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Today's text causes us to consider one of the real mysteries in the Gospel. Here was this man, Jesus of Nazareth, who loved people; healed people; told people how much God loved them; told them they could have wholeness of life just by saying "Yes" to God. Yet, why did the religious people, the educated people, the leading citizens of the time, reject Him almost immediately? Why did they murder Him? What was at the root of their problem with Jesus? Why this fear, and then anger, and hatred? 


Some time ago, there was a national poll taken in America in which a large number of people were asked what they thought would happen if Jesus came back again. The majority of persons polled were honest enough to say, "I think we would kill Him again, only probably more quickly than before." You may agree or disagree with that consensus, but the fact is that in every one of us (every now and then) there is something that resists Jesus' Gospel. There also is a part of us that is drawn toward it. You wouldn't be here today if that were not true. You believe in new life in Jesus, but there is a part of you and a part of me that is threatened by it. And the fear turns so easily into anger and hostility. We hear Him say, "I have come to bring fire to the earth" (Lk.12:49) and we feel threatened. We lash out at it. We say to Jesus, "Keep out. We don't want to set the world on fire! We're not going to change!" OR' "it's too hard to change".


Author Rob Bell asks us to ponder the mysteries of the Gospel. Mysteries which include the dusty, messy, bloody and unexpected stories about this man, Jesus of Nazareth. This Jesus who touches lepers ( whom no one else would touch), who hears the cries of blind people ( who had been told to be quiet), who dines with tax collectors (whom everybody hated), and talks with a thirsty, disreputable Samaritan woman (with whom he wasn't supposed to talk). Over and over again we see Jesus going to the edges, to the margins, to those in trouble, those despised -- those no one else would touch -- those who were ignored.


Over and over again we see him going to the weak, the blind, the lame, the losers. He moves toward them; he extends himself to them; he reaches out to them and meets them in their place of pain, helplessness, abandonment and failure. He is living, breathing evidence that God wants everybody, everyone, to be rescued, renewed and reconciled -- to ourselves, our neighbors, our world -- and our God.


There are (of course) consequences to Jesus' teaching and touching, talking and dining, healing and helping. In His very insistence that God is for everybody, Jesus challenged the conventional wisdom of his day that God is only for some -- and doesn't care about the others. In His standing in being on the side of the poor, he confronted the system that created those kinds of conditions. In His declarations that God can't fit in any one temple, he provoked those who controlled and profited from that very temple.


In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus says, "I have come to bring fire to the earth!" (Lk.12:49).

Self-centeredness and pride, which are the root of all our hostilities and enmities, must go. "I have come for division." Jesus says, "From now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother" (Lk.12:51-53). 


He will not be content with things as they are, but is eager to realize things as they ought to be. There will be those who accept the transforming Power of His Spirit of Love and compassion, and those who will reject it. Among all the fathers and sons, mothers and daughters of the world, there will be those who accept the call to go to the edges, the margins -- and those who will reject it.


The following words were found inscribed on the tomb of an Anglican bishop buried in Westminster Abbey:

"When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change. So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing my family, those closest to me, but, alas, they would have none of it.

And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize -- IF I HAD ONLY CHANGED MYSELF FIRST -- then by example I would have changed my family. And from their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even bettered the world."


We recognize that there is a need for change, but it makes us uneasy. We find it threatening when we realize that substantial change for the better means a repudiation of so much we have stood for all our lives. We find it threatening to be called upon to renounce that which, like nothing else, is of our own special workmanship, namely, our own egos.


In all of His preaching and teaching, Jesus consistently calls us to a change of heart that reaches deep down, beneath the surface changes of fad and fashion. Jesus calls us to forgive those who hurt us, to pray for those who mistreat us, to bless those who hate us, to give aid and comfort to those who need us, to humble ourselves before the weak, to be most merciful and compassionate toward those on the margins society -- to do all these things consistently means that we must reorder our lives.


Jesus calls upon us to free ourselves from all traces of egoism and pride, from self-interest, to put aside our heavy preoccupations with achievement and success according to ordinary standards. To those who would seek to follow Him, be prepared. You might, like him, be chased out of the synagogue by a lynching party; be abandoned and betrayed by His closest friends; be mocked and scourged and crucified. Those were the consequences of Jesus' teaching and touching, talking and dining, healing and helping ministry of Loving service to others.


And now, Jesus calls upon us to rebuild our entire lives. Not on our deathbeds, but today -- let us change first. And then by our example, we may be able to change those we thought impossible.


So let us go forth as teaching, touching, talking, healing and helping witnesses to the mystery of the Gospel that draws us closer to our brothers and sisters everywhere -- especially to those at the margins.

Let us go forth as living, breathing evidence, that God wants everyone to be rescued, renewed and reconciled -- to ourselves, our neighbors, our world -- and our God.

 Dear Redeemer Family, I forgot to mention, actually I wasn't sure, that you may have to have iTunes software loaded on your computer to be able to listen to the Podcast and the Episodes? I was thinking it wasn't necessary, but if you are having a problem listening to the Podcast, it might be best if you download the iTunes software to your desktop. The download is free and is a really neat software to have. If you don't have iTunes on your computer and you ARE ABLE to listen to the podcast with your windows media player, then just ignore this mailing.

Click on this URL and it will take you to the webpage for your free download ...

Love & Peace,

jerry Wilbanks

March 28, 2020

WORSHIP TIMES10:30 Sunday Morning


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