Glorify Your Name

John 12.20-33


I think I know what you need.  I’m thinking you could use a break.  A break, I think you need a holiday, a day to rest and to be…well, to be happy.

It’s been quite a year here at Cottage Way Christian Church.  The last twelve months or so have been nothing short of amazing.  We’ve done a lot.  When you think back over these last twelve months, when you think of all the things that have happened, of all that we have done and accomplished, this has been a very busy place.  And you’ve been working.  You’ve been working hard.

And I think you could use a bit of a break.  You deserve a break.  You deserve a holiday, a day of rest, a day to rest and to be happy.

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.  It’s one of the Ten Commandments and my favorite one.  We keep the Sabbath day holy by…well, by not doing anything, not a blessed thing, by taking the day off and resting.  Thou shalt take a day off to rest, to rest and to be happy.

And it wouldn’t kill us to take a day off, to take a holiday.  The world would not stop spinning; it wouldn’t all fall apart, just because we took a break.  Not everything depends upon us.  Not everything is up to us.

So we’re going to take a bit of a holiday this morning.  We are going to take a little time to rest, to be happy, and to remember that not everything is up to us here at Cottage Way.  Not everything that happens around here depends entirely on us, on what we do.

Not everything depends upon us.  Not everything is up to us.  It isn’t just us chickens around here.

Says Jesus, in this morning’s scripture reading from the Gospel of John, Jesus says, The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

And he is talking about his death, the hour of his death on the cross.  Then there is he glorified.

He continues: Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies…

He speaks of his death.  He is that grain of wheat.  He speaks of his death, of how it is he gives his life, how he lays down his life.

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies…

And he lays down his life.  He gives his life.

If the seed dies, it bears much fruit.

He lays down his life.  He lays down his life for his friends.  He gives himself, he gives his life to us.  His resurrection.  He gives his life to us so that we can live.

We are not alone here at Cottage Way.  We are not the only ones who do things around here.  It isn’t just us chickens, you know.  Father, glorify your name, he prayed.  And a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.  We are not alone.

So let’s think back over the last twelve months or so, about what has happened here at Cottage Way.

Let’s start with stewardship, with our giving to the church, with the money, but not because it is most important.

We had a stewardship campaign this past fall.  Sharon LoForte headed things up.  And we asked ourselves what God is calling us to give to the church, what percentage of our income, and we made our pledges.  Now, we all know what the stock market has done the last several months, how it has lost fifty percent of its value.  You know that, but what you may not know is that, so far this year, our giving to the church has increased by fifty percent over last year, over the same period last year.  You heard me right: an increase of fifty percent.  That’s good.  We can be very happy about that.

What else?  What else has happened?  Well, Ruth Hawkins told me that she would pray and pray that God would send some children to this church.

Now, all of you who are under seventeen years old please stand up.  Ruth’s prayers have been answered.  A year ago we had a handful of kids.  But by Christmas…There were twenty-two kids in our Christmas pageant.  And it’s good to have so many kids.  We can be very happy.

Here’s something else.  Stay standing.  If you are under seventeen and have been baptized in the last twelve last months raise your hand.  Now, if you are over seventeen and have been baptized in the last year, stand up and raise your hand.

In the last year, we have baptized nineteen people.  Nineteen have been baptized into Christ and Christ’s church in the last year.  This is amazing and we can feel very, very happy about these baptisms.

What else?  You can put your hands down, but stay standing.  If you have become a member of this church in the past year, please stand if you are able.

I reported eighteen new members for last year.  But I forgot to count Mary and me.  So make it twenty.  And so far this year we have already welcomed nineteen new members.  That’s thirty-nine new members in the last twelve months.  This is really good and we can all feel very, very happy.

Alright.  If a year ago you were not attending worship very regularly here at Cottage Way but you are now, please stand if you are able.

Do you know that we have not had less than sixty in worship since the first Sunday in January?  This is good.  We can be happy.

Please be seated.  I’ve got one more thing here.  It is the most important thing.

Let me ask you a question.  Have you, have you found something here?  Have you found, have you felt, have you experienced something, something good here at Cottage Way?  Have you found some kind of help here?  Has something given you hope?  Does something about this place make you happy?  Do you, when you walk through those doors back there, do you feel like you count for something?

If you have, if you have found something good here at Cottage Way Christian Church, will you please raise your hand?

We are not alone.  We are not alone at this church.  We have had a good year.  We have done a lot of things.  You have worked hard.  But it isn’t just us chickens around here, you know.

Jesus is here with us.  He gives his life.  He gives his life to us.  He is here working wonders, giving his life, new life.  And help and hope and joy and compassion and forgiveness and love.  Jesus is here with us and he is doing wonderful things among us.

Jesus prays, Father, glorify your name.  And we are not alone.  The one whom Jesus called Father is here, too.  God is.  He is at work through the Holy Spirit glorifying his name among us.

We have had a wonderful year.  We can all feel good and can be happy for we are not alone.  Jesus is at work here, too.  And God, God is at work here at Cottage Way, too.  Thanks be to God for all the wonderful things that have happened among us.

Neal Kentch, Cottage Way Christian Church, Sacramento, March 29, 2009