“Life is a gift to be received with gratitude and a task to be pursued with courage”

We fall down
We lay our crowns
At the feet of Jesus

The greatness of
Mercy and love
At the feet of Jesus

We cry holy, holy, holy
We cry holy, holy, holy
We cry holy, holy, holy
Is the lamb

Christ Tomlin (Revelation 4:8-11)
responding to God’s invitation

First, and importantly, attending church is always good, always worthwhile, always timely, and always the right thing to do. Worship is not, primarily, about us and our need for an “experience.” Worship is about God, and the most important thing about attending church is the bowing down, the reverence and adoration, and the “casting our crowns at the feet of Jesus.”

That said, sometimes Sunday mornings come along with a strong message of encouragement, a word of instruction, a moment of inspiration. That was absolutely the case this past weekend at Hudson Memorial Presbyterian. The guest preacher was our friend Jimmy Hulsey. He shared an excellent message, but it was his reference to a short excerpt from the Presbyterian Confession of 1967 that has really stayed with me. It was presented as an “Affirmation of Life.”

Life is a gift to be received with gratitude and a task to be pursued with courage.

Confession of 1967 – PC(USA) Book of Confessions

Jimmy read the words during the sermon, repeated them, encouraged the congregation to repeat the sentence out loud, and then had us stand to read it – twice – as our affirmation of faith.

I had not seen this phrasing before, or read this portion of the Confession of 1967, but I have thought along these lines many times, written the sentiment in many ways, and articulated its core truth via various paraphrases over the years.

Probably the most common related idea that pops up in my writing has been the following:

Jesus is God’s invitation, and our best response is to live like we mean it – because God certainly meant something important when each one of us was imagined, designed, created, and gifted to this world!

I particularly like the Confession of 1967’s reference to pursuing life with courage. We can accept the idea of new life in and through Jesus all we like, singing about it and talking about it; but it is living into the truth of the Christ-life that requires courage.

Jesus put it this way: “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution/trouble/difficulty. But take courage (be encouraged, take heart); I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)

– Rebekah and Derek Maul

When we receive the peace that Jesus offers, and when we understand that he has already conquered this world, then we can live with purpose and with courage.

The Good News of Jesus is encouraging! How else could we respond other than living like Jesus meant for us to live, receiving the gift of life and responding to the invitation to live as God’s children?

What a privilege! What a challenge! – DEREK

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