The first Bible verse that I ever memorized was John 3:16.
In his most famous Christmas sermon, Martin Luther referred to it as "the Gospel in a nutshell."
Even the guy with the funny rainbow-colored hair in the end zone with the John 3:16 poster knows that.
My guess is even mainline churchgoers don't have to look it up.
It's the good/great/best news of every season.
God loves everybody - you, me, and even them.
No color, class, or cultural distinctions/discriminations.
That's the Christmas message.
God loves everybody.
Jesus proved it.
And people who love Jesus keep proving it.
That's why the second Bible verse that I ever memorized was John 3:17.
My guess is...
If Jesus is for everybody, why do so many churches pretend He came just for them?
If Jesus loves everybody no more nor no less than anybody, why do so many posers in religious confession/conduct/countenance keep separating, segregating, and otherwise distancing/divorcing themselves from other posers in religious confession/conduct/countenance who keep...?
If Jesus loves everybody and says everybody who loves Him loves everybody like He loves everybody, isn't somebody lying?
If Jesus came to heal, forgive, bridge, reconcile, and save, who are people following when they're so cranky, contentious, irregular, irascible, irreconcilable, and my-way-or-the-highway-pick-up-my-marbles-and...?
If Jesus loves everybody and said don't forbid anyone from getting close to Him, why are there so many religious restrictions, rules, rubrics, rituals, ceremonies, and other human inventions that keep people from getting close to Him?
Is it really that hard to distinguish the posers from the...?
I don't pretend to have all of the answers to any of those questions.
I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus by spending more and more and more time in the book than reading books about the book.
Buuuuuuut I am discovering too many churches have made up excluding religions about Him that are only coincidental to Him as attested in the book that's our best source of information about Him.
That's why I keep rethinking stuff like how we approach His sacraments (see below).
I'm really tired of religions about Jesus.
They're so arrogant and condescending and...human.
I like the One in the Bible.
He's so invitational, welcoming, including, and loving.
I like the really holy Christmas so much more than the holly one.
Even Plato helps me to distinguish those who get Him from those who don't: "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."
Getting back to John 3:16-17...
Yeah, I think it's time to put Christ back into Christmas and...lots of churches.
Jesus came, remains, and will come again!
Let's make room for Him in our inn(s).
Blessings and Love!
Scratching the Surface
(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Baptism and Holy Communion)
The method – dipped, dripped, dabbed, or dunked – is irrelevant.
The meaning matters; being marked off – dyed or changing the colors of allegiance – for God from here to eternity.
Adults are baptized when they are ready/eager to acknowledge Jesus as personal Lord and Savior with the pledge to pray and labor to be His in all things at all times in all places with all people.
Children are baptized or marked off for God because they belong to God whether they know it or not as parents and congregational family of faith agree to provide examples, education, and environments of loving Jesus by loving like Jesus with the prayer/hope that the child will eventually confirm the truth of belonging to God through Jesus as enabled by the Holy Spirit.
We baptize anyone at any time of/in worship when the preceding is embraced with humble joy.
The Table of Holy Communion on the corner of Lincoln and Main is not fenced or restricted to members of our particular church because no one but Jesus owns it; and He invites, welcomes, and includes anyone to/in it who acknowledges Him as Lord and Savior with the pledge to pray and labor to be His in all things at all times in all places with all people.
We are praying/trying to be obedient and not interfere with His invitation, welcome, inclusion, and unconditional favor: “Come to Me, all and everyone who are weary and burdened, and I will take care of you and give you…”
Anyone who has invited Jesus into her/his heart as Lord and Savior is invited, welcomed, and included to/at His Table of Holy Communion with no restrictions, prejudices, or inhibiting self-righteousness or denominational/sectarian/cultic pride.
Because everyone who believes in Him and tries to behave like they believe in Him are part of His family, we welcome all family members to His table with us.
Constantly, we pray to keep our pledge not to inhibit His invitation, welcome, and inclusion that we are honored to herald.
We go to the Table of HC every Sunday at 7:20 a.m. (chapel) and 10:00 a.m. (sanctuary) and look forward to inviting, welcoming, and including everyone and anyone to join us!
Are you still looking for a different way to do church?
Are you tired of the SOSO Religion?
Are you put off by posers in pews, politics, and pulpits?
Are you searching for something/Someone
real, honest, timely, and true to…?
Try our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main!
And so much…
Methinks you have managed, as usual, to scratch a bit more than just the surface, as opposed to all those "deep" thinking theologians who turn out to be so shallow in their understanding of, and relationship with, Jesus.
Have a blessed Christmas on that precious little corner in Belvidere IL!
Can you just imagine what would happen if Christ was invited back into our Churches, our HOMES, and dare I say...our Government again?! Maybe we start with inviting Him back into our Hearts...and seating Him upon the throne where He rightly belongs?!
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