On EARTH as in heaven

Sermon, Day of Fulfilment, Sunday November 24, 2013, St Petri

Colossians 1:11-2011 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

In the great sport of road cycling you can learned a great deal about faith in Jesus. For example, I learned this week that human beings are like Magpies.

See, I as a human being am created in God’s very own image. That sets me apart from Magpies and all beings in the animal kingdom. They all have a natural fear of me. This is just how it is in this fallen creation of God.

I have learned that Magpies are two sided birds.

Magpies are scared of me on my bike. They react to my presence in two ways. Not more than 6 weeks ago when I, as “Lord” over the Magpies, rode my bike anywhere near a nest of little baby Magpies, the Mum and Dad Magpies went on the attack. They swooped and clicked around my ears as I innocently passed by their tree.

But now it is all different. Now things have returned to how things go for summer, autumn and winter. When I approach on my cycle they take flight. This is much more enjoyable for me as a cyclist!

But as I think about this Sunday – the last Sunday of the whole church year we have shared, the Day of Fulfilment where we with the ancient Church confess that simple but profound truth that “Jesus is Lord”, it occurred to me that people are just like Magpies when they are confronted with the truth that Jesus really is Lord of all the earth, all powers, all evil, all powerful people, all of our lives.

When a person is confronted with the truth that Jesus really does live and rule; that he is Lord of all things and all people and powers, people naturally do what Magpies do. They either fight or take flight.

There are lots of people fighting God in our time. Plenty of people fight God in all kinds of ways. Why is this? Well if Jesus really is the Lord and ruler of the world and my life then that means that I am not and we are not.

Of course, lots of people fight against this because it is too confronting. If Jesus Christ really is alive and ruling their life then I would have to listen to him and even follow his way of things. And that would mean trusting him and not trusting all the other people and things I am currently trusting for my well-being. It would mean doing life his way, not mine. It would mean trusting his word, not everyone else’s or my own.

On the other hand, a lot of people do what Magpies do for most of the year – take flight. They are trying to get all the good things of life that God can offer without a living relationship with God – taking matters in to their own hands trying to discover the secret, find themselves and do what they want with what God has given. They steer clear of Jesus as they pursue immortality and life – until those things work out to be impossible.

Can you see that either way, Magpies are scared of people and people are scared of God’s reign and rule?

Can you see that people are like Magpies? They are scared of the news that Jesus Christ is Lord of all things and people. They take flight or they fight – but either way it is all fear driven.

But if only Magpies knew my intentions! When I ride my bike under their tree I don’t want to harm them at all! I don’t want to destroy their family, disrupt their homes, brings pain and hurt into their day. If only I could tell them that I actually wish them no harm. If only I could convince them that I actually like Magpies and value them God’s good creatures made for a purpose and having a place in God’s world (this was hard to admit 6 weeks ago!).

This is also like people, when it come to Jesus being Lord.

If only they knew Jesus the Lord’s intention. When he comes by their tree he calls them down and says he is coming to share their lives like he did with Zacchaeus. If only they knew that he did not come to condemn them but to love them and welcome them into his presence paradise, like he did to that thieving sinner on the tortured tree next to him that dark day as Golgotha.

What are you hearing when we confess, Jesus is Lord? Are you like a Magpie at the moment? Are you fighting God on an issue? Are you taking flight from God on an issue? Are you scared of Jesus being Lord over your life; struggling to trust that his will and his ways are good for you and your present and future?

When he comes close to your heart, calling you to repent of your sin, your brokenness, are you plugging your ears (fighting) or just thinking about something else lest you have to actually respond and let him change your world?

When he visits your place and shakes your tree and finds you up there in the branches, are you resiting coming down so everyone will know he is with you and letting him come to you heart for true fellowship?

If you are a Magpie at the moment – fighting or taking flight, can I help you take the other road that only the good news of Jesus giving his very life for you in complete love and grace brings into view? It is not the road of fight or flight but faith. Only Jesus death on that cross and his word to that sinner thief opens up a new road to a new heart and new relationships.

No more fear only faith: Faith that Jesus is Good Lord. Can I help you find the road of faith in your fighting and flighting? It is in this magnificent text, which probably is a song that the earliest Christian communities shared as they gathered around Word and meal on the first day of the week.

Who is Jesus of Nazareth?

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;

Why can this be true?

“…..16 for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together”.

Who are we?

18 He is the head of the body, the church; The church the public gathering in the public square. That is what ekklesia simply means:  People gathering in public among the public.

Jesus gathers his people in public for the sake of the public. When his people gather they pray with him and he prays that his will be done in the world, now, and in the heavenly places we cannot see. He prays “Father, your Kingdom come on earth” first.

Why does Jesus rule?

So that we “be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and that we be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light”.(Colossians 1:11)

Luther puts it like this…

The Evil One, our own sinful/broken nature, and those who are against God want to stop us from keeping God’s name holy and having him rule as our king. But God breaks their power. Go also makes our faith in Jesus strong and helps us to trust God’s word as long as we live. This is how God’s good and kind will is done.  (Small Catechism, Lord’s Prayer, Third Prayer).

Friends, on this day when we trust that in Jesus all things are fulfilled and this world is moving along his course to his open arms, let’s not be Magpies taking flight or fighting God but let’s take the other road the gospel brings – the road of faith.

And while we trust this , let’s give our lives saying something about his to other people who are still scared of Jesus passing by their door. If only they knew his intentions and power. If only they knew that in Jesus and his Lordship of their lives, all things would be well.

Let us be a people shaped by celebration, confidence, joy, and most of all, peace, because we know who Christ is and we are confident in his victory. As Julian of Norwich affirmed, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

CONVERSATION STARTERS

Have there been times in your life when you have fought against God and his ways and will? Share about that…

Have there been times when you have taken flight from God – either taking matters into your own hands or just doing others things and trusting other things for your well-being? Share on that…

Read the text through slowly noting the many truths Paul proclaims about

  1. Jesus (who he is and what he has)

  2. The church (who we are and what our role is)

I said there are three ways to respond to the truth that Jesus is Lord.

  1. Fight against it

  2. Take flight from it

  3. Faith- believe it and surrender to his ways.

What makes all the difference for you in going the way of faith – not flight nor fear?

Reflect on Zacchaeus and his response to jesus

What about the woman at the well?

What about Moses?

What about Job?

What about you? Which way are you gong at the moment?

Julian of Norwich said that “all will be well. Is this how you believe things will be for you and this world? if so, why? If not, why?

When you pray the Lord’s Prayer, how do think about Jesus praying that he wants the Lord’s kingdom to come on earth as it already is is in heaven? What does that mean for you?

Conclude by proclaiming the Apostle’s Creed and/or praying the Lord’s prayer where Jesus prays “your kingdom come on earth (now) as it already is in heaven.

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