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Archive for the ‘Revelation’ Category

Rev. 21:5

“New”

 

1.  Way In

Bad set-up

expected to preach, have church

“hold y’all captive” while we all know what good food there is over there

(I’m standing in front of the serving tables, already laden with food)

not going to start naming them all

but you all have famous dishes you bring

So I’m not going to keep you too long

just a few things I want to cover with you

“New”

that’s what it says, the sermon title

another short one, the title anyway

Did I tell you I have all the answers?

no, I don’t think so

Did I tell you I would get the church back to the “glory days?”

don’t think so

Did I tell you I would get the sanctuary and SS rooms back to full”

don’t remember doing that

maybe y’all thought so, thought you heard me say it

Well, here’s what I do have

God’s word for us

and today, the word is …

sounds like Sesame Street

today’s program is brought to you by the number 3

and the letters “N” “E”, and “W”

and that’s the word for today     Newnew

2.  Tell the Story

This is the part of the sermon where I give you some background on the text

if you could see my outline, it’s Roman Numeral II

“Tell the Story”

today, we’re in Revelation, last book of the Bible

what I want you to know

Revelation, not Revelations

just one

author is John

same author as the Gospel, and letters 1, 2, 3?

generally not assumed so

author only identifies self as a servant of God (1:1)

remember how the Gospel writer likes to remind us he’s the disciple Jesus loves?

none of that here

style isn’t similar to the Gospel writer

could be a member of the Johannine community

“associated” with the apostle John and his teachings

writer calls this piece of literature a “revelation,”

first word is  apokaluyij

such a narrative was customarily written to reflect on

the present evil age and the future age of blessing

there is much more to be said about the book of Revelation

most of that will have to wait for another day

I’d have a revolt on my hands if I tried to keep y’all

from this picnic for that long

the speaker in our selection from chapt. 21 is God

v. 7, “I will be their God and they will be my people.”

Here is what God says in the 21st chapt. of this revelation

“See I am making all things new”

and that’s our sermon text today

3.  So What?

“See I am making all things new”

God said it

not just here, Isaiah, “I am about to do a new thing” (43:19)

Jesus says he gives a new commandment

“love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34)

but it wasn’t all that new

invoked the relational foundation of the 10 commandments

based in love, as we know God’s steadfast love

God said, “I am making all things new”

but we’ve been stuck ever since

doing the same old thing, but expecting something new to happen

I’m talking about the church here, not about God

not like I have any new ideas for God – he doesn’t need me like that

but I wonder what God has in mind for the church

The Church – universal  … or the church – SFPC

how do we know church today is what God wants it to be?

some comfort that God hasn’t blown us over

although with that storm Tuesday night I wondered

seriously, what’s really changed?

worship

how long has the preacher stood up front, talking

the congregation sits, listening

choir sings, then the people

celebrate the sacraments

Sunday School

relatively new thing

18th cent., England   19th cet., America

committees, business, etc.

another relatively new thing

still pretty old model, concept

Don’t mean to just offer criticism here – of “the” church or “our” church

but I do think it’s important – critical

to always keep this word before us

there are churches in town that have more people in worship than we do – some that have fewer than us

are they right?  are we right?  are we wrong?   are they wrong?

it’s not about right or wrong

it’s about faithful, and listening to God

doing our best to be the church

to be a community of faith

living out the Good News of the gospel

with a “listening heart” (last week)  for God’s will

and questioning “the way we’ve always done it”

because that might not be the way we need to do it now

maybe there’s a new thing

Before I sound all negative let me say I think we’re doing a lot right

stepped outside the box calling me as Designated for 3 years

took a chance on a new model of pastoral call (new for you, anyway)

been trying your best to keep an effective Hispanic Ministry together

looking even this year how to do a “new way” with that

Mission Committee

diligently seeking more “hands-on” opportunities to enhance our strong history of benevolence

Central Zone

developing relationship with our schoolhouse neighbor

Munch Bunch, new way to provide for the children God says, “I am doing a new thing”

you introduced multi-media system in worship

that’s a new thing

working out well

we open the doors every Tuesday night

for some 50 years now, I’m told

to recovering alcoholics who gather in the church building

to receive what they need from each other

living sober, one day at a time

Big Event

Christmas Concert, Muleskinner Concert

Art Fair next Saturday

 VBS was a huge success

and we offer siginificant resources to Kirkmont in the summer

Sarah directing Sports Camp, with me as her willing assistant

This is the question I keep wanting us to ask

God says, “I am doing a new thing”

what are we doing about that?

are we

where we need to be?

the right size?

doing what God calls us to do in …

mission

CE

Outreach

Fellowship

Leadership Development

Two images

the Church, as observed by Rob Bell in his book about re-thinking the Christian church in the 21st century entitled Velvet Elvis

what he describes here is the church desperately trying to hold on to old assumptions and practices to perpetuate the institution

One summer, Rob – then in high school, on family vacation

family visited a local church

end of the service, Pastor asked if anybody wanted to become a Xn

invited people to pray with him from where they were

said if you prayed this prayer you could be sure

of going to heaven and not hell

allowed time for silent preparation and prayer

Pastor told everybody to keep heads bowed and eyes closed

asked those who prayed the prayer to raise their hand

“keep your seats, just raise your hand if you prayed”

he was looking for the ones who ‘got saved’

told them nobody else would be looking

said, “I see that hand over there.  Thank you.”

“there’s a hand in the back, thank you”

“here’s three people up front, thank you”

continued acknowledging people all over the room

during this whole time, Rob Bell said he kept his eyes open

watching the whole thing

“I didn’t see any hands go up”

Years later, Robs father reminded him of that day

said he had his eyes open the whole time, too

only he was not watching for hands

he was watching his son

when he realized what was going on

and that his son saw it all

he had a sick feeling

that his son would walk away from God and the church

Rob said he has seen plenty done in the name of God, the he’s sure God wanted nothing to do with

and he believes he has a choice

to be bitter and cynical, jaded and hard

in fact that’s easy to do

many have

in fact, it’s easier that caring

just write off the church

as an old dinosaur

on its last legs

not making a difference

Here’s the other image

we can pull up to the table

that’s where Jesus did his best work

around the table

eating with friends, strangers, tax collectors, prostitutes

eating with enemies

and as we figure out how to prepare a banquet like that

and more important, to invite others to join us

then, we begin to figure out what it means to practice hospitality

throwing a dinner

and bringing something besides a covered dish and a chair

bringing somebody with us to share in faith

and to share in the life and ministry of the church

I don’t have all the answers, but I have a good start at the questions

and as we begin to seriously ask ourselves …

who do we believe God is calling us to be as a church

a community of faith

the Body of Christ

and what’s holding us back from the new thing God is doing

 

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