Is anyone else happy spring is finally here? It’s so nice to show up for church on Sunday morning and not have to change out of snow boot when I get to my office! I cannot wait to open the windows in the sanctuary and hear the birds chirping as we give thanks to God. 🙂
Here is this morning’s sermon … enjoy!
Rehoboth Congregational Church
April 19, 2015
1 John 3:1-7
Blessed Children Of God
On Monday night, Bruce sent me a text message letting me know that he was on his way home from work. Not having the greatest night, I did not respond right away, which led him to ask me, “Are you there?”
“Yes,” I replied with a sad face emoticon in the text.
“Why the sad face?”
“Well I did not get all of the laundry done, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, I have not written out the checks for our taxes so they have not been mailed yet and I forgot a bunch of stuff at the grocery store.”
A few minutes later I received this response: “Easy there Miss Type A. Why don’t you relax, have a glass of wine and I’ll see you soon.”
Perspective. It’s never a bad thing.
We all have a tendency beat ourselves up at one point or another about something that is really not worth the time or the energy of the meltdown. Whether it is about something going on at home or at work or with our families or friends, we – as human beings – often let our anxiety take away our perspective and then we sometimes find ourselves caught in a self-deprecating cycle of guilt and negative thoughts.
I hear it all the time in the church. “I feel so bad, I have not been to church in weeks!” “I wish we could pledge more right now, but we just do not have the money.” “I am such an awful church member, I have not been able to help out lately.” “Do you hate me? I did not make anything for the bazaar!” Bruce and I have a running joke that once the summer comes, if we run into someone around town the first thing out of their mouth is “Hi!” and the second thing is an explanation of why they have not come to church all summer.
Human beings have this very weird propensity to be hard on themselves. As a pastor, I have the privilege of engaging in deep and intimate conversations with people about their lives and – the truth is – people are struggling in real ways. People feel guilty all the time, often about things that they cannot control. People are constantly comparing themselves – both to others and also to some unattainable ideal version of themselves. People are always wishing that they could do more, give more and achieve more. Rarely do people celebrate who they are – rather they have a tendency more to focus on who they are not.
There is an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where this kid that was kind of a dork in High School created this demon and cast a spell where he suddenly became they best at everything. He was good looking and had a great fashion sense. He had tons of friends and even more fans. He was not only part of some government initiative, but he was in charge of it as well. He wrote a bestselling memoir. He was a musician and had put out multiple award-winning albums. He gave great advice so people were always going to him with their problems. He had his own calendar, was on the cover of multiple magazines, was the hero in his own comic strip, was very wealthy and had a gorgeous house and expensive cars. He invented the Internet, supposedly starred in The Matrix, graduated from college and medical school by the age of 18 and coached the U.S. Women’s Soccer team to a World Cup victory. People worshiped him. He was smart, successful and every piece of his life was perfect.
And then the demon that was orchestrating the whole thing tried to kill them all and that’s when they realized they were all under a spell. Things went back to normal – he was no longer the best at everything.
Granted, this is a TV show, but – fictitious demon aside – that level of perfection is unattainable. No one person can be that good at everything all the time. That is not how we were created and that is not who God wants us to be.
As funny as the episode was, I think – in a tongue and cheek way – it did actually hit on a real piece of who we are as human beings. In the midst of the hectic and crazy nature of our imperfect world, I am pretty sure that we can all find ourselves daydreaming about a much more “perfect” life, one where we excel at everything and we overcome challenges simply by our incredible inner strength.
But then we stop daydreaming.
And then we – we as imperfect human beings – have to face world that is far from perfect and often full of chaos that presents real challenges, real struggles and real pain.
Towards the end of the New Testament there is a collection of letters of John; we heard a passage out of the first one today. These letters were most likely written awhile after the Gospel of John was written. They were written to a community of people that knew and loved the gospel and were trying to figure out how to live out their bourgeoning faith. These letters are an interpretation, not only of the Gospel of John, but also of who we are as people of faith and how we should live our lives. 
We should be called children of God; and that is what we are. 
Beloved, we are God’s children now. 
So here’s the thing: We do not need to be perfect – we do not even need to be close. Because we are blessed children of God.
All of us.
No matter what we may be facing in our lives – good or bad – we can and should wake up every day and celebrate the Easter truth that we are created by a God who loves us, who protects us like a parent protects their children, whose love was greater than death and who wants us to feel peace in our lives.
Everything else in our lives should be secondary to that.
This is not something that we are guessing at; this is something that we know for sure. This is something that we know for sure because we celebrated two weeks ago; this is something that we know for sure because Christ’s death was not the end of the story; this is something that we know for sure because on Easter morning we sang with confidence, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!”
In this morning’s reading from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus appeared before the disciples after his resurrection. Do you remember what he said? “Peace be with you.” 
Jesus did not say, “Do you want to serve on this committee?” Jesus did not say, “Did you get your kids signed up for T-Ball on time?” Jesus did not say, “Don’t forget to sign and mail your taxes!” Jesus did not say, “I can’t believe you forgot lunch meat at the grocery story!”
Jesus said, “Peace be with you.”
That is why we celebrate Easter – and that is why we live out our faith.
Because God’s love does not require us to be perfect; but God’s love does give us peace.
The resurrection of Jesus did not happen so that there would be a new and interesting story to tell; the resurrection of Jesus happened so that we would have immeasurable proof of the scriptures that assure us that God loves us just the way that we are.
See what love the Father has given us. 
The author of the first letter of John is essentially saying to us, “Did you see what happened at that empty tomb?? Do you understand what God did there?? God’s love is so strong and so powerful that it is not only more powerful than the chaos that we create here on earth, but it is stronger than death itself!”
Perhaps I am taking some creative liberties in my paraphrasing, but we have to believe this to be true if we really want to experience God’s love on a deeper level. We have to believe that God loves us just the way that we are. We have to let go of the guilt that we feel for the things that we have done – and for the things that we have not done. We have to stop comparing ourselves to others and start believing that God created us in God’s own image to be who we are – and not who someone else is. We have to not only say that we are children of God, but we have to believe it as well.
God could have used the resurrection as an opportunity to reset humanity back to some sort of perfect and uniform order, but that is not what happened. When the resurrection happened, the Risen Christ appeared before a bunch of confused, but faithful individuals and said – in the midst of their imperfections – “Peace be with you.”
And that is how the Risen Christ is appearing to us today.
Who you are is enough. Who God created you to be is enough. Who God is calling you to be is enough. That is the truth that we need to remember throughout this Easter season and that is the truth that we need to hold onto throughout the moments in our lives when we start to feel defeated.
And honestly? It is only when we hold onto this truth that we are truly able to face those moments.
Perfection is unattainable. But God’s love is real.
You will forget things at the grocery store. Your house might now always be clean. You may forget to return a phone call and your kids birthday parties will not always look like Pinterest exploded on your backyard. But do not feel guilty. Do not feel defeated. And do not let yourself get so caught up in the stress of your life that you forget the real and redemptive truth that God loves you exactly the way that you are.
Hopefully most days our friends and family members will be there to tell us to get a grip and have a glass of wine when we are beating ourselves up. But for the days that they are not? Remember this:
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. 
This is what we celebrate throughout this Easter season.
Thanks be to God!
 Bartlett, David L. Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 2, Page 419
 1 John 3:1, NRSV
 1 John 3:2, NRSV
 Luke 24:36, NRSV
 1 John 3:1, NRSV
 1 John 3:1, NRSV