The cross. It was meant to signal death. But instead, it's a sign of living. It was mean to be the end. But instead, it's our beginning. That's the earth-shattering good news of Resurrection Sunday that changes everything. There's nothing to see here. Everything that can be shaken has been shaken, so that what cannot be shaken remains. What remains for you is joy in the midst of sadness, peace in the midst of turmoil, hope in the midst of despair, love in the midst of hate, life in the midst of death. Death couldn't stop him, hell couldn't hold him, the grave couldn't contain him and sin couldn't defeat him. There's nothing to see here. God is with you...where you need him most. God is for you...in the ordinary everyday rhythms of life. So stop hanging around the tomb...there's nothing to see there. The crown, the meal, the cross...all of that he chose for you! Don’t be afraid…go & tell… Easter is NOT something back there…an echo in human history…a memory of something long ago…a once-in-a-while revisiting of a familiar tale. Jesus is alive & sends us toward the world that does not yet know…has not yet heard… Don’t be afraid…go & tell…What has been done FOR you from now on works IN you & THROUGH you.
It means YOU are part of God’s plan for the whole of creation…yes YOU. When it was time to choose…Christ chose YOU for life with him forever.
#4 in Holy Week Series: Crossroad Choices
The Cross. It's the centrepiece of the Christian faith. An instrument of torture. A way to kill people with extreme prejudice. Designed to hurt terribly and inflict as much pain as possible over a prolonged period of time. It was humiliating and shameful; the victim's agony put on public display. At the crossroad, the world says anything but the cross. At the crossroad, God says, nothing but the cross. For it's on the cross in his suffering and dying that Jesus is most like us. It's on the cross through his suffering and dying, Jesus is most like God. That is good news for all of us. At the crossroads, Jesus will always choose the cross for us.
#3 in Holy Week series: CrossRoad Choices
The open in the service adapted from words written by Jason Dyba
The Meal. From beginning to end, the Bible is full of meals. The meal is a sign of God's provision for and deliverance of his people. The meal is a place of forgiveness and acceptance. The meal creates belonging; it builds community. At every major Crossroad or intersection in life, God gave his people a meal as a means of coming together, to celebrate and remember. It's the meal that Jesus gives this night. The meal of friendship that reveals, restores, and gives resolve. The Meal that provides perspective, purpose and fills with promise all who are confronted with Crossroad choices. Jesus offers you a place with him tonight at the Meal.
#2 in Crossroad Choices
Ford or Holden? Eels or Panthers? Labour or Liberal? Buy or rent? Opposites are said to attract, but what they really do is cause us to choose. Choices which might have far reaching consequences or long lasting effects. Every time we reach a crossroad, a choice, there’s uncertainty & tension which create turmoil or confusion. Every choice is made based on who we are & what matters most to us. Every choice reveals what has authority over us & to what we give our allegiance.
Some choices come to us and shake those very foundations of our lives. As Jesus enters Jerusalem we see just such a shaking…an uproar. Jesus arrives and we face a choice between two alternatives to life…the choice between either power and control or humility and courageous faith. His presence unnerved and unsettled those who were expecting something else. This was a crossroad moment of life-altering proportions. It still is! For Jesus there was no confusion...no uncertainty. He chose to wear one crown, to take one road, to walk one path that would forever change the trajectory of human life.
#1 in Holy Week Series: Crossroad Choices
The Carrot and the Stick approach to motivation has been around for years; it’s about making use of rewards and penalties in order to induce desired behaviour. It was the underlying philosophy that was behind the government's approach to Covid lockdowns and stay at home orders. Parents, employerss, teachers use this philosophy repeatedly. it’s phrased as “If you___, then I will___.” Every means at our disposal is employed to lead or coerce someone into complying with a request or obeying a command. From union negotiations to the toy aisle @ Big W…election promises to Parliament House.
Too often we assume that’s how God works too. “God if you’ll just___, I’ll___.” Or we convince ourselves God operates in reverse, “God I’ve____, now I’m counting on you to____.” Obedience then becomes a negotiated response…do this TO GET that, or a one of fear…do this TO AVOID that. We give in, comply, or obey because we “have to” even if our hearts aren’t in it. But that's not a biblical understanding of obedience. Rather than being a carrot or a stick approach, obedience is the path to freedom; it flows from trust in the context of a relationship of love and promise of joy. Obeying expectantly acknowledges the reality, embraces the impossibility and moves responsively to the voice which alone can powerfully bridge the gap between belief and behaviour. That's what we will explore today.
#6 and final in series: Spiritual Apprenticeship
Greek orator & statesman Demosthenes, wrote:
“Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what every man wishes, that he also believes to be true.”
Social researchers call that “confirmation bias.” It’s when someone gathers facts & assumes truth that supports a viewpoint they already hold & then discounts any contradictory evidence as “fake news” or “misinformation,” …& we’re all afflicted. From the driver or athlete whose confidence exceeds their capability to where one stands on climate change or the Covid-19 response or who believes in guilt by accusation.
We are often blind to what is true because we make judgments & decisions based on what we want to be true. In so doing, we project our fears, attachments and beliefs onto the world and others. Today Jesus confronts just that sort of blindness…visually and spiritually so that as his apprentices we see clearly that every circumstance of need is a reason for mission & every place of darkness is a reason to share the light of Christ’s restoring healing love, life, hope & joy. It's seeing clearly that Jesus wants for us today.
#5 in series: 'Spiritual Apprenticeship'
PnP or Plug-and-play technology has transformed our world over the years. Pull it out the box. Plug it in and start using it. No expertise needed. No drivers to install. No training required. If only discipleship was that easy. Plug-and-play an evangelism program and the Church would thrive again. Plug and play a prayer and the impossible situation is resolved. Plug and play the right technique and a relationship is restored, a need is met and life is sweet. But life doesn't work that way and discipleship doesn't work that way. In life we will all face impossible situations where what is demanded of us is more that we have or can produce. We look at what we have and it doesn't seem enough or it doesn't add up. Today Jesus gives his disciples a pop quiz to see what they have learnt in their journey of discipleship when they face impossible situations. What they discover is not found in themselves but in stepping out in obedience and faith even when they don't understand what is happening. For when we look to Jesus in impossible situations we discover a God who is forever sharing generously in a way that is more than we can ask or imagine. It's more than a snack but a feast of his grace which can transform the most impossible of situations.
#5 in series: Spiritual Apprenticeship
Have you heard of the phrase “disruptive truth-telling”? It's about disrupting dysfunction in order to bring it to a head and effect change. It's naming what is and what is apparent to bring growth and learning. It's used to move organisations and individuals out of the comfortable status quo that is safe, familiar and predictable so that transformation can occur. Disruptive truth-telling is not easy for many of us. Life has conditioned us to not rock the boat, to avoid conflict and to create “peace” at all costs. Our fear and anxiety at the perceived or real backlash, or a desire not to hurt the other person’s feelings stops us from speaking up boldly about something that needs to change. The result is the person/organisation remains stuck, we remain stuck and nothing changes. But Jesus shows us as disciples, as his apprentices, that our calling is to move toward need, to disrupt lives with a bold word that will move people into a new reality where forgiveness and healing bring fullness of life in Jesus.
"Liar!" No one likes to be called out as a liar. Liars are considered untrustworthy, immoral, along with a whole plethora of words we may like to add. Liars are to be avoided...and yet how many of us lie to ourselves constantly. "It's okay if I finish off this chocolate block tonight, it's been a hard day. I'll start that diet again tomorrow." But what about the form of self-deception that masquerades as "procrastination" - "I'm sure it's nothing...I'll check that lump with the doctor at my next check-up in six months." Or the form of self-deception that thinks we are worthless, useless, stupid, unlovable. As the old saying says: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” Right?
So what do you believe? What has shaped the person that you are today? Are you living truthfully, or are you living a lie? Have you believed the lies? Today in the Master's Workshop, Jesus shows us how temptation has a revealing effect in our lives...it uncovers our heart's desires...it shows the depth and direction of our our convictions...it spotlights what we really care about...what we are most committed to...and what has captured our deepest affections. He also shows us the greatest gift we have, in countering Satan's deceptions and lies, in standing firm...and living truthfully in every moment.
#2 in series: Spiritual Apprenticeship