Winterville United Methodist Church

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

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July 11, 2016: In God's Time

Good morning, Winterville UMC folks!  Good morning Winterville and Athens, and BLOG friends wherever you are!

Today I am thankful for the freshness of morning, for God’s waking me up to a new day and the possibilities that it brings!  What a gift—a gift none of us should ever take for granted!

Last Sunday in worship we reflected on 2 scripture passages—on Revelation 21:1-6 and on John 13:31-35.  Despite the sometimes confusing message and the apocalyptic tone of Revelation, you and I can take comfort in the wonderful words of chapter 21, verses1-6.  John’s amazing vision from God includes a new city coming down from heaven, God’s coming and being at home among human beings.  It includes God’s wiping tears from all eyes, the death-blow to death, the creation of all things new!

As Christians we lean into the future—not just 2017 or 2018 or beyond.  Instead we lean into God’s future.  Our hearts yearn for the “new city,” for all things made new.  Certainly we have a sadness in our hearts as we experience 2 black men in America killed by police, and we experience pain as 12 policemen are shot doing their jobs of trying to maintain peaceful protest and as 5 lives ultimately are claimed. 

Such events cause a yearning in our hearts, a desire for the reality of God’s new city, for God’s making all things new.  And we find ourselves, along with the Psalmist—questioning in our hearts—“How long, O Lord?  How long must we know pain and suffering, evil and injustice in our world.”  We plead with God, “Come, Lord!  Come quickly, and redeem us all.  Come quickly, and make us white as snow.  Come quickly, and prepare our hearts to live in that great new city—the new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven!  Come help us know the peace and joy of your new creation.”

The good news is that God always hears our prayers!  God stands ready to help us catch a glimpse of the future only He can ultimately provide.  God at the same time issues a calling of us—an invitation.  The invitation is to join him in the work that needs to be done in the world.  The invitation is to be a part of his redemptive work in lives and in the world at large.

That work begins as we hear and heed the words Jesus gave to his disciples in John -35:31-35.  In this passage Jesus is preparing his disciples for his ultimate death.  He is trying to finish the work of teaching them so that they may continue his work on earth.  He says to them, “I give you a new commandment—that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Jesus’ love is a sacrificial love.  Jesus’ love is a love that includes all—not just those easy to love, not those who share all our same agendas and perspectives, not just those whose skin color is the same as our own.  Jesus’ love is a love that stands defiant in the face of evil and injustice.  So guess what?  His new commandment means that we live out that same kind of love!  And as we do so we begin to experience transformation of the world around us.  We begin to catch a glimpse of the “new city, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven.”

As Christians we are those who live attuned to two different time frames.  We are a people with a faith and a hope in God’s good and perfect future, and we live with a sense of joyous anticipation about the world transformed according to God’s ultimate plan.   But for now—for today and for the present moment—God calls us to live fully engaged in the present.  God invites us, “Come and be a part of my redemptive work in the world.  Come and be a part of binding up broken hearts, and of comforting the lonely, and of visiting those sick and in prison.  Come and be a part of resistance to evil and injustice.”  And our good and perfect response to God’s invitation is, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done—in my heart, in the hearts of all your children!”

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