Abundent Grace: A Parenting Parable

John 21:1-19 is about Jesus’s Abudent Grace–You might think that its about Peter’s need to be forgiven 3 times, but I see it as ever so much bigger.

Jesus is abundent, so much so, he equals and exceeds our need for forgiveness…this is where love gets scary folks, because God know every single sin, and is equal and greater than those sins–God loves us so that all our empty spots–all our places of sin are filled in–so much so that they in fact overflow with God’s Love

Brennan Manning says it like this….

Parenting says this: My three boys take one bath (there’s a trinity joke somewhere in there, but really its just easier to run one bath). They are all in preschool and can all still fit, and mostly they love it. One day my eldest, Franklin, was scooping all of the toys to him–telling me he wanted to play with all of them. I then pointed out that he can’t play with the toys, because he is hanging on too tightly, and his hands are too full, and that he must share the toys to be able to play with them (this was a moment of parenting brilliance).

That’s how God’s love is–think about the fact that the disciples caught 153 fish (ps great scholarly debates exist about this number, until a scholar drily observed that maybe its says 153 because there was an eyewitness who actually saw the fish, and that is the actual–as opposed to being a symbolic–number)

Anyway, they catch all these fish and what are they to do? They can’t eat them all before they rot (pre-fridge and pre-salt), so they have to share the wealth…just like the manna, just like the toys…that is the abundance of Christ’s love–it is so abundent it fills even the most ordinary corners of our lives (fishing is a daily thing in Galilee). Although we may be like the disciples and be unable to see Jesus from the boat (or the bathtub), he will keep appearing, and keep loving us, inviting us to be nourished and then to “feed my sheep” or Share the toys so we can be in relationship with and nourish one another….

How’s that for use or lose it parable of the talents?

PS: Note the nets did not break this time (which is a whole other sermon) I think this is because the disciples have a little more where-with-all to catch some of Christ’s love, it doesn’t all pass through this time, some of it gets caught, harvested and used.

 

John 21:1-19

 

21After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

Les Mis: In any other story Javert would be the hero….

and other reasons why Les Mis is awesome

1. Its about real people struggling through their problems, and dealing and coping with them as best they can (they don’t end with a happily ever after or a death, instead life keeps going)

2. The love interests are not the main characters–like Disney’s Sleeping Beauty the story isn’t really about the young couple but all the people connected with them

3. …and yet it is a love story, its a story about seeing God because “when you love you see the face of God” not because God is not just the emotion love, but because love is real and hard

4. The music–not only is it brilliant but the entire musical is a fugue–all parts of one whole piece, threads in the tapestry, reflecting the reality of what life really is (One Day More=point and case)

5. In any other story Javert would be the hero–he even gets the hero’s ballad, he is just in the wrong story, because he has the wrong prespective, and he’s on the wrong side. How often is this true that people are doing things because they REALLY, REALLY believe in them, but still somehow they are wrong…CHRISTIANS everywhere should take notice. There is no such thing as a checklist for Christianity or living life right, faith is a struggle, life is hard and choices are not so easily seen…

6. Ultimately is a story about grace

Here is my synopsis of Les Mis: Grace, it makes bad guys into good guys and good guys into heroes.

7. Death, Resurrection, Grace, Psalms (You know that song “Turning through the years, note how the words don’t change but the meaning does–too bad it was cut from the movie its totally a Psalm), the coming of the kingdom (hint: the barricade is between heaven and earth) and of course love.

1st Cor. 13:1-13

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Luckily my church saw Les Mis last week and got to touch on some of these themes, and guess what the lectionary was…God is so Good…I will close with scripture to ruminate 🙂

(

Water into wine

Sören Kierkegaard, 19th century
“Christ turned water into wine, but the church has succeeded in doing something even more difficult: it has turned wine into water.”

Only the church can do that! Take Jesus’s Wine and turn it back into water–how do we do this, by constricting God

Item 1: Grace

Do you know what grace is? Its abundance. Grace is giving room for someone else in your life, so that they can be themselves. Its giving space to someone else. God’s grace is abundant–God moved Godself aside to make room to create us, so that we can be something other than God.

Christians job is practice that hospitality, to make room for EVERYONE in the church, and to make certain that we aren’t trapping God in our structures, limiting who God is and when God is relevant.

Consider if we said music can only be delivered thru a tape deck, music would be dead.

Item 2: Church is Boring

When we say God can only exist in a formal church, when we say our understaOpen Source Church: Making Room for the Wisdom of Allnding is the “correct”

(this is the opposite of open-sourcing church which is the way all information is going see Open Source)

If we make God ordinary, everyday; unexceptional and predictable.

We constrain God to what we understand her to be (see what I did there?)

We would rather tame Jesus than trust him (hence the above)

In fact, as I explained my job to a Japanese man who I am tutoring in ESL–he said that he found it amazing that we were applying a 2,000 (whereabouts) document to everyday life, and he asked how that worked, and I said that was basically my job, to talk about why its still relevant today and give the big message of God’s Grace and Love through the little stories and messages in the Bible…

“ah” he said “so your a translator” smart man that 🙂

Item 3: the Story (wedding at Cana) John 2:1-11

Name: Jesus

Location: Wedding

Mission: to Party people into the kingdom (through hospitality, wine and grace)

Jesus makes space for us, and gives us abundant love–making space for us, and we as the church should be doing the same

Item 4: the Translation (otherwise known as timing is everything for God, and we need to see God acting beyond the here and now to make the here and now better!–this is a deep thought for a parenthetical, oh well)

1. I’ve been praying about some kind of immigrant service due to a congregant’s problems getting a santioned-job-and-also-visa…plus I’ve been tutoring ESL on the side (again, this is what I do because the kids gotta eat). An offer came in last week for an immigration center to rent space for an office from us (rent, can you believe it) how perfect is that?

2. My church enjoys the “perfect” location, being high in demand for functions–we have been leveraging that into money…instead we are going to make the move to try to be theological & intentional in how we use the space (I’d like to have a ceremony dedicating the spaces of the church)

3. A congregant once suggested that we get snuggies for everyone in the church–our church is cold and hard to heat (ah the beauty of the 70s A-frame building). We could be known as the snuggie church–some people might feel that isn’t “proper” but lets face it I think being warm and comfortable is a more realistic presentation of God than shivering in nicer clothes….

The point is that God gives to us abundantly, and she does so by giving us new ways to understand, by giving us new people to enjoy relationships with and by full-on giving us permission to party people into the kingdom (who doesn’t love a wedding?)

Item 4: Happiness and Holiness

Plus! Jesus consecrates happiness

Sometimes, the church has forgotten that our Lord once attended a wedding feast and said yes to gladness and joy,” Robert Brearley writes. “God does not want our religion to be too holy to be happy in”(Feasting on the Word Year C, Vol. 1)….suppose we took every time we are happy as a holy time (note I did not say that we are only holy when we are happy). What if we celebrated, promoted happiness and in that way opened the way for God’s glory in the world?

Jesus is calling us to abundance, to happiness and to grace–and we need to be certain the church is concentrating on those instead of on the programs, the pews, the property, and the payments. These things do not make a church. People and Prayer do!!!

PS Here is today’s Coffee with Jesus, Apropos much?

Its not safe…

There has been an unspoken understanding that the church parking lot is fair game in the neighborhood. Recently people have been throwing trash in our dumpster to move and advertising free parking with the house that was on the market, re: our parking lot.

Maybe we should have a sign like this——>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

We have left notes and had conversations (Mostly in which the drivers were angry with us) about the fact that as the church increases our activity it is harder for us to let them park, especially since we have signs all over saying its illegal anyway (and I really don’t want to tow anyone to get my point across) I’ve been struggling about what to do with this, on the one hand it feels like we have been taken advantage of, on the other hand I want to practice Grace.

Grace is not safe. It is not an easy or even “nice” course. Grace is dangerous, its opening up your vulnerabilities and allowing others to be vulnerable too. How? Grace is giving space to another. Space for them to live into themselves, and there is a cost.

God is the God of grace because she created a space within herself in order to create us (Moltmann does a good job of describing this). God created space separate from Godself in order to create us, her children.

Grace is giving space to people who you don’t want to give space so and forming relationships AS you give them that space. Its acknowledging that everyone is human and broken
Sidenote: My church going to see Les Mis and discuss grace, but here is (I think) the point “Grace making bad guys into Good Guys and Good Guys into heroes since the beginning of time”–Katy Stenta

So what am I going to do about the people who are taking up space in our parking lot? I think maybe I’ll go over, tell them that I’ve noticed that they have parked in our lot and invite them to church…

God Can’t work thru…

The next time you think that God doesn’t work through a president, an annoying person or a bad situation, remember all that God has worked through.

Noah drank

Rahab was not virtous

Saul persecuted

Christ was born in a manger

If you can’t see God in the picture, it is because you are too caught up in your human bubble–rest assured, God is there, and God will do amazing things you never even thought of

By the Grace of God….

Very few scriptures talk about how “STRONG” Jesus is, have you ever noticed this? God is oft described as Almighty but that is not really a literal translation of the text:

it is really God of many mounds, because mounds were the places of little-g-gods, and the fact that God rules all the mounds means our God is almighty. Please there is this whole breasts/milk/nourishment implication which we tend to not translate in the slightest (get it, mounds?)

However, although Jesus is touted as powerful, I never see the superhero strength (Jesus is the man, because he is so strong) more often his kindness, care, wisdom and healing are the attributes named. So Christ is presented as powerful and mighty, but not through strength but instead through grace and kindness.

Because what is grace anyway?

     Grace is seeing imperfections and practicing love.

See the imperfections, acknowledge them, and then make a move of love (not anyway, not in spite of)  just because, because Christ made such a move towards us first.

What does this mean in day-to-day life? It means human dignity, it means seeing and acknowledging each other, and it means strength through love

By the Grace of God….

Very few scriptures talk about how “STRONG” Jesus is, have you ever noticed this? God is oft described as Almighty but that is not really a literal translation of the text:

it is really God of many mounds, because mounds were the places of little-g-gods, and the fact that God rules all the mounds means our God is almighty. Please there is this whole breasts/milk/nourishment implication which we tend to not translate in the slightest (get it, mounds?)

However, although Jesus is touted as powerful, I never see the superhero strength (Jesus is the man, because he is so strong) more often his kindness, care, wisdom and healing are the attributes named. So Christ is presented as powerful and mighty, but not through strength but instead through grace and kindness.

Because what is grace anyway?

     Grace is seeing imperfections and practicing love.

See the imperfections, acknowledge them, and then make a move of love (not anyway, not in spite of)  just because, because Christ made such a move towards us first.

What does this mean in day-to-day life? It means human dignity, it means seeing and acknowledging each other, and it means strength through love

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