Come join us for an evening lecture with the good Rev. Dr. Peter Choi, pastor of Spiritual Theology at City Church San Francisco. There will be snacks!
Because the bible says: "Hebrews"
Ok, well now that we've gotten that corny joke out of the way. Some of you might know that Easter is not just a single day, but is in fact a whole season (like Lent or Advent). We've celebrated that Jesus rose from the dead (more on that later). But we get to continue to celebrate it and some of it's implications. After all, one Sunday of Easter wasn't enough for the disciples, it's probably not gonna be for us either.
One of the things that Jesus' resurrection means for us is that God has vindicated and validated everything about Jesus life and teaching as right and good. Essentially, it's God's way of proving that we got it all wrong by killing Jesus.
Jesus is in fact the Son of God (he said so), and so we should pay very close attention to what Jesus said and did, for he told us to follow him (he said as much on a few occasions). Resurrection is God's way of saying: "there is no clearer or better way to know me and my ways in the world than through Jesus." But this shouldn't be news, after all, God at Jesus baptism and on the mountain said it twice already: "This is my beloved Son, listen to him."
During the Easter season, we're going to take some time to look at the Letter of Hebrews. It was written to some Christians about the importance of seeing, holding on to and trusting Jesus and what he taught, even when life turns out differently than you had hoped. These Christians were finding out that following Jesus required far more endurance than they may have initially imagined. Thank goodness we have a hope that is literally stronger than death!
I found a really great introduction to the letter, which you might find useful as well.
I can't wait to see you guys on Sunday. May the good news of the resurrection find you today, and everyday until then.
Humans are builders. We like to build things, make things, create.
Many times, when I am home with my daughter, we will sit together and play with her lego blocks. Mostly I build things, and she very expertly takes them apart, but she is learning to put blocks together herself. I take great delight in imagining a car or a robot or an airplane and then using the blocks I have to try and build something that resembles the image in my mind. When it's finished (if she lets me finish before taking things apart) I show it to her and make all kinds of silly noises that a robot or airplane would make. She takes great delight in it.
She delights in it. Do you find that strange? She sees blocks, yet when they are assembled in a particular order and "enfleshed" in actions and movements, she sees something more than blocks. She sees a robot, or an airplane, or a car. And she knows what to do with them. I can count the number of months she has been alive on my fingers and toes and yet she looks at blocks and delights in what they represent. Perhaps equally strange is the fact that I am almost 30 years old and I take great delight in the same exercise.
We are creative creatures, you and I. We imagine what is not there and work to fashion something from what is there. In a small way, we are like God. The bible begins in Genesis with God, who decides that it would be a very good, creative, neat, idea to make something. Unlike us, God makes something out of nothing. That is the power and prerogative of God, to take nothingness, and to call into existence, well, everything. God tells us that God then makes us, and God makes us to have a family resemblance to God's self. We are made it the image of God.
Now Bible scholars have wondered for a long time about what being "made in the image of God" means. It surely means a number of things. But what I am interested in is the family resemblance between God as a maker, and us. Our making is not the same as Gods, but it's similar. We take from what is and imagine what is not, and we fashion, create, make, shape, construct new things from what is not. We make homes, laptops, comic books, even children. But there is yet one more way in which our making is different from God's.
There is a sadness to our making. Our making is not permanent. All that we make is temporary. Every single thing we fashion with our hands is taken apart, disassembled, undone, unmade again. Somethings seem very permanent, you're right to bring up the Pyramids of course. But even the pyramids don't look as good as they did when they were freshly minted. Eventually, even stone buildings return to dust. It may not be time or weather, it may be your own children who unmake what you've made. There is a sadness in this realization because we don't want all our work to be unmade. We want what we make to last, we want to be remembered.
This is where it's good news that God's making is different than ours. Not only can God make things out of nothing, but all that God makes is good, and it lasts. That is because God continues to make. So the same God who created the world continues to create the world by making sure the Sun rises, and Sets, and Rises again.
God watches over what God has made. That's true of you and I too. But more than this, God remakes what God has made. You and I, though created to be like God used our power and potential to try and be God. We defied our protocol of obedience to God. That's what happened when Adam and Eve, our ancient parents ate the fruit that God told them not too. And when that happened, we created a virus in our own code. That virus, which we call Sin, has wormed its way into every part of us. Everything we create is tainted by that virus, and that is why what we make doesn't last. But God saw our flaw, and, having made us himself, God knew exactly how to fix it.
God fashioned for himself a human body and came to live among us on the earth. He made himself to look like our image in every way except one - no virus in the code. God became Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus walked the earth and created what we could not, a community of forgiveness and repentance and healing and renewal. He did that by giving his healthy body as a sacrifice and cleansing agent for our Sin-sick flesh and soul. By putting our faith in Jesus, we are filled with God's cleansing and empowering Spirit. God fills us with God's own self! We are connected to God, and empowered by God. That means we change. We become God's work. We become people with gifts and creativities and weaknesses and experiences that have been cleansed and repurposed toward building something permanent. God's church, which is a glimpse of God's kingdom. We are the living stuff of God's church. In God's hands, and with his Spirit, our work falls into concert with God's work and builds in that same direction.
So let's build something! Let's build a website! Let's build each other up through listening, and prayer, and laughter and the hard work of loving each other. Let's build something, and trust that within and behind, and below, and above and long after we build it's really God building something much better, much bigger, and much more permanent with us.