Tuesday, March 14, 2017

EXCITEMENT OR BREAKFAST?


Genesis 14:1-4

As I mentioned last week, Fay and I have purchased our tickets for our circumnavigation of the lower 48 by train. Fay is already planning to pack; not just clothes, but things to keep her comfortable and make the trip more pleasant. We will be gone for over a month, and it should be quite an adventure.

Of course not everyone likes adventure. Some are like Winnie the Pooh.
When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” asked Piglet, “what's the first thing you say to yourself?”
What's for breakfast?” said Pooh. “”What do you say, Piglet?”
I say, 'I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?'” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It's the same thing.” he said.

Like Pooh, Bilbo in Tolkien's The Hobbit, clearly wasn't the adventurous type. L“Adventures are nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner! I can't see what anybody sees in them.”

There are some, on the other hand, who are adventurous. Some of you may remember Larry Walters, who achieved dubious fame in 1982 when he piloted a lawn chair attached to helium balloons 16,000 feet above Federal Aviation Administration.
Shivering in the high altitude, he used a pellet gun to pop balloons to come back to earth.
On the way down, his balloons draped over power lines, blacking out a Long Beach neighborhood for 20 minutes.
The stunt earned Walters a $1,500 fine from the FAA and the top prize from the Bonehead Club of Dallas.

How about you? A life of adventure, or a life of safety. Many of us don't like change; we like a nice, stable, predictable life. Change is hard, and we avoid it. In fact, 7 out of 10 heart patients, when told by their cardiologist that if they don't change their lifestyle, if they don't start eating right and exercising more, they will die, don't make the recommended changes. Is that you?

I would suggest to you that, perhaps the greatest sin of modern Christians, and the modern church, is that we are simply too comfortable. While we may sing: “Give me that old time religion,” we don't really want any part of it. Early Christians were slain in the gladiatorial rings. In our grandparents time the church sent missionaries all over the world. Others set about curing the wrongs in society, standing up to immoral or corrupt governments, establishing schools, hospitals, and rest homes for those in need. They advocated for worker's and civil rights, stood against wars, fought to abolish slavery, established Sunday Schools to teach children factory workers, and fought for child labor laws and fair wages.

As Christians, we stand in a long line of heroes. But what drives us? What is our passion today? What incites us to action in the name of the Holy One? I fear it is nothing. Too many of us are not driven, we just float along with the current, hoping God won't notice we are here and as us to actually do something. (That may be what makes listening for the voice of God so uncomfortable.) Our anemic Christian lives miss our on the excitement and growth that come from radical discipleship and promise nothing to our unchurched neighbors. I don't usually say things like this, but maybe it's time to GET OUTA THE CHURCH!

There would be no church today if earlier generations had sought first of all to be comfortable. There will be no church in the future if comfort is our first priority.
God did not call Abram to a life of comfort. God did not promise Moses a life of luxury. Jesus does not promise us earthly prosperity.
(Luk 9:57) Along the way someone said to Jesus, "I'll go anywhere with you!" (Luk 9:58) Jesus said, "Foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man doesn't have a place to call his own."
Jesus looked straight at the rich young man with love and said, "You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me."

The architectural term for the place we are right now is the sanctuary. The raised area behind us, while a part of the sanctuary, is the chancel, and the part of the sanctuary where you are sitting is the nave. Nave comes from the same root as navy, and reminds us that the church can be described as a ship carrying people through the rough waters of this world to the kingdom of God. Shh. Can you hear the wind blowing through the sails? Can you feel it against your face? Blowing your hair around? Like Abraham, we're off on an adventure...taking the light of God's love into the darkness of a hurting world.

What's that, you say? “I can't do that. It's impossible!” Remember the movie Miracle?
It's the story of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team. No one had beaten the Soviet team in the last for Olympic games. Even the NHL's best teams fell victim to the Soviet power house. And now a group of American college players was about to take on the unbeatable behemoth. In one scene the American coach, Coach Brooks, is going over the Soviet game strategy and explaining to his young team what they must do to win.
You don't defend: You attack. You shove their game right back in their faces” he tells his players. “The team that is finally willing to do this is the team that has a chance to put them down. The NHL won't change their game; we will. The rest of the world is afraid of them; boys, we won't be. No one has ever worked hard enough to skate with the Soviet team for an entire game. Gentlemen, we are gonna work hard enough.” And they did. And they succeeded. And they brought home the Olympic Gold..

Imagine, if you will, what this little church could do for Christ with that kind of determination. Imagine this community changed for the better. Imagine lonely people surrounded by friends. Imagine former addicts loved, healed, and supported in Christian fellowship. Imagine children no longer hungry. It's not that the problems are too big. It's not that we are too old, too tired, or too weak. It's not that we are too small. It's that our faith is too small, too tired, and too feeble to make an outstanding effort. Christianity is an adventurous faith, and Christians are called to be an adventurous people.

No, you don't have to pack up your belongings and head out to Malaysia or Madagascar, but you may need to get outside your comfort zone. A VIM, Volunteers In Mission, short term mission trip may be for you...and no, you don't have to go outside the U.S. Yes, they can use folks our age, and you can use the gifts and graces you already have. For anything from hammering nails, to cooking, to teaching or tutoring, you are needed.

You don't even need to leave Shady Cove, or this building. You can teach a Bible Study or Sunday School Class. And no, you don't need to be an expert. There are plenty of curriculums available to guide and help you. Volunteer at a hospital or a hospice. Help out at a Senior Center. Help transport folks to medical appointments; teach your skills, or help tutor the young women at Redemption Ridge; Read to kids in the local schools;
work with one of the several groups assisting the homeless; advocate for the environment. The list of opportunities is endless:s. If you don't know where to look, see me, I'll help you find it.

(Gen 12:1) The LORD said to Abram: Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.
Abram went.
Jesus said: "Come with me." Levi left everything and went with Jesus.

Will You?

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