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Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.
In the beginning we lived in perfect community with God, our relationship with Him was as He designed it to be. God walked with us, spoke to us, and was in a relationship with us within the community we had as His Creation, His people. But that was broken by our rebellion by our willful disobedience when both Adam and Eve fell to temptation, to sin, against God.
Now jump forward in time and picture if you will God’s people, legalistic, and tradition bound, a time within the roman empire, a time when Rome ruled with an iron fist and the people of Israel were under their rule, their laws, and were awaiting the return of a King from the line of David, A King who would rescue them from the tyranny of Rome.
God sent His one and only Son to restore that which was lost at the rebellion. The people at that time were looking for someone to save them; so when Jesus comes into town He is welcomed and His arrival is celebrated. Today is a day to celebrate the coming of Jesus, the Christ, into our lives just as His coming to Jerusalem was celebrated over 2000 years ago with palm leaves and shouting Hosanna. In Matthew 21 the Holy Spirit tells us, “A very large crowd spread their clothes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed shouted: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
This was the fulfillment of the Word given to Zechariah the prophet in 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” In that moment in time, when Jesus road into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, the people of Jerusalem recognized Jesus as their long awaited King: the messiah, the Christ, who would save them. BUT, this was not the conquering King, this was not the warrior who would drive Rome out of their city, their country and defeat the Roman legions. This man riding a donkey, this Jesus was so much more… God sent His one and only Son to save the World, He is the savior of all who choose to believe.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) to restore the relationship lost at the rebellion, this is the good news, this is the gospel. Hosanna to the King of Kings and lord of Lords! I was lost, but now I am found and I was blind, walking in darkness, and now thanks to Jesus Christ, I see! I was once a sinner, now I am saved by grace, redeemed, and brought back into relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son!
So yes, shout Hosanna, wave the palm branch, and spread the good news! “Don’t receive the grace of God in vain.” For he says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation,” not tomorrow, not some more convenient time. It is today that we are to share the good news, it is today that we, with gratitude in our hearts, reach out to our neighbor!
In a time when we are struggling with being penned up, isolated, and with many living in fear, today we can, with thousands and thousands of others, celebrate the coming of Jesus into our lives. Today we can celebrate Jesus as our King and know that we are not alone in our relationship with Christ and His Church. Our brothers and sisters are next door or down the road or just a phone call, email, skype, face time, Facebook, or Zoom away.
With very little effort we can, as Ma Bell used to say, “Reach Out and touch someone today,” we must stay connected. Even though we are separated physically we can and are still the church. Together, we are the Church! Without a building, we are the Church. In the midst of this pandemic, we are still the church. If you have Jesus in your life, you are never truly alone. You are to be a part of His community, His people, His kingdom, His Church!
That was and is the point of our buildings, so that we could be with one another, experience the community that we have in Christ, share in meals, have fellowship, where we can grow through our difficulties and celebrate our differences as we grow in our relationships with God and one another. Our buildings were/are to be places that welcome those who are different, that welcome sinners, that are a beacon of hope to the communities where we are placed. We are to be a light in the darkness.
But some turned in, some were no longer the light on a hill, or the salt of the earth. Come churches were more of a social club for a chosen few, a place where those that were different were not welcomed, but looked down on. Maybe this is the wake up call the Church needed….
A time in which we all learn that the church truly is people and not a building. Our buildings are but tools to be used to further the Gospel. Invest the time you have to read God’s Word, pray, use the technology you have to reach out to one another. Learn and grow together in community, call a member of the congregation and tell them what you read that morning, ask them what they think. If you have a computer get a Zoom account, go on Facebook, if you have an iphone use facetime, but “Reach Out and touch someone today,” build relationships and strengthen the ones you have.
In celebrating Christ as King we can connect with one another and we can work through our differences, and in reaching out, in staying connected, become of one mind and purpose.
Jesus, sent of the Father, came to restore the community and the relationship that were lost when Adam and Eve sinned. We cannot let the world, the enemy of our souls, or any microscopic bug keep us from being the community, the family of God, that we are in Christ. We may be down, but we are not out, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4)!
I praise God and celebrate the coming of Jesus into this world, and into my life, and into any that would choose to follow Him as their lord, savior, and King. In Christ, all who choose to follow Him are placed in community with God and with others who choose to believe, they are redeemed and made a part of His Church. To have this relationship with Jesus is to know joy. In this relationship you know that you can depend on Him, know He is with you, and that you can count on Him to get you through!
It is into that community, the community that I and my brothers and sisters all over the world have, as the Church, that I am inviting you and others to be an active part of: to join in. It is in that community that my relationship with God was formed. It is that relationship that I have with Him that I want to see others have. And it is those relationships within the Church that encourage us, help us, and make us who God wants us to be.
We, together, can walk in obedience, bear one another’s burdens, encourage one another, teach, and pray, and help one another. Reaching up to God and reaching out to one another and in obedience to God, and therefore, turn our communities upside down! It is within the relationships we form and those that we have as the church – that God will build His Kingdom!
Look at it this way, the more people you get to know within your congregation, the more you put into practice the “one anothers,” the more the Church is strengthened.
The more it is strengthened, and the stronger it is, the stronger the Kingdom of God is. Then when these strong and united local congregations come together in Community, as the Church, putting aside our differences, and again, practicing the “one anothers” and building relationships, we can impact our communities for The Kingdom of God!
During this time of isolation and fear the Church has the unique opportunity to strengthen our ties and to grow stronger as we come to be of one mind and purpose which, right now, is to love our neighbor as ourselves.
I cannot overly emphasize that the stronger the local congregations are, the stronger and more far reaching the Kingdom is and the further His Kingdom can reach.
Let me remind you as a congregation that we are, with one another, seeking to build and strengthen community and relationships through CORE, R & P (Coffee Shop), and our movie nights. This is not just our congregation! These things were, by design, to be for all the congregations of God’s Church in our communities to use for God’s glory and the furtherance of the Kingdom. It is through each congregations involvement in these things that God is, and will, build His Kingdom. So when this is over…
When we the Church rise up, being the Church in our communities, we make the enemy tremble, cause him to flee, and overcome the temptations that he throws at us. And Church, as the wise man said, “We are better together”!
Let me close with these words form Philippians 4:4-9, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy — dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
- Are you encouraged knowing that, as a part of God’s church, you are a part of His plan where He has placed you?
- Are you of one mind with what the congregation is doing to build community and relationships?
- Are you being the hands and feet of Christ?
- Are you being the voice of God to the confused and fearful?
Further reading: Philippians 1:27-28, Philippians 2:1-16, Acts 4:32, Romans 12:16, Romans 15:5-6, 1 Peter 3:8-12, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Matthew 5:13-15, 2 Thessalonians 3:13