Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Words To Live By

This past week our family went to Disney for a vacation.
I have been to Disney a bunch of times in my life.
This time I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed before.
As you walked around the various Disney parks there were different areas blocked off because they were under construction.
That part I had noticed before, Disney is always changing things, or making things better.
What I noticed this time is that on the wall of all those places under construction were quotes from Walt Disney.
Things like, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
Or “It's kind of fun to do the impossible.”
All of these quotes caught my eye for some reason.
I was drawn to them.
I began to think of why they had taken the time to put up these signs of Walt Disney quotes all over the parks.
I suspect that it is so that the people building the new attractions or fixing the old ones will remember why they doing it.
It is for people like me who are visiting the parks and will see why they are making changes.
I would like to think that Disney wants to remind people of the principles that drive their mission.
And the way to do that is to go back to the source.
To go back to the words of the man who started it all.

It got me thinking about our congregation and what drives us.
What makes our church run or go?
What makes us choose to do the things we do?
And the reason for us being here together, and the reason we have a church is because we are followers of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is our founder.
And it is Jesus’ words that drive our mission.
So this morning, you might have noticed, I have posted on hot pink paper the words of Jesus Christ.
I hope you might take some time before leaving here this morning to look at some of those words.
I hope you might take time to think about how those words drive our mission together.
How these words shape our life as a congregation and your life as an individual.
These words of Jesus are why we are here today.
They are what we are working towards, because the Church, this church, Concordia Lutheran Church, is always under construction.
It is always imperfect, in need of improvement.
It is always growing into what God wants it to be, needs it to be.
That is true of us as a congregation, and it is also true of us as individuals within this congregation.
We all need some work.
But Jesus didn’t say these things to shame us, but rather to so that we might be encouraged and inspired to live them out as individuals and a community.

And that is what our Gospel from St. John is talking about this morning.
“Those who love me will keep my word.”
To love Jesus is to know what words he spoke.
It is to take those words as our inspiration so that we might live them out in the world.
Jesus left behind these words because he knew that we as a people were an incomplete project.
Jesus knew that we would need the Holy Spirit to guide us in to becoming who we were meant to be.
So if we want to know what it means to be a Christian, to be a person who proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord and savior.
It means to know his words, and to follow them.

I know for me the following is often the hard part.
I seem I know the words, but I have trouble sometimes in doing them.
I know what I am supposed to do, but fail to be everything Jesus asks me to be.
I don’t always love my enemy.
I don’t always love my neighbor as myself.
I don’t always act humbly and serve others.
I struggle with it at times.
But I take solace in the words that Jesus speaks this morning.
I take solace that I am not alone in this construction project that is Jonathan Hopkins, and Concordia Lutheran Church.

First of all I have all of you.
We are on this journey together.
We are trying to figure out how best to live into Jesus’ words together.
And when I fall I count on all of you to help get me back on track.
I count on you all to forgive me, so I might try again.
And all of you need to count on each other for that same kind of support, and encouragement.
That is what a Christian community can do for each other.
Second, I have the Holy Spirit that I feel is always working on me.
The Holy Spirit is calling me again and again to live a more real and fulfilling life.
Not a life of superficial outward appearances.
But a real life filled with all of its contradictions, all of its messiness, and hard choices.
The Holy Spirit is there as a guide for me as I find my way back to the words that I have posted on the walls of the Church this morning.

Because here is the thing about the signs I saw in Disney many people probably didn’t even notice them.
They were just upset that there was no Pocahontas show this year, or that there was construction on the monorail.
That is how it is with the words of Jesus sometimes too.
We don’t see them, or forget them, or are annoyed that they are in our way stopping us from doing what we want to do.

But there were probably other people who were also there who had seen those words of Walt Disney everyday as they went to work.
And maybe they didn’t inspire them, because they were sick of seeing those same words.
Or maybe they just have “more important things” to do then think about some words.
That is how we can be too.
We can take Jesus words for granted because we have heard them so much.
We just brush them aside as we go to work, or get things done.
We don’t think that these words are the bases for our daily work, these words of Jesus are how we are supposed to go about doing our work.
They form the bases of a better life and better work.
You can’t be a good boss without loving and caring for the people who work for you.
You can’t be a good spouse without being a servant to them.
You can’t be a good parent without thinking about how your love will grow in your kids.
These words of Jesus they are meant to inspire us to live out our mission in all those areas of our lives.
And I am aware that we fail at those things often, but that is why we go back to the words.
They remind us of what is really important.
Far from the everyday battles we fight, they remind us of the real mission we are on.
The mission to spread the love we have received in Jesus Christ.
We are on the mission to make this world a better place, a more compassionate place.
A Godlier place, a place filled with God’s love shown to us in Jesus Christ.
Our Church is given that task by Jesus Christ, and we are not perfect in it, but we are called again and again by Jesus’ words.

Our church is a construction zone filled with all of us who are under construction.
We are one our way figuring out life as we move along.
It is helpful along the way to be reminded of the words of our founder.
To be reminded of the words of the person who put the church together so that we might know our mission, so that we might have direction, so that we might be inspired to live under, in, and through these words of Jesus Christ.

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