“And This Is 2020” (Various Scripture)

AND THIS IS 2020

“And this is 2020.”

Through the 1980s and 1990s those words, spoken weekly by Barbara Walters, defined my generation.

And now, here we are at the beginning of a New Year, a new decade. “And this is 2020.”

This past week, USA Today ran an article titled, “20 Predictions for 2020.’ In the article they listed 20 things that futurists said would happen by the year 2020. Below is a list of some of those things. You decide how accurate they were:[1]

  • In 1999 it was predicted by 2019 life expectancy would reach 100 years. In actuality, in the USA, life expectancy is 78.6 years.
  • In 1994, the International Food Policy Research Institute projected that by 2020 the world’s population would be 8 billion people. In actuality, the world population today is 7.7 billion people.
  • In the 1990s it was projected that by 2020 we would have self-driving cars.
  • In 1968 it was projected that by 2020 the average US worker would only work 26 hours a week. At the time of that prediction the average was 37 hours a week. In 2018 the average US worker worked 35 hours a week.
  • In 1968 it was projected that by 2020, because of globalization, Nationalism would be a “waning force in the world.” In reality, worldwide, Nationalism is on the rise.

“And this is 2020.”

Over the past few years at FCC we have adopted a prayer for the year. A prayer we recite together at the end of most Sunday services. A prayer that I hope keeps us focused on what God would have us do and be each year. I spend a lot of time praying about what our yearly prayer should be. A couple of years ago it was the Lord’s Prayer. Last year it was the doxology at the end of Jude’s letter, verses 24-26. This year it is a combination of words from the Prophets. Today I want to introduce our prayer for 2020 and explain why I think it is important.

But first, let’s review our church’s vision and mission statements and our core values.

Franklin Community Church:

 The vision of FCC is to enable Middle Tennesseans to experience authentic relationships with God and each other by establishing an Acts 2 biblical community. Our mission is to be R.E.A.L.

R – Reach our community for Christ.

E – Equip one another for ministry.

A – Adore God through worship.

L – Love each other unconditionally and Learn God’s Word.

As a church we have five core values:

  1. We value By “community” we mean far more than the geographical location of our church. “Community” refers to the relationships we have with one another because of our common faith in Jesus Christ. The word “community” is related to the word “communion.” In the same way celebrating the Lord’s Supper unites us with the body and blood of Jesus, so we are united to each other. “Community” means “doing life together—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  2. We value If community is the cornerstone of our church, then unity is the cement that holds us together. Unity does not mean uniformity. Rather it means working together to build the Kingdom of God through our local church.
  3. We value Valuing diversity means we accept one another unconditionally and embrace the uniqueness of each individual. Diversity also means we recognize that each person is at a different place in their spiritual journey. Our job is to meet people where they are and encourage them to take the next step in their relationship with God.
  4. We value We recognize there is great creativity in serving God. Furthermore, we recognize, and embrace, creativity in expressing our love for God and each other. We also recognize creativity in the way we express our response to God in worship.
  5. We value Authenticity also involves are daily walk with Christ, and our relationships with one another. We strive to walk in realness, without pretense and hypocrisy.

And now our prayer for 2020.

As we leave this place of worship and fellowship,

may our prayers be the same as the prophets of old:

From the prophet Amos, “Let justice role on like a river,

righteousness like a never-failing stream.”

From the prophet Micah, “And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

And may we put feet to our prayers like the prophet Isaiah admonished,

“Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.

Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

As we do these things, enable our lives to be “light” that “will shine before men,”

so “they may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven.”

(Amos 5:24, Micah 6:8, Isaiah 1:17, and Matthew 5:16)

Why this prayer? Because I believe this is where we are as a church. Our reputation in our city is that we are an activist church. A church that takes a stand and speaks out on key cultural issues. Through our ministry, Franklin Community Development, we have become a “conscience for the community.” Over the years we have challenged individuals and the city (and even the state) on issues like…[2]

…Capital Punishment.

…Mass Incarceration.

…Education inequality.

…Racism and white supremacy.

…Homelessness.

…Drug addiction and rehabilitation.

…Gentrification.

…Affordable housing.

…Immigration reform.

…Living wages.

…Pro-life issues.

Through it all, we have strived to be true to our vision and faithful to God’s Word. Now, 2020 is the time for us to take the next steps and press into what God has called us to be and do. Our church is unique in this calling, and we are willing to continue to lead. But in order to do so, we all must embrace our unique calling in the body of Christ in Middle Tennessee. Our 2020 prayer will be a weekly reminder of who we are and who Christ wants us to be.

Let’s take a closer look at the prayer.

The Prayer:

The first phrase is key to our philosophy of church. “As we leave this place of worship and fellowship…” In other words, as important as our Sunday Celebrations are, FCC is not a spectator driven church. Our church is what we do Monday through Saturday. We are not a church that gathers. Rather, we are a church that scatters. A simple way to describe our church is that we are a ministry that has church on Sundays instead of a church that has ministries throughout the week. The prayer emphasizes that what we do, and who we are, as a church, starts the moment we leave Johnson Elementary School each week.

To help us stay focused on the main thing, our 2020 prayer reminds us of the prayers of three Old Testament prophets. First is the prophet Amos who prays, “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream”(Amos 5:24). In context, “justice” and “righteousness,” are synonymous. What is just is right and what is right is just. The idea is that at all times, and in all circumstances, we are to let both justice and righteousness flow through us. That means in our communities and in our schools and on our jobs and in our families and in our city and in our country and in our world. “Justice” and “righteousness” means treating others rightly, making sure others are treated rightly, and speaking up when others are not treated rightly. Simply put, this means we “do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). Each and every day may we be aware and look for ways for justice and righteousness to flow through us like a river.

Do you want to know what God’s will is for your life? The prophet Micah clearly tells us what God’s will is. He prays, “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”(Micah 6:8). To “justice” and “righteousness,” Micah adds “mercy” and “humility.” To understand the word “mercy”requires us to make a paradigm shift. For many people, their idea of justice is “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth;” “what you do to me is what I am going to do to you.” But that’s not God’s idea of justice. God’s idea of justice is always coupled with “mercy.” Thus, biblical justice is not punitive but restorative. The idea behind “justice” combined with “mercy” is restoration and tDDDC reconciliation. This is why we are to love our enemies. This is why we are to forgive others the way Christ has forgiven us. God is a reconciling God and we are to be a reconciling people. The only way we can accomplish this is to “walk humbly with our God.” “Humility” is the power that gives us the ability to “act justly”and to “love mercy.” Each and every day may we seek reconciliation over our own rights and desires.

If we are not careful, we will only see the prayers of Amos and Micah as theoretical. They are nice words to say and believe, but not very practical in everyday life. Thus, the prophet Isaiah puts feet to what it means to live a life of justice, righteousness, mercy, and humility. Isaiah prays, “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). In 2020, may we all stop doing wrong and start doing right! How? By standing up for truth. Speaking out for the oppressed. Defending orphans. Supporting single parents. Taking care of widows. In other words, by continuing to be a “conscience for the community.”Each and every day, may we look for ways to “stop doing wrong” and “learn to do right.”

CONCLUSION:

 The end of our 2020 prayer shows how fighting for justice, seeking reconciliation, showing mercy, walking in humility, standing with the oppressed, assisting single parents, caring for widows, and a host of other things we do, is evangelistic. Our 2020 prayer concludes with the words of Jesus, “As we do these things, enable our lives to be ‘light’ that ‘will shine before men,’ so ‘they may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Our goal is not to grow the church but to expand the kingdom of God.

Our desire is not to win awards and shine the light on us, but to point to God.

Our purpose is for His name to be glorified, not our own.

Will you join me in this prayer?

As we leave this place of worship and fellowship,

may our prayers be the same as the prophets of old:

From the prophet Amos, “Let justice role on like a river,

righteousness like a never-failing stream.”

From the prophet Micah, “And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

And may we put feet to our prayers like the prophet Isaiah admonished,

“Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.

Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

As we do these things, enable our lives to be “light” that “will shine before men,”

so “they may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven.”

(Amos 5:24, Micah 6:8, Isaiah 1:17, and Matthew 5:16)

Amen.

May 2020 be the year we press harder into what God has called us to do instead of shrinking away.

___________________________

[1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/12/22/2020-predictions-decades-ago-self-driving-cars-mars-voting/2594825001/

[2] The list is not meant to be exhaustive.

About Pastor Kevin

I am a husband, father, pastor, teacher, scuba diver, reader, bike rider...in that order.
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