Kick the Tires & Light the Fires

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Sermon Script: Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-25
Sermon Purpose: What is God calling us to do? Respond?
Sermon Title: Kick the Tires and Light the Fires

This morning’s message is a congregation participation message. If you would please, turn your bulletins over to the back. You will find three questions. As people call out answers, please write down the ones that apply to you on the line provided. Who are we most scared to reach out to? Common; who are we the most scared to reach out to. (pause for answers) Is it the poor? Is it people of color? Is it people who have a different cultural background. Maybe we are afraid to speak to Hispanics, Asian Americans, or African Americans. Maybe we are afraid to talk to people who smell. Maybe we are afraid of being used. What is it about ministry that causes us to want to hide in our churches for fear of our community? Perhaps, what scares us most is Jesus’ call to step outside of our comfort zones.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells the disciples, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” I don’t know about you, but to hear we will receive power from the Holy Spirit sounds like an awfully warm and fuzzy thing to say. It’s when Jesus says, “you[1] will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” – that’s when this passage becomes real. I mean, “What! Jesus isn’t going to come back and whip all of my enemies for me? Jesus isn’t going to restore the Kingdom to Israel? What?! Where’s all that ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven stuff?’” Then it hits me. As the Children of God we are called to be God’s hands and feet here on earth. This thing called ministry has never been about what’s safe for me. This thing called ministry has always been about giving glory to God. That means God changes me and I, in turn, serve God. Sometimes the call to serve God can be scary. The call to serve God can be scary because God always seems to be pushing us out of the nest – outside of our comfort zones.

Church, how did the disciples respond to Jesus’ message they would be Jesus’ witnesses to the end of the earth? (pause for answers) Scripture tells us they got together. They got together with their friends, and with Jesus’ family. Scripture lists them out. They were the eleven, plus the women[2], plus Mary the mother of Jesus and Jesus’ brothers. They got all their friends together and they were all of one accord. No, they were not all piled into a Honda like clowns at the circus. They were gathered together for one purpose – one singular purpose – to pray.

The passage does not tell us what they were praying for, but I can tell you what I would be praying for. I’d probably start by praying the same prayer Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39). These were largely uneducated tradesmen. They were blue collar guys and girls. There wasn’t a college educated person in the bunch, and Jesus was expecting them to leave home – to leave the Promised Land. Jesus expected them to find some way to relate to people who spoke a different language; who had different customs, and came from completely different religious backgrounds. The disciples had followed Jesus for three years and they still didn’t get it. Now Jesus was expecting the Duh-ciples to share the gospel to the end of the earth. I tell ya what. If I had been one of the people in that upper room I’d have been praying for a miracle. But that’s the funny thing about prayer isn’t it. When we pray – God answers.

Now, let me ask y’all something. Let’s have a show of hands. How many of y’all have seen military jets do a fly over – either at a football or baseball game? I imagine that when the Holy Spirit came roaring down from heaven at Pentecost it was like an F-22 Raptor fighter jet flying over the roof of the house where the disciples were praying. The people inside wouldn’t have seen anything, but the sound of it would have put everyone in the room on their knees. I imagine the people in that room would have been terrified, and then to see tongues of flames like tongues of fire appear over each of them – it’s scary. Take note; there wasn’t an angel there to say, “Do not be afraid,” and yet the Scripture does not say a word about the disciples being scared. It would appear the Holy Spirit had already given the disciples courage.

At this same time there were people living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5). They were all confused at this loud rush of wind, and even more confused at what they heard coming out of these Galileans’ mouths. There were no great centers of learning in Galilee. How is it that these Galileans were speaking in so many native tongues? Church, how is it possible these Galileans were speaking in the tongues of people from all over the world? (pause for answers) That’s right; the work of the Holy Spirit. God answered the disciples’ prayers. God gave them the tools they needed to be Jesus’ witnesses to the end of the earth. The disciples; who are now apostles[3] were speaking in the languages of the people to whom they were being sent. The Holy Spirit was equipping the apostles to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The next question we should ask is did these uneducated apostle’s understand what they were saying? Peter answers that question for us. Peter stands up to speak before the confused bystanders from every nation under heaven. Peter opens the Word to these men with comfort and explanation from the minor prophet Joel. The explanation is plain. The apostles speaking in tongues is the work of the Holy Spirit. The purpose is to better explain, “that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Now, at the beginning of our time this morning I asked, “Who are we most scared to reach out to?” Looking back over everything I’ve said – what did the disciples do when they were afraid to reach out to new people? (Pause for answers) The disciples prayed. What happened when the disciples prayed? (Pause for answers) God answered their prayer with the tools they needed; courage, speaking in tongues and understanding. Church, who is God calling us to reach out to? (Pause for answers) What is God calling us to do? (Pause for answers) Where can we find the tools we need to take action? (Pause for answers) Sisters and brothers, God has been calling out to us to be God’s hands and feet in new ways for some time. God is waiting to empower this church to do God’s work. However, we have to ask for God’s help. We have to be open and willing to be changed. It’s not enough to say I prayed about it, but I didn’t feel or hear anything so I stayed home. Now is the time to get up off our pews and either get down on our knees or get to work. With each step we take in faith toward God, God gives us the courage and the tools to take another. But we are never going to discover that if we don’t take that first step. It is past time to stop wondering whether it’s time to fish or cut bait. Now is the time to kick the tires and let God light the fires of our hearts for God’s glory.

In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.

[1] Italics mine – added for emphasis

[2] Probably Mary Magdalene & Mary and Martha the sisters of Lazarus

[3] An apostle, from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), meaning “one who is sent away” ( Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford, 1944)

Little Girl’s Birthday Invitation

Audrey's-2nd-B-day-invite-1It’ll be birthday time soon, and Little Girl loves Hello Kitty these days so we decided a Hello Kitty splash birthday party is the way to go. I hope y’all have just as much fun in the sun this summer.

Y’all have fun,
Richard

Die & Rise: Ascension Sunday

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Sermon Script: J onah 4:6-11; 1John 3:11-18 (Ascension Sunday)
Sermon Purpose: Let go of things and opinions that keep us from loving God.
Sermon Title: “Growth Requires Sacrifice”

I didn’t like it. I had been to college for five years to earn a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Alabama. I had moved 400 miles from my nearest relative. I had made sacrifices; all to discover I did not like it. What I didn’t like was my job. I was working as a product designer for Herff Jones yearbook marketing. I was bored at work. I felt isolated from the other designers. I worked in a windowless cubicle in the middle of a warehouse. For me there wasn’t much to like. But on the other hand I was scared. I was scared to make a change. I had devoted years to figuring out how to make a living at this thing I loved. I had spent another three years working at this profession,  and I was miserable; but change meant a lot of unknowns. What if I couldn’t find another job? How would I support myself? What if another job wouldn’t pay as well? What if the conditions were worse? I was miserable and scared, and just going through the motions. Going through the motions is never enough, and on November 11, 2004 I was discharged from that position. I should have been crushed, but in a way it was a huge relief. This is a part of my story. This is a part of my calling to be a minister, and it was painful. What I learned is sometimes growing for God means letting things go.

In this morning’s passage from Jonah, Jonah is sitting on a hill waiting for God do deliver destruction to Nineveh. Destruction did not come. Instead, God allowed a vine to grow up over Jonah’s head. Jonah had spent three days in the belly of a big fish. The digestive juices in the fish’s belly likely caused damage to Jonah’s skin. The hot sun probably aggravated the condition of Jonah’s skin. Jonah was glad for the plant – the shade was probably a relief from the sun. But then God allowed a worm to come and eat the vine – removing Jonah’s relief from the sun. Jonah became angry again. Jonah was exceedingly glad to receive God’s compassion when the vine provided shade from the sun. However, Jonah was rebelliously angry when God shared God’s grace with the people of Nineveh. Jonah cared more about his comfort than Jonah did for the salvation of Nineveh. Jonah had some things Jonah needed to let go. Jonah needed to let his anger die on the sacrificial altar of God’s love. Jonah needed to let his grudges die. Jonah needed to allow his desire to put his wishes ahead of God’s design to die at the foot of the cross.

C.S. Lewis is famously quoted as saying, “There are two kinds of people. Those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘fine have it your way.”[1] Jonah was one of those who very badly wanted to have it his way. Jonah did not get his own way. When Jonah tried Jonah was thrown over board, swallowed by a big fish, spent three days sloshing around in the digestive juices of the fish’s belly before being spat out on dry land. Then when Jonah wanted the city of Nineveh destroyed he sat on a hill and the sun made him miserable. And still Jonah wanted what he wanted – even when it made him miserable.

After losing my job with Herff Jones I tried unsuccessfully for a year to try to build a freelance career. It turned out I was good at selling some things, but not myself. I found myself working as a courier in Charlotte for about three years, and then I finally had to let it go. I had to let go of this idea I can make a living for myself by doing anything other than what God has created me to do. Now, I still draw pretty well as a hobby, but it’s nothing to make a living at. God has given me other gifts for supporting myself, my family and more importantly for doing the work God has tasked me to do.

The question I would ask the church this morning are what are the ideas, and notions we carry that prevent us from doing what God has asked us to do and created us for? What are those things in the life of the church and in our personal lives that do not line up with God’s design for our lives? (pause) The way to figure that out is to look at our priorities. So here’s what I would like for you to do. Please, take your bulletin, and turn it over. Find some blank space there on the back and grab a pencil out of the pew. Now, draw a line in the middle of that blank space. In the first column answer these questions. What are the things you do for you? It can be what you do for a living. It can be what you do for fun. It can be what gets you in trouble. It can be what makes you feel whole. Just quick in one or two words write that in the first column. Now in the second column answer this question. What has God called and created us to do?

1John 3:16-18 says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

It is easy to say we would like more people in our church. It is easy to say we would like more children and young families in our church. But all too often that wish comes with the expectation the new people coming through that door are going to be like us. If you look around this room there is a whole lot of life experience here. I think it’s fair to say without that amount of life experience aint nobody coming through those doors gonna be like us. Have you ever paused to consider what expectations about the people who might come through that door will have to be sacrificed in order for our church to continue rising for Christ? If families started coming through that door who were totally different from us could we love them just the same? What if they are poor? What if they are really poor living in a tent? What if they smell bad? Can we love them just the same?

When was the last time we talked about the difference between loving the unlovable as Christ loved those we deem unlovable? Did Jesus just talk about loving others? Did Jesus stop at talking about loving those who are different from us? No. Jesus ate with lepers, tax collectors and people generally understood to be sinners. Jesus ate with them. Jesus shared what Jesus knew about God with them. Jesus died for them; which is to say, Jesus died for us. We are the descendents of the lepers, tax collectors and sinners with whom Jesus ate and spent His time on earth. Jesus died so those sinners would not have to stay sinners. Jesus died so we would not have to stay sinners. We are not any better than anyone else. Why should we not reach out to the least and lost in our community? Hear me Church. Christ did not die so we could stop at having fun doing fundraisers? Jesus died so we could move past doing fundraisers to keep our doors open and move out into our community. Christ died so we could let our old prejudices about whom we would like to have sitting in our pews die so our church can rise and grow with Christ. What does it mean to rise and grow with Christ? To rise and grow with Christ means to love the unlovable. To rise and grow with Christ means allowing our old preferences to be sacrificed so God’s love and grace may more easily flow. Please take a moment on this Sabbath to consider what opinions, prejudices, grievances and regrets need to be sacrificed in order to better let God’s love flow – both in our lives and in the life of our church?

In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.

[1] CS Lewis “The Great Divorce”

Love everyone = righteousness

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Sermon Script: Jonah 4:1-3; 1John 5:1-6
Sermon Purpose: “Grace and compassion for everyone – not just those like us.”
Sermon Title: Love Everyone = Righteousness

I think we have all kinds of reasons not to like somebody. Sometimes we just really want to see God sock it to someone. Sometimes we want to see God’s judgment and wrath roll down like mighty waters on the people we don’t like. I think we get angry when people who have done awful things seem to get off too easily. We want more judgment on “those” people because after all, we don’t like “those” people. Jonah did not like the people of Nineveh. Jonah became angry when God spared the people of Nineveh. I think if I were angry God spared someone I hated God’s question, “Do you do well to be angry?” would probably only make me even more angry. So we are going to talk about being angry this morning. We are going to talk about being angry when God spares those we think need to be punished. This morning’s message is about offering grace and compassion for everyone – even to people we don’t like.

You may recall from a couple of weeks ago Jonah did not like the people of Nineveh, that great capitol city of Assyria. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell them to repent from their sinning or else God was going to destroy the city. Jonah wanted God to destroy Nineveh and all of Assyria with it, but God wanted Jonah to deliver God’s message. Jonah ran the other way. Jonah got on a boat at Joppa and tried to sail to Tarshish. A storm threatened to sink the boat so the sailors on the ship threw Jonah into the sea. A big fish swallowed Jonah whole and spent the next three days swimming Jonah back toward Israel. Jonah did not want to go.

Jonah hated the Assyrians. Their reputation for being brutal, blood thirsty killers was well known. There was a long list of cities and whole peoples the Assyrians had destroyed. Assyrian military tactics were brutal and their faith was an abomination to God. God describes them as a people, “who do not know their right from their left” (Jonah 4:11). You would think Jonah was justified in being angry with these people. You would think God would want these people destroyed as well. You would think God would want this idolatrous people wiped off the face of the earth.1 Why should God give the Assyrians a fair chance to repent? I don’t know why God gave the Assyrians a chance to change their ways. But giving the Assyrians a fair chance is exactly what God did. After three days of Jonah preaching repent or be destroyed the king and all of the city of Nineveh covered themselves with sack cloth and ashes; they fasted, and cried out to God in an attempt to save themselves from God’s wrath. “God saw what they did, how they turned away from their evil way.” Then, “God relented from the disaster that he said he would do to them, and he did not do it” (Jonah 3:10). God did not destroy the Assyrians. God did not even destroy the people of Nineveh. This is exactly what Jonah was afraid was going to happen. Jonah was angry.

The more I consider Jonah’s anger over Nineveh’s salvation the more curious I am about Jonah’s relationship with God and other people. How righteous was Jonah? The Biblical understanding of righteousness is being in right relationship with God and with everyone around us – even those we hate.2 After looking at the book of Jonah can we say Jonah followed the Biblical mandate for righteousness? Then I think if a prophet of God can struggle with living out the Biblical definition of righteousness is it any wonder we struggle to meet this definition? I’m not making excuses. It is so easy to turn on the news and see the reporting of riots around the world in the face of police brutality. We cannot seem to go a week without a report of Muslim extremists visiting harm and destruction on their neighbors. Then we take what we see in the news and allow it to become prejudice at home. How many times have we caught ourselves giving a dirty look, or having an ugly thought about a woman wearing a head scarf? How many times have we allowed old prejudices about African Americans, or Hispanics, or even Native Americans to change the way treat people who are different from us? Does thinking and acting this way reflect God’s righteousness? What message does carrying hatred in our heart have for those who are lost and seeking answers? Church, when you encounter Christians who are pouty and angry, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Thinking I don’t want to be around angry pouty Christians is an all too common, and perhaps an all too human thought. What should be the Christian response be to spending time with people we don’t like?

1John 5:1-2 says, “1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” Church, if we are going to learn to love one another, even when we don’t get a long which commandments do you think we should follow first? (pause) In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus says the greatest commandment is to, “[…] love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the Prophets.” The question for us is what does it mean to love those who are born of Christ? What does it mean to love those who are born again? If we are going to start by following the commandments then we have to start by loving God. What does loving God look like? Do we need to go out and buy cards and flowers for God? Should we buy God chocolate? No? God is not here in the same way God was here in Jesus walked the earth. If we are really serious about obeying the commandments then we have to show our love for God by loving God’s people – even the ones we don’t like. Loving God’s people is not a mamby pamby kind of love. Loving God’s people is not about letting people walk all over us. Loving God’s people is about loving the smell of sheep.

When I was in seminary I had a professor, Dr. Gray. Dr. Gray asked us on the first day of class, “Do you love the smell of sheep?” He didn’t ask us if we like the smell of sheep? Dr. Gray asked us if we love the smell of sheep. There isn’t often much to like about the smell of sheep. They sweat. They are often dirty because they don’t shed hair like a dog or cat. Imagine not washing your hair for six months and how nasty and smelly your hair would become? That’s pretty close to the smell of sheep. There isn’t much to like, but you can learn to love the smell of sheep just the same. Do you know how we can learn to love the smell of sheep? We learn the same way a shepherd learns. We care for the sheep. We make sure they are fed on green pastures, and led them beside still waters. When a sheep is lost we go look for it. When the sheep is found we rejoice. When the sheep grow older and can no longer watch out for pray the shepherd sends the sheep dog to fight off the wolves and to bring the sheep home again. Sisters and brothers who are the sheep? Who are the sheep in our lives?

We are the sheep. We are the stubborn and the stiff necked. We often bite and butt heads with each other. By our inability to conquer the sin in our lives we are often covered in the stink of anger, bitterness, and unrepentance. We are the ones who grow unable to see the wolves lurking at our door. We are the ones in need of saving. However, unlike sheep we can love and look out for one another. We can choose to care for, to build up, and to ask to be held accountable for always, always growing to become more like Jesus Christ. That’s what it means to be a child of God; to love others in an effort to love God. The better job we do of learning to love others – even those who make us uncomfortable, aggravated and out right angry the better job we do of learning to love God. This is what it means to follow the commandments. It means we need to do a better job of learning what it means to love Jesus Christ.

In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.

1 That’s what you get for thinking. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5.

2 Righteousness is first used in Genesis 15:6 when Abraham believes & trusts God. “And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.Right relationship with the Lord is defined in Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Right relationship with people is defined in Leviticus 19:18 “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” ESV

Iguana StarWars

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Iguana-Wars-6I got a little busy yesterday, but I still wanted to participate in May the Fourth Be With you so I figured I would post this as early this morning as I could. I hope you enjoy this flash back from last October.

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“My Father’s Table”

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Sermon Script: Luke 15:11-32
Sermon Purpose: All sinners are welcome at the Lord’s Table
Sermon Title: “My Father’s Table”

Sometimes we get caught up in trying to figure out who is in the right and who is in the wrong. Sometimes we become divided over who are the victims and who are those who have done wrong. Just look at the news. In the same week we have seen and heard reports of thousands of people killed and thousands more living in the streets because of a massive earth quake in Nepal. We have also seen news footage of riots in Baltimore, Maryland, because of interrogation tactics used by the police. As the local church we can pretty easily become caught up in the idea we would love to have this person join us in worship, and we wish that person would sit a pew or two further away. This morning we are going to talk about both sides of this argument while trying to figure out what God has to say about the prodigals among us.

This morning’s text is familiar to many of us, but to put the parable in its proper context we need to go back to the beginning of Luke chapter 15. Tax collectors and sinners are drawing closer to Jesus. Maybe they want to hear what Jesus will say. Maybe they want to see a miracle. We don’t know why the tax collectors and the sinners are coming to Jesus, but the Scribes and Pharisees are grumbling about it. “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). Jesus’ response is to tell a number of parables; the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3-7), The Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10), and the parable of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). In the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin Jesus focuses on that which was lost, but in the parable of the Prodigal Son Jesus twists the message a bit leaving the reader to wonder who exactly is the prodigal son?

In the parable of the Prodigal Son there is a man – a patriarch of his family with two sons. Now according to tradition dating back to Isaac’s two sons, Esau and Jacob; the oldest son receives the larger portion of the inheritance (Genesis 27). The reason for this is the oldest son is to take on the duties of the patriarch. It takes more money to be the patriarch because is responsible for taking care of others. The patriarch of the family is responsible for making sure no one in all of their extensive family goes hungry, or is sold into slavery. If they are sold into slavery it is the job of the patriarch to go and buy them back. So the younger brother would have received 1/3 of the father’s wealth while the older would have received 2/3 (Deut 21:17). However, this wealth could only be received when the father died. So when the younger son comes to his father and asks for his inheritance what he is saying to his father is, “I wish you were dead so I could go my own way and do what I want.” In fulfilling the younger son’s request the Father’s response is culturally understood as, “You wished me dead for the inheritance and so now you are dead to me. Take your money and go.”

The text says the younger son travels to a far away land and squanders his Father’s money on prodigal living. Poor and destitute the younger son hires himself out to work on a pig farm. Working as a pig farmer is an act of extreme humiliation for a Hebrew because pigs are thought to be unclean animals (Lev 5:2; ll:7). Finally the younger son remembers even the servants of his father’s house are treated better than he is now. So the younger son makes up his mind to return to his father’s house. As the younger son comes close to his father’s house his father sees him. The father humbles himself by running out to meet his son. Running is fine for children, but adults do not run in Hebrew culture. The father humbles himself, and interrupts his younger son’s apology and welcomes his son home. The younger son is given a ring, and the finest robe in the house, and the fatted calf is killed that they may celebrate. Those who have wandered far from God’s grace are eagerly welcomed back to God’s table.

The Patriarch had another son. An older son who when he learned of his brother’s return refused to go into his father’s house. The older son was angry and jealous. The younger son had committed a great sin against their father and now the father has graciously welcomed the younger son back home. The older son had been obedient, and yet he had never received such a reward. The older son’s anger prevented him from entering his father’s house. His father had to explain to him that, “[i]t was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32).

Church, after hearing this parable who is the prodigal son? Is the younger son the prodigal son? Is the older son the prodigal son? Are the tax collectors and sinners who are drawing close to Jesus, prodigal sons? Are the Pharisees and Scribes prodigal sons? Who is the prodigal son in this passage? (pause for answers) The truth is they are all prodigals sons, as we are all prodigal children. We are all sinners who have fallen short of the grace of God, and if we take a moment to think about it we have all sinned against God and one another.

Think for a moment about the things we have allowed to come between us and the Father. Have we acted like the younger son and partied and played until we were in such a distorted entertained stupor we could no longer hear God’s voice calling to us? Have we acted like the older son by allowing anger, grudges and regret to separate us from freely receiving and sharing the love of God with others? I heard it said recently, “If you are an angry and pouty Christian you’re doing it wrong.”[1] Perhaps we have chased after wealth like the tax collectors, or found other ways to be separated from God like the sinners coming to see Jesus at the beginning of chapter fifteen. Or maybe we have judged unworthy those who have simply not been a member of our church as long as we have? When we really thinking about it, and I mean really examine ourselves, are any of us worthy to break bread at the Father’s table?

And yet the Father comes to us anyway. The Father humbles God’s self and runs to God’s prodigal children. There is nothing wrong with remembering the Son of God humbled Himself to be born like one of us. Jesus came to live and work like one of us; and to die like one of us. And then to make sure we are able to come to God’s table God gives us something so much better than a ring, or a robe or a fatted calf. God’s gift to God’s repenting prodigal children is God’s son Jesus Christ; raised from the dead. Christ then invites to God’s table all who love God. All of those who are willing to return to God’s house from the lands where we practiced sinful living are welcome at God’s table. God’s table is open to everyone, regardless of age, gender or creed. God doesn’t care if you are a Methodist, a Baptist, a Pentecostal or a Non-denominational Christian. God calls to God’s table all who love God. But to claim we love God we have to step away from our prodigal living. We have to repent. We have to turn back to God. We have to come home with a sincere desire to flee the wrath to come. Sisters and brothers now is the time to ask that very important question. Do we really want to come home to our Father’s table?

In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen

[1] Rev. David Talbert, message from Open Hands 4-27-15

Painting is from the “Brooklyn Museum – The Return of the Prodigal Son (Le retour de l’enfant prodigue) – James Tissot” by James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2006, 00.159.185_PS1.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_(Le_retour_de_l%27enfant_prodigue)_-_James_Tissot.jpg#/media/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_(Le_retour_de_l%27enfant_prodigue)_-_James_Tissot.jpg

The image has been grayscaled and auto contrasted in Photoshop