April 12, 2015: Vital Signs of being spiritually alive

Posted on : Apr 9th, 2015 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

A friend of mine who is a diabetic “crashed” the other day. His sugar levels were sky high. He was incoherent and near ready to go into a diabetic coma. The paramedics were called and rushed him to the hospital. In emergency medicine, one’s “vitals” are really vital. The word “vital” actually means “essential, critical, indispensable, integral, or indispensable to the continuance of life.” “Vitals” medically speaking refer to our heart rate, our breathing, and a host of other things that are indispensable to the continuance of our life. When our vitals drop, we’re in big trouble. When they stop, we die.

As I reflected back on my friend’s experience, I began to ask myself, what are the vital signs of being spiritually alive? What are the vital signs of a healthy spirituality? I encounter a lot of Christians today who appear to me to be lifeless. There’s no pulse, no joy, no love, no spiritual energy coming out of them.

One of the vital signs of being spiritually alive is hospitality. Jesus lived and breathed gracious hospitality. Even though there were powerful people who opposed Jesus’ extravagant welcome, he still embraced those who were often shunned. In the reign of God that Jesus spoke of, he declared that there is room for all—children (Luke 18:15-17) and those who are hungry, thirsty, homeless, ill, poor, grieving, persecuted, and in prison (Matthew 25: 31-46 and Luke 6:20-26). Jesus put faith and hospitality together: “Whoever receives one whom I send receives me” and those who received Jesus, embraced God (John 13:20).

This kind of hospitality is characteristic of both God’s faithfulness and, at our best, our faithfulness. God welcomes and also feeds the hungry, forgives sins, stands with those who are poor and oppressed, comforts the suffering, and becomes home for those who wander. In gratitude, faithful people welcome strangers. A surprise in the Bible is that the way you welcome a stranger expresses how you embrace the very presence of God.

This Sunday’s Gospel is about hospitality – and then some. It is a story Jesus tells the disciples before his death. The disciples were obviously quite anxious about what was going to become of Jesus – and them. And Jesus replies to them, saying, (“Chill”,) “Don’t let you hearts be troubled.

You have faith in God;

have faith in me as well.

In God’s house there are many dwelling places. I’m going to prepare a place for you, and then I will come back to take you with me, so that where I am, there you may be as well.”

Jesus wasn’t talking about Airbnb. Jesus was talking about God’s extravagant welcome to each and every one of us.   It’s Jesus’ wonderful way of saying, “Look, there’s room for you and everyone in God’s house.” Nobody gets excluded. Your job is to make sure everyone not only knows about, but feels God’s gracious welcome.

What does it mean to be truly welcomed for you are, as you are?

When was a time that you felt especially welcomed?

What did people do to make you feel welcome?

One of the most vital signs of being spiritually alive and spiritually healthy is to know that Christ has intentionally gone and prepared a place for us.

Nelle Morton, one of the early feminist theologians of the 20th century (and one of our own Rev. Peg Beissert’s professors!) wrote a ground-breaking book entitled: The Journey is Home. Her thesis is that our spiritual journey is one of finding our way home to who we are, as God made us.  Nelle said, “The journey is home.” Jesus said. “There’s room for you – and everyone – in God’s house.”

Easter Blessings to You and those you love, as we seek to become more spiritually alive this Easter,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

John 14: 1-13

(Jesus said,) “Don’t let you hearts be troubled.

You have faith in God;

          have faith in me as well.

In God’s house there are many dwelling places; otherwise, how could I have told you that I was going to prepare a place for you?

I am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then I will come back to take you with me, so that where I am, there you may be as well.

You know the way that leads to where I am going.”

Thomas replied, “But we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus told him,

          “I am the Way – I am Truth, and I am Life.

No one comes to God but through me.

If you really knew me, you would know God also.

From this point on, you know God and you have seen God.”

Philip said, “Rabbi, show us God, then we will be content.” Jesus said to him, “Have you been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t know me?” Whoever has seen me has seen God. So how can you ask, ‘Show us God?’ Don’t you believe that I am in God and God is in me? The words that I speak to you aren’t mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. It is God, living in me, who crafts each word into a divine act. Believe me that I am in God and God is in me, or else believe because of the works I do.”

The truth of the matter is, anyone who has faith in me will do the works I do – and greater works besides. Why? Because whatever you ask in my name I will do, so that God may be glorified in me.

(from The Inclusive Bible)

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