“Come as you are”

We want you to feel at home with us. Casual or dressy? We want you to be comfortable, whether it be heels or tennis shoes, suit or t-shirt. We’re just glad to see you.

Matthew 18:20

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

A Message for May from Pastor Mike

Amplified

             The other night, Sophie, our whopping 8-pound ball of fur and cuteness, shook like a leaf in mid-fall as thunder and lightening stood to their feet with applause outside my apartment window. “Dad!!!!” I heard her say in the slight winch of her yearning whine, “Can I come up and sleep with you! I’m really scared!” And of course, as the ever dutiful succulent that I become when she looks at me with her big bug eyes, I rolled over to plop her beside me, smiling as the trembles subsided in her new soft digs. To her it was a gift from heaven.

There’s a palpable freshness to the air now, as buds and planters spew out their dusty response to spring’s arrival. Everybody is showing off their winter legs and arms as they rediscover the outdoors aren’t such an inhospitable place after all. We now can play with grandkids on the driveway with chalk, and work in the yard to get those dandelions to wither. It all feels as it should be.

Some 3500 years ago there was a group of folks who were on the cusp of their spring fun, after spending 400 years in the cold dark winter of slavery in Egypt. And just before they traveled north to cross the Jordan and take the land that was theirs by right, God gave them some policies and procedures for living in his Promised Land.

In the book of Leviticus, half way through the 25th chapter, God is teaching his stir-crazy kids about the proper way to buy and sell land in God’s country. Real barn-burning stuff. Everything in Israel would be different, right down to the nature of land ownership itself. And in the middle of this somewhat monotone lecture, God drops in a startling remark, “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants.”

For hundreds of years these people craved the sunny peace that came wrapped in a piece of land to call their own. But it came with a catch. As people of deliverance, every moment, every morsel, every place was now and forever defined by the good graces of God’s loving lordship.

Ownership is a right in our country that we take very seriously. We take pride in the fields and homes, cars and guns, pets and time that’s ours to do with what we will. Playing catch with our kids and golf with our friends, driving south to shows and north to lake shores. And our pleasure in these things is compounded by the fact that they are ours.

But we are not only citizens of the United States of America. Even more so, we are inhabitants of the Kingdom of Heaven, and as such, everything we enjoy is by the grace of God. And catching us in our predictably disappointed response to such unattractive news is the far deeper truth of Leviticus; the lordship of God is designed to amplify the holy enjoyment of his children.

Jesus came to redeem all of life. The dirt of a baseball diamond and the freshly birthed baby calve, the dead end job and sunset porch cookouts with our neighbors. And because Jesus has claimed all of creation in his love, our spring sprung to life becomes something else entirely. Look around at all that you have. Everything is sustained by Jesus’ great love for you. So enjoy them, and do so to the fullest, for these are more than gifts – they are blessings.

 

 

 

Pastor Mike Lyle