Monday, March 31, 2014

Lent IV - The Good Shepherd Ps 23

Good Shepherd Sunday
March 30, 2014
Fr. Philip Eberhart

(Click title for audio)

I am fascinated by the fact that our life - my life - is tied together with the lives of those who have been a part of this adventure, called REZ, and the adventure of the life IN CHRIST -- forever!!

Look around you -- If you are a sincere follower of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, then those you are looking at around you here today -- are members of the family, to the extent that they sincerely follow Jesus too!  And we aren't the judge of that, He is.  

I think what I've discovered over the years, now almost 20, since I was ordained at a church called Good Shepherd, not too far from this spot, is that our lives are bound together!  The Good Shepherd himself is the thread that binds the tapestry of the Body of Christ together, the Spirit of God the breath in that Body and the force of love, the unfailing love of the Father, an unbreakable thread that ties the individual lives we live as we follow him, together!

There is something mystical about the Shepherd and the flock He shepherds.  This morning I just want to take a few minutes and reflect on this psalm, 23 and some of Psalm 95, and some verses from John 10.  

Along with the Lord's Prayer, John 3:16, the "Love Chapter" in 1 Cor 13 or the "Faith Chapter" in Hebrews 11, this Psalm in Psalm 23 is probably some of the most familiar prose in the whole of scripture - and it speaks of a relationship that endures the passage of time.  One that endures the scourges of suffering and enmity and death... One that keeps pulling us back into that place of relationship with the Lord who is the Shepherd himself and with those who have walked with us through the pathways of our life's journey.

The Psalm begins with a simple but bold affirmation of God's position and His provision in our lives.
The LORD is MY Shepherd!  I Shall not want.   period.

Jehovah Ra'ah - The Lord, My Shepherd.  There are some facts about being in this relationship that are inescapable and unchangeable!

I shall not want.  The words here are clear, right?  As long as we are in relationship with this Shepherd, the Good Shepherd, we will not be in a position of lack.  That's what the Hebrew word used here means.

The pastoral setting affords us some insight into the source of abundance for the sheep - green pasture, still water.  But the words that precede those are the interesting ones aren't they - and the telling ones?!!

He makes me to lie down...   He leads me.

Anyone here ever deal with sheep - or animals of almost any kind!!  Have you ever tried to "make" them do anything?   to lead them to anywhere?

I think dogs are the best - and obviously I think cats are the worst!!  Somewhere in the middle are sheep!  The problem with sheep is not that their stubborn or independent so much, but that they are just plain dumb.

The story of the Shepherd in Luke 15, a story we've heard here recently, the story of the lost sheep, is predicated on the story of a sheep that wanders off from the flock and puts itself in mortal danger, why.  Because that's what happens to sheep - they eat their way onto the edge of a cliff without ever even looking up!  From one tuft of grass to the next, completely oblivious to their surroundings, the rocks, the cliff or the thousand foot drop off!!

They are suddenly lost!  John 10 and Luke 15 talk about the perils in the life of a sheep - perils from its own lack of attention or perils from outside threats.  The answer to both is its relationship with the Shepherd - with Jesus.  We are told that the sheep know the voice of the shepherd - that they follow him when they hear his voice.

In Israel on a tour some years back, one of my professors was standing in the front of the tour bus waxing eloquent about this parable, after they had passed a flock of sheep being driven along the side of the highway.  The tour bus suddenly came to a stop, as the professor talked about the Good Shepherd and the bus driver humbly corrected the learned professor.  He said this man that was behind the sheep driving them was NOT the Good Shepherd!  The shepherd would be walking in front of the flock.  This man was the butcher.

Often I think we confuse the voices around us in our culture - are you hearing a voice in front of you, inviting you and leading you -- or are you hearing a voice from behind, accusing and driving you?  Never be confused which one is the voice of the Shepherd!

The promise of the Good Shepherd, the life of the sheep who follows faithfully will be "revival" - a kind of wellspring of refreshment and a sense of "guidance" in your life - guidance from the voice of the Lord for the sake of His Name!  Isn't that something we all desire?  To be guided in the pathways that are right, that are abundant with grass and water, that are quiet and peaceful?  Right?  The pain-free life!!  Yes??!!

Read on!

The right path that we are on will sometimes lead through that infamous valley:  "The valley of the shadow of death."  In the valley we find what?  just look at the words that follow:   death, evil, those who trouble me.
For me the point here is not that God will lead us away from these "valley" experiences, but that He will be with us "Through" them.  The valleys will come and go - they are part of the journey.  I love the series of books and movies by JRR Tolkien.  The story of the Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring, is a portrayal of the path of life and the presence of evil and challenge in the world.  Really, there was not much that was easy about the journey, was there?  We all have our valley's - our places of trial and testing, of fire and smoke, of battle, of sorrow and of loss.  Many times it seems like we just live there in the valley.  But the valley isn't our home.  The shire is.

The green pastures and the still waters are our home - and part of being in relationship with the Shepherd is the promise that, even in the midst of the valley, even in the face of death and sorrow, there will be a table set.

for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5          You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
6           Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days
of my life, *  and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Friends, the presence of the Good Shepherd "with us" - his discipline and his guidance give us comfort.  He is the one who set the table for us - even in the presence of trouble.  Like David, the unlikely candidate for King in our OT lesson this morning, we are called forward and we have oil poured on us - anointing from the Lord for the sake of His Name.

And the final affirmation of the Psalmist, who was the one who was anointed by the way:

Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me!  The Hebrew word actually contains the sense of pursuit in it.  God's goodness and His mercy pursue you.  Think about that, my friends.  The King and Creator of the universe has set his goodness and mercy out in pursuit of you - and they will not stop until "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever!"

This is the Good Shepherd!  You just need to know that that's the kind of Shepherd you are in relationship with in Jesus.  He is YOUR Good Shepherd.

Shall we pray?
  From the Venite, Psalm 95:

"Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *
   and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. *
   Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!"

+ + +
Lord, God of the Universe, Great Shepherd of the Sheep,
   we bow our knees before you and humble ourselves this day.
We acknowledge You, Lord, in all our ways and look to you
   from day to day for our direction and our security.
Send your Spirit, Lord, and speak your word to our hearts,
   Turn our hearts that we might know your voice and follow you.
Keep us mindful, Jesus, of your love and kindness, of Your presence
   and your pursuit of us, as we too often launch out on our own.
Bring us back, gentle Shepherd, into your fold - into the blessed
   company of the saints who dwell in your light.
And keep us each day, O God our protector, from harm and from
   danger, from foe and from fiend - from any who would harm.
You are the Good Shepherd of the sheep, and we are the sheep
   of your pasture - the flock of your hand.

In Jesus Name and for His sake we pray.
Amen!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lent III - Like the Woman At The Well


Lent 3 
March 23, 2104
Fr. Philip Eberhart


(Click title for Audio File)


Last Sunday from Derek we heard the tale of three sons, the Prodigal, the older brother, both lost sons and the Son who told the story - the Son of God, Jesus, the redeemer.  This morning our gospel is the story of a prodigal daughter, if you will - the woman at the well in Samaria.

I want to dive into this story this morning in a similar vein, to try to see what Jesus own strategy was - how did he communicate the gospel to someone who was a perfect stranger ( well actually HE was the perfect stranger, wasn't he?).

So, first of all, just a little background on two fronts.  It's interesting that there are two taboos working here - actually working against this whole scene ever happening.

1.  Samaritans and Samaria were a despised class and place by the Jews of the day.  Why?  Because of their heritage, one of disobedience - you see the Samaritans were the place and the people who had been driven out because they were the fruit of the intermarriages between Jews and the other tribal peoples of the land.  When Israel was given the land they were prohibited from intermarriage, yet some did it anyway - and thus a whole generation - generations - actually a whole people and division of the land in Israel had grown up.  Samaria was a place.    

Jesus used Samaria more than once to illustrate or to make a point - think of the illustration of the "Good" Samaritan - a parable illustrating righteousness and neighborliness using this despised class of people in that day.  And in the promise of the work of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8 we hear again that we are going to be sent to Samaria (a place that is different in belief and in relationship from us).  Jesus loved Samaria for the same reason He loved tax collectors and prostitutes.  They were part of the reason He came!  They were part of the world that Jesus came to seek and to save.  We just read that in the last chapter of John!

2.  This wasn't just a Samaritan he was speaking to, it was a Samaritan WOMAN.  Men did not speak to women who were not their wives, especially despised women who were seen to be in a different class.  And a man would definitely not be asking a drink from a foreign woman who was drawing water in the heat of the day in Samaria!  Why?   Because that fact also tells us that she was despised by her own people - she was outcast from her own society.  The other, "respectable", women would make that trek to the well early in the morning and together to draw water - it was a social occasion in the cool of the morning, as you began your day before the sun came up and headed back to town just at sun up.  One coming at noontime to draw water? Well, we don't talk about THOSE kinds of people in polite conversation.

So Jesus had two MAJOR roadblocks in his way, before He said a word!  What would his disciples think?  Talking to a woman?  Alone by the well?  What was Jesus doing there anyway ... alone while the disciples go into town - perhaps for the sake of his anonymity?!  He didn't want to be seen and draw a crowd, he needed to rest.  He was tired.  Perhaps for us, that would have been a THIRD roadblock.  Just too tired to engage someone!

So here we are with Jesus, at Jacob's well in Samaria. He's resting under a palm tree while the guys head into town to get some bread and fruit.  And a woman shows up at the well at noon.

What is Jesus thinking?  "Oh no!  I'm pooped, Father!  I don't want to talk to her - I don't want to talk to anyone."  Something makes me doubt that!  Because Jesus was a man on a mission.  He was sent and he knew it, from sun up to sun down, in every place he turned up and in every life he encountered.  Why?  because all the lost people mattered to him.

So you are out in the wilderness, a desert almost literally, alone and suddenly another person approaches.  Do you stand in silence or do you engage them.  Kind of uncomfortable to not engage, right?

But how to engage?  Isn't that OUR ROADBLOCK too often?  So Jesus simply uses the moment and the matter at hand - "excuse me!  Could you give me a drink of your water there?"  

Now notice that the roadblocks work both ways in culture.  We don't want to engage but neither do they typically.  And so she responds with a roadblock question:
"What are you, a Jewish man, doing speaking to me at all - a Samaritan woman, and of all things, asking me for a drink!???"

But Jesus responds, not out of any defense of his question, but out of a recognition of her need - the very reason she is there at all.  Water!  Interesting question he asks as well!  Listen.

"If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."

Jesus makes a reference to her need, but it is deeper than that.  Not just for a drink of water but for a source of water!  It was a dream (even one that we have) to live by a running stream or a river that never is dry.  That is the normal meaning of the phrase "living water."  Of course Jesus meaning is more than that, spiritually applied - the wellspring of life that is in us by the Holy Spirit - He speaks of it just a few chapters later in John.

It's got her interest, but she is no dummy!  She looks around at him and sees no skin, no bucket - this guy has no source for "living" water - no bucket to pour anything from.  She asks him then, "where do you get this living water?"

And her question is interesting, isn't it?  "Are you greater than our ancestor, Jacob?"  He's the one who dug this well and provided for himself and his sons and daughters, even down to our generations, who have been drawing from this well all this time.  Are you greater than him?

Again Jesus answers with three truths:

A.  This water only temporarily quenches your thirst.
B.  The water I'm offering is different - it quenches all thirst for all time.
C.  Finally, that water will be gushing up from inside you - a source of eternal life!

Jesus is building a bridge of trust and peaking her interest with something that she needs and wants - to not have to come out in the heat of the day, every day of her life, to draw water and carry it back to her home.  And she responds according to her need!

"Sir, give me this water!"  Now the water she was referring to was the literal water, so she wouldn't have to keep coming out to draw it up.  Sounded too good to be true, hmmm?  "Wow, I'd love to have some of THAT kind of water".  Got any?

Suddenly Jesus goes from preaching to meddling!

Why?

Well, as I said, Jesus knew from the setting that there was something different about this woman - here drawing water in the heat of the day.

Perhaps he has an inkling of what, or perhaps not.  Either way the direction he gives her is in line with the way a man of her day would want to speak to her husband, another man, on matters of some import.  So he asks her to go get her husband and return.

Her answer is his Aha here, but there is "something more."

The something more in this equation is clearly observed here as Jesus receives what we Crazymatics call "a word of knowledge" - we read about this ministry gift of the Holy Spirit in 1 Cor 12.  It is a thought, or direction from the Holy Spirit, that reveals something that is not known about a person or situation in the life of another.

We see it most often in regard to healing - that God may be healing some particular ailment or body part - we speak that out and people are built up in faith to receive a healing.

In this situation the Word of Knowledge is about her current living situation.  Jesus could not have known - He could have surmised from the circumstance that something was amiss, but the exactness of this word, tells us that it is a "word" from the Spirit of God, regarding the specific circumstances of another's life.

Does this make Jesus model of engagement out of reach for us, normal humans?
Absolutely not!  In fact it is THE model of engagement with others for the sake of the Kingdom and for the sake of their souls.

Friends, we are NOT ALONE in this engagement with the world and its needs.  We can certainly be observant, as Jesus was I'm sure, but there is SOMETHING MORE!  And that something more, came on Jesus at his baptism - we know it as the Holy Spirit!  Jesus is our model here because he laid aside all that he was as God, and became just like us, without sin.  He wasn't being omniscient here, he was relying on the power and presence of the Spirit, just like we have to.

And Jesus gives her a very specific and detailed "word."

"You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you are living with now is not your husband.  What you have said is true!"

I start getting amused here.  Have you ever made an observation or spoken a word to someone that they didn't really want to hear?  Have they ever changed the subject? Take the flashlight and pointed it in another direction?

Let's have a conversation about religion, huh?  Whaddyasay?  "I see you are a prophet!"

But Jesus brings her back to the point.  He acknowledges her rabbit trail:  "Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain and you Jews say we should worship in Jerusalem.  Which is it?"

But Jesus brings her back to the spiritual point of the conversation and she hears him fully.

A time is coming when its not going to be about the where, but about the how and the Who!

"... the hour is coming and in now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth."

This is Jesus' invitation moment ...  "now is the time"  "a true worshipper" "the Father seeks such".  Is that kind of person you?

And the woman verbalizes her faith. "I know that Messiah is coming - the one called The Christ.  When He comes He will proclaim all things to us." (And isn't this what Jesus has just done?)

And Jesus extends his hand to her, saying, "I AM" HE.  Jesus acknowledges here faith and brings home the conversation in her recognition of him as the Messiah, the Christ "who will proclaim all things to us."

As the scene changes, the disciples come up and she exits, running back to the village proclaiming that she has met a man (can he be the Messiah?) who "told me everything that I've ever done."  Now she was from a small village, so "everything she had ever done" was common knowledge there!  And they followed her out and met Jesus for themselves.

The evangelized becomes immediately the evangelist!  

But I want to close this morning with a look at the exchange Jesus had with his own disciples while the woman was in town:

"Do you not say, 'Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.  The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life,  so that sower and reaper may rejoice together."

We spend a great deal of time talking and thinking about the harvest - wishing for the harvest - complaining that we need new members or wringing our hands over the state of the world around us...

I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting!

Let us pray...

============================

Lord Jesus, you are the Lord of the Harvest.  We pray you to send forth laborers into your harvest, as you have told us to pray.  Now send your Spirit, O God, that your love for the world, for lost people may infect our hearts and move us to compassion and witness.  Clothe us, Holy Spirit, in compassion like Jesus and in your gifts for ministry, that as we reach forth our hands in love, and open our mouths in witness, your Word may be put in our mouth and spoken in love and gentleness.  Use us, O Father, as you did Jesus, to win the world to you, one by one.

Now with Jesus and the prophets before him, we lend ourselves to You Lord and ask you to make us your witnesses, by your power. for the sake of your Kingdom and your Name!  Jesus, the Christ.

Amen.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rev Derek Rust - Tale of Three Sons

Rev. Derek Rust is the former director of ALPHA Colorado and has been active in ministry here in Colorado, Minnesota, and Virginia for the past 20 years.

Derek brings a great word from the heart of the Father - that lost things matter!  Using Luke 15 and the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost (prodigal) son, Derek shows us the Father's heart for those who do not know Him.

Listen to this sermon and fill in the notes below:

(click here to listen)

THE TALE OF THE THREE SONS

1.  Portrait of the Younger Son  (Lu. 15: 11-20)

     A.  The Request:   " I wish you were _____(dead)_____!  (Lu. 15:11,12)
     B.  The Reason:     The Quest for   ______(freedom)___   (Rebellion --> Addiction)
     C.  The Consequence:    ___(drained 'essence')________  (Lu. 15: 13-16)


2.  Portrait of the Older Son  (Lu. 15: 25-30)

     A.  The Feelings:   ___(anger)__ ,  _____(resentment)__  (Lu. 15: 28,29)
     B.  The Temptation:  __(to write his brother off)_______  (Lu. 15: 30)


3.  Portrait of Jesus

     A.  Jesus Became __(the prodigal)___   [without rebellion; ours was his 'far country']
     B.  Jesus Became __(The Older Brother/Son)__  [without resentment]
     C.  Jesus Reveals __(the Father's Heart / Love_   [to us]

Monday, March 3, 2014

Missio Dei - The Mission of God

Last Epiphany / Mission Sunday
Mar 2, 2014
Fr. Philip Eberhart



Over a year ago I had opportunity to hear about a young man who works here in Denver as an officer with a group called Hope International. It took us several tries to put our schedules together but we finally met each other last fall for coffee and to get acquainted.  Much to my surprise last week, in my email, I get a post from Oak who sends an article about a new book that has just been released - boy that guy on the cover looks familiar.  I looked back through my schedule and sure enough, its the guy I met for coffee last fall, who has co-authored a book called Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities and Churches.

The article about the book starts out with the line from HARVARD University's 1636 Mission Statement, that its students "be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of your life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ."  Likewise the YMCA began, not as a song, but as "a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets."

We must acknowledge our tendency as people and organizations to "drift" from the mission that God intends for us to pursue with all our "heart, soul, mind and strength." We are easily distracted and our hearts are "prone to wander, Lord, I feel it!  Prone to leave the God I love!"

So this morning, on Mission Sunday, this last Sunday of Epiphany, before we enter the season of Lent - of penitence and prayer, I had in mind that we would look at the original documents again and see if we can discern the Mission of God that is the "WHY" for our existence here this morning - for all that we do on Sunday and every day, at REZ and in the Body of Christ and in Christ's Kingdom here on earth.  WHY?

Why has God done all this?  Why are we gathered here today and what is our purpose as we go from this place, this time?

IN THE BEGINNING

Like Harvard University, the secrets of the Missio Dei, the MISSION OF GOD are found in the opening lines of the historical documents - The Bible.  "In the beginning, God..."
Sometimes when we give our offerings we say it another way:  "All things come of thee O God, and of thine own have we given thee."

Not much drift would be possible if we could but remember this anchor!  God is the originator, the "Author and the Finisher," in whom we simply "live, move and have our being."  God is our source and supply, not we ourselves.  Jesus pointed to the birds and the flowers in teaching this principle.  He ended his discourse with the warning, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Not the other way around!  Our first and greatest danger is drifting from this knowledge that God is our only creator and sustainer, as David reminds us often, even this morning:

And now, you kings, be wise; *
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Submit to the LORD with fear, *
and with trembling bow before him;
Lest he be angry and you perish; *
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Happy are they all *
who take refuge in him!

Our understanding of the Missio Dei begins with our understanding of who God is and of our position in his creation, in His scheme of things.  The secret of understanding the Missio Dei is in keeping in mind whose it is - the DEI part.  It is the Mission OF GOD.   Once we have that securely fixed then we can shift our eyes from Him to the mission, but only then.

MISSIO

God's mission is our mission friends.  His mission is our reason for existence and especially, in light of His call.  That is where we see it most clearly, is in God's call to His people, from Abraham onward, and down to us this morning.  You are the agent of God's Mission.

It's roots are in the call of Abraham and the promise to God's people, that they will be "blessed to be a blessing."  In the call of Moses, to "set my people free."  In the call of David, from whose line would come "a redeemer."  Called the branch of Jesse, this promised One would save His people and sit on the throne of David forever.

Friends the MISSIO DEI, the mission of God, has always been in place and always been active, as God's plan moves forward from beginning to end.  The "why" of Jesus coming into the world is the why of our existence and meeting here this morning - the why of our mission in the world.

And here we are this morning, on the last Sunday of Epiphany, the season of light - of revelation - the revelation of the Son of God - God's One and Only Son - to the world.

Some of us went last night to see the movie Son of God that has come out on the big screen.  The movie focuses on the life and the mission of Jesus the man, from Galilee.  And we see in a very poignant scene, his picking up the scroll in the synagogue of his home town, Nazareth - turning to the passage of Isaiah 61 and reading the opening verses.

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 
He was sent to proclaim good news, to proclaim liberty/freedom to captives, recovery of sight to blind men,  once again... liberty for those who are oppressed - to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor!  Those are pretty specific mission goals, don't you think?
Jesus was asked later in his ministry, by John's disciples, before he was beheaded - likely while he was in prison - "are you the messiah or are we to look for another?"
Jesus answer to the question was a similar reply, hearkening back to this statement from Isa 61 and Luke 4 - his "job description".  Jesus points around him to the work that has been going forth and says, "Go tell John what you see and hear.  The blind are receiving their sight, the lame walk, the dead are raised!  And the poor are hearing the good news."
This friends, is the mission of God.  
And we have been given the privilege of Co-mission with Him!  Jesus was crystal clear that the job is not done yet. It remains for us to be engaged in the same mission as Jesus was.  He is specific that we are sent, in the same way He was sent!  We are the extension of His hands, of His feet, of His love for the world.  Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  We all know Jn 3:16 but how many know the verse after that?
"For the son of man came not into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved, through him."
Jesus was always facing this mission, pressing forward, praying, healing, teaching, all the way to the cross. Last night we were again clearly reminded that Jesus came with a single purpose in mind, and that purpose was not complete until he said "IT IS FINISHED" from the Cross and then three days later, rose victorious over death, hell and the grave.

It was in the 40 days after that that Jesus made clear to His followers that this was not the end but the beginning.  Time after time he reminded them of what he had said and done and finally gave them this charge - this GREAT Commission:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

And not only did he give them the commission but He promised the equipping:

"... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 

And the equipping came on Pentecost!  Like a mighty wind and tongues of fire, God swept them up into the Missio Dei - the mission of God and of God's people.

Today we stand in that place still - asking God to clothe us with power from on high - power for the mission that God has sent us on.  We ask Him to fulfill His mission through us, day by day as we move out of this place and into the world as his ambassadors.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Our mission, friends, here at REZ is to connect people to that reality!  To be willing, and available, and obedient to that reality - every day, in every place we go and everything we do.  If we are faithful to that, moment by moment and day by day, we will not have to worry about the kind of "drift" that we see around us in the world.  Rather with Paul we cry, "This one thing I do, I press on!"  We press on toward the high calling of God in Christ Jesus - a calling to be His ambassadors - His hands and feet and mouth in the world.  And we know that this mission is not easy or pretty.  The cross reminds us of the cost of the Missio Dei, and calls us onward and upward.  And we fix our eyes on Him, Jesus.  And we say the amen!