Archive for category Fellowship
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” [NRSA]
- Finding lost money. I put on a suit coat to see if it still fit and found a $20 bill in the pocket. Let’s go out to lunch?
- I found a $100 dollar bill at the mall at Christmas time. We asked at five shops and two dozen people to see if anyone lost money. No one claimed the $100. We went to the toys story and spent the whole amount to give to angel-tree family for Christmas.
- We found Susanna sitting inside a clothes rack watching Barney in the children’s department in Belk’s and took her to celebrate y eating ice cream. She had not run off we walked away from her and didn’t know she had stayed.
- We have caution our children to hang on to their tickets stubs at ball games so that if they became lost they could use the tickets to find our seats.
These are a taste of being lost, but invite you to see from the eyes of those who are lost from the heart of God, but I ask you to step into the world of true emptiness and the hopeless of being lost.
We phrase this as loosing our way, loosing our mind, loosing our place, loosing out perspective, and even loosing our dreams, hope and purpose.
This is the lostness that we visit today.
First we must own up that all of us are lost without a relationship with God. God who loves us, formed us, fills us with breath and spirit, the one who long’s for us to find our purpose, peace, strength and wholeness in a relationship, with God and with one another.
When we are truthful about our hearts, our family, our own inner and personal self, we know what it feels like to be lost:
Asking the congregation …
We can spend a lifetime blaming and excusing ourselves, but it is more important to recognize our state of being lost and seek to find our way or to make us easier to be found
Once on a scout camping trip we spread out our troop throughout the woods moving each campers lean-to just at the edge of being in sight of the next, maybe 200-300 yards apart. When the sun rose, some wrestles camper awoke and made their way bake to the base camp. The last camp slept a bit later, got turned around and walked the opposite direction of the camp. Two hours later we found his sleeping bag and gear by the road, but he was nowhere in sight. Two more hours passed with Forrest service persons, sherif and ems searchers we got word that he had hitch hiked a ride home and was asleep in bed. It had a good ending but it helped us realize how quickly someone becomes lost.
The ease of sneaking a few beers, coolness of vaping, the curiosity of marijuana, the high of meth, the addiction of heroine, the deadliness of fentinyal. It’s a slippery slope that everyone who starts down a path believes they can handle and avoid what everyone else fallen victim.
How many families, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and other we know who find themselves lost in addiction. Again we can focus on blame and excusing but the transformation come in becoming “found”.
In Jesus’s parable, a sheep my happen to find its way home, but it is 99% more likely to be found when those who have the perspective of compassion, hope, and access to salvation go out to the one lost and bring them home.
In the parable a lost coin could never find its way home, it is because of the diligence of those who search that the lost are found.
Jesus’s parable is calling us picture the joy of helping someone find their purpose, hope, strength, perspective, healing, restoration, new life..
Samuel Bangura of Sierra Leone. Lost, alcohol and failure, lead him accross the Atlantic, down the east coast and to the streets of Atlanta, we welcomed him to dinner, to buy clothes, to spend Christmas Eve night and to share in the family Christmas celebration and his love blossomed and he gather a freight container of clothes and he returned to SL to start an orphanage and school, loving and dying to save children in a warming homeland. It started with a conversation, a meal, a sleep over, worship, bible study, mission project, to transforming hundreds of others.
Recapping, there are none of us who escape feeling and experience being lost at times.
We know the joy of being found, helped, restored and
We have the ability to offer that gift to others
The problem: many times folks don’t think they are lost, the say we are
Many time folks don’t see another way of hope or happiness their what they have committed to
a. The task of reaching out is about our offering
B. Making the risk of trying
C. Our task is not to wait until someone comes to us but to go to those who are lost
D. Ultimately we offer the compassion, strength and hope of Christ, in tangible ways and let God work through us.
NOTE: One crazy thing is that for some you may not be the person someone will listen to, but you can connect them with others that might.
Out job is to avoid neglecting the lost
2. In Jesus’s parable he risks leaving those who know his voice and the comfort of the green pastures and the still waters and the shade of the tree and going out to ONE who is lost.
Our denomination is struggling. Over forty years we have dodge around the gender identity issues and focused on policies and politics. When we have been called to offer the saving, loving, restoring power of Jesus Christ to all persons.
As a denomination we have lost our way. About a month ago, Scott and I looked at the attendance and membership data of 40 churches in the North Georgia and in to Chattanooga and of those congregations 1 church has held steady, one started a second worship service Ana has reported some growth, but small, medium and large church have decreased in participation. Again we can dwell upon the blame and excuses, but until we return to our neighbors who are lost we will continue to be less of the church we are called to be.
We are all called to help restore others
3. This message is directed to disciples, Pharisees, teachers, agents of the government and all the other sinners.
If you are happy and celebrate when you find lost money or a runaway animal, how much more wonderful it is when we go out to search for our neighbors who are hurting, broken, empty, lonely, grieving, struggling, and worse.
Being the Faithful vs. fixing the problems
4. The charge is to bring persons into the fellowship of belonging, growing, worshiping and maturing in faith and not necessarily what the lost person is asking as help. “If you truly loved me then you would pay my bills, give me a house and car and job and not expect anything of me…” but this is never true.
To be found is to be found, to belong, to be joined as family, restored to the collection, part of the fold.
I look forward to hearing about your celebration of God working through you!
You Are In the Spirit
Mind Set on the Spirit
Life Set on Righteousness
2. Spirit’s part is to make us complete, whole, God’s
Dwelling in God
- Not just following the rules, “Grace beyond Belief“
- Not just accepting Christ, “the uttering of the prayer or confesstion“
- It is the “carrying the cloke as well,”completeing the Spiritual Circuit,
- Devotion to Serve in the Spriit. IT MORE THAN ‘MY’ SALVATION, Our Salvation
- fulfilling our purpose, of being light in the darkness for others.
- living in the promised land, as a model/lighthouse for others
It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Here am I and the children whom God has given me.” Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. [NRSV]
Act Like Children
Looking back twenty, forty and sixty years ago, Being able to be “Child-like” has radically changed.
- Does it mean to seen as miniature adults
- Are equally gifted with limitless possibilities
- Do children have voice, vote or rights
- Do children have to worry or work
- Do children have privileges or are privileged
Children of developed and developing countries have a common starting point:
We all start dependent.
This is the relationship God desires for us all.
God steps up our relationship from simple dependent into children of God’s household.
A Relationship of Kinship
One of the few Greek words that stuck with me from seminary, thanks to XX, is the work ‘oikos’.
Predating the yogurt crazy, Oikos is kinship.
- Oikos is term meaning household,
- particularly, for us it is the household of the people of God.
- We share a common spiritual fire
- We share a common home
- Our belonging includes all those in the household not limited to bloodlines.
Jesus becomes one of us so we know how to find God’s family.
Living like a child of God
- Knowing Jesus shows us we are brother in sisters in grace, in faith, in God
- Knowing Jesus lived and died for us to both KNOW and ACCESS the God’s family
- Living as one empowered and saved to love
- Living to show that God has created us to see past our difference to be God’s family.
This first Quarter’s Project
- Identify a member of God’s family that feeling excluded from the community
- Model and teach them that you are their brother or sister in Christ
- Share the fellowship of church community, God’s family
- Continue until Christ returns.
What if I don’t want to work on that project?
- I risk moving myself and others away from God
- I test God’s grace rather than trust God’s grace
- I model love of self, convenience, or laziness to myself and others
- My disconnect from loving and connecting with the disconnected separates me from God.
You and I were born to be dependent on God
You and I are called and challenged, saved and claimed to model that with others
The New Year’s resolution is to not be childish, rather claim the help of our Oikos, our kin, all God’s people: and show the world how God’s children think, behave, trust, love, forgive, etc.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. By faith, Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this, he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith, he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith, he received the power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance, they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had an opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. [NRSV]
A Better Country
- What kind of country will our nation have become in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
- Are you optimistic or pessimistic about what will be?
- What kind of church will our congregation be in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
- Are you hopeful or filled with doubts?
- What will your faith look like in forty years, four years? four months?
- Are you empowered or searching?
A Better Country
We have so entwined religion and politics that we have become polarized and paralyzed in our misappropriated patriotism. It is not a matter of separating church and state conversations, it is about using the freedoms our nation has to most fully express and experience of faith in Jesus Christ. Our freedoms allow for many faiths, but we place our trust in a better country. W
If we were as preoccupied with living as citizen of heaven as we are citizen of the USA, what would it look like??
- Facebook would be filled with words, pictures, and messages about our faith and church
- Our conversations would be about news and report of where we see God at work in the world. We would be trying to out-do each other in love and service.
- We would stay up at night worrying about how many people we had reached, transformed, and welcomed into the fellowship of the church.
- People would see our commitment to the citizenship we hold highest is in the heart of God.
The OT Case for Building a “more perfect union.”
Creation, Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, key examples of faith that have shaped the faith we now live. The bottom line of each of these persons witnessed examples of placing themselves and their personal trust in God to lead, protect, save, heal, and bless. The fruit of seeking our ultimate allegiance is in God, is that God uses us to build a better country, a heavenly one.
New Testament Case
In the parable that the lawyer asks Jesus who is my neighbor, we find it is the one who shows grace and loving kindness.
In this faith-history lesson begs the question: What is my home? What is my citizenship? To home and where do I belong?
What is my home? Is it only the building at my address? Is it the sum of my stuff and assets and debts? Is only my family and extended family?
The Call to Live in our Heavenly Citizenship, (On Earth as it is in Heaven)
Is this the story of our nation? Is this the story of our people? Is this the story that bears fruit in our lives?
Call to make disciples:
- Love one another in service, AND
- Inspire others to join the fellowship, AND
- Worship and Fellowship to strengthen another before God.
Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore, the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for, in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. [NRSV]
Who knew Gene Roddenberry was as a fan of Galatians?
The Star Trek cultural iconic uniforms that allow for individuals to be known for their role in the community by the color of their uniform not matter their origin, citizenship, nor gender.
What if the clothes Christ places on us, rather than the garments and cultural markers we self-define one another?
- What if those who wore blue were known as healers.
- Teachers, Grower and Designers in Green
- Administrators and Safety persons in Golden Rod
- Builders, Helpers, Support persons in Red
- Orange for those who Harvest and celebrate
- White for those who are wisdom and faith-sharers
- Black for those who comfort and counsel
Known by the clothes of Christ.
- Some would work to discover what Jesus wore and tried to replicate first-century apparel. but that would miss the mark of the text.
- Some would be looking at the blended areas of overlap where roles cross in different situations and contexts.
- Some would not like the color assigned and protest
But think for a moment, what if we wore the gifts, graces, ministries and presence of Christ as we wear our clothes.
It surprises me that the first question that people ask about ‘my/our’ church is about our dress code. Not that we have a formal dress code, most folks would want folks to be ‘in’ the fellowship with us no matter what close they might wear.
But we follow that with a few qualifications, even if we don’t say them aloud:
You don’t have to wear a coat and tie or dress, just be clean and neat.
We live in a time when folks have extremes about clothes, fashion is a billion dollar industry for nearly every price point of our society.
We also have a culture that would rather buy or receive something new than wash and care for the clothes we have. How does this culture connect with our being clothed by Christ.
One Time Use for Christ
- We wear difference clothes for different occasions.
- Jesus Clothes us for eternity.
- We wear something for a season
- Jesus Clothes us for eternity
- We wear something until we wear it out or outgrow it or tired of it.
- Jesus Clothes us for eternity
- We wear something so people will respond to us in a certain way.
- Jesus Clothes us for God’s Work
- We wear something to wear to work
- Jesus empties himself and wants to work through us
- We judge and value by what we wear
- Jesus loves who we are with nothing to show
Walter Wangeren Jr’s Rag Man short story invites us to allow Christ to clothe and mark us for service.
People will misuse this passage from Galatians to say that whatever group society might divide and define us is acceptable, but a closer listen to the whole message of Paul’s letter and his message about Christ defining us.
Look in the Jesus Mirror: Who does Jesus See “in Me?”
Does Jesus see me as Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, tall or short, etc. Jesus sees me as I am, and no matter how the world defines me, Jesus sees me as:
- Worthy of his life
- Worthy of his grace
- Worthy of his ministry
- Worthy of his service
- Worthy of his praise
- Worthy of his devotion
The things that we use to limit and divide, Jesus knows, Jesus is not blind, but Jesus sees in us far more than we might see in ourselves.
Paul’s invitation is to see each other as Christ see us
- see each other as Christ sees
- see the value Christ sees in us
- love the persons Christ sees in us and in one another.
Down in My Heart
It is a great reminder of where the core of the Christian life begins.
To be a follower of Jesus Christ might very different than being a Christian
Paul is building a case for the life and Christain community that is ours to emulate.
Let your love be genuine.
I love fresh lemonade verses I love you even when you misbehave.
Strong words: Let’s be clear about evil. Don’t vilify the person, hate the unGodly things, attitudes, look past the words, to the other persons’ heart.
Hold on to Good.
It’s going to be a bumpy ride; not every handle is one you need to hold.
Devotion to God models our love of others.
Start at the beginning, love God first, greatest commandment.
Honor others, first.
Think from the other side first before you post or speak.
Life for God with a Passion
Don’t leave home without a case of Zeal for God.
Don’t be lukewarm or worse.
Keep the Spiritual fires warm while serving the Lord
So, if you are telling, teaching, explaining what it means to be a Christian:
1. Christian living begins in the heart.
Genuine heart hates evil, but holds on to Good, models devotions, respects we are different, but is passionate about living for God.
Attitudes in Action
Facebook and all social media are easy targets to see where people, who may have great hearts for God, but choose to forget or not to listen to their heart.
Here is the test:
- If you find you can share Joyful Hope on Facebook, sign in!
- If you can use it to patiently see the world through others’ perspectives, log on!
- If you can use the media to offer your heart’s passionate prayers? Get social.
- If not, don’t sign in, don’t log on, get to heating up your God’s Spirit in you instead.
2. Christian living filters God’s voice through the world’s voice.
Our Witness in Community
Paul’s list of sharing our witness in a relationship with others.
+? “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.”
Interesting, Paul begins with helping the “Lord’s People” in need.
+ Practice hospitality
Have an open heart and mind that welcomes others.
+ Bless those who persecute you.
Know that not everyone will return kindness and love and grace.
-Do not curse, rather bless
Take the high, Godly, Good Road, don’t blame, bless and grow away from evil.
+ Rejoice with others
Celebrate when the news is good, and Joy is clear
+ Mourn with others
Be open to comfort, even when you are not the one hurting
+ Live in Harmony
Find ways to get along without having to agree with everyone.
– Do not be proud
Remember God loves and saves you, AND everyone else.
– Don’t be conceited, Associate with the poor and wealthy
Be a friend to those who are easy and difficult to live with.
Being a Christian is easy if you rare filling out a survey.
More people are identifying themselves as less Christian these days.
- What does it look like when we say we are Christian but have lost hold of the heart of God?
- What does it feel like when we say we are Christian people but have forgotten or never learned how to find our way home and settle for where we are rather than where we belong?
- What does it sound like when we have our faith all worked out in our head, and heart but other folks don’t see, hear or experience God around us?
Paul reminds the church at Rome and Rock Spring:
Thank goodness we come to the table to start our journey today.
Here is our grace to begin anew and fresh.
Christian living begins in the heart of God
Christian living filters God’s voice through the world’s voice.
Christian living must interact with the community and reflect God at work through us.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin ), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. [RSV]
Seeing is Believing
- Show Me, What Proof is convincing for one is not convincing for all
- Evidence might be physical, emotional or spiritual
- Understanding is the starting point
Not Seeing, yet Believing is Faith
- Faith is based in what we do not control
- Faith is Trusting what is untrustworthy
- Faith is Affirming what God provides
Faith is the Core
- Faith is generally a process
- Faith is tested as a muscle is strengthen
- Faith is hardened as steel is heated and cooled.
The Purpose of Faith is for our Relationship of Salvation
- Jesus’s Death pays for our sin
- Jesus’s Resurrection restores our life
- Jesus’s presence in the Holy Spirit is to build the relationship
Commitment to the Relationship
- Starting with the Scriptures, Feed your Faith and Belief
- Building on the faith you have seen, heard, read, experienced Test
- Take the Jesus relationship to life: Family, Work, School, Community, etc.
- Jesus makesFoundation for our Relationship with God Through Christ Jesus
- COMMIT to Intentional Spiritual Growth. Bible Study, Sunday school, Daily Devotion, Small Group.
- Disciples were Gathered, even in fear and doubt, Jesus SHOWS up.
- Disciples share their faith stories, Jesus Shows up to Confirm
- Disciples offer questions and challenges, Jesus Shows up for Faith
- Disciples meet Jesus in the process and their life is filled with Faith and Salvation, through Jesus Christ, living with them.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah (two of 74)
Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed. For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you. [NRSV]
A psalm, a hymn for worship, to be sung by the choir/praise team. Not a congregational hymn but more of a solo or at least for the choir, [psalm for *Korah]
Denote 2 of the 74 Selah references are in this one psalm/hymn.
God’s Temple is our Refuge, heart’s home
Song begins remembering the temple/tabernacle is beautiful.
My heart longs to be there, my bones ache to sing for joy and know God is alive.
Secondly, God’s house is a place where everyone is welcomed. Even the least little bird (swallow) finds a home at the temple. Who wants the swallow? Bugs, mites, disease, messy? But God’s house has room for all of us.
Bottom line of verse one: People find God at the temple and love to worship when there are in the magnificent gates. Come and find God present in the sanctuary. The ornate nature of the space reminds us of God’s presence and our belonging.
SELAH, pause to praise, breathe and find God with us.
Finding God outside the walls.
It makes us happy to know God is near, even when we are not in this place…
It is a blessing to know God is with us, even when we are not at church…
When you are at home or your place of safety, all is well. You make it through the day back to base, you can breath easy because you are thankful for all that is “home”.
Perspective is looking at the “place of comfort” when you are not there.
The Valley of Baca (Weeping)
Instead of focusing on the being lost, focus on the being at home, where you are.
Happy are those who know the way home. But what of those who have lost their way… those who don’t know where to turn? It can be a comfort, that even though we have gone astray, we know the way home, the way back. the GPS coordinates match up.
Those who know the Strength of the Lord, That’s Us.
BUT VERSE 3
WHEN ALL I HAVE IS A SHIELD
What about those who are outside or
those who have lost their way, or
those who have not heard?
Imagine hiding from the struggles, turmoil and threats in life, picture yourself out in the open, a shield is a protection but only on one side and the arrows are hurling in from every direction: money, hunger, rejection, fear, shame, sin, etc.
When we realize we are far from the walls of safety, belonging and peace.
A place between the House of God and the tents of wickedness.
Our place is between, bridging the gap.
Our Space is halfway in and halfway out.
Claiming Space in God
Happiness is : Content/at Peace/at one/ complete
Shield: temporary help, but we need to claim/reclaim temple life, when there is no temple.
Door Keepers: The greatest service is to be one of the choir members of Korahites, sing so someone will hear and find their way to God.
Happy are those who trust in God
God’s House has room for us all
Someone is living in the valley of weeping adversity
Our place is not in the temple, but out singing, knowing/remember the comfort of home, but reaching out to be shield
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” [NRSV]
CAUTION: The Yellow Flag, the Caution triangle, the surgeon general’s official warning.
Key Verse: Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.
- Be Alert.
- Pray for strength
- Be ready to stand before the Son of Man
Advent: Be Alert. The core purpose of the liturgical season of Advent is to make time and make ready our lives for Christ.
It has little to do with #redcups from #starbucks or store’s commercializing the season without the faith-based reason. It ultimately is study time before the test. It is practice driving before getting your drivers’ license. It is the work that leads up to the #retirement time we live the life unencumbered by work. (ideally)
I invite you to join in a series of mini marathons to prepare us for the full #26.2 mile race. I am not a runner at this point in my life. I learned from my DNA research that my people only have a 3% of becoming sprinters. I am certainly in the right family. But I do know that if I was going to self-propel my body in any fashion for 26.2 miles. I am not ready for the race today.
The first word of preparing in our text today is ‘Alert.’
Alertness is a willful, intentional, state of readiness to be either proactive and/or reactive to the situation and circumstances around us.
The rampant increase of acts of terror have raised our alertness to evil in the world. Paris, Mali, Chattanooga and even in our experience. We are cautioned to prepare one another to be watchful. If something is wrong or out of place, then report it, follow up on it and take the information as credible until it is disproved.
This way of daily life is stressful, and it carries the risk of being so cautious that we withdraw or cause injury to ourselves and others. The text affirms that we live in risky times. So learning how to be alert that is appropriate to the level of risk is what our insurance companies help us figure out.
Based on our experience of driving, they determine the degree of risk to cover inevitable accidents and losses we will experience. Every insurance representative would work with drivers, renters and home owners to take proactive precautions to prevent poor impact upon policy payments.
For our spiritual journey and spiritual home, we prepare in similar styles. Be preventive and proactive.
Luke and I have agreed to encourage each other in goal of loosing the same amount of weight. He is loosing muscle, I’m loosing fat. If we wait start until the end of April to meet our goals. We will surely fail.
We both agreed, let ‘s start after Christmas. With all the dinners and parties and festivities. It would be better to start when we were less tempted. But we are fooling ourselves.
Remember Jesus ministry was challenged by temptation before he told the first parable or healed the first person. We get busy in the temptation, because the nature of letting our attention and guard down opens the flood gate for failure and disappointment.
Advent. 1.a, Step one, be alert by study, fellowship, singing, exercise restraint from the thing we KNOW are not helpful. Be attentive to the building up of our spiritual self. Make our spirit the priority of each day. Not at the expense of all else, rather the priority of the day.
Advent. 1.b, Step two, pray for strength.
Wow, Jesus knows the disciples are going to find their weak points in a hurry. Not only will we get lazy and justify our physical demands replace our spiritual demands, but we will grow weary, quickly.
The preventative training is to pray. Pick a time and work to make it your prayer time. Read the prayers of others, start with the prayers of your childhood, sit in silence as ask God to hold your thoughts and worries and simply rest in the arms of God. But start praying with the regularity with which we do important physical things. When you eat, prayer. When you rest in the room of rest, pray. When you get in the car, prayer. When you arrive at school or work or your destination, pray for what you will face. Start talking and listening to God. Listen to spiritual music, read spiritual writers, discuss spiritual topics with a desire to inform and learn rather than force others to agree. All these are forms of prayer as we offer our speaking and listening to God.
Advent 1.c, Step three, Be ready to stand before the Son of Man.
Keep the goal in mind. Not only be awake and proactively growing your spirit. (2016: Have every member of RSUMC involved in some spiritual growth group. 3-300, sized) Not only be talking and listening to God, encourage one another to keep the goal in mind.
Our lives our gifts of God, entrusted to us to build a relationship with God through the grace of Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of the Church. When we finally have lived our life, and we stand before God. Can we say, “I want to be with you.”
It sounds crazy in a way. It seems if anyone had a chance to stand before God and say I love you our I hate you. I know you or I never really knew you. If there was sliver of opening, we would want to go with God. But the truth is that not everyone believes this to be true, or has another way of fulfillment and meaning. Some folks with stand before Christ our judge and is not interested in our excuses or laziness or business or intentions.
The text’s second warning is that difficult, terrible, and oppressive things are to come in this world: Things we will want to escape.
Be alert, be preparing, be strong , be encouraging… but do all this for what?
Jesus has come into the flesh to show and open a relationship with God. Think of your best friend. How often would you want to share
- a meal?
- an adventure?
- a comment about the news or a movie?
- or build a memory or retell an old one?
- working through your struggles?
These are the journey points of a relationship with God. It is not just saying we are friends, it is showing it with the life, time and stuff that makes up our being.
Finally, we in a time of preparation, aimed for more than a day.
Like so many #wedding have months of planning and preparation lead toward a day, but should always be for more than that day: “That Day” may be the wedding, but it is the marriage that begins. Christmas is the season for which prepare. This is our first journey
- How am I going to keep alert my spiritual self and relationship
- How am I going to talk and listen to God and God’s people
- How am I going to become strong enough to finish the race.