Summary: A sermon for the annual meeting for casting vision in the life of the local church. Principals could be well adapted to another church.
“Looking Back, Gazing Forward,” Genesis 9:8-17
One of the very special memories I have from my first trip to the Holy Land last year was that of swimming in the Dead Sea. It is a real adventure. First you head to pit which is filled with sticky and smelly mud. Against ever natural inclination of cleanliness and good hygiene, you cover yourself in this nasty black mud. Then you take a bath in the buoyant Dead Sea. It is amazing that because of the very high mineral content of the Dead Sea, your body simply will not sink. You float with most of your body above the water. I was actually able to stand straight up in the water and float with my body in a completely vertical position.
While I was floating with the group of pastors that I was traveling with, several of us noticed that there was a perfect rainbow which had developed. It had been raining lightly for much of the day prior to this time. It had stopped just before we entered the Dead Sea and as we swam in this ancient sea, which due to its high mineral content is said to provide medicinal properties to bathers and is completely devoid of life, the Lord provided for us the splendor of His promise which is wrapped up in the rainbow. The beauty of the rainbow, though, is not just something for us to enjoy today. To fully enjoy its beauty we must consider from where it came.
The origin of the rainbow, according to the Australian aborigines is this: The Rainbow stole two wives from the Bat. This made the Bat angry. He waited until the Rainbow was asleep and attacked him with a spear. The Rainbow roared with pain and the blood ran down his side. The Bat took back his wives while the Rainbow rolled into a creek and sank. He lives there now and sometimes when it rains he rises from the creek and arches his bloodstained body across the sky. How utterly different, how infinitely superior, is the biblical account of the rainbow as the sign of God’s Care.
In Genesis 9:8-17 we read that the rainbow is a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and man. When we look at the rainbow we are looking back into history at the establishment of God’s covenant with His creation. As we look back at the rainbow, the sign of God’s covenant, we are also looking forward to the promise of His ultimate fulfillment of that covenant. Hallelujah!
There is an awful lot of conversation these days in circles of Christian leadership. The buzz word of this era of leadership is “vision” and the vision is most often encapsulated in a vision statement. The vision statement typically encapsulates the core beliefs, purpose, and goals of a church or organization.
I have spent a significant amount of energy, thought, and prayer into considering what the core values, beliefs, and purpose of this Church is. Upon examining the Covenant of the Church I found that our purpose is clear. We really don’t need a new vision in the conventional sense.
We need merely to be the people of God that we have always been. As a Church body, as a Covenant Community of Faith, we need simply to live in accordance with faith in God and fellowship with one another.
It occurs to me that we are already living out the “vision” of this church in practical ways; Thanksgiving Dinners, Comedy Benefits, Local Outreach, support of foreign missions. These are nothing new. They are mere restatements of the driving ethos of this covenant community of faith.
In the time I have been here in this church we have done some new things to be sure. But while methods may change the driving principals never do.
Recitation of the Covenant
In your bulletin you will find a copy of the covenant of the Church. I would ask that you join me in reading it aloud, together, the family of God, the covenant community of faith, here complete in faith, under the headship of Christ our Lord.
“Through Christ strengthening us, without whom we can do nothing, we here in the presence of God, and of this assembly give up ourselves, soul and body, and all that we have, are and shall be, unto God, through Jesus Christ to serve Him forever, and to be His, and at His disposal in all things. We propose to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, to be his disciples, to be taught and governed by Him in all our relations and conversations in this world, declaring Him to be our Supreme Lord and Redeemer. And we do further bind ourselves, in the strength of Christ to walk with this Church in all His ordinances, and with the members thereof in all member-like love and submission.”