Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of October 13, 2019

Sermon: “Connecting Deeply”

There are lots of phobias out there.  Personally I suffer from basophobia.  Anyone know what that is?  It’s the fear of falling.  It’s associated with acrophobia or the fear of heights but it’s the falling that really gets to me. 

I learned about another phobia this week that I did not know existed.  It’s called nomophobia which is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.  It is a relatively new phobia but can cripple many in our ever-tethered society.   If one suffers from nomophobia it might just be a symptom of autophobia or the fear of being alone and one might argue is at the root of all spiritual journeys. The idea that you will be left alone, out of contact, and isolated brings fear and dread to many. We have a God who desires just the opposite who desires connections with each of us for that is what our journey in this world all about.

According to a recent study by researchers at San Diego University, the average American today is bombarded with an average of 100,500 words and digests around 12 hours of information and media every single day.  And if you think about it, 12 hours isn’t so far off. With notifications, emails, texts, voicemails, “likes”, tweets, Instagram pics, comments, tags and posts, as well as, photos, videos, headlines, blogs, subscriptions, downloads, uploads, ads, ringtones, mp3’s, apps, games, usernames, passwords, captchas, folders, files, feeds, searches, and poke’s … it’s hardly surprising why we seem to be so deeply connected. 

We live in an extrospective society as opposed to an introspective one.   Many believe that true happiness is found in the outside world.   We tend to believe wholeheartedly that the more we cram every living moment with outside sources of enjoyment, excitement and pleasure, the more we’re living.

We are living in the surround-sound generation with thousands and thousands of channels and websites.  We want to feel everything all the time.  Going for a walk isn’t just a walk anymore, it’s a music concerto with our headphones in our ears, while sipping a venti iced soy half-caff caramel macchiato, all while getting your steps in, with your electronic heart-monitor, and admiring the passing carnival of humanity. Creativity and thought have become subservient to the singular ambition of saturating our senses.  Stimulation has become the new world order.  The irony of all of this is that we have more “friends” and know more about their activities and interests than ever … by spending less time with them.  We are more connected and more alone at the same time.

Jesus gathered friends around Him as well.  They were true, deep and meaningful connections and it gives us a glimpse of how Christ desires to connect to each of us, deeply and authentically in our journey on this earth.

Our text this morning is our Gospel lesson for today from Luke 17, but to understand that particular account we need to go back a bit, to the moment the disciples journey with Jesus began. 
Back in Luke 5 Jesus was on the shore with a large crowd gathered around Him.

Simon and the other fishermen were there and had been out all night and caught nothing.  They were busy washing their nets, most likely frustrated by what had taken place the prior evening.  At this time they were disconnected to Jesus.   After teaching, Jesus asks Simon to put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch.  I can just hear Simon, “But we just finished washing the nets!  This is a terrible time to fish, and didn’t you hear, we didn’t get anything last night and I doubt we will now.”  But Simon relents, “…but if you say so I’ll lower the nets.” (Luke 5:5b)

In that moment Simon was deeply detached and profoundly frustrated but something amazing happened.  In a moment the nets were full, so full that they had to signal to the others on the shore to bring out the other boat so they wouldn’t sink. It didn’t make sense. At this Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord!  I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8b)  Simon Peter realized that he was deeply afflicted by sin.  Instead of honoring the request, Jesus speaks words of life and connection to Simon, “Don’t be afraid, for now on you will catch men!” (Luke 5:10b)  In that moment, the fear of disconnection was destroyed, a journey of connection commenced and life in Christ was made manifest to Simon and those first followers of Jesus. 

If you page through the Gospel of Luke from this point on you see the same situation play out time and time again.   We see people who are deeply disconnected and deeply frustrated, who find themselves deeply afflicted by sin and then in an encounter with Christ they are deeply connected to the One who will ensure they are never neglected by the Father and completely forgiven on account of Christ.  The disciples were witnesses to some amazing events as Jesus healed and taught, comforted and walked all the way to the cross and the open tomb. 

Our Gospel lesson today from Luke 17 comes in the middle of that journey.  Earlier in this story Christ encounters 10 men suffering from a skin disease and He finds that these men were deeply disconnected.   They had been separated from their families because of the law. They were frustrated at the situation they found themselves in. They were afflicted by a disease that made them unclean. Talk about nomophobia.  They were not just out of mobile phone contact, they had no contact with the outside world, something they desperately wanted, and urgently needed.   As the men shout, Jesus connects.  In a blink of an eye all the men are healed and made clean and the disciples were witnesses of it all. 

Time and time again I have heard exposition on this text that focuses on the last part of the story; that one Samaritan who praised God, bows at Jesus feet and thanked Him, and the moral of the story is, “Be thankful!”  But I think that totally misses the point.  “Go show yourselves to the priests” Jesus calls out and the men start to scurry away to the temple.  For at the temple is where they believed they would be restored and reconnected to that which they ultimately desired.

But something dawns on the one.  Could it be that he realized something that the others completely missed?  Could it be that when he saw that he had been healed he realized that the locale of God’s presence has shifted from the temple in Jerusalem to the body of Jesus?   In a moment of worship this hated foreigner, finds himself deeply connected to Christ, falls at His feet and praises God and thanked Him. 

It’s my belief that Jesus is not chastising the man when He asks about the others but simply wondering why the others did not come to the same conclusion.  This Samaritan had faith that God’s presence is now in Jesus and with that presence comes the full measure of God’s mercy and cleansing, health and healing, and a deep connection to Him personally and freedom to reconnect in thanksgiving to those with whom He had been disconnected for so long. 

We too run after things and places in hopes for deep connection but we don't find it in places or things but in a person and His name is Jesus Christ!  For like those in Jesus day, sin has left you deeply disconnected. And trying to fix it on your own has left you deeply frustrated and you know you are deeply afflicted.  I know you are holding on to something because I know I am too. 

Sometimes we just want to shout from a distance “Jesus, teacher, have mercy on me” keeping Jesus at arm’s length. But Jesus has a different plan.  The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  Jesus Christ took on human flesh, became one of us to connect deeply with us. 
He is not satisfied with just being on the outside of our lives, He deeply desires to be connected with us personally and intimately. 

Jesus true man and true God was afflicted for all the disconnection and frustration sin brings into the world.  He suffered and died so that you would never be alone and His promise that in three days He would raise the temple of His body so that we would be connected to Him, to His life and resurrection for all eternity.  Jesus has healed all that afflicts you and just as the Samaritan who was healed we too know that He is the center and location for our worship and praise.

And this is not some far off promise.  Jesus still comes to connect to you deeply.  Every time you hear the Word proclaimed, remember your baptism or take into your palm the temple of His body and His blood broken and shed for you He comes for you so that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are forgiven. 

Connecting deeply is the beginning and the end of our journey in the Bethany Blueprint. 

For as Christ connects deeply to you, you too are driven to your knees to praise God and worship faithfully, and seek to be formed spiritually, to serve passionately, give proportionately and share intentionally and in so doing you too are deeply connected to Christ and your neighbor as you serve them.

As His forgiven eternally connected children we are called to connect deeply to one another, to be united with one another just as Christ has been united with us and with the Father, for connecting to Christ is what your journey is all about. 
-Pr. Seth Moorman


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