Thrive: Source

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Ezekiel 47:1-2

When I was in elementary school I would spend a week with my brother at my grandparents’ home in Merritt Island. They lived on Pelican Court and it was paradise: bike riding in the cul-de-sac, spying fish off the dock, imagining wild adventures on my grandfather’s boat while it was still safely anchored in the canal, and all of the orange-flavored Flintstone push-pops I could eat.

Nothing – and I mean nothing – beats an orange-flavored Flintstone push-pop.

When you opened the door of my grandparents’ home the hallway that started at the front door came to its end at what we would now call a chair and a half. At the time it was blue with flecks of white; presently, it is covered in a cream colored fabric with cranberry toile accents. No matter the fabric, that chair and a half is a seat of blessing.

As a child I would sit in that chair and listen to my Gramps lightly snore through whatever show he was watching. No one dared to change the channel because he would instantly awake! I would also sit in that chair and my Nonnie would read to me. I would sit so close to her that when she tucked me into bed I would smell like her Coco Chanel No. 5.

My grandparents no longer live in that home on Pelican Court and that chair is no longer blue with flecks of white. I still see that chair each time I visit my grandparents and when I see it I remember the laughter, the lessons, and the love that I lived sitting in that seat of blessing near and with my Nonnie and Gramps. I like to think that chair was built purposefully to have more than one person in it…I never felt like I was crowding or being crowded. I felt like I fit. I fit there with my grandparents, and there, so close to them, I received blessings that I will never forget.

In our Scripture text for this week Ezekiel stands near the source of blessing in the newly constructed temple of the Lord. He sees the water flowing east from under the temple’s threshold and out into world – and as we continue studying this chapter we will learn that this water from God brings blessing wherever it goes. God’s people have been in exile – estranged from their God, their homes, and their true selves. In the vision cast before Ezekiel in Chapter 47 God gathers all that has been scattered and broken back together and brings healing. It is a vision of blessing; after a time of trial and sorrow comes a new dawn and new day. Because of God’s goodness and faithfulness to God’s people, there will be time for laughter, and lessons, and love. These blessings flow from the temple just as they flow from that chair in my grandparents’ home, only what I experienced and experience of blessing from that chair is but a glimpse of what we experience and will experience from God.

And that, my friends, is such incredible blessing.

I hope you will join us in worship over the next several weeks as we learn more about God’s blessings and our invitation to steward them to all our neighbors to the glory of God’s Kingdom. This is an important time as we discern, pray, and plan for our next season of ministry. I look forward to worshipping with you.

Prayer: “Come, thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.”* Amen.

*”Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” The United Methodist Hymnal 400.

New Creation: Temple of the Living God

Sunday’s Scripture ~ II Corinthians 6:14-7:1

This Sunday we conclude the New Creation sermon series by studying the last image that Paul uses to describe persons who bear within their bodies the effects of Christ’s resurrection.  Paul says that we are the temple of the living God.

II Corinthians 6 is not the first time Paul uses this image or name to describe – and encourage – the faithful.  In I Corinthians 3:16-17 Paul writes, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person.  For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

We are the spaces – within our bodies – within our hearts – we are the spaces that God has chosen to dwell.  From the time of Moses God has claimed all humanity as God’s people.  From the time of the prophets God has confirmed God’s desire to make God’s home among God’s people.  And from the words of Paul we turn with great urgency and expectancy for the fullness of the resurrection – when God’s temple will be complete – when in resurrection we will be made complete.

As we wait for completeness, we become more aware of our incompleteness.  But incompleteness does not translate as worthlessness.  In our passage for this week Paul asks a series of questions, one of which is, “What agreement does Christ have with Beliar?” (II Cor 6:15)  Beliar, one of the various Jewish names for Satan, means worthlessness.  One might quickly retort that Christ has no agreement with Beliar – that Christ has no agreement with worthlessness.  While they may not have agreement, I do believe they share a relationship.  

The relationship is that Christ transforms worthlessness to worthiness.  This is the gift of unending grace that we receive.  Christ became sin who knew no sin.  Christ became worthless…that we would become the righteousness of God.

When I travel one of my favorite pastimes is to visit worship spaces – “temples” if you will. These temples – especially across Europe and Central America are treasures. So masterfully crafted, so ornately decorated, so completely…empty.  For the most part these worship houses have become dormant – “sleeping giants” within the landscape.  For whatever reason what was living and vital within them has gone out. Some might say this is an indication of decline. However, I say and truly believe it is a testament to the true temple – the temple we are and very necessarily the temple we bear with us every place we go.

My fear is that we, too, have become dormant.

We do not become a temple by occupying a temple just as we are no more a car by occupying a garage. We do not become at all. Christ becomes in us. God dwells within us. And we who have been dormant sleepers awaken to new life.

Temples are sacred spaces.  Temples are the spaces where the sacred and the secular meet – temples are the spaces where the secular is refined – restored – resurrected.  Temples are not buildings with steeples and stained glass windows.  It’s like the hymn continues to sing – the church – the temple – is the people.

We are the sacred.  We are the worthy.  We are the space in which God chooses to dwell.  We are the effects of God’s amazing grace.

We are the temple of the living God.

Prayer: “Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the head and cornerstone; chosen of The Lord and precious, binding all the church in one; holy Zion’s help forever, and her confidence alone.  To this temple, where we call thee, come, Or Lord of Hosts, today!  With thy faithful loving-kindness hear thy people as they pray, and thy fullest benediction shed within its walls alway.”*  Amen.

*”Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 559.