We are in the middle of a very significant year: September 20, 2015 was the beginning of the 40th year of theological education at UTS. I hope that you will join with me this anniversary year by contributing to the Annual Fund and the 40/40 Campaign.

Donors make bequests to make a difference after they are gone. Mary Goodman, a New Haven laundress who bequeathed her life savings (nearly $5,000) to Yale Divinity School to provide scholarships for African Americans, was especially successful in this regard: her bequest supported the school’s first black students, and continues to support students today, nearly 144 years later.

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Pastor Mike Yakawich (UTS ’87) is among the many active alumni of UTS.

Besides guiding his own congregation in Billings, MT, Pastor Yakawich is actively engaged in multiple community organizations in Montana. He has also taught an Intensive course on “The Dynamics of Church Leadership" here at UTS.

Read on for a recent sermon given by Rev. Yakawich:

High Noon “The Sun Is Directly Overhead"

Bible Reading: Matthew 4: 16-19

“The people which sat in darkness saw great light and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light has sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach and say repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren; Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea. For they were fishers and he said unto them follow me and I will make you fishers of men and they straightway left their nets and followed him”

Good morning to all of you. I hope you have had a great week and a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. It seems that November has been a very busy time. I had welcomed my wife back from two weeks a way and then I took off to Seattle to help out with the tour. I arrived back to attend my sons State A Football Championship game in Dillon, MT., teaching a class on prayer in a middle school and then out doing my sales for Thanksgiving! We all live a very busy life.

The title today was the inspiration from the Messages of Peace by Father Moon. He explained that “This is the time when, metaphorically speaking, the sun is directly overhead, such that no shadow is cast. This signifies that we have passed through the era before the coming of heaven, which included the Old, New and Completed Testament ages.” When I think of high noon, it reminds me of the Western cowboy who looks up into the sun at high noon to be reminded that the day is half over. It is a time to get going, do less talking and more work.

Father Moon encourages us to become “true princes and princesses who live in attendance to God” and ultimately become a “member of the family of God’s sons and daughters.” For me this is no light matter. To become honorable men and women requires effort and responsibility on our part.

Jesus and his disciples encouraged this call to action. The disciples were called to go out and be a witness. In Acts 13:47 “I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” Such faith produces spiritual children. We all need spiritual children. People whom we shared our faith with and have given them rebirth in their own faith. Spiritual children give us life just as being part of your own family gives you life and energy, hope and vitality.

I realize when we make effort to witness; there is an equal or even more powerful energy that responds to help us more. My recent article “Young people will light way to our future” in the Billings Gazette is one example. It takes a lot of energy to write but the replies have been remarkable. When I got off the plane in Billings from Seattle one person I met sitting having coffee said he really liked the article in the paper. I had another reply on my answering machine when I arrived home and many more when I was out doing my business work prior to Thanksgiving. Many commented how they saw the article and enjoyed it.

This light as to let it shine is true and a valuable point as Jesus pointed out so wisely. We all have choices to make. We can become fishers of men and women or become someone else. This is a time of decision. Lately I have been handing out our new church card. If I carry some, I can hand them out. I call it my undercover card. If we are prepared, we can share more easily our faith. We cannot afford to be shy.

When I was in Seattle supporting Mrs. Moon’s tour, I was so inspired by those whom I met how were genuinely interested to listening to her talk. People do wish to hear a message of hope in this time of upheaval. Also, her words challenged me as well. She stated, “Ladies and gentle men, as we begin the twenty-first century, we find ourselves at a truly historic turning point. We are at a point of decision. Can everlasting world peace take root, or are we doomed to repeat the twentieth century’s dark and oppressive history of war and conflict?” As I see the coming of the New Year, I too must reflect on how I can mobilize myself more and take a more active role in my calling. Father Moon encourages us to become volunteers to promote peace whether in other nations or in our own nation. Can we do this? Are we doing this?

Sometimes I feel we are looking up rather than look across to see what we can do for others. Placing ourselves into community service is a wise and wonderful action. I hear that some of our youth have been involved in such community service lately and this inspired me. I know that in serving other we can gain spiritual energy and be a service to others. I heard that one of our ladies has been driving others in need in her apartment complex.

Brothers and sisters, we are living at an era where the Kingdom on earth is at hand. The harvest time is here and that time is filled with joy and happiness. God is opening doors for us. It is a time of heavenly fortune.

Mother Moon commented, “Yet, where there is a will there is a way, especially if it is the will of God.” “Please do not miss your chance to ride on the surging currents of heavenly fortune during this important and sacred jubilee year.” My conclusion so far is that it is up to us to make it a jubilee year. Last Monday, I was invited for the second year to teach at the sixth grade classes for the St. Francis Intermediate School. There were three classes with 65 students in total. I could teach about prayer. The response back was so encouraging. 65 thank you cards expressed “Thank you for coming and speaking to us about prayer…I now have a new look at prayer.” The teacher was very happy and grateful for my time and teaching. It was a wonderful opportunity based on a lot of background work.

This Jubilee year (a time of harvest) have some requirements. It requires us to:

Get the mind set to plant seeds of faith. There is a movie out called the Secrete. It states what we conceive of and believe in lays the foundation for things to happen. There is joy in this as well!

Prepare yourself to plant with the proper tools. You need to be ready to witness whether it is with a church card, bulletin or pamphlet.

Go out into the field and plant the seeds. We must take action and meet others. Do we know our neighbors and are we witnessing to them? This is the start. Then we reach out further.

Nourish your field with love while the plants grow. Follow-up, visit, phone call and keep in touch are not only important but deeply appreciated by those whom you reach out to.

Make time and effort to harvest the field. This is when we invite, offer deep content, introduce to your pastor, and bring them to your church or other church event. The harvest is in the results, what we report and share as our testimony. Giving life also gives us life in return!

I have been involved in some community organizations. The Suicide Prevention Coalition for Yellowstone Valley has been one way that I could serve the community. We are actually accomplishing and creating tools to help others. As part of the South Side Task Force we have been working on neighborhood safety.

This too has been opening doors to serve and help others. In both cases, if I did not volunteer my time and mad eth effort to participate, I could not get involved nor help to produce some good results.

We are called to be leaders of faith. To me this is what a true son or daughter of God is. We must be willing to take responsibility and ownership for our community. If we have this heart, God will open the doors for us. In all my testimonies, it is when we blended God’s grace and our hard work that miracles took place.

Look at what you ladies did last week. You made the effort and put out the calls and gathered about 30 people together for lunch. I take my hat off to your great efforts. The luncheon was a great success. Your hearts to witness and share your faith, love others and bring them closer to your family is commendable.

While I was in Seattle I could once again see the value of outreach and witnessing. People need to meet us. People are facing serious life issues all the time. I do belief we have a message that can help them. Yet, we must meet them to share with them. Just like my wife and I doing couples classes. When couples make the effort to join our class, they actually learn, grow and their marriage relationship improves a lot.

So, I remain optimistic that we are not doomed to repeat our past failures and mistakes. We are living at time where the sun is directly overhead. This is a time of hope and expectation. Yet, it is up to us to roll up our sleeves to work and participate in this High Noon where no shadows are casted. Even though the harvest is great and the laborers are few, God has YOU!

God Bless and have a great week.

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