Many who have been faithful Lenten Luncheon attendees through the years and several new faces entered Northside Christian Church last Wednesday to sit at white-cloth covered tables with teal, pink, and blue table runners that held small spring bouquets in tiny flower pots and plates of homemade cookies.
Curtis Sweeney, the new pastor at Northside Christian, the host church for the third Lenten Luncheon, welcomed all present and led in asking the blessing for the lunch prepared and served by the women of the church.
Guitarists Rick Cox and Cody Cox, provided the music, playing beautiful, soft, instrumental renditions of “How Great Thou Art” and “How Great Is Our God.”
The main theme of Pastor Curtis Sweeney’s talk was “May you boldly proclaim that Jesus saves,” based on 1 Timothy 1:12-15, and his message was to pray to be bold in your witnessing and pray for His guidance in pointing others to Christ, trust in His power, not our power.
“Every church needs a vision statement,” he said. “Jesus had a vision statement.”
He referred to instances of Jesus being with tax collectors, sinners in the house of Levi, the son of Alphaeus. The Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with the tax collectors.
“Jesus came and died for sinners, such as you and me,” Pastor Sweeney said. “Jesus commissioned us to seek those who are lost and point them to Him. Our statement here at Northside is to that we want to point people to Christ. “
“We do this by living holy lives and sharing the good news of his death and Resurrection with others,” he said.
Should we use words when necessary? Sweeney said, “Peter used words at the day of the Pentecost, Paul used words on Mar’s Hill. “
“May we point people to a mighty Savior. We are not to do ministry in our own power. God loves working in the impossible,” he said. “If we are doing ministry in our own power, then we are not doing ministry the way God intended.”
He spoke of Jonah, who believed so much in the grace of God that he didn’t want to preach, because he didn’t want Nineveh to be saved.
“At times, we are afraid to proclaim Christ to people, because we are afraid it won’t work out. Nowhere does it say that Jonah didn’t want to preach to the people because he was afraid of them killing them; it seemed like he wasn’t afraid of them, but he was afraid of God and His mercy.
“Study the prayer life of the Apostles in the Book of Acts. The main theme for their prayer life wasn’t for their lives to be protected, but for their faith too remain. They prayed for boldness,” Sweeney said.
“It seems that the early church was more afraid of not being bold for Jesus than they were of death itself.”
He closed with the words, “My you boldly proclaim that Jesus is mighty to save,” and concluded the program with prayer.
Next Tuesday's Lenten Luncheon is from noon-1 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, Fourth and Madison streets.