Sunday, June 25, 2017

On Chocolate Chip Cookies, Grace, and Righteousness

Second Sunday in Kingdomtide
with Romans 6:1-11  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk

• Last week (June 17) marked the 114th bday of Ruth Graves Wakefield, inventor of the chocolate chip cookie. Did you know it was a mistake?
RGW wanted to make chocolate cookies but she ran out of cocoa powder so she smashed a chocolate bar into tiny chunks and added those to the dough, thinking they’d become homogenous like cocoa powder.
Delicious mistake as the chocolate chunks remained distinct.
She eventually sold her recipe to Toll House.
Throughout and distinct are some useful images for thinking about sin and righteousness. We tend to think of sins as distinct. Chocolate chips. Something distinct we can see, point out, confess, repent for, have removed.
Sinfulness is more like cocoa powder: not easily separable but throughout, uniform.
• YET we also intuitively know that sinfulness is throughout (like cocoa powder) because we feel like surely God can’t remove OUR sinfulness… not really, not completely. 
We think more of God’s forgiveness like the candy coat of an M&M. Perfectly covered… but we’re still sinful inside.
Jesus refers to this as whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27),
looks nice on the outside but there’s death inside.
 • There IS death inside
...or at least, there WAS.
Paul tells us in Romans 6 that through baptism we have been fully united with Christ, and that the sinfulness that was formerly through and through within us DIED WITH CHRIST on the cross and it’s DEAD AND GONE now.
Our sin is not candycoated but completely removed through and through (picture a uniform sugar cookie. Or maybe white chocolate if you want the chocolate image).
We have been perfectly redeemed, and Paul’s prayer is that we would understand how perfectly redeemed Christ has made us. (I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph 3:18-19)

• I worked at Subway when I was in college. One summer my town was an overnight host for RAGBRAI, a bike-ride across Iowa. Thousands of people invade little towns in Iowa for 24 hours at a time. It can be a great economic boon.
Our Subway did not just prepare for high volume, but went out to the crowds with sandwiches in hand. Our Subway did not just wait for people to come in, but it went out to meet the people.
As redeemed Christians, we can tend the light of God by inviting people to come into our sanctuary for worship…
...or we can BEAR the light of God by going out to meet the people.
• Be bearers not just tenders, and live for God with your life (Rom 6:10).

 • Hymn 121 There’s A Wideness In God’s Mercy

Romans 6:1-11 (CEB)    6 So what are we going to say? Should we continue sinning so grace will multiply? Absolutely not! All of us died to sin. How can we still live in it? Or don’t you know that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we were buried together with him through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life. If we were united together in a death like his, we will also be united together in a resurrection like his. This is what we know: the person that we used to be was crucified with him in order to get rid of the corpse that had been controlled by sin. That way we wouldn’t be slaves to sin anymore, because a person who has died has been freed from sin’s power. But if we died with Christ, we have faith that we will also live with him. We know that Christ has been raised from the dead and he will never die again. Death no longer has power over him. 10 He died to sin once and for all with his death, but he lives for God with his life. 11 In the same way, you also should consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus. ò

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Getting In Alignment

• Second Sunday in Kingdomtide
with Romans 5:1-8  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk

• I had “dad jokes” on the church sign for Father’s Day, but when I knew that Bville was hosting a soccer tournament I changed the message to welcome soccer families. Part of witness.
(tells a few "dad jokes")
But my family’s favorite joke… There was a fellow in the UK, standing by the side of the road, hoping for a ride. He had a sign around his neck that said “London.” This guy only had one leg, and he had no arms, and he had a third eye smack in the middle of his forehead. Well, a driver pulled over, opened the door [and you gotta say this part out loud] and said “ay, ay, ay, you look (h)armless, (h)op in!”
One time my mom told the joke and she forgot the punchline and said “Hey, you don’t look dangerous, get in!”
• Romans 5 begins with “Therefore…” First four chapters Paul’s been setting the scene, laying the foundation: 
Jesus is perfectly sufficient for salvation. 
There is nothing we must or even can add
to what Jesus has done for us.
God is interested in relationship
and it’s all possible because of Jesus.
• Therefore since we have been made righteous…
     1, this is a thing that has already happened, a door that has been opened and is now open.
     2, righteous. In line with intent, perfectly. [visual illustration of righteousness: two items not lined up with each other – that’s sin, that’s us out of line. Jesus, however, is perfectly aligned with the goal, the intent – Jesus is righteous – and Jesus lines us up properly, brings us into righteousness.]
• …through his faithfulness…
     3, the door has been opened, we have been properly aligned
         because Jesus did it first. And Jesus did it perfectly.
• …and the result is peace with God.
• Verse 3, we take pride in our problems…
A few weeks ago I asked about blessing, and asked for thumbs up / down about various situations. “So-and-so blessed with addiction” got a thumbs down.
But I’ll tell you as one who has personally glimpsed the power of alcohol addiction I count it a blessing because my experience drove me to rely on God & took me where I could not take myself. The door has been opened and I am in closer alignment with God’s intent, and had I not faced my own shortcomings I would not know that peace.
• And this is the gift of God.
• Recall the hitchhiker joke… the man is not on the road, is not in alignment, and lacks the ability to get the peace, get the result of alignment and a vehicle.
The driver gives the gift, has the power, is interested in relationship.
God sees us in our helpless state and says Hop in.
• Aside, that’s sort of like the book The Pursuing God (still time to join us)
• The goal and purpose of our church
is to encourage others in the journey,
to position ourselves and others
to receive the blessings of God.
 Hymn 338 Where He Leads Me I Will Follow

Romans 5:1-8 (CEB)
Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. It isn’t often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. ò