Sunday, June 7, 2009, 06:25 AM - Sermon, Podcast
Posted by Administrator
Matthew 14:25-31
1 Corinthians 1:26-29

God knows us and still chose us. Christ believes in us even when we doubt.

This message is available as a podcast recorded live at our worship service. Click the podcast image to listen now or right click the image and choose "Save As" to save this message in mp3 file format on your computer for playing later.

some ideas from Dust in the Nooma video series by Rob Bell

We have two scriptures about being chosen. In addition, John 15:16 reminds us that the disciples did not choose Jesus but Jesus chose them. Here he choose Peter to come to him walking on the water. He took a few steps and began to sink, Jesus catches him and asks him why he doubt. Rob Bell, in the Nooma video today, makes the point that Peter was not doubting Jesus, Jesus was walking on the water, he was doubting Jesus faith in him that he could walk on water as well. Think of that, Jesus having faith in us and chiding us for not having the same faith that he has in us.

First Corinthians tell us in more poetic and abstract language that God chose, low, weak and foolish in the world eyes to shame the world's values. Jesus' disciples were not the best of the brightest students, if they were they would have never been fisherman, they would have been rabbical students from their youth. It is as if a professor went out to the trade schools and picked his graduate students for a Ph.D. program. God chose the low, weak and foolish to be his A-Team. If you read the gospels, you will find the disciples were a bumbling bunch. They even deserted Jesus when he got in trouble…neither scholars or heros.

Lately I have been intrigued by who is the real person. I mean, if you commit a crime, does that define who you are? Red, in movie The Shawshank Redemption, talks about the one crime he committed, as a young man. He has served 40 years for that crime, growing old in prison.

There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try and talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone and this old man is all that's left. I got to live with that

What if the time dimension is like the other dimensions of height or depth or length? All laid out in a landscape of eternity? We are traveling through it, a little moving map point called NOW YOU ARE. Whose to say what instant, or even what year we are who we are? Are we are whole life? Who we are at work? Or as a young couple? Or as parents? Or just the end? Or the worst? Or the best?

Obituaries are a study in this struggle of defining at last who someone is. First comes the picture decision. Here is one of an 80 year old man with wrinkles and a forehead that meets his spine. Over here is a dashing young woman with hairstyle from forty years ago when the picture was taken. Another has young and old, before and after. Still another has a couple or includes a pet. All of seek to announce, “This is the person that is gone.” Now the text varies. Some have a faith statement, most list survivors, some clubs and awards, all mention services or memorial suggestions. A few have a biography as if to keep him alive or introduce her to new friends after her death. The one time I was asked about an obituary, I suggested it wasn't a place to summarize a life, but to connect with folks that knew the person, so you add clubs and survivors not as trophies, but as links to others in those organizations or those who know and care about the survivors' grief. Maybe, on the other hand, that is a way of summarizing a life, not with achievements, awards, and accomplishments—but with connections and relationships.

Today is Trinity Sunday. We didn't have the traditional Trinity readings, it is hard to find them conveniently packed together in the Bible, but what I like about the Trinity is the idea of God as relationship. The basic reality of God is one of relationship, Father to Son to Spirit to Father and back again. As the book The Shack illustrated, God is in relationship not just with you and all creation, but within his very being. To know God deeply, is not to know facts about God, or some mystic essence, but to know a relationship, to be in a relationship. It is not so much a knowing as a way of relating.

Knowing something was what the Gnostics taught was the essence of Christianity. Some secret knowledge that set you apart from everyone else. The bumper sticker, “I FOUND IT” years ago, even some churches or denominations that believe they got it and to hell with the rest of them, are the inheritors of the Gnostic heresy. How strange that a God that is relationship, to be reduced to a set of faith statements, or a salvation method, or a set of morality rules. It is like making a map with those web sites that give you a beginning and an end with one route to go between. Woe be unto you if you step off the map, the one true way to glory. GPS units are better, they let you wander but nag you to get back to their way. I set mine not to ever to say “turn around”. Annoys me. So it suggests I make three rights and then a left. We lost two carloads of Kiwanians yesterday, because their GPS took them to the closed service entrance of the Boy Scout camp. Much better than a rigid set of directions or a removed authoritarian director to have some scout the way for you, “Look, come with me! I am the way!”

How is God related to our lives and how are we related to others? A lifetime is made up of relationships. It cannot be reduced to a single point in time, a decision, an action or a statement. None of these can replace a relationship.

I gotten Facebook friend requests from people I haven't heard of since high school. Who knew that even after moving back to Akron, I would connect up with more people by computer than by face to face meetings? I look at my friends and it is like a map of my life from grade school, college, seminary, Holy Land trip, previous churches, my time on PresbyNet computer conferencing, which one of these persons and times am I, who am I?

God chose to be related to you. Not because of this incident, or that prayer. But because God is relationship and he wants to be related to you. Nothing you did earned it, and nothing you do can ruin it. There is no day that God is not with you. No time that God was not urging you to come to him, even if you doubted. God chose you, and lucky us, he chose the foolish, despised, and weak to friend.

God is relationship: Father Son Spirit. Folks have insisted on the phrase Father Son not just because we like manly God, but because it speaks to the heart of God, a relationship that a functional description, like Creator Redeemer and Sustainer loses. When you are in relationship with others, you are following in the path and the way of God and I believe the ultimate reality of this universe.

God sees your whole life; in all of its wonder and sorrow, grief and joy, the past and the yet to come as well as this instant today. Christ still chooses to be your God, your friend, your savior, your hope and is calling you to him. Your obituary is a collage of pictures and pages of newsprint of the relationships from birth to death. And God is in every picture. God is a member of all your clubs. For where there is good and true relationship, it is a reflection and a testimony to God. A God who calls us to believe in our best selves as he does — and walk where he walks. Amen.

Advanced permission is given for non-profit, for-prophet use of the above at no charge as long as it is reproduced unedited with notices and copyright intact. Written copies are provided after they are preached as a courtesy for the personal, private, appreciative use of the congregation of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church, their families and friends to support the ministry of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church and its pastor the Rev. J. Christy Ramsey. Join us Sundays! 9 AM Worship or 11 AM Song & Service. Sunday School for all ages is at 10 AM with a special Pastor's Class at 8:15 AM.

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