pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Loved, Welcomed, Chosen

Reading: Ephesians 2: 11-22

Verse 22: “In Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by the Spirit”.

All of the early builders of the church had to work through age-old divisions and lines. The Jews, the chosen people of God, looked at all others as not chosen. It was like all other people were like that last kid that always gets picked last for any and all pick-up games. The Jews’ understanding of themselves as the chosen people led to a pretty isolated mindset. They did not intermarry, they did not adopt anything from another culture. ‘Just stay in our own little group’ was the thought. For any of us who were routinely picked last or who often found ourselves on the outside of the “in” crowd, we can relate to those who lived outside of the Jewish faith.

Saul was a Jew. He was proud of his position as a Pharisee. He was an ardent follower of the Law. He would have been seen as aloof and arrogant by most people. But then he met Jesus. Then he became Paul. Instead of saying you are not one of us, Paul preached that all are welcome. Instead of saying one must know and follow all of these laws, Paul preached that one must know Jesus. Paul was a radical shift from the norm. When he preached the message that, “In Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by the Spirit”. It was like saying to the one always picked last or to the outsider always looking in, you are invited, you are worthy, you are a part of us – we love you.

It was a message of love and inclusion and acceptance. But to those hearing it, there was hesitation. Is this for real? Is this some trick? Am I really wanted, really acceptable? Could God really love me? Some today see Christians as snobby, hypocritical, judgmental, hateful, isolated. We too may encounter doubting and questioning. We too may encoubter people who question our motivation. We too may encounter people who question their worthiness. For one and all, may our message be just like Paul’s: in Jesus Christ, you are loved. In Jesus Christ, you too are welcome. In Jesus Christ, you too are chosen. May we persist through the barriers, loving all as Jesus loves them. Amen.


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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.