“And if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
– 2 Corinthians 5: 17
What does it mean to be a “new creation?” We all yearn for renewal– but are we willing to pursue it? How is our own personal renewal connected to “new creation” in others, in our communities and in the world itself? “Tending” means to lean in the direction of something… to “attend” to something is to nurture it, grow it, build it, pay… “attention!” So this is what we will do on the 8 week journey toward the New Creation Christ intends for us!
Re-Creating the Sabbath: 5/31/15
“Then [Jesus] said, ‘The Sabbath was created for humans; humans weren’t created for the Sabbath. This is why the Human One is Lord even over the Sabbath.’”
– Mark 2:23-3:6
“God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.”
– 2 Cor 4:5-12
As we begin the summer, we will look to what Jesus taught about keeping the Sabbath. In order to tend a new creation within us, we focus less on rules, and more about what gives us life and light as a way of “Sabbath-making!” This, then is the way we are refreshed and renewed so that the light of Christ can be reignited and shine within us. What practices of Sabbath will we engage in this summer that will refresh our spirits?
Expanding Kinship: 6/7/15
“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Looking around at those seated around him in a circle, he said, “Look, here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does God’s will is my brother, sister, and mother.”
– Mark 3:20-35
Tending a new creation may involve the creation or expansion of our concepts of “family.” In the scripture Jesus confirms that kinship in God’s Realm can go beyond bloodlines. We can re-create family in so many ways, whether we grew up with a family of origin that offered us support or did not. Who is our kin? All those who seek to live together in love!
“What’s a good image for God’s kingdom? What parable can I use to explain it? Consider a mustard seed. When scattered on the ground, it’s the smallest of all the seeds on the earth; but when it’s planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all vegetable plants. It produces such large branches that the birds in the sky are able to nest in shade.”
– Mark 4: 26-34
Every little thing we do with compassion is a small seed that can sprout into good things beyond our imagining. Like “paying it forward” or “random acts of kindness,” we can tend a new creation with a small droplet that ripples out in ever-larger circles of caring relationships. Can you think of small acts of compassion that changed your life? God is working through others and through you!
Living Out Loud: 6/21/15
“Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!”
– 2 Cor 6:1-13
The poet Mary Oliver asks in one of her works, “what are you going to do with your one wild, precious life?” The Apostle Paul is trying to spread the Gospel news of new life in Christ but new Christian communities like the one at Corinth frustrate him with their petty feuds and small thinking. “Open yourselves!” is the message here. What do you tend and nurture? Fear or hope? One leaves us small, the other offers us expansive possibilities!
“Because she had heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothes. She was thinking, If I can just touch his clothes, I’ll be healed. Her bleeding stopped immediately, and she sensed in her body that her illness had been healed.”
– Mark 4:24b-34
“Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition… Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.”
– Mark 6:1-13
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to believe that living a new way is possible, and also to share that good news with others. Not all of us are called or equipped to preach, heal or cast out demons in the biblical sense! But by our very attempts to live in peace and wholeness, we can live a life of example and witness to others. We don’t have to wait until we are perfect to do this… certainly the disciples had questions and doubts until the very end of Jesus’ ministry. But he sent them anyway and lives were changed.
“…we have forgiveness for our failures based on his overflowing grace, which he poured over us with wisdom and understanding… The Holy Spirit is the down payment on our inheritance, which is applied toward our redemption as God’s own people, resulting in the honor of God’s glory.”
– Ephesians 1:3-14 CEB
Living in a time of economic insecurity can contribute to our yearning for a different way of doing things. Dishonesty breeds mistrust in a world where debts are rarely forgiven. But if we tend God’s economy, grace overflows. As the Common English Bible translation says, we have a “down payment on our inheritance” through the Holy Spirit, applied toward our transformation. What would it mean to really live in the trust that we are forgiven, that even now God is transforming us through love… and there is plenty to go around!
“That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders… God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building… with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together.”
– Ephesians 2:11-22
Our final service of this series offers the vision of the New Creation–a world where we are no longer strangers or aliens because of our differences. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been a Christian all your life or if you are unsure about your path, we are all part of the house that God is building and the reconciling love of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone, the one that anchors and structures the whole thing. Let us tend to building this house, this new creation, together!