2017-08-20 – Joyce Bellous – First Baptist Church Edmonton
2017-08-06 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton
“Jesus Fishy Business”
Jesus is a story-teller!
He’s a bit unusual thought…He speaks in these strange, mysterious parables, but he keeps on telling his hearers that they won’t get it!
He quotes the prophet Isaiah and says:
“You will indeed listen but never understand…
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing,
And they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes,
And listen with their ears,
And understand with their heart and TURN –
And I would heal them….
(And God help us to be the people who are included after the BUT!)
Blessed are your eyes, for they see and your ears, for they hear.
Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it…
HEAR THEN…the parable of the Kingdom…
**The crowd is so big, three thousand strong, that Jesus has to push off in a fishing boat alongside the shore of the sea of galilee…and the crowd fills the natural formation ½ bowl amphitheatre that is encircled by the rolling hills…
It’s early afternoon…hot and hazy…
>>>The kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the lake which gathered all kinds;
when the net was filled and dragged up on the beach, they sat down and sorted out the good into vessels, but the worthless they threw away.
That is how it will be at the end of the world: the angels will come and separate the evil from the midst of the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire;
out there, people will wail and gnash their teeth.
–So that’s how it will end, then? Someone shouts out from the crowd.
–Jesus answers the question with a question: “Have you understood all this?”
–“Yes!” they reply.
And Jesus concludes: “Therefore every scribe who has been discipled for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
As the crowd disperses, there is both amazement and wonder.
Murmuring questions like:
“Where does this man get this wisdom?”
“Is he not just a carpenter’s son?”
“Are not his ordinary brothers and sisters with us, even today?”
I don’t suspect that many of you came to church today wondering about the end of the world but…
Let me remind us that we don’t just pick scriptures out of a hat each week here at FBC. We often follow the RCL…which lays out readings for us week to week…
And in this season of the RCL, we are in Romans…plus we are in the gospel of Matthew & John. (Now there will be some topical sermons this summer too).
But what has emerged over the past weeks in our preaching of Romans is an invitation and an exhortation to renew ourselves with this life in Christ that is also known as “Life in the Spirit” and to be encouraged that nothing, nothing, stands in the way of the children of God experiencing Christ’s presence, protection, “protaganistic-force” in our life stories…
But then we bump into these crazy stories of Jesus! Chronologically, they happened before the writings of Paul but were probably recorded after…for example, Matthew’s gospel is often dated in the early 70’s CE (vs Romans, 56-58).
And when Jesus talks of the end of the world, how do we hold this in tension with Romans 8?
Well, the RCL has done a job for us…either of helping us be critical thinking Christians…or making us crazy with the differences…
The Question for me this week was: “If the angels in Matthew 13 are going to come out and separate evil from righteous and then hurl the unrighteous into the furnace where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, then how do I hold that in relationship to Paul who promised that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor powers…will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So what gives Jesus? What gives Paul? Are you on the same team or what?
Now remember…Parables are Jesus-stories that Jesus “lays alongside” the lives of his hearers. They are not Aesop’s fables with cute little life morals to live by (ie. why does the sower even waste seed? Isn’t the mustard tree kind of like a weed? How many of us let the weeds grow and grow and grow?)
So we can’t always logically figure these out…we need to allow ourselves time and space, and also be willing to be surprised and how the Spirit pounces on us with the truth of the parables. One preacher talks of these stories as being sneaky intrusions in our lives, catching us off guard and pushing us into places of understanding and obedience when we least expect it.
But sometimes…we still need a little “community of faith” teaching on these stories…for there have been historical “mis –uses” of the parables…and in today’s especially, it’s easy to turn it into a simple story of good fish VS bad fish…good fish get the royal bucket treatment and are carted off into a lavish kingdom kitchen (where they get cooked anyway?) and the bad fish get thrown into some unbearably hot furnace where they weep (do fish cry?) and then grind their teeth into a gristly mulch.
So…perhaps a time of clarification and extra insights…and then we’ll let this parable work it’s sneaky way into the fabric of our lives…
The dragnet. Imagine a 6’ x 100’ net dragged between 2 twenty-five foot long boats. There’s 8-10 people per boat and as they drag this net through the sea and they actually come up with all kinds of stuff…in the greek, there is no word “fish” in v. 47.
“the dragnet…gathered all kinds.”
“When it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.”
So imagine…a 100 foot (30 M) long net. Filled with fish…but also filled with mud, sea weed, rocks, old sandals, clay jars, perhaps even few pieces of jewellery…
And “they” are sorting…and could it be possible that there isn’t a strict guideline to what gets saved and what gets tossed? Sure there’s probably some emerging patterns…but just because it isn’t a good, healthy fish, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be saved right? What if there was an alabaster jar, in virtually mint condition…would “they” toss it just because it’s not a fish? Hmmm.
[it made me think of the old tin cans I have in my garage…I keep them because they have a special place in my family memory…sometimes, beauty and favour is truly in the eye of the beholder, right?]
Then, Jesus links this sorting ritual to the end of the world!
“At the end of the age, the angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
This “fish & sort” story suddenly has big stakes.
Now it’s more than getting tossed in the refuse bucket…or hurled back into the sea.
It’s way hotter. And way gnashier.
Do you get it? Followers of my way and my stories?
Then be like the good scribes…like a wise master, bring out the treasures of good news from the teachings that are both new & old.
So…what is going on here?
Because I think I can really learn to like ACT 1…because it’s really inclusive, and a lot of people get swept up in the net…and in the end, it’s not easy to figure out who’s in and who’s out because beauty and love and affection and the longing to keep the unkeepable is in the eye of the beholder.
And I believe that the “they” of this story is the “they” of God…community of God…Gracious Father, ever-loving Son and comforting Spirit.
I believe that a whole lot of people are going to get in on the party & feast of the lamb in the great and glorious day when Jesus will truly make all things new.
BUT…what do we do with ACT 2?
If God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…and God gave his son for the whole world…then in the end, doesn’t God get what God wants? And like I said last week, doesn’t God want the whole world?
And if God through Jesus tells us to love our enemies, won’t God take his own advice and exhortation and love his enemies until the end?
And if nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God…then who is the “them” that get thrown into the furnace?
Well…different churches will have different answers for you.
But I will give you the answer that I think most represents many in this church…
Perhaps you have come to this conclusion because of your “Holy Ghost inspired intuition” but today, I’d like to share some reflections from the theologian Robert Capon.
“If, at the last day, the whole world, the ALL that Jesus has drawn to himself, is accepted in the Beloved…then…
…who are the damned? It’s the eternal party-poopers!
CS Lewis talks of them as the people who are in the crevaces of heaven. They can come out whenever they want, but they can’t bear the thought of receiving God’s grace in God’s way.
Capon talks of them as being in the scar hole of Jesus’ hands as he lifts up his hands with the bread of life at the feast of the lamb.
Another way to image them is to think of them as the arm-crossed old brother in the prodigal son story…forever standing outside the doors of the party, totally welcome to come in, but eternally holding a grudge against the Father for being so darn gracious.
So how shall we live?
I hope this way of reading this parable helps you start from a place of goodness and freedom. An open place instead of a place of trepidation where you are set up to be judgy vs gracious.
I hope this way…makes you a joyful proclaimer of the good news of the kingdom. Lots of us are going to be a wedding feast of the lamb…but there is a way of life NOW that is available for us that fills us with the power and the presence of Christ so that we might yoke ourselves with the one who says: “Come to me…take my yoke…companion with me…for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”
And don’t forget the beatitudes! When Matthew’s gospel gets intense and overwhelming…know that the Jesus “big story trajectory” is the way way of humility and mercy…
Blessed are those who are poor, who mourn, who are meek…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Again, hear Jesus saying:
“Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear…
Understand with your heart…and I will heal you.”
2017-07-30 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton
PRAYING WITH PAUL
“We are not abandoned…
Past, Present & Future”
Over the past weeks we’ve been preaching Paul, doing our best to come alongside him as a real human being, a fellow companion in the faith…trying to read his letter as a letter from a friend VS a letter from a lofty, high fluetent theological ivory tower professor.
Paul was like us! On certain days he was on top of the world, marveling at how Christ and following Jesus was an amazing, mind-blowing encounter and experience…but other days he was down in the dumps, stressed out, blown out, bullied out, brused & beaten
…hanging onto the faith by the skin of his teeth…needing encouragement, needing help, needing resources…
So today, we pray with our colleage in the faith, Paul.
This might be our last dip in Romans for a bit, so we’re going to not just reflect on the letter…but actually “pray” the letter into our reality and imaginations.
And so for the past 2 weeks we’ve been basking in Romans 8, hearing about life in the Spirit, and imagining what life in the Spirit means for us individually and corporately.
Let me remind us of a few “Spirit-infused” promises:
v.2 For the law of the SPIRIT of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death… (I feel a 90’s praise song coming on!)
v. 5 Those who set their minds on the Spirit…receive life and peace from the Spirit.
v.11 The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you!
v. 14 For all who live by the Spirit of God are children of God.
v. 16 The Spirit bears witness…we are children of God…and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ – – if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him…
I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us…and so we hope for what we do not see…and we wait for it with patience.
–Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us!
And so today we conclude our time in Romans 8…and rather than just hear it…we
“pray our way” through it.
And perhaps this could be your prayer for you to carry in these days…a prayer that delights in God, and creates a way for the Spirit to work in us and through us for the good of the world.
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (ok….it’s Rom. 7:25…but…you know!)
In this moment, the Spirit helps us in our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but your Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep
–We don’t self-describe as prayer warriors…we are not super heroes. We are Christians. Everyday Christians. Sometimes we don’t know how or what to pray…but good news, the third person of the Trinity is there for us! The Pentecostal blessing keep a coming!
God is not asking us for “wordy” prayers…(longest prayer-er isn’t the winner!).
God invites us to pray…however we can, whenever we can…for as long or as short as we can. This is a grace-filled invitation to pray as you are able.
And God, you search our hearts,
you know the mind of the Spirit,
for the Spirit intercedes for the saints
according to your will.
–And here’s why we can pray as we go! Remember Psalm 139? Where can I go from your Spirit?…Search me O God and know my heart…lead me in the way everlasting.
“The Spirit intercedes for us saints…according to the will of God.”
Again, so much grace & freedom…we don’t have to find God’s will, he’s not playing hide & seek with his will for us! God’s Spirit leads the way…and we follow in it…
We know that all things work together for good
for those who love God,
we, who are called, according to your purpose.
Your foreknowledge predestines us
to be conformed to the image of your Son…
your son, Jesus, the firstborn,
first in the line of humanity that he restored.
And we who are predestined are also called;
we who are called are also justified;
we who are justified are also glorified.
–Sometimes “all things work together” is abused in Christian culture…this is not a promise that says “good Christians get rewarded appropriately”…
perhaps a better phrasing is:
“God makes all things work together for GOOD – – “with” those who love God.
See the difference there? It moves from being a “I’m better than you, God loves me more” to a “we work together to see and experience the GOOD of God…even when things aren’t good.” [ we…together…. I see good when you don’t…and vice versa ]
–Uh oh! Predestination! Whoa!
We’ll get to that in a minute…for now let’s focus on Destiny/Identity (past, present, future):
>We are called! We have purpose.
Our future is pre-destined! Again, not for fame, fortune and riches…but to the image of Jesus.
–“And we who are PREDESTINED…are called / justified / glorified.
Let’s talk about predestination…this is not a “God has picked his favourites before-hand, Calvinism-Neo-Calvinists” thing…Baptist historically believe in a wider theology than that.
But there are other voices (I am one of them) that say: the bigger pre-destination story going on here and in the larger themes of God’s story is that we are predestined to be LOVED BY GOD. So many times we hear the Christian proclamation and feel like “you’re not good enough…or I am not good enough”…but what if today and every day, we could know and live in the truth of our predestination…that it is being named & claimed by God as beloved daughters and beloved sons of God.
What are we to say about these things?
If you, God, are for us, who is against us?
–This is our refrain of the day…it’s on the front of our church bulletin…I’ve paraphrased it here: “If you, God, are for us, who is against us?”
You did not withhold your own Son,
but gave him up for all of us, so with Jesus,
will you not also give us everything else?
–another astounding promise…based on our giving & generous God…who gave up his Son for the love of the world and the cosmos, and now, along with the resurrected Jesus, graciously gives us all things.
–What are these “all things”… what does it look like to be given “everything else.”
Again, it’s not fortune & fame…but it’s
ALL…that is necessary for salvation & protection (not in the “Xians don’t get sick/suffer”)
But rather that there is NO…
>other…no other power, force, circumstance or evil power/structure that will be separate us from God…past / present / future.
>>Ps. 139 again: Where can I go from your Spirit? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
Who will bring any charge against God’s elect?
God, you justify. Who is to condemn?
–Again, Romans 8:1…There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!
It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised,
who is at your right hand, who indeed intercedes
–We once again remember that Jesus is the protagonist in all of this.
He leads the way…we follow…Jesus sits and intercedes at the right hand of the Father…
Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
We pray with the Psalm writers: (Ps. 44:22)
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
and accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
–Paul ties in a prayer of the Psalmist…the story of God’s people is a story of “we will not be abandoned”… but it has not been easy…and Paul reminds these Roman Christians that suffering is part of the Christ-way… but even in that suffering, God is able to birth hope, healing and life…
— The persecution, the blame, the shame can be so foreboding…maybe we don’t experience that as North American Xians, but let’s pause and ask ourselves:
Q: “What do we feel is separating us from the love of Christ?
>What are our hardships?
>Where are we in distress?
*disease, dissension, failure, lack of purpose, depression, bankruptcy, regrets, things done/left undone; disbelief, mis-belief…
In the midst of all these separations…Paul proclaims: NOOOOOO!
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through you who love us.
For we are convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor rulers,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen!
So how shall we live?
–Joyful in our call to action
–Assured that in the end…for those things past / present / future in our lives that God will win. Love will win. In the end, God will get what God wants… and as Will Willimon puts it:
In the end, God wants the whole world!
We live the “glorious life” as those who are enlisted…invited…into God’s work in the world.
Thy kingdom come…Thy will be done in Edmonton, as it is in heaven!
2017-07-23 – Rev. Susan Hunter – First Baptist Church Edmonton
2017-07-16 – Rev. Anne Bellamy – First Baptist Church Edmonton
2017-07-09 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton
SUMMER SINNERS & SAINTS
This morning, I want to start off with a reading that humanizes Paul, so that we can better hear from a person who is not lofty and above us and untouchable, but we are reading a letter from a friend, perhaps a Christian mentor and in Romans 7 he is sharing from the even playing field of human experience, and yet encouraging and exhorting us with the good news of Jesus…
(From Frederich Buechner):
Sometimes the depression was so great Paul could hardly move the pencil across the page.
“I don’t understand my own actions,” he said.
“For I don’t do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…
I can will what is right, but I can’t do it.
For I don’t do the good I want, but the evil I don’t want is what I do…
For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self,
but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind
and making me captive to the law of sin…
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
He sat there by himself, aiming his awful question at the plaster peeling off his walls,
and maybe it was only ten minutes or maybe it was ten years before he had the heart to scratch out the answer:
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” he said (Romans 7:15-25).
It got him going again, and on the next page he was back in his old stride with a new question. “If God is for us, who is against us?”
He worked on that one for a minute or two and then gave it another try.
“Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword separate us from the love of Christ?”
It was the story of his life, needless to say, and at last he’d laid the groundwork for an answer he could get his back into.
“No!” he wrote, the tip of his pencil point breaking off, he bore down so hard.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
He sat there, with his cauliflower ear and a lump on his forehead the size of an egg from the last time the boys had worked him over, and when he reached for the drawer to get out an envelope, he found that his hand was shaking so badly he could hardly open it.
The ups and the downs.
The fights with his enemies and the fights with his friends.
The endless trips with a fever and diarrhea. Keeping one jump ahead of the sheriff.
Giving his spiel on windy street corners with nobody much to hear him most of the time except some underfed kids and a few old women and some yokels who didn’t even know the language.
Where was it all going to get him in the end?
Where was it all going to get all of them, any of them, in the end?
When you came right down to it, what was God up to, for God’s sweet sake,
sending them all out—prophets, apostles, evangelists, teachers, the whole tattered bunch—to beat their gums and work themselves into an early grave?
This is Paul!
Yes, he was a pretty amazing early Christ-ian…but he was inspired, enthused and soothed by the same Christ encounter that we have access to…he was having his mind blown and his world re-shaped by this resurrected, living Christ, who was on the loose and making all things new…
BUT just like you and me, he got overwhelmed…overwhelmed by his personal sins but also overwhelmed by the sin of the world.
So, that’s how I’d encourage us to enter into (embrace) this letter today…not trying to wring out some do’s and don’t rule about how to be a harder-working, faster-striving Christian, but recognizing that in a world that is “filled with many dangers, toils and snares”…there is a deliverer.
THEOLOGICAL Sidepoint: There has been 100’s of years of banter of who the “I” is in Romans 7:
–Paul early Christian
–Paul using 3rd person “I” as representing the universal Christian (human story, Israel’s story)
Since we preach the Bible as “story” here at FBC, I probably fall somewhere between 2 & 3. I feel like Paul is telling us his story…and that makes Paul more human to me…but I also recognize that he might be doing some generalizing here so that it’s not all about him…it’s about being human…and being religious…
And thus it’s not so much focusing on an individualistic struggle with sin, this is about how sin wreaks havoc all over the world, the cosmos, creation…and it even sneaks into the life-giving Law that God set out for Israel thousands of years before Christ!
ACK! Because we look back at the “old stories” of the people of God (ie Deut. 30), we read that God’s promises and covenant have always been for good:
Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
This “choose life” law is what Paul had spent decades of his life devoted to…but in Romans 7 he talks about how sin messed it all up. He, an upstanding, God-fearing Jew became a Christian killer because of the way sin infected his law-loving ways.
So..if we pony up alongside our “Christian colleague” Paul…can we resonate with his struggle?
We too find the law and the God’s words as the guiding force for spiritual formation
do we not?
And it’s confounding (distressing, depressing) to see how Christians’ good intentions to do right and please the Lord get in the way of actually sharing and being good news to the world.
Can we think of ways that sin sneaks in and makes us rule lovers VS people lovers?
I would like us to think more corporately VS individually.
–How has sin crept in or duped us to think that we are “life-giving people, walking in the way of Jesus” but actually we are bringing death and sabatoge to God’s creation or God’s created ones?
–Where do we live lives of contradiction…seeming like we have a desire to please God but pulled by the power structures of sin to do things that are rebellious or self-serving?
–Where has sin taken advantage of us and compelled us to actions that are contrary to God’s best understandings or intentions?
–Where has sin tricked us into the ways of death VS the ways of life?…to places where only God can deal with the evil and and the tangled web of sin that we need deliverance from?
[ obvious ways? Subtle ways? ]
And so…as we reflect on these ways that sin entwines its way into our lives and our churches, our lament echos Paul’s lament… 7:21-24
21 So I find it to be a law that when WE want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For WE delight in the law of God in our inmost selves, 23 but WE see in OUR members another law at war with the law of OUR minds, making US captive to the law of sin that dwells in OUR members. 24 Wretched CHRISTIANS who we are!
Who will rescue US from this body of death?
AND our deliverance and deliverer is found in 7:25
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
And our way forward as the church…serving and loving in those places that we are sent to this week is found in 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
–No condemnation. No shame. No voice saying: “I dare you to be a Christian…” or “who do you think you are!”
There’s no condemnation for us when we rely on the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit.
The Spirit of Life…the Spirit of Pentecost…the presence of Christ breathing & blowing upon us and accompanying us into the world again this week.
We again, are filled, forgiven, renewed, healed and made whole.
And we go…not as individuals but as “the body of Christ.
This is not an “I” endeavour…this is a “we” journey!
We push back at the sin of the world, not in our own strength but as a body with many parts and many people.
>>>>>> As Frederick Buechner concludes his Pauline reflection, he puts it this way:
What was God up to?
God was making a body for Christ, Paul said.
Christ didn’t have a regular body anymore, so God was making him one out of anybody
he could find who looked as if he or she might just possibly do.
He was using other people’s hands to be Christ’s hands and other people’s feet to be Christ’s feet, and when there was someplace where Christ was needed in a hurry and needed bad, he put the finger on some maybe not all that innocent bystander
and got that person to go and be Christ in that place for lack of anybody better.
And how long was the whole great circus to last?
Paul said, why, until we all become human beings at last, until we all “come to maturity,”
as he put it; and then,
since there had been only one really human being since the world began,
until we all make it to where we’re like him,
“We must grow up…to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”
Christs to each other, Christs to God.
All of us. Finally.
It [is] just as easy, and just as hard, as that.
2017-07-02 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton
#4 of the “big ten”…
“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.
Six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath day to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work…..For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day…”
Again, it’s given in Duet. 5:12-15. This time it’s not so much as a “God did it, so you do it” kind of way, this time it’s a matter of justice and love…remember when you were slaves in Egypt? It was work, work, work…oppression upon oppression. I command you not to be the oppressor. You are not to be a taskmaster…to yourselves or to others!
“Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”
GOD IS GOD…and We are NOT!
Isn’t that the good news of the day?
Jesus invites us to come… “I will give you rest”…
Let us learn some of the movements of Sabbath rest today…
Each of the 4 movements are the 4 themes of the Christian life…
4 MOVEMENTS OF SABBATH…
CEASING – the journey of repentance, “We are not God!”
RESTING – the journey of grace, “Our faith strengthens in God’s grace”
EMBRACING – the journey of growth, “We embrace the Christ-life”
FEASTING – the journey of joy, “Our hope is heightened, joy now is a foretaste of joy to come”
Teaching on Sabbath:
— from the book “keeping the sabbath wholly” by Marva Dawn
CEASING – the journey of repentance, “We are not God!”
Abraham Heschel the Jewish Theologian of the 20th C said that humankind has sought to control everything…but we cannot control time. Time is unstoppable. We seek to resist it but time marches on…
…Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.
Sabbath comes from “Shabbat”….it doesn’t mean a certain day….Shabbat means ceasing…we QUIT / STOP / TAKE A BREAK…from work!
WHAT IS WORK?
work is if i must, ought, should or have to do it….if you’re compelled to do it, then it’s work! (use the acronym M.O.S.H. = must ought should have)
MARVA exhorts us to CEASE…
CEASING our anxieties… Philippians 4:4-8
CEASING our possessiveness
We have too much stuff! And a big reason why we won’t cease because we’re driven by possessions! So on sabbath, let’s stop buying and selling
CEASING our enculturation
– we choose a path that’s simply the “way of the world” or “it is what it is”
Sabbath gives us a day to set aside the way the world does things and to choose the way we do things. . .
CEASING our TRYING TO BE GOD
–We repent of the mindset/heartset that we are God…that we can manufacture our own future…and we let God be God…”Be Still and know that I am God…I AM…exalted above the nations….I AM exalted in the earth.”
If Ceasing is the journey of repentance, then…
RESTING – the journey of grace, “Our faith strengthens in God’s grace”
Resting in Grace (we’re all pretty bad at this) We’re wired/trained for the “performance principle”
eg: pursuing perfection, success, health, wealth, good kids, competition, efficiency
The beauty of sabbath is that grace comes first… our world has it all backwards….God sets us free to seek rest first and then we live, move, serve out of the joy of that rest….
But we truly have to learn to rest in grace…
see Ps. 23 is a great resting psalm!
•It also denotes: 5 REST(s): physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual
A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
v. 1 “I shall not want”…..never do we want when the Lord is my shepherd…this should allow us to rest in grace…
v.2 physical rest – he leads me by “harmonious” waters….it’s more than just quiet
v. 3 he restores my “nefesh” (the true you)…. this is intellectual rest
v.4 –emotional rest…..the psalm moves from 3rd person (the Lord is) to 2nd person (Lord you are)
v. 5 social rest — invite your enemies to dinner!
v. 6 our spiritual rest lies in resting in the now & not yet kingdom
The great gift of sabbath is taking care of ourselves…it begins with physical rest and then leads to these other “rests.”
–WE cease…we rest…the 3rd movement is:
EMBRACING – the journey of growth, “We embrace the Christ-life”
We embrace with intentionality those spiritually forming ways/truths that form the Christ life in us!
Christ revealed, Christ living in us…Christ being formed in you!
We’ve already talked today (Children’s Blessing) re:
That’s the image for embracing.
Leaning in. Leaning on Christ.
It’s that image of intimacy at the Table of the Lord.
John, the beloved, leaning in, leaning on the bosom of Christ.
We listen to the heart of God, we listen to the heart of Christ…and we make a space and a way for Christ to be formed in us.
We cease…we rest…we embrace…
FEASTING – the journey of joy, “Our hope is heightened, joy now is a foretaste of joy to come”
We feast on the eternal…we feast on the now and not yet!
And…Church is one of the best places for that feast! That is why we do what we do!
We feast on:
WORSHIP – all aspects…you never know what part of the liturgical morning will feed you the most!
WORD – the word of God feeds us, it fills us, it comforts us.
TABLE – the bread and the cup…The body of Christ, the blood of Christ, fill us, and energize us.
OTHER WAYS TO FEAST
Feasting with Music: Feast with your favourite music… let’s make different sounds together… or on Sabbath go listen to the birds or a waterfall…
Feasting with Beauty: What would be Sabbath beauty that you would feast on? Looking at art, looking at people…gardens…
On Sabbath put out the best candles, the best dishes, put out flowers…
Feasting with Affections: On Sabbath times, spend time friends with whom you are affectionate with…this is not limited to sexual affection…be with those you love and run from those who make you crazy!
Feasting with Food: Make special foods on the Sabbath! Eat, drink and be merry!
SABBATH PRAYER (from Ordinary Radicals, Claiborne/Hartgrove)
Lord of Creation,
create in us a new rhythm of life
composed of hours that sustain rather than stress,
of days that deliver rather than destroy,
of time that tickles rather than tackles.
Lord of Liberation,
by the rhythm of your truth, set us free
from the bondage and baggage that break us,
from the Pharaohs and fellows who fail us,
from the plans and pursuits that prey upon us.
Lord of Resurrection,
may we be raised into the rhythm of your new life,
dead to deceitful calendars,
dead to fleeting friend requests,
dead to the empty peace of our accomplishments.
To our packed-full planners, we bid, “Peace!”
To our over-caffeinated consciences, we say, “Cease!”
To our suffering selves, Lord, grant release.
Drowning in a sea of deadlines and death chimes,
we rest in you, our lifeline.
By your ever-restful grace,
allow us to enter your Sabbath rest
as your Sabbath rest enters into us.
In the name of our Creator,
our Resurrection and Life,
2017-06-25 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton
Healing & Prayer Service
Peter and John went to pray:
they met a lame man on the way.
He asked for alms and held out his palms,
and this is what Peter did say:
“Silver and gold have I none,
but what I have I give to you.
In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”
He went walking and jumping and praising God,
walking and jumping and praising God.
“In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
If I could go back to my 9 year old self, with more of a critical thinking mindset…
I think I would have so many questions for this song!?!
How about you?
1.What are alms?
2.Peter you cheapskate!
3.Is it that easy? Walking and jumping and praising God?
4.What’s in a name? apparently…lots!
–And what about you? Questions anyone?
Today is our annual service of healing and prayer…and since we’ve been in Acts and stories of the early church since Pentecost Sunday, it seems wise that we try to weave into our imaginations the way of healing and prayer of the early church…and how the stories of early church might inform the ways we pray and heal in these days…
YES…Peter and John went to pray…
We are perhaps just 2 weeks post-pentecost-tongues-of-fire coming down from heaven and thousands of jewish worshippers have got on board with these “people of the way”…who are telling the story of a risen Jesus…who had died, yes, but now continues to live through the power and presence of the God’s Spirit…and this Holy Spirit has been poured out on ALL flesh…
But remember, Peter and John are still God-fearing (Yahweh-worshippin’) Jews…and so they still pray at the synagogue and honor the appointed prayer times at the local church…
They approach the temple courts and a familiar face is there, a man in his 40’s, crippled from birth, carried to his “begging post” each day, asking for handouts.
He’s heard of all the kerfuffle about these disciples of Jesus and recognizes James and John. He cries out to them, thinking he’s got a chance of getting a magical portion of whatever they’ve got to give…
“Alms for the poor, the forsaken, the downtrodden…alms!”
Peter and John make a beeline towards the beggar.
“Look at us! We have no silver or gold!
But what I have I give to you…
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
Stand up and walk.”
Peter takes hold of the man’s right forearm and the beggar jumps to his feet.
He stands. He stretches. He reaches for the sky and lunges and leaps and shouts to Yahweh.
“You have turned my mourning into dancing!
You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy!
O LORD, my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Ps. 30)
The crowd is gob-smacked. Amazed. Filled with wonder.
Shouts of joy fill the air.
Other beggars in the crowd cry out, “help me! Heal me! Pick me!”
The beggar hugs his friends and family and then clings to Peter and John as they try to make their way into the inner temple courts.
It’s apparent that the crowd is once again longing for an explanation…people asking “What does this mean? What does this mean?”
Peter jumps up on an elevated stage in the temple courts and waves his arms, motioning to the crowd to listen…
“Friends and fellow Israelites!
It’s not us!
This is the work of our God…
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The God who sent his son and servant Jesus,
The Holy and righteous one whom you rejected.
You acted in ignorance…you killed the Author of life
But God raised him from the dead.
This man is made strong, healed by faith in the name of Jesus.
So…don’t turn to us…
Turn to God…Repent…Turn to God…
So that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come
From the presence of the Lord.”
* * * * * *
And so we turn our hearts to God this morning.
We repent! That’s why our confession prayer is so important from week to week.
“So that our sins may be wiped out…so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
And today at our annual service of healing and prayer, we are very intentional about proclaiming “healing power in the name of Jesus.”
It’s not magic, it’s not a prayer formula, we are not the healers…
But we have the opportunity and the calling to participate in
Jesus’ ongoing ministry of compassion, relief and restoration.
The healing and blessing that we receive today is a real-life manifestation of Jesus’ presence in our midst.
So come…you are not obligated to come but be assured that this is not faith-healing magic, this is the community of Christ,
Caring and praying for one another,
Serving under the influence of Jesus…
And sharing his presence through words and action…
2017-06-11 – Rev. Amanda Strain – First Baptist Church Edmonton