Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fr. Phil - Discerning REZ

Discerning REZ Day
July 16, 2017
Fr. Phil Eberhart

(click for audio)

Today is a day that we have set aside to hear from God.

In some way, every Sunday is intended to be that way but today is different.  On a typical Sunday you all come to this place to hear from God, we pray, from the words of the Scriptures, from the songs and the prayers, and from the words spoken in the sermon that is given.

Today we are reversing that direction!  Today you are the ones speaking.  We, together, are speaking with one another in hopes that, in the words of our former Bp. Chuck, we might hear "God speaking TO His peopleTHROUGH His people!"

It means that we need you to speak your heart.  More than that, we need you to listen to God and speak His heart!  In Peter's first letter to the Church he is supremely concerned with how we use our gifts, given the days we live in.  Today I want to echo that message.  

Peter wrote these words: 

[1Pe 4:7-11 NASB] 
7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 
9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 
10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 
11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Focus on verse 11 for today:  Whoever speaks is to do so as one who is speaking the very utterances of God!
I have a limited time, much like you will in a few minutes to share what God has put on my heart.  The first question put to us is "What is it that we do that gives you joy?"

Let me tell you a story:

Yesterday, and for the last 4 or 5 Saturday mornings I've been with an old friend, working out and going to breakfast afterwards.  You see this old friend is one of my buddies from the gym.  In the course of life, I've been able to be a friend to him, to work out together, which led to visiting his wife in her illness and then being at her bedside at the time of her death, giving last rites in the name of Jesus, with all the family gathered.  It was a high honor for me, and I was invited to come and to read at her funeral.

The interesting thing is that my friend is a Jew!  And now, almost two years on, we are meeting and talking about Yeshua.  We are talking about his Jewish faith and about the Bible.  One day soon, I pray, he will come to REZ and be baptized.  For that day, I invite your prayers.

Friends, nothing gives me more joy than sitting across from him or any of you and talking about the faith, talking about who Jesus is, and talking about the Word of God!  Drawing out the Word of God on the back of a napkin!  I'm not trying to be super spiritual here, but as I've considered my answer to that question, that is the honest to God answer!

Another thing that gives me great joy is Worship of God.  And although music is very important, for me its not the "whole enchilada."  Everything we do here is worship to God, from the drudgery of setting up and tearing down to the glory of celebrating behind the Table of the Lord and seeing you all stand and hold hands as we say the Lord's Prayer together, and the highest privilege, to hand you the bread of His Presence and touch your hand or sometimes your face in prayer and communion.

You have no idea how much God loves and cherishes you!
How do I know that, ...  ?    Because I have no idea, either!
I have to be told over and over and over and over again!
Fr. Mike Flynn once handed me the bread of communion as I knelt at the Altar in a service and said, "This is the measure of God's love for you!"

Michael and I and Margie are going to sing a song this morning for the offertory about our worth to God that I want you to listen to carefully.  The words are in the bulletin but we want to sing it over you.  Listen to what it says.

And finally, the third thing.  Friends, as a priest, and my wife would tell you this if she were here, I am "married" to the Church.

Not just REZ, but to the Big C Church.  I know that the Church is the Bride of Christ, so I am like John the Baptist, as he described his relationship to Jesus:

[Jhn 3:26-30 NASB] 26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him." 27 John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. 28 "You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent ahead of Him.' 29 "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. 30 "He must increase, but I must decrease.

I, like John the Baptizer, am a friend of the Bridegroom.  I like John am a forerunner.  I have come to know that because I have watched what has happened over the past 50 years in my life as a Christian disciple and as a Christian leader.  

I am privy to a much wider view of the Church of Jesus Christ than most have... and a much wider desire for the Church of Jesus Christ - the Bride - to come into Her fullness.  My heart breaks for the Church, for her immaturity, for her worldliness, for her preoccupation with self over Kingdom, for her fascination with adiaphora - things of no importance!  Why so broken:   because I see those same things in myself and in us.

And I work at REZ to make us mature, heavenly-minded people of God, preoccupied with His Kingdom coming and His will being done on earth, as it is in Heaven.  Focused on being a part of all that God is doing in our midst, in our city and state,  across our nation and over the whole Earth.  

My prayer continually is "Lord, don't pass us by!"  Would you say that with me?  "LORD, DON'T PASS US BY!"

This morning I want more than anything a visitation from God, through you... and you ... and you ... and even me.

I want this place to be known for His Presence!  I want people to know they have met with God, as they go out from here.
Because if that is true, then we will all be changed.  We will all come to be what Paul calls us at the end of his Apostolic prayer for the Ephesian Church:

[Eph 1:23 NASB] 23 "... His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all!"

So my prayer today is that which Paul prayed for us:

Lord, give us Your Spirit of wisdom and revelation in our knowledge of Jesus!

Lord, open our eyes to see the Hope in your calling of us; to see the surpassing value of each one around us, the Holy Ones of God; and to see the Power of your Resurrection manifested among us here in your Kingdom.

Lord, we are called RESURRECTION.  Let your Resurrection power be present among us in its fullness, as we live day by day as YOUR BODY - THE FULLNESS OF HIM WHO FILLS ALL IN ALL.