Written Sermons & Bible Studies

Afghan of Faith

In our lives, faith stands as a rock – solid, immovable, and the very foundation we build upon. Matthew 16:16-18 paints a vivid picture of this faith. Simon Peter declares Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus declares Peter’s faith as the unshakable rock that can weather any storm.

Simon Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of God who is alive and real.” Jesus answered, “You’re blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because God showed you this, not other people. I tell you, you are Peter, and I’ll build my church on this rock of belief, and nothing can tear it down.”

God speaks to our hearts and reveals to our inner selves that Jesus is alive and real. Our belief in Christ makes us strong, like standing on a massive, sturdy rock. Jesus is that rock, and our trust in Him is firmly placed. Our belief provides us with strength when challenges in life try to tear us down. The solid rock of our faith foundation represents not only our individual faith but also the faith of our community at Place of Grace Fellowship.

A month ago, I had a stroke affecting my entire left side. The ER doctors administered a strong clot-busting medicine, and I regained full function of both sides of my body. My speech and thoughts became clearer and clearer. I am not going to lie. At first, I didn’t know what was happening, and when I finally did, I was scared. Every time the hospital doctor came into my room, she said you are blessed. You don’t know what I see of stroke victims. You are blessed. Then she said, you must go to your church and testify. Some people would testify to the miracle of modern medicine that made the clot buster available. Others would testify to God’s protection as a sign of God’s favor or God’s plan for me that isn’t finished. However, what I would testify to, stricken and scared, is how I held on to my faith that did not fail me, how the love of my brothers and sisters in Christ ministered to me, and how the Holy Spirit healed me.

Last Sunday, Pastor Brad likened our faith to a warm and glowing fire that draws others near, inviting them to join us by the fire side. Sharing our belief in Christ is like stoking that fire, spreading the warmth and light to those around us.

In today’s weather, it might be us gathering around an air conditioning vent, but let’s keep with the picture of a fire.

But life’s challenges can threaten to extinguish that fire. Loss, sickness, financial troubles – they’re like cold winds that blow against our faith. The warm fire of Christ’s love and everyone in our church that surrounds the fire, offering love and prayers for each other, become a protective barrier against the coldness of life. Our community is a tangible reminder of Christ’s embrace, a wrap of warmth that helps keep the fire of faith burning bright.

Here at Place of Grace, our faith in Christ is both the rock and the fire. It’s the unyielding strength that supports us and the warmth that comforts us. Our belief guides us, directing our path like a light shining in the distance. It fills our life as a warm relationship with family, friends, and Christ. Faith gives our lives purpose and guides us towards a destination assured in Christ.

When times get difficult, let us remember the rock that grounds us, the fire that warms us. Together, they symbolize the unwavering faith, the divine comfort, and the communal support that enable us to face life’s coldness with grace and resilience. Our faith in Christ makes everything better, not by erasing problems but by providing the strength to move forward, a journey illuminated by the warm glow of faith and supported by the steadfastness of our rock.

When the cold wind of recent challenges struck in my life, my stroke caused by a heart arrhythmia, it was like cold winds trying to blow out the warmth of the fire of grace in my life. My heart, once beating with a steady rhythm, faltered. But I wrapped myself in my faith and felt the comforting embrace of Christ that protected the warm flame of grace and kept it burning bright.

My faith hasn’t wobbled; it remains steadfast, like a rock standing strong against the challenges of life. My life in Christ is both the rock and the fire – a firm foundation and a warm embrace.

Through the metaphors of the rock and the warm fire, I understand the world’s coldness, unfairness, tragedy, and challenges. Yet I stand firm, warmed by the victorious love of Christ, assured of His promises, and comforted by the steadiness of faith. In Christ, I find the strength and warmth to face life’s bitter cold drafts with resilience and grace.

In the Jewish faith, the Tallit or prayer shawl is an emblem of connection and devotion. Think of this connection like the sturdy rock that anchors the Jewish people and their relationship to Yahweh. The Tallit is a symbol of their community, spirituality, and personal relationship with God. The Tallit is not just a garment; it symbolizes the steadfast foundation of their faith in Yahweh—God. It bonds them to both community and God.

Here, at Place of Grace, we share a bond—a deep faith in Christ. For me, this bond is symbolized by the gift of an afghan. It was woven by the women of our church as an act of prayer for my healing. Think of this afghan as the warm fire of our collective devotion. It’s a tangible expression of healing prayer, support, hope, and strength. It provides a warm embrace that celebrates our shared belief in Christ.

As I’ve held firm to my faith in the aftermath of my stroke, this afghan has become like a warm fire, radiating comfort through my recovery. The love and support of this church have been like logs on this fire, feeding it with cards, prayers, visits, food, and more. Your kindness has been the fuel that has hastened my recovery, like a warm fire on a cold night. I am deeply grateful for all of you.

Sometimes I stumble in sharing my faith with others. I can share my faith by sharing my experience of the warmth of my relationship with Christ and my Christian community over the past month. I cannot call my recovery from a major stroke “luck.” The blessing of not being seriously hurt by the stroke was not luck. None of my journey to recovery was because of luck. My path to recovery was a blessing of prayer and love by people of deep faith, people who share the warmth of our community.

Together we have faced sorrows and struggles. Yet, we hold firm, anchored in our faith. The woven afghan of prayers and love shared by all of us has been like a warm fire, comforting us in times of health setbacks and losses. We feel the support of our community. But it is a warmth and a story that does not belong to just us. We have more warmth to share. We have a steadfast faith that others need to know. Let’s share our story and let others feel the warmth of our faith!

Our community’s challenges may seem like a never-ending chilling gale, but we have the rock of faith and the warm fire of community. Let’s be an afghan, embracing others, sharing our stories, and lifting each other in Christ’s love. Our faith is not to be hidden; it is to be celebrated and shared. Let’s wear it boldly, like an afghan woven of prayers and love, and spread our warmth generously, as if fanning the flames of a fire.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians (2:19-21), he shares a profound transformation from living according to the religious law to living by faith in Christ. He talks about moving away from the rigid confinement of rules to the warmth and freedom found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Rules and regulations fade into insignificance when embraced by the glow of God’s grace. Paul writes, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

When our lives are anchored to religious rules, we find ourselves confined and restricted. We don’t have the warmth and freedom of a genuine relationship with Jesus. With religious rules in mind, we set up expectations for ourselves and how our lives should go. Inevitably, what’s right and fair and just eludes us, and we feel left out in the cold. We say, “Why, Lord?”  

Paul warns us against rules. When we bind our relationship with Christ to rigid rules, we risk becoming ensnared in a maze of logic. We start to tell ourselves that to be blessed by Christ: “I must do this” or “you shouldn’t do that” or “if I do this, then God will do that.” We form doubts as we try to make sense of life’s tragedies. When we are bewildered by something life throws at us or our loved ones, we wonder why? What have I done wrong? Why did God let this happen? We search for answers where there are none.

Christ never promised to remove the bitter chills of life. Christ said that he would journey with us, give us the warmth of his love and wrap us eternally in his presence. He never said he would prevent tragedy or the icy winds of life from hitting us. Faith does not generate expectations. Faith gives us the strength and grace to endure, accept and journey through whatever challenges our life brings.  Faith is a relationship with our risen Lord who provides the comfort of the Holy Spirit as we grieve and heal.

Imaging gathering around a picture of a fire on your TV. It appears to be a fire but gives off no warmth. Living under the law is like that. It is a fire that doesn’t warm us or crackle with life, leaving little room for Christ to embrace us with His presence and love, as a fire should on a chilly night. And without the warmth of our Christian community, we are deprived of the genuine human emotions that spark and flicker, the expressions of love that glow like embers, or the prayers for healing power that kindle and blaze like the fire itself.

Paul paints a different picture of how faith in the living Christ allows us to be masters of life. Think of it like sitting beside a warm fire, where we understand the elements of life as if they were the logs, kindling, and sparks. Even if a crucial log is missing—perhaps a loved one, health, or some other aspect of well-being—people of faith can adapt, rearrange the fire, and still find warmth, comfort, and joy. Just as a fire tender knows how to coax warmth from the flames, our faith enables us to embrace life’s circumstances with grace and peace.

Here at the Place of Grace, our life of faith is like the intricate weaving of the beautiful afghan, a fabric offering warmth and comfort, that carries with it empathy, well wishes and love. It is a gift of healing and encouragement because our faith gives us a profound spiritual connection to the Holy Spirit.

My prayer as we conclude our worship today: May your faith in the Son of God be set on fire and may your passion for sharing the Gospel be rekindled. May our life of faith at Place of Grace allow us to fan the flames of revival and spread warmth to our community. May we extend the grace and peace of Jesus Christ and create joy even when something essential is missing. May we find strength and healing in the face of tragedy, through the Holy Spirit. May we embrace a personal and loving relationship with Christ who knows us, loves us, and is with us always.

About Pastor Tim

Tim Holmes

Senior Pastor

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