Monday, August 20, 2018

EAT MY BODY, DRINK MY BLOOD



13th Sunday of Pentecost

August 19, 2018

Fr. Phil Eberhart

Prov 9:1-6
Ps 147
Eph 5:15-20
Jn 6:53-59

I would love to take you with me to go to the synagogue in Capernaum, on the north shore of the lake we call the Sea of Galilee.  The place where Jesus spoke the words in our Gospel this morning.  I've been there about 4 times.  I've worshiped there, in about 3 languages!  And in the universal language...  Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia !!

But what Jesus said that day, got mixed reviews!

Have you ever gone away from a sermon and asked, "What did he/she just say?"  Don't answer that!!

That's what happened with Jesus.

Our reading this morning is just 6 or 7 verses near the end of John 6, but a lot has been going on through this whole chapter.  We've been hearing and singing about it for the last 3 Sundays!  And it concludes next Sunday.  If you have a bible or your bible app, turn with me to John 6.

Just a quick chapter survey:

we began the first Sunday of August after the feeding of the 5000 - the punch line that Sunday was [Jhn 6:35 NASB] 35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

 Last Sunday we read of the further discourse Jesus had with the Pharisees that ended with another punchline:

[Jhn 6:51 NASB] 51 "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."

Now Jesus becomes even more provocative. as they ask the following question, which didn't make it into our readings...

Jn 6:52...  Then the Jews [began] to argue with one another, saying, "How can this man give us [His] flesh to eat?"

Now look at this morning's reading...

1.    ...unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you

2.    Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life

3.    Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them

Do you sense an echo in the room?

Eat my flesh and drink my blood!  Say it couple times...

Eat my flesh and drink my blood!

Eat my flesh and drink my blood!

A little weird, huh?  That's what they thought too.  A hard saying!   Is he talking about cannibalism?  Is he talking about things that are forbidden to us as Jews?  I'm outta here!

And next week Jesus will ask the disciples, the twelve, if they're going to leave as well!!

But here's the key.  Almost a throw away line in the chapter...

It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  

Jesus corrects their perception that He is talking physically about flesh and blood.  He is not.

Jesus was later -- another 6 chapters later, at table with the disciples in the upper room and this becomes crystal clear

as He says, THIS IS MY BODY... THIS IS MY BLOOD and identifies the bread and wine of the Eucharist as the meal of both remembrance and empowerment in His Spirit.

In our prayers we give thanks for this meal, calling a MEANS OF GRACE! 

For those new to Sacramental Worship, we believe that something real happens here as we receive the bread and wine from the Table of the Lord - there is a real engagement in our hearts and by His Spirit, present to us, we are transformed on the inside because of the connection with the life-giving bread of God, Jesus himself.

This morning as you take the communion, approach with a holy awe.  Know that God is here to meet you!  Know that this is not merely bread and wine, but it is the place of meeting -  a modern day Tent of Meeting - where we are invited to partake again of the flesh and the blood of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

So we invite you - the Lord Himself invites you to come - come and see,  come and taste that the Lord is good!  Come and remember... come and partake... come and be empowered ... healed ... equipped.  Be being filled!  This is a spiritual transaction, but God is gracious in that He knows we are dust, and we need physical reminders, physical signs, places where heaven actually touches earth!  This is one.  In fact, I think this is the main one!

Let's eat!

Pray with me...

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the true bread come down from heaven.  Flesh and blood, broken and poured out for the life of the world.  Give us this day your very self in these elements of bread and wine.  Help us to be "being filled" by your Spirit as we receive today.  Help us never ever forget:  In Jesus Name and for His sake and the sake of His Kingdom,

Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2018

10 Days of Awe - Sept 9 to 18 - Rosh Hashannah to Yom Kippur

https://vimeo.com/282944774

Click this link for a video explaining the vision for the 10 Days of Prayer
coming to Denver, September 9 to 18, Rosh Hashannah to Yom Kippur,
The 10 Days of Awe!

We will have further information here as to the schedule in the next few
days, so check back often.  Also our main website is
www.10daystogether.blogspot.com.

Blessings,

Fr. Phil and the 10 Days Team

Fr. Phil - Testing and Cleansing

11th Sunday of Pentecost
Aug 5, 2018
Fr. Philip Eberhart


Testing and Purification - The Loss of the Dross


After many conversations over the past week or two, where I've wondered outloud, whether our financial crisis is like us waiting on God to open up the RED SEA or if we're on the other side of the Red Sea, after the party, and here we go into the wilderness of Sin.  I could not believe it when our OT lesson was from Exodus 16 this morning!  In effect the readings this Sunday make this MANNA SUNDAY!!

So let's dive right in and talk a little bit about MANNA and then what its about.
MANNA actually means "what is it!"  The nation of Israel had never seen it before.  Something that looked like a frost on the ground, as small as a corriander seed, with a taste a little like honey.  It came in the morning with the dew on the ground.  The rules were that you could pick up a day's worth of  MANNA, except the morning of Sabbath.  That morning you could pick up twice as much!

The Israelites tried to pick up all they could at first, to 'hoard' it and it spoiled immediately.  But when they picked up twice as much on Friday morning, it didn't spoil overnight.  So there was something supernatural going on as well.

So what is going on is an action of God, whereby the nation of Israel is being both supplied with food and tested at the same time.  Quail in the evening and Manna in the morning.

Have you ever been in the financial place where you were reduced to soup or Ramen noodles for food?  College days? In between jobs?  I have lived for many days on Bean with Bacon Soup!  It's actually one of my favorites still!

But to eat it every day for a month?  Well....    OK..... if I have to.   I mean, you can almost anything for a month, right?
Even soup and Ramen Noodles!  But 40 years?   YIKES!

Anyone here know how long the journey of the Nation of Israel was to be?  Through the desert to the Mountain of God and beyond to the Promised Land?   How long does it take to walk it today?

27 day hike.
So why 40 years?

What is that all about?
In a word?    OBEDIENCE.

Let's look quickly at the lessons for this morning... Just some excerpts...

Ex 16  
The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.


Psalm 78:29  29 So they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved.


The nation of Israel (and by extension all of the People of God) go through a time of testing here.  They are just weeks from the incredible display of the power of God in the Exodus event - their deliverance from the hand of the Egyptian Armies at the sea side.  They have been accompanied by the pillar of fire and cloud so far on this journey, and it still remains with them - the manifestation of the very presence of God.

So why the test?

\Deu 8:3 KJV
 3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna,[H4478] which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Where do we hear this scripture repeated?

In the mouth of Jesus himself, in a similar situation - at the end of the 40 days of Temptation in the Wilderness of Judea, as He begins his public ministry.  His response to Satan's temptation to turn stones into bread was to quote the passage from Deut. 8.

Jesus himself is tested by God, even as He was led by the Spirit!  This is NOT something that is the work of the evil one - this process of following God is going to bear these same marks for each and every one of us - and for each group of people who call themselves HIS!

James 1 says it this way:
[Jas 1:2-4 ESV] 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Friends, this time that we are in - crunch time - isn't about money or provision, its about Presence and Obedience.

Why did a 27 day hike turn into a 40 year ordeal?   Because of DISOBEDIENCE.  Because of COMPLAINING.

Turn to Hebrews 4
[Heb 4:6-12 ESV] 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

We love to quote the 12th verse but forget the context in which it is spoken -  Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts!

The primary evidence of hardened hearts is what comes out of our mouths!!
Are we going to gripe and complain or are we going to praise Him and trust in His provision?  It's a simple question that we often have to answer daily, weekly at least.

We talk alot about the Fire of the Holy Spirit here.  Let's not forget that one of the functions of the fire is to create a scene we see in Malachi 3
[Mal 3:1-4 ESV] 1 "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

And isn't it interesting that this is at the beginning of the chapter we all know so well about our own giving!  God wants pleasing offerings, even today.  And He is going to prove Himself faithful.  The question is will we?  Time and our obedience will tell.

Again it comes down to what I've been saying for almost a decade to us:   

Willingness
Availability
Obedience

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding!  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct
your paths.

So we are going to step up - to prayer;  step up - to worship Him;  step up to willingness, to availability to God and to obedience in what He is asking of us.  Every day.

We started today at 8 am with a season of prayer - that will continue week by week, as will a new time for praise and prayer together mid-week.   Padre Unplugged - 7 pm to 8:30 on Wed evenings beginning this Wednesday.

Make yourself available to God to worship him - to pray for His presence and to enter in - to begin to watch for His provision and to ask, "here am I.  Use me, Lord."


Let's pray together.

Lord Jesus Christ, we declare our trust in You as our Savior, our Healer, our Provider.  Keep us from thoughts which lead us into darkness and despair.  Help us to keep your face in the very front of our eyes.  Show us the miraculous provision You have planned.  Help us to walk in Your ways, to draw near to You, to resist the devil and to make him flee.  Give us your strength each morning, as you renew your mercy to us, morning by morning.  We cast our cares on you; let our minds and our hearts be steadfast in your praise.

In the Name of Jesus and for His glory we pray,
Amen.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

You Give Them Something to Eat

Resurrection Anglican Fellowship

July 22, 2018


Fr. Phil Eberhart

Have you ever noticed that whenever we TURN to the WORD - THE WORD TURNS TO US!

This morning's readings are a case in point.  Over the past few weeks we've heard some long and powerful messages on what God is doing here among us, on our call to Unity and the position of leadership that this parish is in, in this place.

Along side those messages we're coming face to face with our need for provision from God, both through ourselves as we give, but beyond ourselves, as we hear Jesus say, "YOU GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO EAT."

This morning I feel the pain of Philip and the other disciples, in the face of what could have been a crowd of nearly 15,000 (unless only men came to hear Jesus, who accounted for 5000).  They were scrambling trying to figure out what to do for dinner!

Do we send them away to find their own food?    Jesus just sat there and let them "stew" - so to speak - and then gave them an instruction:  "You give them something to eat!"   Do we go and buy food?  It would take almost a year's wages!  They were stewing!  And Jesus asked a question:  "What do you have?"  Do you have anything to offer?

You've already heard my sermon about the "school-boy's lunch."   5 barley loaves and two fish.

The fact is that even what they had wasn't really theirs.  The school boy could have kept his lunch for himself - seems he was the only one who had the foresight to bring lunch!  And he gave it up at their request.  He was the one with all the faith!!

But even "such a little against such a great need." bows to the Name of Jesus as it is given to Him!  And Jesus receives it from the boy and the disciples, He blesses it, breaks it and gives it?

Do you hear me?   Jesus blesses what we give him - He breaks it - and He gives it for the needs of the world around us!  

People were gathered in groups of 50 or 100 - that is 150-300 groups gathered around waiting for food!  "You give them something to eat."  The only thing in between their resources and the need of this crowd for food, was Jesus!

He blessed, he broke, He gave.  Sound familiar.

It's the Eucharist.  We enact this miracle every Sunday morning!  

Every Sunday we receive the bread and wine from the back, along with the offering.

We bless them both!  The Eucharistic bread is then broken and given - and during the week the offering is broken and given.

The point here is that Jesus is involved in it all.  Not just involved but instrumental and the faith of a small boy is all that is required.  Like a grain of mustard seed.  As you give this morning, say to Jesus, as the boy with the lunch did, "All I have is your's Lord."  I've done what I can, now You do what You can!

And over and over and over and over again, throughout this past year we have watched Jesus take, and break and give what we have given Him - and here we are.  This is impossible!  From the natural world's perspective - from the financial world's perspective - from almost any perspective you want to take - this cannot happen!  But it has!!  

Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever!  He is still in our midst - does anyone here contest that?  NO!  We cannot contest that this has been a God-thing from day one!

When asked how this is possible - I just shrug my shoulders and say - we are like a bumble bee ... No one has said we can't fly yet?  So have we realized we can't fly, and decided to start walking everywhere?

NO!  Why? because the preponderance of our experience proves otherwise to us.  A page and a half list of miracles, proves to us that the Word is true. The word that is on the back table - someone bring that up here to me...

This has been sitting in my office since Lawrence made it for me - I thought it as cute - inspired even - but I really never gave much thought to its meaning. Until I was reminded of its words again and again and again in the past year:

[Psa 44:3 KJV] 3 For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.

  Listen to it again:

Our forefathers didn’t win these battles 

  by their own strength
    or their own skill or strategy.
    But it was through the shining forth 

   of your radiant presence
    and the display of your mighty power.
    You loved to give them victory,
    for you took great delight in them. 

Has God changed His mind?  NO.  

Were the disciples in an impossible situation?  YES.

Put there by Jesus himself?   ummm... YES.

What was Jesus doing?

What Jesus is always doing? - getting the disciples ready for life in the Kingdom of God!  Proving and improving their faith - their willingness, their availability and their obedience? 

Are you willing?  Are you available to God ( not are you "able for God!") and finally are you going to do things My Way - God's way?  Are you going to be obedient?

These are not easy lessons - they are life long processes as Jesus grows us into the kind of Kingdom people that see through His eyes.  The kind of Kingdom people who see the people around us as He does.  

More and more we are to be a 24/7 People of God!  That is what we are moving towards here in this place.  That is where God wants us - given to Him and His agenda, every day, 24/7.  And like the disciples who walked with him, He constantly is putting us into situations where we have to choose - our way, the world's way ... or His way.

Just one life verse for this parish to end.  You can say it with me:

"Trust in the Lord with all your might, and lean not on your own understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge HIM, and HE will direct (or make straight) your paths."

And again from the Passion Translation:  vv 5-10

Trust in the Lord completely,
    and do not rely on your own opinions.
    With all your heart rely on him to guide you,
    and he will lead you in every decision you make.
Become intimate with him in whatever you do,
    and he will lead you wherever you go.[b]
    Don’t think for a moment that you know it all,[c]
for wisdom comes when you adore him with undivided devotion
    and avoid everything that’s wrong.
Then you will find the healing refreshment
    your body and spirit long for.[d]
Glorify God with all your wealth,
    honoring him with your very best,[e]
    with every increase that comes to you.
10 Then every dimension of your life will overflow with blessings
    from an uncontainable source of inner joy! 

Shall we pray:

Lord Jesus Christ,

You have called us to the impossible as a way of life!

Teach us to wait on You, to praise You and look up each day for Your hand.  Open our eyes to see You at work in our own lives and in the world around us.  Fill us with wonder, love and praise.

As we come to Your table this morning, remind us what it is that you are doing today - taking our lives, breaking us for multiplication, and giving us out in the world around us -  Open our eyes to see Your purpose in each and every day.

As we go from Your table this morning, fill us with grace to walk in Your light and favor.  Make us a miracle-working 24/7 Kingdom people.  In the challenges, be our supply.  Let us see Your hand at work, in and to us, and out and through us!

We ask these things for the sake of your Kingdom, Jesus and for the fame of Your Name, in Greenwood Village, in Denver, in Colorado and the USA and around the world!  Let your Kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven! 

Amen and Amen.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Taking Hold of Jesus - Fr. Phil Eberhart

July 1, 2018
Fr. Phil Eberhart
Call 2 Fall Sunday


TAKING HOLD OF CHRIST


This morning is an extraordinary morning in our life!  We have guests with us who are part of our worldwide GAFCON - that is Global Anglican Future - family!

We were grieved at GAFCON when we found out that the whole delegation from South Sudan, including Archbishop Paul Yugasuk, were detained at their border and prevented from coming to the GAFCON meetings in Jerusalem!

But friends, God has brought S. Sudan to us!  As you will hear in a few minutes, our family is large and diverse, colorful and passionate for Jesus!

We welcome our new family members, new to us, but known to God, and sent to be His messengers of joy and ... how did Paul put it in his letter?...

[2Co 8:1-2 NASB] 1 ... the grace of God which has been given in the churches of [S. Sudan], that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.

Friends, we welcome you as family.
We will hear from our new family at the Offertory as they bring us into their hearts with a sample of their worship as their choir sings!

===================

Now this morning I want to preach on the passage that is missing from our reading!  If you look at the passage from Mark this morning, you note that there is a gap in the reading.  Something happened on the way to Jairus' house!  Anyone?

Let me fill in the gap:

[Mar 5:25-34 NASB] 
A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years,  and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse-- after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind [Him] and touched His cloak. For she thought, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well." Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power [proceeding] from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My garments?" And His disciples said to Him, "You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?'" And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction."

This morning many things have converged to make a message for us from the Lord.

While I was on the trip to the Holy Land, I wanted to return to the chapel of Mary Magdalene on the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee, in her home town of Magdala, present day Migdal.  Yakov was kind enough to take the Friday morning and drive me the half hour or so over to the lake and we spent the morning together in this chapel.  

Some of you have seen the pictures of the boat shaped altar in the main chapel that is so striking with its view through the window of the lake.  The chapel is called in Latin - Duc im Altum meaning Into the Deep!  It is the place commemorated for Jesus teaching in the boat and then telling the disciple-fishermen to push out 'into the deep' and put down their nets for a catch.

Friends, we are being called out "into the deep" to put down our nets for a catch!

In the basement of that church on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, is a chapel - they call it the Chapel of the Feet!  Why, because it was also in this area of Galilee where the passage I just read actually happened, and the chapel has been built to recall these mighty acts of Jesus.

But this act of Jesus, was not something He did!  It was something the woman did.  Jesus was focused on His mission of healing - He was "on the way!"  But she was focused on one thing, "If I can only touch the hem - actually the TsiTsit - the "tassle" or fringe of a Jewish rabbi's cloak - "if I can only touch the hem of his garment..."

The other piece of "coincidence" this morning is that we are approaching the 4th of July, the commemoration of our own independence in the US.  And today is the day of prayer that we refer to as "The Call 2 Fall!"

Friends, during our prayers in a few minutes I am going to ask some guys to bring our kneelers down her to the front, and we have some prayers for our nation and our government printed out.  I am going to ask several of you to come and kneel and lead us in these prayers here, as we all, as we're able humbly kneel.

The woman in the midst of the crowd, got down on her knees, maybe she was laying on the road, with people stepping around her, and Jesus passing her by.  But her faith was strong and her determination was to reach out and touch, to take ahold of Jesus and her healing, by faith.

Friends, that is what I want to commend to us today!

What do you need to take ahold of Jesus for?  Is it something in your own life, an illness or some trouble?  Is it in the life of another, a loved one or friend?  Is it for our church, as we find our new home here in this place?  Is it for those who are not yet members here - whom God is calling?  Or perhaps, today, we are being called to fall! 

To fall on our knees in prayer, like the woman, to take ahold of Jesus - specifically for our nation, its leadership and governance, its people and their unique situations in life.
In thanksgiving for all that God has so graciously provided for us in this nation!  To ask for his mercy in our waywardness; for His light to shine from this place, this light house on a hill!  Look out over the city - open your eyes to see His hand - reach out your hand to touch the hem of His garment.

I don't need to spend much more time on the need for prayer.  I think we need to pray!

As we stand, I would like some guys to help move the kneelers down to the front here.
Some of you have been tapped by the Holy Spirit to come and kneel and pray.  I have some prayers printed out that you can pray, but you are also free to come and lead us in a prayer from your heart.  Make them short and to the point!  Let's lay hold of Jesus this morning and touch the Hem of His garment!

Let us stand and confess the Faith of our Fathers, in the words of the Nicene Creed...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Easter 2018 - Are We There Yet?

Easter Sermon
April 1, 2018
Fr. Phil Eberhart



ARE WE THERE YET?


Are we there yet?     Daddy, are we there yet?

Ever driven across country?  or down to the corner store, with a toddler in the back?  

The ever present question!!   Are we there yet?

This morning I want to talk about the disciples...    and us.

I want to talk about his statement, IT IS FINISHED!

First The Disciples:

Even at the last supper table, after Jesus washed their feet they were still arguing about who was going to be first!

And after He was risen, just before He ascended to His Kingly throne, they ask Him, "Are you NOW going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1)

After the resurrection, the disciples were even more sure that Jesus was the Messiah and that He was going to set up the New Kingdom of Heaven in their midst any moment!!  And so they continually bickered about their own thrones and who was going to sit where.

ARE WE THERE YET?

The ever present question.

You see there was a basic misunderstanding in their minds...  that Jesus was going to set up the Kingdom of God ... with only them in mind.  That's all they really had in mind.  Following the ONE - the Miracle worker - the Feeder of the 5000+;  the Healer of blind eyes;  of men let down through roof tops who walked out, bed in hand;  

Those had to be heady days for the disciples!  He sent them out to go ahead of him in Luke 10 and they came back - PUMPED UP - because of the miracles and signs!  He calmed them down and gave them perspective.
"Don't rejoice that demons are subject to you, rejoice that your names are written in Heaven."

Change your focus!  Get the bigger picture!

ARE WE THERE YET?

And what about us?  Are WE ... THERE yet?

Well, Well, Well ... look where we are!  Easter morning!  I couldn't have written this any better.  "MORE THAN WE CAN ASK OR IMAGINE!!"  I read that somewhere.

 And there is NO DOUBT GOD HAS DONE THIS!!   Any doubt?  ANYONE???

BUT... ARE WE THERE YET?

Has the Kingdom come fully?   Has God made his dwelling among us here on earth?  Have we seen the Heavenly Jerusalem descending to earth?

ARE WE THERE YET?   NO.

So where is THERE?  And where are WE?

I want us to think about three little words, from Jesus lips on the cross that day - that Great Friday!  I think that's what I'll call it from now on!

IT IS FINISHED!!

"It" what?   What was finished in that moment?

Well I think we have a clue in what happened when He died.  First thing that happened- that is recorded for us to read!

The separating curtain in the Temple was ...?   TORN IN TWO?    
HOW?     From TOP to bottom!

Have you noticed how God is into Drama!!!  And SYMBOL?!!!

What happened when the Curtain was torn in two ... by God!

ACCESS...  It's one of my favorite words in all of scripture!
 (yeah, well... I have lots of favorites)

The finished work of Christ gave us ACCESS to the Father - to the very throne of God - to the very heart of the Father!  And that access will never be revoked by GOD -  it can only be revoked by you!  

The curtain was torn - the separation between you and God - was torn from top to bottom - His initiative - His presence - Forever open to you...

because IT IS FINISHED!

ARE WE THERE YET?

Peter, the brash disciple, who jumped out of the boat, who always seemed to have "foot in mouth" disease; who cut off the ear of the servant of the High priest in the garden; and who denied Jesus to his face, three times.

Peter ended up getting it:    Listen to this...  I read this over the body of good friend as I began last rites yesterday morning...

Celebrate with praises the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has shown us his extravagant mercy. For his fountain of mercy has given us a new life—we are reborn[g] to experience a living, energetic hope[h]through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.[i] We are reborn into a perfect inheritance[j] that can never perish, never be defiled, and never diminish. It is promised and preserved forever in the heavenly realm for you![k]
Through our faith, the mighty power of God constantly guards[l] us until our full salvation[m] is ready to be revealed[n] in the last time. May the thought of this cause you to jump for joy,[o] even though lately you’ve had to put up with the grief of many trials.[p] But these only reveal the sterling core[q] of your faith, which is far more valuable than gold that perishes, for even gold is refined by fire. Your authentic faith will result in even more praise, glory, and honor when Jesus the Anointed One is revealed.[r]
You love him passionately although you did not see him, but through believing in him you are saturated with an ecstatic joy, indescribably sublime and immersed in glory.[s] For you are reaping the harvest of your faith—the full salvation promised you—your souls’ victory![t]
ARE WE THERE YET??

IT IS FINISHED!

We are NOT there yet, even though we are here NOW!   IT IS FINISHED referred to God's work of opening a way for us to come to HIM; a way that He will never close!  

IT IS FINISHED and we have a ways to go!

Again from Ro 5

Our faith in Jesus transfers God’s righteousness to us and he now declares us flawless in his eyes.[a] This means we can now enjoy true and lasting peace[b] with God, all because of what our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, has done for us. Our faith guarantees us permanent access into this marvelous kindness[c] that has given us a perfect relationship with God. What incredible joy bursts forth within us as we keep on celebrating our hope of experiencing God’s glory!
But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy,[d]because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us![e]
We may not be THERE in heaven yet, but God has worked a full salvation for us, on the cross, in wood and nails.  And we continue to allow HIM to work that salvation in flesh and bone, in heart and mind, in the left hand turn lane and at the stop light!!!   We all know we have a ways to go!

Let's pray...

O Jesus, Master-Carpenter of Nazareth,
who on the cross in wood and nails has worked our full salvation: Use well Your tools in this Your workshop, that we who come to You rough-hewn, may be fashioned into a truer beauty and usefulness by Your hand, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, world without end.                      Amen.
===============================
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry  out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made 
new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Palm Sunday - Mtr. Barb Russo - The God who wins by losing

The Rev. Barbara M. Russo

Resurrection Anglican Fellowship
Palm Sunday, March 25, 2018


The great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.  So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord -- the King of Israel!"  Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:  "Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.  Look your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!"  His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.  (John 12:12-16)

     For most of my childhood, my family was not church going, but I do remember being in church on Palm Sunday when I was about ten years old.  Along with all the little girls in our Sunday dresses, I was lined up on the sidewalk outside the church, followed by all the little boys.  One of the church ladies handed us each a palm frond and told us that our job was to march into the church waving the palms and to shout Hosanna -- whatever that meant.  I had no idea and she didn't explain. All the adults sat in the pews and smiled at how cute and sweet we were.  Back then, processing with the palms was just for little kids.  For me Palm Sunday was a reminder that in seven days there would be Easter candy, a new Easter dress and the start of spring break.  I was in college before I learned that Palm Sunday is not really cute or sweet, and has nothing at all to do with spring break.

     On Palm Sunday, nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus mounted a colt and entered Jerusalem like a victorious King.  Nowadays, people think of the donkey as a humble mode of transportation, not noble or kingly in the slightest, so it's easy for most people to miss what Jesus was up to.  But the crowd on that beautiful spring day outside Jerusalem knew their Bibles and knew their history.  They weren't thinking how modest it was of Jesus to come on a donkey.  They were remembering King Solomon riding a donkey to his coronation, and they were remembering the prophet Zechariah predicting that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem "Triumphant, riding on a young donkey, a colt" (Zech 9:9)

     For six hundred years, God's people had been waiting for Yahweh to come and throw out the foreign rulers and set things right, like he had done more than one thousand years earlier when the whole Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea.  For centuries, the Hebrew people had been subjugated, first by Babylonian armies, then Persian and Greek armies.  Then, when Jesus' grandfather had been young, the Romans had taken over.  Anyone who saw a man ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, like King Solomon had done, exactly the way Zechariah had predicted, would have know what it meant.

     And if that man was the healer who had been teaching about the Kingdom of God for three years, it couldn't mean anything except that deliverance as finally here, this was it.  All around Jesus, people begin to shout, "Hosanna, Hosanna -- save us, Save us" and "Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord," the ancient cries of welcome for the King of Israel.  The people waved palm branches, a symbol of the nation of Israel, and a sign of victory for every culture in the ancient Mediterranean world.  The crowd laid their coats down under Jesus' feet the way we lay down a red carpet for visiting celebrities.  For the strangers in the crowd, it might have been just a moment of national pride, an in-your-face acclamation of Jesus as King, rather than Caesar.  Which is why the Pharisees said to Jesus, 'make them stop, before the Romans come crashing down and hold us responsible for what you are doing!'  But Jesus knew there was something far more important going on than national pride; far more important than anyone's wish to placate the Romans and keep the Sanhedrin in power.  Those things were at the very bottom of Jesus' priority list.  He knew the most important thing at that moment was to demonstrate to the people there, and for all time, before his crucifixion, who he really was, who he knew himself to be.

     Jesus did not ride into Jerusalem that day to preach or to heal, but mostly to die.  His ceremonial entry occurred on the very day the Passover Lambs were selected for slaughter.  He knew that the religious leaders were itching for an excuse to get him out of the way, and that his actions would provoke a charge of blasphemy.  He mounted the colt anyway.

     He knew that entering the city as a triumphant King would give the Romans all they needed to execute him for treason.  He mounted the colt anyway.

     He did not have to do it.  He did not have to set himself up for arrest and execution, he could have avoided it, gone back to Capernaum, married a nice Jewish girl, and died in his sleep.  He knew that once he got on that donkey, his fate was sealed.  But he knew it was the right place, he knew he was the right person, and he knew it was finally the right time.  Dreading the agony of the cross, he mounted the colt anyway.

     Only Jesus knew that the celebratory parade was also his funeral procession.  He knew the crowds bursting with national pride were doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. But no matter.  While everyone was cheering and laughing as if everything from here on out would be easy and fun, Jesus bore the terrible truth alone.  He mounted the colt.

     The crucifixion of Jesus was not an accident, a terrible mistake, a plan gone wrong.  Months earlier, Jesus had said to his disciples, "No one takes by life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." (John 10:18)  He had carefully planned and arranged this entry into Jerusalem, knowing exactly what would happen, knowing exactly what it would cost him.

     Why in God's name, would anyone do that?  Why would anyone willingly choose to suffer the physical, emotional and spiritual horror of scourging and the cross?

     Like a mother throwing herself in front of an oncoming truck to save her toddler, Jesus bore the full force of evil and separation from God, so that we do not have to experience it.  As Jesus hung on the cross, Satan and the powers of evil threw at him everything they have on us.  He died, but by the mysterious and paradoxical capacity of God, Jesus turned the tables on evil, and guaranteed evil's ultimate defeat.  We serve a God who wins by losing.

     His choice of the cross opens the door for each of us to have a relationship with God that is full and life-giving, and intimate.  Jesus died for me,  Jesus died for you.  If there had been any other way to do what was needed, and to hold onto you and me, God and Jesus would have found it together.  There was no other way.  Jesus knew it.  He chose the cross.  He mounted the colt.

     God alone is capable of holding together celebration and grief, tragedy and triumph, and of empowering us to do the same.  We don't have Easter without the cross, nor the cross without Easter.  This Holy Week, we invite you to walk the final week of Jesus life with us, to enter into the pain and the glory, to arrive at Easter Day next Sunday with more than candy and springtime in your hands.  Jesus is inviting all of us to learn to be people of the God who wins by losing.




Copyrighted by Barbara M. Russo, 2018