Sunday, May 26, 2013

To Make Disciples

• It's been a joy today to baptize baby Aubrey and receive Andy and Kristin as members (first time commitment for Kristin). A&K along with congregation will teach Aubrey about discipleship, about living with Jesus not as advisor or guide but Lord and Savior. Possible she may become an accountant like her dad or a teacher like her mom, but the possibilities are endless.
Some things you get by heritage. Eye color, height, something of build. My daughter wonders whether she’ll be taller than my wife, and we sure don’t know. Both of her grandmothers are short, and both of her grandfathers are tall.

Some things you don’t get by heritage. My dad’s a doctor, but you wouldn’t want me to be responsible for your life in the operating room.
Discipleship is similar. I am not a Christian by heritage any more than I’m a doctor by heritage. I am a follower of Christ by choice and study and action. Discipleship is a living thing, and as such needs fed and exercised.

• In today’s reading from Luke Jesus calls the disciples “apostles,” which means “sent”, which means that there’s an expectation or original intent that discipleship be more than study and action, that it mature and bear fruit.
We see some fruit in Acts 8 as Peter and John (who were named in Luke 6) catch up with Philip (also named in Luke 6) in Samaria where he’s been proclaiming Christ and restoring people to wholeness of life.
• Back to Luke, Jesus asks his hearers to compare two valuable things: wholeness of life versus pious practice of faith. Shall the law supersede human need? Shall the observation of Sabbath require hungry people to deny themselves simple gleaning? Or shall a man be healed even though it is the Sabbath? Jesus challenges his hearers to consider how the practice of their faith honors God.
Both Sabbath controversies set God’s command to observe the Sabbath in conflict with the command to love one’s neighbor. Which takes precedence, the duty of Sabbath rest or the duty to feed the hungry and heal the sick? Can the love of God be separated from and juxtaposed with the love of neighbor, or is the love of neighbor an expression of our love of God? … Can one honor God if one neglects human need? Or does not the Sabbath require that we take initiative to restore those who are hungry or sick to wholeness and health? – from the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, p.135-6.
• The choice to follow Jesus is to choose to imitate Jesus and to share with others the life-giving kingdom of God, a way of living that reveres and honors God while actively loving neighbors. Discipleship is a living thing, and the church is its body.
• Rise up, O church of God! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of Kings… End the night of wrong… make great the church… Follow Jesus.

• Hymn 293 Rise Up, O Church of God

Sunday, May 5, 2013


On Luke 5:27-39, the calling of Levi; Jesus questioned about fasting.
• Immanuel means “God is with us” and once again we have confirmation and assurance of that in these Gospel readings. Good thing God is with us because as Jesus said, the righteous don’t need a savior, only sinners, and we all know and would agree and testify, I think, that There is no one who is righteous (Romans 3:10) and All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
My 10-yo-daughter has been wearing a cast on her arm (thumb to bicep) for a week now and she’ll tell you how excited she is for 2pm tomorrow when she gets a *blue* cast. Jesus is like her cast: As long as she’s got a broken bone, she needs a cast, and there it is! It’s a good thing. It changes how she lives, it gives her a new perspective and outlook, and others can see there’s something different about her. But as long as that bone is broken, she needs a cast. As long as I am a sinner, I need Jesus, and thank God, Jesus, Immanuel, God-with-us is with us.
Some day, maybe five weeks from now, my daughter won’t need that cast anymore. God will have knit her bones together again, and actually they’ll eventually be stronger at the break point because of the scar tissue. And that’s got God written all over it, too. Through some suffering we become stronger, and though Jesus ascended into heaven (the cast is gone) we are left with the Holy Spirit (the healed spot) and are stronger because of the adversity.
Who’s a sinner? Everyone. 
Who needs Jesus? Sinners, that is, everyone. 
How much? Always.
• 2 weeks ago we started chapter 5 with Jesus calling Peter to be his disciple, and we said these two things: that Jesus seeks relationships with broken people, and that Jesus wants to use you in making disciples. Well we see more of that today. Earlier, Jesus called four fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, John) to join him and “fish for people.” If Jesus stopped there, a person might conclude that being a fisherman is what Jesus is looking for in a disciple, but that would be a little ridiculous. Levi, also known as Matthew, is called by Jesus in today’s passage. He’s not a fisherman but a tax collector. Where the fishermen might not have been much for scholars, might not have been good readers or fluent communicators or men of wealth, it’s likely that Levi knew his reading and arithmetic  and we find out he’s a man of means, cuz he throws a banquet for Jesus when he becomes a disciple.
• I want to stop there for a second, by the way. 
What’re the first two things Levi does when Jesus says “follow me”? 
1) he follows him, and 
2) he arranges a way to introduce Jesus to his friends and peers. 
And his friends and peers are a different crowd than the fishermen, and they’re a different crowd than the church people, and what does that mean? More people may come to know Jesus. 
• So. Levi tells other tax collectors about Jesus. Other fishermen follow Jesus because of Peter. Who do you think might introduce Jesus to accountants? Or nurses? Or farmers? Any sinners among them? How about SAHMs? Or bikers? Who might introduce Jesus to your coworkers? By the way, this isn’t a hierarchy thing here, like tax collectors are better than fishermen or vice versa, there’s a strengthening of the body, a broadening of the witness, because all need Jesus.
• There’s a bit of like-attracts-like theme here, and instead of being celebrated by the church people, it gets questioned. “Why’s he eating with them?” Honestly? Because, like you, they need Jesus, and they need someone to introduce them.
• Notice that if Jesus is at the center, by the way, the direction people have to go to follow Jesus depends on where they start. Jesus is saying something about that when he talks about the old and new wine and wineskins, and the different kinds of cloth for patching, and when to fast and when to feast. Though all need Jesus, all come to Jesus in different ways, and that’s good.
• So let’s celebrate that Jesus is always with us, that he meets our needs, and that he calls us to be involved in discipleship with the people around us.

• straight in to communion liturgy