Being Seen and delighted in (Week 2)

It’s not enough to be opened up…you have to be seen and then told you’re delighted in.

I remember these kind of words (not exactly, but close) from my first counselor when I was a boy. My counselor, Pam, made it her mission in life to work with youth and children who had found themselves in dark spaces. She would use anything, from pop music reference to simple puppets, to get kids to open up to her. Yet, that was just the beginning.

She would constantly ask more questions about how I felt about something happening at home and then how I saw myself in that event. She knew that I loved hanging in the background of all the “craziness” of my household, but then afterwards blaming myself for the whole event and beating myself up.

It took years to not only open me up…but then to convince me that she saw me in all this and she was proud of me how I handled it all.

This is God’s first good work with us: to open us up with His voice (remember Jesus’ baptism) and then through love convince us we are seen and are truly delighted in.

This is what Nathanael (and Philip) discovered in John 1:43-51. This is what Justin was writing about in chapter 1 of “Delight.” 

We are seen! We are delighted in! When God sees us he doesn’t shake his head and move on. God sees us for who we are and where we really are in life, and then he shouts out, “Woohoo” because he loves seeing and being with His kids.

Yet, it doesn’t stop there. He then invites us to see our families, our friends, our co-workers, the stranger on the street, and even ourselves in the light of the love and delight He has for us. 

There is so much healing in this, I can’t even describe it to you. Just know that you are seen, my friends, and you are delighted in by God. Start there. Let it sink in. And then hear the invitation to start seeing your entire world and yourself through the lens of love.

Known by Love (week 1)

This week we have dove deep into the baptismal waters of Jesus, my friends. In these waters, we have discovered our own renewal through being known by love.

I really enjoy how Justin in “Delight” describes God’s love that knows us intimately: “God loves you and delights in you in a visceral, emotional, intellectual, and playful way.”

When I think about this description, Jesus’ baptism comes back into my mind. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all show up for this event…which in itself is quite cosmic and multi-sensory. 

However, that’s not all.

The heavens rend open. Wow! What a visceral sight to behold. I can’t imagine what my insides would be doing if I saw the sky tear open. They probably would be doing backflips!

Then the Spirit descends from the heavens. I don’t know about you, but when I think about the Spirit I think about my emotions. When I’m overly emotional, I sometimes say my soul or spirit is on fire. Can you imagine the emotional experience of the Holy Spirit descending upon you?!!

The Spirit may bring emotions, but the way it falls from the heavens is downright playful, as far as I’m concerned. The Spirit descends onto Jesus in the form of a dove…a bird. Now, there’s some Old Testament references going on here that’s important…but for the 21st century reader a divine spirit coming in the form of a bird is straight out of a fun fantasy book. It’s whimsical; it’s playful.

Finally, the Father speaks. Speaks directly into how Jesus should think about himself: “You are my Son, whom I love.” Right after that, the Father’s voice informs Jesus how He thinks: “With him, I am well pleased.” The voice is deep in both perspective and in identity. It’s practical, philosophical, and deeply intellectual.

That’s all great for Jesus…but what does this all have to do with us?

Well, it’s like Justin says…all the love, all the rending, all the Spirit, all the Father’s voice, all of it…it’s for us, my friends. It’s all a gift to rend us open and proclaim us to be children of the living God. 

Before we take one step further down this road of being Loved & Sent….stop and experience the visceral, emotional, intellectual, and playful love of God. Whether for the first time in the a long time or whether it’s the tenth time it’s happened this week.

The Father’s voice through the power of the Holy Spirit by the gift of Jesus’ baptism proclaims over you today and for the rest of your life - “You are beloved…and you are known by my love!”

What is Loved & Sent (Intro)

What is the Loved & Sent vision series all about?

Well, mostly…it’s about you. Yes…you, my friends.

Most vision campaigns, series, or programs are about the church institution, corporation, or process.

What kind of buildings can we build? What kind of programs can we start? What kind of staff can we hire?

While all these are completely fine and even important to talk about, it’s not the core subject of what this Loved & Sent season is all about.

We will talk a bit about the building and how to best use it for kingdom work and steward it as it ages.

We will talk a bit about programs, especially the kind that form community and serve neighborhoods.

We will even talk a bit about staffing and what this means in challenging time as this.

However, if you really want to know what this Loved & Season movement is about…it’s about the movement of our hearts and lives as we interact with the Spirit.

This is why this season is about you. It can’t be about “the church.” It can’t be just about this idea or vision or concept. It has to be about who we are, where we are, and what we want to do about it. This season is all about our hearts and lives and how they interact with being loved and being sent by the Triune God.

That’s it. That’s as complex as it gets. I’ll do sermons, write blogs, and even teach on this concept…but it will all be just saying in different ways that one central concept: we are loved and we are sent by God.

So, for you who like a guide for how we are going to present this, I offer you this small token. 

The Loved part will be broken up into 3 couplets, as will the Sent part. Then there will be 1 hinge Sunday swinging from Loved to Sent, and then there will be a grand finale on Easter Sunday. 14 weeks of Loved & Sent. 14 weeks to be reminded of how much we are infinitely loved by God and how much we are intimately sent by God.

Are you ready, my friends? And oh…did I mention there’s a book that accompanies this adventure. Yes, of course, the Bible will be central. I’m talking about another book called “Delight” by my dear friend Justin Rossow. Alright, this is long enough as it is…I’ll get you more info on the book later.

Being Loved and Sent,

Pastor Jonathan