Tag Archive: Jesus Christ

Point of Contact

One of my favorite movies is Contact from 1997 with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. A scene from the movie popped in my head when I was preparing for my sermon last week exploring the “Lies We Tell Ourselves: If I Only Had ‘This’ I Would Be Happy”. McConaughey’s character, Palmer Joss, an author and theologian who wrestles because there are things he has experienced that he can’t explain outside of having faith. In this scene he is being interviewed by Larry King who is asking him questions to heighten the conflict between science and religion. While the focus on the conversation was really between science and religion; (which I don’t see the a need for there really to be a conflict there) I thought his character asks some great questions.

“The question I am asking is this; are we happier as a human race? Is the world fundamentally a better place? We shop at home, we surf the web at the same time we feel emptier, lonelier, and more cut off from each other than any other time in history. We are becoming a synthesized society in a great big hurry to get to the next temporary sensation. I think it is because we are looking for meaning. What is the meaning? We have mindless jobs.We take frantic vacations. We take deficit financed trips to the mall to buy more things that we think are going fill these holes in our lives. Is it any wonder we have lost our sense of direction?”

It was in the middle of Palmer asking these profound questions pointing to humanity’s hungers, needs, and search for meaning is when the transmission from the aliens is first received from space. In the midst of reflecting on those deep longings and our empty attempt to satisfy them is when contact was first made(1).  It just struck me that in the midst of all of humanities greatest searches for meaning, purpose, our hungers,  and desires God sent Jesus Christ to meet us right in the midst of these places of struggle and need. Jesus Christ has come to satisfy our hunger to be valued, to be loved, to have hope, and meaning. While I still having moments of dissatisfaction and longing in my life, I am learning and growing and experiencing more and more to find myself rooted in the reality of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ. Knowing we are eternally loved and valued by God changes our experience with these hungers and longings.

Lord Jesus, You are the bread of life that truly satisfies. May we continue to discover the depth of your grace and love that calls us precious and infinitely valued children of God, so we may live in freedom from a sense of hopeless longing. Holy Spirit, continue to guide us to live in the satisfying ways of grace that leads to abundant life. Amen. Continue reading

Good Friday Reality

A slow wading into the strange midday gloom of Good Friday listening in the darkness to the words spoken. Chosen words. Cross words. Words that would have taken concerted effort just to gather enough breath to utter. Heavy words that identify with our breathing and our aching.
“Why have you forsaken me?”
“I am thirsty.”
Words that speak to us with the unseen gravity of hope that draws us to and draws us through the dark places.
“Father, forgive them.”
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”
Forty days of journeying toward resurrection is a journey with one’s eyes on the ground as these Good words move out of the peripheral and into focus. The moon in orbit still pulling and affecting things below still sets our dates for celebrating The Life. On this particular annual trip around my eyes have focused on something much closer instead of a detached and distant view through the scope. These words have drawn my eyes to see the spirals, swirls and ridges that make up the imprint of a finger. Original one-of-a-kind fully fully human. The dignity of the divine is unforgotten, but the blood and pulsing pressure system that moves the red life around the body more real this year than before.
Chords and words of hymns of wood and blood sharpen the focus. Weekly gathering in community both large and small proclaiming and sharing magnifies things all the more. Today thanks to friends new and old I more than remember things which had gone soft in focus. I am re-membered because what came into view as those cross words were spoken was firm reality. Real as the warmth of the sun, the touch of a hand, and the force that holds me to the earth and pulls me to the grave. The solid reality of no more beating, the finality of a last breath and the concluding words from the cross saying

The Word went silent and breathed no more. The strangeness of this good dark day has placed firmly in my life the reality of a servant and a ransom, of a gift and lost things found, and of peace near and far. The reality of clear access to the Holy and the One because of the concrete reality of blood and breath.

This season of Lent as we have focused on the words Jesus Christ spoke from the cross has been like what I understand praying with an icon is to be like where you are simply drawn deeper and deeper into the profound reality of our faith.

Lord Jesus, when we distant ourselves from reality, we distance ourselves from you. Help us as we approach Easter to live into the reality of your loving sacrifice so that your gift of life becomes the real solid ground we walk on. Amen. 

Why do we renovate our homes? What makes us recognize the need for a change? Is it just being tired of the way things are, or is it because something isn’t working right and it is time to get it fixed? Isn’t it funny how once one thing gets renovated it leads to our eyes being opened to something else needing to be renovated? It could be taking down some dated wall paper and putting up a fresh coat of paint that leads to changing the floors or the light fixtures. The broken stove top gets replaced and the projects ends up including new counter tops. 

I am glad this God of grace invites us to participate in his transforming power that can renovate our lives. Through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ and the renovating sanctifying power of the present Holy Spirit those leaning walls of prejudice and racism in our lives can be knocked down. Where the constantly dripping pipes of addictions and destructive behaviors can be torn out and replaced and the leaking stopped. Where the mold and mildew of anger and hatred growing under the carpet is torn out and the cool floors of peace are put in and felt under feet. One of the beautiful things God gives us as followers of Christ is the gift of repentance. The gift of repentance is the entry way in which we can find ourselves participating in God’s ongoing, never ending, sanctifying grace. What is our gracious renovating God wanting to renovate in your life?

Lord Jesus, you who call us to be holy as our heavenly Father is holy. Thank you for your renovating grace that is perfecting us in love. Teach us how  and lead us to participate in your renovating, sanctifying grace that continually transforms us into children of your holy kingdom who love in all directions by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen. 

We began our new worship series at Millbrook by exploring the foundation. I invite you to do some reflecting with me and Robbie McConnell. Robbie is a building contractor and member of Millbrook. Read the scriptures and watch the video then let’s reflect together.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

Here are some of Robbie McConnell’s reflections about building a foundation for a house.

  • What grabbed your attention either in the scripture or the video or both?
  • What connections do you see between Jesus being the foundation and the practical aspects Robbie mentioned of building a foundation?
  • What would be signs in our life of a weak foundation?
  • How does one build a life on Jesus being the solid foundation?

Lord Jesus, we confess that we often build our lives solely on work, finances, reputation, family, and friends when you are the eternal rock of our salvation. Forgive us and free us to joyfully find our lives built on the one foundation that cannot be shaken or moved. So that we are protected through the storms and we can be a strong blessing to those around us. Jesus, you are the foundation of the church, be the foundation of our lives. Amen.