Your Own….Personal….wait. Nevermind.

1 John 1:1-4

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Have a listen to Your Own Personal Jesus right here.  (We listened to Johnny Cash’s version in worship.  I really like the original version by Depeche Mode. I suppose because I’m from the 80s.)

Just in case you couldn’t understand that, the lyrics are:

Your own personal Jesus. Someone who hears your prayers someone who cares.

Reach out and touch faith.

 

And I play this song to be ironic I suppose because the book of 1 John is not about personal faith. It’s not about individualized spirituality. It’s about community and the experience of Jesus embodied in that community.

There is the Gospel of John and then there are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. While authorship seems somewhat similar, the write or writers of the Gospel and of these books are different. Yet, clearly, the writers of 1st John were familiar with the Gospel of John.

discipleshiptitleThis book is calling the existing Christians to be disciples of Jesus and explores what a community of disciples looks like. It seems there’s been some sort of fight about how to experience Jesus – and instead of keeping it all up in your head, as some kind of existential experience, the writer or writers here point to the flesh and blood of Jesus – to Jesus being divine and human. And that flesh and blood is embodied by community – by the likes of you and me.

Today’s scripture is just begging us to experience Jesus using our senses. Reach out and touch faith! what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life

hearing-loss

This past week, let me tell you how I heard Jesus.

I was staring at my computer, checking things off my to-do list, getting a lot of things done. A phone call. I almost didn’t take it, so caught up in the throws of getting things done. But I did. And this is what I heard: “Our family values your church community. We want it to succeed. We’re going to help you with a one-time gift of $5000 and we want to sign up for Simply Giving.”

I heard Jesus as I weeded onions and carrots, talking with the others also busy weeding at Loon Organics. Talks of dreams and hopes, every day life, in the care and concern for family and friends and for each other.

I heard Jesus in the barista at MadCake who, as she was arriving for her shift, passed by me sitting at a table. Then she backed up, popped her head around the corner and said, “hey, it’s really good to see you.”

I heard Jesus through the prayers of the staff of River of Hope as we prayed for each other, our highs and lows, and for this community.

I heard Jesus through a casual conversation with an acquaintance as he expressed a desire to connect with a community.

Thabto-Looking-Good-Reflection

Now, let me tell you how I saw Jesus:

I saw Jesus on an email that expressed love and care for me.

I saw Jesus in my Godson and his insatiable desire for creativity, his love for his family and his life and for me.

I saw Jesus alive and acting in the midst of a difficult conversation between people who I love as they practiced forgiving.

I saw Jesus in the movie, Frozen, as true love was defined and re-defined, defying our expectations of romantic love fixing your life.

 

hands-touchingNow, let me tell you how I reached out and touched a real, embodied life of faith with my hands:

I reached out and petted a baby turkey as I visited a home of visitors to last week’s worship.

I reached out and accepted a cold 7up from another visitor and then sat on their back porch and took in a stunning view and listened to stories of every day life that were filled with experiences of Jesus.

I re-connected with good friends over the weekend and soaked in their hugs.

5-sensesAnd the deal is, there I was with other people experiencing the love of Jesus. I wasn’t always the bringer but mostly the receiver. I received love and care and concern. You see, those can never be separated from the experience of Jesus.

 

 

 

brown-bag-fullAt this point, one person per family or row was invited to come and grab a paper bag that had a random object in it, varying from an eye dropper to a bag of buttons.  Their task was to connect it to a life of faith, an experience of faith.  Some people even shared when we wrapped it all up.

We painted a big 'ol house.

We painted a big ‘ol house.

You see, it’s the every day, mundane experiences of our lives where we connect with Jesus. And then, we come here and we gather together and we sing and pray. We listen together. We read scripture together. We extend our hands to friends and to strangers in a handshake of welcome, a way of saying hello. Some of us even join hands when we pray. Sometimes there is laughter. Sometimes there are tears. Sometimes it all happens at the same time. But then. We come to the alter and we hang onto bread and dip it into non-alcoholic wine and we put it in our mouths and we chew and swallow. We, the body of Christ gathered together, then proceed to eat the body of Christ.

We continue to go out into the Hutchinson community as followers of Christ. And we see and hear and bump right into Jesus all over the place. We show up in parks and we hand out silly things like root beer floats and we sing hymns and we’re just there. And that’s the deal. We just can’t meet here and keep it a secret. No. We’ve got to get out into where we live and listen for him and see him and bump right into him.

That’s what this particular community of disciples looks like. That’s how we practice. We use our whole lives. Because this is what it’s all about. It’s about living our lives – the mundane stuff, the heart breaking stuff, the hard stuff, the joyful stuff. It’s about life. Just the way it should be.

 

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