You see Jesus does not call the disciples to change their minds about the Gentiles, he doesn’t just want them to have a new way of seeing God, he wants them to see that God’s grace and mercy is for all.
When Moses notices the burning bush he could have said, “oh wow look at that,” and just kept going with his sheep. Or “that’s interesting but I don’t have time to check that out, I have an agenda to keep, I’ll come back later.” Or he could have been busy looking down at his phone and glanced up and thought, meh, and gone back to the captivating cat video he was watching.
Has this ever happened to you? You see a problem that needs to be solved but you can’t solve it by yourself? So you let your manager know and they agree but then you wait for change? And you wait and wait and wait. You have gotten agreement but what you really wanted was change. In our scripture today James is saying that if you agree on who Jesus is then there will be a change.
You are covered by Grace. Maybe you don’t believe you are covered, maybe you feel like you’ve done something along the way and your coverage got dropped.
No, you are still covered; so you messed up, so you think you aren’t worthy of coverage, maybe you’ve forgotten that this isn’t a divine points game, this isn’t about earning or achieving. I mean the rest of the world is into that but God isn’t into that and we know that because of Christ crucified, because through him, success is redefined - weak is the new strong, the way up is the way down.
We may disagree on the issues, we may have conflict with one another, but we never ever stop seeing one another as brothers and sisters.
The pull of tribalism is strong now...it is strong and it is trying to influence us to treat one another as less than human beings, it is trying to get us to name call and to have closed minds and mean spirits…but it is no match for the power of Christ that is present at this table and in this bread and cup that compels us to love our neighbor.
Pastor Blair woke up with laryngitis on Sunday morning, so she reworked her sermon. In addition to her raspy voice, you'll hear testimonies from Pastor David and Kelly Carpenter and have time to reflect on your own response to the question: 'What would going on 'all in' with Jesus look like in my life?'
Whatever it is in your life that is coming in at you from all sides, do not settle in...stand in and stand up! God's grace is here today for you: receive it, believe it, experience it, bask in it, walk in it, run it it, you are made for connection, you are made for community, you are made for this moment, you are made to be a blessing.
There is always some distance between where we are and where God wants us to be. It is always a climb from where we are to where God wants us to be but the view God wants to show us, it is so so good, so spectacular.
Our tradition calls this journey from where we are to where God wants us to be sanctification. God is calling us to become more like Christ. In order to move from here to there we have to be willing to move from what we know. We have to move from the comfortable, the familiar, the way we have always done things, the person we have always been, we have to move from our plans, our trajectory, our vision and go where God is calling us to go - which is up the mountain.
A “punishing God” doesn’t sound like the God that Job knows but hears it so much he starts to think that maybe his friends are right, maybe everything happens for a reason. This phrase is so prevalent in our culture, it has become the go-to thing that people say when something bad happens, when there is some sort of suffering people say: oh well everything happens for a reason, God must have a plan for this.
We have an incredible amount of freedom. We have freedom of choice. We can pursue what we want. We can buy what we want; now with one-click and same-day delivery.
We are also the most obese nation in the world. We consume the most opioids than any other country. We have 4 percent of the world's population but the greatest number of deaths by drug overdose by far. We are addicted to our smartphones. The average number of times a person in the US checks their smartphone is 80 times a day, that's once every 12 minutes. Sociologist Brene Brown observes through her research that: "We are the most in debt, obese, addicted, medicated adult cohort in history."
You can be in the land of the free and be in bondage. There's freedom. And THEN there's freedom.
When our will is not aligned with God's will, when we are letting our ego drive and direct us instead of God, when we get on the fast lane to success and set aside God's purposes for our lives, we are goaded, we are prodded, we are nudged in the right direction...God is constantly and consistently trying to help us to go the right way but God doesn't force us to go...we can resist it...you can kick against the goads.