David Fish March 15, 2015
Do you have a favorite chair? Or a favorite spot on the couch. You know what I mean a place where you can just sit, kick up your feet with a warm blanket watch a good movie or read a good book. That spot makes you feel safe IT’S YOUR SPOT. When I was a child my Mom and Dad both had their spots. My Mom would sit in the second half of the living room and my Dad sat kind up front not too far away from the T.V. My Dad was hard of hearing and my Mom could hear well. I should tell you if there were too more opposites like my parents I would wager you could not find them , but they loved each other. When they watched T.V. it was quite funny, due to the fact, that my Mom would turn the TV down and my Dad would get all flustered. It was never a dull moment. In church our family always sat in the same spot. It was on the right side half way back with the best view of the pulpit. My Mom sat on the edge and we all fell in line like good troops following their leader. When my kids were small they all bargained for a spot right next to my Mom because after all she was Nana. But not Alex he had a fondness for my Dad and even though he was tiny he gravitated to him, I think it was his gentle soul. Oh I have my favorite spot on the couch too it is in direct view of the TV about 6 feet but no more than 8 feet the coffee table about 28 inches from my reach so I don’t have to strain to grab my drink with ice. I admit I like to eat right there and it fits my body. It’s my spot. When I come home the one usually sitting IN MY SPOT is Shannon and she always gives me a hard time moving out OF MY SPOT because she thinks it’s her Spot. Don’t worry I am not going to make you all move to illustrate a point; besides you all are in a pretty good spot right as I speak. In the TV show the big bang theory the character Sheldon has a favorite spot and he will not let anyone sit there. One day his roommate and his friend were fooling around with a paint gun and shot a paintball on the couch where Sheldon sits, they ruined his spot and so throughout the show he is trying to figure out how to reconcile the situation he finds himself in. I love that show. So as we turn to our Bible passage today we find Paul talking to us. In verse 6 he writes “By grace we have been saved, and are raised us up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. So you see Jesus has a spot for us to sit and the spot is right next to him, imagine what that spot looks like, talking about comfy. So some of us have been talking about the idea of congregational growth, a couple weeks ago you heard Eric talk about the mission and vision of Byron. The concern was the deficit that you are facing but really what came out of some of the heartfelt discussions was how to grow the congregation. Which means if we want to grow there is some work to do. How do we take the Scripture and use it so we can tell others, that that they have a spot here in our church where they can feel at home? Don’t you think this means teaching each other as a community how to evangelize together. People are not gong to just show up, what’s Paul telling us? How do we get the people in our community to realize that they are welcome at Byron? Where they can get comfortable. In the first half of the scripture reading Paul is telling us that we have not been on target when it has come to our lives and that Jesus is the only mature one and through humility we realize we are not fully mature. But how do we live in our humility and create a gift, so others in our midst will see we can become friends, with those who feel we might be above them. Because many times and I think you have had some of these conversations. People who don’t come to church sometimes have an impression that we (the church goer) looks down upon them. Part of the process of finding that most comfortable spot next to Jesus on the couch is realizing how we can use our humble faith to reach out and evangelize to our community. And after all what does evangelize mean? It’s simple really, to profess your faith, or to just tell people what you believe. The other word Paul uses in the first half of the reading is the word trespass which translated from the Greek means to slip or a fall. See Christ took the one spot none of us wants to sit at it’s the one most uncomfortable of all it’s the spot right in the middle of our sin. How do we convey the message to our secular community that Jesus took their spot in sin so they can have a better view when they are finally with him?
The first way I already mentioned, that is being humble, the second one is what I have talked about to you already from the pulpit and that is being confident in yourself, so you can be effective at evangelizing. Confidence is like a shield it deflects the negative and lets in the positive, when we work in the community like some of you did yesterday with the food distribution you did it with confidence, Byron is a church that operates with a humble confidence and when the people of the community come they are surely impressed. A third word that I think is important is the word grace. That word makes me feel good because 1. I like receiving grace and 2, I love giving grace. Don’t you think our spot will be more comfortable when Jesus says to us “Hey you are a great grace giver”. UH NO NOT GRACE AT THE TABLE! Paul is telling all of us here this morning that we were dead in our transgression and sins, that we all lived among them that we were with the disobedient and craving the things of the flesh. See to me this is an example of the disconnection from God. But the cool thing is we have been down that road, I bet all of you have a story about being disconnected from our faith, I sure do. But I love what Paul says to us in VS4 “But God being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loves us made us alive together with Christ”. The beautiful thing is the word together; we are alive together with Christ. I think this is where the maturation process comes to fruition. Because together this church can go into the community to do work. By being the church together we can tell stories, help mend fences, teach children, repair roofs, and do all the things church does so it can grow in size and be the vision you have. The last word that I think is important to talk about is talent. I can say without a doubt it is not a question of talent but where can we as a church together best use our talents so we can have congregational growth. I remember when I was young, a good little troop, sitting next to my Mom in our spot, at church, and I said to Mom, Mom where is everybody? See little did I know there was a bit of a disturbance in the leadership of the church at the time and what did I know I was small. I do know there was something amiss though, because no one was there. But slowly the tide turned. Part of it was leadership we had a new pastor come. But the real reason things turned around was because of the people sitting in the pews. There was talent there just like there is talent here. I know because of humility, grace, confidence, and talent you all can take this church any place you want it to. How many of you feel comfortable in your spot? Do you think there is room for you move to make room for others? See your spot is already waiting for you next to Jesus. He took care of that so we don’t have to worry.
One final thought, as we approach Easter this passage has a very Easter feel to it. Paul talks about our life of sin, but because of grace and Jesus sacrifice on the cross we have new life. By being authentic in our worship and using our natural talents we can show the community that Byron loves God, is motivated by the Holy Spirit, and lives the best It can by the model Jesus has taught. Well I will tell you I am looking forward to going home and sitting in my spot that is if Shannon does not go and sit there first. Thanks are to GOD!