Monday, April 4, 2022

A Whole New Vision

God has been preparing us for something new and we don't know quite what it is yet, but we know it will be good. 

Fifth Sunday in Lent
Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126
Philippians 3:4b-14
John 12:1-8

Brand new opportunities are unfolding for us like the spring blossoms.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:29 KJV)

A new thing. John the Revelator's spoken, quoted God, talking about as Isaiah quoted God here, talking about, "Behold, I make all things new." And he wrote about a new heaven and a new earth.

Notes for sermon preached on April 3, 2022 at Briensburg UMC | [Audio] 

We often sing the chorus, "Now I'm living in a new creation. His banner over me is love." God's bulldozer makes a way where there is no way. New projects, new ideas, new understandings. In his letter, one of his letters, St. John wrote as it's put in the New Living Translation, "Dear friends. We are already God's children, but God has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him. For we shall see Him as He really is." (1 John 3:2 New Living Translation)

"Streams of water," as the Good News Translation for this verse speaks of regarding the rivers in the desert. Streams of water, living water, as we discover in the New Testament: The Woman at the well, the invitation at the Feast of Tabernacles, the Holy Spirit flowing through us.

We have to let go of some old things in order take hold of the new.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (Philippians 3:7 KJV)

 We all eventually come to realize is that the things that were most important before have become less important with new revelations. This verse that I read from the King James has in the Living Bible, "But all these things that I once thought very worthwhile, now I've thrown them all away so that I can put my trust and hope in Christ alone." (Philippians 3:7 TLB)  Isaac Watts wrote (1707)

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died 
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Sometimes the things that have moved us forward have also held us back in other ways. We do build on the legacy of the past, but we also add new designs and plans and activities appropriate to the future. Whether our goals in the past did or did not hold us back, still they are being replaced by even better things for the future, eternal spiritual relationships. The eternal vision of heaven, a vision renewed daily when we pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." 

Celebrate what is ahead, when all the obstacles will have been overcome.

Then Mary took a whole pint of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard, poured it on Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The sweet smell of the perfume filled the whole house. (John 12:8 GNT)

Notice the extravagant generosity of Martha and Mary and Lazarus in opening their home to all the guests, including some who would even begin that evening to plot the deaths of Lazarus and Jesus over the next few days. Martha prepared a great meal for everyone. Everyone could enjoy the smell of the perfume that evening, that began to waft through all the rooms of the house, along with the smells of the cooked food cooking. The festivities communicated love for all their guests as well as Jesus most especially.

Their hospitality expressed on behalf of all the guests, their value and devotion to Christ. He was a family friend. He raised their brother Lazarus from the dead. He was giving his life in love every day in everything he said and did. The gathering took place on the Eve of Palm Sunday. And the next day, Jesus would enter Jerusalem triumphantly as the spiritual leader and teacher. Through the next week, he would teach in the temple and then celebrate the Passover meal and institute the sacrament of the Lord's supper. By the following Saturday, he would've already been crucified and would be awaiting the resurrection from the dead and the life of the world to come.

We look forward to what God has in store for us and our congregation & community & world.

Those who wept as they went out carrying the seed will come back singing for joy, as they bring in the harvest. (Psalm 126:6 GNT)

The world has been going through difficult times for everyone, personally and collectively. The pandemic and other maladies have brought sickness and death and suffering to family and friends. Economic stress, whether gain or loss has brought many changes. Injustice churns in all its forms at home and abroad.

Even in our tears, we do bear "precious seed," as the Psalmist continues in verse six. Especially in the face of challenges, we scatter those seeds of faith, hope and love, that Paul lifted up as... And saying that, "When all else fails, those three remain as eternal assets." We continue to plant and water the seeds of kindness that sprout in others. Each seed we plant has the potential to be just what someone needs as it takes root and grows in their life. Uncertain as we may be about how the future will unfold, we know we will be rejoicing when God has brought us all through everything. When we've come through it all, we will come rejoicing.

Our hope is in Christ, who loves us and is our continuous salvation. Our joy is in the deepening spiritual relationships we share with each other and establish with others as their seeds of faith grow. "Bringing in the Sheaves" by Knowles Shaw (1874) begins,

Sowing in the morning,
sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide
and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest,
and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing,
bringing in the sheaves.

May the remainder of this Lenten season be a time of joyful anticipation as we look through and beyond the suffering, sorrow and death of the cross, to the mystery and elation of the Resurrection. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment