METHODIST MARKINGS (Part 2) Rejoice In God Nehemiah 8:10; Philippians 4:4-8 Pastor Carey June 11, 2017

A couple babysat an 11 year-old daughter of friends from India as they traveled around California on business. Curious about church one Sunday morning, she decided to come along to worship with them. When they returned home, they asked her what she thought of the service. “I don’t understand why the West Coast isn’t included too,” she replied. When asked what she meant, she added, “You know, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the whole East Coast.”

Today is Trinity Sunday. There are three “special Sundays” throughout the Christian Calendar that fall around “special / meaningful days” of our faith life as Christians.  Transfiguration Sunday is always the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.  Christ the King Sunday is always the Sunday before the start of Advent and Trinity Sunday is always the week after Pentecost.  Martin Luther once said, “To try to deny the Trinity endangers your salvation, to try to comprehend the Trinity endangers your sanity.”  Father, Son, Holy Spirit (Ghost) is who God is. God is one, yet God is three “persons”.  Everybody clear on that?  Good, we’ll move on quickly!

Seriously though, the Trinity is a true “mystery” that is not meant to be solved as much as it is meant to be worshipped and honored. In our day a mystery is like a puzzle to be solved.  But in theology, a mystery is something beyond our full comprehension reminding us that the divine is One who can never be full captured or understood by the creature.  That is why faith is so important – being confident in what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1).  Paul reminds us that we live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

So we address any conversation about the Trinity with what we know through scripture, tradition, reason and experience. There is one God in three persons united in PERFECT love (agape), purpose, perfect thought and perfect action.  It is this perfect love that began everything because perfect love wanted to share perfect love with others, thus creation began with a true big bang…God loved and God created and BANG…God fell in love with God’s creation…you, me and all others.  Nothing we will ever do will make the Trinity love us less.  And nothing we can ever do will make the Father, Son and Holy Spirit love us more.  We are loved perfectly by a perfect love, always!  And one attribute of being a Methodist is that we rejoice in God every day!

Have you heard about the out-of shape, overweight man who took up tennis? He took lessons from a pro, read several books advising him to “think positively” and “develop a winning attitude.”  Later, a friend asked him how it was going. With a positive, winning attitude in his voice, the man replied, “When my opponent hits the ball to me, my brain immediately tells my body: ‘Race up to the net.’ Then my brain says, ‘Slam a blistering shot to a far corner of the court. Then immediately jump back into position and return the next volley to the other far corner of the court.’ And then my body says, ‘Who, me?'”

If we’re not careful, there are times when we too might say, “Who me?” when living into the joy of God.  There is a lot about life that can steal one’s joy that causes us to slowly pull away from our relation with Jesus where, we begin to then wonder how or even if we can return to that close relationship with the Lord.  But, may we never forget that even when we pull away and turn away from God, He never gives up on us and God’s love for us remains steadfast!

Mr. Wesley was a firm believer in the strength a believer has from living into, and out of, the joy of the Lord. Remember that like love, joy is NOT an emotion.  Joy is a state of attention where we have peace – peace that is based on the fact that God’s perfect love for us, and our love for God casts out fear.  Joy is a mark of discipleship that gives us confidence and courage. It is not by accident that when Paul lists the Fruits of the Spirit, joy follows love.  To rejoice in God is to love God.  So how do we do it?

For Paul, he gives us two methods. In his letter to the Philippians (a letter filled with great joy), he tells them then, and us today that, 1) the answer is in keeping focus is to pray.  2) Think about Godly things. It is a simple, but profoundly practical ways to keep one’s spiritual focus on God – regardless.  Keep our spiritual eyes on Jesus.  Where have you seen Jesus lately?  Has he been see in nature; in the eyes of a child; in the selfless act of someone; in the mirror?

Presbyterian minister Thomas Troeger was in a department store years ago buying a new shirt when a complete stranger walked up to him and said, ‘You must be Henry Troeger’s son.’  He looked at the man and said, ‘I don’t believe I have ever met you.’ The man replied, ‘Oh, no, you have never met me at all, but a long time ago I worked with your father. I was a close colleague of his and when I saw you across the store, I said to myself, `I’d know that face anywhere.’ You are the very image of your father.’  Troeger later wrote, “For several weeks after that, I’d sometimes be walking down the street, and catch my reflection in a store window. I started to see myself with the eyes of someone else. It is not like looking into the mirror in the morning. I would come around the corner, catch that reflection and I would think, ‘That’s Henry Troeger.’ All of a sudden I would be seeing how I bore the image of my father.”

And so it is with us. Each one of us is created with the image of God indelibly imprinted on our souls, so that, in some miraculous and inexplicable way, the diverse expressions of God that are you and you and you and me all come together to illustrate this mystery, to live together in community as we do our best to display for the world all the possibilities that rejoicing in God every day could mean.





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