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Welcome! The primary purpose of this blog is to explore and encourage around what it means to be winsome and sent into the world for God's glory. If you are new here, the definition of "lighthouse-searchlight" or our missional journey is a good place to start. Come peruse the blog and add me to your RSS feed!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

palm sunday tears (luke 19.36-44)

There is much to celebrate about Palm Sunday. Everybody loves a parade... and it was a Jewish Passover tradition on this Sunday to process into Jerusalem and up to the Temple (cf. Psalm 118). There is every indication that many believed Jesus to be the One God had promised. It was an exciting moment and the people and disciples were caught up in it. Even Jesus did not seem to avoid or downplay it. When some Pharisees tried to calm down his followers, Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

All of a sudden, in the middle of a very exciting, exhilarating, and celebratory parade, with Jesus getting something like a hero’s welcome, he breaks down and starts crying. He is weeping over something he sees when he looks at the city of Jerusalem. He says (to Jerusalem), “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!” (v. 42) Jesus, the bringer of God’s peace, was weeping because he recognized that so many would not receive God’s great gift even as it was among them. Jesus was weeping for the lost souls of Jerusalem.

Has that much changed in 2000 years? It is easy for the followers of Jesus Christ to gather and celebrate, to process and pray, and to go home feeling topped-off spiritually until the next service or study. And yet I think Jesus could stand right here in our church, receive our praise and worship, and weep for all the same reasons he wept that day. He is still God’s gift of peace, particularly of peace with God, and we have that message and that hope right here. It’s what we hear and respond to week in and week out. But we also live in the midst of a city not so different from Jerusalem. It’s a spiritual city, full of churches and southern culture. And it’s full of people who seek peace – peace at work, peace at home, and peace with themselves. But like those who missed Jesus the first time around, our friends and neighbors who do not know God risk living and not recognizing the time of God’s visitation.

Why does it matter? Why should we care or risk offending them with caring? Like you and me, our friends and neighbors are surrounded and barricaded by things that will hurt them. Our children are growing up in a scary and uncertain world. Young adults are taking longer and longer to find a place to take root, and many get lost along the way. Our older adults find themselves living in an increasingly alien culture, and one that doesn’t seem to value their wisdom and insight. People need the peace of God that is found in the news of Jesus Christ, that is found in the person of Jesus Christ.

But most of all, we should care and risk sharing our faith with our friends and neighbors because God cares. He weeps for those who do not know Him. And if we are truly His, we will weep at the things at which God weeps. For some time, we have been talking about being a lighthouse church and a searchlight church. If those terms are fuzzy to you, it’s okay – I’ll remind you what they mean.

I believe we are an increasingly effective lighthouse church. By that I mean that we shine brightly with the light of Christ here at 3307 Rea Road. People see and hear that God is at work here. Like a lighthouse, we offer direction and safe harbor to all who notice us and come to check us out. We have effective and clear ministries to children, youth, and adults, particularly in the arts and teaching ministries. One of our main challenges is to continue tending the flame as a lighthouse.

But what of Jerusalem? What of Charlotte? What of all the other addresses on Rea Road and Swan’s Run and in Old Providence, Candlewyck, and Chadwyck? God does not sit still, waiting for worship; God is a seeking and finding kind of God. He sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to seek and save the lost and hurting. And so He sends us. Jesus prayed that in John 17: “Send them into the world as you sent me into the world.”

We are also to be a searchlight church. We are to get up and out of here because God’s heart is in the homes and the circumstances of each house up and down these streets and in your neighborhoods. I’m not talking about some sort of mass conversion program. I’m talking about going where God goes and inviting people to hear or glimpse God at work. Yes, invite people to church. That’s a great start. Invite people into your homes and lives. BE salt and light – that’s what God made you for.

This is a great time to invite friends and neighbors to come and see. Tell them what to expect – from the music to the preaching to the friendly people. Tell them their children will be well-cared for. Invite them to go out to lunch afterwards. Whatever you want… but go where God’s heart is.

From the sermon here

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