Sunday, September 13, 2020

A World of Meaning

Proverbs 8:1-36

John 1:1-17

 

When I was young, my father pointed out how trees along the highway or in wide open spaces often leaned to the east, shaped by the prevailing west winds that we experience in the Midwest.

 

This is for me one of those life-truths that is in my bones.  Without even thinking about it as I move through a space, I’ll take note of the trees and somewhere in my mind I think, “ah, so that must be west…” It is a nearly subconscious thought. 

 

And this time of year, my body mysteriously adjusts to changing light.  No longer is the sky brightening by 5:45 or even 6:30 a.m. And as my eyes begin to open to darkness…I  still know roughly what time it is even as the light has changed. Somehow my body knows that it is 6:20 a.m. whether it is sunny or still dark at that time.

 

As we step deeper into these explorations of scripture, seeking to make the road on which we walk, one thing that I am finding is the way certain truths are framed from the beginning for us, and they become foundational. They are the sturdy stones upon which we continue to build our life of faith. They are trail blazes that continue to show up for us and remind us of what is real and true. They become part of our flesh, part of our biology somehow.

 

Or maybe they have always been part of us and the work of this life journey is uncovering them, returning to them, remembering them, invoking them. Maybe they are the footsteps of generations that have worn a path we continue to travel.

 

Our primary text for today from John’s gospel is - for me – traditionally a Christmas eve reading….I can’t begin reciting it without calling to mind a darkened sanctuary that glows brighter and brighter with candle light as we pass the light from one to another.

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

 

John’s gospel is not like the others – Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  It has a complexity and elegance to it. It has allusions to the past and markers for the future. “ The Word” we are told was at the beginning is not “only” the spoken words of God at creation – “let there be… “- but the Word in John’s text is also the Greek concept of logos – a divine principle that gives order to things, a “reason” that undergirds all that is.  


So John’s introduction unveils a new way of understanding the Jesus story - in the beginning, there was a divine principle. John’s gospel places Jesus as the divine principle right there at the beginning of creation with God.  

 

Did I mention the “elegance” of John’s writing? It makes sense…in the first creation story in Genesis, when God speaks humankind into being, God uses plural pronouns – Let US make humankind in OUR image, according to OUR likeness…

 

Already, in the Genesis text we are introduced to a glimpse of the Spirit that moves over the waters to animate chaos into created order.  And now, in John’s Gospel, the writer situates Jesus there as well.  

 

That might leave you with some image of the adult Jesus brooding with some human shaped God….


I suggest we have to hold on to this more loosely…something like this:

 

My father had a rather endearing colloquialism when I was growing up.  He would say about the times before I was born – oh, you were but a twinkle in your daddy’s eye – a gentle way of saying that his romantic intent would eventually result in conception and manifestation…but so much still remained before that would come to fruition.

 

And so as I read this passage in John and imagine the Logos of God present at creation who is now being introduced and baptized by John in the Jordan, I remember that phrase – the details at this point are probably NOT so much the point – but somehow the Trinity – Father, Son, Spirit – are present at creation. The capacity of Jesus, the potential of Jesus is fully present at creation.


Let’s lay this beside some other truths we have already established as we have looked at creation these past weeks. 

 

God created an amazing diversity, and he declared it all GOOD.

God placed before humans the choice of life or the choice of trying to be God by attempting to  know both good and evil.

And now…

The fullness of the Triune God was present at the beginning. Most specifically, the potential of Jesus was present in the beginning.

 

We will continue to spend the next many Sundays working our way through the stories of Hebrew scripture – the “old testament.”  Because these are vital stories. But it is important to connect those stories with the stories of Jesus – because those stories made Jesus who he was as a rabbi and as a faith leader. These old stories help us to know Jesus better. But it is possible that Jesus helps us understand these old stories better too. Certainly he taught from these stories.  But he moved through the world from these stories as well.  

 

Perhaps as we prepare to continue to move through those older stories it helps us to remember that even when we are not talking about Jesus, Jesus is on the path with us somehow.

 

Essentially, in John’s Gospel, we are being offered a story and a pattern for how to understand Jesus and Jesus’ unique relationship with God. And as a result of that unique relationship with God, there is a unique relationship with all of humanity. And set into a Greco-Roman culture of mythology and many gods, this Jesus presents a new divine principle.

 

There were a few common “ways” or paths that were widely understood in the philosophy of the times into which Jesus entered.

 

1)    There was the way of war.  Everything was a survival of the fittest competition.  In order to survive, you had to “win,” which meant power over those who were weaker, different.  Blessing was defined by victory and victory meant someone else had to lose.

2)    There was a way of domination. Survival was about either domination or compliance. And if you were not going to dominate, the only other way to survive was to follow the rules that are set by someone above you. No matter how unjust, no matter how inhumane. Dominate or Submit. 

3)    There was a way of mechanics.  Everything and everyone is a cog in a machine whose engineering is already set.  Once the machine is set in motion – there is nothing to do but whatever your part is…there is no affecting the outcome or interrupting the status quo. If your part is hard and mundane and soul-crushing, so be it. If your part is charismatic and powerful, so be it.

4)    OR…(here’s where John’s gospel comes in) Life is this complicated story. God has moved through the chaos and ordered it with goodness. And Jesus is part of God’s creation – part of the way the world works.  Jesus was at the beginning and Jesus modeled life like none other. He demonstrated power through love.  He responded to violence with peace.  He set an example by choosing to be in relationships that upset all three of the prior “ways” of being – war, domination, mechanics. As Christ – the power of love and peace in the world beyond earthly life – he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

 

We are on this life journey, making this path.  And through creation – through the amazing power of everything emerging from the chaos including you and I – God offers a divine principle – a way of understanding and moving through the world.

 

McLaren writes:

“Jesus translates the logic or meaning or pattern or heart of God into terms we humans can understand: skin and bone, muscles and breath, nerve and action.”

 

And so we know the way somehow both by learning Jesus’ example but also because we also walk in skin and bone, muscles and breath, nerve and action.  There is cellular knowing.

 

We were created from the same dust and today we walk in the footprints of this man, this power of love and peace, as we seek to find a way of life …and walking, we leave footprints for others on the journey, also created of this shared dust.

 

And our bodies are able to just begin to know. To know what was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. To know a way of peace and love because we turn our hearts that direction first by habit and work and then by knowing. It’s work. It’s work to know the heart of God in a way that we can understand. But it is work that we can do so that we understand and live in light of it.

 

May it be so.

Amen.



We are currently on week 3 of a 52 week journey through the book, We Make the Road by Walking: a year-long quest for spiritual formation, reorientation, and activation by Brian McLaren.  If you are interested in following along, we worship at 10 a.m. on Sundays at faithworkshere.com.  If you are interested in joining a small group discussion about the book drop me an email at revlaura@faithworkshere.com




 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Being Human

Genesis 2: 4 – 25

Psalm 8

Mark 3: 1 - 6

 

I assume that on any journey, we meet some new characters, right?

 

I have a friend who started to hike the Appalachian Trail, beginning at the southern end, in February before the pandemic took hold.  I watched his journey with great interest. He retired as a Colonel from the Army, and this was his transition journey as he started a new chapter.

 

I was surprised that almost every post he made introduced a new character he’d met on the trail.  I hadn’t thought about it much, but of course, when hiking thousands of miles, there are other folks doing the same thing…you gather new friends for support, for guidance, for shared experience.

 

We are going to meet some new characters on this journey as we make the road by walking.

 

Today, I want to introduce us to two. Maybe they aren’t characters – maybe they are more like “presence.” As in these two ideas will accompany us for the rest of the journey – our whole lives in fact.

 

Our primary text is the second creation story found in Genesis 2. That’s right, there are two distinct creation stories.  If you take a moment to read them side by side, you’ll note how details are different, how the tone is different. There are places where they sort of contradict one another.  Historians and language experts would point out difference in voice and structure. Different authors had different priorities even if following the same God.

 

In the first story which we discussed last week, we recognized that God created everything with amazing diversity.  And everything that God created was declared GOOD.  We also remembered that as humans, we are bearers of God’s image.  

 

So…we don’t bear the fullness of God – we are not God, but we reflect some of God into the world. We bear God’s image, much like a reflection in a mirror.


And that is good.

 

As we move into the second story, we learn here about a first human created from dust. And about a garden into which that human is set, where God has created every tree that is pleasant to look at and good for food.

 

And two specific trees – the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. 

 

So this is an interesting layer – in the first creation story, God creates and it is good. But here in this second telling, we are introduced to this idea that there is something other than Good.  While all was created good, it seems that there is this idea that we might also be able to know something that is not good – it might be possible to know both good and “evil.”

 

As God sets the sole human up in the garden, there is a specific instruction – you can eat of everything growing here EXCEPT the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil – if you do, you will die.

 

That seems pretty specific. Eat from this tree, you will die.


But what does it all mean? What would it means to eat from the forbidden tree?

 

Remember – the 2 trees aren’t the tree of life and the tree of evil. Nope. The tree that we are not to eat from is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – don’t consume the knowledge/awareness/understanding that there is something other than the goodness which is inherent in all of creation.

 

So it would seem that the risk is not so much evil itself but the attempt to KNOW for ourselves the difference between what is good and what is evil?

 

I wonder…why is it that the knowledge that there is something other than goodness might steal life?

 

If all that God has made is declared GOOD, what does it mean to know evil?

 

In the chapter in We Make the Road by Walking for this week, McLaren ponders this:

“The second tree could represent the desire to play God and judge parts of God’s creation – all of which God considers good – as evil.  Do you see the danger? God’s judging is always wise, fair, true, merciful and restorative.  But our judging is frequently ignorant, biased, retaliatory, and devaluing.  So when we judge, we inevitably misjudge.”

 

He goes on with this…

“If we humans start playing god and judging good and evil, how long will it take before we say this person or tribe is good and deserves to live, but that person or tribe is evil and deserves to die – or to become slaves?”

 

We are created as a reflection of God but when we grab for knowledge that causes us to begin to try to separate by our own power that which is good  that which we judge evil, perhaps we’ve grabbed too much – grabbed God’s identity and power and claimed it for ourselves.

 

We mostly know how the story goes from here, although that is a sermon for another day. 

 

But I hope we will rest with this tension for the week to come… the tension of being presented with a choice of life in God’s goodness versus the power of perceived knowledge that we might choose to use to judge.            

 

The gospel text that accompanies this second week is from Mark 3: 1 – 6:

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

 

This is an occasion when the Pharisees seek to apply the letter of the Law – a law that would prevent healing on the Sabbath. They set out to make a judgment based on their knowledge...  

 

And Jesus sets a vital example.  We all walked through the what would Jesus do movement….and here it is as if Jesus is having a “what would my Father do” moment.  He chooses to heal that withered hand.

 

What seemed plain for the Pharisees seemed differently obvious to Jesus.

 

Maybe the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil are not exactly characters on our journey.  Maybe they are like an ever-present fork in the road on this journey, begging us to pay attention to our choices and the way we choose to reflect God in the world. Will we choose life, accepting the goodness that God has created? Or will we choose instead to take on God’s role?

 

I love McLaren’s reflection on how we use our hands – think of them.  We can use our hands to paint something beautiful, to play music on an instrument, to hold a child’s hands. We can use our hands to make an angry or violent fist…or to take something away from another.

 

How is it we will stretch out our hands to that tree of life?

 

I pray it is with grace and the eager anticipation of eternal life.

 

May it be so.

 

Amen.

 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Awe & Wonder

Genesis 1: 1 - 2: 3

(Beginning this week, we launch a 52 week series based on Brian McLaren's book We Make the Road by Walking: A year-long quest for spiritual renewal, reorientation and reactivation.  52 weeks is a long commitment, but here's why we're embarking on this quest: we will begin to bring our lenses to the same scriptures with the intention of learning from the text and from one another.  Check out what we're doing at www.faithworskhere.com - maybe you'd like to join a small group and grow with others.)


This week, I was recounting some of the challenges of this season with someone who listens to me without judgement.  And it all was tumbling out – the chaos of COVID 19, the chaos of a divided political environment, the chaos of looking at my own biases, the chaos of seeing others’ biases, the chaos of working to love people in the midst of sickness and grief and all of the above, the chaos of young adults trying to launch careers in this season, the chaos of being a mom and a wife and a pastor and a friend.


And she asked me where I felt the Spirit’s presence. 

 

And then all the gifts of this season tumbled out – the gift of Josef’s preaching last week, the gift of leaders with an eye on the uncertain but beckoning horizon, the gift of people stepping into new leadership roles, the gift of people sharing how God is working in their life, calling them to new actions, the gift of what I call thin space – those places where God’s presence is palpable. The gift of young adults realizing their independence and showing that they are scrappy survivors. The gift of call in the midst of the chaos.

 

And I found myself saying this:

 

In the midst of it all – it is all Good.  Like in the way creation is GOOD.

 

It is good. Very good.

 

We are setting out on a new journey today – a yearlong journey.  A journey of reading and studying scripture together. 

 

A journey is more than a metaphor in this case – it is truly a path we walk together. We’ll get out of it what we are willing to put in. There will be rocky parts and downhill smooth parts, hard to navigate parts and blisters, and hopefully amazing mountaintop moments. 

 

We are on a journey whose map is Brian McLaren’s book We Make the Road by Walking – A yearlong quest for spiritual formation, reorientation and activation. McLaren’s introduction to the book suggests that as humans, we seek aliveness as a matter of instinct – where aliveness has to do with recognizing that we have purpose and that life means more than going to work and coming home to make dinner and go to bed.  Where aliveness means that our lives have something to offer the rest of the world and are part of a bigger story.

 

I encourage you to read along, to study the scriptures each week, to live into a plan of exploring these ideas together with others.  I’ll say it again – we’ll get out of this journey what we are willing to put in.

 

So…off we go.

 

And what better place to start such a journey than “in the beginning…”?

 

You see, in the beginning there was chaos – a formless void.  And God spoke over the void and it was forever changed. There was light in the darkness. And God saw that it was GOOD. The very first acts of creation separates light from dark, earth from water and sky, and begin to order time and space.

 

God creates order out of the chaos. And saw that it was GOOD.

 

The next acts of creation involve an astounding diversity of living things – more living things than we as mere humans can possibly imagine or catalog.  Things that bear fruit, things that taste good and things that are healing for bodies, things that bloom, things that have thorns and poison and stingers and other protective tricks.  Things with fins and with gills and wings and beaks and talons and feathers and fur and hair and scales and spines.  Living things with a purpose in the scope of creation.  Diversity that was created with great intention for the good of the whole.

 

As a sidebar, I want to note that it is important to our journey in the year to come to acknowledge that as Christians, and perhaps especially as people called United Methodists, we approach the biblical text in very different ways. Some approach it quite literally.  Others approach this collection of stories as a source narrative – one that gives context and meaning to our lived experience, one that gives God shape in our lives. Still others see it as a story that spans billions of years in a metaphor of 7 days. All of those approaches are valuable, especially to the person who is steeped in that particular approach. 

 

Part of the important work we are doing is bringing all of our individual readings of this text into conversation as a community that is seeking to love God, love one another, and follow Jesus. Along the way, we’ll find out about how this story is about us, individually and collectively, too.

 

Right of the bat on our shared journey, we’re showing up with a chaotic set of interpretations prayerfully waiting for what God will bring to life and declare good.

 

In the beginning, God created from chaos, looked at the wide diversity of things and declared all of it – the amazing diversity and complexity and interdependence of it all - declared it Good. And Very Good.

 

I have a little confession to make...


I am finding our world right now to be SO VERY CHAOTIC.  Like, who are we? What have we become? What is happening to our beloved earth?  Where is all this rain coming from? Why is my grass still lush and green here in late August?  Why is our country so divided? Why do we have all these ingrained biases about people? What is this virus all about? How are people going to work their jobs and educate their kids? What is the market doing?

 

But as I dumped all this out this week and laid it beside what is being created and what is emerging in this season – I can see that there is good that will emerge.


Do not hear me say that we need to look past hard things and just see the good.

Do not hear me say that we are living all of this chaos for a reason.


No.  But I do believe that God is in the midst of it. I do believe that the chaos of billions of years can be ordered by God and can continue to be declared “good.”  I do believe that a God who created ex nihilo (from nothing) can work in the existing chaos just fine thank you very much.

 

And that causes me to put on a particular set of lenses as we begin this journey together.

 

I’ll just assume from the first step that your lenses are different than mine. Maybe a little bit.  Maybe a lot.  You’re bringing your view along on the journey. You are bringing your experience, your tradition, your reason into this reading and this journey. Thank God. We are part of that diversity of creation in our genes but also in our experiences.

 

And when your lenses and my lenses journey together, we will surely see DIFFERENT things that God is doing and declares good.

 

So…With each step of the journey, acknowledging that we are traveling in a chaotic world, a chaotic world that God has created and whose diversity I cannot fully grasp or comprehend, where is God’s goodness emerging from darkness and chaos?

 

And what is my role to tend to that emerging goodness? 

 

Because the scripture suggests we were created to have a specific role. (And I’ll warn that this is the beginning of a whole new sermon for next week – but let me begin to share some thoughts for you and possibly your small groups to consider in the week to come….)

 

“Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

 

God has dominion over all of creation.  God has created us in God’s image.  We bear the image of God and in the next breath God delegated to humankind dominion - native responsibility for - living things – creatures and plants. To tend – and care as God tends and cares.  This is why we bear God’s image.

 

So this creation is not ours to destroy but to steward

So this created diversity not ours to neutralize but to nurture.

So this creation is not for our personal abundance but for the shared thriving of the entire creation.

 

This is where the journey begins….

Out of chaos, a dazzling and overwhelming feat of creation. 

Out of chaos, God declares it Good.

And so…we step forward into our work – the work of care for all that God has done and continues to do rendering goodness from the chaos.

 

It is good. It is very good.


May it be so.

Amen.

 

 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Reclaiming Good News

Matthew 5: 13 - 16 

I am going to ask you to indulge today in some fantasy thinking with me.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic and like me, you’ve probably seen an infection map, where they identify patient “0” and then map out all of the positive infections associated with exposure to that patient.

 

(Image is shared) (Pause)

 

The one that you see now traces cases of COVID 19 associated with a man in Ohio who attended a church event in mid-June.  The result was 91 positive cases surrounding him.

 

This virus – it spreads like wildfire.

 

(pause to leave the image up a few seconds…) (back to Pastor)

 

So here’s where the fantasy thinking part comes in.

 

If someone told you that if you exercised three times a week and ate a reasonably healthy diet, you would have the ability to inoculate people against this virus just by being with them, would you do it?

Would you make the lifestyle investments?

Would you reach out and touch people – be with people, spend time with people?

 

What if your connection to people had the ability to spread resistance  like wildfire?

Wouldn’t that be amazing?

 

The truth of the matter is that some would and some would not reach out and touch people in such a fantasy scenario.  The reasons a person chooses to use or not to use the power of goodness are complicated by lots of factors – psychology is a tricky subject.

 

But imagine if you could change a life that way!

 

Today we end our series about becoming a disciple – which is not quite true, because in some ways, every sermon is about becoming a disciple, but since Easter we’ve been on this journey.  We know that a disciple is one who:

experiences the forgiveness and acceptance of God

follows the life and teachings of Jesus Christ

demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit

shares in the life and witness of a community of disciples

serves in some form of ministry every day

anticipates a future life in the presence of God….

 

And finally, a disciple yearns to lead others to become disciples.

 

You heard it right…a disciple actually longs for the opportunity to lead others to the path of following Jesus.

 

Leading others to that path of discipleship is evangelism 101. 

 

So if this is part of our own discipleship venture, someone please tell me why the “evangelism committee” is nearly defunct at most Protestant churches today?

 

Take a moment. What has been your experience with the word “evangelism?”

 

I am willing to bet that for some of us, the word evangelism is associated with an uncomfortable conversation about the choice of heaven or hell, held at our front door or in a public transportation center or at a youth event with cool music where someone is trying to put a four-point tract into our hands and explain that it is as simple as these four steps and this special prayer.

 

And maybe you don’t personally have that experience, but I am willing to bet that you have heard about someone else’s cringeworthy experience.

 

As a result of our bad evangelism experiences and stories, many of us have decided it is SO MUCH SAFER to hang out with folks like us and we put our “discipleship energy” into spending time with other church people – where we can “assume” we generally know and believe many of the same things.

 

In 2017, the most recent data I could locate, the United Methodist Church received 55,979 new members on a NEW profession of faith – these were folks not doing this as a result of going through confirmation – these were presumably mostly adults making a commitment to Christ for the first time.

 

Those 55,000+ were in 31,299 churches.  So… averaging about 1.5 per church – but we know MANY churches report no professions of faith for YEARS on end.  And that lays next to about 212,000 members lost due to withdrawal or death.  Not great for sustainability…but I am less interested in sustainability than I am in vitality – in the idea of people living their fullest abundant lives in a community of faith with the power of the Triune God at the center.

 

And so we keep hanging out together in a smaller and smaller group…

…in part because it feels safe.

Maybe we evangelize to one another.  Or maybe we just reflect back to one another.

 

And when evangelism comes up, we might look at our feet, or at the ceiling, or examine our cuticles but avoid making eye contact…  Surely that is someone else’s work. Someone else’s gift.

 

I wonder…

 

What would it take for us to reclaim the word “evangelism?”  

To make it less intimidating?

To make it a part of how we move in the world?

 

Did you know that at its root, the word evangelize means to bring or announce good news?

 

That seems pretty lovely. 

 

What is the Good News of God for you?  Take just a moment – say something out loud to yourself, or to whoever you’re with…and if that is too much exposure, write something down.

 

Let me try…

You are God’s beloved creation. That’s Good News.

You are gifted in ways that help you to love others as God loves them. That’s Good News.

That Jesus came that we could have abundant life not weighed down by constantly second-guessing ourselves. That’s Good News.

 

Good news is so…GOOD.

 

Makes you kind of yearn to share it, eh? And if you are feeling it for yourself, doesn’t it kind of bubble over and ooze out of our pores sometimes?

 

But let’s get back to the work before us – This task of “yearning to lead others to become disciples?”

 

Because frankly, the word LEAD also causes some folks to break out in hives. So now we are putting the idea of evangelism and leading into the same sentence.

 

But…this discipleship journey has had us looking at the example of Jesus.  Right?  We’re seeking to follow the life and teachings of Jesus.

So…

How did Jesus evangelize?  How did Jesus lead others to discipleship?

 

Author David Williamson, writing about this very topic in the book we’ve been following, outlines Jesus’ model:

 

Jesus sought those who were different from him and on the outside of organized religion.

Jesus invited them into friendship and community with him.

Jesus gave them a front-row seat to his life and modeled before them a life of kindness.

Jesus invited them to ask questions as often as they needed.

Jesus corrected them (sometimes gently and sometimes not) when they got something wrong.

Jesus experienced disappointment and even betrayal and abandonment in those relationships.

Jesus saw past their mistakes to the people that they COULD be through his grace, and he forgave them and loved them ALL THE TIME.

So…that is the Jesus way of discipling folks, in a nutshell. 

 

When Jesus met up with Simon and Peter, he agreed to teach them how to fish for people – and then he spent about three years doing all that work we just outlined – the kind of relational work it took for people to begin to follow.

 

And Jesus modeled by drawing folks like Simon and Peter in with the amazing good news he shared.  News about healing.  News about grace. News about their being enough. News about how you are loved.

 

Has Jesus drawn you in?

 

How does that feel?

 

As we prepare to launch a year-long journey through scripture together, we’ll be taking this idea of a lifelong venture toward becoming a disciples with us.  Finishing up this series doesn’t mean we have arrived at our discipleship destination.

 

Far from it!

 

We are becoming.  And I suspect that we’ll take some steps forward and some steps back. And some steps will take by ourselves and some will take with others.

 

Along the way we’ll seek to:

experience the forgiveness and acceptance of God

follow the life and teachings of Jesus Christ

demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit

share in the life and witness of a community of disciples

serve in some form of ministry every day

anticipate a future life in the presence of God….

And eventually, hopefully, enthusiastically yearn to lead others to become disciples.

 

Before I forget something important…we talked about the intimidation of evangelism and of leading anyone in anything…here’s a thought.  While we play a role, ultimately it is GOD who transforms someone’s life. It is God’s relationship that begins to change someone as a disciple…

 

Maybe…just maybe that makes the work a little less intimidating.

God’s got this.

We’re along for the adventure.

 

But back to my fantasy world I started with.

 

Our scripture for today calls us to be Salt and to be Light.

Are we salty and glowing?

Are you?

 

Because I think when we are, it spills over naturally. It seeps from our pores. It infuses our relationships. It’s not that we shouldn’t hide our light under a bushel – it is that we cannot.

 

And those who see us all salty and glowing – they want to know what that is.

And how they might glow like that too.

How they might be in relationships that lead to life.

 

Imagine yourself in the most glowing, God-connected moment you can recall…

 

What if in that state, everyone you touched – everyone with whom you were in relationship – got a glimpse of God? What if everyone with whom you shared good news got a new opportunity to connect?

 

Might that be life changing?

Might that be world changing?

 

So here is my prayer – that we will seek to be speakers of Good News, that our lives will ooze with the glow of being in a relationship with God, that like Jesus we will seek out relationships with unexpected folks, we’ll model kindness (and along the way, likely have kindness modeled to us!), we’ll invite questions, ask some of our own and offer and receive loving correction, and perhaps most importantly, we will see the full potential as a child of God in each person we meet along the way.


May it be so.

Amen.