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Sunday, October 29, 2006

the good news

For a number of weeks we have asked the question, "Why is Jesus good news?" The question is most appropriate today as well, particularly as we try to answer the question of what it means to believe and follow Jesus Christ.

Is it a bunch of hand-washing - go to church, give money, do good things, own a Bible?

While those are all fine things to do, they cannot "contain" the reality of the God who came among us, who broke into our reality and still does to wake us up, call our names, and bring us home. Those things cannot get us to God - not coming to church, not giving money, not fasting, not praying, nor anything else.

The foundational story of the Bible is that God comes to us - God comes all the way down to where we are. God breaks into human history and breaks into your life with the word and reality of Jesus Christ to wake you up, call your name, and bring you home. That is the Good News!

Neither our old lives nor our best hand-washing can contain or "wear" that truth. If we try to patch Jesus onto our old life or our own version of reaching out to God, we will be pulled apart and the holes in our life will gape ever larger like old clothes with new patches of cloth sewn tightly onto them. If we try to pour the living Spirit of God into lives that have not been made new by faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we will not hold.

This is the Good News of Jesus Christ - he has broken into your life, maybe years ago and maybe in this last hour, to call your name and bring you home. Trusting him to be who he says he is and do what he says he'll do is like those servants who filled up those ceremonial water pots and took a drink to the head steward. Faith embraces God's salvation through Jesus Christ. Trust responds to his invitation to "Come, follow me" and runs after him, whatever that may mean.

Jesus is good news because he brings new life - he is the "new wine" for celebrating God's faithful love for us who are His bride.

Is there any hand-washing, old jar, fasting-instead-of-celebrating that you need to exchange for the new wine? Maybe it's an old understanding of Christianity as the same thing as coming to or belonging to a church. Maybe it's the obsessive-compulsive hand-washing of doing good in the belief that God you have to tip the scales for God to accept you. Maybe it's the old clothes of a life untouched by God, one that won't take "patched on" Christianity; or maybe that's what you're doing and your life feels more torn open then ever before.

God has poured His Son, Jesus, into the old places and made something new - a living, dynamic relationship between you and God. Today, we drink the wine of that reality as we come together to the Communion Table. Today, we remember, experience, and celebrate what God has done and made new. Leave the old behind and come, for Jesus is new wine, new religion, new life... for you.

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