Posts Tagged ‘Relationship’

The Big Reveal 1-4-15

This morning’s sermon is based on John 1:1-18. This is the assigned reading for the second Sunday of Christmas every year. Within the sermon I explore the notion that in Christ, God is revealed and comes into relationship with humanity. Likewise, we are revealed to him…scary as that might be.

You can listen to the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/the-big-reveal-1-4-15

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:

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

One of the big trends that has emerged in the past few years is something called either the big reveal…or the big ask. (pause) The mentality behind this new trend is a big surprise when asking an important question.

This idea has been around in terms of wedding proposals for a long time…but in the past few years it has also become the norm for asking your date to the prom, or for a bride to ask her prospective bridesmaids to stand up for her on her wedding day.

In a slightly different direction…the big reveal is also popular. Now this trend tends to happen on reality shows…often times the big make over shows…whether the Biggest Loser finale…or Extreme Makeover Home Edition…or one my wife is particularly fond of…Restaurant Impossible. At the end of the episode, we see the subject, whether a person or a house or whatever, as it used to be, and then suddenly a giant tarp drops and everyone sees the dramatic change…cue the inspirational music…and grab the Kleenex…its almost always a tear jerker.

But that’s the point of the big reveal…to be dramatic…and to introduce the change…out with the old…and in with the new…and then as the cameras cut away…its time for everyone to get used to the new big thing.

Whenever I sit and watch any of these shows, I find myself wondering just what happens when the cameras shut off…when the individuals involved really sit down and attempt to get on with their regular lives in the midst of the change…in the midst of the big reveal…in the midst of everything that is different now. And its this sense of wondering just how the change effects real life that leads me into today’s gospel lesson.

Because we’re sort of at that point right now aren’t we? That time of transition…we’re in a new year…but we’re also at the end of the season. Today’s the second Sunday of Christmas…and most of the celebrations are pretty well wrapped up…after today all the decorations will come down and the sanctuary will get back to the normal look.

And scripturally speaking it’s the same sort of thing. Jesus has been born…we’ve been joyfully celebrating that for a couple week now…but as the season wraps up, even our lessons are rapidly moving away from the manger and back into real life.

Today’s lesson is, of course, the prologue to John’s gospel, which includes John’s version of the incarnation…but this time around there are no mangers…no shepherds…no angels…none of the regular stuff that we tend to expect at Christmas…rather we simply hear that the word became flesh…the light shined in the darkness…and that God…entered our reality. God…made the big reveal. (pause)

And just how did God make this revelation? Well…the word became flesh and dwelled among us…or as Eugene Petersen wrote in the Message…the word became flesh…and moved into the neighborhood.

And when that happened…everything changed…whether we realized it or not…and now as we wrap up the season of Christmas…I think we’re in the same sort of situation that the shepherds found themselves in on Christmas Eve…after they found the baby lying in the manger…and they just headed back out to the fields and their flocks…changed…but still in the midst of their day to day lives. (pause)

And so that’s what we do…we go back into our regular lives…our students head back to school…those of us who took some vacation time at the end of the year head back to work. Here at the church education starts up again, and we get back into the normal week to week routine…

And as much as we tend to get stuck in that normal grind…things just aren’t quite the same as they used to be are they? Because there’s someone new in the neighborhood. (pause) Have you ever had new neighbors move in…maybe across the street or even right next door? And occasionally you catch a glimpse of one another…maybe driving down the street, or when we’re out mowing the lawn…or sitting on the back deck…and the interactions begin…and slowly as time goes on we get to know one another…and whether we realize it or not…we have formed a relationship with one another.

And this is why Jesus came to earth in the first place…that’s why the word became flesh…that’s why the light started shining in the darkness…because God took a look at humanity…each and every one of us…God’s own beloved creation…loved greatly…but flawed…and God wanted that relationship…but we were all so busy stumbling around…blinded by the darkness that permeates our lives that we just couldn’t notice God.

And rather than just sit off somewhere in the clouds…shrugging his shoulders and saying “Oh well,” God did something new. God broke into that crazy cycle that humanity has been stuck in ever since the beginning…and by doing it…by taking on flesh…by becoming one of us…by entering our reality…God himself was revealed through the Son…and that’s what the Gospel of John is all about.

Many of you have heard me talk about these first 17 verses of John before…the prologue…how they set up the entirety of just what John’s Gospel is all about…and how they sort of serve as a table of contents because you can read through these verses and have a decent idea of the overarching argument that John is going to make about the action of God in the world…the action taken on by his only begotten Son…a man, born of the Holy Spirit through a Virgin…the action which led directly to the cross where He would not only take on the sin of the entire world…but he would die for it…atoning for it…and then three days later he would raise again to show each and every one of us that the darkness of sin was no match for God…that when God sets his mind to fix something you can rest assured that it will happen…and that when God decides to fix the problem that was hindering the relationship between God and every single member of the human race that God will…in fact…be revealed through the very Son himself. (pause)

That’s what this prologue is all about…that’s what John tells us in these 17 verses…that God…the word…the light…the one that first created the world…has now entered it and in doing so God…full of grace and truth is revealed.

And you know what…that’s just a little bit scary…Don’t get me wrong…its wonderful at the same time…and it gives me great joy and it gives me great hope to know that the creator of the entire universe loves me enough to take on flesh with all of its issues…and all of its faults…and all its emotions and problems…and God was willing to do this just so I could get to know him.

But the really scary thing about all this…its not so much that through the Son…through God made flesh, I could get to know God…but it’s the flip side…that when God is revealed to me in the relationship made possible through Christ…at the very same time…I am revealed to God…and God gets me WAY better than I get him. (pause)

That’s what relationship is all about…together we get to know each other…but the difference here is that my understanding of God…which is possible through Christ…is still limited by my humanness. That are limits to what I can comprehend…to what I can understand…and God goes FAR beyond those limits…and that is why God became human…God became tangible…God became something that I can wrap my feable human brain around.

But…while I’m doing that…within the relationship made possible by Christ, God knows me intimately…and while God may take great delight in those good aspects of my life and character…I often times find myself quaking in my boots to think that God also knows the dark side of Scott Dalen. He knows my thoughts before I think them…he knows my negative emotions before I experience them…he knows the hurt that I carry and cause before I do. (Pause) Because God and I have been revealed to one another in Jesus Christ…I have no secrets that I can keep from God…whether I want to or not…

And this truth…this scary realization…is true not only for me…but for you as well…whether we know it or not. (pause) John tells us that Christ came to his own…and his own did not know him…and there’s a lot of debate about just who “his own” refers to…but at this point, when he came into the world…he was human…God was human…and therefore I believe that “his own” means humanity…it means us…it means that he is here for each and every one of us whether we acknowledge it or not.

In your relationship with God…made possible through Christ…revealed through Christ in whatever way it has taken shape within your life…you are intimately known…you are intimately revealed…to God…the good and the bad…

And if that notion scares you just a little bit…its okay…because in all honesty…when we take good hard look at ourselves…illuminated by the perfect light of Christ shining upon us…we see the dirt too…and if we see…then God does too.

But it is for this very purpose that the perfect light of Christ shines upon us…not to make us feel dirty or exposed…but to help us realize that we need a savior…and that very savior is the source of the light in the first place.

God entered this world to help us see just how much we needed God to enter this world….and this work is ongoing. Because the light shined in the darkness…and while the darkness has not overcome it…the darkness is also not gone yet. And so the work of God continues and through the only begotten Son, He continues to be revealed to us…just as we continue to be revealed to him. And for those of us who have experienced this…everything is different now.

And so I pose the question to you today…as we kick off a new year…one full of all kinds of unknown opportunities…one full of joys and sorrows yet to be revealed…will you take the joy of Christ with you? I hope so…so that maybe…just maybe…the light of Christ will reflect through your life…and someone else will experience God’s big reveal in theirs. Amen.

 

Confirmation Questions 1-19-14

Last Sunday’s sermon was based on John 1:29-42, in which John the Baptist points his own disciples towards Jesus. You can find the sermon here.

The confirmation students posed the following question on their sermon notes that I will attempt to address here.

-Why did Jesus tell John’s disciples to “come and see?”
Great question. The entire point of God entering into the reality of humankind through Jesus was aimed at re-establishing relationship between God and humanity. If you notice in the passage, Andrew and the other disciple ask Jesus where he is staying (or dwelling or abiding depending on how you translate it). Rather than simply telling them where, Jesus invites them to come and see, knowing that they will in turn abide with him. Throughout Jesus ministry here on Earth, he was always inviting people to come into relationship with him, so that they in turn can be in relationship with God. Jesus says in John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” Jesus “makes the Father known” so that we may be in relationship with him.