Project 12:30 Update

Hey all!

I feel like I’ve done a poor job of posting about this 12:30 stuff, but I have been doing it.

August has been Creation month, and it’s been amazing.
My goal in this month has been to spend at least 30 minutes a day in creation.
It is awesome.
I find myself wishing for more of August, since this month has been amazing.
I have seen more sunrises, more sunsets, and lately, my morning has begun with a short walk to get my daughter on the bus, and then a lovely and early walk home.
It’s been cool, but clear, and the noises of the city waking up are starting my day off right.

In the beginning and middle of the month, I was on vacation up north, and went camping one weekend as well.  I spent a lot of mornings doing yoga facing the lake, and many nights around campfires and stargazing.
How quickly I forget what nature holds when I live in the city.

Only a few days left, but join me – and GO OUTSIDE!!!!

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”  Martin Luther

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Sermon August 23, 2015

Sermons are meant to be heard!  Listen to this one HERE.

Scripture: Joshua 24: 1-2a, 14-18, John 6:56-69
Title: Are You With Me?

As some of you may have seen via facebook, Layla finally learned how to ride a two wheel bicycle on Friday. Once she decided she was going to do it no matter what, it wasn’t really that bad, but the process to get her to that point was difficult, to say the least.
So many times over this summer she would get on, try a few times, and then throw her hands up, say “it’s too hard!!!” and walk away. (Or run, or stomp… You get the picture.)

One of the things I really love about kids is their pure honesty in expression. Most of them haven’t yet learned the art of restraint.
So, when something doesn’t go their way – they give up.
They storm off and quit when things get hard.
Right?
How many of you know exactly what I’m talking about?
Yeah – and how many of you, now that you are adults, have wished you could still do this?
When things get hard, you wish you could quit … when things get difficult, how many of you wish it was socially acceptable to just walk away?

Here we are, in the final week of our 5 weeks in John’s 6th chapter, and it’s finally time for us to respond to what we’ve heard. After all these weeks of hearing about Jesus as the bread of life, he finally turns to the us and says, Are you with me guys? Are you in or are you out? And some of the people there – they do just this – they walk away.

But before we get there, let’s jump back a bit. Because despite the fact that we’ve been in these 70 verses since the end of July, this whole discourse happens in a matter of a day.
So even though the feeding of the 5000 happened for us a full month ago, it is still very fresh in the minds of those listening to and following Jesus.
If you’ve missed any of these last Sunday’s, a quick reminder –
Jesus fed the 5000 and then they followed him, because they wanted to be fed again. They loved that he met their immediate needs.
Jesus then began to teach the crowd that bread can only feed you for a moment, but the true bread from heaven, the bread of life, can feed you forever.
And then Jesus says that this bread he is speaking of is him.
He is the bread of life. He is the one who nourishes and sustains us.

So we get to today’s text – and John throws us a nice little reminder in verse 59 – Jesus said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Remember Jesus snuck away after feeding all the people and everyone followed him to Capernaum? He’s been teaching this bread of life stuff in the synagogue there, and John wants to remind us that Jesus hasn’t moved, it’s still the same discourse, in the same place, and still the same main point Jesus is trying to get across to those who have followed him.
In fact, in our reading today Jesus repeats one last time that he is the bread from heaven, coming down to feed us forever.
Then, after all his teaching on this one topic – the disciples now say:
“this teaching is hard – who can accept it?”
The “this teaching” the disciples speak of is the whole discourse. All of the things we’ve heard over the last five weeks.
The whole lesson Jesus is giving them – about who he is and what he is all about – it is THIS teaching that is so hard to hear, that is so difficult to understand.

Jesus turns to the disciples and says, “does this offend you?”
Tough love Jesus is back.
He doesn’t give them a hug and tell them to try again – Jesus says – “does this offend you?”

Now the word used in the Greek that is translated as offend is (skan-da-lee-tzo) skandalezo, which in hearing it you might think means scandalize, and that’s not a horrible way to think about it – Does this scandalize you? – but it literally means a stumbling block, or something that causes you to sin.
This is an important distinction in John’s Gospel, because it is this skandalezo, this stumbling block, that is what causes people to walk away.
It’s just too hard. It’s too much.
What is too hard? What is too much?
This whole discourse, Jesus has been stating his relationship to God, and how it affects those who follow him…
Today – in verse 65, when Jesus tells them that no one can come to him unless it is granted by the Father, he isn’t making a claim of exclusivity, he’s not saying: “you’re out unless God says so”
He is saying something completely shocking.
Jesus is saying he is in relationship with God.
He is saying that God and Jesus are one and the same.
When Jesus says that knowing him is how you know God – that is skandalezo.
And some people can’t handle it.
They think – This guy? Really?
Nope. I don’t buy it.
They think – You know, I liked the food. I liked it when he fed me, but now… now he’s saying he’s God.
I can’t.
It’s too much for me.

And they walk away.

So then Jesus turns to his remaining disciples and asks – Do you also wish to go away?
Are you with me?
I think we can all relate to the disciples’ struggle here.
Who hasn’t felt the same way about what Jesus teaches us?
Who hasn’t at some point wished it were easier to be a disciple?
Who hasn’t had moments in their life when they have questioned their faith?
Who hasn’t had a time where believing in the love and goodness and grace of God was almost impossible?
Haven’t we all been there?
This teaching is difficult. We say. It’s too hard.
It might be easier for us to just walk away.

So Jesus asks – are you going to walk away too?
And it’s Peter who responds: “Lord to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life – we have come to believe and know that you are the Holy one of God.”

This is where today’s gospel reading ended in the lectionary.
But it is not where John’s 6th chapter ends.
There are two more verses, and while the lectionary did not include them – I think they are the core of this whole discourse and cannot be forgotten.
Jesus replies to Peter’s powerful and faith-filled words – with this:

Have I not chosen you? Yet one of you will betray me.
And then we have our introduction to Judas.
Jesus says – one of you here is going to walk away from me too, in the biggest way, and still, I choose you.
AND STILL I CHOOSE YOU.

This is it.
This is the heart of John’s good news for us today.
Three words:
I choose you.
And maybe even more powerful are the two words before them – AND STILL.
Despite ourselves, despite all the ways in which we walk away – Jesus STILL chooses us.

This morning we are going to gather around the Baptismal font and see this choosing in action once again. We will watch as God claims and calls Calla a beloved child – just as God has done and continues to do to each and every one of us.

Today Jesus turns to us, just as he turned to the disciples and asks – what about you? Are you with me?
And it’s our turn to respond….
Now some of you might respond like the followers of Jesus and say: you know what? This is too difficult for me.
I just can’t do it.
I can’t buy into what you are saying.
This grace stuff just sounds too far fetched – like something made up in a fairy tale.
And some of you might respond like Peter: We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.

But no matter what your response is today –
no matter how you answer when Jesus turns to ask you if you are in or out – the only thing that really matters is that Jesus has already chosen you.

Sermon August 2, 2015

Sermons are meant to be heard!  Listen to this sermon HERE

Scripture: Exodus 16:2-4, 13-15, John 6:24-35
Title: Filled

So we’re in week 2 of five weeks in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, commonly referred to as the “bread of life discourse”
This whole thing began last week with the feeding of the 5000. John’s Gospel uses signs (like the feeding of the 5000) to reveal who Jesus is – and then Jesus will have a conversation after the sign to help explain it more deeply.
If you were here last week or listened to the podcast you remember that we talked about scarcity, and how God isn’t about scarcity but about abundance. When we look around and think that there isn’t enough, or that we aren’t enough, God reminds us that there is always more than enough. As we go through these verses today, remember this theme of abundance – and what it means for us to change our mindset to abundance instead of scarcity.

So here we are this week – Jesus has fed the people, there are baskets filled with leftovers, and at some point Jesus and his disciples snuck away and crossed the sea of Galilee to Capernaum.

When the people (the 5000 from last week) realized Jesus was not with them any more, they got into boats and started to search for him.
They finally find Jesus and say: “Rabbi, when did you come here?”
This is where the discourse, the conversation that explains the sign, begins.
Jesus answers their simple question in this less than simple way: “very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
Um. What?
Jesus, we just asked when you came over here.

I think there is a bit of snarky Jesus here. He’s essentially saying: You didn’t come to find me because of that thing I did, where I fed lots of people with only a little food, you’re coming because you are hungry again, and you want me to give you another meal.
See? snarky Jesus.
But also, honest Jesus.
Because that’s exactly what the people were doing.
Getting enough to eat, enough that you were FILLED, was not a common occurrence in 1st century Israel.
You ate a meal and then usually, unless you were among the wealthy elite, you wondered almost immediately where you were going to get your next one.
And you didn’t eat until you were full.
You ate what you could afford, which is a very different thing.
When Jesus fed the people until they were filled?
That was a BIG DEAL.
Of course the people would want to experience it again.
So what if it wasn’t really about the miracle they had just been a part of, they were hungry!
But Jesus isn’t in the business of short term fixes.
He tells them to work for the food of eternal life that is given by the Son of Man.

So here they are, hungry, coming to Jesus to eat again, and they get this super complex response to their relatively simple question –
So they say – ok Jesus, we’ll play along here…
What do we have to do to get this enduring food?
And Jesus says, believe in me.
And then here is when the people really get into this conversation – they say, ok then Jesus – show us a sign so that we can see it and believe in you! Our ancestors ate manna from God – every day they saw this food from heaven and so they had proof that God was providing for them.
What are YOU going to do for us?
Nevermind that it was these same people who saw Jesus take 5 little loaves of bread and two fish and feed 5000 people just a day earlier.

Jesus says “Moses didn’t give them that manna, God did. And God now is giving you a different kind of bread, the true bread from heaven that will give life to the world.”
Now we’re on to something. The people think.
Yes! We want that!
Jesus give us this bread you speak of, and give it to us forever.
And Jesus says – it’s me.
I’m the bread.
I’m the bread from heaven.
I am what will sustain you over the long haul.
I’m more than a temporary fix.
You are thinking day to day, but I can fill you forever.

It’s no wonder Jesus needs about 40 more verses to keep explaining this.
This was not easy for the followers of Jesus to understand then, and it’s not easy for us to grasp now.
We too get caught up in the day to day.
We get hungry and we look for food.
We need something and we find it.

We often think of our relationship with God in the same way we think of our relationship with food.
When we are hungry, we eat.
When we’re full, we go do something else.
When we need God, we go to church.
When we feel better, don’t. We do something else… we sleep in, have a leisurely morning at home.
Sometimes, we are just like those followers of Jesus – we have an experience that fills us up, that makes us overflow with God’s love, and then we spend weeks, months, years, trying to recreate that experience, so we can feel the same way.

Jesus is telling us something pretty important about the Kingdom of God in this 6th chapter of John.
Last week, Jesus reminded us that there is no scarcity in the Kingdom of God.
Scarcity is a short term fix mindset.
There’s not enough, so I’m going to grab what I can.
When the Israelites were escaping Egypt, God gave them manna to survive.
Manna was a day to day food.
It didn’t last.
And when the people began to grow their own crops and were able to feed themselves, the manna stopped.
Now here the people are again, hungry.
Here we are, hungry again as well.
And God no longer gives us manna,
God gives us Jesus.
Not manna, but the true bread.
Jesus is more than a short term fix.
Jesus sustains us not just for the moment, but forever.

The Kingdom of God is about abundance.
Today we take one more step away from the mindset of scarcity toward a mindset of abundance.
And this mindset of abundance means long term sustenance.
Where we are filled, not just once, but for good.

Jesus looks at the people, he looks at us, and says I’m not going to give you the bread that you are asking for, I’m going to give you something else.
I’m going to give you me.
Instead of giving us another miracle, Jesus gives us his own self.
And instead of being sustained for the moment, we are sustained for a lifetime.

This can be difficult – because, like the followers of Jesus on that hillside in Capernaum, we want the momentary fix.
We want to be filled now.
We want our prayers answered right now the way WE think they should be answered. We want our lives to be the way we want them to be and we want them to be that way now.

And God says – I’m going to give you me.
We are filled with the bread of life again today – not manna, not bread meant to take care of a physical, literal hunger, not manna that fills us for the moment, but the true bread.
So we come forward, and receive the bread of life in our hand, and know that we are filled.
Filled for today.
Filled for tomorrow.
Filled through all the moments of hunger we will have in all the days ahead.
Filled, and reminded that life in Jesus, life with Jesus, is one that sustains for the long haul.