Praying for Jubilee – Part 2

by Elaine Maust
Ephesians 3:14-21
January 14, 2007

Follow-up to Praying for Jubilee – Part 1 (November 5, 2006)
For the past 20 years or so, I’ve had a reoccurring dream. It is different versions of this…We are at church and the building is filled with all kinds of people. At first in my dream, we were over at the old house Hooper Street where Jubilee began. Now that we are here in this building, the dream includes all of us together worshipping God or eating in the gym or going to Sunday School. The mood is festive and exciting. And always we are setting up chairs. Setting up chairs because there is not enough space for everyone in the gym or here in the sanctuary. My dream is a prayer for the day this place is overflowing with all kinds of people worshipping God.

Soon after we moved into this building, Steve Cheramie Risingson, pastor of Poarch Mennonite Church, preached at Jubilee. It was when we were just a little hand full of people rattling around in this huge sanctuary. He stood up here in this pulpit and said something like my dream; “I see this place full, filled with all kinds of people.” It was like a prophecy. A blessing. I was sitting down here in the front and I wanted to run up and peek over his shoulder to see if I can see it too. This place full. I wanted to run up into the pulpit with him and say, “Where, where, where are they? Show me!”

A few years ago, Erin Scruggs came to me with a dream she had. She said she had a dream in which the whole church was full of people. I was delighted. “Oh Erin,” I said, “you are dreaming my dream. Make that dream into a prayer.”

And sometimes, like last Sunday, when I stand up here and look out over the miracle that is Jubilee. All kinds of people that the Holy Spirit has called to be a church family, well some Sundays like last Sunday when I stand up here, I almost can’t breath. So great is my joy and wonder.

(Ephesians 3:20-21)

Back in November I preached a sermon, Praying for Jubilee, Part 1, in which I encouraged you to dream and pray for this church. I said that lots of times our prayers are for ourselves or those we love or for individuals at Jubilee. Nothing wrong with that! But I invited us to pray for Jubilee as a whole congregation. I asked, “What are your hopes and dreams and prayers for this church?”

Over the years, Jubilee has been a church that dreamed and prayed. Lisa Shelly dug through the archives in the office and found some of Jubilee’s goals over the past 25 years. Here are some of the things we dreamed and hoped for during the mid 1980s. How many of them have we reached?

* 75 members
* a pastor
* to be spirit controlled
* to have Sunday School and Bible School
* to have a budget of $25,000 a year
* each wage earner giving 11% of their income
* that we would be known as an alive church

By 1988 some of our dreams and prayers expanded and some were still the same…

* support the work of Pine Lake Camp
* move to a new location when we have an average attendance of 40-45
* use the gifts of new people
* sing Praise and worship songs
* emphasize a youth program
* begin a prayer chain
* become financially self-supporting
* create an atmosphere that would welcome a variety of cultures

In 1991 we dreamed of

* singing songs and hymns using an overhead projector and accompanied by a Jubilee Band
* having an annual church retreat
* developing a tutoring program for children and youth.

By 1992 our dreams and prayers were even more ambitious:

* to use musical instruments at least 2 times a month by 1993
* to be in our own facility by Jan 1, 1993
* to send Jubilee’s first missionary by 1995
* to have an average attendance of 225 by 2000

Well, you get the idea. Lots of dreams and prayers for this church have been offered over the years. Many of those, thanks to the leadership of Daryl Byler, our former pastor, who is a visionary.

Reading through these dreams and prayers put a smile on my face. Some have been easy to accomplish. Others, we aren’t even close to. If you want to check out this folder, let me know. Some of these were written back during the time when according to Bob Coblentz there were 15 people at Jubilee if you counted us all twice. When she first came to Jubilee in 1989, Edea Baldwin remembers thinking this was an ambitious little congregation. At the time we were meeting at the old house on Hooper Street and praying for a church building. She remembers looking up on the attendance board and seeing, Building Fund $ .

But here are three things to consider as we pray for Jubilee in 2007.
1) Nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37 & Genesis 18:14)
2) We will get things we don’t ask for (Ephesians 3:20)
3) The space between is faith (Romans 8:24-27 & Hebrews 11:1)

1) Nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37 & Genesis 18:14)

We just came through the Christmas season with its wonderful stories of the birth of Jesus. Remember the story from Luke 1, when the angel came to Mary with the Good News that she would be the mother of the Christ? Mary was understandably dumbfounded. She asked the angel, “How can this be?” Remember what the angel said to her? “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Nothing.

And how about this…

Turn to Genesis 18. (tell the story)

And the Lord asks Abraham a question (v14), “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Check out your Bible. What does that verse say? And check out the fine print at the bottom of the page. Some of you will see a note or maybe it is written right in the verse… That word “hard” means “marvelous or wonderful”. So the verse was intended to read, “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?”

So things that seem to be hard or difficult for us are just marvelous and wonderful for God. No big deal to God! As my friend, Thelma, wrote me recently, “God doesn’t have any impossible situations.”

Here are two of your prayers for Jubilee (read)

Big prayers, don’t you think? But none of the things we hope or pray for in 2007 will be too difficult for God. Not even, as someone wrote, “that we will come together as equals.”

Our impossible dreams and prayers will become God’s wonderful actions.

2) We will get things we don’t ask for (Ephesians 3:20)

While I did see goals in this folder that said things like, “we will be in our own building…”, I didn’t see anything close to this marvelous building downtown that God has given Jubilee. Brothers and sisters, we didn’t think to ask for this!

And we will be watching in 2007. Because God will give us things that we could not have known we needed or could not have imagined we could handle. In the words of Ephesians, “God is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we ask or imagine.”

It is a reminder to me to be watching for what the Holy Spirit might be up to. To anticipate surprise. To welcome God’s unexpected generosity.

3) The “in between” is faith (Romans 8:24-27 & Hebrews 11:1)

Usually between our hopes, dreams and prayers, individual or corporate, and the realization of those hopes and dreams and the answers to our prayers there is a great space. Do you know what I’m talking about? We hoped for a worship band for almost 15 years before we had one. I’m talking about the space, the in-between, the 15 years.

Here’s what the Bible says about waiting for what we hope for. (Rom. 8:24-27)

So, even though this year we will still be praying for things we will not see happen, we are not discouraged, we know that all the waiting time is faith time. That’s what we Christians call all the space between the hope God gives us and the answer God gives us – we call that space faith. (Hebrews 11:1)

A new year is beginning for Jubilee in 2007. What are our dreams and prayers? That we will:

* agree to disagree and still embrace each other?
* the Holy Spirit will soak us?
* give 11%
* get new carpet
* have a prayer room
* that the building will be so full of all kinds of people that we will have to set up chairs?

What are your dreams, hopes and prayers for this church? None of them, none of them is impossible for God. God has already given Jubilee more than we could have asked or imagined. For all the rest we will wait in faith. Even the hard things aren’t too marvelous for God.

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