Wasted on Jesus

In Matthew 26:6-13, a woman interrupted Jesus’ visit to Simon’s home by anointing him with oil.  She took an alabaster jar ‘f “Very expensive oil” and poured it on him while he was sitting at dinner.anointing Jesus

The disciples, Jesus’ closest and dearest, most committed followers, take offense. “Why this waste?” they asked.

Wasted on Jesus.

The perfume could have been sold, they continued, and the proceeds given to the poor.

Jesus’ disciples, his closest and most committed followers, felt that this extravagant gift had been wasted on Jesus.

The disciples were all about efficiency.  They weren’t a wealthy lot, and the had quickly picked up on Jesus passion for the poor.  They couldn’t stand that this expensive perfume had been wasted. On Jesus.

Yet Jesus, rather than applauding their penny-pinching, corrects them: “Why do you make trouble for this woman? She’s done a good thing for me.”

Now, I don’t know about you or your church, but we don’t have a lot of extra money lying around here.  We have a lot of generous people here willing to give to help the less fortunate.

Like most these days, we want the money we give to be used to the best, most-efficient purposes.  Some won’t give to general budget because they want every dime of their money to go to the cause; the efficient, don’t-pay-for-the-red-tape feet-on-the-ground need.Some of us want to see the financial reports that prove we aren’t wasting money.

But what if we are wasting it on Jesus?

I think it is significant that this passage appears in the chapter after Jesus teaches that giving to the poor is giving to him:

‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’ – Matthew 25:40

So, I believe, in giving to the poor we are giving to Jesus. But what, then, is the point of this story in Matthew 26?

Like  so much of our lives, and our issues, I believe it comes down to control.

The disciples, in the interest of efficiency, overlook the moment and the passion of the woman anointing Jesus.  They don’t grasp what is happening, or what it might mean to Jesus. And they think they can manage the moment and the gift better than the woman who is doing the giving.

Besides this being about the disciples’ concern over what someone else does, it is about their interest to control and direct resources. In this case, not even their own resources, but someone else’s.

They correctly caught that Jesus cared for the poor. But they misdiagnosed his care.  Jesus didn’t care for the poor as merely a matter of redistribution of resources.

Jesus cared for the poor out of a generous, sharing, giving heart.

Jesus knew, the Bible teaches, and modern research has proven, the power of generosity.

The woman anointing Jesus is not careful with her gift. She is lavish, extravagant, generous. Jesus is pleased and gracious in receiving her gift.

May you and I learn to model generosity more than concern for waste.

Wasted on Jesus

4 Fingers Pointing

Jesus’s disciples were his closest followers.

If anyone got it, they did. Sometimes they did, but sometimes they obviously didn’t.

Like in Matthew 26:8-9.  (Part of today’s reading in Euless First United Methodist Church’s GPS – Grow-Pray-Study guide)

Now when the disciples saw it they were angry and said, “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor.”

What had happened to anger Jesus’ followers? A woman came to Jesus while he was sitting at dinner and poured an alabaster jar of “very expensive perfume” on his head.

Jesus’ followers can be masters of cost and efficiency, especially when they are looking at, and looking to criticize or condemn others.

You and I run the risk of being exactly the same way, whether or not we consider ourselves followers of Jesus. It is easy for us to criticize, even condemn the actions of others.

But Jesus didn’t accept the criticism.  Jesus didn’t agree that this woman was wasteful; he accepted her gift with grace and gratitude.

My parents taught me a long time ago that the danger of pointing a finger at someone else is that it leaves you with 4 fingers pointing back at yourself.

Reading this passage, I wonder if the disciples parents had taught them the same lesson.

It is so easy to point at others. Focus on their actions, deflect focus from yourself, from your own choices, failures, weaknesses, etc.

Jesus’ disciples would have been better off focusing on their own behavior rather than condemning someone else’s.

Jesus’ disciples are still better off focusing on our own behavior rather than condemning someone else.

Next time you catch yourself wanting to point out someone else’s behavior to Jesus, consider this lesson from Matthew 26:6-13.

4 Fingers Pointing

I “Like” the Bible!

I really like the Bible! Not just “like” as in I click on a thing is social media to share with the world, or at least those witch whom I am connected. No, I really actually like the Bible.


Except the parts that I don’t like.

Ok, well, this is a bit oversimplified.

I was reading Romans 10 earlier today, and, wow!  Roman’s 10 has some incredibly powerful stuff.  Salve for what hurts, you know?

Like this

There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, who gives richly to all who call on him. -Romans 10:12

But then I get to thinking about all the parts of the Bible that aren’t quite so clear and encouraging as that. Like this

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment. If they say to their brother or sister, ‘You idiot,’ they will be in danger of being condemned by the governing council. And if they say, ‘You fool,’ they will be in danger of fiery hell. -Matthew 5:22

Ok, well, that’s perfectly clear, but not nearly so encouraging.

I suppose one could pick-and-choose which parts of the Bible are more important, or more valuable.  Some people (ahem) cut and paste – keeping the verses they like and cutting out – either literally or practically – the ones they don’t. Some have simply walked away from the Bible because it is hard to make it all jive together.

I learned in seminary that “scripture interprets scripture.” This means, without going deeply theological on you, that, since we (Christians) claim the entire book as authoritative and inspired, we wrestle with the more difficult parts in light of the less difficult parts.

I used the word “wrestle” intentionally.  Figuring out what God says to us in and through the Bible is a wrestling match.

And wrestling with God is in the Bible, too!

It is tempting to turn to the Bible as a mere instructional manual.  Some only want it for the stories.  I’m thinking they haven’t read many of those stories very closely, but that’s another post.

Whatever your relationship with the Bible, believe this:  God give richly to all who call on him. And this God who gives richly would rather wrestle with you over the meaning than have you walk away.

I “Like” the Bible!

Rob God?

Today’s reading is Malachi 3.  While this chapter is overflowing with substance for discussion and thought provocation, the part that always captures my attention is

Will anyone rob God?

In context, this question is about robbing God by denying the tithe. We rob God when we decline to participate in God’s ordained pattern of support for ministry and aid in fighting selfishness and materialism.

But is this the only way we rob God?

I was pondering this on the way to work this morning.  Stopped at a red light, I checked my mirror and reminded myself to be patient while waiting for the light to change.  The man driving the car behind me appeared similarly patient.

Pulling up next to me, in the left turn lane, were 2 young women, I believe heading to high school.  My mind wandered back to making those morning treks myself. As I began to think about all the different places people at this same red light might be going, I checked my mirror again, and heard a voice gently encourage me to pray for the man behind me.

I have no idea his destination or his story, but I know he is a man created in God’s image, and into whom God has breathed life.  I know God’s will for him, like for me and for everyone, is to bless him, and draw him into a good, healthy, and hopeful relationship with his creator.

So I prayed for these things for this man.

Then, as I prayed, Malachi 3 returned to me.

Do we rob God when we forget that others are created in God’s image as we are? Do we rob God when we fail to treat others as beloved of God, as people whom God wants to bless?

not robbing God

Rob God?

If Grace Then…

The is the second sermon in our “If … Then” series for the month of September.


She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name
It’s a name for a girl
It’s also a thought that
Changed the world

And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness
In everything

We ended last week with the invitation to respond to grace – to God’s grace – to God’s good will towards us.

How’d that go for you?

Did you respond to God’s grace this past week?

Because here’s the deal:  IF we are people of grace, then we must become people of grace!

IF we have received grace, then we will give grace away

Grace finds goodness in everything.

It seems like we are better and finding badness in everything.  Got a favorite political candidate?  I bet they’ve done something wrong sometime in their life….  I know: you are very familiar with what OTHER candidate’s wrongs and failures.  But yours is not perfect either.

But I’m not lamenting that all politicians are evil and suggesting we all throw up our hands and give up.

I am suggesting we learn to live by grace.

To put it in the simplest terms possible: IF we are people of grace, THEN we give grace away.

I know I have told you the story of the Dead Sea, but I’m going to tell it again.  Do you know why the Dead Sea is dead?  The Dead Sea is not dead because there is no water flowing into it. The Dead Sea is dead because nothing flows out of it.

We love grace. We sing about grace: amazing grace! “The wonderful grace of Jesus”!

But do we have grace flowing out of us?

If we have indeed experienced grace, then we have grace flowing out of us!

If we do not have grace flowing out of us, perhaps we ought to look into what is stopping it.

Some of us don’t actually let grace in in the first place

Some of us hold onto grace, saving it for ourselves, as though there is a limited quantity of grace available.

Some of us begin to think that God has charged us with choosing when, where, to whom, and how much grace to distribute.

I want to answer each of these 3, and I answer all three with this: If we have indeed experienced grace, then we have grace flowing out of us!

Some of us have been in church all our lives.  I actually didn’t grow up going to church every Sunday, but began doing so in high school and have never looked back. Some of you have even longer stories of being part of church than that.

Some of us are relatively new to this religion thing. Some found this church because they happened to be driving by noticed the building or the sign.  Some found this church through a friend.

Some found this church from the bottom of a hole, from the knot at the end of a rope they’d been clutching and were about to let go.

We might all say we have found grace, or grace has found us, but some of us mean it more than others.

Some of us have let grace in, some of us haven’t. If we let grace in, then grace begins its work in us.  Grace is wilder than a flood; it cannot be tamed.  If we let grace in, grace begins its work in us.

Jesus’ light metaphors are really helpful here: Besides saying that he is the light of the world (in John’s gospel, he tells his followers they are the light of the world), he says this in Luke 8

16 “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand so that those who enter can see the light. 17  Nothing is hidden that won’t be exposed. Nor is anything concealed that won’t be made known and brought to the light. 18  Therefore, listen carefully. Those who have will receive more, but as for those who don’t have, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them.” (Luke 8:16-18)

Most of us, as good consumers, assume that when Jesus says something like “those who have will receive more,” he is talking about stuff. Things. Material possessions.

He is talking about grace. And mercy. And forgiveness. And hope.

Will you let grace in?  Will you open your life to the light of God’s grace, that it might begin the healing process in you? Remember: Grace finds goodness in everything.

Some of us hold onto grace, saving it for ourselves, as though there is a limited quantity of grace available. (grace wouldn’t be very amazing if there were only a limited amount, would it?)

This is where, I think, Peter’s question comes in.  How many times do I have to forgive? 7 times? Was Peter asking for a friend? Peter was asking for us.

Now,7 is a pretty generous offer. If you’ve ever forgiven anyone, you know.  But biblically, I mean, 7 is a generous offer.  Not only is it the biblical number signifying perfection or completion, but Peter is also referring to Amos chapters 1 and 2, where Amos writes: For three crimes of …[various nation/people], and for four, I won’t hold back the punishment,

Peter offers to forgive twice as much – twice 3 plus 1, even!  Surely to forgive someone seven times is generous, right?

If one hasn’t experienced grace, then, yes, indeed, seven sounds really generous.

If one has experienced grace, then one has stopped counting.  Because grace finds goodness in everything.  Because by grace

>As far as east is from west—
   that’s how far God has removed our sin from us. (Psalm 103:12)
>in the words of Micah: Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity,
           overlooking the sin of the few remaining for his inheritance?
     He doesn’t hold on to his anger forever;
           he delights in faithful love.
    He will once again have compassion on us;
           he will tread down our iniquities.
You will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)
>and Paul in Ephesians 2: You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

I can assure you that God’s grace is not a limited resource.  No matter how much grace you have received, God will not run out!

Some of us begin to think that God has charged us with choosing when, where, to whom, and how much grace to distribute.

This is where Jesus’ response to Peter’s question comes in. The forgiven servant, who, I might add, has been forgiven a debt of 10,000 talents, goes and refuses to forgive a fellow servant’s debt of 100 coins.  Here’s the quick math on that: 6,000 pence or denari or coins equaled 1 talent.

So the debt he is forgiven is 600,000 times the debt he refuses to forgive.

Who died and made him God?

Well, actually, no one.

Again, if one has received grace, if one has opened oneself to the magnificence of God’s grace, then one responds by offering grace to others. In other words: If we have experienced grace, then we have grace flowing out of us!

The harshest part of the story – in fact, the only harsh part, is the end, when Jesus says,

“When his fellow servants saw what happened, they were deeply offended. They came and told their master all that happened. 32 His master called the first servant and said, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you appealed to me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 His master was furious and handed him over to the guard responsible for punishing prisoners, until he had paid the whole debt.

35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:31-35)

I noticed for the first time ever, in preparing this sermon, the weight of verse 31. The unforgiving servant was turned in, tattled on, snitched on, by his fellow servants.

I wonder how much snitching is going on about us?

I wonder how much of the world around us looks at the church and thinks we look a lot like that unforgiving servant.

I wonder if any of us really believe God has charged us with metering out God’s grace.

If we do, then this message seems clear: “His master was furious and handed him over to the guard responsible for punishing prisoners, until he had paid the whole debt. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

God’s grace is not ours to measure out and distribute or withhold as we think appropriate!  God’s grace is not a limited, scarce resource that we have to or could possibly control.

Grace is wilder than a flood; it cannot be tamed.  If we let grace in, grace begins its work in us.

The poem I quoted to open this message, for those who didn’t recognize it, is a song by U2 titled, “Grace.” I didn’t share the line I find most powerful: Grace “travels outside of karma.”

Karma: you know it: you get what you deserve?  You reap what you sow? What goes around comes around?

That’s the way the world seems to work. Sometimes that’s the way we say we want the world to work.

But Grace travels outside of karma.  The God who loves you because of God’s own character and decision, not your own, also offers grace, shares grace, showers you with grace.

Grace, I want you to know, is the most basic identifier of Wesleyan or Methodist theology and practice.  Wesley identified grace by the variety of ways it worked, and the fullness of it available to ALL.

I think Wesley would love the closing lines of the song I shared to open, which I share now to close:

Grace finds beauty in everything
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
Grace makes beauty out of ugly things
Have you got ugly things that you would like grace to work on?

Anything you are willing to open up to the light of God’s grace, grace will find beauty, will make beauty of it.

If you feel you have been withholding grace from others, it is very likely you have not let yourself experience the depth of grace that God offers.

I believe that as we let God’s grace really get hold of us, it changes us.  It finds beauty in us, it takes what is ugly and makes it beautiful.

IF we have received grace, then we will give grace away

If Grace Then…

Follow Jesus

Have you ever gotten the sense that God was looking for you?
Not that God doesn’t always know where you are. That’s a different discussion.  Sometimes it feels like, maybe, well, if it were a commercial, “God is looking for a few good men!”  If it were a poster at the post office, made, “God wants YOU to join the (heavenly) army.”
Have you ever just had this really strong feeling that God was around, and that God was interested in YOU?
Some of us get the feeling that God is looking for us whenever we do something wrong. When we give into temptation; tell that lie (however small a lie), steal the money – or time, or pirate a movie or song, or spend time on parts of the internet that mean no one any good.
But this morning I invite you to consider that God looks for you not to punish or condemn, but to love.
After all, Jesus himself said he “came to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
This is the God, after all, of whom David wrote:
Lord, you have examined me.
    You know me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up.
    Even from far away, you comprehend my plans.
You study my traveling and resting.
    You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways.
There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord,
    that you don’t already know completely.
You surround me—front and back.
    You put your hand on me.
That kind of knowledge is too much for me;
    it’s so high above me that I can’t fathom it.
Where could I go to get away from your spirit?
    Where could I go to escape your presence?
If I went up to heaven, you would be there.
    If I went down to the grave, you would be there too!
If I could fly on the wings of dawn,
    stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean—
        even there your strong hand would hold me tight!
If I said, “The darkness will definitely hide me;
        the light will become night around me,”
    even then the darkness isn’t too dark for you!
        Nighttime would shine bright as day,
        because darkness is the same as light to you!
and those are just the first 10 verses of the 139th Psalm!
Maybe you have felt, at least from time to time, like God was looking for you – out of love, not out of vengeance.
Maybe you haven’t
I want to assure you with all I know and believe, that God – the God who we know best in Jesus – loves you, as the bible says, “I have loved you with a love that lasts forever. And so with unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself,” (Jeremiah 31:3) and is “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,” (Exodus, Numbers, Psalms, Nehemiah, Joel)> As Exodus 34:6 specifically says, “God who is compassionate and merciful, very patient, full of great loyalty and faithfulness.”
This is the God who is looking for you, and who came, in Jesus, “to seek and save the lost.”
At least in some since, you’ve been found!  You are here, among others, with others – some you know, some you don’t, because, some way or another, God has found you.
God has found you! Did you even know God was looking – looking just for you?
If God has indeed found us: found you, and found me, what do we do with that?
Do we believe God has found us?  Do we follow?  Do we have to believe to follow?  Do we have to follow to believe?
Would it surprise you if I told you Jesus never walked up to anyone and said, “believe in me,” but he did – regularly, it seems – invite people to follow him.
We the people of Euless First UMC are trying to follow Jesus a bit better today than yesterday. Do we all believe?  Well, I’d have to say the answer to that question is probably yes and no. For each of us.
Let’s face it; even the most seemingly faithful among us do not live lives that portray Jesus every day, with every breath that passes from us. Some, I’m sure, struggle to believe some of the stories of the Bible.  Some struggle to believe that God is present every day; that God cares every day.
But I believe this is the really good news for us, and for everyone, whether or not we can believe it all, hook, line, and sinker, we can all follow.
And Jesus’ way sure seems to me to be a healthy, wise, insightful, caring, loving way to live.
Jesus’ way is exactly the way God would live if God were human.  Because Jesus is, we believe, God incarnate in humanity.
Now we are back to believing!  It’s hard to get your mind around God in humanity.  That’s a good sign.  If you and I could understand it – could really get our minds all the way around it, we really wouldn’t be talking about much of a God, would we?
We’ve all got our challenges, right?  I remind you that there is still nothing new under the sun. No matter the technology, no matter the political situation, no matter the year the calendar marks, Solomon’s wisdom stands: there is nothing new under the sun. We all have our challenges.
I mean, like at this morning’s story from Luke’s gospel. Jesus and his disciples are heading for Jerusalem.  Someone approaches and does something no one else had done.
He says to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Now, Peter says something very much like this, but Peter had already been following Jesus when he said this.
This guy, in Luke 9:57, cold calls Jesus. It’s like he thinks he is making Jesus an offer he can’t refuse.
When we think we might be doing God, or Jesus, or someone else a favor, and this is what motivates us to follow Jesus, Jesus has these words for us: “Foxes have dens and birds in the sky have nests, but God incarnate in humanity has no place to lay his head.”
Jesus never promised you a rose garden; much less a McMansion or a pension, or even a lazyboy.
Following Jesus is hard, challenging stuff; but it is more rewarding than anything else you’ll ever try. And I don’t just mean eternal rewards.  I specifically and especially do not mean merely “getting to go to heaven when you die.”
Christians: we have got to stop trying to sell Christianity as a way out of this life and into a heavenly afterlife.  We lose people when we do so. Some of the ones we lose are among us: there are people among us who are long-time followers of Jesus who still worry day to day whether or not they’ve done enough, or done good enough, to “get to go to heaven when they die.”
Jesus is NOT about you or me doing ENOUGH to get to go to heaven when we do. Jesus is ALL about you and me following him here and now; and experience what Jesus called eternal life – knowing God – here and now.
Let me add, parenthetically, that if there is anything about Christianity that has stood the test of time it is this: Jesus came to take from our shoulders the weight of feeling like we have to “earn” eternal life or heaven.
So, I don’t know if you got your sense that you have to earn it from overbearing parents or just from capitalist dogma. I don’t know if your earliest, deepest-buried memories of getting love from your parents depended upon your crying loud enough to be heard or looking sorry enough to be forgiven, but our God isn’t like that.  I don’t know if you have read a market-economy understanding onto salvation, but the salvation God offers cannot be bought – or sold – and is not subject to the law of supply and demand. Rather, God’s love and grace and offer of salvation is there, available for any who would come and follow: Paul wrote it this way in Romans 5:
6 While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people.7 It isn’t often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. 8 But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. 9 So, now that we have been made righteous by his blood, we can be even more certain that we will be saved from God’s wrath through him. 10 If we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son while we were still enemies, now that we have been reconciled, how much more certain is it that we will be saved by his life? 11 And not only that: we even take pride in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the one through whom we now have a restored relationship with God.
It is not on you to earn it, to deserve it, to keep up a certain level of behavior to acquire or hold what God offers in Jesus.  It is on you to follow.
So, this first man offers to follow Jesus, and Jesus doesn’t turn him away, but challenges him that it won’t be easy and the rewards offered might not be those he is looking for.
Then, immediately, Luke takes us to door #2.  Behind door #2 is a man to whom Jesus extends the usual, “follow me.”
This man had other ideas. His plate was full and he had many other things to do.  Could following Jesus fit well within his already established list of priorities?  He made it about family – “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” – God cares about family, right?
Well, yes. God cares about family, but Jesus’ reply was “Let the dead bury their own dead. But you go and spread the news of God’s kingdom.”
By law, family was responsible for proper, respectful burial of family. Does the law stand in the way of following Jesus?
When Jesus calls to you, “follow me,” throwing the law back at Jesus will hardly win the argument. When Jesus calls to you, “follow me,” whatever reason or excuse that comes to mind, remember this: Jesus, God incarnate as a human is calling, and God is calling now. Everything else – EVERYTHING ELSE – moves down a level on the priority chart.
Then, door #3. The only other person in the gospels to cold-call Jesus: “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say good-bye to those in my house.”
So, uh, Jesus, can we talk about this later? I’m kinda busy right now.
You may be too busy to follow Jesus.  But consider this: the One who made you, who “created your innermost parts; who knit you together while you were still in your mother’s womb;” The One by whom you were “marvelously set apart, or, as an older translation put it, “fearfully and wonderfully made; the One who formed you from dust and breathed life into you; that One is calling, “follow me.”
If Jesus is calling, and you can hear it, then now is the time to follow.
Some, having believed, follow. Some, having begun to follow, find they have come to believe.
I think marriage is a good metaphor for it, and one that scripture uses throughout.
Did you really know what you were doing when you got married?
Thinking you could know someone well enough to make a fully informed decision on marriage is like waiting to have kids “till you’ve got enough money.”  There is NOT enough money to raise kids. And there isn’t knowing someone well enough to make a fully informed decision.
This is because the kind of love that marriage calls for is the kind of love that is at least as much of the will as of the mind.  It isn’t just about the dates or the data but the determination.
You don’t know someone well enough to marry them. You don’t love someone enough to marry them. You decide to marry them based on what you know, the love you feel, and your willingness to make a commitment.
Because you never really know what you’re doing when you get married.  You not only don’t know your partner well enough; you don’t know yourself well enough!  Let’s face it; what 20 year old, or 30 year old, or 50 year old knows himself or herself well enough to make a commitment forever?
You don’t know what tomorrow holds, let alone 10 or 30 or 60 years from now.
But you step in and you step up and you walk together. You follow the paths before you by parents, grandparents, and friends – by people who have walked the path of marriage before you.
Sometimes this works better than others.  We learn along the way when to follow whom.
Jesus invites you to follow, and it is much like this, except you can ALWAYS count on Jesus to be worth following.
We say that we are “trying to follow Jesus a bit better today than yesterday,” and we mean it.  If we aren’t following better, then, we have to admit, we aren’t really following.  Actually following Jesus means getting better at following Jesus.  This is the most beautiful part of it! Actually following Jesus means getting better at following Jesus.
I also think that part of following Jesus is inviting others to follow – follow Jesus, and follow you.  After all, if you are following Jesus, and invite someone to follow you, you are inviting them to follow Jesus.  We are tempted to say, “Don’t follow me, follow Jesus,” but this implies, and is too often lived out, as saying we aren’t really following Jesus.
Next Sunday I want to talk more about the directions I think our following Jesus together are taking us.  Many of you have been part of this conversation for quite some time, but not everyone has.  This is exciting stuff!  We are trying to follow Jesus a bit better today than yesterday, and, as Jesus promised in John 15, it has been bearing fruit.
So, in closing, I want to invite you to follow Jesus.  Jesus is calling you.  Whatever else is going on around you, whatever other noise is in your ears or in your head, if you are here, or if you can hear this, Jesus is saying, “follow me,” inviting you to follow him.
Will you listen?  Will you respond?  Will you accept Jesus’ invitation?

Follow Jesus