As someone who grew up without a father, I was unacquainted with the whole concept of roughhousing until I was married and observed my husband playing with our children. Usually a quiet and gentle man, I was shocked to see him holding small children up by their feet and teasing them until they were breathless. He would scoop up a child and tell them to say, “Squeeze me tighter, Daddy.” Then he would squeeze them until they yelled in delight.
I had forgotten all that until recently when I was at my daughter?s home when her husband came home from work. Two small boys ran happily to greet him, and he responded by throwing them into the air and swinging them around the room. They responded with great joy and loud squeals.
After describing this happy event to another daughter, she suggested that this monkey business could be called the Theology of Roughhousing. Children learn to interact with people much larger and stronger than themselves. They are at the mercy of these bigger people. But when they learn to trust those who have power over them, they can live in harmony with that reality.
We can apply that same principal to ourselves as we relate to God. He is strong and powerful, yet he bends down to hold us. We learn to trust him to be with us when we have no control of dangers that swirl around us. We may be thrown this way and that, but we are safe in God?s hands. He is truly our heavenly father.
Romans 8; 38, 39 reminds us of just how strong our heavenly father?s love is for us:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
First Baptist Church
819 Massachusetts Avenue
Arlington, MA 02476
April 30, 2016
2 pm-5 pm
Humility - Unity in Diversity
Refreshments provided by All Hands In
Fellowship and Meal
The offering received during worship will be donated to Friends of the Region and designated for Prescott Lodge that is replacing Memorial Lodge, which burned down last fall at Camp Grotonwood.
One of the things I really like about being a Baptist is that our churches are a jumbled mix of very different people. We usually have folks come together from lifestyles that would never cross paths with one another other than in church, have bank accounts that range from terrible to terrific, and hold theological ideas that go from carefully thought out orthodoxy to “Gee! I never thought about that!” The one common denominator is we are all drawn to Jesus because Baptists truly lift him up as the one to worship and follow. Simply, he is Lord.
Our curious mix of widely different people makes it rather hard when we find ourselves discussing politics. Some Christians take the safe road of believing that religion and politics don’t mix. Others jump on a particular band wagon and “baptize” a certain candidate or a particular talking point and indicate that if you are really a Christian you must support and vote a certain way or else.
As a pastor I try to remember that my calling is to follow Paul and “be all things to all people.” That’s a goal that would drastically fall on its face if I suddenly began beating the drum for one viewpoint or one candidate. People who saw their political salvation differently would stop listening to me, and my ability to be their pastor would be harmed. It’s hard enough for the good folks at First Baptist Arlington to accept the fact that my first love is really Kansas State Wildcat football rather than the Patriots!
The problem is that both Christian faith and politics ask basic questions about the nature of human beings and the world, what we see as ultimately important, and how we should act. Because faith and politics seek answers to these intertwined concerns, it is impossible for a follower of Jesus not to be politically involved. I frankly believe this is especially true today, where I see the current fray has moved from being mainly political to being primarily moral and ethical.
I am not going to tell you to vote Democratic or Republican or Rainbow Green or anything else that might pop up in the mess. I am going to tell you to be a Christian! Let your faith, your Christian values, and Jesus’ direction to seek first the kingdom of God guide you. If your faith doesn’t shape you, then it’s quite likely you will be guided by your discontent, anger, greed and fear, since these seem to be the human emotions being preyed upon to get votes. As a Christian, I believe the vision of the kingdom of God is a whole lot better than what we are being offered.
So let me tell you what I am going to do. I am going to remember first of all that I have a leader far better than all the current presidential candidates put together. I am going to join his campaign, and tell everyone who will listen that he is our hope and salvation. And I am going to try to evaluate everything I do, and everything I hear with the rule of thumb Jesus has taught me: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt 22:37-39)
I have heard various comments about how expensive Easter is. The day before Easter I spent quite a bit more than usual on groceries. Then there are candy and treats to buy - chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and other special desserts. How about that bunny shaped cake? Then the grandchildren need church shoes and fancy dresses. How about matching outfits for the little boys? Things seem to add up quickly.
But is that really the cost of Easter? The real cost was to Jesus as he lay down his life as a ransom for our sins on Good Friday. It cost him the betrayal of his friends and disciples. It cost him the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain that accompanied his crucifixion. It cost him the pain of being separated from his heavenly father who could not look upon him as he bore our sins. It was very costly to the pure, sinless son of God.
It was costly, too, this year to the Christians in Pakistan as they gathered in a park to celebrate the resurrection of the risen Christ on Easter morning. A bomb exploded killing at least 69 and injuring 300 more. They were present-day martyrs. They didn?t expect to actually meet Jesus that Easter morning, but they did. They were ushered into his presence as a heavenly celebration was doubtless taking place. So though their cost was high, their reward was great! Their physical bodies were destroyed, but they were clothed in glory with resurrected bodies as all believers will someday experience. Actually, that?s what Easter is all about! Thank you, Jesus!