pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Belong

Reading: Mark 3: 31-35

Verse 35: “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother”.

Who do you belong to? Where do you get your sense of belonging? These are interesting questions. As I think back over the years of my life, I can think of many times when I felt a sense of belonging, a sense that there was genuine community. During summers, for about twenty years, I worked with a group of guys on a certain staining project. We shared a deep sense of comraderie that would return in an instant if we reunited after six years off. For many years a group of guys gathered on Sunday afternoon to play pick-up basketball. Many men came and went from that group, but there was a core group that was really close. And then was our church. Who do you belong to? Where do you belong?

As human beings we have a great need to belong. We are social creatures. That is how God designed us. In early childhood we begin to feel the need to fit in, to find a group of friends. This feeling stays with us our whole lives. Being alone and feeling alone are two of the greatest challenges facing many people today.

One of our natural places of belonging is our families. There we find a love and acceptance that is unconditional. It is the type of love that led Jesus’ mother and brothers to try and intervene to make sure that He was eating and taking care of Himself.

When they arrive to express this love, Jesus responds in a way that seems odd to us. He looks at the crowd gathered around Him and says, “Here are my mother and my brothers”! Jesus goes on to explain, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother”. We do hope that He goes out to see them. And to give His mom a kiss. But we don’t know. We do understand Jesus’ point here. We have all experienced it in our lives. When we move to a new community, it is one of our biggest concerns – will I find a new church home? Often our strongest connections are within our community of faith. When I think about where I feel the greatest sense of belonging, it is my family and my church. In the church, all walks of life gather together as one body, united in Christ. It is here that we form loving relationships with one another and with our Lord. We belong in God’s family. Thanks be to God. Amen.


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Belong

Reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 10-16

Think about the groups you belong to.  Some are social, some are work-based, some are faith-based, some are by interest or hobby.  Now, think about why you are a part of each group.  Membership and participation are choices, so why do you belong to these groups?

All humans have a need to belong.  If we do not feel welcomed or included when we first try something out, we are very unlikely to go again or to remain a part of that group.  Once in a while we will give a group a second chance if we see real value or significance in belonging to that group.  Our sense of belonging is very important.

Belonging gives a sense of worth, a sense of support, a sense of strength or togetherness.  Belonging brings with it a sense of security and a feeling of being loved and cared for.  I would guess these are reasons we all belong to groups or the reasons we long to be a part of a group.

In our passage today Paul is addressing a group.  But this group is experiencing some disunity and discord.  The church in Corinth in identifying with different leaders and this is causing division.  Paul is calling them back to the only true leader of the church: Jesus Christ.  In reality, Jesus is the only head of the church.  All else is secondary to Jesus and His love.

At times, we today allow things to divide us.  By “we” I mean the church universal.  Christ is what still binds us all together.  All Christians believe in one God and in Jesus resurrected and alive.  Unity in the church universal is needed more today than at almost any time in our history.  May we as part of the global church follow Paul’s advice and go forth hand in hand with all brothers and sisters in Christ, seeking to make God and His love known in all places.

This must of course begin in each of our own churches.  We must be groups that anyone can be a part of.  And by ‘anyone’ I do mean anyone.  So I ask, can anyone from your community walk into your church and feel welcomed, included, loved?  Anyone?  If our answer is not an honest and robust “YES!” then we have work to do.  Jesus began the church based on love and acceptance of all.  May we be Christ-like in this practice too.


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Living His Life

Reading: Luke 14: 1 and 7-14

Today’s passage is about welcome, inclusion, and openness.  It is about these things for us and for those we invite to the table.  God’s table is a place for conversation, compromise, and acceptance.  It is a place for all to come and experience God’s love, grace, and presence.

For all, being welcome is key.  In love we need to create tables and spaces where all people feel welcome.  Each must be able to come as they are and to be comfortable in that.  We need to be comfortable with any that come too.  We cannot limit who is welcome in any way.  To do so is to remove God’s love.  We cannot do this.  All, through God’s love, are welcome.

Once each feels welcome, they gain voice and place at the table.  The sense of being included brings the freedom to be open and honest and transparent.  This can be scary because it makes the table a place for frank and often difficult conversations.  It can open our eyes to needs we never knew existed.  It can place upon our hearts convictions about the need for change and to corrects injustices.

Once the conversation has started, we begin to see each other as the same and as brothers and sisters in Christ.  The openness of the experience will lead us to compromise and to a willingness to give of self.  As God works in our hearts, we are led to be more accepting.  We see less and less our differences and grow to see more and more that we are much the same.  As we come to see God in others, we see their true value.  In humility we gain an understanding that we are not the most important thing in the world.

Once we understand that all are beloved children of God, we are forever changed.  We live life with an open heart and mind.  We are willing to enter into a conversation and relationship with any and all.  We are willing to walk with those who suffer so that we can bring relief.  We are willing to give of ourselves in service to others.  This approach to life may sound familiar.  It is how Jesus lived and how He calls us to live.  May it be so.