Sunday, August 22, 2010


This week at Vacation Bible School we were telling stories to the kids about Jesus ministry.
The kids heard the story about Jesus’ birth, turning water into wine, having his feet washed by a sinful woman, finding lost sheep, and blessing the little children.
What do all these stories have in common?
They all end with people celebrating or rejoicing.
At Jesus birth the shepherds rejoice at the news of Jesus being born.
At the wedding the people celebrate because the best wine was still available and the party could go on.
The woman rejoices because her sins are forgiven.
Jesus tells us that God rejoices when someone is lost and then found.
And Jesus celebrates that the children come to him.
Today’s Gospel is also about rejoicing.
Today Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath in the synagogue and the people rejoice because the synagogue has been returned to what it was meant to be a place of great joy that God has healed and saved us.
There is a lot of rejoicing in the stories about Jesus.
This is why we have all come to worship this morning to celebrate that God cares about us and loves us.
We have come to sing songs of praise to our God who forgives sins, heals us, sets us free, saves us, searches for us, and blesses us.
We have come to pray in thankfulness for the many blessings the God has given us.

I always think that sometimes we don’t celebrate enough in worship.
We make worship about acting the right way or doing the right thing, in the right order.
Instead of keeping our focus on what worship is really about it is about what God has done for us, not about what we do for God.
And God through Jesus has shown us a great love and a saving love.
Jesus came to reclaim what the Torah teaches that God’s love is abundant and wide.
Today we have some of my favorite Biblical passages of the Old Testament.
From The psalmist we hear that God is “full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
What wonderful beautiful words.
It sums up the Gospel message for us.
This is what Jesus came to show us and give to us a God not of anger and vengefulness.
Not a God concerned with over legalist man made rules, but a God of compassion and mercy.
This is not to say that God’s law is bad.
It is to say that the law was given so that we might know God’s love and mercy, not so that we can use against one another, or hinder the work of the Gospel.

In Isaiah we hear how the lord leads us to be repairers of the breach the breach that separates us from one another and from God.
The breach that separates us from God has been filled by Jesus coming to us to show us God’s love.
Now we are called to repair that breach for one another.

This week at Vacation Bible School we have been on the Gospel train.
And since we have been on a train this whole week I thought I would tell a train story.
This is a story based on a true story.
It happened June 15th 2009 in Pittsfield, MA.
I say based because it was told to me this week and I could not confirm it on the internet without shelling out some money.
Anyway…it is based on a true story.
On June 15th of 2009 there was a huge storm in Pittsfield MA.
There was massive flooding in the area that flooded out part of the train tracks.
But on this day the train that always traveled through the area was right on time.
Only the engineer did not know that down the track the floods from the storm had totally washed out the track.
There (we will call him Bob) was a man in town who was a train enthusiast.
Bob studied the movement of the trains and knew the schedule like the back of his hand.
On this day Bob was listening to the radio and heard about the flood.
He then realized that the train was headed for this huge breach in the track.
He ran from his house to the railroad track.
And he managed to flag down the train before it reached the breach and its demise.
Now I don’t know for sure but my guess is that the engineer, conductor and other people on that train where mighty glad that Bob had managed to warn them before they went over the breach in the track.
My guess is they celebrated their saving that day.

This story is a great train story.
And it can be used in a variety of ways.
Jesus is the one who knows how everything runs.
He knows all the wash outs and all the floods and dangers up ahead.
Jesus is the one we count on to save us from the breach to be the one who repairs it and helps us on our way.
But also Jesus is the one who gives us the ability, power, passion to help others from falling into the breach.
Jesus gives us the power to know the track and the train and to help others.
Either way we win!
Either way you look at it we are saved from eventual doom.

We don’t always know the dangers ahead.
We don’t always know what will happen around the next bend.
But in faith we stay on the tracks knowing that our God cares about us.

Indeed our God is a compassionate God slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
And that is cause to celebrate!
In fact it is the best news that I ever heard in my life.
It is Good News!

This morning I wish for you to hear that news too!
To celebrate that God cares about you and your life.
That God through Jesus Christ is here to forgive you, save you, bless you, and heal you.
That today Good News has come to this place of worship.
That we too like the crowd in the synagogue that morning can rejoice at all the wonderful things that Jesus is doing in our lives.

This week as you go about your lives search out the things that Jesus is doing for you.
Look for the ways that Jesus works in your life.
They might be small like your kids telling you that they love you for no reason.
Or it might be something big like Jesus waving you down right before you fall over a breach in the tracks.
Whatever it is look for it and take a moment to celebrate it!
Truth is that we don’t celebrate enough.
We take too much time in our lives to find who is to blame for something, or complain about things we have no control over.
Instead of celebrating that Jesus is in our midst ready to heal we sometimes want to play the legalist and think of all the reasons why it would be inappropriate.
Truth is that God wants us to rejoice!
God wants us to celebrate!

Especially on Sunday mornings
Because on Sunday mornings we are together as the people of God, and Jesus is here with us.
Jesus is here speaking wonderful words to us telling us that we are forgiven, healed, saved, set free, loved, and blessed.
Jesus is telling us that God has repaired the breach through him.
That God is abounding in steadfast love, mercy, and compassion.

So this morning let us rejoice together in all God’s goodness.
Let us praise God for sending Jesus Christ to reclaim the synagogue and preach the Good News of God’s love, saving, forgiveness, and healing.

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