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DFLC Sermon - March 10, 2024 - Deacon Sharon Brennen

Seeing Me, Seeing You…God! 

John 3:14-21; Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10

 

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen

The season of Lent is all about reflection and introspection. It is a time for seeking answers and discerning truths.  A time for strengthening our relationship with God and securing our faith in Him.  And this is usually… an easier task on Sunday; but is a harder task, and one we need patience for during the week.


The Israelites didn’t always have much patience at all times either.  It seems their journey in the wilderness showcased their inability to realize it was “all about God” and not “all about them.”  And we can’t just sit back and smile at their ingratitude or whining because we ARE them!  We don’t even have patience for a page to load on our devices; never mind taking a 40-year journey with God as our guide and provider!  No… God’s people have not changed much.  And of course, God has not changed at all, either!  Circumstances may change, new discoveries and inventions have changed HOW we do certain things, better travel options have made it easier to get all over the world and see when and where things do change, medical advances have lengthened our life spans, YES… THOSE THINGS have made change happen.  But thoughts, actions, beliefs and ideals have not changed all that much.  And again, God has not changed at all.


It might seem odd to us, living in the 21st century, to hear that it was God who sent poisonous snakes that bit the Israelites.  And then we hear that instead of healing them, he has Moses make a bronze snake to hold on a pole.  He then says that ONCE BITTEN, that person must get to this pole and look on the bronze snake so they do not DIE!!  Imagine running around a crowd of people looking for a bronze snake… and hoping you see it in time!  We are not really told if this was actually a punishment for their whining, but we do surmise that it was – because the people acknowledged their OWN grumbling against God and asked Moses to intercede.  It seems the Israelites were not as surprised at the sending of snakes.  We forget they knew this same God had sent 10 plagues, turned a person into a pillar of salt, destroyed cities, and showed his power through many other acts that may not seem “normal” to us.  But this is a different time and place.


We are more accustomed to the New Testament God of “love and forgiveness.”  One who sent His own son into the whining, chaotic world to bring us to life eternal, instead of being the walking dead.  We LOVE this God who gives so much to us.  In fact, we love Him so much we forget the God of the Old Testament… and how our God is not always this gentle, “Kumbaya God” who sent Jesus so we “Don’t worry about a thing…cause every little thing’s gonna be alright”! Every little thing is NOT ALWAYS gonna be alright!  Since COVID, our world seems to be at odds with itself.  Many leaders do not speak truths, or lead with morals, or concern for those they serve.  Hate speech can be heard on any street corner.  And God sometimes feels far away… especially for those who no longer place God as a priority in their lives.


Paul, in Ephesians, thinks of the world he is living in, as one in which external forces are also determining some of the harmful actions of the people of his time also.  And that it is very much due to rulers, authorities, people against people, and the power of evil (which is always present).  So we know that all these forces have been in the world all along.  It’s just that today we have technology bringing it all into our lives and our devices and our news every second of the day. But thankfully, God came into the world for times such as this.  In this world torn apart by violence, terrorism, theological differences, differences in sexuality, seeing churches decline and having to close, poverty, hate… This IS the world that needs God and needs to read and live out the real truths in our Ephesians reading for today. 


Because it is all about the reconciliation of our human family and how we are actually under the authority – not of human leadership – but of God through Jesus!  We ARE a people with a God who encourages us toward inclusion and unity – NOT toward division and name-calling.  He calls us toward loving Him and loving others; NOT toward hate, jealousy, or greed. We are invited to see our gifts and know who we are, so that we can live, work and function, alongside each other – so that God’s Kingdom is built up, not torn down.  Just as a church is NOT mainly its Pastor – but IS the people; so is the world not just one country, one culture… it is also the people God created — and that means ALL people!!  We are called (through this reading) to discern what is right and good, and what actions God is calling each of us to.  God’s greatness is best seen in unity.  That’s why we gather in one place to worship.  Yes, we can see God everywhere in His creation… but it is in our GATHERING, in our UNITY, that God truly comes alive and opens our eyes to what is going on around us.  And He calls us to CARE about those around us, and to hear His voice in the midst of a world trying to drown it out.  Jesus, on the cross, BECAME the means through which the unity of “all things in Him, things in Heaven and things on Earth…” (Ephesians 1:10) are made possible.


During this season of Lent, we are invited into the chaos of our world, and urged to bring God along with us… in fact, to have Him lead the way.  Paul reminds us in (Ephesians 2:8) that “For by grace you have been saved by faith, AND THIS IS NOT YOUR OWN DOING, it is the gift of God… and not because of works, lest any person should boast.”   God has given us our intelligence, our gifts, and our talents, and wants us to use them FOR GOOD for the sake of God’s mission in our world. We definitely can’t ignore the most famous biblical verse of all time that was read by Kristen today.  John 3:16.  Some people don’t even know the words to the verse… but everyone knows it is found in the Bible. And it very simply gives hope to all our worry and our concerns… whether it is in Jesus’s time, or now in our own.  Hear this:  “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life.”


Finally, also in the John reading, we hear a lot about living life in light, versus living life in darkness.  My favorite reading concerning this comes from John 1:1-4: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. And the Word WAS God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him,  And without Him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, And the life was the light of all people.” We still have that light today.  No one can shut out the light of Christ, nor our relationship with God.  It is a light that pushes the darkness aside so more and more light comes into our world and our lives. Let’s all acknowledge this light within us during Lent, and show this light to everyone you meet. Amen.

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