- November 22
Read Revelation 1:4-8
A couple of years ago I shared with you about our backpacking trip that
went awry. The main problem
was the trail all of a sudden disappeared.
We could see the lake we wanted to get to, but the trail was gone.
In that valley, between where the trail had disappeared and the
lake below, a series of large avalanches had changed the topography of
that whole valley. So the
trail which existed on the map I had used to plan our trip no longer
existed. We tried to forge on
ahead without a trail, but it was just too difficult.
Later when I looked at the map I noticed that the geological survey
used to make that particular map took place in the 1960ís.
So I quickly learned that following a map based on 40 year old
information was not a good idea.
Maps are one type of guide for this life that we live.
These days instead of maps we may follow directions from Map-quest
or a GPS. I havenít had this
problem for several years, but when I first starting using Map-quest on a
couple of different occasions the directions did not get me where I needed
to go. I learned that I needed
to cross reference my Map-quest directions with another source of
information because they too might lead me down the wrong path.
Of course men have never had this experience because we donít
ever stop and ask for directions, but how often have you stopped at a gas
station to get directions and the person gives you directions that get you
more lost than you were before. Humans
can lead us astray just as readily as a map.
Of course, as we all know following our own path, our own
perspectives, our own insights can get us just as lost as following
someone elseís. We often are
our own worst enemy when it comes to setting a good course to follow in
this life. So is there really
any safe person, or map, or gadget to follow?
Beacon: This spring the elders and deacons decided upon a
big, hairy, audacious goal. It
has been up on the screen during the announcements.
are a beacon that:
a path of hope and peace.
out to beckon and guide people to a safe harbor.
and responds to the needs of our community.
When we look at this statement in reference to the topic of
following; the audacity of this goal becomes quite clear.
We are proclaiming that we can light a path, for people, a path
filled with hope and peace. We
are proclaiming that we can point people to a safe harbor.
We are proclaiming that we have an awareness of needs in our
community and we will respond to them.
To do these things we better be following something or someone
better than my map based on 40 year old information, or map-quest, or
clerks in gas stations, or any of us for that matter.
We better follow someone worthy of following.
Last Sunday we read a passage from Matthew chapter 23.
In that text Jesus commented to a crowd about the nature of the
religious people of his day. He
said, follow their teaching, but donít follow them.
That seems like good advice when dealing with humanity.
So whoís teaching then can we point people to?
Whose teaching lights a path of hope and peace?
Whose teaching guides us to a safe harbor?
Whose teaching illuminates the needs around us and calls us to
respond? Whose teaching will
Matthew 28 suggests that the path we want to follow is the path or
the way of Jesus. The teaching
we want to follow and point others to is the teaching of Jesus.
In the Revelation passage and in the Matthew passage we hear how
Jesus has the authority and the power over heaven and earth and how Jesus
has been, is now, and will forever be the truth.
The way of Jesus is the way that leads to life, hope, peace, and
safety. Why would we not want
to follow Jesus? Why would we
ever choose to follow our own way, or the way of technology, or the way of
the culture? Does it not make
sense to claim Jesus as the one we are going to follow?
Does it not make sense to give Jesus the role of King over our
Christ Our King:
Every year on the church calendar the Sunday before Advent marks Christ
Our King Sunday. I think this
idea of Christ being our king is particularly problematic for us because
as Americans we are skeptical of kings at best and most likely just plain
opposed to the whole idea of kingship.
As you sit here this morning how does the idea of following Christ
as your King sit with you?
Of course one truly radical aspect of Christís Kingship is that
Jesus does not force his Kingship on us.
Jesus gives us the freedom to choose Christ as King.
That in and of itself setís Jesus apart as a very different kind
of king. Have you chosen
Christ as your King? Is Christ
the way you follow?
Lord of the Rings:
One of my favorite stories is Tolkienís Lord of the Rings
Trilogy. It is a powerful
story filled with Gospel truth. There
is a particular scene I want to share with you.
In this scene, The Dark Lord, Saran, is about to set his over
powering army loose to wipe out the remnant of those who seek the light.
As this small remnant appears to be on the brink of destruction,
Aragorn, their future king speaks to them.
Fear to Hope, Purpose, and Passion:
The fear in the eyes and posture of everyone is vivid.
But then as Aragorn delivered his speech that visible fear turned
to hope, purpose, and passion.
Fear is the enemy of faith. Fear
is what holds us back in our following of Christ as individuals and as a
church. Fear gets us to hold
on to habits, and beliefs, and traditions that prevent us from growing
personally, loving boldly, and witnessing passionately.
Fear limits our singing. Fear
blinds us as we read scripture. Fear
deafens us to Godís voice as we pray.
Fear numbs us to the injustice all around us.
Fear erodes our self image so we downplay or even reject the
talents God has given us. Fear
causes us to hoard our resources. Fear
teaches us that it is somehow inappropriate to ask our neighbor to come to
church with us. Fear prevents
us from sharing our own faith story even with the people we worship with
week after week after week. Fear
will quickly wipe out any remnant, struggling, timid group of Godís
Look around you. What
do you see in each otherís eyes? What
do you see in each otherís postures?
Do you see fear? Or do
you see hope, purpose, and passion? When
we choose to set our eyes on Christ our lives will be filled with hope,
purpose, and passion.
This week about 13 of our faith family went to Western Theological
Seminary and listened to Shane Claiborne speak.
Shane is one of the most, joyful, hopeful, purposeful, passionate
people you will ever encounter. Shane
has chosen Christ as his king.
Doug did not have an easy life.
For his whole life his eyesight progressively declined.
He went through a painful divorce.
He struggled to stay connected to his children.
He went bankrupt and lost his farm.
His eyes got so bad he lost his drivers license.
Then no one would hire him. Each
relationship he entered ended painfully.
Finally, a friend gave him a room in his already overcrowded Paw
Paw home. And yet, through all
that Doug stayed hopeful, and joyous, and passionate, and purposeful in
his living. Why, because Doug
chose Christ as his king.
Have you chosen Christ as your king? Have
I chosen Christ as my king? Have
we as a church chosen to follow Christ as our King?
As a congregation we have said, that we desire to be a beacon of
hope in this world and safe harbor for all people.
If that is truly our desire, then we will need to choose Christ as
our king, so that our fears will melt away and be replaced by hope,
purpose, and passion.
The fact is we all choose to follow someone or some thing.
Maybe it is an outdated map, a well meaning friend, or perhaps our
own good intentions. None of
those including ourselves have the power or the authority to turn our
fears into hope, purpose, and passion.
Only Christ is worth following.
Only Christ is worth choosing as king.
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