In this year’s Journey together, we learn about what it means to “Experience Real Life in the Risen Lord.” Our theme comes from John 10:10 where Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
We are looking at what real life, or living in the kingdom of God, looks like. At its heart, living in line with God and God’s kingdom often puts us at odds with our culture. In a world where we try so hard to be first or be right, Jesus tells us that is not the most important thing, in fact, that the first will be last and the last will be first, that the way to save your life is to lose it.
In Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, author and theologian Rob Bell wrote:
“Jesus’ intention was, and is, to call people to live in tune with reality. He said at one point that if you had seen him, you had “seen the Father”. He claimed to be showing us what God is like. In his compassion, peace, truth telling, and generosity, he was showing us God.
"And God is the ultimate reality. There is nothing more beyond God.
"Jesus at one point claimed to be ‘the way, the truth, and the life’. Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth and the truth. Rather, he was telling those who were following him that his way is the way the depth of reality. This kind of life that Jesus was living, perfectly and completely in connection and cooperation with God, is the best possible way for a person to live. It is how things are.
"Jesus exposes us to reality at its rawest..
"So the way of Jesus is not about religion; it’s about reality.
"It’s about lining yourself up with how things are.
"Perhaps a better question than who’s right, is who’s living rightly?” (p21)
This week, our focus is on how we are transformed for selfless love and the state of our world has given us many opportunities to practice this. As people are worried about the Covid-19 pandemic and what this means for each of us, there has been a lot of panic-buying at the grocery stores.
Stocking up in a panic is a luxury that many families living in poverty cannot afford. While others have been buying a year’s worth of toilet paper, many of these families cannot buy more than they need for the week, if they can buy that much. In conversation with Carol Phipps, one of the pantry managers at the Interchurch Food Pantry of Johnson County, she said that they need toilet paper, sliced bread, peanut butter and jelly. I went to Kroger this morning and found out that they are limiting purchases to three of any item. Much of the public’s reactions have shown that love, reflected in sharing resources, is a countercultural value.
As we consider what it means to share selfless love in this time, I urge you to balance the needs of physical distancing with the needs of those who are less fortunate. The Interchurch Food Pantry has gone to a drive-thru model and need volunteers to pack boxes any day, Monday through Saturday. You can email Carol Phipps to let her know when you are available. Our church’s regular day to volunteer is this Saturday, so let me know if you are able to help. If you can contribute any of the needed items, you can drop them off at church or I can pick them up from you.
At this point, we will wait to make a decision about worship for this coming Sunday. If you missed the sermon for this past Sunday, you can still watch it. If you have any particular needs or know someone who does, please reach out to me.
As I closed Sunday’s sermon, “In this time of uncertainty, we remain certain of God's deep love for us. We trust that in Jesus’ death and Resurrection, God has redeemed all creation and all people, drawing all of us near to God’s self. As we go forth trusting in God's promises, let us remember that God calls us to love one another with God’s love.”
In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord,