April 13, 2015

Sermon Byron New York


It has been about a month since I last preached to you. There certainly has been a lot happening in our Biblical story over the last month. Sometimes I feel like suspending time. So I can better absorb what is happening in my faith. Don’t you ever feel this way? I have heard people talk about the events happening in their secular lives and how they would like to slow time down either to get something done or be able to spend time doing something they love. How many have you said out loud or to yourself “Gee if I could just have an hour more sleep I know I can do this or that better or my life will be more organized”. I am the type of person who lives in the moment and if I can’t stop that moment or feel satisfied that I learned or received what I need then I feel uncomfortable and have a hard time moving on to the next moment. In this Easter season have you had moments that you are still in, is there a place you still are even though time has passed. So I am here to tell you today that I am still in the Palm Sunday moment. I feel as if this year, this event has gripped me more than anything else this Easter season. I usually move from Palm Sunday to Maundy Thursday to Good Friday and then to the glorious Easter Sunday. But not this year. I am in the crowd watching Jesus enter into Jerusalem with huge expectations of what is to come in the next few hours, weeks, months, and years. I know how exceptional my King will be. I am still there placing down my best rugs and I am waving my palm leaves, worshipping my liberator my expectation of freedom is off the charts. During this moment I realized how much of an expectation I have and I am also coming the realization the people around me have huge expectations of Jesus also. What had happened to me is that all through Easter week I struggled with my expectation of Jesus and that when Good Friday came the same people who had huge expectations on Palm Sunday are the same ones screaming crucifixion on Friday. What happened in those short days that could turn people’s glories expectations into hatred? I started wondering about my own expectations, I wondered about my church in Gates, my family, those I work with, Jim’s expectation of me, and I then thought of you. I am still in this moment of wonder, what are your expectations? But we can’t stay in these moments can we? We have to move on because life moves on, there is always the next significant happening in our lives and there is the next significant happening in our faith. But as we continue to move and if you’re like me, you continue to reflect, and bring those reflections to the present time. My reflection this Easter season if you have not been able to tell is expectation. In today’s reading we find the word commandment spoken 4 times. I think the word commandment brings expectation there is a relation between the two words. So here is our new moment, a new time in this Easter season to explore what john is telling us for our life. Scholars believe that John wrote this letter no later than about 90ad. During this time Christ’s story and message is becoming more widespread. By now people are starting to understand what Jesus has done for them. And we of course understand what he had done for us too. Because of this we can be expected to act accordingly when John says lay down our lives for the brothers, I for one believe this is a universal brother, one only has to believe in God. To open our reading with such a huge expectation can be overwhelming. But after all being a Christian, living a life of faith, being different is not always easy is it? When John talks of closing your hearts against him I think this really speaks to us as Americans. We are privileged to live in a country where there is an abundance of wealth. How often have we seen others in need, what is the expectation of us to those in need, (spiritually, financially, befriending those). Is there not an expectation of giving of our spiritual wealth to those who don’t believe or believe differently? What is the expectation when we know deep in our souls that God’s love abides in us? We are sometimes like little children in action and deed. We can be jealous and envious. Taking instead of giving. We have to rise above this act of immaturity. The expectation for us today is to become aware, that talking about love is not good enough. We are called to act. I think back to verse 16 and the idea of what Christ did on the cross. When we live up to the expectation of the cross we exhibit truth, we exhibit the giving of our heart, because it is reassured by and before him. God knows us. Sometimes we let ourselves down don’t we. We don’t live up to our own expectations. We have a vision for how much money we want, what our kids will turn out to be, our marriages is supposed be like. Sometimes more often than not we are let down because our expectations cannot be met. But it’s ok to have an expectation in Christ and the Father and even the Holy Spirit. We are human there will be times of darkness the beautiful thing is that out of that darkness is an expectation and a gift of grace., when we are able to reconcile our fears and the things that keep us from being a confident Christian we will stop the condemnation of ourselves. If we are busy with filling our heads with doubt then we lose focus on what is afforded to us by the cross. Reconciliation of our heart creates confidence and an expectation that we can go before God with a joy in our hearts. I want to encourage you to ask things from God. Some will say you are being selfish if you ask for things you want or need. If we are doing our best to live by Matthew Chapter 28 vs. 19 (the great commission) when you show your living Mark Chapter 12 vs. 30-31 (the great commandment), when our lives become what Jesus says in Luke Chapter 6 vs. 27-31 (to love your enemy) then your prayers will be answered. The people of God (us) have made a covenent with him (God). We both have expectations from each other. You, yourself, as an individual can make a covenant with God with prayer and conversation. Ask and talk with God about what is your need. This prayer will build you up and will please God, both fulfilling the expectations of each other. If you were following with your bible you would be able to follow each verse as I spoke. I have wrote and commented on each verse and now have come to verse 23. Through the process of living the 7 previous verses you will be able to follow this commandment in vs. 23. THAT WE BELIEVE IN THE NAME OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER JUST AS HE COMMANDED US. We will be able to love one another easier, look past the presuppositions we have of others, we will be able to squash our bias, we will be able to accept those who love, live, and see the world and people differently, we will fill the expectations we have for ourselves, Christ, God, and this will let the H.S. move through our lives with ease. Commandments = expectations, sometimes those are not always wrote out for us. Sure we have the 10. But it seems there is more to it. Especially now in this century with everything going on in our culture, we don’t always have a clear picture. These 8 verses of 1st john is a way of life that has become a blueprint in how we can navigate the murky waters of our time. I don’t have lofty expectations anymore in how my life will be lead in the secular world. Well that’s not entirely true I still expect a properly made pizza. I think I can let go of that Palm Sunday expectation, I don’t have to be stuck that moment. Jesus Christ has not let me down!