Monday, May 23, 2011

Growing Into Our Salvation

This week was first communion for five young people in our congregation.

I have always loved the idea that we grow into our salvation.
I love the idea that salvation is something that has been given to us, but it is really too big an idea for us to grasp and understand fully.
Consider the idea that God’s Son who made the universe and the stars, who was mighty and power, gave all that up to become a mortal.
Not only that but a mortal human being who was killed in one of the most humiliating ways you can think of.
None of that makes sense, and it does take a lifetime to really come to terms with it.
We have to grow into it.
Consider our Gospel for this morning.
Jesus is going to die, he has told his disciples that he will be denied, betrayed, and killed.
They cannot understand.
Even now after all this time, after all the things that they have been through together.
After all the healing, all the forgiveness, after all the miracles, and after Lazarus was raised from the dead they still can’t get it.
I am so glad that God gives us time to grow into our salvation.
Because we need that time to understand and come to terms with what Jesus says today, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places and I go to prepare a place for you so that were I am you may be also.”
That is an amazing statement.
Jesus is preparing a place for us.
Jesus is getting everything ready for us to arrive.

I remember as a kid when people would come over to our house my mom would go crazy preparing for them to come.
She would clean every inch of the house.
In fact, while cleaning she would make me and my sisters go outside and not come back until the people got there.
It was always lots of tense moments preparing for people to come over.
But the thing was my mom wanted everything to be perfect.
She wanted the house to look good, and for the food to taste good.
She wanted people to know one another and have a good time.
She cared about the people coming over and wanted everything to be perfect.
I like to think the same about Jesus.
That he cares so much about us that he is busy preparing a place for us.
A perfect place where we feel welcomed, loved, and at home.

But even that takes a long time to get used to.
Because we think that maybe we have to do something to earn it.
But it is free is too big an idea for us.
It is given in grace, and we spend our lives growing into that truth.

Today Catherine, Angelina, Grace, Riley, and Evan grow a little more into the salvation prepared for them by Jesus.
They grow by tasting and seeing Jesus offering them so much.
Because when we come to this table we are offered a foretaste of the feast to come.
We get to see what that home is like that Jesus is preparing for us.
It is a home filled with love, compassion, joy, forgiveness, health, life, and peace.

We know this because Jesus has showed it to us.
And when we see Jesus we see God.
“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father….Believe in me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”
It all takes a great leap of faith to believe in such a thing.
And that leap does not happen once it happens many times and takes us a long time to grow into it.

It makes me think of when I was a kid and I was growing a lot.
My mom would take me to the store to get new clothes or shoes.
And she would always buy me clothes that were too big for me.
“You’ll grow into it.”
She would say.
That is what God says to us about our salvation.
It might be too big, but you will grow into it.
Someday it will make sense things will fall into place.

That is why I am so overjoyed that these young people are coming to the Lord ’s Table, because I know that here they will experience that growth.
They will grow into knowing the promise of God from tasting and seeing how Jesus is good.

The book we read to prepare for this day was called “A Place For You”.
In it we heard about how Jesus gave us this special meal so that we can remember that he goes and prepare a place for us.
In Jesus’ special meal we can remember that we are loved and cared for, and called to love and care for others.
These seem like such simple things, but living and believing them is so much harder.
It would seem easy to believe that Jesus loves us all, but we are often given contradictory messages.

For example, this week Family Radio’s founder Harold Camping predicted that yesterday would be the rapture.
I must say I am glad that all of you are hear for me to preach to this morning.
The rapture is the belief that some people will be pulled up from earth and taken to heaven, and the rest would be left behind to go through a horrific apocalypse where Satan would rule, and be in pain and torment.
I am sure all of you know this already, but just in case let me say it again.
This is not a Biblical view.
The Bible never once uses the word rapture.
The Bible talks about the end of the world.
But those visions are not about people being drawn into heaven.
The Biblical view of the end of the world is what Jesus tells us this morning,
“That he goes to prepare a place for us…so that where I am, there you may be also.”
Whatever the end entails it means being with Jesus and we know that is not scary at all....It has nothing to do with earthquakes, zombies, destruction, and death.
In my view the rapture was all cooked up by some Christians out there to scare us into believing.
In other words…believe in Jesus or else.
The Biblical view is much better.
Jesus offers us a promise.
It is a promise that says, “I go to prepare a place for you.”
It is a promise that says God calls us out of darkness into the light.
It is a promise that says, “If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”
My problem with the rapture is that it makes Christianity seem so mean and petty.
It makes it seem that belief is one time thing, and then we all of a sudden have everything figured out.
Instead of the Biblical view that belief is a process, belief is something we grow into.
It comes from growing into the promise that God has given.
It comes from our understanding that God is building us into a spiritual house.

Consider the signs that were up about the rapture.
“The end is coming. Believe in God.”
That is all it takes as if believing in God can be comprehended in one minute.
God’s grace given in Jesus Christ takes a lifetime to understand, and in some ways we could never understand it fully.
I know that I am often overwhelmed when I think of the magnificence of the promises made to me by Jesus Christ.
I know that often I am at the table receiving communion and I am just overcome by what God has prepared for me.
I am still growing into my salvation as are all of us.

Today Catherine, Angelina, Grace, Rieley, and Evan get to experience the awesomeness of God’s promise.
Today they get to grow a little more into that salvation.
They get to glimpse at what God has prepared for them.

For those of us who have been tasting and seeing God for a long time we get to have that exact same experience.
And today we can all grow into the salvation given to us by God through Jesus Christ.

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