Archive for category Forgiveness
I am the gate.
Jesus said, he was that gate.
The metaphor of a gate.
Is the gate open or closed?
In or Out: What side of the gate?
Jesus is the gate, we trust the gate.
Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [NRSV]
The World is divided
Politics, Religions, Football Teams and Left Twix or Right Twix. Have you tried having a meaningful conversation about the hot topics of the day?
- You either talk to no one and TRY to avoid the conversation and grow cynical and isolated?
- You surround yourself with like minded people for comfort and protection.
- We dare begin the conversation because we think we can change someone’s mind and end up fueling fires we didn’t intend to start or
- We love starting arguments because we enjoy bullying, shaming or agitating people.
I suggest we need to show the world an alternative to the division. Hear Paul’s challenge and calling to do just that:
Paul writes at the opening of his letter.
- His first letter,
- his first matter,
- his most important point is about agreement and division.
He urges us to think about how we define ourselves.
- I’m one of Chloe’s people
- I belong to Apollos,
- I belong to Cephas
- I belong to Paul
- I belong to the original member core
- I belong to the newbies
- I belong to this Preacher or that minister
- Well, I belong to Christ, with a self-righteous tone of judgment.
Paul’s Letter begins with a Super Nanny Interruption.
You know the Super Nanny, that British nanny that sets up cameras throughout a frustrated parent-child home and observes and then lays down the new laws to correct the dysfunctional and divided family.
Paul’s Letter begins laying the hammer down on what divides us.
- I will tell you what divides us?
- It is not Christ that divides us,
- WE divide ourselves
We are being called to take responsibility for what divides us.
- It’s not social media
- It’s not tv and politicians
- It’s not elections and conversations
- It is what is cooking in our own hearts, mind and souls.
Paul’s call is #1, first step
- Stop with the groupings.
- Stop with the interest groups.
- Stop with the privileged class, stop being in the victim group.
#2, Second Step: Remember the Goal,
- Same Mindedness
- Same Purpose
As an aside, one of the things I love about this passage is Paul’s (wasteful misuse of paper in writing his rambling thoughts about who he did or did not baptize in the middle of a power challenge and stern instruction.)
Number #3, Step three
Personal Question of Faith and Self-Reflection
What does the cross of Jesus Christ actually mean to you and your life?
We are studying the Apostle’s Creed as a historic listing of points about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the church. But there is a core question that is at the heart of any statement of beliefs:
What does the cross of Jesus Christ personally mean to you and your life?
When we have come clinging to the power of the death and resurrection as our only hope and salvation, then we have a place to reflect on our differences.
Facebook proves verse 18 to be true. “The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but a power to those being saved.”
When we start talking to another person, we might heart lovely words about Jesus, but sometimes the words are a
- noisy gong,
- empty platitudes,
- self-righteous memes, or
- “the correct answers, without listening to the questions.”
Let’s be clear about step #3:
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus died for all your mistakes, sins and failures?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Died for your times of pride and arrogance?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Offers himself in your place in judgment?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Promises to stand with you in the face of fear?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Promises to stand with you in the fiery furnace?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Gives your strength in the face of persecution when you are trying to be faithful to his example?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Encourage and empower you to see the best in others?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Divides us into groups, camps, parties, etc.?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Calls us to bully and shame one another as long as in his name?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Wants us to continue sinning and testing?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Wants us to act nice when we are together, but ponder evil in our hearts?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus excuses us from avoiding evil and confrontation because we are uncomfortable?
- What power does the cross of Jesus give your daily life?
If you don’t have an answer, then we have found our place to start.
We will not find agreement, one mind, one purpose until we find the POWER of the cross.
Paul calls on Chloe’s people, people of Apollos, Cephas, Paul, Rock Spring, Peavine, D.C., Chattanooga, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, and every nation and tribe.
God offers us the power of true hope, complete salvation, and confidence to see a way out when we have closed our hearts, our minds, and doors.
If you are ready to claim the power of Jesus has for you, for our church, for our country, for a world hurting and divided. We let go of control and commit ourselves newly or renewed, Take my Life and let it be filled your power, your word, your love, your truth,
Your hope, Your Peace
And Jesus leads the way from there.
Paul’s call here is for the faithful, the church, not the unbeliever. His task is to make sure the GOSPEL has a POWERFUL hold on our hearts.
Ask your neighbor: Do you know the Power of Jesus Christ
- IF they say yes, say praise the Lord
- If that say no or I’m not sure, say, let’s talk
- If they don’t say anything, then say, Today’s the day to “get of the pot/fence” and live in Christ.
- When you hear division: Call on Christ to heal, protect and bring solutions.
- When you see chasms of thought: Think what does the Cross compel me to do or say.
- When you experience a brother or sister remaining quiet and not backing you up, ask them if they want to know more about Jesus or are in their silence are they choosing someone/thing other than Christ. Now is when the world needs the cross.
Christ Came to Save Sinners
- It’s not new but it remains our hallmark.
- It is opposite of the image we have sold to the unchurch and de-churched.
- It remains our message and work of being the body of Christ for the world.
I am the gold medal Sinner
- The best at choosing poorly.
- The best at being bad.
- The best at placing God’s seal of approval on our blindly seeking what we determine God wants for ourselves and the world.
Sin is the perfect place for Jesus to shine.
- is working in the backwards direction,
- is leading us away from the heart of God,
is our sin.
Sin is not a concrete list of Don’t and Do’s.
The lists help, but the lists are never inclusive enough to cover all the shades of grey.
Practice Application of Shining Christ through our Sin:
- “Lead me not into temptation”
- Practice Piety (Wesley’s Rule #3)
- Membership promises to use the church as a place of faith building/practice
- When we see our on sin, own up and ask for grace/fresh start
- When others see our sins, we confess, make right what can be done and seek grace
- When we think we get away with ‘it’ know this day, God knows and hurts with us.
- Grace over Judgement:
- Jesus looks at our sins and see someone to love and bless
- Calls for our repentance (our desire and willingness to be transformed)
- Call us to go and sin no more, live in the God direction
- Not as a rule but as response to grace
So are you a sinner? Yep!
Does Jesus want to make you new, no matter if we are the best sinner? Yep!
Does God gives us a minds, a spirit and the church for support to grow toward God.
Who needs to know this? Who can you sit down and explain this to? who needs to hear this from you? GO SHOW THEM how far you have come through Christ.
Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. [NRSV]
When I was in college I roomed my junior with Jonathon Eady. Our go-to meals were the many different flavors of Hamburger Helper(TM). I suppose it is a step above Ramon noodles as the helper recipe call for meet to be added to the dish. I don’t think I had a favorite flavor because they all seem to taste the same. But they sustained us through that year of off-campus living.
My senior year I moved past the Hamburger Helper stepping up to cans of Campbell’s soup to replace my culinary flavors. In the way one can alternate the addition of rice, noodles or some other starch to elevate the senses. Still a quick and easy method. The trouble with Ramon, Helper or Campbell recipes is the elevated level of salt and by-products.
As I child my dad always made spaghetti sauce from scratch. Not only was it cheaper than the pre-made, it tasted better. My grandmother never made vegetable soup from a can, unless she had canned the vegetables herself. My mother never used canned biscuits because she could make the scratch ones as quickly for less money.
Somehow we have grown up with fast food and eating out, that is not very good and questionably not as good for us. So, I have come full circle; now it is much more rewarding, healthy and fiscal to gather the basic fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs to make a sauce that contains the goodness you need and flavors you choose.
The one thing through all these years is food. Every day, every one of us, needs fuel to do all the things we do.
But we are more than the physical body. We are also spiritual people.
Imagine if we took the example of food and focused the energy, time and resources on feeding our spiritual selves.
Oh, the sermon was going so well until now. I was just getting ready for lunch and BAM! we are back on Jesus.
Just as every person is created with a Spiritual self, whether they realize, accept or deny it… we are spiritual people.
So much of the world is broken because it either denies this reality or feeds on a spirit of evil.
– Do you remember the three rules of being a United Methodist?
- Do no harm.
- 2. Do all the Good that you can.
- 3. Practice your piety. Do the things that Feed our Spiritual Self.
Those who keep my Word..
- Know God loves them “
- Know God will come to them, “The Advocate”
- Know God’s Peace, “Wholeness”
The part we struggle with, is: How do we Keep Jesus Word?
- Does that mean to believe certain truths?
- Does that mean trust scripture?
- Does that mean follow Jesus’s example?
- Does that mean follow Jesus’s rules?
- All of the above? or
- None of the above?
Jesus is connecting the dots before the dots become holes.
Jesus is introducing an easy way to connect with the Holy Spirit.
- It is more than keeping rules
- It is more than saying the correct words
- It is more than a test or a race or a lifetime.
- It is love.
We are spiritual people.
- God loves us.
- Jesus has shown us that love.
- so we will continue to love
- as spiritual people.
John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. [NRSV]
We look around and
- see a world filled with anger, hatred, fear and doubt.
- We feel the frustration, mis-trust, separation and animosity.
- We hear the brokenness, darkness and death.
- We sense the hold of greed, selfishness and sin.
- We can even taste it, and it is bitterness and sour.
- How can the world possible love, forgive,
God will give us a helper, and Advocate, a representative, a spokesperson, a trainer, a coach, a voice, a breath of God’s creative wind. The Holy Spirit.
It is the Spirit of God feeding the Spirit with each of us.
If we do not eat at this banquet, we see what will happen to love
If we do, we find God loves us, died and rose that our spirit can be eternal and that we will continue to help others know to feed and love the spirit.
We start at the table and leave for the world.
- Do no harm,
- Do Good.
- Eat the gifts of love and grace for the work above.
Posted by myoikos in #2016, #jesus, #loveneverwins, #marriage, #sacrifice, #umc, 5 Practices, Christmas, Extravagant Generosity, Faith, Forgiveness, Generosity, God, holiday, Holy Spirit, Intentional Spiritual Growth, Love, Marriage, Passionate Worship, Prophets, Putting God First, Radical Hospitality, Relationship, Risk Taking Mission and Service, Sacrifice, Service, Sin, Spiritual, Spiritual Growth, Truth, Wisdom, Witness on January 30, 2016
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [NRSV]
Do I love that dress?
In a world, where we love mashed potatoes, love our sports teams and love or hate the weather, it is important to spend a moment being clear about love.
This past Christmas Eve, I ran a few errands and saw three stores putting out Valentine season products on the shelf. At first, I was frustrated that we had not officially started Christmas and retailers had moved to the next money grab. But if we stop and think what Christmas is about, God loving us so much that our heavenly father sends his only child to bridge the gap of love that we cannot build nor complete. Maybe a giant heart-shaped box of delicious treasures is better Christmas gift.
Love: Nothing Gained
ELOQUENT SPEECH: Genuine Love needs no response. That’s hard.
- If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels,
- but do not have love,
- I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
- but do not have love,
CHARISMATIC VISION: Genuine Love sees through a show.
- If I have prophetic powers,
- but do not have love,
- I am nothing.
- but do not have love,
INSIGHTFUL COMPREHENSION: Genuine Love is not calculated.
- If I understand all mysteries
- but do not have love,
- I am nothing.
- but do not have love,
MULTIPLE DEGREES IN MULTIPLE DISCIPLINES: Genuine Love has nothing to prove.
- If I had all knowledge,
- but do not have love,
- I am nothing.
- but do not have love,
UNWAVERING TRUST and BELIEF: Genuine Love is the core of faith.
- If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
- but do not have love,
- I am nothing.
- but do not have love,
EXTRAVAGANT SELFLESSNESS: Genuine Love is Forgetful of the score.
- If I give away all my possessions,
- but do not have love,
- I gain nothing.
- but do not have love,
SACRIFICIAL OFFERING: Genuine Love cannot be faked.
- If I hand over my body so that I may boast,
- but do not have love,
- I gain nothing.
- but do not have love,
IF, THEN STATEMENTS
- Conditional statements about unconditional, foundational core of relationships.
- SuperMan/SuperWoman are meaningless without love. Right Action, Wrong Purpose
- Love is God’s meaning, purpose, and energy, what we have to gain. Love is God’s power plant
- BOTTOM LINE: Without Love all in life is meaningless. Scientific Method can never love. Science is accurate in measuring how, but not why. Love is why. The universe is not so big to make us feel special; it is to show how incredible God is.
The Object of Love NOT loves itself.
LOVE is sacrificial, selfless, extravagant, unwavering, trusting, knowing, insightful, visionary, and charismatic, but the reverse does not necessarily describe love.
The test if Love is love or something else: Does my love stop if Love is not returned?
- You can take one for the team and not love the team at all.
- You can act selflessly, seeking approval for your random act of kindness.
- Your extravagance can become enabling.
- You can be “committed” and support something evil
- You can trust wealth, fame, opinion polls or deeply held principles, but these are based on us, and we inconsistent, fragile and often wrong.
- You can know many facts but not know how to use information
- You can misguide judgement selfishly
- Your visionary work can be selfishly motivated
- Your charisma or charm can fool people
- The Object of God’s Love is you. Hear the Good News..
- God’s love is not if, then. God’s love is. God may not like our behavior,
- God forever loves us.
IS / IS NOT
- Love is patient; tolerant of us and intolerant of our manipulations
- Love is kind; when is the last time we were snippy, rude or down right mean
- love is not envious; I want vs. God wants
- love is not boastful I’m right, you are wrong
- love is not arrogant I know better than you
- Love is not rude. Thoughtless or intentionally vindictive
- Love is not insistent My way or no way.
- Love is not irritable How can I get attention
- love is not resentful How come I’m not getting attention
- love cannot rejoice in wrongdoing, I told you so
- love rejoices in the truth. Admit I am wrong, especially when they are wrong too.
- (sometimes being truthful is not popular or pleasing)
- Love endure and hold up through all things, vs. I will give you one more chance, or no more chances
- Love believes through all things; You crossed my line, your out.
- Love remains hopeful through all things, We can’t do it, That’s impossible.
- Love lasts longer than anything else. I give up
If we are honest, our conversations and actions reveal, while we know what loving is, we are not always loving when it get self-less.
- Love never ends.
- Prophecies end
- language ends
- knowledge ends
- wealth ends
- Love never ends.
The Best is Yet to Come
For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.
We learn to love as children, and it is to mature and grow.
- Speaking.. saying I love you.
- Thinking— Thinking about
- Reasoning Justifying Love
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.
- Adult love, mature love, doesn’t have, to say it. We are not there yet..
- Adult love, doesn’t have to plan it and think it through, it is automatic. We calculate..
- Adult love, doesn’t have to have everything neat. We try to fix, cover up or manage love.
- When we move toward God’s love, we loose ourselves and more fully enter the heart of God.
For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Love is a work in progress.. try letting your guard down and God through.
94% of American’s celebrate Christmas (3). We have verbal and ideological battles with 6% of the population who don’t feel comfortable greeting each other this season by saying, “Merry Christmas.” It’s important to keep this in perspective. The number who keep a religious Christmas is about 70% with 29% celebrating some holiday during the same period of holidays (4). And yet we hear political debates about our nation not being a Christian nation, when 70% of the 94% who celebrate Christmas do so for religious reasons. Tis the Season to be religious.
The National Retail Federation reports
- average spending per person reaches $805.65 in 2015
- Gifts for family members will total $462.95 this year
- 46 percent of their shopping this holiday season was conducted online,
- 21.4 percent of smartphone owners used their device to purchase holiday merchandise in 2015,
- 47%) said free shipping/shipping promotions are important factors where to shop.
- 55.8 percent of holiday shoppers will splurge on themselves
The number one anticipated “item” for Christmas is what category? ____ Clothes. Men 48% / Women 56%. But the number one “non-item” requested is gift cards. Men 51% / Women 66% (3)
What does that say? We expect Clothes at Christmas and more than half the time we’d prefer to pick out our own clothes than have people guess.
So this is where we begin hearing this passage from the church to Colossae:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. [NRSV]
Clothe one another in love
Imaging celebrating the 12 days of Christmas. Not just the first one.
Imaging, after all the celebration of Christmas morning of day one, we continues giving the gives of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.. all together as example of Christ’s love for us.
What does that look like?
Seeing or hearing the needs of someone who is hungry or wanting and we take them food for the day. It does not solve their every need, but it gives them one more day of perspective that they are not forgotten and their transformation is not hopeless. Or teach them skills to work or to deal with their brokenness, fears or depression. This is not the task of someone to do FOR us, but for us to give one-on-one. Gifts of compassion.
You could think of sarcastic and judgmental comments, that might be accurate, yet, instead you find kind words of encouragement or forgiveness. In speaking where you would have remained silent and offering kindness instead of leading with what’s wrong, you lead with the kindness you would hope to hear when someone is speaking with you. A gift of Kindness with words.
You and I could choose to give a gift out of our abundance away. You know how special it makes you feel to know someone has given you a gift of love, think how sharing what you have might make you both feel loved, even if it is yours to keep. A Gift of humble sharing, it cost no more because it is yours to give.
Often it is not the value of the gift, but rather the appropriateness of the gift. We wait and save up to give expensive gifts, when it is our present half-hour each day that transform lives around us. Which would I rather have today: a grand gift from my father, who died a decade ago or 20 minutes talking about the day with him face-to-face? In the meekness of time, we share the lives we have to share.
Or could you find it possible to not fix someone’s problem, but rather be one who stands with them while they work through the trial and error of failures. So often we don’t want folks to live life for us, we want someone with us, to make certain we are not alone. Can you be present with someone who is alone and listen, encourage and wait with them, the gift of patience, for you and them.
For the remainder of the Christmas season, ten more days, try giving these gifts in love for Christ.
In the next ten days: Let everything you do, be done in Jesus name.
As you wake to start the day: In Jesus Name
As you write a check or open your purse or wallet: In Jesus Name
As you open you mouth to speak or your mind to consider: In Jesus Name
As you cook, clean, travel, read, share or listen: Do so in Jesus Name
As we shall then be clothed in love.
Posted by myoikos in #forgive, #jesus, #mysundaysermons, #relationship, 5 Practices, Boldness, Christian LIving, Extravagant Generosity, Forgiveness, God, grace, Meaning, Putting God First, Radical Hospitality, Relationship, Risk Taking Mission and Service, Scripture, Spiritual, Spiritual Growth, Suffering, Trust, Witness on August 29, 2015
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures. You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act–they will be blessed in their doing. If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. [NRSV]
What do we know in our head?
- Love neighbor
- feed hungry
- clothe the naked
- forgive your enemy: doesn’t mean they are not to be accountable, we allow them the opportunity to change
- read and study the scriptures
- Remember the forgotten, the widow and children/orphan
Today we have heard about a terrible social problem. (Trafficking)
Is it enough to know about the problem
or is there something we can we about the problem
- report abuse and crimes
- give children safe place to be
- get involved in community and schools
- Get help to victims and support change in he hearts of abusers
Jesus empowers us as a moody not a museum
- Don’t be deceived is the repeated warning
- the devil is known as the great deceiver: say one thing and do another
- we can be deceived
- deceive others and deceive ourselves
- but we cannot deceive God
therefore, repent and trust God in all things
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” [NRSV]
The power of process
Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness is very METHODICAL. (He’d make a good Methodist)
Too often I hear the story of people who get upset with the church or church people and especially the preacher/pastor. On one hand, not one of us is closer to God nor is anyone of us loved more than the other. We all make mistakes. We have all offended and rejected people, intentionally and unintentionally. On the other hand Jesus is telling Matthew and the other disciples persistence in dealing with conflict.
First confront the person one-to-one, (Don’t talk about, gossip, imply to those who might say something.) Take responsibility for your part of the conversation.
Second, if that does not work, take witnesses. (This is its own category, we will discuss in a moment)
Third, take the whole matter to the community. The need of the individual is relevant to the larger community.
Most folks give up before starting the process. We talk to everyone, except those directly involved and want someone else to confront. The next time conflict arrises. Try talking one-on-one, express your experience and expectation. Give the other person or party the opportunity to respond. If they don’t confront and share the same, take a witness or two. If the few of you can’t resolve it continue to expand the pool of witnesses and perspectives.
The power of a witness
A Witness may not be someone who saw or heard the events in question, but can hear and see the follow-up conversation. Think of the role of a counselor or a referee. Someone who can help us speak the truth, speak our hearts and confront with word rather than rage or worse.
This model of witness is our general role as Christian disciples. We are not witnesses to the events of the first century Jesus, but we ARE witnesses to the Word and Work of Jesus and the church in the 21st century.
The power of binding
In wedding we often refer to a couple “tying the knot.” This is symbolically seen in the double fisherman’s knot. For fly fishing it works well to join a leader line to the main line. The more loops on each knot makes the end resulting knot when tightened together one of the strongest of all knots, because of the equality of pressure.
How we respond as a faith community and church family tell our salvation story. If people see and hear us upset over money, property, shared space in the building, and not see our feeding the hungry, embracing the oppressed and being friends with the sinners then we fail the opportunity entrusted to us. Which in some cases lasts for generations.
“Granddaddy said those church folks are cheats and liars” that’s why we don’t go to that church. Half of our work in witnesses is usually untying knots we didn’t tie and never knew were their.
Homework: show someone how to tie a knot, a shoelace, a neck tie, a hair bow, a fishing knot and talk with them about what knots need to be kneaded out, loosen and untied to free up people for the opportunity of grace and love.
Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” [NRSV]
- Jesus makes clear his Messiahship: “I am the gate.”
- Salvation comes by entering the ‘gate’.
- Purpose of salvation is to come and go, enter and exit.
- Mother’s Day; We are thankful for those who mother us without smothering us. Protect us without locking us in the tower. Who teach us to trust and forgive. Qualities of the a good gate keeper. But even the best mom in the world cannot provide salvation.
- Abundant life is found coming into the fold as well as going out where the thief, wolf, and searching for daily bread co-exisit.
Don’t stay in, Do follow a voice that doesn’t have your best interest.
So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’ Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’ Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’
Combating Daily Dehydration
Spiritual thirst is daily
Thirst is satisfied with eternal water
It’s not a one sip for life and your inoculated
In the habits of daily bread, needs and chores come the invitation to begin a regiment of spiritual drinking
The Woman says:
I want water I don’t have to work to receive. Not realistic. Invitation is to start drinking
The Woman Sees more than the water and work:
The leap of faith is made with Jesus reveals the truth about her life and relationships.
The Shift comes in being known and being loved.
Jesus speaks the truth and judges with love and grace, this is the transforming power of the Gospel.
The woman stops talking about her work and starts telling about Gods work in her life.