Sunday’s Sermon: These Footings Go Deep

  • Story of purchasing our first house
    • Without Peter
      • His first walk-through
      • The back room → As near as we can figure, the first half of the back room was originally a porch that was simply walled-in, and the second half of the back room was originally some sort of lean-to that was also walled-in, probably to incorporate the entrance to the basement into the rest of the house. But whoever did the work of walling these areas in didn’t do it right. They took the easy way out, quickly slapping up some siding, maybe reinforcing the walls a little (maybe!), and calling it good.
        • Frustratingly apathetic approach to home “improvement”
        • Dangerous – nothing secure this whole part of the house to the ground!
        • Peter had to work really hard to fix this. He dug and poured 5 or 6 new footings, grounding the entire back room deep in the earth and providing that part of the house with a stability and permanence that it didn’t have before. He gave that part of the house the strong base that it needed.
  • Unfortunately, we live in a world that revels in instability and impermanence.
    • Society → worship celebrities – the more erratic they act, the more we reward them with our undivided attention
    • Reality TV → more often than not celebrates things like lies, betrayal, scheming, and doing whatever you can to be the last one standing
    • Gap between the wealthy and the poor is growing every day, plaguing the lives and living situations of hundreds of thousands of Americans with economic instability
    • Family time seems to be all but a thing of the past, everything else in our schedules is more important, more permanent than our families
    • In the midst of all this chaos, it’s no wonder everything seems to take priority over faith. But this is the easy way out. Let’s be honest. Sometimes, it’s easier to doubt God and take matters into our own hands than it is to step out in faith.
      • God is used to having people take the easy way out à Massah and Meribah
        • Going to read this passage next week
        • Mentioned in Ps 95
        • Basic story: Israelites wandering in the wilderness → complained and quarreled with Moses about water → Moses cried out to God and was instructed to strike a rock → water poured out
          • He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”[1] → The Israelites turned their backs on God in doubt.
      • How often do we turn our back to God in doubt? How often do we try to force God to act in the way we want instead of trusting in God’s goodness and God’s plan? How often do we squelch the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst?
  • Good news: God does always – has always – will always desire us … and because of that desire, even when we’ve turned away, God still draws us in. → beginning of Eph text: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.[2]
    • Lots of things draw us away from God – make us “far off”
      • Busy schedules
      • Inattentiveness
      • Pride
      • Addiction
    • But God knows that we need the stability and permanence that we can only find in God. And by the grace afforded to us through Christ Jesus, God draws us near.
  • What a blessing this is to us because in the midst of the chaos of our society and our lives, God is our strongest base and support. God is our firm foundation.
    • Proclaimed at the beginning of our psalm for today: O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation![3] → names God as our foundation
      • Eph says that we have been “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”[4]
      • Reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew: Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. … And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.[5]
  • God is the unshakable foundation of our lives, and this is certainly a comfort for us as individuals in dark and desolate times. But there are still going to be times when we have trouble remembering this blessing – times when we’re too tired, too distressed, too weak, too beat-down. So God blessed us with a community – a family gathered together in God’s name. God is our strongest base and support as individuals and as a community.
    • Ps is all about “us” worshipping God – plural, not just me worshipping God all by my lonesome
    • But just because we are in community doesn’t mean that everything within the community is going to be perfect or easy all the time.
      • Scholar: It is revealing that in Psalm 95 it is not the forces of chaos that resist God’s claim, nor is it the wicked or the nations. Rather, God’s own people resist God’s claim.[6] → Sometimes, as a community, we turn our backs to God in doubt. We want to take matters into our own hands, resisting God’s plan and squelching the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst.
      • Along those lines, Eph acknowledges our need for reconciliation: For [Jesus Christ] is our peace; in his flesh he … has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us … and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.[7]
        • Reconciliation between one another
        • Reconciliation between us and God
  • So what does a community that emulates this reconciliation and relationship look like? With God as our foundation, what are the building blocks of a healthy faith community? How do we make sure that our work as the body of Christ is grounded deep in God?
    • Eph: So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near[8]
      • Gr. “proclaimed” = GOOD NEWS! → message of the gospel
      • Building Block = sharing and living that gospel message with one another
        • Message of love and acceptance
        • Message of repentance and forgiveness
    • Ps: O come, let us bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep of his hand.[9]
      • Building Block = commonality
        • We worship the same God.
        • We are all saved by the same Jesus Christ.
        • We are all instruments of the same Holy Spirit.
        • And we’ve all chosen to be here!
          • Scholar: God does not coerce obedience. God warns that the consequences of disobedience are severe, but God refuses to be an enforcer. It leaves God in the vulnerable position of having to implore the people to obey, but such is the price of integrity and love.[10] → Every one of you has responded to that integrity and love by coming here this morning to this common, sacred ground.
    • A final building block of healthy community: appreciation of differences
      • Most obvious in Paul’s writings
        • “A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use.”[11]
      • Also hidden in Ps 95 → “come” in vv. 1, 2 & 6 – Heb. are all different words
        • Connotations of walking, reaching, meeting, confronting, arriving, coming home, and being fulfilled
        • We all come to God differently. We come walking. We come running. We come skipping and dancing. We come dragging our feet. We come with different needs, different baggage, different hurts and fears, different delights and strengths. And it’s exactly these differences that make us the body of Christ!
          • Remember Paul: “A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use.”[12]
          • These differences are what provide the most striking building blocks because they come from God.
            • Eph: In Christ, the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into dwelling place for God.[13]
            • Look around you. Look at the walls. Look at the [stained glass] windows. Look at the grain of wood in the pews [and the ceiling]. Look at the carpet. [Look at the chandelier. Look at the organ.] Look at the communion table.
              • Different colors
              • Different textures
              • These things add depth and character to our worship space.
              • Now look at the people around you.
                • Different gifts
                • Different talents
                • Different spiritual needs
                • These all add depth and character to our worshipping community.
                • Line from the movie “Saved”: Why would God make us all so different if he wanted us to be the same?[14]
  • When I was probably about 10 years old, we went to the Mall of America for the first time, and I remember setting foot in Lego Land. I’d never seen anything like it!
    • Giant creatures and crazy contraptions made out of millions and billions of those tiny, colored plastic bricks → remember the dinosaurs most vividly
      • Builders tried to make the “skin” look varied and mottled à used all sorts of different blocks all right up next to each other
        • Different colors
        • Different sizes
        • Different shapes
        • No block looked like the one next to it, but they all made a structure that was beautiful and strong and inspiring. This is what God has done and is doing here!
  • God is our strongest base and support. Like the new footings Peter put in our old house, God provides us with stability and permanence both as individuals and as a community. God created us each to be different and unique. Instead of letting these differences cause chaos – instead of letting them be an excuse for taking the easy way out – we should embrace them, nurture them, and let them grow us into the community that God wants us to be. Amen.

 


[1] Ex 17:7.

[2] Eph 2:13.

[3] Ps 95:1.

[4] Eph 2:20.

[5] Matt 7:24, 26.

[6] J. Clinton McCann, Jr. “The Book of Psalms: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections” in The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 4 (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996), 1062.

[7] Eph 2:14, 16.

[8] Eph 2:17.

[9] Ps 95:6-7a.

[10] McCann, 1063.

[11] Rom 12:4 (CEV).

[12] Rom 12:4 (CEV).

[13] Eph. 2:21-22.

[14] “Saved,” United Artists Production Company, released Sept. 14, 2004.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s