Sermon: You are Beloved

Sermon: You are Beloved

A lot has happened since we last gathered for worship. There has been nonstop breaking news from Iran to Buckingham Palace. My beloved 49ers hosted, and won, their first playoff game in their new stadium. And, we’ve went through 30 years of Biblical history.

That last part is an interesting detail about how each of the four gospel accounts of Jesus’ life are put together. Two of the gospels – Matthew and Luke – give some details about Jesus’ birth and early life, while the other two – Mark and John – do not discuss his birth and go right into the descriptions of Jesus’ life. Since we celebrated Epiphany Sunday, and gave a little attention to the Magi of Matthew 2, we’ve traversed the majority of Jesus’ life. In fact, only Luke gives us any details about what took place after Jesus was, roughly, the age of 2.

Why is that? The gospels are written in a historical biographical form that was prevalent in the 1st Century AD. That form of writing focused on only including substantial details from the main subject’s life that would give an understanding of who this person was. This often included a focus on the person’s death and final moments. We see that in each of the gospels, which place most of its emphasis on Jesus’ final week before his death and resurrection. Counter this to our focus, today, which would be to include every aspect of an individual’s life from birth through death based upon a common theme.

One aspect of Jesus’ life that all four gospels mention or allude to is his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. It is one of the most significant moments of his early ministry and launches Jesus’ into the public portion of his earthly ministry. You cannot understand Jesus’ ministry without taking a deep look at why he was baptized. Continue reading “Sermon: You are Beloved”

Is it Worth It?

Is it Worth It?

One of the hardest decisions I ever had to make was the one we are living into currently. Moving back to West Virginia was never a no-brainer discussion for myself or my family.

We were established in Kentucky. I was ordained in Kentucky and was becoming confident in my leadership and place within the structures there. Abbi and Noah, though familiar with West Virginia, had never lived here. To be honest it was a decision we went back and forth on for months, even going as far as submitting a letter to turn down the opportunity to come home.

What helped me to think through the decision was to make a list. Do you ever do that? Sometimes I’ll get out a sheet of paper, or just think it through in my head, and consider the positives and negatives of a certain decision. That process helps me to think through all of my options before making a major decision. It is a process that helps me to weigh the cost.

I wonder, did you do something like that before committing yourself to being a disciple of Jesus Christ? Before you said yes to following Jesus, did you take time to consider what this life meant, what was being asked of you as a follower of Jesus Christ, and truly wrestle with if you were willing to commit ourselves to this life? A disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who makes a commitment to follow Jesus and who seeks to live out the desires Christ places upon us. Did you consider what that meant and its implications for your life? Continue reading “Is it Worth It?”

Fan or Follower

John the Baptist was standing with two of his disciples. We don’t know what was taking place before this scene begins. Perhaps they were talking about the day’s activities. Perhaps they were talking about the baptism that took place the day before, when Jesus of Nazareth was baptized in the Jordan River and a voice was heard proclaiming him as the Son of God.

Who knows what was taking place when we receive this causal reference that Jesus walked past them as they talked. At first glance, this seems like a very innocent interaction. Perhaps Jesus had stayed with John and his disciples after his baptism and was preparing to head out and start on his journey. What may have been a simple gathering would soon become a time of introspection and decision for John’s two disciples. It starts with how John the Baptist responds to this passing interaction. John looks at his disciples and says, “Look! There is the Lamb of God.” He basically tells them, “You see that guy there? He’s the One we’ve been expecting. He is the Messiah.”

What would these disciples do? So, Andrew and the other disciple, who we believe might have been the Apostle John, ran off to meet Jesus. When they catch up with him, Jesus asks, “What do you want?” It is a question intended to allow them to search their hearts and respond accordingly. They take a moment and respond by saying, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Andrew and the other disciple weren’t interested in Jesus’ lodging arrangements. They were asking if they could become one of Jesus’ disciples and follow him. They wanted to join with him and learn from the Lord.

Jesus responds to their request with an invitation. He says, “Come and see.” He invites these two disciples of John to come with him and see what was about to take place. To see the life changing things Jesus would do and to hear the words he would teach. To see what it truly means for Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of all. Jesus invites them to follow him. They respond by going with him and following him on his itinerant journey.

In some way, each of us have responded to Jesus’ invitation to “come and see.” Jesus has invited us to come and see what he is doing and, in some way, we have responded. The way we have responded to Jesus’ invitation can be found by taking a deep look within our hearts and examining how we feel about Christ and the Lord’s love. When we do we might see that there are two basic ways we have responded. We have responded either as a “Jesus fan” or as a “Jesus follower.” Continue reading “Fan or Follower”