We want everybody to grow in love. That's the whole reason we exist as a church, and we want you to be able to experience this in community. In a couple of weeks, we’ll have Graduation Sunday, and here's what you need to know. There are two kinds of people God loves. One of them is young people. God is irrationally crazy about young people. He mass produces them. He is currently cranking them out at record levels. Every time one comes out, it's God saying, I have not given up on the human race yet. It is an expression of hope.
In Luke, chapter 14, Luke describes one occasion when Jesus was invited to a meal at a very prominent person's house. This person was a religious leader, an expert in the Law. Everybody sitting around this particular table was an expert in the Law. I'm not talking about attorneys or lawyers as we consider experts in the law but the Law according to the first five books of the Bible. They were rabbis. They were religious leaders. They knew their Bibles, and they would sit around tables like this and interpret the Law together. They would come up with how to apply it best in their lives. Jesus is sitting around a table of people who you would consider religious insiders, but on this particular occasion in Luke 14 there was somebody at the table who didn't belong.
I'll start by asking you to reflect for a moment on this question. If somebody were to ask you, "What are you hoping for?" what would you say? What's the big deal you're hoping for? Maybe it's at your work like some promotion or a project or a deal. Maybe it's a relationship. Maybe it's a broken one or one that you don't have. Maybe it's around health or the health of somebody you love. We're all hopers.
Two thousand years ago, Paul was writing to his friends in Corinth in this church in this up and coming city that was filled with talented, ambitious, successful people, people who had come to this small town to make a name for themselves. He wanted to remind them who they were in light of what Jesus had just done overcoming death and sin and the grave. He was calling them into their new identity they were part of now in mission in a way of life that was bigger than themselves, so Paul writes to them. In 1 Corinthians, he says
In Philippians 4:4 it says: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! So, in worship, we should choose joy. We should live in joy. Paul was in trouble. Paul was in chains. Paul was facing death when he wrote these words.
Class, the word for today is “wow”, because when we experience delight or wonder or gratitude or just what a miracle it is to be alive, that's kind of the word beyond definition. "Oh, wow!" I wonder if we were all to say what the biggest wow of our lives so far has been, what it would be for you? There would be some amazing stories, I’m sure.
I'm going to provide like most weeks, an imperfect blurb. I hope you’re okay with that? I’m living proof imperfection is so fundamental to human life. The Church in fact is a place where nobody is perfect. It's a little ironic to me, when people are interviewing for a job, and they're asked, what is your biggest flaw? They very rarely actually name a flaw.
Psalm 143 is one of my favorites. I learned it before I knew it was a psalm. I only thought it was a song that the Christian acoustic group Shane & Shane sang.
It's fascinating to me, in the ministry of Jesus how often he did a searching and fearless moral inventory for people like us who weren't ready to do it for ourselves or had not yet seen the need.
My plan for lent is, how many moments of my life can I live fully aware of, fully surrendered to, fully empowered by the presence of God? That's actually God's hope for us.