Would you invite Jesus for Dinner?

Sermon – March 15th 2015

By Roland Legge

With Thanks from the Online Resource Faith Lens from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

Numbers 21:4-9 Ephesians 2:1-10 John 3:14-21

 

Gospel Reflection

Presenting his gospel like a stage play director, John has turned down the lights.  Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night because John wants us to see that he is in the dark, in sharp contrast to Jesus, the light of the world (see also John 1:9, 8:12, 9:5).

In their conversation, Jesus is trying to get Nicodemus to see things in a different way, but with limited success.  Their disconnect mirrors a passionate divide that runs throughout John’s gospel between those who accept Jesus and those who reject him.  Those who accept him believe, and those who do not “are condemned already” as they shun the light in favor of darkness.

Jesus is like the dress:  the same phenomenon seen very differently, but always sparking a strong reaction.

But John, seeing him differently, would say that Jesus is the light.  The world is the dress.  (The Greek word for world is cosmos, which has various shades of meaning itself—humanity, “the way things are,” the powers that resist God, all of creation.  John, whose writing covers many levels at once, probably intends all of these simultaneously.)  Jesus the light shines upon the world and reveals its true colors.

But Jesus also reveals to us the true colors of God’s heart:  God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  God loyally loves the fickle world.  The designer’s eyes consistently see the world as worth saving.

The price tag attached is steep:  Jesus will end up black and blue on the cross.  Yet the colors of Easter are white and gold.  The Light changes everything.

http://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/FaithLens/286

Discussion Questions

  1.  How do you see Jesus?  How is your view different from how others see Jesus?  Does he bring love or judgment…or both?

I see Jesus in many ways. I see Jesus as a spirit filled man who strived to make the world a better place. Jesus for me was one of the most God conscious persons to have ever lived on this planet. He had a close relationship with the Holy. Yet Jesus responded to the world in a particular time in history. While he was way ahead of his time in how he treated women, children, and people on the fringes of society; I don’t think you could call him a feminist.

How is my view of Jesus different from others? I put an emphasis on his humanity. I can relate to Jesus more if he is human. Can you?

I believe Jesus was a great healer. He spent much of his ministry healing people. I think the church has forgotten this important part of who we are. We too can heal in the name of Jesus. We have the ancient traditions of healing touch, anointment with oil, prayer and presence. Where I differ in my understanding of healing is that curing is not its prime purpose. Healing happens even when a person is not cured of his/her disease. Healing begins to happen when we care for each other in loving community. Healing happen when we recognize that of God in each other.

I believe that Jesus does bring both love and judgement. However Jesus is not one I fear.   I believe he wants the best for each of us. I would be very comfortable in having him over for dinner. Yet Jesus is much more than meek and mild. He was not afraid to shine the light on the dark. He was not afraid to speak out against injustice.

  1. How do you see the world?  Is it good or evil…or both?  If the world were two colors, what would they be?

I love the book by Matthew Fox called “Original Blessing”. In it Matthew suggests that when God created the world, all of its inhabitants animate and non-animate were blessed. I believe that God is rooted in our whole planet. Whenever an animal, plant or tree is made extinct I believe that God/Spirit is hurt because a part of it has been killed.

I believe that Mother Earth is good in the sense that it was created with love. Nature, the plants, animals, trees, fish, insects, people, minerals, and soil were all created so that all could live in union with each other. While nature is violent and destructive at times it is not evil. Mother Earth is alive and constantly changing. When earth is left to its own natural order life will continue to go on, there will be equilibrium so that the planet can stay healthy. Humankind is just one small part of the Created order.

Sadly we humans have over populated the planet. Over the centuries we thought we could do anything we like. But now more and more people are realizing that we have sinned by abusing our planet home. Sin for me is when we lose our connection with the Holy. We sin when we begin to think that the extinction of species, the poisoning of the air and water is okay. We sin when we begin to think of ourselves as gods who think we can overcome all our problems with technology. We sin because we have forgot the truth that we people are connected to everything on our planet and that every time we hurt the planet we hurt ourselves.

  1. Are there things in your life you keep in the dark because you are afraid they will be exposed?

Yes I have kept certain things in my life in the dark because of feeling embarrassed and ashamed. This is why so many people didn’t like Jesus because he had the natural gift to shine the light on the dark parts of our lives. Another way of saying it is our shadow sides. When I was young I feared that people would find out that I was nervous and anxious most of the time. I didn’t want people to know because I thought they would think I was crazy and a failure in the world. Ironically when I learned that I did not need to hide my problems I felt much better.

I think we all have parts of our lives we like to hide. Many of us think we are the only ones suffering because of some mental, physical, relationship or spiritual matter. It is kind of like trying to carry a huge rock on our back because we feel so exhausted from trying to hold everything in. But when we do let go and share what is going on in our lives we feel much lighter because we have let go of all the burdens we have been holding on to.

However I know many people will find themselves in a situation where it is not safe to share what is going on. In that case people need to find a safe place where they can tell the truth and get the support to work through the issue or issues and the help to discern what relationships which can be redeemed. To find the courage to let go of the relationships that are no longer serving them anymore.

– See more at: http://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/FaithLens/286#sthash.m4XN8P2n.dpufblack-jesus

Our Bodies as Temples of God

Sermon – January 18 2015

2nd Sunday after Epiphany

By Roland Legge

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20) Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 John 1:43-51 

 

God calls the people we least expect! Can you imagine being Samuel waking up in the night to this voice calling his name?   Now there is old Eli who recognizes this voice as that of God. This must have been challenging for Eli because why would God talk to Samuel rather than him.   The miracle is that Eli was able to humble himself by encouraging Samuel to answer.

Then there is Nathaniel with his poor opinion of people from Nazareth. So what was it that convinced him that Jesus was worth paying attention to even though he came from the backwaters called Nazareth?

When you think of it Paul was also a very unlikely follower of Jesus because at one point in his life he was one of Christianity’s greatest enemies. He did everything he could to make life difficult for the Christians. Then one day on the Damascus Road he has a radical turn around and becomes a follower and proselytizer for Jesus.

I think we can blame all these conversions on the Holy Spirit! These people had their lives totally turned around. They were all able to feel the presence of God in their physical and spiritual selves in such a powerful way they could not continue to live in their old ways of fear and greed.   How has your life been turned around?

I want to focus on the Epistle because it talks of what for me is so important. Paul was calling on his people to use their bodies for the transformation of the world. He calls on his followers to treat their own bodies with respect and dignity and do the same to others. In essence Paul was describing how God becomes incarnate in each of us every day. How God loves to live in every cell of our bodies. Did you know that Christianity is one of the few religions that believes that God became incarnate in a human being? I go even further and say that God seeks to become one of us each day. This is not just a spiritual concept! It is about all of us especially our physical bodies.

Most of us have grown up in the Church that has not been comfortable with our human bodies. We, that is the Church and Society, have come up with all sorts of rules, taboos and destructive theology that has divided us up into two beings a that we are intended to treat our bodies as temples. Our bodies were created in the image of God. In the book of Genesis we are reminded that God was pleased with what God had created.

How do you feel about your own body? No one is perfect! No one has a perfect body because each body is unique. I have struggled with my body image for years. I am certainly not the image of stereotypical strong man. I have too often feared my own body. I keep worrying about what could go wrong. But if you think about it our bodies are amazing miracles. It is amazing that our bodies work well most of the time and especially when we are taking care of them. It is amazing how often, other parts of the body, will make up for a part that is not working well. We are truly blessed.

I believe Jesus came into the world to help us live fully in our human physical life here on planet earth. I don’t think Jesus was concerned about the afterlife. He wants us to live the best we can during our earthly life. He wants us to use our bodies for the building up of the Kindom of God.   He wants us to enjoy the incredible gift of being blessed with a human body that allows us to fully experience the world through sight, smell, touch and thought.

Also I believe that the Spirit desires us to enjoy being sexual beings. Meaning thus that God intends for us to experience the world and each other through our bodies. To remain being fully human we need gentle touch to remind us that we are part of something much greater. Then when we give ourselves fully to another person it becomes a sacred act that radiates the love of God. I appreciate what Rohr says about the Catholic Theological Society’s 1979 Study on Human Sexuality.

The Catholic Theological Society’s 1979 Study Human Sexuality summarized it rather well when stated that our sexual action must aim to be “self-liberating, other-enriching, honest, faithful, socially responsible, life-serving, and joyous.” That is certainly the task and journey of a lifetime, but it is no more or less than what Jesus said when he taught the greatest commandment of love of God and love of neighbour. The two loves “resemble” (Matthews 22:39) one another. They are each the school of the other. We will learn how to be properly sexual as we understand the properly passionate relationship that God has with us. And we will learn to be properly spiritual as we come to understand the true character of human longing and affection.

http://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/pure-passion?parent=41152

When we can openly talk about sexuality in church we will have come a long way.

I hope we can learn to value our bodies more. I hope we will stop trying to separate our personhood in to the physical and spiritual. We are all interconnected. Each of us are a weaving together of all our physical and spiritual qualities. They cannot be separated!

I invite you this week to intentionally be aware of your amazing body and how you feel blessed to live in it. What are you thankful for?

When we feel so blessed by our bodies we cannot help but want to take better care of ourselves and to encourage others to do the same with their own bodies. This all must happen to heal the world.

God within Us