Scripture Ephesians 1:3-13
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
Message ”There is a Plan” Rev. James R. Renfrew
So let’s take the quiz on the front page of the bulletin. Gotta plan? Here are your choices:
[ ] I have a rock-solid plan. I’m good.
[ ] I have a plan, but it’s not working!
[ ] Life just happens. A plan won’t help.
[ ] I’ll come up with a better plan … eventually.
Anyone want to share your answer?
Of course, some of you will quickly check a box and then move on to something else, but you may be one of those people who wants to quibble with the format and the choices presented.
Maybe you think that there should be additional answers to choose from? Like: My plan is to rule the world, the rest of you get out of my way! Bwa-ha-ha! Or, my plan is mostly about what you need to do for me. I have lots of plans like that!
Maybe you want to question the assumptions underlying the choices presented. What do you mean by “plan”, something written in detail, or just a few mental hopes and dreams? Maybe you would prefer an answer not so vague as the last choice, like I will come up with a better plan and I’m actively working on it right now, improving it, tweaking it, amending it, editing it.
Or maybe you’re trying to dig into the meaning of the word “plan”; is it a financial plan involving money, a real estate plan involving property, a medical plan made in consultation with your doctor, an education plan developed with the help of a guidance counselor, a spiritual plan that you could work on with me or one of our church elders, or some combination of these plans.
My son used to love pointing out the cars he was going to own one day. I want that Corvette. I want that Maserati. I want that Porsche. I want that BMW. “That’s great,” I would respond, “but what’s your plan? You know, to actually have the money to buy the car, cover the insurance, the maintenance and gasoline. All of that pretty much depends upon having a job, what’s your plan for that?” That’s why in those days my son dreaded what he called “lectures”. Yeah, who wants a Dad who lectures a lot, so I’ve had to change that part of my plan!
Two girls in a long ago youth group were ready to move to their own apartment at age 16. Same conversation, how are you going to pay the rent? A telephone, heat and water, food, transportation, medical care, how are you going to pay for all that? We’ll get jobs! Minimum wage for unskilled workers doesn’t begin to cover those basic expenses. Having a plan is a good start, but you need to find the resources to make it happen. Yep, I used to love to lecture!
Now, let’s think about God’s plan. We start by asking which box God might check off on the list. Yes, God has a rock solid plan. But sometimes the plan hasn’t been working, at least that’s how it looks to me, violence and war, hunger and injustice, don’t seem to be evidence that God’s plan is reaching the goal. Maybe the best answer is that God continues to refine the plan, equipping new generations of people like you and me, imperfect as we are, to help bring the plan to life. God must like taking big risks, because a plan that depends on me may not the best plan!
But God’s plan is a bold one, not letting our human limitations and imperfections defeat it. And I love the scope of it: a plan for the fullness of time! God’s plan involves you at the very start of Creation – imagine that! At the beginning of all things God was thinking about Christ, and God was also thinking about you. That’s amazing; in the Big Bang, or whatever phrase you want to use to describe the Beginning, God was already thinking of you. That’s some plan!
God’s plan involves adoption. We’re are not just spectators to God’s plan, God wasn’t just thinking about us, God brings us into the family of hope and possibility. You and I have a part to play in God’s plan.
God’s plan includes provisions for when things go wrong. When people get sick, when people make mistakes, when people fail to learn. God offers the help we need in abundance, in the treasures of grace: mercy, forgiveness, healing. A plan for the fullness of time, a time to gather everything up everything together in Christ. To be gathered in Christ, that’s something to think about, reflect upon, and pray about. To be fully gathered in Christ, in my mind, means an end to living in fear, fear of violence, in fear of hunger.
But there should be a warning label printed in this chapter of Ephesians, you know like “wear safety glasses or gloves when using this device”, or “parents watch your children around this product for dangers related to fire or suffocation”. Here’s the warning label for Ephesians: please don’t assume that your plan is God’s plan! Remember that we are made in God’s image. God is not made in our image!
God’s plan as described in Ephesians should not be the casual assumption that God’s plan matches your plan. I have a plan, but my plan needs constant adjusting, changing, even throwing out what I thought were the key parts, the more I come to understand God’s plan. How does your plan change, knowing what God’s plan is? God has a plan for the fullness of time. Let that plan inspire your plan!