Posts Tagged Witness
2 Corinthians 4:1-18
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—”I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. [NRSA]
A CLAY JAR
A piece of clay that has been fashioned into a bowl, a mug, or a vase is many things.
- It is an expression of the potter.
- It is more than the sum of it’s parts,
- It is more than a lump of dirt and water,
- It is both durable and delicate,
- It is fragile, yet useful,
- It is one of the precious images Paul uses to remind us, and the churches in Corinth, that we are precious treasure of God.
Clay can never form itself as wonderfully, purposefully, or longingly as can the potter.
This is one of the power messages of Good News you and I must share with a world that hungers for meaning and is willing to create alternate realities rather than simply trust God is that very potter of our lives.
Do you ever feel like a clay pot?
Winnie the Pooh is always appreciative of having a useful clay pot near by, in the hope that it contains honey, or that it will soon be filled with honey.
It is Paul’s pray, and one that we also share, that we remember that we are the clay pots that are
- Filled with a treasure greater than golden honey
- Our time and lives are to maximize the opportunity to share God’s treasure with those we interact each day.
As Clay Pots, there are times we feel like the roughness of a clay pot. One that has been fired by trial and suffering heat or pressure, but has not been glazed. We feel ordinary, worn, or even fractured.
When we focus on the vase, bowl, mug, the body, the bills, the money, the demands, we think our usefulness is measured by the world’s use or uselessness of our lives, INSTEAD of trusting that GOD has determined our PURPOSE and USEFULNESS and fills us with God’s Power, Spirit, Truth, and Grace to transform a broken, fragile, power-hungry world.
- The First lesson to remind you neighbor is this. God makes us.
- The second is that God fills us.
- The third is God desires to work through us, making us the vessel of God’s presence.
The Body of Christ…
- God is more plainly revealed in the life, body, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus, showing us that God is in charge, command, and in love with us all.
- God can transform all things to God’s heart and will.
- God can use each of us, no matter the age, style, durability, or fragile nature we perceive.
- God is calling us to be the container.
Our Containers may be
- We are afflicted in every way,
- but not crushed;
- perplexed, but
- not driven to despair;
- but not forsaken;
- struck down,
- but not destroyed;
But here is the Good News: We are carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies
When are we carrying the death and life of Jesus?
- When we feed, cloth, be friends, remember the forgotten,
- seek the lost, search for the weary,
- knock on the table of those who are using God’s name for power, politics, and personal gain.
The old American Express slogan, “Don’t Leave Home without It” is just a good of a reminder that everywhere, in everyday, in every situation, we are the useful pots, the containers of Jesus for the world.
The Hitch in the Get Along
- The catch is, we either don’t believe this to be true everyday,
- We take it for granted and think it is something we can pick and choose to share , or
- We don’t trust God’s power, word, and heart.
For weeks I have ask you to pray for someone that you can disciple, and share your faith. On one hand it is a poor attempt to suggest that there might just be one person, when there are thousands within our areas of influence that we would dare pick one. But this is just the thing:
Most of us don’t use the powers and gifts entrusted.
We are more focused on protecting our own pot, our own body, our own stuff, our own problems, and we miss the point of “God with Us”, Emmanuel, the Good News, the treasure that is entrusted us to share.
Which leaves us with the question to URGENTLY answer:
If you and I are those God is expecting the share the Good News, what do we have to report?
Why do you say URGENT, hasn’t it been thousands of years since Christ arose and might it be a thousand more? It might, but not for me and you.
We do not know the number of our days.
“ Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day”
- How many conversations about the weather and politics can we waste talking with one another about what is certain instead of what is perplexing?
- How many trips to work and town to do something necessary that we do not reach out to those who are afflicted with the blindness of what the world has to offer.
- How much breath do we withhold in an effort to avoid persecution, social shaming, and ridicule?
- How many times do we take a stand and risk being struck down for doing what is right for the kingdom of God?
Thank Goodness Paul is only talking to the church in Corinth and not the church in Rock Spring, Georgia! (Oh but his words touch us all, in all time, ALWAYS.
Speaking of Always, let’s compare Sunday afternoon to Eternity.
- What is the most pressing thing we have today?
- What is waiting for us in this week ahead that we are responsible to do, lead, or complete?
- What can be placed on the back burner, or until we have more time, money, energy, or feel more like it?
I have an idea for social media this week:
Instead of posting the usual, or just reading others post and liking or skipping them. Let’s use this powerful tool to share a more powerful message.
- Let’s share how God is at work in our lives
- Share what songs and verses are guiding your day.
- Share what conversation are drawing others closer to God
If you are not only social media, get on the phone, in the car, our out in person and start telling story, sharing the treasure, resume feeding and clothing, visiting and making friends in Christ, start knocking on hearts and heads, ask people how you can pray for them, how God can bless them.
- Use these clay bots that we are
- And share the treasure that God has invested in us
- And transform the world and tell the good news…
Because keeping quiet is not the method that is working very well.
If we stay silent, if we keep it too ourselves, it is as if we only an empty, useless pots and that is not at all what God has blessed, saved, calls, nor expects us to be.
Are you with me? Let’s stop focusing on the pot and sharing the treasure we’ve already got.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [NRSV]
CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME OUR OF ROCK SPRING
- The power of doubt
- Consumption of assumption
- Oh little town of Rock Spring,
- Nathanael, the product of Peter and Andrew
COME AND SEE
- Come see with your own eyes,
- The shepherd saw the angels but said to one another, let us go see for ourselves, what has been told to us
- Thomas who had not yet seen Jesus raised from the dead, told the others, I will not believe until I see with my own eyes
- The invitation is for tag team invitation for people to come see.
- The greatest showman is a wonderful new musical that is a great movie even if you don’t ususally go see movies, it is worth experiencing. Is about PT Barnam’ seeing a dream come to life, loose it, and being reminded that joy can be found through people who love and trust.
YOU WILL SEE HEAVEN OPENED UP
- Peter and Andrew promise Nathaniel that he will see heaven open if he goes to see Jesus,
- That is what it means to find Jesus
- It might. It be coming to church, the music and events, the ministries and activities, but it is through these people and the relationships we share that the Kingdom of God can show up
- Some folks will tell you they don’t like church because all they talk about is money, or the Christian people gossip, lie and stab each other in the back, these are folks who have seen people WITHOUT Jesus
- The challenge is to strive to share Jesus and not ourselves. Or at least not sharing our selves without Jesus opened up and visible.
You hold the keys to heaven, who will you keep out? Who will you let in?
- So this passage holds our model:
- Have an encouragement accountability partner,
- Reach out to the people we know and meet
- Invite them to come see Jesus at work in our lives, in our worship, ministry, fellowship, etc..
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. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. [NRSV]
We live in a world with a growing distrust of the faith we share.
- Feed the hungry school children is important because of fairness rather than as an act of love of God and neighbor.
- Caring for the sick has been identified as a human right instead of as an act of love of God and neighbor.
- People want to live a neighborhood where folks love their neighbors but don’t make it a religious thing.
- Business rally to support the Red Cross but not UMCOR and the church
- I don’t need God or the church because I have government and laws instead
- I don’t need Jesus because I can live with a different reality of what pleases me.
- I trust what is preached in the name of “news” but not the “Good News”
- NOTE: We waste precious time assigning blame, so may we encourage one another to be faithful to the task.
Blame: Because a few have been foolish
We must take responsibility and ownership, confess our sin and remain faithful to God.Before we share our faith: Our task is to be clear about our faith, hold to it, through the storm.
Foolishness and Wisdom
The Problem: Culture says, “When I can get enough people to agree with me that YOUR wisdom is foolish, we can call our approved-proofed foolish pure “Wisdom” and truth.
The Reality: Wisdom and Truth have not changed. But the pillars of our faith have been discredited by unfaithfulness, exploited by those who are threatened by the Christain Faith and our believing/wanting more than God as our hope.
The reason why it is foolish to use social media to persued beliefs is: Anyone with any purpose can log on, speak what they call truth, wisdom, and salvation, but that does not make it wise, true nor the hope of our salvation.
Our charge is not to be ignorant, stubborn or inflexible, rather relying on SCRIPTURE, understood through Tradition, Reason, and Experience to inform and encourage us and God will not fail or forsake us.
- Tradition tells us the successes and failures of the past: learn from mistakes and successes.
- Reason tells us that God has purpose, order, relationship and love hard-wired into us and the universe and expects us to use the mind and reasons that set us apart from everything else in creation.
- Experience is the direct effect of God, Jesus, The Spirit, and the church that reveals something that tradition and reason cannot.
- Being faithful is not a political position. My ultimate allegiance is to God, not any government. (We are called to participate in our civic community, but it will never be our hope, purpose or salvation.)
- Love cannot be summed up by ideas, scientific study, research, and theories.
- Blame/Fault does not mend spirit, heart, minds: This is God’s work in us.
- Being faithful is not something someone else can do for me. Faith is our way of life. with every breath, our task is to grow closer to God and one another.
Wise Acts of Foolishness
- To assume God and religion were created and thus we can create something we like better.
- To believe that the majority of voices of self-focused blindness can see better than God.
- To believe the Bible is only a history book rather than a living point of access.
- To let the world define
- you and
- your mission
- your identity and
- your value.
- It is foolish to write off God and the church because you have been hurt, judged or offended by someone in the name of God.
- It is foolish to think we have told our story once and that is enough.
Foolish acts of Faithness
- To forgive
- To trust
- To give our gifts, tithes, support
- Devoting time to prayer and acts of service
- The study, exploration, and celebration our faith milestones: Staying current with our examples as witness and testimony. Don’t just tell the big story, also tell today’s story of faith.
- Be diligent, committed, intentional to hold, grow and share your faith
2. Trust God will guide us through the most twisted and backward reversal of what is good and evil, right and wrong, true and false, wise and foolish.
3. Test it: Take something you hear our culture say and ask what does God say? What do God’s people say? What Scripture says? What is God trying to have us hear/know/experience now compared to times in the past?
4. I mean we are called to wrestle with the hard stuff in our lives, in our families, in our word and trust God will guide us through. When we do this for the world to see, we are sharing our faith in everyday ways.
The Lead Team of Followers
The Promise of Failure
Bringing the Kingdom Near
- in my words
- in my mind
- in my heart
Expected Rejection and Failure
Living as Sent People
The Homework: Share hospitality, heal/fix what you can, and confirm why you are present and doing what you do: bringing the kingdom close to you. (Carpenters: Close to You.)
- Jesus Christ is real,
- Jesus is King, and
- Jesus is with us.
- When we know Jesus is real, this becomes the foundation of our life
- When we know Jesus is King, this becomease the guide for our living
- When we know Jesus is with us, nothing can stop us from praising.
- There story is about preparing for worship
- The story is about making way/room for Jesus in our public/fears
- The story is about remaing awake and aleart that it is Jesus that leads us and not anything or anyone esle.
- Peace does not come from armies and weapons
- Peace does not come from governments and policies
- Peace does not come from acts of kindness and justice
- Peace comes from God, through Jesus Christ, guided by the Spirit, through the church, through us for for the whole world.
- Peace comes when Jesus comes in.
- Peace comes when Jesus is praised
- Peaces is possible to see when we see God showing up on our streets.
- new life,
- a new way
- a new day, made possible thorugh Jesus Chirst, our King.
- Witness of kindness
- Forgiving first,
- Our hearts
- Our gifts
- Our time
- Our presence
- Our wintess
- nation and the world.
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
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town; 5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. 6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; 7 he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town. 8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 9 For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.
10 Some sat in darkness and in gloom, prisoners in misery and in irons, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. 12 Their hearts were bowed down with hard labor; they fell down, with no one to help. 13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 14 he brought them out of darkness and gloom, and broke their bonds asunder. 15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 16 For he shatters the doors of bronze, and cuts in two the bars of iron.
17 Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 20 he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. 21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 22 And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.
23 Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; 24 they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. 25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; 27 they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; 29 he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. 31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
33 He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,
34 a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.
35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. 36 And there he lets the hungry live, and they establish a town to live in;
37 they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield. 38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their cattle decrease.
39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, 40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; 41 but he raises up the needy out of distress, and makes their families like flocks.
42 The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth. 43 Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of the Lord [NRSV]
One thing that strikes me about this psalm is that describes so many thing we recognize in the life and witness of Jesus. So it is important that we keep in context the words of this hymn for worship as images that Jesus later embodies that those who were familiar with the psalm in the Jewish community could see as fulfillment of God’s presence in Jesus.
If on Father’s Day, a dad wanted to see the good works of his son, the psalmist gives a good list that Jesus reveals in his teaching and witness.
- Water for the woman at the well
- The tearing of the curtain at the temple at the crucifixion
- The woman who avoided death because none could cast the first stone
- The calming of the sea
- The healing of the sick at the gate
- Jesus’ parables of sowing
- Jesus’ parable of loosing saltiness
- Jesus multiplying food for the hungry
- The invitation for the prince to sell and follow
This somewhat obscure psalm tells so many of Jesus’s teachings and stories in one and was written a millennium-plus before hand. It is remarkable inclusive of many ways God’s presence and message is revealed across the testaments.
Verse 42 is the response to the stories of God’s work.
When we see the ways God is reveled in the world, we can response in one of two ways:
a. We see God at work and we are glad, energized and joyful to see God at work.
b. We see God at work and shut our mouths.
The admonition (advice) is to
- be wise,
- give heed and
- consider God’s love at work among us.
2015 Shut our Mouths or Proclaim God’s love?
Conference statistician Darris Baker reported the following 2014 statistics compared to 2013: And are we yet alive?
Conference Membership: 361,329 (Down 2054)
Professions of Faith: 5,398 (Down 204)
Average Worship Attendance: 119,976 (Down 3,121)
Average Sunday School Attendance: 48,888 (Down 296)
The mighty North Georgia conference is no longer the leader and we pray it is not on the same track that Mr Wesley’s beloved Church of England was on. But it begs the question: When we see God’s love present in the world do we give God the praise and witness to God’s presence? Are we considering and looking for God’s revelation in the world? Are we following in the witness of Christ in our actions and bolding in our words or have shut our mouths too long?
Homework: Outline this psalm and see at least 10 ways to practice our piety, to grow our spirit and witness God’s love through Christ in our lives, and then act accordingly. For we live in a world and season when people
- long for God and are thirsty. Give them living water.
- feed hungry,
- encourage the prisoners,
- offer thanksgiving and sacrifice,
- sing songs of joy,
- give peace to those at their wits end,
- go to church to support and be supported.
- be salty and bold in the face of evil.
- water a garden to feed the famished.
- open your mouth and share the joy rather than stay quiet and in your own mind.
Now Get to Work!
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors 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 side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Jesus Appears to Thomas. Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. [NRSV]
Who is missing?
After his resurrection from the dead, Jesus went to Jerusalem, just as he said, to meet the disciples.
Judas was missing. Overwhelmed with regret and confusion takes his life and is missing from the circle. Given the events in the garden the disciples would have at least known why Judas might not show up.
Thomas was also missing. Where was Thomas? There is no mention of his absence at the first appearance of Jesus. Neither by Jesus nor the others, Thomas was absent.
What he afraid? Was he hiding? Had he given up? Did he not check his email or Facebook page or maybe his cell phone battery was not charged after a busy weekend. His absence goes un-noted for the moment.
This is one of the occurrences in the church that is just as true today as it was then. If we take a moment and look around at who is missing.
Some folks have recently died and we continue to grieve for the emptiness of their home going.
Others are ill and not physically able to be her or it is hazardous to their health or ours if the came to worship. Other have other limitations that keep them from being in this place.
Some are on vacation. Some are sleeping. Some are working. Some are accounted for, while others are missing, absence and not connected.
Which category did Thomas fit into?
Because we are so focused on our own worship, our own needs, and our own stuff, that we are looking to Jesus for all the help we can get. We make no note of who is missing.
So look around and see who is missing:
Not that we will take away a gold star, no demerits, no red ‘X’ by their name, but think back to last Sunday, where nearly 250 people gathered in this place and this morning, some of those are missing.
Still others were missing last week and like Thomas have come today. Thanks be to God that you are all hear.
Be know it is important that we have our shepherding ministry of paying attention to who is not hear, so that a week, or month , or a season does not go by and we not notice who is not in the fellowship, not in the circle.
Did you ever think Thomas was out evangelizing and telling the world about the resurrection? It is doubtful as he questions the resurrections when he has the opportunity to see Jesus in the flesh.
Thomas want to see the evidence, the proof, the touch and hold the hands and side confirmation, that what Jesus said was true and real.
Here is Good News, Thomas shows up. And, when he shows up he wants to believe. He wants to see Jesus. Jesus wants him to have peace. Jesus wants him to believe. Jesus wants him to know the power and gift of the resurrection is for Thomas too.
Think about what Thomas is asking Jesus
- Jesus who died for Thomas
- Jesus who conquered death for Thomas
- Jesus who rose from the dead for Thomas
- Jesus who came looking for Thomas and Thomas was missing
- Jesus who came looking for Thomas a second time is met by Thomas’s question and challenge.
..I will not believe unless I touch his hand / feel his side.
Despite any arrogance or ignorance: Jesus wants Thomas to believe.
Jesus is going the extra-mile of the extra-mile for the extra-stubborn folks like me… Praise the Lord!
SO Jump ahead to 2015
Jesus has been reveal to us in worship, Word, works of grace and service in his name. He STILL lives..
Why are their folks missing out?
Is there something missing the witness?
Here is a test question: Will your grandchildren (or that generation) know what your grandparents believed? That’s a five-generation spread of 100 years, @20 years.
We all know “WE” believe, but what about those who are missing what we cherish and treasure?
What if folks are looking at our hands and stand at our sides, do they see and touch Jesus when they are around us?
Is something missing?
- Jesus Gives the disciples PEACE
- Jesus Gives the disciples SPIRIT
- Jesus Gives the disciples WORD
- Jesus Gives the disciples Repeat Visits
- Jesus Gives the disciples hands-on
- Jesus Gives the disciples the Church
- Jesus Give the Church the peace, spirit, word, presence, contact and life to share with the world that is missing from the table.
Do you know anyone who has seen the signs, but is missing the:
Peace, Spirit, Welcome, Presence and/or Christ in their daily living? Then you know what’s on your disciple’s to-do list this week.
Show the signs,
breathe the presence and spirit,
share the word,
ask and invite again,
Jesus lives for us and those who are missing.
Jesus is sending us to show the cross and it’s Good News
Jesus is resending us to live the life for the missing.
Who is missing? So get to work.
Posted by myoikos in Boldness, Christian LIving, Disicpleship, Extravagant Generosity, Generosity, Intentional Spiritual Growth, Leadership, Passionate Worship, Radical Hospitality, Relationship, Risk Taking Mission and Service, Sacrifice, Service, Spiritual Growth, Stewardship, Trust, Witness on January 24, 2015
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. [NRSV]
Licensed to Catch
To be authorized to fish on state waters and waters that lead to state waters you must have a license to fish. It is a piece of paper with slopping dot matrix ink that is barely legible that cost just a few dollars for a whole year of fun and recreation, but try to sneak out without one and you will wish you had the permit. That license helps keep lakes and rivers stocked, rangers on watch and some efforts to protect waters for future fishing. It seems to me that it sounds much more impressive to call one’s permit a license to fish, rather than a stocking fee or a wildlife protection fee or a ranger administrative fee. Now I complain every time they increase the rate, but its still one of the best values our state provides.
With a license to fish it sounds like your are a professional catcher of fish, a regular James Bond in the wilderness. Licensed, licensed to fish. And yet that little piece of paper is your letter of authorization to attempt to catch a fish.
Unless you use your bare hands or a catchers mitt, I suggest that the whole endeavor is misnamed. Catching fish is the rarity in my experience. Practicing is the art of hoping and trying to catch. I have cast my line MANY more times than I have ever caught a fish.
And when I have successfully retrieved a fish from his watery home, I generally use every method I have to capture the little creature. And in my experience, my catch is a small creature; one I probably should use my bare hands to ‘catch’ rather than a load of specialized gear, bait and practice.
To be successful at fishing might have nothing to do with catching anything, except a nap in the great outdoors.
To be successful at fishing might be in helping someone catch what you have little or no success achieving yourself.
To be successful at fishing I know that the cost to procure a fish is not measured by the total investment, rather in the most recent success story. (Boat, poles, line, lures, trailers, flotation devices, motors, umbrella, wetsuit, waders, various must-have pieces of tackle, just to get started.) The cost of a ‘catch’ is the most recent worm and and the gas to transport you to the best spot.
A Failure at Fishing
You might think you have failed a fishing if you came home with no fish, but learning WHY you came home empty handed might be the successful lesson.
Coming home with a boat load of fish actually means more work of cleaning and cooking your catch which might be the last thing you want to do after three hours of driving, unloading and loading a boat, working on a broken boat, waking a mile back to go to the bathroom because your little helper doesn’t want to go in the woods, enduring some mud and rain, going through the first aid kit from miscellaneous hook injuries and only finding the little ones that need to be returned to grow bigger.
Luxury of Catch and Release
It is such a mixed message to take a child fishing when it’s catch-and-release season. First all the hype about “catching” fish and bringing it home to eat for dinner is the stuff that beginning fisher-folk legends are founded. You finally catch one, beginner’s luck you find the biggest one of the whole fishing parting and you have to throw it back. I wanted to eat it and mount it for all posterity, not through it back!
But there is actually a great level of maturity, delayed-gratification, or at least perspective when you can use all at your disposal to hook and retrieve your catch and not have to keep it
- because that is not the only meal your family might have is at the end of your line.
- because you don’t need to show anyone your catch,
- because you have learned to enjoy to sport of fishing
- because you want to leave fish for those who need the meal they provide
- because you don’t want to clean them
- because you found your enjoyment in the journey rather than the trophy
“Catching” is not the high-water-point of fishing!
Sharing fishing with someone else is the joy of fishing.
- You need no license to share the story
- You need no experience, success nor failure, to share the fun
- You don’t have to know what your doing and you may be the most practiced professional
Sharing the adventure of catching is heart.
Jesus goes a long way to share an INVITATION to share the ADVENTURE of FISHING
Jesus never promised that we would catch a single person
Jesus invites us to go on an adventure bigger than what we could catch if we tried, practiced,
Jesus extends INVITATION rather than LICENSES
Jesus calls us to use the skill and talents we know and have and INVITES us to share them with the work of the Kingdom.
Jesus continues to call disciples
Look to the persons on either side:
- Remind them “You are a disciples”
- Remind them “You are a fisher, not a catcher”
- Remind them “You don’t have to know what you are doing, just follow Jesus”
- Remind them “Lead with what you know”
- Remind them of the tough part: “Sometimes following Jesus is leaving other things behind”
Jesus Calls Disciples who make new Disciples, who fish for more disciples…
The ADVENTURE is ours,
we never graduate,
we never retire,
we may have weary, uncertain times, but
there is always more fishing to be done. So keep it up
Let’s go fishing
- It’s too cold
- It’s too wet
- I don’t have a license
- I don’t know where to go
- I don’t have the right equipment
- I don’t know how
- I’m tired of fishing
- I don’t like fish
- I want someone to fish for me, I like the restaurant/grocery story method.
So why are we here as church, if we are not about the one thing Jesus asked disciples…
I’m up for the ADVENTURE!
I have a story to SHARE!
- I don’t know how to fish, but I know who does!
- I don’t have license, but I have forgiveness and love!
- I might have skills and equipment, God wants what we bring! God fulfills what we leave behind.
- I might get tired, God plans for rest.
- I might not like the people God sends me to, but I know God loves us all
- If I don’t follow, what will I miss and who will miss God….