FINDING THE FRESH AND SWEET
Joshua 2: 1-19 THE MESSAGE
Luke 5:17-26 & Luke 19: 1-10 THE MESSAGE
August 12, 2018
Theme: Up on the Roof, the Drifters, 1962
When this old world starts getting you down and people are just too much to face, where do you go? What do you do?
To some that challenge becomes an opportunity for confrontation to join the chanters and name callers … to boil over so that your anger and frustration is on vivid display for others to see. We know the signs when we see them … last night while watching an episode of the old Dick Van Dyke Show, his son RITCHIE turns to his father and says, “You have your angry face on daddy.” Van Dyke in his role of Rob Petrie quickly tried to deny it “no I don’t Ritchie” but all who were watching knew … he was angry.
When you’re feeling tired and beat … when things in this world wear you down do you spin the nightly wheel of fortune hoping that food, drink, or TV might hold your respite from the world? Do you hold it all in or pour the frustrations out on whoever gets in your path first?
When I was a boy my friends and I often played “army” acting out our own version of skirmishes and battles that many of our dads had participated in. We took turns play acting both American troops as well as those of Germany, Japan and Italy. At the end of the day no one died and everyone was friends. But a few of us discovered that one of the best advantage points was a roof on the Russian Orthodox Church at the end of our street … Mark Tammaro, Eddie Wagner, and I would crawl up the back side of the roof to a vantage point where we looked over the peak to see our world below us. There was something special about being up on the roof.
The perspective from on high … up on the roof. A couple of years ago I sat down with the current priest at that church and confessed about our youthful adventures. Since he has boys he had me show him how we climbed the roof so he could keep an eye on them as they get older.
But, tonight let’s think about who’s keeping an eye on us and whether or not we are making the right steps when we need them.
The two Gospel lessons to me are evidence of the need to climb up from the human crowd that all people of faith must do. Friends caring for a friend … friends loving a friend so much that they were willing to do all that they could to find Jesus.
As our team arrives at Red Bird tonight, I am again reminded how all too many people who go to church on Sunday value first and foremost the building that they enter on Sunday mornings. That is their church; that is their place of worship; and that is their connection with God.
Now, yes it is a sweet place but I am going to argue that if the only connection with the Almighty is a church building and for those who worry about their church buildings or some about their church rules or about who they don’t want to share equal God time with in their building that they name as a place of worship my friends then that is not a fresh and sweet meeting place with God but rather an old dusty stagnant clubhouse for individual agendas and personalities to thrive. I am thankful that someone at St. Paul’s suggested that we leave the building to worship the Almighty … that it’s not the beautiful stained glass sanctuary that represents God but it’s people who are willing to pray and to sing and to praise and yes, to take on missions for God beyond the walls of their buildings not worried about a hierarchy or whose turf is being walked on but it’s hearing and experiencing God and I believe we all need to be searching and rushing to find the FRESH and SWEET that God offers to us through Jesus Christ blended with the Holy Spirit.
Can you climb way up to the top of the stairs where all your cares just drift right into space? On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be … those men who carried the stretcher not only went to the roof … they carried their friend … they removed the roofing material … and then they gently lowered their friend into the crowd that by that time was staring upwards at these smiling men sensing the peace of Jesus Christ. They knew; they plainly and simply knew that they were in the presence of someone with healing powers … a man filled with peace not demanding adherence to rules… a man of mission not one who remained locked into his home synagogue in Nazareth. God’s Son … our Savior … sent to heal humanity … sent to teach humanity … sent to bring total forgiveness and salvation to humanity … and to die for all of humanity only to rise up out of the tomb and then rise up into the heavens returning to God’s throne. That Jesus … that risen Savior is the ONE who can allow you to drift right into the peacefulness of space … all your worries and cares gone.
And, there was Zacchaeus who later became the first Bishop of Caesarea. As the song goes … he was a wee little man but he was hated by everyone. The political party in control didn’t like him … the Jewish people didn’t like him because he was a tax collector. But, he knew he needed to see Jesus.
I think it’s true that all too often we have crowds in our life blocking Jesus … sometimes it’s people and other times it’s just life. I wonder how much better our lives would be if we ran and climbed up over the messes of this world just to catch a glimpse of Jesus at those moments when we are most overwhelmed. People might get mad if you make Jesus your priority … they certainly were mad at Zacchaeus calling him all sorts of names once they knew that Jesus was going to be a guest in the home of the despised tax collector.
Are you ever worried about exposing Jesus in your home? Have you hesitated to ask people you know with children if their kids could come to our vacation Bible School because you are worried what they might say?
Are you bold enough to declare your home a home of love for ALL because Jesus taught that … are your neighbors aware that you love all of them plus any folks that the world might not like because of their politics, the color of their skin, their religion, the ethnic background and accents or the place where they were born?
My friends if you step up … if you’re climbing up … then you will be able to see Jesus above the fray … you will be finding the fresh and sweet peace that Jesus offers. Jesus is not a momentary experience … Jesus is a life changing every day experience …. get away from the hustling crowd and all that rat-race noise down in the street … friends Jesus is the ONLY ONE I know Where you just have to believe and change your life to make it so
Let’s go up on the roof and discover God above the crowds … God and Jesus will truly give you the fresh and sweet you need but don’t let go.