Ordinary Time: Real

This past weekend we took a look at the lectionary readings and connected them to the word “Real” as prescribed in Erik Willits’ book Common Time.

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13; Psalm 51:1-12; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:24-35

The readings start off with 2 readings centering around David’s taking of a woman named Bathsheba.  After realizing that she was pregnant while her husband Uriah was off to war David tried to scheme and think about how he could make it look like Uriah’s child and when all else failed he had the man killed on the battle field.

Oh did I mention that we also had a baptism this weekend?

So there is that where we have scripture about the fallout after a rape and murder, and then we have to talk about how we might come to the waters of baptism.

My church is all about being real.  Our mission is that we are “Real people living Real lives encountering a Real and life-changing faith in Jesus Christ.”  The hope is also that we are able to be real and honest with one another.  We try to reach out to those who have been hurt or alienated by the church and in doing so we strive to be authentic and open.  You don’t have to wear a mask at FaithPoint, and even if you do, there are people that will love you when you decide to take it off weather that be on Sunday morning, in a life group or serving in another ministry, or even in a pastoral care exchange on Facebook Messenger.

We often get off track however or imagine a different reality than the one we live.  Think about someone trying on VR goggles for the first time.  There are times when reality meets your virtual construction of reality and you will trip over a chair or couch in the throws of battling aliens or pretending that you are base jumping.

Before there was VR and AR (augmented reality) there was our imagination.  You have seen AR in action while people try to catch invisible Pokemon on the streets of your neighborhood. Imaginatoin is still around, but you have to look a little harder to find it at times.  We imagine what our first day of class is going to be like, weather you are a teacher or student.  We make plans for our future, or what we think others will say when we tell them big news.

Then when that virtual reality that we have constructed meets reality there are some things that change and unexpected variables crop up.  But from the lectionary readings this weekend we learned a few things about Reality. 

  • We have Real Choice—we have been given the opportunity to have free will and choose what paths we want to take in life.  Sure there may be constraints places upon us, but they are not constraints of choice from God.  We are able to choose to be the good or we can choose to break down relationships.  It is up to us.  In the case of David he made a poor choice that lead to sin and brokenness that had an impact on his whole kingdom.
  • We have real consequences—the ripples of our decisions reach the banks of others hearts.  Many times we don’t even know the people that we are impacting.  I was listening to a podcast last week and a guy was talking about guilt that he felt for not helping a woman who came to his art stand to have a picture drawn.  It turned out she was a kidnapping victim and he felt like he should have done more.  This guilt has been effecting him in real ways and he too has become a victim in some ways of the actions of this kidnapper.  Not just for Bathsheba and Uriah, but Nathan and David himself and all of Israel felt the pain of David’s decision.  Fortunately the narrative of God’s working in creation doesn’t end there.
  • We have real reconciliation—Through Christ we are offered a way back.  We are offered a way to healing and wholeness that we cannot do on our won but need Jesus to be an intermediary and atone for the ripples of brokenness we have sent to the banks of others and God.  He makes the way, but because we still have free will we cannot be forced to choose the right way.  But we are called to live a life worth of our call as our Ephesians reading says.

So what?  Why does this narrative matter if we are just going to end up where we started from?  Because we know and see the REAL love God has for God’s people.  That the promises are true and that God is not a watch setter God who is unconcerned.  Rather God makes good on the promises made and will be there with us.  In turn we are invited into the relationship as well.  This invitation calls us to 3 critical (real) decisions

  1. Confess—we need to confess what we have done wrong.  We need to name when we have sent ripples of hurt instead of grace.  We know that hurting people hurt people and that Jesus molded a way of breaking the cycle.  However we first need to identify what those things are we need to heal.
  2. Claim—We are really bad, in general, at owning our actions.  We are quick to blame others, but in doing that we give up control to make changes.  With my psychologist hat on, we cannot control what we do not own.  If it is always someone else’s fault we will not grow but rather stagnate.  When we own our stuff we are able to do the real work our Ephesians passage gets to.There is a great book called Extreme Ownership you should give some time to.  It is a leadership/ownership book written in a way that is practical and accessible check it out here: http://amzn.to/2ascFKU
  3. Change—we want to be mature and equip one another to live a life worthy of our calling.  The word equip in our scripture is more closely means to be joined to or grafted to the source of life.  So like a bone healing or us being aligned with the heart of Jesus.  We need to do that.  We need to own that we need to grow and mature rather than waiting for someone to spiritually feed us.  We need to do the hard work of feeding and knowing our hearts enough to know what we need to work on.  We also know that there are others in the community that will help and encourage us.  We are the body of Christ and we celebrate and mourn together.  We also grow together.  Though not everyone is at the same place we know we all have a next step.

Knowing the real love God had for us we are able to enter the waters of baptism knowing that God has made well on promises and we want to be part of that.  We want to be equipped and aligned with that which God offers, so that we can live a life worthy of our calling.