Sermon Recording- Family of God (Ephesians 2.11-19)

Sermon Series Website What is Church

Sermon Series: What is Church?
Message 4 of 6: Family of God
Scriptures: Ephesians 2:11-19
This message was offered Sunday, 5/13/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

God’s Vision- Why we do what we do
God is love. We are called to share that love and the hope we’ve found in Jesus Christ with all people.

God’s Mission- What we do
Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

Our Values- How We Accomplish God’s Work 
We are Christ-Centered

  • We place our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Leader

We value hospitality

  • Far more than friendly or welcoming. Belonging, acceptance, openness

We value genuineness

  • Honest with God, each other, and our community Transparent, real, down to earth

We value respect

  • All persons are made in the image of God. The dignity of all and for all

What do you think the missing value is? We choose to be family to one another

  • We are better together
  • Commitment to deep community, mutual support, caring, collaboration, Servant-hearted living, faith in action
  • For many of us, our church family is more of a family to us than our biological family

Family at its worst

  • neglectful, distant, false naming, betrayal, dangerous/abusive

Family at its best

  • safety, belonging, nurture/growth, identity/truthful naming

diversity handsRead Ephesians 2:1-19

  • Without Christ, we are outsiders, outcasts, orphaned, strangers, aliens
  • Without God, there is no safety, no belonging, no nurturing or identity rooted in the eternal

What Christ does by his death and resurrection. Notice all the birth images:    

  • Verse 13, Jesus brings us near by his blood. His blood makes us blood.
  • Verse 14, in his flesh he has made both groups into one
  • Verse 16, Jesus creates a new humanity

Notice all the death images

  • Verse 14, the broken body of Christ breaks down the dividing wall
  • Verse 16, hostility is put to death

An extended quote from Prodigal Brothers by Steve Garnaas-Holmes (Luke 15:11-32)
The failure of our love—distancing ourselves from God and one another— is at the heart of our sin. In our self-centeredness, we break our family bond with God and with others, as if we’re not related. It is not just of our disobedience that we repent but of our distance, our refusing to get close to God and to others, including those whom we judge…. The righteousness that we need is not obedience. It’s a loving relationship—and this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God. In repentance, we pray toward both God and neighbor, “I am not on my own. I am yours.”

The message includes the story of St. Francis of Assisi being disowned by his father. Francis finds family and belonging with Jesus and his followers.

Prayer: Make us your children
Heavenly One, Your reach extends to every person, every nation, offering grace, forgiveness, wholeness, and hope. A saving embrace drawing us to you and each other.

Make us your children: grateful for a place in your family, humble before your love and generosity, faithful in honoring and welcoming all, joyful in sharing what we have found in you- safety, belonging, identity, a home of nurture and growth and sending forth. Amen.

I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon and prayer © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Love One Another: Physical Touch

This is the fifth of five messages inspired by the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. The congregation is invited to take out something to write with and the bulletin insert for taking notes. Click here for the Physical Touch Insert. The prayer following the message is also located on the insert.

This message followed a time of prayer for all those effected by the accidental death of a local middle school student only two days prior.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been discovering how to love one another as Jesus loved. I’m grateful for the work of Dr. Gary Chapman which has so faithfully shaped our discussion. Though this sermon series is coming to an end, Jesus’ commandment to love goes on. Let’s review the five Love Languages again:

Words of Affirmation– For some, they best receive love through what we say and how we say it.

Quality Time- love through presence. This is exactly what those grieving Colin’s death need right now. Space to be real. Space to cry or scream. Someone to listen to their questions and their hearts.

Receiving Gifts- Gifts are tangible, symbolic expressions of love. We remember the love when we look at the gift or use the gift.

Acts of Service- Love in action. Which is closely tied to this week’s love language, Physical Touch- love through contact.

In today’s Scripture, all the love languages come together in a powerful way. We also see love abused and ignored.

Luke 10:25-37 NIV
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

The expert wants to test Jesus. This tells us quite a bit about him. He knows the law well and sums it up in what we often call The Great Commandment. You shall love the Lord your God, for love and life and salvation are from God. You shall love God with your entire being, holistically, a beautiful reminder that salvation means wholeness. You shall love your neighbor likewise. Up to God and out to neighbor, the cross shaped life provided through Christ. Yes! Do this, Jesus says, and you will live, live now and live forever. Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom is a present and future reality. The loving relationships of eternal life break into the present through faith. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

The expert is not satisfied. He wants to justify himself, to save himself through the strength of his own words and actions, to save himself by following the law to perfection. Jesus recognizes this and tells him a story.

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

It’s obvious to all the robbers didn’t love the man. They beat him, abused him, and left him for dead. The tragedy of the story is that two others didn’t show him love either. The Priest and the Levite were religious, educated folks. They should have known better yet there are no words of comfort, no quality time, no acts of service.

Who shows the stranger love? A Samaritan. This is shocking in the ancient world. Jews did not speak to Samaritans. They were labeled half-breeds and many thought they could have no relationship with God since they worshipped differently and in different locations than the Jews.

Yet it is this outsider, the one who understands rejection and has probably experienced it himself, who loves the stranger deeply. He sees the beaten man as another human being, without regard of culture or race. He serves the man and spends quality time nursing him and binding his wounds. It’s easy for us to imagine words of encouragement, “You’re not alone. It’s going to be ok. You’re safe now.” He gives the man use of his own donkey and pays for his extended care.

And most importantly, he touches the man. This is the primary reason the religious folks walked on by. They didn’t want to touch him. He was bleeding and touching blood would make them ritually unclean until enough time had passed and enough sacrifices had been made. The religious folks valued the law above a life.

This past week my daughter and I were in NYC for her college auditions. As we left lunch and headed towards Times Square, we saw a man lying on the sidewalk. It was hard to tell if he was asleep or unconscious. He had a sign explaining he had been beaten for some reason. Large numbers of people walked right passed him, but my daughter stopped. She was making her way towards him and I stopped her. I was afraid for her, thinking of all the things that might happen.

Stopping her and stopping myself from responding to him is now haunting me. I read a passage like this and realize I’m the educated, religious leader who’s now walked on by a human being in need. I should know better and I should have done better. I could have found a police officer who would know what to do, just like the Samaritan found the innkeeper.

In John 13:34-35 NRSV, Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus said this when? Right after he washed the disciples’ feet. Jesus wasn’t stopped by tradition or toe jam. Jesus loved deeply and demonstrated that love. Jesus understood the power of touch.

Demonstration: Invite someone up from the congregation. Extend your hand to shake their hand and they will respond. Now ask them to extend their hand to shake yours. Refuse to shake their hand and ask them how it feels. Offer to shake hands again and then right after use hand sanitizer. It’s funny but it makes a point.

Loving relationships are built on communication. Research tells us that communication is 7% what you say, 38% how you say it, and 55% body language.

  • Hugs & Kisses
  • Pat on the back or on the head
  • Holding Hands
  • Sexual intimacy between a married couple

Christ knew this and so Christ touched people- dead people, bleeding people, people with skin diseases. He was not concerned with being unclean. One time he was brought a man who was deaf and mute. Jesus sticks his fingers in the man’s ears and then holds on to his tongue as part of the healing. (Mark 7:31-37) Another time he was brought a blind man. Jesus picks up some dirt, spits in his hands, and then rubs the mud on the man’s eyes. (John 9:1-7) Jesus wasn’t afraid to touch people, to get involved, to get dirty.

Christ touched people and allowed himself to be touched- We think of Mary holding him in her arms and hold him to her breast. Of Jesus welcoming little children (ever have a little one grab your leg and won’t let go?).

And what about the notorious woman with the alabaster jar (Luke 7:36-50) who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and lets down her hair in public in order to dry them. Then she begins kissing his feet. Then she cracks open that exotic bottle of expensive perfume and anoints his feet. The educated, religious folks sneer, but Jesus declares she has been forgiven much and thus she has shown great love. He says she will be remembered for her love and so she is.

Jesus allows the guards to whip him and strip him and beat him. He allows them to nail him to a cross till he is touched by death itself. Then a few brave ones perform the last act of love for him. They beg for his broken, bleeding body in order to wash it. Then they wrap it gently in linen and spices and lay him in a stone tomb.

But that is not the end. Jesus is raised on day three, alive, and how does he prove it? He says, “Touch me.” Touch the place where the nails were in my hands. Touch where the spear was thrust into my side.

You see dear friends, God cares about bodies. Some religions claim only the soul is important. Only the soul lives on, but not God. God creates through speech, but also reaches down into the mud to create through touch. The Adam. The Earth-Man. God – Father, Son, Spirit- aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. God cares about every part of us- heart, soul, mind, body. Resurrection of the body. Salvation means wholeness. Every part will be redeemed.

We has the followers of Christ must also care about bodies, we must touch. This is so important Jesus names us his Body. Like him, we touch even though the world says it’s dangerous, too involved, too intimate, too dirty. Go and do likewise, says our Lord. Go and do likewise.

Know you are always welcome at our congregation, Community United Methodist Church in DeBary, FL. We worship on Sundays at 8am, 9:20am, and 11am. Dress casual and bring the kids.

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this message in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page

Your Body is a Temple

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NRSV)
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

And this is the question I just can’t get around: If it’s true that the Spirit of God dwells in us and that our bodies are the Holy Spirit’s temple, then shouldn’t there be a huge difference between the person who has the Spirit of God living inside of him or her and the person who does not?
– Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

Jesus didn’t die just to take you out of hell and into heaven.
He died to take Himself out of heaven and deposit Himself into you.
– Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, Jesus Manifesto

I am not worthy, Master and Lord, that you should come beneath the roof of my soul: yet, since in your love toward all, you wish to dwell in me, in boldness I come. You command, Open the gates – which you alone have forged; and you will come in with love toward all, as is your nature; you will come in and enlighten my darkened reasoning. I believe that you will do this: for you did not send away the harlot who came to you with tears; nor cast out the repenting publican; nor reject the thief who acknowledged kingdom; nor forsake the repentant persecutor, a yet great act; but all of those who came to you in repentance, you counted in the band of your friends, who alone abides blessed forever, now, and unto the endless ages. -John Chrysostom

Today we seem to have lost a sense of the role and place of our bodies. Many of us are not aware of the sacred space within us, the place where we can reflect and contemplate, the space from which wonderment can flow as we look at the mountains, the sky, the flowers, the fruits and all that is beautiful in our universe, the space where we can contemplate works of art. This place, which is the deepest in us all, is the place of our very personhood, the place of inner peace where God dwells and where we receive the light of life and the murmurings of the Spirit of God. It is the place in which we make life choices and from which flows our love for others.
-Jean Vanier, Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John

In caring for others we use up a great deal of physical and mental energy. If we do not replenish these limited resources, we run the risk of compassion fatigue. We cannot fulfill our God-given callings to be compassionate human beings in bodies that are constantly neglected and overextended. How we feed, exercise, relax, listen to, and nourish our boides are matters relevant to faithful discipleship. As Francis of Assisi lay dying, someone asked if he would have changed anything in his ministry. Significantly he responded, “I would have been more kind to my body.”
– Trevor Hudson, A Mile in My Shoes: Cultivating Compassion

Our lives are a holy adventure in which each moment provides new possibilities for Spirit-filled living. Take a moment to relax, breathing in God’s calm presence. In this quiet moment, remember the moments when your life most reflected God’s creativity. Experience the joy of being fully alive. Rejoice in those memories. Take some time to journal about these spiritual high points if you wish. Give thanks for God’s creative presence in your life. – Bruce G. Epperly, Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living

And I promise you, yes I promise you, my God, that I shall try to find a “home” and a roof for you in as many houses as possible. There are so many empty houses, where I will bring you in as guest of honor. -Etty Hillesum

1 Peter 2:4-5 (NRSV)
Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The one foundation, the unshakable support of the universe is Christ, who upholds all things, and preserves in well-being all that has been firmly founded. We are all built upon him: we are a spiritual house bonded together by the Spirit to form a holy temple which is his own dwelling place, for he dwells in our hearts through faith.
~ St. Cyril of Alexandria

Truth teaches daily in the temple when it carefully instructs the mind of the faithful.
-Gregory the Great

God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple: all you who believe in Christ and whose belief makes you love him. Real belief in Christ means love of Christ: it is not the belief of the demons who believed without loving and therefore despite their belief said: What do you want with us, Son of God? No; let our belief be full of love for him we believe in, so that instead of saying: What do you want with us, we may rather say: We belong to you, you have redeemed us. All who believe in this way are like the living stones which go to build God’s temple, and like the rot-proof timber used in the framework of the ark which the flood waters could not submerge. It is in this temple, that is, in ourselves, that prayer is addressed to God and heard by him. –Augustine, Expositions on the Psalms

For more information on use of the art, scripture translations and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.