Sermon: “A Wet Baby”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from August 28, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
The writer of Hebrews, as it comes to the close of what we refer to as Paul's epistle to the Hebrews is laying out some instructions. He is telling people that they need to just do what they have been taught to do, it is what Jesus had taught his disciples previously. And there's one phrase in here that I think many, many times over the years, the church has gotten laser-focused on that one phrase and forgotten this whole rest of this passage.
And what that is, is the phrase Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow. When you put that together, especially with a phrase from our Presbyterian book of order that says that elders and ministers are to work, to maintain the peace, unity, and purity of the church. Things get a little twisted because that gets interpreted as we have to keep anything from changing.
We have to keep anything from changing. You know, the church was pure and unified, to begin with, and if we don't let anything change, it'll stay that way. And the reason we have to do that is because Jesus Christ doesn't change.
And yet that's not what the passage is telling us at all.
You know, there's really, really only one place where people like change, and even that's questionable. A wet baby likes to get changed. Most of them, we had one that we swear ahead and reserved tank and was always waiting until the dry diaper was on.
Most babies like being changed when they're wet. Other than that, humans as a whole don't like change. We like things the way we know how to deal with them. We've already figured it out. Don't change it on me. And if you don't think that's a correct statement, listen to people complain when Microsoft does the next update to windows.
Or Facebook changes where you find things or any other such thing. I mean, there was a big, hullabaloo when Twitter decided to allow more than the original number of characters in a tweet.
Why does it matter how many characters you can put in a Twitter feed?
I mean, if you've got something worth putting out there, hopefully, people are going to read it no matter how many characters are in it.
We don't like change. You know, I have seen churches that have split over whether they should change the color of the carpet in one of the classrooms. Think about how ludicrous that is.
You know, it's just one of those things. And heaven forbid that a congregation should stop doing something that they've always done. Right? We can't do that; we've always done it this way.
Right now, our sisters and brothers in the United Methodist Church are having real issues in their denomination over whether they should or should not ordain people that are gay or lesbian.
Now they've been having the same argument for 20 years. And every time it comes up in the news, they lose congregations that leave the denomination. Now I don't know where they're going.
That is not what this passage is about. What this passage is about from Hebrews. Let's start with the first phrase. Let mutual love continue. Let mutual love continue. Love one another. Where's that come from? Oh my gosh. Oh yes. Love one another as I have first loved you. I seem to remember seeing somewhere else in the scripture.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers. Where else have we seen that in the scriptures? You know, this is, this is all new material, right?
Remember those who are in prison as though you yourself were in prison. Remember those who are being tortured as though it is you who is being tortured. You know, these are basic teachings of the faith, but it doesn't say don't change anything. Matter of fact, it's probably telling us exactly the opposite. If you're not doing these things, you need to change.
If you're not doing these things. If as a church, we are not doing these things, we need to change. If we are not reaching out to the poor and the disenfranchised, we need to change. If we are not reaching out to those who have been excluded, we need to change. The kingdom of God is not exclusive.
The kingdom of God is not exclusive. And, oh my gosh. What if we were to take this phrase and we were to say, instead of remembering your leaders in the way that a lot of churches remember their leaders, you know, but we had so many more children in Sunday school when we had that pastor in 1950.
But what if, instead of doing that, we say, you know what? Our leaders have taken us through this whole progression of things. We can see where we started, and we can see where we are, and we need to be looking into the future to see where we need to be going. What were they trying to do? They were always moving us, you know, the second and the third pastors or the 15th pastor of a church, isn't taking a congregation the same place as the founding pastor, because that work was already done.
So, we are to be looking forward to what is to come, not what has been other than to say, okay, let's build on that. What have we been doing, that now we need to do a better job of following what the scriptures tell us we're supposed to be doing?
How can we do a better job of reaching out?
It's so easy to say, well, we can't do that. We've never done it that way before. I don't remember who was on session several years back when we decided to once again, try doing something for the Buick open.
Mention something about, you know, Buick open brings a lot of people to town. Isn't there some way we could be doing something as a church that would be part of that? And maybe we could make a little money for the church at the same time. And actually, there was someone on the session that said, well, we tried that a number of years ago, but it didn't work.
And I think we made $3,000 the first year we parked cars on the front lawn.
And we reached out and we actually ended up with people coming to the church because of the rides to, and from the golf course.
You know, churches have a tendency to hold on to the way things were. I'm gonna ask you to put up your hands here. How many of you have read the article on the bulletin board down here about the museum of failures?
And I know Lauri did, but she put it up there.
The museum is an article by Jan Edmonson. It was on her blog. And it talks about thriving and dying churches and what they have in their museum of failures. You know, every congregation has a museum of failures.
And she points out that the thriving congregations have in their museum of failures the vitreous of things that they tried, that either worked and no longer work or that they tried, and it didn't work, and so they tried something else. The dying churches in their museum of failures have the things that they're still trying to do, even though they no longer suit a purpose.
I know of a church, not too far from here that, their whole identity for years and years and years was to be a place that served food and clothing for the poor in their community. Except that all the properties that surround that church now are probably half a million dollars or more per property. And they're still trying to serve the poor and the needy in their community. They are the poor and needy in their community.
But they're still trying and thinking about that. That is something that's in a museum of failures for a church that refuses to, that refuses to grow in the spirit. They want to do what they've always done because they know how to do it.
And yet, the scriptures constantly call us to move into the future and find new ways of living out the spirit, to live out Christ's teachings. The basic teachings: care for the poor, the widowed, the elderly, the orphan, the sick, the imprisoned, to love one another as I first loved. To build up the body of Christ to rework for the kingdom of heaven at hand. That is what the scriptures call us to do.
We can look at the past. When you row a boat to go forward, you have to look backward. You're looking over the back end of the boat, the stern. As you pull on the oars to move the boat this way. And the only reason that you work to look over the stern is because you pick a point on land and keep it between your feet. And that way, as you're rolling, you're rowing straight towards your destination.
The problem is, is too often, especially for Christians and especially for churches. We have a tendency to get in the boat and start pulling on the oars, but we keep ourselves tied to the dock. We keep ourselves tied to the dock because heaven forbid, we get out in the middle of that water and the waves come up.
We wanna stay where it's secure. And so, we never cast off and we can pull on the oars all we want, but we're not going anywhere.
And yet scriptures tell us not just to cast off, but if we remember the story of Peter, it actually tells us to get out of the boat! Get out of the boat, come to me! Isn't that? What Jesus told Peter; it takes faith to move into the future. It takes faith to do things that we're not comfortable with. It takes faith to step out of the boat.
It takes faith to live as Christians. Yes, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today, and tomorrow.
Because the teachings and the way Jesus lived, the way we are supposed to be trying to live hasn't changed. The situation we have to live in has changed. And in that, we have to do things a little differently to carry out the same mission. So, the question is, do we have the faith to step out of the boat, or do we so much hate change that we want to keep that diaper on? Let us pray.