From Pastor Peter:
For those of you who have asked us for sermon notes, here are the notes from February 1, 2015, and my sermon on Jesus’ authority, and cutting open the “tent.”
- The Gospel (Mark) portrays Jesus as one with authority, one who liberates.
- Is the idea of “Jesus the Liberator” still relevant today? Or have we reduced his role to “Jesus the one who gets us into heaven?”
- If he is still “Jesus the Liberator,” and most of us are not possessed by demons, then what does he liberate us from?
- Last week I had an experience that unexpectedly deepened my own understanding of “Jesus the Liberator,” and I would like to share that this morning.
- Couldn’t sleep, to avoid dark imaginings, I started recalling painful memories of times when I had been a real idiot and not only felt terrible, but also got roundly condemned for whatever it was. (e.g., bike & bus)
- This eventually led (maybe defensively) to memories of times people had hurt me, and I hadn’t really forgiven them, never really let it go.
- Both kinds of painful memories were the result of a lack of forgiveness—in cases where I still felt guilty for something I did 40 years ago, I hadn’t forgiven myself, and I was sure the other person hadn’t forgiven me either. In cases where I still hung onto some old hurt, I was the one not forgiving, and so the painful memory endured.
- As I tried to let go of both kinds of painful memories, a vision came to me that I hadn’t expected:
- I am inside a huge circus tent whose tent poles have crumpled, and the tent has trapped me under what has become a big, dank, dark tarp.
- After finding a stack of mini-tent poles (five or six feet), I began putting them up, creating little bubbles of space under the tarp. It felt like progress, so I kept doing it, putting up more and more, circling back to check on the ones already up, even though it didn’t get me out. In fact, nothing really changed.
- Finally after so many years of this passed that I felt it was my life, one day I noticed what looked like a tear in the tarp. As I got closer I saw light coming through and heard a voice calling me, then telling me to grab hold of his hand and let him pull me out. After much trepidation I finally did, and all at once I was in the light again. It was a wonderful spring day with a breeze blowing and the AQI was ZERO!
- How do I understand that vision?
- The tent poles – we all have unhappy, painful memories that persist either because we can’t forgive ourselves or we can’t forgive the other person. In some cases we circle back to them, maybe replaying them, maybe changing the scenario, in any case refreshing our sense of guilt or righteous indignation. As we age, we add to them, and if we don’t somehow let them go, they can become a burden we just don’t need…but we think we do.
- To me, Jesus cutting an opening in the tent and reaching down to pull us out is a wonderful illustration of sheer grace. He does it out of love, out of concern for us that if he were not to pull us up, in our ignorance we would spend the rest of our days under the tent, working at making and preserving our little bubbles in the darkness and dankness, and thinking that is life. When, in fact, he created us for so much more than that, and came to us so that we “might have life and have it abundantly.”
- Being pulled up into Jesus’ world is so totally an experience of new life, that it is easy to see why Jesus called it being reborn. And once reborn from our old world into that new one, it is easy to understand the desire to spread the Word, to get others up where life can be truly lived.
- Conclusion: So can Jesus still be the Liberator for us in today’s world? Absolutely! I believe it is even easier to be trapped under all kinds of confusion and fear today than it was in Jesus’ time, which is all the more reason we need his liberating grace. And praise God that for any who reach out for his extended hand, he liberates us beyond anything we can even imagine!