Summary: Initial 2009 Sermon and the first sermon in a series ‘2 Things 2 B in 09’

the years many people, including some of you, have sent me some really wonderful stories that often find their way into my sermons and this morning there is one that I received this week that provides an introduction, in probably one of my patented round about ways, to this sermon and sermon series.

The story begins in heaven after the final judgment. God appeared and said, ’I want the men to make two lines. One line for the men who were true heads of their household and the other line for the men who were dominated by their women. I want all the women to report to St. Peter.’

Soon, the women were gone and there were two lines of men. The line of the men who were dominated by their wives was 100 miles long and in the line of men who truly were heads of their household, there was only one man.

God said, ’You men should be ashamed of yourselves, I created you to be the head of your household!

’You have been disobedient and have not fulfilled your purpose! Of all of you, only one obeyed. Learn from him.’ God turned to the one man, ’How did you manage to be the only one in this line?’

The man replied, ’My wife told me to stand here.’

Marriage, and family life, gets interesting doesn’t it? It is often, often rich and rewarding and it is sometimes conflicted and painful.

As I have observed families over the years (and to a certain degree, my own family) I have usually found that one person, usually by default, has the role of peacekeeper. They are the ones who run from one conflict to another trying to keep the peace in families.

Sometimes they use humor. Sometimes they use charm. Sometimes they use threats.

I have determined that being a peacekeeper is a very, very, very stressful job. Do you find yourself to be a peacemaker or peacekeeper?

As I began thinking about this series, I prayed and prayed and thought and thought and prayed some more. ‘What do you want to say through me, Lord?’

I thought about the past couple of months when it seems that some people see nothing but dark times ahead. And we are understandably concerned about our economy.

But others see possibilities. They see opportunities to make a difference in things like hunger and poverty and alternative energy.

Some see the church as losing ground in our culture. Dark times are ahead. We must retreat.

Others see the church as now able to get back on message and really begin to care for those who need care and that there are new opportunities for ministry and influence in areas long neglected. We still have a mission, they say, to fulfill.

As I have pondered and reflected on these things, I began to understand both the concerns and see the possibilities. Yes, our economy is in a mess right now. Yes, some important issues are not going as perhaps they should.

However, I also see that there is a great mission field and a great opportunity for the Church of Jesus Christ to be what God has called it to be. So out of all of this thinking and praying and listening and reflection, I came up with this initial 2009 series that I am calling (Slide 1) ‘2 Things 2 B in 09’

(Slide 1a) They are: a peacemaker and a missionary.

This month we will be addressing the peacemaker role and next month we will be addressing the missionary role.

I believe that this is a time in which the Church of Jesus Christ, needs to step back and refocus on what God has called it to do and be - peacemakers and be missionaries of His love and grace. It is a Biblical role that we must take up again and, through the power and strength of His Holy Spirit, fulfill to the best of our ability.

As we begin this part of the series, here is our road map for this month. (Slide 2)

What does it mean to be a peacemaker? More important what does it mean to be God’s peacemaker?

To be God’s peacemaker is to understand the difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping

(Slide 3)

To be God’s peacemaker is to practice the Biblical pattern of reconciliation

(Slide 4)

To be God’s peacemaker is to discern the nature of conflict

(Slide 5)

Finally, to be God’s peacemaker is to accept that peacemaking is an ‘inside out’ process.

Each week we will address each of these four points and we begin this morning (finally, huh) with this point. (Slide 6)

To be God’s peacemaker is to understand the difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping .

(Slide 7) Our text for this morning is Matthew 5:9

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