Rev. Dr. Jennifer Little
“And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. ’God is God, not of the dead, but of the living.’” Matthew 22:31-32
I have been thinking about this description of God lately. “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” I think that this description of God found in Matthew and in Acts is important for us as a Christian Congregation. There is much to inspire us at St. Peter’s in remembering that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
First, we see that God is steadfast in love. When Jesus quotes this passage in Exodus 3: 6 he is reminding his listeners that God’s love has been steadfastly revealed to generation after generation of faithful believers. Abraham is the Spiritual Ancestor to whom Judaism, Christianity and Islam all trace our heritage—God’s steadfast love not only has been present, but is present in the spiritual descendants of Abraham who seek God. When the statement “I am the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob is spoken in Exodus to Moses, God is about to tell Moses that the cry of God’s people has been heard and they are to be delivered by God’s steadfast love.
Second, we see that God’s love is the result of God’s grace; it is not earned. Jesus’ listeners would certainly remember some of the important features of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as fully human beings. Abraham was not a perfect human being. When God made a covenant with Abraham, it says, “Abraham believed God, and it (Abraham’s belief) was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). We don’t often use the term “reckoned” in this way these days, but it means to be “counted as.” If something is “reckoned” to you it is counted to you. “The day of reckoning” is the day of counting/judgment. Abraham’s belief was “counted as” righteousness by God. Abraham wasn’t a faultless human being (read Genesis if you wonder about this), but God’s grace counted Abraham’s belief as “righteousness.” This is important to Christians when we profess that we are saved by God’s grace and we cannot earn salvation. God is the God of Abraham.
What about Isaac? Isaac was Abraham’s second son. Was Isaac a sinless human being? Nope. Isaac lied, out of fear when the men of Gerar asked him if Rebekah was his wife: “No,” he said, “she is my sister; for he was afraid to say ‘my wife’ thinking ‘or else the men of the place might kill me for the sake of Rebekah because she is attractive” (Genesis 26:6). So when asked about this lie by Abimelech, Isaac says, “Because I thought I might die because of her” (Genesis 26:9). This isn’t honest or courageous behavior on the part of Isaac; it is pretty self-centered. And yet God blesses Isaac and appears to Isaac saying, “I am the God of your father, Abraham, do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you and your offspring. . .” (Genesis 26:24-25). Isaac is not perfectly righteous; he cannot earn God’s blessing; it is a gift of God even in light of Isaac’s shortcomings. God is the God of Isaac, too.
What about Jacob? Jacob and his brother Esau are Isaac and Rebekah’s sons; brothers. Is Jacob a totally righteous man? Nope. Jacob “stole” his brother’s birth right (giving him 2/3 of his father’s estate instead of the customary 1/3 for second sons.) Jacob “fooled” Isaac into his inheritance. This isn’t just, or honest, or courageous either. Jacob certainly isn’t totally righteous according to God’s justice either. And yet, God bestows grace on Jacob and Jacob’s descendants as well, in spite of Jacob’s shortcomings. God is the God of Jacob, too.
Brothers and Sisters of St. Peter’s we are children of God, adopted in Jesus Christ. When God states, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” we can be inspired. God’s love is a free gift; we don’t earn it. We can’t be other than the flawed human beings we are. But like our ancestors in faith, we can repent when we recognize our sin, we can make amends, we can change our ways, and we can ask God for forgiveness. Not only are we children of God but so are our brothers and sisters who are not “perfect.”
God’s grace is sufficient for salvation. Let us recognize that we are one family in God, who is steadfast in love, and who reckons us righteous if we believe in God.
Christian Arts Center
Gracie Stanley has gotten herself in hot water by promising to deliver her distant cousin, rock star Ziggy Springer, for the high school Hippity Hop at Louise’s Luncheonette. Ziggy’s manager doesn’t want his client performing anywhere without pay, so Gracie and her friends have to produce a double — and fast! They use a singing soda jerk and plan to have him perform in the dark! It won’t be easy for Gracie to get away with this one with her rival, snooty Muffin Mansfield, waiting for her to flop. Meanwhile, Louise has her own problems. The building’s owner forbids the dance and plans to turn the eatery into a dry cleaner. With all of this happening, Gracie’s brother is living in terror because he’s smashed up a Harley belonging to Sinbad Gallucci, a bad dude. There are fun roles to play, with everything from students to beatniks. This is a one set, easy to stage musical comedy that will have your audiences cheering. Included in the sensational Francoeur fifties score: ’Bop-A-Lu-Bop Dance Party,’ ’Teen Queen,’ ’It’s Tough To Be a Teenager In Love,’ the hilarious ’It Was The Blob,’ and, of course, the toe-tapping title tune.
Our 2015 Summer Camp will run July 27– August 14 with performances on August 14, 2015 at 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. Registrations are due by July 13; packets are available in the office or online. Visit the church website or call for more information!
St. Peter’s Gardens
Last month St. Peter’s Gardens donated over 50 pounds of fresh lettuce and spinach to the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen! By popular demand we are going to plant more beets for a second harvest. Right now there are plenty of fresh herbs (basil, thyme, cilantro, rosemary and sage) you can pick. In July, the big crop will be tomatoes, which have really enjoyed all this rain.
Our garden’s abundance is being used to feed the church first (at events, fellowship, or for pickup at church), then members are welcome to harvest what they’d like and any surplus is donated to the local community. Check the newsletter or go to facebook.com/stpetersucc to find out what you can harvest.
Adult Bible Study
Introduction to the Old Testament adult Bible Study will begin on Thursday, July 23rd 1:30 p.m. -3:00 p.m. We will meet in the Consistory/Ed room (air conditioned!). Many people have avoided studying the Old Testament because it is so culturally different. Archeology and biblical scholars have cut through a lot of that, and we can really ENJOY the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). This class will provide the tools that will help us as 21st century Christians love the Hebrew Scriptures as Jesus did! We remember that Jesus was Jewish and these were the scriptures he read and taught.
You do not need to attend every class –you can do this as deeply as you want:
- Read the companion book for the class and the suggested scripture readings
- Read only the companion book or the scripture readings
- Read nothing –but come and listen to the discussion and lecture.
It is up to you! You will love this experience of our faith in God!
News from the Strawberry Festival
Thanks everyone for making the Strawberry Festival such as success. The covered dishes were delicious and plentiful. We had four out-of-town guests from Iowa and Tennessee who were in Champaign for the Illinois vs. Vanderbilt baseball game join us and offer appreciative comments about our church and its hospitality. The forty-five persons attending made it quite a festive event. Addison Buschmann even found a new use for whipped cream besides using it to dip strawberries in; she tried it with a radish—must have been good because she ate it! Thanks especially to Carolyn Hamrick, Doris Hershbarger and Phyllis Jones for helping with the preparation by stemming strawberries and arranging the meat and cheese trays on Saturday morning. Also thanks to the cleanup crew of Carolyn Hamrick, Patty Kobel and Cheryl Kennedy. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed hosting it on behalf of the Tuesday Circle.
Boy Scouts Troop #13
03 Ice Cream and Independence Concert—Hessel Park
04 Fourth of July Neighborhood Parades
07 Troop Meeting
11-18 Summer Camp—Owasippe
21 Troop Meeting
28 Troop Meeting
A Grateful Remembrance
Kathryn Luther Henderson wrote a wonderful article about her family and their involvement with St. Peter’s over the years. View the article here.
Ice Cream Social
Saturday, July 25th from 3-5 pm
Join us for the Sesquicentennial Ice Cream Social. We are looking for volunteers to serve food and run games. Please sign up on the bulletin board. Click the image to learn more!
The Sesquicentennial Brunch is Sunday, November 15, 2015. The catered meal will be after worship.
Watch the newsletter, bulletin board, Facebook and the church website for more details.
Jennifer’s Office Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Typically her day off is Wednesday.
Summer Office Hours
We will try to keep our normal 9:00 a.m.—2:00 p.m. office hours this summer as we search for a replacement Office Manager. If you are unable to reach someone via telephone, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For Pastoral Emergencies, contact Rev. Dr. Little directly.