Southern Heights Presbyterian Church

5750 South 40th Street - Lincoln, NE - 402-421-3704 Worship Sundays at 10:30

A loving and welcoming faith community located at 40th and Old Cheney Road in South Lincoln, Nebraska, Southern Heights Presbyterian Church is a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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Relationship at SHPC - Tending the Soil: Inwardly Strong - Our Relationship With God

Part One of a Four Part sermon series about our relationships at SHPC...this week: Our relationship with God, and how it makes us "Inwardly Strong." 

Please note that for this sermon, Pastor Leanne used more of an "outline" format in places, and less of a manuscript. The final spoken sermon deviated from this in several places, expanding on themes and ideas in others. But, we're sharing it with you in the hopes that you "get the idea" of what it is that we're talking about!


Relationship at SHPC - Tending the Soil:
Inwardly Strong - Our Relationship With God
June 29, 2014
Rev. Leanne Masters
Southern Heights Presbyterian Church

So, In the year and a half-ish that I have been with you, I have learned many things about this community and this family. One of the major things that I have learned during this time is that this is a community of people that is all about relationship.
The fact of the matter is that relationship is very important to us. It is in the very DNA of this congregation, and it guides, drives, and impacts each and every thing that we do in the life of this community...from our activities to how we approach the business of the church, everything...up to and including the development of our Mission Statement. That statement, that we are Inwardly Strong and Outwardly Focused is all about our relationship, and how we understand it and live it out in our community.
But the truth is that, while the importance of relationship is something that is embedded within us,  it’s also something that is such a deep part of the DNA of this congregation that it’s something that we don’t talk about or even think about much.

It’s just...who we are.

But...like any aspect  or part of a community...if we don’t talk about it, if we don’t think about it, then we certainly can’t do the things that are necessary to nurture, develop, and grow it into an ever more vibrant and intentional aspect of who we are.

So, for a four week period, starting today, we are going “off lectionary” to talk intentionally about what relationship means to us, how we understand it in the life of our community, and how we can nurture it in us and in our life with others.
I’ve chosen to frame this conversation around our Mission Statement, to help us to explore and deepen our understanding of ourselves, our community, our relationships through it...
To give you an idea of where we are headed with this series, we will be spending two weeks on each of the halves of our mission statement, fleshing those pieces out a little bit in relationship to...relationship.
This week, we’ll be fleshing out the Inwardly Strong piece...how we are inwardly strong, or made inwardly strong, in our relationship, and relationships, with God, and how we are and are made inwardly strong in and through our relationships with others.
The following two weeks, we’ll be talking about the outwardly focused, and how we understand and live into our relationships with guests and with the greater community.

So, having said all that...
This morning, I want us to take a few moments to talk about our relationship with God, both as individuals and as a community.

I personally, really love that passage from Ephesians that we read this morning...were Paul talks about what he dreams of and prays for for the community in Ephesus: 

Strengthened in your inner being through the spirit,
Christ may dwell in your hearts, being rooted and grounded in love,
Filled with all the fullness of God...

In a way, it sums up what it is to have a relationship with God, and how it makes us inwardly strong, able to handle what comes our way.
It's what makes us strong as a community, as our relationship with God draws us together...that whole "blest be the tie that binds" thing.
We find our root, our core of strength in our relationship with god...but not only that, when we have a relationship with God, as some would say, when Christ dwells in our hearts, we are anchored...rooted and grounded...held fast against the storms that rage about us.

We are filled with the fullness of God, we are made full and whole and complete in our relationship with God.

When we gather on a Sunday morning for Worship, we are tending to that relationship, nurturing it. Connecting with God in a way that helps us to know and to feel that relationship...to have that strength renewed, that root firmly planted, and that fullness filled. Worship is also a place where we can, individually and communally, wrestle with God and seek a more full understanding of God, our relationship with God, and how we understand God to be working in our lives and in the world. All of this is in service to us being strengthened by God, in relationship with God, to live and to love and to serve and to be all who we understand God has called us to be.

I have been inspired by something that a member of this congregation said this past week...
What we do here on Sunday morning isn’t church, it’s worship...it’s an important part of being church, but it’s not the whole part of being church...

What we do the rest of the week, as individuals and as a community, matters. That’s how we live out “church” and faith and how we live out the relationship that we celebrate and strengthen each Sunday morning...

But, I am jumping ahead of myself here...stay tuned...

“He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.” — Micah 6:8 CEB