Freetext – Letter to Laodicea

Recently at the monthly meeting of the Lutheran pastors in Hawaii (we call it the Hui Kahu) the topic was brought up that a primer should be written for pastors who are about to start ministry in Hawaii; highlighting some of the differences of ministry here.  It was a really good discussion.  Hawaii is really unique.  There is a great diversity of culture, religion, ethics, and one of my favorites food but some of the topics were not so helpful, so people said to write down, “I hope you like spam” or “Do you know how to surf, that’s how you’ll get to work” or “did you take grass hut construction at seminary”  – one of the stranger ones that came up is the sinks in this town.  If you are out and depending on where you are, a lot of the time only one of the handles works – “cold” water.  Now you’ve got to picture where I’m coming from.  I’m from Denver where it’s Coors claim to fame that it’s beer is made for pure mountain water and that’s what I grew up with, in need of a cool drink, you could drink cold, refreshing water right from the tap.  So you can imagine it took me some getting used to when the water is always lukewarm coming out of the faucets here.  Sometimes at night I forget this and spit the water out because it was not what I needed.
That picture that Jesus gives today is a strong one- spit, spew, even vomit are the words that describe Jesus’ response to the temperature of the church at Laodicea.  Verses 15-16 – “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

(Everyone receives an airlines motion discomfort bag)
You’ll notice on one of the sides of the bag it says “for motion discomfort.”  A body not in motion is either paralyzed or dead.  We as a church have to be in motion, we have to be ready for change and mobility.  Our world is changing so rapidly that I believe we need to put into place now the ability to change our ministry from year to year.  We have to be able to move from the understanding of a need to deployment of a solution quickly.  We should be in motion, if we enjoy being stationary and desire to close our doors and shut our eyes I believe Jesus is saying, “That makes me sick.”
On the other side of the “discomfort” bag you’ll notice the label “Occupied.”  For those flights where people are moving around in their seats this marks that a seat is taken.  Is that how you define following Jesus, occupying a seat for an hour a week?  The truth is the most important parts of living out our faith happen outside of these doors.  It’s God’s who gathers us here to receive strength from His Word, to receive food for the road, to receive the forgiveness that we carry with us…back OUT there.  If we are just here to occupy a seat, to serve ourselves, to leave and return to a life that doesn’t reflect faith in Jesus Christ, Jesus is saying, “that makes me sick.”
It’s what everyone tends to do, it’s what all of nature tends to do, like water, pour out cold water into a cup and within seconds you have condensation on the outside (something else new about Hawaii) and that water moves toward room temperature.  Pour hot water into a mug and steam emerges as the water moves toward room temperature.  Everything wants to settle into a normal balance, in synch with the world around it, in line with it’s temperature.  God’s says when you look more like the world, when you are in line with it, “that makes me sick.”
So what changes us?  Not ourselves.  Water does not will itself to be more hot or to chill its way down.  Water needs a stimulus to change.  This is not a stimulus package from our government.  Jesus provides that stimulus today in a picture that goes something like, “knock knock!”  The stimulus that knocks us out of our comfort zone.  That wakes us up to the fact that Jesus is standing at our door.
Jesus tells us something important about ourselves and it hurts, like a stimulus that forces something at rest to respond.  PLAYING WITH A DOG, GOT BIT.  Jesus says in verse 17 that we think of ourselves as rich, that we believe we don’t need a thing, like water that has settled into a stable room temperature.  Then Jesus says, “you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”   OUCH!
And that’s where the world would leave us.  The world does harm and leaves us for dead.  We are left to lick our wounds and we respond by putting up walls.  We learn from our mistakes in the world but playing it safe and hiding from danger.  That’s not where Jesus leaves us.
Jesus offers us something different.  Jesus knows what is true wealth.  It’s not in acquiring the wealth of the world.  True wealth comes from Him.  I believe one of the characteristics of our faith here it Trinity is depth.  Like an iceberg our faith is lived out here, it should be out in the open, for everyone to see but beneath our actions is a depth of reasons and motivations and TRUTH.  Our action comes from a power not our own.  Our actions are driven not by a hope in personal gain.  Our words are not made powerful but eloquence but by the Holy Spirit who lives in the Word that we share.  I believe Trinity should live and worship and reflect a depth to our being like meeting a person that you just want to sit down and get to know better.  That’s the refreshing, deep side of being cold water that refreshes those who drink it, God wants that for us.
Jesus offers us clothes and healing for our eyes.  I’ve talked about the refreshing nature of cold water, so now with new clothes and healed eyes, I guess you could say, we are hot!  Well at least we are ready to go out.  Without clothes and blind, we are going nowhere.  With Christ’s clothes and His eyes we are ready to go out into the world.  We have eyes to see where we are needed and clothes that say we are ready to get our hands dirty in the work that Jesus has prepared for us.  I believe that as we continue to explore our community that Jesus is leading us to see where we are needed and preparing us to get our hands dirty.  That hot water made so by Christ is perfect for cleansing and healing for those stuck in a standby temperature, neither hot nor cold.
Because we are healed, clothed and rich in Christ we no longer occupy, we advance, we no longer stagnate we are the changing force that God has planned for right here, Wahiawa, for right now.  Thanks be to God.   And now may the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, AMEN!

(barf bag concept comes from “The Gospel According to Starbucks” by Leonard Sweet)

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Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  

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