The scripture for this month is John 1. The story of Jesus is told in 4 books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. When you read Matthew, Mark and Luke they have a similarity in the way they read, quite different from John. Matthew, Mark and Luke read like a history book, great attention to the facts and chronology. John is different. John reads far more like an appeal to the emotions, half a dozen times in the book John reminds the readers that at the time the events took place the disciples did not understand what it meant, only later did they understand after the resurrection of Christ. The book is more about the meaning of Jesus, looking back in a way that was not understood at the time. To me, the greatest impact of John is to read it from the viewpoint of a child….to simply believe. The purpose of the book of John is clearly spelled out at the end of the book: John 20:31 (read). To simply believe. Better yet, believe simply. You Big people just don’t get it. Look to the children. Believe simply. When John says in chapter 1 the good news is “light,” we are invited to accept the wonder of light as the truth of what God has done for us. I like questions, we are taught there are no bad questions, I want people to ask questions, but sometimes we need to be like children and believe simply, dispense with the questions for a time: God is light. Light is an impression that needs no words to understand. (light a candle)
When you are open to receiving God, there is nothing more awesome that to let God reveal himself to you in his time…he is light, he reveals, he shines, he exposes what’s in the dark, he brings comfort, he brings sight – everything that is light is God’s purpose. Read the book of John as a child, simple belief, not asking a lot of questions but simply accepting as God reveals himself to you. To be a child.
Before we go over some of these verses, a testimony of one person, growing up in Sumas, growing up in this church. I love one line I will underline that this woman writes. Tara Messick (Wright). She is talking about my father, who was the pastor here from 1951 to the mid 90’s. My point in reading this is not about my father, pastors get a lot of credit when really the credit goes to the community of faith, but I’ll read it as Tara writes it, the story of a child and how she met Christ. (In a longer written testimony, she says how grateful she is to Nora Larson for giving her rides to Sunday School and Church. I have copies…) Tara gave permission to share her story:
Hi Carl, I came across your name on Jennifer Patterson's facebook page and couldn't help but write to you! I don't know if you remember my family, my parents are Roy and Helen Messick, and my brother is Bryan. We were in Sumas from 1972-1987, my parents owned The Barkerville and The Annex.
I was looking through your pictures and saw pictures of your dad. It almost brings me to tears. He holds a very special place in my heart. The older I get, the more I realize what a gift God gave me through him and his ministry, and your parents' sacrifice to serve the Lord in Sumas! I came to church by myself all of our years in Sumas. … [Me and my family] were all affected by Earl and Miriam. Earl was so sweet to my family. My mom appreciated so much his care for us, and especially for me in his church. He took the time to check in with my mom and make sure we were okay...He baptized me, drove my school and ski bus. I remember all the potlucks, Sunday School, Christmas plays and Jet Cadets. I remember he loved photography … and he even took a few of us out and about one day in Sumas, taking pictures of us... I am so thankful for my years in Sumas, for the people who invested in little Tara Messick's life and loved me, giving me a foundation of Christ to build on and showing me Jesus' love at such a young age!
My mom and I went to Earl's funeral...I still think of him often, as he had such an impact on my life! Thank you for carrying on in Sumas, bringing the love of Jesus to the people out there. And if you see a girl who comes to church by herself, don't downplay the impact you may have on even the smallest of lives!! I am now married and have four children of my own. We are all walking with the Lord out here in Ferndale... In Christ, Tara
To be a Child Again. You can. It’s God’s promise. Start with a Simple Belief. A simple acceptance. Like a child believe simply. The first part of our scripture explains that some believe and some don’t, some are like children and some aren’t.
READ John 1:6-11. You can hear the themes in there… the purpose of the light is to believe – a simple belief. “Believe” is a key word. Some people believe in Jesus Christ and others don’t. I don’t know why. I cast a wide net in Sumas, trying to talk to as many people as possible, not because I am so great, but because I love people, I love their stories, I learn so much, it is so much fun, some believe simply and others don’t. I can’t predict who will and who won’t, so I cast a wide net. As long as a door is open, I’ll do my best to knock as I can…
“Light” is a key word. God is light, he reveals, he shines, he exposes what’s in the dark, he brings comfort, he brings sight – everything that is light is God’s character.
John 1:10-11. Some believe and some don’t. Nothing wrong with questions, but I have noticed that people ask questions from one of two angles: if a person is asking questions about Jesus Christ or the miracles of the bible through the eyes of a skeptic, seldom are they convinced of anything.// If I say I believe Jesus Christ was born of a virgin and you say impossible, we are at an impasse. // But if you ask the same question through the eyes of somebody who wants to believe, who is open to Christ, then that is something wholly different. Simple belief accepts the light of Christ at some point, doesn’t mean there are not questions, but somehow the person who believes simply has an innate sense that God is light/ right/ bright/ might… To be a Child Again begins with believing simply, to be amazed by the truth of who God is and what he came to do.
I love John 1:12-13. The GNB says, “Some, however, did receive him and believed in him.” Some. Some. “And if you see a girl who comes to church by herself, don't downplay the impact you may have on even the smallest of lives!!” Some. You big people just don’t get it, you don’t get this faith thing. I don’t know why some are wired to accept so easily and for others believing in God is a struggle. Some of you need to de-complicate your life, to become like children, -- all of you are capable, and you can start right now – because it’s not about what you do so much as it is to give your life to God like a child and simply believe – your attitude of acceptance. A child doesn’t ask where the food comes from, it just is. Let light shine in the dark corners of your life, and I know there might be some cobwebs, but you’ll never clean out the cobwebs unless you see them.
To be a Child Again: simple belief. John 1:15-17 says it is Jesus Christ in whom we are to believe. He is the light. John 1:16 has a wonderful declaration that we have all received “one blessing after another.” Blessing upon blessing. Focus on everything that is right in your life. The WOW ladies have a self imposed assignment, or at leas they used to, everyday (?) they are to write five things they are thankful for, forcing them to look for the good, this is blessings upon blessings. How easy it is to focus on the tension, the garbage, the darkness, the unknown, the uncertainty, but the Bible says we are to see the good, the positive, and what a difference it makes. Instead of everything that’s wrong, start with everything that is right. That’s what children do… children have a natural joy.
This Christmas season become like a child and adopt a simple belief. Simply accept Jesus, get rid of the clutter that plagues the adult mind, and bask in the simple belief of a child. Some believed… won’t you be a part of the “some” And if you see a girl who comes to church by herself, don't downplay the impact you may have on even the smallest of lives!!”
I’d like to end by reading the powerful verse, John 1:14, and in keeping with the theme of the simple belief of a child, tell a story that will perhaps puts together the miracle that Jesus, the Son of God, became a man -- the big Christian word describing Jesus becoming human is incarnation.
Let’s suppose that I owned an ant farm, and for reasons known only to myself, I loved those ants more than anything in the world. How could I communicate my love to them? I could shout, “I love you,” but because I speak English and they speak ant, they wouldn’t understand. I could write them a letter, but they couldn’t read it. I could shrink down to ant size, but they wouldn’t recognize me. But if I had supernatural powers, there is one thing I could do. I could take on the form of an ant, be born as an ant, live as an ant, and communicate as they do. Then I could find a way to say, “I love you.”
That is what God did. He didn’t mail a letter or shout from heaven. He did the one thing we could understand. God himself came down and entered the human race. He became just like us so that forever we would hear him saying, “I love you.”
That’s God’s way. Read the story of Jesus’ birth. The only thing required of you is to believe simply. Instead of flash and splash, there is a frightened father, an exhausted mother, a dirty stable in wintertime, rags for diapers, and a feeding-trough. There he is, ignored by the mighty and powerful—a tiny, helpless baby. God with us, a child. It’s so simple that you know it must be true. Only God would have done it that way.
It’s time for “some” of you to believe simply in God, to get right with God. We adults are the ones that make it so complex. You big people just don’t get it. The story of the birth of Jesus is more simple than you ever imagined, even a child understands before tainted by adult worries and problems. Faith is far more simple than what you imagine. Like a child, it is time for you to simply believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, fully human, fully divine, who has come to forgive you and bring you salvation.