So imagine this. There are thirteen men. They are all unemployed. They are also homeless, in a manner of speaking. They have left their homes and families and have walked away from their jobs. We don’t know about all of them, but we can account for at least five of them. Two of them have left a very successful business, two others have also left their businesses, which we presume were fairly successful, and one has left a very high paying government job. Twelve of these men are wandering about the country, walking, following their leader whose name is Jesus. They accept a bed at night whenever and wherever it is offered to them, and sometimes people invite them in for a meal. And for the rest of the time, they eat what they can and they sleep outside. As best we can tell, they have no income except what kind people give them.
Now think about this. Try to calculate what it would cost to feed thirteen mean three meals a day or even two meals a day. And what it would cost to replace thirteen pairs of sandals for thirteen men when they wore theirs out, walking all over the place. Not to mention new clothing once in a while, and medical care, or blankets at night when they had to sleep under the stars. I plugged in some numbers very quickly and came up with about $400 per day in today’s dollars. Over a three year period of time that comes up to over $400,000.
And who do you suppose provided the funds for Jesus and his twelve disciples? Who bought their food and their sandals and their blankets? Who do you suppose went to the markets for them and bought grapes and bread and fish and yogurt and prepared their meals and made sure they ate good food on time? Who do you think took care of them when their feet had blisters or they were sick?
A group of women did. Their names (some of their names) are in our bulletin for today. We don’t know all of them, of course, and what little we do know about them we have to get by reading between the lines. You notice that it’s a tentative list. There were undoubtedly many women whom we have no clue about. And there may be some overlapping. It may be that Mary the wife of Clopas, could also be the mother of James and Joseph, for instance. And it may be that Salome was the name of the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee. And maybe she was the sister of Jesus’ mother Mary which would have made her Jesus’ aunt. (Are you following all this?) Sometimes all we know about them, for sure, are their names, which are given to us in the Scriptures we have just read.
It’s pretty clear that Mary Magdalene was the leader of the group, and her name is mentioned most often and always first. As we put it together, she must have been suffering from a serious mental illness. Jesus healed her, and ever thereafter she was his grateful, devoted, generous follower. And that was also true for Joanna and Susanna. They had also been suffering with serious mental health issues. They had also been healed by him, and in their gratitude, they contributed funds for his care. These women followed him also, right along with the men we know like Peter and James and John and Matthew and Phillip and all the others. They all followed behind Jesus in that entourage we are always imagining as he went from place to place. Every day for three years all up and down the countryside.
As far as we can tell, all of them except Mary and Martha the sisters of Lazarus were from Galilee, up there in the northern part of the country, where Jesus began his ministry. Some of these women were wealthy in their own right, or were married to wealthy men. We have an indication that Zebedee, for instance, was a very wealthy business man – who owned a fishing fleet with several employees on the Sea of Galilee. And his wife may have supported Jesus through his income. After all, two of her sons were in the group that followed Jesus. She would have wanted to see them well fed and well cared for and she would have had a deep interest in the work they were doing with Jesus.
Joanna was the wife of the very influential and certainly very well paid man named Chuza, who was in charge of all the financial affairs of Herod, Governor in Galilee. I am thinking about Joanna. She’s married to Chuza, who is the Chief Financial Officer for Herod. Herod is the man who ordered the execution of John the Baptist. I’m wondering if maybe she was even present at that lavish birthday party that Herod threw for himself when he called for John’s head to be paraded among the guests on a platter. How would that have felt for Joanna? Herod was also the man who tried Jesus in that hideous trumped up trial in the middle of the night and who mocked him and beat him and whipped him. I’m wondering if Joanna was there to see that happen to the man she honored and supported? However you look at it, she was a very brave woman who support Jesus as she did.
And here’s what else we know about these women as a group. Not only did they provide substantial funds for Jesus’ ministry. These women were there when the men abandoned him. The men, you remember, Peter and all the others ran away in Jesus’ last hours when the going got tough. Not that we blame them, of course. Their lives were in danger, and they were very well aware of that. Roman soldiers came to haul Jesus away to be tried and executed and they were very well aware that the same could happen to them. They knew they were next. So they ran and hid, and we don’t really blame them. But the women stuck by Jesus. They were the ones who surrounded his cross in the long hours that it took him to die, painfully. Some of them stood with Jesus’ mother Mary and his aunt beside the cross. They were the ones who positioned themselves right in his line of vision, right where he could see them and stayed there until the bitter end. They were the ones who snuck off and learned the place where he was buried, and then brought spices to his grave – as we today would bring flowers. Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and maybe others were at his grave early on Easter morning. They were the first to see Jesus alive again. The women were the ones who told the men that Jesus had risen. The men, you notice, thought they were talking crazy talk, and didn’t believe them until they saw it for themselves.
So I am glad and grateful that we know the names of some of the woman who supported Jesus in these very important ways.
AND I am looking today at people who prepare meals for others all the time. I am looking at people who go shopping and cook food and share it and bring casseroles. I’m thinking of those who prepare and serve our coffee hour and clean up the kitchen afterwards. I’m thinking of the women and the men also who served beautiful funeral meals recently as way of showing their love and support for grieving families. I’m looking at a large bunch of men who will be preparing and serving a lovely brunch soon for the women of this church. I’m looking today at a church full of people who give generously to Jesus through this church, and some of you, I know, take very good care of the money the rest of us give. A number of you have been teachers or are teachers and look to the good of your students whose lives are challenged. We heard a couple of weeks ago about one of us who brought our leftovers to provide good meals for hungry people in Grand Rapids and who volunteers there regularly. I’m thinking of a woman who has made the bread for our communion celebrations every month for years. I’m looking at a group of people who are deacons and who care tenderly and sometimes very quietly for those in this church who are ill or grieving or distressed in some way. I’m looking at a church full of people who get up in the morning and do the simplest jobs each day at their work and among their families and in this church. Sacred tasks. Holy endeavors – all of them.
And what makes them holy is not that they are so hard to do, most of them. Or so earthshaking. A great deal of what we do every day is pretty routine, frankly. What makes them holy is that we give the efforts of each day to God.
So here’s what that looks like. We wake up in the morning every day and we sit quietly in front of God in prayer and we consciously give the day to God. We list out for God what we plan to do that day, and then we say to God, “Take the events and efforts of this day – the most mundane and the most important – the planned and the unplanned - and use them for good in your world among the people you love.” Or maybe we sit at the end of the day and offer the day to God – praying through what we have done hour by hour and giving it all to God as the gift of a grateful son or daughter. Knowing that not all of it was perfect by any means, but knowing that God has a way of making it perfect and knowing that God is very pleased with our efforts.
What makes grocery shopping holy is that we do it in Jesus’ name for the people we love and for the people Jesus loves and because we have decided to be followers of Jesus. What makes cleaning up the kitchen holy is that we do it for God’s people and out of love for God. What makes putting a check in the collection plate a holy activity is that we do it in deep gratitude to God. What makes bringing a casserole sacred is that we do it in Jesus’ name and because it’s what he would have done. What makes hearing the hard stories of others a holy task is that we do it as Jesus would. And because we have decided to be followers of Jesus.
And in that way that surprises me every day, God takes the simple actions of our hands and feet and minds and voices and transforms them into offerings of great beauty.
Here’s the story before the story.
We have said that we are going to be camping out in the book of Luke for the next several weeks, to learn what Luke had to tell us about the birth, life and death of Jesus. And we have said that this man named Luke probably wrote his story about Jesus in the year 80 or 85 – about 50 years after Jesus’ death.
So let me tell you what was happening in the world in those days, and especially to Christians at that time. We talked about John the Baptist last week, and we mentioned briefly that he was beheaded in about 30 or so - while Jesus was still living. He was killed by the Roman governor Herod Antipas who was governor of Galilee. John was killed partly because he lashed out against Herod for having an affair with this brother’s wife. Herod was mad enough about that. And he was also killed because he was a threat to the Romans. All kinds of masses and masses of people were coming out to his camp beside the river and it looked for all the world to them like some kind of popular uprising against the Romans. Which of course they could not tolerate. So they killed John.
You may remember that Jesus had at least four brothers, and you may know that after his death, his brother James became the head of the Christian Church in Jerusalem – the first Bishop of Jerusalem as he is called. In about the year 62 or 65 James was stoned and then beaten to death. He was killed by the religious leaders (the Sadducees) acting on behalf of the Romans. We have talked about how the religious leaders collaborated with the Romans.
And right about that time, Emperor Nero was in power in Rome and as you know, he unleashed the first widespread persecutions of Christians throughout the Roman Empire. He is well known for setting Christians on fire and then using their burnings bodies to light the paths in his elegant garden parties. AND about that same time, Roman soldiers flooded into Palestine in larger numbers than ever before, and eventually they destroyed much of the city of Jerusalem, including the beautiful golden temple. These were hard years indeed for Christians, and Luke is writing to people who were constantly in danger and turmoil and at risk for their lives. That’s the story before the story.
Now think about the people in your lives. Do you know someone who is poor? Maybe a person who has lost her job, or relies on food stamps, or has huge medical bills, or somebody who has always lived on the edge, financially. A man who is homeless, perhaps, or very near homelessness. Maybe you know somebody who lives from one month to the next just barely managing to hold on. Think about that person now.
Do you know anybody in prison? Recall the stories you have heard about the conditions in prisons. Keep that person in your heart. Do you know anyone who is blind, or has very poor eyesight? Or is disabled in some other way? Has difficulty walking, or lives in constant pain? Every day is struggle just to keep moving and just to keep her spirits up. Keep that person in your mind for these next few moments. Do you know someone who has a sad heart? Maybe she is grieving a loved one, or maybe he is struggling with depression that doesn’t seem to lift. Or another form of mental illness. And medications aren’t really helping, and he lives in a deep cloud of sadness. Keep that person in your heart for these next few moments. Do you know somebody who is full of sorrow – who has had one experience of failure after another, and nothing seems to be working in her life no matter how hard she tries. Keep those people in your heart in these next few moments.
Now here’s the story. The story that Luke has just told us about Jesus is the first story of his public ministry. He’s grown up from the twelve year old boy we heard about a couple of weeks ago and now he’s the thirty year old man we heard about last Sunday. He’s just been baptized by his cousin John, and then he’s been in the dessert for forty days on a retreat – a deeply spiritual experience in the dessert - with God.
And on this day, he walked into the synagogue in Nazareth, where he had worshipped pretty much every week of his life. He picked up the Old Testament, and read from the prophet Isaiah – the very words we have read a moment ago. He read the passage and sat down to talk with them, and said, “I’m the one the prophet has been talking about. I’m the one who will bring good news to the poor. I’m the one who will release the prisoners and heal the sick and disabled. I’m going to heal those with sad hearts and comfort those who are filled with sorrow.”
It was his mission statement as he began his ministry. It was his introduction of himself to the people who had known him all his life. He spoke eloquently and passionately and his neighbors were amazed – that this young man, whom they had watched from a small child, and whom they knew as the son of their local woodworker – whose sisters and brothers they knew - could be so eloquent and could speak so well. They were amazed and proud of their home town kid.
And when they got over being surprised and excited, and very pleased, they began to have second thoughts. They were not at all happy to be reminded about the poor disabled beggars who sat on the street corners in their village and they surely didn’t want anybody telling them that they had some responsibility toward them. They were not happy to think about the ones who were prison whom they had neglected. And they didn’t want to hear about those who were sad and depressed and full of sorrow and grieving, and they didn’t want to be told that they should do something for such people.
And just as those thoughts were beginning to sink in a bit, Jesus went one step further. He reminded them that God’s love stretches to people way outside the Jewish faith. People like that widow up there in the country of Sidon in what’s now Lebanon - way north of the country. And people like Naaman the man from Syria. That really was too much for them to swallow – that somebody beyond their own race and their own faith and their own country could be loved by God. And before day was over, they had had a complete change of heart about him. They were furious at him, and drove him out of town and would have pushed him over a cliff if he hadn’t escaped.
And that was the end of Jesus’ first day on the job. Already he had created tensions between himself and the people in his synagogue. Already the religious leaders were furious with him because of who he was and what he said. Already he had announced that the poor and prisoners and sick and disabled and sad were going to be his first priority. Already he had started talking about the fact that God’s love is larger and wider than the Jewish nation and that God loves people well beyond the boundaries of that one small country. And it didn’t go well at all.
But none of that stopped Jesus. He continued to search out those who were ill, and cured them. Of blindness, and leprosy and hemorrhaging and fevers and lameness and those with severe osteoporosis. He healed those who were suffering from mental illness and even brought back to life again those who had died. People came from all over the country to hear him talking about God, and they believed him. He fed them when they were hungry and healed them when they were sick, and grieved with them when they were sad. He was critical of the religious leaders who were so concerned with picky little points of the law that they missed the great suffering that was happening right in front of them. He honored women and widows and children. He took out after the Romans for their unethical practices and the high taxes they were charging that pushed people into poverty. And he did all of that in the name of God. And in the name of the Kingdom of God.
But Jesus is not here anymore. He has gone back into heaven to hover over the world in great love and power and pity. And he has left us here to be his hands and feet in a world where people are still poor, and in prison and sad and sick and sorrowing. And they still need the Good News that Jesus brought. Jesus has left us to be his hands and feet and face and voice in a world that needs him desperately.
So think back now on the people whom you’ve been keeping in your heart these last few moments. Those who are poor or in prison or sad or sick or sorrowing. In these next moments of silence, think to yourself how you may be the hands and feet and face and voice of Jesus to them. How will you serve them as Jesus would have? How will you speak to them in Jesus’ name, or act for them in Jesus’ name?
Luke 3:7-14, 19-22
We said last week that we are going to be spending some weeks camping in the book of Luke between now and Easter – getting an idea of who Jesus was from the stories that Luke tells us about him. There are others who tell us about Jesus birth and life and death, of course, but we are going to be learning about Jesus through Luke’s eyes.
And we said that Luke never knew Jesus personally or spoke with him and or heard him speak. So at the beginning of his book he is careful to tell us that he’s going to be compiling the stories of people who did know Jesus and who did hear him speak. And we said that Luke is writing his stories of Jesus about the year 80 or 85 – about fifty years after Jesus died.
So I picture it this way: That Luke is sitting down at his writing desk with his quill pen in his hand and his parchment papers beside him. I picture that at his left elbow, he has the book of Mark, which was written in about the year 70, about 15 years earlier. And Luke copies from Mark – pretty much word for word in many places, as you may have noticed. Luke simply copies Mark’s stories about Jesus into his own account.
And I’m picturing that at his right elbow he has a document called Q. We don’t have a copy of this document called Q, but what probably happened is that a person who knew Jesus well, and heard him often wrote down, on the spot, the words that he said, and compiled them. A pretty much first person, eye witness report of what Jesus said. That document has been lost for us over the years, but Luke had it. And as he wrote his story about Jesus, he quoted from what Mark had written a few years earlier and from this document called Q. AND it seems that Luke had some stories about Jesus that none of the other authors had. Stories that others had told him directly – perhaps they were women. Large sections of the story of Jesus’ birth, for instance, are only told to us by Luke, if you remember, Mark doesn’t tell us anything about Jesus’ birth. And neither does this mystery document called Q.
So I picture that Luke sits at his writing desk with all these stories around him, and compiles his own story of Jesus.
Now think about this, please. It’s about the year 26 or 27. Picture a lonely, wilderness area. There are scrubby little bushes and little bits of grass here and there and a few rocks but mostly it’s dessert. It’s way off the beaten path and far from civilization and far from any decent roads. There is a man camped there in a rugged sort of camp. His name is John and he’s thirty years old and he’s wearing animal skins with a leather belt tied around his waist to hold them all together. He’s eating grasshoppers and drinking water from the river nearby. People are coming for miles and miles from the cities and towns on the other side of the river to hear him speak. They are religious leaders and rich wealthy landowners, and soldiers and tax collectors. Now you remember the religious leaders. They had forgotten their faith and they had crossed over to the enemy and collaborated with the Romans, and they had refused to protect the people who should have been able to trust them. That’s the religious leaders. And you remember the rich wealthy land owners. They were foreclosing homes and land out from under the small farmers and you remember how the rich were getting richer and richer and the poor were getting poorer and poorer in the process. That’s the wealthy landowners. And you remember the soldiers. They were harassing the women and threatening the men and demanding huge bribes from the common citizens and accusing people wrongly. That’s the soldiers. And you remember the tax collectors. They were charging huge amounts of money in taxes – much more than they were supposed to - and they were putting the extra in their own pockets and getting very rich themselves. That’s the tax collectors.
And the minute John sees them all coming – these religious leaders and wealthy landowners and tax collectors and soldiers – the minute he sees them coming he lays into them. This man John has no tact whatsoever and he’s not the least bit diplomatic. He calls them all poisonous snakes and whatever else he calls them. He attacks the religious leaders and tells them to change their ways and threatens them with dire punishments. He tells the wealth landowners to share their food and take care of the poor. He tells the tax collectors not to charge more than they should and the he tells the soldiers not to extort money and or make false accusations against people. Even when they ask what seem to be reasonable questions, he’s pretty harsh on them.
Now just as an aside - this man John has also made the very big mistake of attacking Herod who was the governor up in Galilee up in the northern part of the country. Among other things, Herod had been having an affair with his brother’s wife and finally divorced his own wife and married his brother’s wife. John was openly critical of what Herod had done. Now we might have advised him to be a little careful around such a powerful man, but John had simply lashed out at him in his usual angry, tactless style. Herod was not amused and had John thrown in prison. And in the end, Herod beheaded him. You might remember that story.
And in that setting, that wild and crazy kind of man is shouting at people and lashing out at them to repent and be baptized. And they are. Right there in the Jordan River.
And in that setting, here comes another young man, also thirty years old. His name is Jesus. The people who knew him may have been whispering that the two young men are related in some way – cousins or something. And I’m picturing that the noise dies down and the shouting stops and wild and crazy man stops his ranting. And this young man, Jesus also walks into the river to be baptized. He stands in the river praying. Quietly. In the perfect silence. All eyes are on him. And as they watched, the clouds opened up, and a dove came floating down on him - the Holy Spirit. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my son. My beloved son. I’m very pleased with you.”
And Luke is telling us, one more time, that Jesus is no ordinary young Jewish man. He is not the son of Joseph the woodworker. He is the son of God. And we’re about to see what all that means.
And God is speaking to us. And saying to us “I am here.” In a world where occupation Roman soldiers are harassing the women and threatening the men and extorting huge sums of money from people. I am here - in a world where political leaders are behaving immorally. I am here - in a world where the wealthy are gouging the poor and where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. I am here - in a world where masses of people are cold and going hungry. I am here - in a world where the religious leaders have forgotten their own faith and are siding with the Romans and refusing to protect their own people. Into that world, God comes. The Holy Spirit comes. And God says, “This is my much loved Son. I am very pleased with him.”
Now it’s easy for us to suppose that God is with us when things are going well. When everybody we love is happy and healthy and well and our children seem to be doing all the right things. When we seem to have enough in our retirement accounts and our saving accounts. When we like our jobs and we have a beautiful relationship with our spouse and a strong circle of supportive friends who give us pleasure. When we have lovely homes and go on very nice vacation trips. When we look up in the morning to see a glorious sunrise and we know it’s the blazing splendor of the Glory of God. It’s pretty easy to see God in all of that and to feel that God is near and to thank God. And on those days we flash a little prayer up to God, or we sit in silence in front of God for several minutes in deep gratitude.
But there are those other days. When we’ve had bad news from the doctor – or when somebody we love is seriously ill. Or when our income doesn’t begin to cover our expenses. Or when there is trouble in our families and we are deeply distressed about our kids or our marriages are in trouble. Or when we hate our jobs, or wish desperately that we had a job. Or when we are lonely or lost or depressed or battling alcoholism. Or when everything we attempt seems to fizzle and we have forgotten how to be hopeful. That’s when we wail out to God, again and again, in the middle of the night. We call out to God in our utter anguish. But it seems that God is not answering us and God seems to be very far away or looking in the other direction and finally we feel like giving up on God.
Now I say this carefully because I do not presume to describe your situation. And our wailing at God is very real and our deep, deep loneliness for God is very real, and our hopelessness is very real.
But maybe it’s in those moments that we remember the promise of our baptisms. We hear God’s voice saying to us, “You are my beloved. I love you outrageously. I have named you and claimed you and you belong to me. You live your life in my hands, and while you live your life in my hands nothing bad can really harm you.”
We grab on to what we know to be true, even when we do not feel it. And we rest in that comfort.
We said a few moments ago that for the next several Sundays between now and Easter we will be asking the question, “Who is Jesus? Who is this baby who was born and became a man and died and came back to life again?” And for the next several weeks, we’ll be camping out in the book of Luke, to see what a man named Luke has to tell us about Jesus. There are others of course, who tell us who Jesus was. There are Matthew and Mark and John. And in fact, this week our children’s story was from the book of Mark. But we’ll be seeing Jesus from Luke’s point of view for the next several weeks.
We can’t be positive who this Luke was. But we’re pretty sure that he was a doctor who went with Paul on one of his trips throughout the Mediterranean region and wrote about that in the book of Acts. (You might remember that last week we had the story of Paul and Silas in Philippi and Luke was with them there.)
We’re also pretty sure that Luke wrote his story about Jesus in about the year 80 or 85, in other words about fifty years after Jesus had died. Now as far as we know, Luke never saw Jesus, or spoke with him. And Paul never saw Jesus or spoke with him in person, either. So at the very beginning of his story, Luke is clear to tell us that he is compiling the stories of people who had seen Jesus and known him and heard him speak.
And in each chapter of his book, and with every story he tells, we’re going to have a more complete picture of who Jesus was. Chapter by chapter we’re going to learn from Luke who Jesus was.
There are going to be several themes in the book of Luke that we’re on the lookout for. Luke is going to emphasize the Holy Spirit. He’s going to talk a lot about the Holy Spirit. He’s going to tell us about the antagonism between Jesus and the religious leaders who knew him and how those religious leaders pestered Jesus and harassed him, and eventually brought about his death. He’s going to pay special attention to the poor and the sick and the disabled and the outcasts. He’s going to insist on the fact that the love of God is for others, not only for Jews. (Which is very good news for us who are not Jews.) He’s going to quote from the Old Testament a lot, and he’s going to tell several stories about women. Women are going to be the heroes of several of the stories in the book of Luke.
So. Now to our verses for today. Luke has already told us about Jesus’ birth and the first few days of his life. Luke has told us how an angel came to his mother Mary and predicted that she would have a child, though she was a virgin. Luke has told us how angels sang at his birth and talked to shepherds, of all people, and how shepherds came out of their fields at night to see him. And now Luke is telling us that Jesus and Mary and Joseph and undoubtedly their other children – all made their yearly visit back down to Jerusalem to worship God in the golden temple.
And you remember how that was - we talked about this a few weeks back when we were looking at the story from Joseph’s point of view. That people came from all over the country, heading south, walking, in large groups of people, camping out overnight, taking all their food and cooking supplies with them, chatting and talking and singing along the way as they came. Walking for sixty or so miles (depending on just where they came from) through what they called mountains and we would call high hills, singing the song that we read earlier today. And other songs that are in our book of Psalms. They worshipped in the temple in Jerusalem. And then they headed home again, that whole crowd of people - children who saw their relatives only this one time every year, sisters and brothers from other villages who walked together on the way home.
But somehow this time, Jesus stayed behind. His parents thought he was in the crowds of people walking together, hanging out with his cousins or his aunts and uncles. And when they discovered he was missing, they ran back to the city and for three days they searched high and low all over the crowds of people in Jerusalem. And there they found him, finally, in the temple, and talking with the teachers there. The religious leaders. Sitting there for three whole days, asking questions, and answering questions, and discussing Biblical passages, and amazing them all. That a twelve year old boy from a very small village in the northern part of the country should have such a clear understanding of the scriptures.
And Luke is building the story of Jesus. And in this little segment of the story he’s telling us, two thousand years later, what a fine student of the scripture Jesus was. Even at the age of twelve. Already he is engaging the religious leaders – already questions are flowing fast and furiously between him and them. And at the age of twelve he is making the point to his frantic mother and Joseph that he has to be in the temple – in his Father’s house.
Because pretty soon, in the next several chapters of the story, Jesus is going to be going to the temple often and quoting scripture all over the place, and having conversations (and fights) with religious leaders almost constantly. And asking and answering very hard questions about faith.
Already Luke is telling us in the second chapter of his story that this kid may look like any other twelve year old Jewish boy from Nazareth. He may have made the trek to Jerusalem with his family like any other young Jewish boy from all over the country. He may have worshipped in the temple with all the other Jews every year. But this is not your normal young Jewish boy. Joseph the woodworker in Nazareth may be raising him, and may be teaching him the woodworker’s trade. But Joseph is not Jesus’ father. He is the son of God. We’re going to see that even more clearly next week. And we are beginning to get a glimpse, if we can see it, of what his life will be like.
And now I am thinking about this congregation. As I do all the time, and as I love to do. And let me say this: You know how it is with Presbyterians at a baptism, don’t you? First of all,and most important of all – God claims the child in baptism and makes promises. Then the parents also make promises in baptism. And then you remember that in a Presbyterian church the entire congregation stands up and promises also, to help raise this new child to know God and love God. And that sometimes means making sure that there’s Christian Education for that young boy to attend when the time is right or that he goes to Camp Greenwood. And confirmation classes, and Christian youth experiences. The whole congregation stands up and makes solemn promises to accept this new member and love her as their own (which she is) and to be responsible, also, for her Christian upbringing. You might remember how you have done that. We have the beautiful example of Nate Waybrant this morning, a son of this congregation, who was raised in love in this congregation and who has been well nurtured in his Christian faith here. And you have heard what that has meant in his life.
So I am wondering to myself why it is so hard for us to find folks to serve in the church nursery. And why the same few people keep doing that week after week? And I am wondering who else will be moved to volunteer. Maybe you will ponder and pray about that for a bit.
And I am thinking of Adult study in this church. We have two quite different options for adult study – at two different times. One on Sunday morning before church and one on Tuesday afternoon. I would guess that about only about fifteen people or so attend these classes groups. And I am wondering if there others who might want to. To sit with other friends in the church to study the scripture and ask and answer questions or to talk about a topic vital to our
Christian Faith. Maybe you will ponder and pray about that for a bit.
I am wondering to myself and watching how this congregation will learn more about Jesus and become more like Jesus in the weeks between now and his death and resurrection.