foot statue of Jesus with his face in his hands, turned slightly away from where the acts of terror took place, and the plaque reads, "And Jesus Wept."

A. Jesus weeps at our losses -- John 11.35

B. Jesus weeps at our sins

1. Longsuffering nature of God -- 1 Peter 3.20; 2 Peter 3.9

2. Fire to kindle -- Luke 12.49-50

49 "I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!

III. We Know That Life is Uncertain

A. All hanging by a thread -- James 4.14

B. The Unexpected Can Happen at any Moment

1. Because of the uncertainty of Life -- If the LORD wills

2. Make the Most of Our Time -- Ephesians 5.16

a. Best accomplished in Community

b. [Trends

Concert attendance has been slowly declining over the last 10 years, because people no longer want to go to concerts to get lost in a crowd.

But if you track another trend over the past 10 years you'll see concerts down but coffee houses are up.

About a year ago the State Journal ran a piece on coffee houses check out this quote, "I come here because I like an atmosphere of busyness, I don't like to feel like I'm alone."

IV. We Have a Time to Remember

[OKC Memorial Marathon; [Memorial

A. The Time

B. The People -- 168 PEOPLE; not a nameless mass; TV stations reading brief biographies of victims

1. Image of Go

2. Intimacy of God (hairs of your head)

C. Life (Survivor Tree) -- laChaim

Survivor Tree

It was a scrawny, solitary parking lot tree that somehow survived its roots being paved over when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building complex was completed in 1977. Sealing its roots off in concrete alone could have killed the tree, but it lived and shaded cars in the parking lot.

Then on April 19, 1995, the tree survived the explosion of a 4,000-pound bomb that ripped open a nine-story building, killing 168 people. Cars caught fire next to it and scorched the tree's south-facing trunk and branches.

The tree was almost cut down to recover valuable shards of evidence lodged in its trunk and limbs. But as a strong-willed, shaken city began the process of recovery, a group of people decided that could never happen.

1. Jesus died at Passover (Time)

2. He died on behalf of people (People)

3. He was raised on the first day of the week (Life) -- good news

1. I become painfully aware that the world does not revolve around me -- as a child I was led to believe it did.

a. Instead, what we learn is that we are all part of community. We learn interdependence.

b. Instead we learn to serve and be served -- John 13.12-20 (wash one another's feet)

2. Appreciate Others: Giant or Burden?

Jewish poet and storyteller Noah ben Shea tells this parable:

After dinner, the children turned to Jacob and asked if he would tell them a story. "A story about what?" asked Jacob.

"About a giant," squealed the children.

Jacob smiled, leaned against the warm stones at the side of the fireplace, and his voice turned softly inward.

"Once there was a boy who asked his father to take him to see the great parade that passed through the village. The father, remembering the parade from when he was a boy, quickly agreed, and the next morning the boy and his father set out together.

"As they approached the parade route, people started to push in from all sides, and the crowd grew thick. When the people along the way became almost a wall; the father lifted his son and placed him on his shoulders.

"Soon the parade began and as it passed, the boy kept telling his father how wonderful it was and how spectacular were the colors and images. The boy, in fact, grew so prideful of what he saw that he mocked those who saw less saying, even to his father, 'If only you could see what I see.'"

"But," said Jacob staring straight in the faces of the children, "what the boy did not look at was why he could see. What the boy forgot was that once his father, too, could see."

Then as if he had finished the story, Jacob stopped speaking.

"Is that it?" said a disappointed girl. "We thought you were going to tell us a story about a giant."

"But I did," said Jacob. "I told you a story about a boy who could have been a giant."

"How?" squealed the children.

"A giant," said Jacob "is anyone who remembers we are all sitting on someone else's shoulders."

"And what does it make us if we don't remember?" asked the boy.

"A burden," answered Jacob.

We all have been richly blessed by those who have gone before us. As a family member, I recognize that I have grandparents and parents who through much sacrifice and effort have given me the opportunity to do things that they couldn't even dream of doing. As a citizen of the United States, I owe a great debt of gratitude to those who gave their lives for the freedoms I am able to enjoy. And as a Christian, I look back on so many others (both in recent years and in biblical times) who laid a foundation of faith that gives me the encouragement to draw closer to God myself. I pray that I will never forget that I am sitting on someone else's shoulders. I can be a giant of gratitude or a burden of self-centeredness.

Are you a giant......or a burden?