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“Dressed for Action” (August 7, 2014)

This sermon can also be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/lcm.lakewood/

Luke 12:32-40

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A week ago we took 12 LCM young people up to Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp. Before that, however, we had a lot of preparation to do We had made our reservations months before. The kids participated in multiple fund-raisers. There were physical exams, immunizations to be done and forms to be filled out. There were down payments and personal accounts to be kept track of.

Lists of what to bring and what not to bring were sent. Rides up to camp were arranged. Rides back home were planned.

Then there was the packing. It can get cold at 9000 ft, so jackets and long-sleeved shirts are necessary. It’s hot during the day, so summer clothing is nLooking.for.Godeeded. Plus shoes for playing, boots for hiking, sleeping bags, bug spray, extra socks, water bottles. A lot of preparation went into this one week.

But last Sunday, 12 kids were packed and ready. 12 kids, many of whom weren’t sure what they were getting into, loaded into cars one way or another and took off for the best week of the summer.

This gospel text today would describe them as “dressed for action with their lamps lit.” When it was time for camp to start at Sky Ranch, all 12 of our kids were ready. Because they, with their parents and with the support of their church, had prepared for that week.

This convoluted gospel reading in Luke is about that. God is on the move, and we are to be ready to be part of God’s work and God’s mission when those opportunities rise up. Jesus is telling us to be ready for him to come and knock on our door so we can be part of what he’s getting ready to do. He calls us to be ready, because you never know when Jesus is going to invite us into something big. Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

So what will it be that Jesus calls us into? What big thing will God beLooking.for.God.1

doing that we need to be ready for? Racial justice? Homelessness? Children’s health? Hunger? Poverty? Or something we haven’t thought about yet? A major project that will take years, or a small act that may seem almost trivial? Whatever it is, be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

Last week we took part in some reconciliation with the Police Department and the African American community. There was some real energy around that. Part of it was one worship, so the room had more people, but there was more going on. God’s work of unity and reconciliation was being accomplished. Jesus came and knocked on our door. And I think we were ready. I think that we were dressed for action with our lamps lit. Jesus knocked, we opened the door, and a little more unity—a little more reconciliation came into the world. That’s what Jesus is making available to us. This is what he’s telling us to be prepared for. Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

For the children at Molholm Elementary, Green Mountain Elementary, and throughout Jeffco who may have to start school without school supplies, Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

For the homeless who may sleep tonight with empty stomachs, Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

For those around the world with no means of feeding themselves, Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

For those who are pushed around by bullies on the playground, or by employers who care more for profit than decency, or by local governments who cater to the powerful rather than defend the powerless, Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

When Jesus comes knocking, be ready to open the door. When God moves in compassion, be prepared to follow.

It’s one thing to talk about being ready, another to actually do the prep work. The best way is to be able to recognize God at work. You can’t join God if you don’t see God. So rather than focusing on the darkness and the evil and the hatred that get so much of the attention around us, we can also look for the mercy, the compassion, the kindness, the efforts to bring peace and reconciliation that are happening right now. Watch for those, pay attention. God is doing this all around us—we need to see them.

So that we can be ready to join God in them.

To help us be dressed for action with our lamps lit, we have Looking for God booklets today. This is an idea from my friend Alexa Schroeder from Sky Ranch. I encourage you to pick one up and use it. It’s quite simple: each page has a different characteristic of God on it. Each day you watch for that characteristic happening, and you jot it down. For instance, day 1 is “Joyfulness.” On day 1 watch for something joyful, because that is God at work. Perhaps you can even join God in bringing joy to someone else that day. It’s amazing that when you’re looking for something you begin to see it. Being dressed for action with our lamps lit starts very simply. Watch for Jesus.

We had 12 kids watching for camp to begin. They knew it was happening so they could be ready.

We are people who are watching for God in action. We can know it’s happening so we can be ready.

God is at work in our world. God invites us to join in. Get ready. Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

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Posted by on August 10, 2016 in Sermon

 

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“Jesus Shows Up Anyway,” 3 Easter C, John 21:1-19

John 21:1-19

1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

There are a lot of distractions in this text from John. But that’s kind of the way John is. There’s always a whole bunch of things going on at the same time. It’s easy to get sidetracked from the main point because there are so many fun little details that surely mean something.

Why was Peter naked? Why did he feel a need to put “on” clothes before jumping into the sea?

If Jesus was already cooking fish, why did he ask the disciples to bring some of theirs?

Is there some hidden meaning to exactly 153 fish they caught?

There’s a whole lot more. And, although they can be fun to play with, and sometimes even meaningful, the downside is that we can end up spending so much time on those details that we lose the main point the author is trying to make.

Which is that this chapter was added to tie up some loose ends, and in this text, particularly with Peter. Other than a quick look into the empty tomb, the last time we heard from Peter in this gospel was his denial of Jesus during Jesus’ trial.

Peter wasn’t a very good disciple, really. He never understands, never accepts things. He always messes things up and makes things worse. Plus, he not only denied knowing Jesus, he didn’t believe Jesus was raised, and he abandoned his discipleship.

So we get to wrap up some loose ends with Peter, since he was one of the leaders of this new, emerging church.

In this text, Peter went back to his old life, fishing, perhaps thinking he can be of no real use anymore. Even if Jesus is raised from the dead, Peter surely won’t be needed. So he abandons his discipleship.

Yet Jesus shows up. After Peter’s denial, disbelief, and abandonment, Jesus shows up on the seashore. Rather than reprimand Peter or demand he shape up, Jesus helps him with his fishing. “Put your nets out on the other side of the boat,” he yells.

And the catch of fish is amazing. More than that, Jesus fixes breakfast for them. And then he gives Peter this magnificent opportunity to understand that he’s forgiven. Jesus asks him to express his love three times, the same number of times he denied knowing Jesus. And he asks Peter to feed his sheep three times. Peter not only is forgiven, but has a new purpose with Jesus.

But that’s still not all. Jesus shares that Peter will die giving glory to God. And if it all isn’t clear yet, Jesus finishes with Peter by inviting him to follow him.

That seems like a lot of trouble for Jesus to go through, but that’s really the point. We may have given up on God, on Jesus, on the church. But Jesus won’t give up on us. We may think we’re too far gone to be redeemed. We may have lost hope that we can be of use, but Jesus shows up in our lives anyway.

It’s as if Jesus understands that we’re trying our best, and our best isn’t good enough. He understands that no matter how much effort we put into being faithful disciples, we just can’t seem to get it right. And that’s when Jesus shows up on our shore.

When we don’t understand, when we’re confronted with the realization that we aren’t such great disciples after all, that’s when Jesus calls out to us.

Jesus knows that we deny him when we hoard our possessions. He knows that when we make discipleship about us we turn our backs on him. And that’s when he meets us in a meal: fish cooked on a charcoal fire, bread and wine served in worship.

Jesus has seen us tear others down. He’s watched as we say unkind things about others. He’s fully aware that we put our own comfort and our own priorities ahead of his. And that’s when he gives us a chance to say we love him.

We’re no better than Peter, who denied, disbelieved, and abandoned Jesus. Yet Jesus shows up, loves us, forgives us, and invites us again to follow.

Who among us has ever realized we’re not the greatest disciples? Jesus is calling you.

Who among us has felt utterly helpless, lost, and doesn’t know where to go? Jesus is showing up for you.

Who among us has been afraid to even think about how we might be failing? Jesus is inviting you to eat a meal with him.

Who among us has yet to take our discipleship seriously? Jesus is asking you to follow him.

There’s the details of John’s gospel, but then there’s the main point. Jesus, the Christ, shows up for you, forgives you, eats with you, and invites you. Jesus comes to you, because he loves you. And you are worth it.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2016 in Sermon

 

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