Series: Wings of Transformation

Sermon: Growth

Pastor Diane Gordon

Mt Pleasant FUMC

March 19, 2017

 

 

Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 3:1-11 and Romans 5:1-11 NRSV

 

††††††††† Every human being is birthed by the energy of God; given life, instilled with gifts and purpose for the life God has in mind for that soul. We start out small and dependent, protected and guided by others. Weíre hungry and self-centered and as we grow we pass through stages of development. God hopes we will see the work laid out on our behalf, the love and nurture given for our sake. God hopes we will notice the gifts inside and use them to help us through the tight spots. God claims us as His children, hoping we will respond with faith in that which we cannot see; the power of the resurrection at work in our hearts and lives.

††††††††† Our caterpillar (Beady, as the children named him) has disappeared from the altar this week. He has moved on to the next stage of transformation. The question is, will we move on and continue to grow spiritually? Will we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and give ourselves over to a transformation of our own, for the sake of Godís kingdom?

††††††††† Millions of religious people gather regularly for worship, but not everyone desires transformation. Some do it out of a sense of obligation. It is what they think God wants. But God wants more than just going through the motions of what it might look like to have faith. God hopes we will take the leap of letting the Spirit lead us into deeper relationship; no longer afraid of change but welcoming the transformation despite those in-between awkward stages when nothing is certain because weíve never been this way before.

††††††††† Regardless of age, we start out as infants in Christ, just as Paul described to the people of Corinth. Along the way, we seek the certainty of knowing weíre doing it right, but that is only a stage that shows we are not quite there yet. We quarrel and seek to control, thinking we have a lock on this spirituality thing. Paul named that too, saying they were ďstill of the flesh,Ē behaving according to human inclinations. Our many denominations of Christianity are a sign that we have let our doctrines separate us, rather than being One in Christ Jesus. The unity desired by Jesus for his followers continues to be fractured. Lord, have mercy.

††††††††† Humans struggle to understand God. Thatís to be expected. The scale and magnitude of the Creator of the universe and everything in it is not going to be easy to comprehend. That, I believe, is why we needed Jesus. He came to us, fully human; at first a newborn baby and gradually growing just like us, only without the human nature that causes us to sin, for he was fully divine. Jesus gives us an earthly example; a model to fashion our understanding of God upon. In Jesus, we gain insight into how God thinks, how God loves, and what God wants for us. If we can take on the mind of Christ and grow in likeness of him as we relate to the world, we will find ourselves building upon a foundation that is solid.

††††††††† Becoming a faithful Christian is a process, a journey, a way of being. This is why itís hard to define what it looks like, because it will look slightly different in every person. We are all at different stages of the journey, regardless of our ages. We know that there are some who yearn for security and stability, while others long for a sense of purpose, meaning and fulfillment. Younger generations seek validation and relevance, and younger still seek community and mission. They want to make a difference in the world. Following Jesus is the ground upon which we all stand, and when we are able to notice Godís presence and action in our lives we will find our faith growing stronger and our lives taking on new purpose, meaning, relevance and creating a community of believers who live lives transformed by Christ.

††††††††† Someone asked recently about some changes in how we do things in worship. My answer was honest and the bottom line was that itís more important for us to be loving towards one another, despite our differences of age and life experience, than it is to do something in a certain way. Itís more important to take on the mind of Christ than to maintain a ritual or practice. How we are, together, matters! Loving one another and treating each other kindly, despite our differing points of view, will give evidence that the Holy Spirit is at work in us.

††††††††† Godís hope for humanity is that we stop worshiping the idols of wealth, power, and control and pay attention to what really matters; the transforming love of Christ. It takes intention to grow spiritually. It takes time and focused attention for spiritual formation to take place. The joy is that it costs nothing. Itís totally free and available to everyone! Itís a gift from God, given to all who seek God. God is there to be found, ready and waiting. I invite everyone to pack the multi-purpose room upstairs at 10:05 today for Georgeís Sunday School class. The topic is Spiritual Formation.

††††††††† Many know about God, but not so many actually know God. To know Jesus is to know God and they are joined by the Holy Spirit that is present and at work in our lives when we are open to transformation. Our religious practices donít make God love us more. They are tools that bring us into the presence of God, opening us up to the holy.

Worship has the power to center us in Godís presence, grace and will. There is no better way to start the week. It is like a GPS, keeping us headed in Godís direction. There have been two significant times in my life when worship was chosen. The first was when I was in sixth grade. My parentís marriage was on the rocks and they fell away from going to church. That meant I fell away too because I lost my ride. But not long after, my friend invited me to go to church with her family. Thatís how I became a Methodist! Someone invited me! When one door closed, another one opened.

††††††††† The second significant turning point was when our son was in sports and the next level of hockey had practice on Sunday mornings. We chose church. He still had baseball, soccer, football, basketball and later golf. As parents, we wanted him to have God as well. Faith matters and God has grown our character mightily through some challenging times.

††††††††† Today is a special day in the life of this church. We are growing as eight people are joining this church by transfer of membership. Two of them couldnít be with us this morning because of a conflict with Boy Scouts Ė but we welcome Ralph and Kent none-the-less, trusting that God is with them, too.

God is at work in our midst, and our hope is that everyone grows deeper in love with God every single day. It shapes who we are with each other, as well. How we are, together, as followers of Jesus, will change our world. One person at a time.

Thanks be to God! Amen.

 

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