CHANGE IS GOOD - The Day is Here!

Mark 4: 35-41  Rev. Dr. Galen E. Russell III

2 Corinthians 6: 1-13   June 24, 2018

“I have heard thee in a time accepted, and ini the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Prayer:  We are your redeemed, O Lord.  We are among those whom you’ve delivered.  We thank you and are moved to serve you.  Amen.

Time doesn’t permit me to preach in the style that preachers from the 1700’s did.  They would take an assigned text, and go through the entire passage, line by line, verse by verse, explaining the ins and outs of the text, all the background and implied meaning, etc..  Sermons done like that would take a minimum of an hour and often longer.  For your benefit and mine, we’re not doing that today!  Thankfully, worship and preaching have evolved over time.  Change is good.

Last Sunday, we said our good-byes to Pastor Fred as he concluded his ministry among us.  We discussed that a new day was dawning for him, and for us. As all of us continue to grow on our journeys of faith, we’re discovering what it means to be new creations in Christ with new dynamics at play now.  Change is good.

Last Monday morning, we gathered as a church staff for our regular beginning of the week morning meetings.  I said that we’re turning over a new leaf.  A new chapter of ministry at Christ Church is beginning.  It looks a lot like the previous chapter, only different.  We’ll do a lot of the same things, and many of you are stepping up.  We’ll do new things, too, and we have new responsibilities.  Thank you for your help as we discern what our next pastoral leadership scenario will look like.  Change is good—the new day dawning is now here.

Today’s text from Corinthians seems to say that the new day dawning—is now here!  Spiritually speaking, the apostle Paul was 100% convinced that Jesus was the reason the new day was here.  He recognized and quoted the words from Isaiah 49:8 as a prophecy from God, and Christ Jesus was the fulfillment of that prophecy.  God said through Isaiah that at the right time, God would hear the cries of people who suffered from oppression, injustice, and separation from God as a result of sin.  God would help the human race recover from that on the day of salvation.

Paul strongly affirms that the day of salvation was when God raised Jesus alive from death.  On that day, the saving grace of God redeemed the whole human race forever.  On that day humanity and God were reconciled to each other.  God and people were at one… that’s from God’s point of view.  It is 100% up to us to make it our point of view, too.

We can make it our point of view by again looking at something common in our lives. Anyone who’s ever had a blood transfusion can understand what it means to be reconciled to God or at one with God.  Someone else’s blood of the same blood type gets into our system and is life-giving, right?  You can think of it as a special bond with another person.  And the needed blood flows throughout every part of our body indiscriminately.

But, we don’t think of it that way.  We just go on with our lives, not really giving the other person’s blood in our veins a second thought.

In the same way, in Christ, we receive kind of a spiritual transfusion of love.  God’s grace and forgiveness through Christ fills us completely throughout our inner spiritual lives, and gives us new life.  We are bonded with God, at one with God, redeemed by Christ.  We live in the day of salvation!  It’s here!

But, we often just go on with our lives, not really giving it a second thought.  Paul urges that people take the gift of God’s grace seriously and not in vain.  We are, as he says, workers together with God.  Because being transfused with the incredible, life-giving grace of God, we are under God’s constant influence.  God’s presence pushes into the forefront of our thinking, our actions, our words.  So, every thing we think, say, and do has God at work in it with us.

But let us not be fooled.  This doesn’t mean life all of a sudden becomes a piece of cake.  No struggles, no worries, no problems.  Faith doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer.  God never says that.  Jesus himself suffered and died while holding on to faith.  Even when the Holy Spirit, the risen spirit of Jesus is in us, storms will arise.

But, remember, we’re living in the day of God’s salvation.  And, we can remember that just as Jesus was in the boat with his disciples, God is in our lives with us.  Jesus wants them and us to have faith in God.  Jesus says in effect, “in the midst of the storm, I got this.”  Faith means that we can trust Jesus for our future made possible God’s day of salvation that is here.

Paul wants the Corinthians to have faith in God, too, even in their deepest struggles.  To effectively believe that no matter what storms they faced - afflictions, imprisonment, etc., God is saying, “I got this.  I’m in it with you.  Enlarge your heart to know that you’re living in the day of my salvation.”

On June 1st, the Atlantic hurricane season began… actually the first named storm (Alberto) happened before the 1st, over Memorial day weekend.  Beryl is the next storm name to be used.  I didn’t know this, but out in the Pacific, two storms have already been named—Hurricane Aletta and Hurricane Bud—both formed into hurricanes in mid-June.  Thankfully, both were harmless and dissipated.

The storms hit us, in our lives though, often with great fury.  Right now, on the political scene, we’re struggling with the storms Hurricane Immigration and its twin, Cyclone, Family-Separation.  I encourage us and the leaders of our country to remember that we are urged to be under God’s constant influence.

In my opinion, we cannot address these issues without viewing them from God’s point of view.  And, I don’t mean taking snippets of scripture out of context and saying that justifies policy.  It’s not the Bible that pushes to the forefront, it’s the presence of God and what God values and stands for that pushes into the forefront of our thinking, our actions, our words.

From my point of view, God is always on the side of the poor.  God always has a soft spot for the vulnerable and those treated unfairly.  God always says, “Let the children come to me.”  We’re asked to enlarge our hearts, to let all issues be addressed under the influence of God, for we live in the day of salvation.

For other storms we face, God is saying have faith.  Believe that “I got this” when people face Hurricane Volcano happening in Hawaii and in Guatemala.  Hurricane Earthquake in Osaka, Japan.  God is saying, “I’m  in it with you.  Let my presence push to the forefront of your life, your thinking, your actions.  Believe that you’re living in the day of salvation—the day is here!”

Many devastating hurricanes can hit our lives no matter where we live… Hurricane Cancer, Hurricane Divorce, Hurricane Unemployment, Hurricane Financial Crisis, Hurricane Mental Illness.  The Day of God’s salvation is here.  God’s life is already infused into us.  God is in the boat with us, in the struggles and the easy places… in the sorrows and the joys.  Let us grow and change. 

Let us enlarge our hearts to live in this day—the day of God’s saving grace.  Because this change is good.  Amen.