Celebration, Healing, and Forgiveness

We are meant to celebrate to party to rejoice for Jesus has come and shown us what it looks like when God is in Charge. God is King, so rock on!

There is no reason to fear to worry to grieve. No matter how dark how difficult how miserable this moment may be as Christians we know, proclaim, and affirm that Jesus is Lord and the good news—the really, really, really good news is that God loves us and is in charge. God is in the on-going, life-transforming, paradigm shattering process of saving, blessing, and gracing the world this world. We are to pray and work for this world to mirror heaven for things on earth to be as they are in heaven. We know God is in charge and life will never be the same again.

Bad things happen. We, Christians know that bad things happen, really bad things happen. We lose our job, suffer a break up, a friend or family member gets cancer or dies, we are injured. A madman gets a gun and shoots down many people. Evil is very real and until Jesus comes back and finishes reconciling all of creation to God than we will be faced with tragedy, evil, and desolation. It is not what happens that is important, but how we face it how we deal with it that really matters. We can get bitter or better. We can let the suffering that attacks us weaken and makes us small or we use it to transform us to make us bigger, better, more loving, more fully human.

I don’t know why bad things happen.

I do know that we can overcome it and use it to make us better than we used to be.

Jesus went around spreading the gospel, celebrating God becoming King, and healing and forgiving people. He embodied the radical and subversive truth that God is now in charge. N. T. Wright in Simply Jesus writes, “Jesus was concerned not just with outward structures, but with realities that would involve the entire person, the entire community.”  Jesus wanted and still wants to transform, heal the entire person not just what seems to be wrong. He intends to make us new people so that we can live in the world, heaven on earth. Jesus came to proclaim the new creation and to make us new people.

The best sermon we will ever hear is the sermon that anyone can give. You don’t need to go to seminary. You don’t need to be able to read Hebrew or Greek. You don’t need to be ordained pastor. The best sermon is only two words long: me too. That’s it! Me too!

Rob Bell says, “The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, ‘Me too.’ The resurrection of Jesus is about beginning a new creation in the midst of this one.” Jesus meets us where we are and loves us. He knows the pain we are going through and he says come to me and I will give you rest. Jesus is the only God who knows the pain, hardship, and disappointment that besets us. He knows what it means to be human and will carry us when we cannot walk and when we are wounded he picks us up dusts us off bandages us up and sends us on our way. Jesus is God because He loves us as we are but loves us way, way too much to leave us that way.

Do you believe this!

Do you believe that God is King that God is in charge?

Do you believe that God means to remake, renew this world and in that process remake, renew us?

Do you believe this?

I used to go to a church that preached against sin, each Sunday it was all about how evil and wrong I was. I didn’t grow in that church, in fact you could say I shrunk there.

I now belong to a church that preaches God’s love and grace. My pastors don’t ignore sin, sin is very real but they emphasize God’s love and grace. I have grown and now I want to go to seminary and become a pastor. I want to help to serve all. I want to spread God’s love and grace to all who will listen.

As Christians, as followers of Jesus we are to celebrate, heal, and forgive. Jesus said we would do greater things. The greater thing is to love and forgive to spread the gospel in word and deed to be Jesus to the world.

I will leave you with what N. T. Wright calls the ‘Nazareth Manifesto’.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)

Grace and peace to you!

Amen

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