ARE YOU READY?
Psalm 148: 1-6 & 11-13
JOHN 13: 31-35
May 19, 2019
Next weekend in Indianapolis; 33 drivers will be sitting in some very expensive vehicles that are still referred to as cars even though they really don’t look like nor respond in the same way that our chevy’s, ford’s, Hyundai’s, and Honda’s do. But, in the tradition of sport … out on the brick yard a call will be made that more than one hundred thousand people in attendance and thousands more watching on TV will hear LADIES and GENTLEMEN START YOUR engines … and a roar will rise along with the scented fumes of oil and gas.
Those drivers had better be ready for the race; the journey around and around and around and around and around …. Well, they do race around that track over and over again for the Indianapolis 500. Cars ready, drivers ready … the green flag and those drivers hope that their million dollar cars will propel them to a finish under the checkered flag as a winner; waiting to be bathed from a bottle of milk.
Church this morning are you ready? Folks watching on FACEBOOK or viewing a replay of this worship service are you ready?
Are you ready this morning … here on Sunday May 19th. Are you truly ready and more importantly are you willing to live for God? For Jesus Christ? Are you one of the all too few individuals walking on this planet who are saying COME HOLY SPIRIT COME BE MY GUIDE … ‘Spirit of the living God; fall afresh on me … Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me.’
Yes? No? ASKING/PLEADING for GOD’s daily guidance even in the hard moments? Are you anxiously and excitedly awaiting the next moment when you, yes you, can reveal your God energized smile, your welcoming hug, your spirit of generosity and your love for all through your words and actions … clearly counteracting the spirit of hate and endorsement of hateful acts that are so evident in our nation today?
Do people … strangers and friends … do they talk about you saying he … she … my friend; my co-worker; my neighbor; that stranger shows amazing love towards those everyone else rushes away from or from people subject to mocking or singling out because of their race, their religion, their sexuality, their accent, their status, their politics, their job, their clothing, or their very humanity. Do they talk about you?
Well, you get it … don’t you? The God call … the God expectation?
This week I have spent all too many hours reflecting and dealing with the reality that adults in America seem to enjoy returning to their junior high days when they could openly mock those they didn’t like or those they felt were less worthy than they themselves are. I have heard the news that those who have brutally and criminally tortured and criminally murdered others will be honored on a day set aside for those who gave up their lives in service to our nation and heard voices celebrating that planned action with a rabid energy almost celebrating the vile acts themselves.
And, yes I have again opened up what to me is a Holy Book of guidance. To sense how God is calling; Again discovering the consistent cover-to-cover message from the Creator. It is in our Psalm today, “GOD GAVE THE COMMAND of LIFE PRAISE THE LORD not humans not rulers … BECAUSE ONLY GOD’s NAME IS HIGH OVER ALL … ONLY GOD’s MAJESTY is OVER EARTH and HEAVEN.”
I had a discussion of history and how some people have this concept that worshiping a flag or a dynasty fulfills their life’s purpose. That choosing us versus them is their way to live out life. Such concepts clearly contradict the God of Creation and stomp on the words of Jesus Christ who declared in that Upper Room, “I give you a new commandment; LOVE EACH OTHER. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. THIS IS HOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES! WHEN YOU LOVE EACH OTHER!”
Are you ready to be face-to-face with God my friends … are you ready to answer the direct question that may be posed when your life here ends and your afterlife begins? Are you ready to say to the AMAZING, AWESOME and GOD of LOVE that yes … you; you were known during your walk here on earth for how you loved all of your neighbors not just a select group you decided were worthy … how you loved those you encountered in life regardless of what they looked like or from where they came? Will you bow before God and share how you stood up against hate? Damning hate with a fervor that revealed that you loved each person even those with whom you had disagreements about the inconsequential debates in life … because frankly every single earthly disagreement is inconsequential when compared to eternal life and living for God!
And church, WE ARE CALLED TO NOT BE of this WORLD but to be GOD’s people who PRAISE THE LORD … Sun and moon praise God!!! PRAISE GOD all of you who are God’s messengers! PRAISE THE LORD!!! Do the same you young men … you young women too … you who are old together with those who are young … LET ALL of THESE PRAISE THE LORD!!!
Oh my church PRAISE THE LORD … PRAISE THE LORD … God who gave us Jesus Christ to teach us to live for God … God who has sent God’s Holy Spirit to be our guide … PRAISE THE LORD!!! Let the earth hear … let the neighborhoods reverberate with a new energy of love for all … let people see church goers and immediately wonder how people coming out the doors of churches can be so energized in love in such a way that it is as if someone during their time in church had once again gave them authority to love! LADIES and GENTLEMEN START YOUR ENGINES for GOD! START YOUR ENGINES for JESUS CHRIST … LET THE EARTH HEAR YOU ROAR PRAISE THE LORD … PRAISE GOD … take the lessons from your TUNE-UP’s in faith … let your Holy Spirit be your pit crew answering your questions as how you should navigate life’s course.
ARE YOU READY CHURCH to LOVE EACH OTHER … to LOVE THE PEOPLE of this WORLD … ARE YOU WILLING TODAY CHURCH … oh my church are you willing to be known in the world for your love that comes from your God. … that comes from Jesus … that is guided by the Holy Spirit … ARE YOU READY to make today the day your race for God truly heads towards that goal Paul writes about? “Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead. I race on toward the goal for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Many live as enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ their destiny is destruction, their glory is their shame and their minds are on earthly things but our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.”
CHURCH ARE YOU READY?
Yesterday, I celebrated a man of faith as his remains were laid to rest in the fields of Egglington … on Tuesday I paused to remember a good man whose music has stopped playing here on earth … last week as the evening quickly became night time it was another whose life had ended. And, church I prayed these words …
God of us all, your love never ends. When all else fails, you still are God. We pray to you for one another in our need, … HELP US TO LIVE as THOSE WHO ARE PREPARED TO DIE. Keep true in us the love with which we hold one another. In all our ways we trust You. Help us so to love and serve You in this world that we may enter into Your joy in the world to come.
Some of you know that these last few days have been difficult ones for my high school class as we have been witnessing one of our group; a man of deep faith with a wife who has incredibly strong faith deal with the excruciating pain of an insidious disease. None of us know the outcome but my friend RANDY McKENICA who has sat next to me and cheered the Buffalo Bills with great energy … my friend who once upon a time sat across from me in our middle school cafeteria and on all too many occasions has argued with me about the world of politics … he has told his beautiful wife Michelle that he is not afraid of dying because he knows where he is going … HE IS NOT AFRAID; RANDY McKENICA is READY to be face-to-face with God … RANDY, my friend for all these many years has allowed Jesus Christ to be part of his label in life … Randy is more fearful of the medical realities that he faces than of death and no, he has no death wish … he wants to live for his family … Randy’s birthday was just a few days before mine and for a half century we have been saying Happy Birthday to each other every May.
But Randy is READY … we share our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Savior that is what matters not our politics; not our football teams; not our good looks; not even the delicious chicken barbecue we are about to enjoy ….
Acceptance of Jesus Christ is not a mere telling people I am a Christian because that is not changing for God … that is not changing for Jesus Christ … that is not belonging … that is not believing … that is not being ready to breathe your last breath and that has no more validity in the afterlife than keeping a membership card in your wallet for an organization whose meetings you do not attend and whose work you don’t do.
God and Christ have made it clear … to be ready for them … to be one with them … it’s about love … if you want to be able to declare to your friends and family and neighbors that you are a Christian then you had better be ready to love ALL of your neighbors; treating ALL with the respect and love of Jesus Christ not of the world …
Jesus declared “I give you a new commandment: LOVE EACH OTHER JUST AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.” Did you hear that church, just as Jesus loved and Jesus hung out with the rejects of society and those the men in power rejected and despised and put down … we are to love like Jesus. Jesus continues, “So you must MUST love each other. This is how EVERYONE will know that you are my disciples when you love each other!”
And, I think the world needs to witness people of faith showing that we are ready for God by our willingness to energetically SHOUT PRAISE THE LORD … PRAISE THE LORD … We PRAISE YOU GOD for JESUS and YOUR LOVE!
Almighty God … be with my friends of faith in their hard moments this week … be with all of us here in this church and let us be examples of Your love and be with our United Methodist Annual Conference that is convening in Wildwood today allowing those who gather to hear that Your Son declared that Our Open Hearts are to love ALL equally.
ARE YOU READY CHURCH? READY TO START YOUR HEARTS, YOUR MINDS, YOUR SOULS, AND YOUR LIVES FOR JESUS CHRIST AND TO ROAR OUT OF HERE TODAY READY TO TURN HEADS … READY TO GET PEOPLE WONDERING WHY YOU LOVE ALL AND THEN GIVING THEM THE ANSWER … JESUS CHRIST …
He was born in a manger but that’s not the story … HE TAUGHT US how to live … HE DIED on the CROSS … HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>> And, He lives today loving us still.
With all my faults and challenges in life I AM READY … my friends Randy and Michelle are ready … I hope and pray you are ready too!