Monday, February 23, 2015

3/1/15---We're on a Journey...Following Christ

This past Sunday I asked the congregation to reflect on 3 questions in light of Mark 1:15:

What is God's Kingdom?

What is Repentance?

What is the good news?

These questions are very layered; they are surrounded by a multitude of other questions, if you really begin to reflect and dive deep into them.

Understanding each of these things is very difficult, in part because we all have different experiences, different backgrounds, different stories, and different journeys.

A few of the  most powerful questions underlying these, for me, are "how do I know?" and "what does it mean that I know?" I believe that any knowledge of what these terms mean come directly from God. So we praise God and ask God for more. I believe that because God has shown us these things, that they have power. Repentance, for example, is powerful because it returns us to God.

So, I challenge you to reflect on these terms, how God has shown you what they mean, and what difference it makes for you.

Lent is a season that begs the question: "what does it mean to be a Christian?"

The easy answer to this question is "someone who follows Jesus." We have pondered this before; we know that following Jesus entails the willingness to take up our crosses.

During the 40 days spent in the wilderness, Jesus most likely thought about what it meant to be Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. Oddly enough, he knew that it would entail shame and suffering.

So, this week I ask the question: "What does it mean for Jesus to be Messiah (the anointed savior?" and "What does it mean to be a faithful disciple of Jesus (a Christian)?"

See you Sunday!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

2/15/15---Love God: Listen to God

Growing up, I did not learn so quickly that listening to someone often meant putting into practice what they said. "Clean your room" really meant keep your clean; don't just wait until I tell you to do it. "Be nice to your brother" meant to get along with him, share with him, care about him. "Turn the TV down" meant pay attention to how what you are doing might affect others.

Listening goes beyond hearing. Listening is embracing what someone is telling you, allowing their words to shape you as well as inform you. At the mountain top where some disciples saw Jesus in a new and bright way (Jesus' transfiguration), God's voice speaks to them saying, “This is my Son, whom I dearly love. Listen to him!”And Jesus told them that he would rise from the dead, but first "suffer many things and be rejected."

Jesus was not just telling them what would happen to him. He was not simply informing them, he was telling them what it meant to be a disciple. Following Christ, indeed, is more than listening to him for information. It is more than knowing what Jesus did, it is embracing what Jesus did so that it may transform us and make us new.

For the disciples, this was a theophany: a visible manifestation of God. It occurred on a mountain top, thus, Christians have coined the phrase "mountaintop experience." But the disciples did not stay on that mountain, they had to travel back down to the valley, to the reality of human life. So did Jesus, who knew that he must face his impending rejection unto death. Jesus travels with us down into the valley, always. He will never leave us. What a Christ to listen to and follow.

See you Sunday!

Monday, February 2, 2015

2/8/15----Love God: Know and Hear God

The connection between science and faith is fascinating. There are scientists, people who study the depths of the universe and the intricacies of this world, who conclude that there is a God who makes this all possible. There must be a God who sets all in motion. It is a miracle that there is life on this planet, and it is no coincidence. The fact their is enough sun light, enough water, enough land, and the right air all is a miracle.

Isaiah 40: 21-31 imagines knowing the God that sets things in motion. "It is He who sits above the earth;" "lift up your eyes and see: who created these?" "have you not known? have you not heard? the Lord is the everlasting God."  And this is the same God who "gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless."

Even some of the brightest scientists of our day cannot explain how life on earth is possible without God. This same God that makes life possible, that molds the universe, is the Lord of you and I.

We are so insignificant when you really think about how much God is the Lord over. God has created so much; we are mere specs on God's canvas. But we are so significant that God loves, lives in us, and sent Christ to die for us.

As we approach Lent, the season in which we zoom in on Jesus' teaching and healing ministry which led to his death and resurrection, I challenge us to see, know, and hear God in the world. May we see that God is all around us, may we hear the good news of God, and know that God has made a way for us.

See you Sunday!