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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Desperately Seeking Jesus

At the heart of epiphany (revelation) is the promise that we are being brought into the very presence of Jesus.  (Luther Seminary’s blog “God Pause”)

 I would like some fulfillment on that promise of being brought into Jesus’ presence. At funerals and sometimes in just regular Sunday morning sermons, I hear ministers preach about when someone will  “stand in the presence of Jesus.”  They are generally talking about an afterlife experience; according to many Christians, it is after death that we will be united with Jesus.  It’s not that I don’t believe that I may meet Jesus someday, it’s just that I don’t have a lot of concrete facts about it.  My lack of knowledge doesn’t mean it isn’t true or that it won’t happen, it simply means that I am not overly knowledgeable about the life after this one.  Truthfully, none of us is.  But the good news is– I don’t think we have to be.   Jesus lived in the present and if I want to model my life after him, I need to live in the present also.  This means that instead of waiting on the promise of being brought into the company of Jesus in the distant future, I should be seeking the company of Jesus right now.  Expecting fulfillment sooner rather than later. 

We don’t want to make the mistake of the people of Nazareth who actually did stand in the presence of Jesus and even recognized that he was filled with God’s grace. For a few short moments, they knew they were in the presence of someone sent by God.  But then their cynicism kicked in.  “Is he not just the son of Joseph?”  And the moment had passed.  The knowledge that they stood in the presence of God’s Holy One, dried up and blew away like a dry leaf on the wind. 

The scriptures are full of hints on how to experience the presence of Jesus.  “Seek and you shall find.  Knock and the door shall be opened.”  “That which you did for the least of these you did for me.”  Jesus presence could weave its way in and out of the moments of our days, if we sought to see him. If we looked into the eyes of our brothers and sisters and saw not alienation but reconciliation.  If we took seriously the commandment to “love one another” and set aside the many laws and rules of the Hebrew scriptures that separate and divide. 

At Annual Meeting this past week, we voted unanimously to add our ONA statement of inclusivity to our constitution.  Open and Affirming is one of Zion’s ways of standing in the presence of Jesus.  No one was more welcoming than the One who said “Go forth unto all nations and baptize.”  It was Jesus’ most inclusive statement—ALL nations.  Not some, all.

So my words to you as we trade Epiphany for Lent–do not wait for some apocalyptic moment to stand in the presence of Jesus or to “meet” Jesus.  Seek him now.  Model your life after him in the present and the epiphany promise will be fulfilled.
 

See You in the Pews!
Pastor Jane

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3 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Blogging With Jane

 

Church as Gym

Burlington YWCA

Burlington YWCA

Every January, I make a few New Year’s resolutions. As of today, I am enjoying huge, unmitigated success in the fulfillment of these resolutions. I have fulfilled every one of my seventeen resolutions! I am a New Year’s resolutions success story!  Hannibal has crossed the Alps! OK…I’ll slow down.  Current literature on New Year’s resolutions and my own pathetic personal history do not indicate a favorable outcome.  Not only do I generally abandon my resolutions after about two weeks (at the time of writing this, I’m on day 3) but according to a recent issue of The Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 8% of all people who make resolutions actually achieve them.  I guess I am just one of the 92%.

But I do have one goal that is sure to meet success—working out at the gym (for me, “gym” is the Burlington YWCA).  The reason I will stick with going to the gym is this– I enjoy it.  Forbes Magazine says in “Five Resolutions You Won’t Keep and Five You Will” that a resolution works best if it is “pleasant” or if you really enjoy it.  Well, I enjoy the gym—I enjoy the people, the energy I feel when I walk in the weight room, the encouragement of the staff, the fact that we are all there for the same reason—improved health and quality of life.  So I know I will not abandon that particular resolution.

The gym is a good image for the church.  Similar to the gym, the church is where we go to work on our faith and build up those spiritual and ethical “muscles” we rely on when we are not in church. Just like my strength training sessions with my YWCA trainer, Stephie (who is really awesome), everything I do in church is deliberate.  Nothing is without purpose; or if it seems lacking in purpose, I may have forgotten why I come to the “gym” at all.  Is my reading of the scripture just one more element of the worship service or does it move me with the voice of God?  Do I pray knowing I am heard or am I just repeating words?  Do I know if I swing a kettle bell to strengthen my back or just for the entertainment of Stephie?  Hmmm…could be a little of both.

The other day, while clearing out our basement, I picked up a large box of books and quickly carried it up two flights to my office.  I commented to Don that if I hadn’t been working out, I wouldn’t have been able to do that so easily.  In other words, there are things I can do now that I couldn’t do without the benefit of the gym.

What benefit does your gym/church bring to you?  Is there anything that happens for you in church that helps you when you are not in church?  Are there loads you can now carry that would prove too heavy without your faith community?

Send me a comment; I would love to hear your thoughts!  Pastor Jane

Stephie the Awesome Trainer

Stephie the Awesome Trainer

 
10 Comments

Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Blogging With Jane

 
 
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