Monday, April 28, 2014

More Lessons from Corinth (2 Corinthians sermon series) -

Do you remember the last time you had to tell someone you loved something that would be difficult for them to hear?  Probably bad news.  Quite possibly life changing news.  Maybe relationship altering news.  It had to be said though.  You know what I mean?

The Apostle Paul faced this situation when he wrote his first letter to the church in Corinth.  They were divided, selfish, misled, judgmental, and arrogant.  Paul needed to set them straight, and he did in a very upfront letter.  In his concluding sentence he reminds them why he wrote them in the first place.  "My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.  Amen."  (1 Cor. 16:24)  He loved them.

This love compels Paul to write another letter.  There were still lessons and insights they needed to learn.  As we return to the 2nd letter to the church in Corinth, perhaps there is something still for us to learn as well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Resurrected Life-Let the Celebration Begin

I remember the first time I read The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.  I found the book to be challenging and interesting.  I have always had a fascination with the rigors of the Christian life.  The most interesting part (for me) of TCOD is the chapter on celebration.

I had never really thought about celebration as a discipline.  Honestly, I had never really thought about the importance of celebration.  I certainly had never thought about the corporate implications of celebration.  Celebration was just something you did at select, special times.  Right?

The church celebrates when a baby is born, a marriage is solemnized, a retirement happens, a milestone is reached, a young adult graduates, a sinner comes to Jesus, a prodigal comes home, and a saint receives her reward.  I cannot shake the feeling that something is really missing here.  We celebrate great events and happenings.  We mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice.  Something still seems missing.

Each of these events is important to the individual connected to it.  They are important to us because of our connection to one another.  These attempts at celebration seem to always focus upon a small part of the Church and flow vicariously to the rest of us.  We certainly need to lift one another up and celebrate, but . . . aren't there reasons for us to all celebrate?  Aren't there congregational reasons to lift up a shout other than the paying off of a mortgage?

I believe that Easter serves as a great example of a corporate reason to celebrate.  We take the Lord's Supper every week to remember His body and blood as they were offered for us.  We examine, think about, contemplate, confess, and feel.  We do this introspective action every week of the year. 

Why don't we celebrate?  I mean really let 'er rip-last second shot made by your favorite basketball team, a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth, standing ovation for that wonderful performance, graduate that you are so proud of, etc.  Why don't WE celebrate?  Of all the people on the planet, we have reason to celebrate.

As  The Resurrected Life series comes a conclusion, let us bring it to an appropriate conclusion.  Let us celebrate!  Easter is a time of celebration for God's Church.  We lift up the resurrection of the Lamb.  We sing He Lives with great fervor.  We remember His resurrection.  We are grateful.

While Easter is an event like those I mentioned earlier, there is a significant difference.  Easter is for us.  You and me.  Not me.  Not you.  Us.  When we gather together, we should naturally celebrate this great event we have in common.  Not just on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox but whenever we gather together, we should celebrate.

The goal of this series has been to challenge us all to remember that in Christ we are all newly resurrected creatures.  Our resurrected lives are testimonies to His resurrected life.  Our hope goes on long after the Easter grass and bunnies have been put away.  This year let's keep the discipline of celebration continuing long after Easter brunch has concluded. 

Let us celebrate the resurrected life this Sunday but let us keep the celebration going long after Easter has passed!