Posts Tagged belonging
While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” [NRSV]
THE FAMILY OF Jesus is the intentional group of those who do the will of the Father.
-Those who are listening to Jesus are those who are preparing to go when sent, not react when interrupted.
-Those who are choosing this relationship place it’s strength as the foundation of all other relationships. (Not that other relationships are not meaningful or valuable)
-Those who are in the house, the oikos, are those who gather around the family fire, the spirit, the word, the table, the conversation, those who are ready to study, listen, worship, and grow in fellowship.
-Those who remain focused on the presence of Jesus are not listening to the cries of temptation and distraction.
-Those in the fellowship will be sent by Christ, with all power and authority, but the first place to gather is in the presence of Christ and that family.
This IS the clearest picture of the church, community, fellowship that we have been discussing the past three weeks. Koi-no-nia.
We are the fellowship that the world hunger for, now and always.
There are countless studies that reveal that people who are looking to belong will join the worst of gang simple because they fulfill our need to be in, and be accepted.
EXAMPLE: The fight is in the church over gender is a battle over how to be in the community when we are divided about how to be inclusive and at the same time restrictive. The answer is found where Jesus says to people, be forgiving (and this included) but go and sin no more.
STORY: We watch most any show that touches on war: revolutionary, 1812, Civil, WWI, World War II, KOREA, VIETNAM, GULF.. and other nations as well can all be seen at our house.it may be a documentary, a drama, a romance, or editorials. Having a history major and having Wendy’s father live with us for a decade might explain the why, but there is a helpful message I’ve been trying to grasp in the context of the events we see and hear on the news.
I think of the fears that people had when the skies were filled shells, when armed warriors were evacuated and looting houses, when people would hide in shelters and found rationed foods and fuel. And I ask myself are we heading tot his place. The civil war of the 19th century had families divided, property burned and stolen, patches of unbelievable numbers dead and, hatred and fear guiding every step. I think of people hiding in the homes hope all the destruction would end… and I ask what have learned from our previous struggle in those moments in history where we believe we cannot live with peace, trust, and civility in our lives.
We long for Clarity and certainty
It is clear that the historical markers are not respected and educational reminders.
It’s clean that fewer people are taught history or make the effort to study it when it is not required.
It’s clear that people are quicker to blame and fear than be logical, rational, and passionate in trust and accountability.
Think back to the passage, Jesus is preparing followers for loving, serving, and witnesses to a world that is ready to take all we have and there is no time to be distracted from the task at hand. Even when and especially when it is family.
The passage is an object lesson for al, of our family. Don’t be leveraged out of being faithful. When families become divided of faith, the priority is settled in listening to Jesus.
When things go astray in our family and friend groups, Jesus is acknowledging that one priority is greater than the other.
Most people list their family has their greatest treasure. “Where your treasure is, so will be your heart” Jesus is most interesting in that heart priority. BECAUSE when our values, morals, trust, beliefs, are grounded in Christ, we have the resource to be the strongest of family and friends.
It is a mistake to say that Jesus doesn’t care about families, so silly. Just as when you hear people guilting you on social media, trying to use your words against you. Jesus want all our family and friends to be built up and shaped by our faith and trust in him.
Having around the church for many year does not assume we have listened and trusted what we have heard.
So how does this passage help us be better prepared in a world that is distracting and dividing us? We don’t let the voices of the news, the media, the fears, not even our families, or the division be what motivates our actions and thoughts.
We are the intentional fellowship listening, learning and following Christ lead.
What to do when those other voice interrupt out time set on Preparing?
1. Assess the interruption
2. Reaffirm the priority
3. Invite others to join the church, fellowship, faith family’s work
4. Get back to Jesus’s work.
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” [NRSV]
DISTRACTED BY MANY
It does not take much to distract me.
2. Recent Study on ADHD from Fox/Reuters 14% boys and 6% girls
3. Article: Fascinating Email Facts and Statistics
Statistics, extrapolations, and counts by the Radicati Group found the following:
- Over half of the world population uses email in 2019.
- The number of worldwide email users is expected to grow to over 4.3 billion by the end of 2023.
- The total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will exceed 293 billion in 2019 and is forecast to grow to over 347 billion by the end of 2023.
- DMR has curated these other fascinating tidbits about email:
- The first email system was developed in 1971.
- Each day, the average office worker receives 121 emails.
- The click-through rate for email sent in North America is 3.1%.
- The average click-through rate on desktop computers is 13.3% and, on mobile devices, it’s 12.7%.
- The average amount of overall emails opened on desktop computers is 16%, on mobile devices is 55.6%, and on webmail is 28%.
- The Apple iPhone email client is used most, followed by Gmail.
- The open rate increases by 17% when the subject line is personalized.
- Forty-two percent of Americans admit to checking email in the bathroom, and 50% do so while in bed.
- The average open rate for retail emails is 20.96%, and for political emails is 22.23%.
- The top spam content category in 2017 was healthcare, followed by malware.
- The top reason U.S. internet users unsubscribe from email lists is, “I get too many emails in general.”
- 99Firms has its own curated list that includes the following facts:
- Despite the rise of social messaging apps, 78% of teenagers use email.
- A majority (62.86%) of business professionals prefer email to communicate for business purposes.
- Ninety percent of workers check their personal email at least every few hours.
- Email click rates increase by up to 300% if a video is included.
- The best times to send email are 10:00 AM or between 8:00 PM and midnight; the best days are Thursday and Sunday.
- Funny top 10:TOP 10 REASONS PEOPLE DON’T RESPOND TO YOUR TEXTS
 The person really doesn’t like you.
 They are getting back at you for ignoring one of their text messages.
 They find your text message dialogue really boring and are on social media looking for something better to distract themselves with.
 They are playing mind games with you, full well knowing that by keeping you waiting for a response will cause you bitter frustration and they get a kick out of it.
 They are lazy and don’t respect you enough to respond to you.
 Very rarely, but some times, their battery dies. This is usually an excuse……go back to reason number 5.
 Some people work for a living, get off their back! They are WORKING… smarten up, the world doesn’t revolve around you.
 They just installed the new iOS and lost all their contacts (yes, even your precious contact info). They don’t recognize your number and are worried that your text might be from that person they gave their number to the night before.
 They are upset with you and decide to be passive aggressive with you instead of facing the problem head on up in a mature forward thinking fashion.
… and finally… did you actually check to see if you pressed send after you finished writing your emotionally charged message? This is the worst feeling ever and really makes you look at yourself as a super self-centered individual, realizing that you are the only one to blame for getting all upset over nothing.
- 50% of the world has an email account. 86% USA 17% read more than 3 second/per.
- 97% who have cel phone carry them with them. 62% ignore half of their text
- How long before we begin speaking in response? 200 milliseconds
THE NEED FOR ONE THING
The one thing is being connected to God. We do this in many ways, but its the one thing.
Mary is choosing to focus and listen
Martha is choose to control, prepare, define, assume, look from martha’s perspective and not Jesus’s
CHOOSING The BETTER PART
The better part are the choices we make to be
- unplugged from TV and politics,
- unplugged from working when we need Sabbath Rest.
- setting down the technology and to-do lists and listening to God so that we don’t miss God in our presence, in our homes, in our daily moments.
Action: moving toward God through worship, service, and devotion
I do not fear that the people called Methodist shall ever cease to exist in Europe and America. I only fear that they shall exist as a dead sect knowing the for, of religion, but not the power three of, and that undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast to the doctrine, disciplines and spirit with which they first set out.” (John Wesley 1786, age 83)
Wesley did not have a simple statement about accepting Christ, he being a preachers kid, professor, theologian and preacher offer a process of profession.
1. God has saved us in Christ
2. The point at which I know/feel/experience the effect of saving Grace (our professing/accepting Christ)
3. The point at which I become aware that the Holy Spirit is working to shape my life toward the life/hope Jesus has saved
4. Glimpses, moments and finally when I am made whole through Chris, by the Holy Spirit I to the person God graces us with to live.
Accepting what God has done for humanity
Accepting what God has done for me
Accepting God help in becoming the person a God
Living fully as the person God hope, dreams, calls me to be.
Beginning: Understanding our desperate need for Jesus and reaching the lost.
Christian faith is uniquely personal
If you ceased believing in Jesus at midnight how would tomorrow be different?
Most important thing to know about witnessing is: what is the Holy Spirit doing in your life right now.
What adjustments do you make daily between what the Holy Spirit. Reds/expects and what you do each day
Our Task: Evangelizing the Gospel
Living the Gospel in “word, deed and sign”
Three people in the Evangelism committee proposed they way the church should plan to “do evangelism” this year.
1: One wanted the Church to focus on physically embodying the love of Jesus by serving people around them and acting on issues of social justice.
2. The second said, “Anybody could be kind or good to others. Only the Spirit could do signs and wonders.” We must study, listen and wait for the Holy Spirit.
Liam also believed in the Holy Spirit. Who didn’t? And of course we 3. We must communicate Jesus clearly to everybody because serving and praying might not be clear to everyone in the community or even the church.
The obvious answer is to combine all three, word, deed, & sign
Living in expectant hope of the Holy Spirit
Frame, guide your daily life in the Spirit
Live in Prayer is preparation and conversation
pray with others,
pray for other,
read the prayers of others
Sharing in first person what Jesus has done for you, and is doing
Clearly inviting others to encounter Jesus through you
Graceful faith Sharing
No law rules or formulas
Reality of what the spirit does to meet our needs
Start with someone who wants to know how to accept Jesus.
What would to tell someone who asked you, “What do I do to become a Christian?”
1. They bring it up directly,
2. They want simple, direct, clear instructions.
3. They want your personal instructions
First let us pray: “I thank you God for loving ana saving us. I praise you for the opportunity to share the gospel with <name> today. Guide my words and my heart by your love and grace.”
A. I believe God so loved the world that he gave his only child to save all people who believe in God, father son Holy Spirit. Do you. Believe this too?
B. I tell the church, my family and friends, that I believe Jesus’ saving work, has saved me, personally. Do you believe this for you.
C. I invited God’s Spirit, scriptures, and church to guide my life until Christ returns to take us to heaven. Do you believe this for your life?
D. We are both believers on the journey together. I want to thank God for Sharing your faith. Do you want to pray to say thank you too?
Follow up with introducing them to another believer and Co tire the conversation. Pray for those God entrusts to you.
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
..and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” [NRSV]
The Question of the text is: “Are you on God’s side?”
Listening to the Mob:
- ..and the crowd ..could not even eat.
- The crowd of certified doctors: “He has gone out of his mind.”
- scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, (Scribe Debate)
- “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.”
- “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come.
- But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
- “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– for they had said,
- Diagnosis: “He has an unclean spirit.”
- Family comes to protect and save Jesus
Who is my family? Those who are on my side. Who’s side..
Summary: Mob is hungry, regional, compressed, out of bounds,
Note: Remember the temptation of Jesus starts with bread, the temple and at the mountain top boundary..
Name Calling: If you can’t think of what to say, start calling names.
He has Be-el-ze-bul. He is crazed because he is evil. Calling the presence of God crazy, evil, dangerous and out of control is backwards.
Be-El-ze-bul is interpreted as the “Lord of the Dung Flies”, a derogatory Lord of evil with twist of the tongue.
Jesus talks with the scribes in scribe-speak. Talk with a politician like a politician. Talk with a teacher like an educator; talk with a preacher like a preacher. Talk with a NASCAR fan like a NASCAR fan..
Jesus uses their knowledge, language, perspective to guide his corrective teaching
Who is in the family? Whose side do you favor… baby looks like mom or dad?
In recent report from several current religious research groups, namely the Barna Group, report clear trends of people no longer identifying themselves as Christian.
Primarily: they may not have been actively practicing the Christian faith, but it had previously been the safer thing to say about seeing oneself as a “Good Person” to say, “I am a Christian.”
Jesus is making a distinction between name calling and relationship.
Relationship that is more than blood-kinship.
Question: Am I a Christian or am I a disciple of Jesus Christ?
The Relationship of choice, a relationship that intentional.
Are you Christian in name our in faith?
Are you Christian in idea or practice?
Are you Christian by birth or choice?
Are you a Good Person by association or action?
Are you faithful to an idea or to God?
Family: Jesus is asking the religious folks and the crowd:
Are you and your family in God’s family, or have you created a religious family of your own?
Intentional Spiritual Growth
One of the five practice of fruitful congregations is the intentional work of feeding our spirit and choosing to live out our faith through our extended faith-family with God’s people.
We choose to belong to a community and not an idea-club.
So, Who’s side are you leaning toward:
God’s family or The family dynasty you determine.
Imagine Mary, Joseph, James, others siblings of Jesus.
Bottom line: Leaning on the Everlasting arms of God or leaning on our arm chairs calling the shots of life from our perspective, our tradition, our place of power, knowledge and comfort.
What happens when you point out that someone’s actions are not Godly… do they thank you, tune you out or rebel?
name calling doesn’t solve anything,
blaming might sound good but does not build relationships
not feeding your relationship leads to chaos…
Time for some intentional family dinner. Let’s eat!
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, “From heaven,’ he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, “Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, “I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him. [New Revised Standard]
Who is invited?
Text: The question is framed by a conversation about authority. Jesus makes the authorized teachers and leaders nervous and uncomfortable at the temple.
Cut the chase: Jesus you don’t belong here, you are not doing things the right way. You are rocking our boat and we don’t like the waves. We want you and and our comfort restored.
Who is doing what it right?
Text: The challenge of authority is rebuffed through a rabbinical challenge of conversation, logical and teaching. Jesus answers question with a question. Was John the Baptist a prophet? If they say yes just as so many in the community believed they are saying John had authority from God that was different from the temple polity and pecking order. If God can work around the temple leaders, why not work through Jesus as well.
If the teachers and leaders said John the Baptist was not a prophet they would challenge the faith and experiences of the community that found awakening and revival through John. They’re only option to save face is to say, “I dun’ know.”
Who is welcome?
Text: Jesus teaches with a parable, which is a teaching style Jesus introduces for the wise and the not so wise. It is an obvious conclusion: Who is the faithful son of the father? The one who says yes but does not go, Or the one who says no but ends up doing what the father expects? Answer: duh! the one who does the work.
Who is at home? Authority, Welcome, Belonging
Text: John spoke the words the teachers and leaders were suppose to be telling and teaching. The people responded to God’s call but not at the direction of the established insiders.
Who is who is in the teaching? Are we the bold prophets proclaiming a call for repentance? Are we going about our travels proclaiming goodness to those who are forgotten, rejected or excluded? Are we those who are comfortable in the cozy familiar safety of the church and hope people will take it upon themselves to be more like us so they can feel safe and cozy too?
Homework: Tell me you won’t go welcome someone to church next Sunday, but then actually go do just that. Say I won’t do, but do the opposite. Tell you neighbor on your pew. I’m not going to do anything bold this week. Safe and mediocre will do, but during this week you see, hear or find someone who needs grace, love and welcome. And you bring them home to the spring.
3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” [NRSV]
Baptism Text: The text from Matthew focuses on the relationship between Jesus and John and the fulfillment of scripture. It also describes the humanity of Jesus and affirms that baptism is not simply a cleansing ritual, but rather a presence and claim experience between us and God.
We celebrate and practice communion on a monthly basis. Each month we have the visual and tangible experience of finding Christ’s presence and it is a refresher or booster of our baptism.
Our communion table is Christ’s table and it open to all persons, for we are all in need of that grace and power of God’s claim on our lives.
Baptism is not a hoop to be checked-off as a membership requirement, although baptism is a sign that we are indeed members of the faith and joint heirs with Christ.
In Jesus’ baptism, it was not proof of his divinity, it is affirmation that we all need to be claimed by God.
Have you been baptized?
Do you remember?
I do not as I was only three months old and wore a linen dress on a hot south Georgia Sunday. Some strange man took me from my mother’s arms and poured cold water on my head and dress. Messed up my hair and caused me to scream and cry my eyes out. Finally I was returned to my father’s arms and was soon blinded by flash bulb from my grand parents who were then scolded for taking pictures in the sanctuary.
When I was thirteen I wore my sued chuck-a-boots, lime green leisure suit and parrot-paisley knit shirt to gather at the alter with my confirmation class lead by Sergeant Elizabeth Smith. I don’t know if she was ever in Uncle Sam’s army but she was certainly in the Lord’s Army and she prepared us to answer the perfect answers to the questions of examination of the faith. I don’t know if anyone at that altar that morning had a Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus experience, but we were well dressed, well prepared and knew exactly where to stand.
It was more likely that I felt the presence of God’s Spirit in a recognizable way, for the first time, while a camper at Camp Glisson a year after my confirmation.
Divine Divide of Grace and Time
In the Matthew Text the timing between the human-to-human conversation and ritual of coming to John at the river is not about a confession of sinfulness for Jesus.
- 1. John’s invitation to believers and followers was to turn toward God, repentance. It is a spiritual alignment.
- Placing ourselves aimed toward God, from where ever we are and face where we are going and becoming in God’s grace.
- 2. There is the response of Jesus accepting the ritual and practice of belonging to those who need God’s claim of their lives.
- There is a transformation from John’s invitation to get cleaned-up to Jesus’s choosing to commit his life to the ministry of God’s choosing. So the water becomes not only cleansing; it also is a preparing for part two of our lives.
- 3. Is God’s claim of our willingness to place our lives and trust in God’s hands and heart.
- This is my child. When we are baptized, we also become child of God.
This is My Child
The most powerful part of the text is the claiming part of baptism. God declares, this is MY child. This person that John baptize is claim by God, not by John. Baptism is not so much a church ritual as it is a divine parental defining of our identity and relationship with God. We are the kids, God is the parent. We are the family together.
Questions and More Questions:
So are we not Children of God before we are baptized?
The simple answer is no, but that is not a completely helpful answer.
Yes we are children of God’s creation, filled with grace and hope of becoming one who chooses God’s heart to guide our lives. But God does not force the inheritance upon us. But it is ours for the taking.
The Door is Open
Think of Baptism as a doorway. You can walk in and see the life God has prepared for us. And once you have seen it you know what life God has for you. It is reflected in the life and teaching of Jesus.
We might think we can walk through that door, but the only way to undo awareness of coming of age is to choose rejection or apathy. But the Door of Baptism never closes.
There are those who would teach that you better utter the magic words, “I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior” before we draw out last breath because then it is too late. But they does not actually follow with a Gracious Parent who crosses the chasm of death to make a way for us.
A View from the Lap of God.
If you are seated in God’s lap, embraced in arms of love and mercy, kneely at the feet of the one who breathed breath from your first and last, if you look into God’s eyes and say: “I want no part of you, let me go.” I believe God lets us go.
If you are face to face with God in judgement and God asks, “Do you love me” and we reply “I hate you.” God does not force us to love.
If we are faced with the full picture of our life filled with failures, fears, sins and struggle and we say “Lord have Mercy” Why would God of Grace revert to the ways of the Law? God will have mercy
SO WHY NOT WAIT UNTIL THEN?
It is the power, life, claim, assurance, comfort, peace, grace, love that we live without if we wait.
God wants for each of us to be part of the family, why would someone want to just be a guest when they could be kin?
Salvation is a process. (Baptism is the start)
We are claimed and saved so that we can grow in relationship with God and God’s people.
This is why we are a church.
To claim the outsider, the orphan, the widow, the forgotten, the rejected, the proud, the hard-hearted, that together we grow together toward God.
When there are those outside the family, how can we celebrate in the house?
(The unwritten part of the Prodigal Sons story: The father can’t be in the party when there are those on the outside looking in with anger, jealousy, fear, division, confusion, hate, etc.)
Baptism is our entrance into the party of salvation.
Come on in, the Party is on!
Notes from UMC.org and GBOD.org
1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” [NRSV]
Last week we look at the disappointment in the reality of grief. Recall on the Road to Emmaus, Jesus meets two travelers, Cleopas and likely his wife, they share their disappointments and sadness, yet they offer HOSPITALITY to Jesus they perceive is a stranger until they eat together.
It is good for young folks to eat with each other. They start doing thisat lunch. You know them
- The Bragger: who always seems to show off they have a larger portion or a better tasting treat brought-from-home.
- The Trader: who always wants to trade something on their plate for something they like better on their plate or a promise of a future trade (For the advanced traders)
- The Bully: who continually takes or threatens to take what they want.
- The Picky Poker: They play with their food but don’t eat it, making it untradeable and undesirable for anyone except..
- The Creative Scientist: Who mixes combinations and eats the crazed concoctions for attention or for the next food TV network show.
- The Talkers: Who use the time for nourishment of the body to feed the insatiable desire for the latest scoop even if it means being hunger before class is over.
- Mr or Miss Clean and Neat: They have to have the food on the tray in a certain order, no crumbs or spills allowed. They will clean their plate or make an empty milk carton a tidy home for unwanted food.
I’m sure there are other regulars at the table but kids could begin to learn a great deal about their piers from taking notes on table manors. Look back at the text from John, Cleopas and his wife learn that it is Jesus from watching and listening what happens at the dinner table.
In our text today, it is the breakfast table. I have a Monday morning pastor’s breakfast that is the joy of my week. We study, pray, laugh, cry, share and learn about each other lives, families and ministries. We refer to is endearingly as our church, the place where we become the congregation and do not have the responsibility of leading or directing. It is a treasure. But if you came to visit, and occasional members do drop by, you will find us at our best and at our worst.
Jesus finds Peter and a group of the others who have given up, even after seeing the empty tomb, even after appearing in the locked room,even after reappearing when Thomas was with themeven after the testimony of others who had seen and heard Jesus after the resurrection..
Peter is ready to go back to fishing for fish and not for people.He is ready to lead others to fishing for fish and not fishing for peopleHe is ready to try his own experience and strengths and know-how not leaning JesusHe is ready to exchange the familiar than risk failure and face fears.He is ready for much, just not ready for Jesus.
Are we ready for breakfast? Are we ready to start the day eating and drinking in the spiritual food God supplies, our manna.?Are we ready to begin the day looking for perspective and advice that come from outside our own?Are we ready to stick with the church, even if our vision is not fulfilled.This is where a majority of those who once were in church sit this very morning… Oh that might be asleep, on the lake, at work, sitting on the sofa, our just about anywhere but here.But somewhere they had a Peter experience and lost sight of Jesus standing on the shore.
Here is the good news for us and for them, and its tided to our mission.Jesus feeds his disciples once more and challenges them to feed others, because that is our work
Not just physical food, but more importantly the SPIRITUAL food.We can feed folks in Jackson, New York, Tegucigalpa, and at our kitchen table and not do if for JesusAnd we just have a single meal.If we are feeding folks the love of God, right from the heart, we satisfy the spirit: we quench fears, release grief, we teach people to trust Christ for themselves.
Have we forgotten since just a couple of Sunday’s ago that we are “Resurrection People.”Christ lives for us to live in him.We share communion last week and here we are today.. has that bite been enough, are you back for more? More of what?
Look to the text once more: 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19.. After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Eph 2.19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, [NRSV]
As we study Rick Warren’s, “What on Earth am I here for?” We have looked two of the pieces that help answer this question. First we learned that You and I are are planned and made for God’s Pleasure. We were not made by chance and we were not made for our own design and own reasons. We are the product of God’s reason and pleasure. Today we look at the reality that You and I are created for family. Not just any family, God hopes we will choose to be actively part of God’s own family.
As difficult as it might be for some to imaging, not everyone chooses to be part of God’s family. God wants us all. Some people choose other paths and beliefs and that does not make them God’s family in Christ.
The church is not an organization. It is not an institution. The church is not a club or a location or non-profit entity. The church is the spiritual family of God.
Paul writes in his letter to the church at Ephesis 1.5 that God’s unchanging plan is to bring us into family by adoption through Jesus Christ. God wants us to belong and makes a way for us to come into the family through Christ. John 1.12 reminds us that through Jesus Christ we have the privilege of becoming a child of God.
With belonging to the family come family responsibilities: The number on priority of family responsibility is to learn to love everyone else in the family.
I have heard folks say, “I can love them, but I sure don’t like them.” Most often this is not a true statement. If we mean to say. “I can love them, but their behavior makes it difficult for me to be near them.” It can be a true express of our relationship, but it is not a true definition of love.
Jesus called for his disciples to love one another, just as Jesus loves us. He calls us to do this not to make us happy or at peace, but for a reason beyond our own. Prove that your love one another as my disciples so the world will see the power of love and want to join the family as well.
The Christian life is about learning how to love.
Last week I suggested that Sunday’s are a practice day for living the other six. Today I suggest that we think of our church family as a laboratory where we practice and experiment loving someone other than our selves and those in our personal genetic and marriage families.
Christian Fellowship is our lab work for the world to check out.
If we learn to love those in our church family, it will shape the rest of the world, from now own.
Today we will look at (4) four levels of fellowship:
1. SHARING Together
Sharing together, fellowship of sharing.. starts with sharing
sharing conversation, food, shelter, etc.
met together constantly and shared everything
The disciples spent time and stuff together, “in common.”
fellowship takes time and practice
Iti s a choice that we make: choosing to share time and life with other folks…
SMALL GROUPS ARE ULTIMATELY IMPORTANT
Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, let us encourage one another Hebrews 10.25
No church building for 300 years… all met in small groups in homes.
Open you home, and you let people in your life..
We share Experiences/Events and Sorrows Rom 12.15 Share your joy and sorrow.
When you gather, each one share something sing, lesson, story, prayer, insight, dessert, no one taking over, and you will all 1 Cor xx..14
2. Fellowship of Belonging together
KOINONIA” being committed to one another as we are to Jesus
Fellowship with each other as equal heir, child, person in Christ
Belonging is the difference in dating and being married, watcher vs agent of change.
You are members of God’s very own family and you BELONG in God’s household with every other Christian.
without a church we are an orphan without a home, no shelter, no home.. without other people you can’t do it.
rom12.5 we who are many belong to each other…
Belonging is not OPTIONAL.
The person who loves God must love other believers
Love your spiritual family
Taking the STEP of COMMITMENT of BELONGER, not just follower
3. Third, level of fellowship is SERVING together.
Deepen love in marriage, friendship, start serving God together, partner for a common purpose.
You love grows deeper when you rely on one another.
Example : Combat Veterans… last a life time.. What happen to keep them so connected? Serving together on a common task comes from no where else.
a. God never meant for us to serve alone.
b. We are partners working together for God 1 Cor for 3.9
c. You get more done
d. rely on each others strengths and over come each others weaknesses
e. If we don’t worry about the credit, more will get done Eph 4.16 each part does its work
4. Finally, FELLOWSHIP OF SUFFERING TOGETHER
When you share a heart ache, and walk along side someone without judgement, you will be closer together.
I makes us more human to share suffering
It is unifying
A community after disaster come together to rebuild
SHARE EACH OTEHR TROUBLE SNAPROBLEMS AND IN THIS WAY YOU OBEY THE LAW OF CHRIST
Love your neighbor as your self.
When you serve you do your part but when you suffer together you share your heart.
Help HANDS-ON someone in pain… learning how to love people who are suffering… GRC
Relationship are more important than accomplishments, achievements, success, money,
Life is about learning to Love
Wasting life if we are loving people in pain
Learning to love God : Worship
Learning to love others : Fellowship
PART of CHRIST BODY
if one suffer, all suffer together… if you have a tooth ache, your whole body knows it.
Be devoted like family member
Family lasts forever…God’s family
1 John 3.16 — We know what real love is,..we ought give up our lives for each other.
Our sacrament today is Holy Communion: Where Jesus invites us into this unique relationship once again.
At this table Jesus meetings with fellowship around a meal
We SHARE A loaf and cup
We BELONG because we are invited
We eat to be equipped to SERVE
We remember and share in the Christ’s SUFFERING with our own sin and pain.
Come Join the Fellowship! With Jesus and all the children of God.
Prayer: I’m making a choice to belong to a church and small group.. Im gong to be a belonged not just a believer…
Teach me the meaning of real love.