Listen to the sermon from Sunday, January 21, 2018 titled “Re-Think, Re-Process, Re-Program” by the Rev. Ron Cockroft.
“Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you, O God our rock and our salvation.” God, we pray this prayer penned by the Psalmist; and we genuinely mean it, some of the time. But In reality, it is not possible without our first praying that you work in us so that ‘the Words of your Mouth and meditations of your Heart be acceptable in OUR hearts.’ So at this time, please, reach deep within us and draw these hearts of ours to your Heart and blaze Your Thoughts upon our thoughts. Capture our spirits with your Spirit, and fill us…. We pray. Amen.
Have you made your new year’s resolution yet?
The month of January is named after the Roman god Janus- Janus was the god of doors and gates that open and close… the god of beginnings and endings. As such, Janus had 2 faces– one face looking backward and one face looking forward. So generally in our new year we look back over the last year at ourselves ‘Thats who I am…I’ve always done things this way.’ Then we can look ahead with ‘But who do I really want to become?’
The Lectionary passages today are really appropriate for this month. The Key theme in each of them is REPENT.
ESPECIALLY the Jonah and Psalms passages demonstrate God’s Foundational Principle of Relationships:
“Here I am- I love you- You Screwed up? RETURN to me- we will start over! My mercies are NEW every morning!”
IN this first chapter of Mark,
John the Baptist came preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus came with a similar, but different message- “The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
The Good News- God’s Presence is HERE! God’s Love is here! Say, I want to make two comments about God’s Love: A psychiatrist, Scott Peck wrote The Road Less Traveled. He gave the definition of Love as giving the best that you have for another’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual growth and development. I agree with that… that is what God gave for us.
Second: There is the story of two people talking about love; one says ‘who is a person’s best friend, the significant other or the dog?’ the other replied ‘Well think of this: Lock your dog in the trunk of your car and walking away for 5 minutes; when you come back, the dog will really love you– try that with your significant other and see what happens…’
How often do we lock God away from us- and God still gives us Gods best? That’s unconditional love! The Good News– God’s Presence is HERE!
Jesus said Believe in the Good news! YUP, I believe, I have believed in God all my life. I’ve gone to church, been baptised when I was teenager, tithe regularly… I believe! Really?
There are 3 levels of belief- cognitive acceptance, emotional response, and Trust-life commitment.
John chapter 1 shows that Jesus met with Andrew and Philip and they believed and got really excited enough to run get their brothers “We have found the Messiah!” …Then what… After that Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days. He came back and found Pete and Andrew back at their old life on the fishing boats.
How many of us can get really excited about what we find in church? We can run out and tell others… Then what…
We find here in this Mark passage Jesus says to Andrew and Peter “Follow me…” and they began to TRUST him and got up left their nets and changed their lives.. THIS is the true belief!
Then Jesus found James and John, OH Boy! Hey, Look over 2 chapters (Mark 3:17) and we find that Jesus called them ‘Sons of Thunder’. Commentators say that is because they brought energy and conflict into the group… maybe, but I suggest that when Jesus called them, they got up and left their father and servants in the ship… and what do you think dear ol dad said about that? Might he have said “see yo later guys, have a good time….” NOT in my experience– Do you think he might have thundered? “Hey! Get back here to this ship right now!”
They BELIEVED, and Trusted enough to begin a new life in which they had no idea where it would take them! EVEN with the Thunder rolling behind them, they took a new way in life!
Repent and Believe the good news that God is present with us here!
REPENT! The word for today– Jesus invites us to REPENT.
Possibly Jesus was talking to people who had just gone through John’s teaching and baptism for forgiveness of sins… Wait! I just repented and was baptized, I am a good Jew, I go to temple, I pay my tithe, I try not to abuse my kids (but that is really hard). Why do I have to repent again?
Most people think of repenting as “O God forgive me of all my sins…” NO no no, that’s confession, and not even a good confession. Appropriate Confession is being specific: ‘God, I got angry with my coworker and said some things that hurt him.’ That’s a good confession- being specific about the hurt so that you can be aware when next tempted…
BUT Repent in the Greek is ‘metanoia’ to change your thinking/change your mind. Our English comes from the French ‘Pense- to think’ therefore to ‘re-think’.
Jesus invites and challenges us to Re-think our lives- who we have always been; Re-Process who we want to become; ….and (in contemporary language) Re-Program our direction to become the persons that God designed us to become…
Jesus talking to people who had just gone through John’s baptism and who were good religious people… RE-THINK to a new life! The Time is fulfilled and the Presence of God is here! It is not just about being Religious and
Good– it is about the whole orientation to life and actions…
Like Janus- endings and beginnings- looking back and looking forward… Repent — On personal basis, on relationship basis, on community basis and on Spiritual basis… we each have these areas that need looked at.
Let me give an example: (personal to me) the Doctor says my blood sugar is high; I have to re-think: Yup, I have been eating too much sugar lately; re-process: Gee, this is going to cause really bad problems; re-program: I will cut out these things from my snacks and diet.
Another Example: (relational) I know that none of you ever get angry over trivial things, but sometimes I do– “Terri, you left all the lights on again and you are wasting electricity!” Frankly I don’t think we should even need lights on when she is with me, cuz she is my sunshine… I have to Re-think: Is this about her, or about me? It is really about MY unrealistic expectations (actually it is still my father yelling at me). Re-Process: What is more important electricity bill or Terri? Do I want to destroy this relationship over light bulbs? Re-Program: Apologize: ‘I was wrong to yell at you’– then practice turning the lights off myself…
Each of us have our personal and relationship areas that we need to re-program. We are not there yet! AND If you are not aware of yours– ask your significant other to be honest with you… (or ask one of your kids… ).
RE-Think— Where in our community have we by-passed service to God’s people because we wanted our own stuff…when have we looked away instead of standing up for someone or given a hand of love? How can we Re-Program our behavior?
Spiritually: You know God, I have been kinda busy and left you out of my thinking or actions… lots of times I could have prayed about this person or reached out to someone in need, but I let it go by and did not share your love to someone else. Re-Pent… Sometimes we get so busy doing God’s Work that we fail to take time to let our minds and spirits communicate with the Spirit of God…
There’s the story about the father preparing a sermon for Sunday and the little son wants the father to tuck him into bed… so he keeps knocking on the study door. He goes into the study and wants to get on father’s lap. The father pushes him away “Don’t bother me! I’m working on a sermon about Love!” We work on the things that should show love but fail to love the persons we want to serve.
The Apostle Paul echoes Jesus when he says (Rom 12) — Be Transformed (metamorphosized- like the caterpillar into a butterfly) by the Renewing of your Minds- and this is your worship… Becoming transformed into the person that God had planned for you to become.
We, as a church, are in a transition place to RePent in all these areas. Will we be doing like we’ve always done it? That’s who we are! Yes, but who does God want us to become… WE have to be willing partners in what God is doing.
We cannot do it on our own– BUT the Good News is that God is Present with us
RePent (Rethink, Reprocess, Reprogram) and Believe (mental acceptance, emotional response, life-trust) the Good news of God’s presence with us right now- leading us, inspiring us, assisting us, to become the persons that God has designed. Persons who will give the best we have for another person’s or for our community’s growth and health.
Jesus is saying to us:
Change your thoughts, and you change your words.
Change your words, and you change your actions.
Change your actions, and you change your habits.
Change your habits, and you change your character.
Change your character, and you change your destiny.”
“God, Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you, Our Rock and our Salvation. Amen”