Luke 18:35-43 As Jesus was coming near Jericho, there was a blind man sitting by the road, begging. (36) When he heard the crowd passing by, he asked, "What is this?" (37) "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by," they told him. (38) He cried out, "Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!" (39) The people in front scolded him and told him to be quiet. But he shouted even more loudly, "Son of David! Have mercy on me!" (40) So Jesus stopped and ordered the blindman to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, (41) "What do you want me to do for you?" "Sir," he answered, "I want to see again." (42) Jesus said to him, "Then see! Your faith has made you well." (43) At once he was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving thanks to God. When the crowd saw it, they all praised God.
Luke 19:1-10 Jesus went on into Jericho and was passing through. (2) There was a chief tax collector there named Zacchaeus, who was rich. (3) He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was a little man and could not see Jesus because of the crowd. (4) So he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way. (5) When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to Zacchaeus, "Hurry down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay in your house today." (6) Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed him with great joy. (7) All the people who saw it started grumbling, "This man has gone as a guest to the home of a sinner!" (8) Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Listen, sir! I will give half my belongings to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay back four times as much." (9) Jesus said to him, "Salvation has come to this house today, for this man, also, is a descendant of Abraham. (10) The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
February 7 2021
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts be acceptable in
your sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
Growing up I would read the stories of Jesus
and as a teenager I git excited about this Jesus!
He travels through the country and as he does
People feel light
burdens are lifted
children are welcomed
women are affirmed
men see a new way of living.
Judgement is replaced with mercy
people actually start to feel good.
And they come to Jesus in droves.
The blind see again
the lame walk
And I can imagine that the word would go around,
Jesus of Nazareth
is coming our way
and people would go out to meet him and welcome him in.
When the rejected heard that he was coming they would cry out to Him.
A centurion looks for his arrival;
the leader of a synagogue
whose child is dying
hopes He will come his house and touch his daughter;
a woman bleeding uncontrollably, rejected by others
finds in Him salvation;
a mother with her baby in her arms;
all manner of people
felt good when he was around.
A blind man by the road and they tell him
Jesus of Nazareth is passing by
and his life changes.
And then I imagine the stories that would flow from those encounters
as people went home from their day
and talked about this man Jesus they had met in the street
or out on the road.
Talked about the things he had said;
retold his stories;
talked about the people he had touched
and how their lives erupted in joy.
It was exciting when Jesus came around.
People felt good at the sound of his name.
And I read these things and began to wonder how so many churches,
groups of people representing this one
who rocked his world with joy
could become so religious and joyless
And I began to have a vision of a congregation that could live within a community
and bring all the hope and the joy
into the lives of people
that Jesus brought.
At church that would have a reputation as a Good News Church.
Someone once described the church I was at as for forty years
as a feel good church!
It was meant as a criticism.
I took it as a compliment.
I took it as a compliment because
Jesus made ordinary people feel good.
I wanted to make people who came through the doors of the church feel good.
He made them feel loved
I wanted to make people feel loved and welcome.
He asked them to believe that God loved them with a passion
and would go to any length to protect them.
I wanted to get that same message across.
People like you and me felt good when Jesus was around,
and the community about us should feel good
that we are around.
And I hope that they do and will do more and more
as we become established
as a mission station.
I know of many, many parents and children
who feel good
because of the ministry
that Sara and her team carry out in this place.
If we are to be a Church of Jesus Christ, then we must make people feel good.
We must lift the loads off of people
We must affirm
family and the Grace of God
and understand the genuine cries of the hopeless and helpless
the lonely and the afraid.
Jesus said, Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. (30) For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light."
Doesn’t that make you feel good?
And on Sunday mornings
people must feel good.
I must feel good
and you must feel good
because if Jesus is here, his goodness is here.
And where Jesus is there is grace and mercy.
We read where Moses asks God
Exodus33:18-19 "Show me your glory, I pray." (19) And God replies, "I will make all my goodness pass before you, …and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
You see I don’t need to be told that I fall short of the goodness the glory of God.
I know that – it’s not rocket science.
I do need to be reminded that yet I am loved.
That I am understood at the deepest level;
that God has done
will do all that needs to be done
has needed to be done
to restore that broken relationship with Him.
That God chooses to me be merciful to me.
That God’s love for me is there in spite of my terrible report card.
A report card by the way that God has never thrown up in my face.
That’s why I love to belong to a people of Grace and Mercy
Because in the church
I feel good.
In the light of Jesus I feel good
in the arms of God I feel good.
So my dream has ever been for a church
that is outrageously good news for the community.
A church that will say to the community
and all who come from near and far
we love you
we do these things
we provide help and care
not so that you come along on Sunday morning;
not so you will think
like whoever the preacher, with their limit knowledge and wisdom thinks,
not so we can put you into a box and label you
not so we can judge you and control you.
We do what we do, because you, like everyone, needs to be loved
no strings attached.
Your burdens need to be lifted!
We do it so you will feel good about being human
and being a parent or a child
because you were created by a good God
who created a good world
and came as a good Saviour to make you feelgood.
And because you are worth it. Amen?
Secondly I dreamed of a congregation that could be a place of refuge
for wounded Jesus followers.
There are too many Christian leaders
with a small God
too many who have a control freak mentality and attitude
and so there is needed a place of refuge
for wounded Christians from any and every denomination in the church
where there is spiritual abuse.
So I dreamt of a place for when it was getting too much for them
the wounded could come and not be shot! Right?
The church often has been found to shoot their wounded.
So we could be a place they come to
not to become what we are
but to be affirmed in what they are,
and God’s calling upon their lives.
And maybe stay for a week or two or a season
to return to where they came from
hopefully feeling a little closer to God
a little more loved
a little more at peace.
Or maybe stay
as with some of you
because you want to be part of such a great healing community.
And so you begin to believe in the vision of this place
and want to be part of it
and become a feel good Christian for others.
Sure, not everybody felt good when Jesus came by –
but I think that without exception they were
men of power; or religious leaders.
They hated Him.
Religious people don’t like Jesus.
People like that come to hear this message from time to time
and after trying to show me the error of my ways
God moved them to join others like themselves
which is good. God is gracious!
Keep all the negative people in one place –can’t do any damage!
I have always believed that there needs to be a people
who will be an oasis for those on a journey to the heart of God
who perhaps need breathing space
and a place of rest.
A people who are a refuge and a place of welcome and safety
for mothers and children from wherever.
For fathers, for whomsoever may come.
And that will happen if each and everyone of us
is that kind of a people.
You here at Beachlands-Maraetai are such a wonderful body of people
and the glory of God
his splendour, his goodness
shines out of your faces.
My prayer is that we will ever be a place of refuge
a place of hope
and a place of healing.
God has blessed you and you are a blessing!
Let us Pray. Now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, be all the honour and praise. Amen
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