Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just like Philip

Today's Link
Thinking Allowed

Today's Saying
John 20:21 ........we would see Jesus

Today's Picture

From Crystal -Long Ago

In the liturgical churches it is the fifth Sunday in Lent and we are coming near the end of our Lenten journey. The gospel from the common lectionary is John 12:20-33.
This morning we run into some interesting people> They are Greeks and have come to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. They are converts and are looked upon by the Jewish community as not quite really Jews. They have heard about the miracle worker who walks on water and might be the Messiah and they want to meet him. So they go to Phillip and tell him they want to see Jesus.
Now I feel sure it wasn’t quite that simple. More likely they told somebody they wanted to meet Jesus and he sent them to somebody else who sent them to Phillip. It’s not like Phillip was walking around with a sign that said see me for Jesus Tours. In any case they find Philip and tell him.
Here are potential disciples at a time when the group is losing numbers. Jesus has been talking a lot about dying and people have been leaving in droves. So one would expect that Phillip would take them right to Jesus. But he doesn’t. Instead he says, in effect, “Stay here and I’ll get back to you”.
Then instead of going and finding Jesus he goes and finds Andrew and they discuss bringing the Greeks to Jesus. Now why did they do this ? In all honesty the text doesn’t say but I have two theories:
!. These were Greeks not real Jews . They had to wonder if Jesus should be bothered at this crucial time by them. We know from their past behavior that this is a real possibility.
2. Jesus is saying hard things at the moment and he might scare them off instead of attracting them. It is better they just have the stories than here the possible Messiah talking not about throwing out the Romans but dying. Even worse instead of talking about how wonderful it was to follow Him he was telling people they had to take up a cross. This was not what you want potential converts to hear.
So then why did they decide to tell Jesus about them.
I think they believed that if they didn’t tell Him somehow He would know anyway and then he would ask them why they didn’t tell Him.
So they go to Jesus and tell Him they have this group of Greeks who want to meet Him.
Now the rest of the text speaks volumes about the love of God. It speaks of the agony of Jesus and the wonder of the cross and there are four or five sermons in there but I want to just talk about Andrew and Phillip and the Greeks.
In all of our churches there are the Andrew and Phillips of today. They are believers. They are faithful church members. They are nice people.
But, there are people who want to see Jesus that they aren’t sure should belong to their church.
1. They are the wrong race.
2. They have the wrong sexual preference.
3. They are dirty and unkept. Some even smell.
4. They are sinners who haven’t repented.
5. They are just not their kind of people.
I’m sure you can add to that list.
Jesus has been lifted up. Jesus would draw all men unto Himself but Andrew and Phillip aren’t sure He means all.
So they work hard to keep their church pure and leave today’s Greeks standing outside.
But some Andrew and Philips do invite but then they try to filter thje message. They tell the Pastor don’t preach on stewardship it upsets people. Don’t talk about taking up a cross that’s no fun. Just talk about how wonderful it is to walk with Christ. Let’s not have any of this lifted up talk.
So the Greeks are in but not really because they have no chance to meet the real Jesus.
So what should we do. Well first we have to ask ourselves if we are part of the Andrew-Phillip group in our church. Do we have this idea of who we should let in which is smaller than Jesus “ all people”? If we do it is time to change less the Greeks be left standing outside.
Then we have to ask are we one of those that would dumb down the message so people don’t get to meet the real Jesus. If we are that too must change.
Real change begins not with others but with ourselves.
But the good news remains . This Jesus who was lifted up on the cross. This Jesus who is willing to draw all people unto Himself. This Jesus went right on loving Philip and Andrew despite their failure to understand and He goes on loving us.

News from Pigeon Falls
The little town in my basement where the trains still run, dragons fly, and life is back to normal
As the week went on Pastor Joan’s mornings got a little better each day and today she was ready to step back into the pulpit. Here is a part of the sermon she gave.:
Let me begin by reminding you that Jesus is a real human being. Sometimes we forget that and we think of Jesus as God pretending to be human. You know God playing the part of a human being but always just being God. But Jesus is a real human being. When they nail him to the cross there will be blood and pain.It will be horrible.
Jesus , the real human being, has seen the storm clouds coming in. He know they intend to kill him. He knows he probably will be crucified. He looks ahead to that even in agony. He does not want to go through it. Should he now pray “ Father get me out of here. I can’t take it.” It was a possiblity. He had tried to tell peole the Father loved them. He had tried too help them see the Kingdom breaking in. He had done his best. But they had rejected the message. What more could he do?
This human being in agony had to be tempted to run to the hills. There he could continue to spread the message. Some would hear him and be saved.
But Jesus in his agony decides that is not what the Father wants. He wants Jesus to keep proclaiming the Kingdom and God’s love in public. And Jesus knows that if he is crucified it will result in something great. He knows from the words of the prophets that he has to die.
But the agony, the fear is still there. He is human, after all.
He goes through this for us.
He shows us what a real human being can be like.
He is faithful to the end.

Wrap UP
The snow is back. We went to church and I gave a little talk on why we choose to belong to St. Mark's. Pastor preached two good sermons. The choir was great.Fellowship was good. It was the last Sunday of the month so we had a hymn sing. All in all a great morning. I spent a good part of the afternoon updating the St. Mark's Website. Then I visited all the blogs that left comments yesterday. Then I helped Pennie with a project she was working on. Now I need a breathing treatment.


Anonymous quilly said...

Two sermons today and both of them great!

There was a church I attended many years ago and on more than one occasion the pastor and I had words about my feeding the homeless. He said they came to take and had nothing to give. He said I was enabling them to continue their selfish and destructive lifestyles.

I repeatedly told him, "Perhaps this is so, but if they ever get to the place where they seek to change, I would like them to think of God and the church as a place to receive help, not rejection and scorn."

Unfortunately, after many such arguments, Pastor and I had to just agree to disagree and not speak of the subject any more.

1:22 AM  
Blogger jinksy said...

Found your five listed points interesting, but would want to add 'people of ANY religion - or none'. How can anybody think they are exclusive? Eveny human being has the choice to behave with every right thinking, right acting aspect of living, without labelling themselves Christian, Muslim etc etc.

2:50 AM  
Blogger Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

We all have choices and I am not the judge.
Great post Dr J.

4:50 AM  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

I don't go to church, I enjoy your sermons Dr. John. :)

6:20 AM  
Blogger Melli said...

I LOVE the way you use this blog! And I stand convicted! I'm the one that always says "Pastor, IF Dennis comes to church this weekend, don't preach tithing! You'll scare him away!"

Our Wednesday night sermon was very similar to Pastor Joan's sermon today... it was good Wednesday... and it's good today!

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the closest I get to sermons since I do not go to church
;-). Today's picture weirdly scared me....

They are not their kind of people.
I always find that belief scary & sad, not to say I never had a thought like that in my life, I have, but I don't like that I have.

I have been helping to bake & distribute food for weeks and someone I am dealing with has begun to question who continues to "deserve" the food, and it is very unsettling. ~Mary

8:12 AM  
Blogger Lori's Minute said...

I like the phrase for the day and the picture.

Any word from Pat yet?

8:13 AM  
Blogger Jientje said...

Faithful to the very end. Great post.
Enjoy your Sunday, dr John.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Melli said...

Huh. Somebody was confused about today's Gospel -- and I don't know if it was you or Pastor Paul! Ours was Mark 10:32-45 - which Pastor preached to.

So... which one is the right one? I got to enjoy ALL of them!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Nessa said...

I continue to enjoy how well you preach. Thank you.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Mama Zen said...

This is marvelous!

6:35 PM  
Blogger PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

No new snow here, just sun. I shouldn't say "just" because it was wonderful and bright. We might get 6 - 12 inches on Tuesday! Snow, that is.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Vicky said...

Thanks for the support and your continued kind words :) I missed having a church to go to today. But after reading your post perhaps a part of me went to church anyways. Thank you for the fellowship :) Blessings to you.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Cherie said...

Yes, "all" means ALL. :) Though my pastor didn't use the same scripture, there was a similar theme.

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)

Jesus came to save the world, not part of the world, not just the people that we think are appropriate or worthy. None of us are worthy, and yet, God loves us anyway, all of us.

8:07 PM  

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