Our Foundations

THE STORIES OF US –  OUR FOUNDATIONS – SERMON RESOURCES

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ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP

There is joy, and wonder, and transformation, and youth, and beauty to be discovered in our faith foundations. It has been suggested that the root of our sins is our muddled approach to discerning good from evil. We recall in the Genesis narrative at the beginning of the scriptures that the tree Adam and Eve were prompted to avoid was indeed a “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”. A casual reflection should expose the tension of that warning – its the voice inside of us that say’s “Why?” Knowledge is good! And to back up that idea, we can make a great case that the knowledge of good and evil is an even greater form of knowledge! The error, as recorded in Genesis, came following the discernment process. We don’t always discern well. We witnessed the immediate meltdown as our first couple questioned their exposure, deciding that it was wrong. They then hid, because they were afraid of the unknown consequence of their actions, not even knowing yet that they were experiencing the consequences already. When found, they projected blame – each person asserting their “goodness” and highlighting the other’s “evil”.

This “original sin” as its known, still weighs on us today. It even harms the way that we read our own sacred texts – hoping to discern good from evil and trusting in our own discernment. And Jesus is here to challenge the discernment of the people of the day in addition to challenging our discernment today.

Jesus is echoing this discernment challenge to us as he borrows his theme from much much older stories. They have STRONG roots in Israel’s narrative. They are warning themes that have been repeated in the temples and whispered at dinner tables for centuries. The themes come from the prophets Ezekiel (about 620 years before Jesus) and from Isaiah (who had rolled about 740 years before).

The stories of Jesus invite us into a larger story and that invitation is extended to us daily.   When we forget the stories, or when we skip stories, or when we neglect to retell the stories – they lose their power. The invitation is lost with it. Foundations are built on our stories. The fuller the story, the stronger the foundation. So what do foundations for our faith look like? Well, frankly, they look like stories. And that’s why we can both build on and interact with our foundations.

We don’t take foundations for granted. We don’t forget them. We remember to care for them so that they can continue to care for us. So two things here before we move towards our conclusions. Growing in our familiarity of our stories is vital for our foundations. We each have our own story. And we believe that God has a story. And we further believe that these stories do not remain separate. Our story and the story of God collide. They overlap. And where our stories intersect is where we begin to enter into a larger story, brining all of who we are into all of who God is. That is a good place to lay a foundation.

The stories of Jesus are the stories of us. In them we find encouragement, direction, warnings, and affirmation! They tell the stories of our communities and they tell the story of the individual.

Rather than placing the foundation on a system or a symbol, Jesus firmly establishes himself as the new temple. (John 2:19-21). That is why we still offer rings – they become symbols of joy and life. It is also why we must tell and retell our stories – our stories are treasures in and of themselves which offer great things!

And so our invitation is reclaim our story. To enter into the story of God. And to be active as the authors of our stories. Sometimes we shy away from sharing stories with one another. We’re afraid that they aren’t important enough to share. And so an invitation we have at the end of the day is to reclaim the story that we tossed away.

TELL YOUR STORY

1. Identify Your Story

There are three possible stories:  (1) God vs. Egypt, (2) Places & Systems vs. Jesus, and (3) Hearing vs. Doing; which story is your story?

Are you like the Israelites – perceiving faith as being too risky, too costly, and feeling that it’s better to associate with other gods or other people?

Or perhaps your tension is in the second story where “If only people would get their stuff right!” is your lament. Your story is one that is preoccupied with what the “other” is saying. What they are Facebooking? What they are wearing? Or maybe you’ve felt good about where you’re at because you “go to church”, generally make good decisions, and sin less than you used to. “Have I placed my trust in a system of religion, taking confidence in my knowledge of that system because it spares me from acknowledging that my trust, my understanding, and my intimacy with Jesus is absent?” becomes the new question.

It’s also possible that the story of you, of me, of us is that, like a great love song, we enjoy listening to Jesus but are not letting his words transform our actions. Jesus’ words have made us catatonic instead of catalytic.

2. Put your story out there

This is the social media invitation – write your story and publish it for free.

Consider as an experiment, telling more of your story on social media with less entertainment and less propaganda. If your story is colliding with Jesus’ story – how are you telling that story? Have you become bored, afraid that the story is exhausted? Or does your story need to be refreshed – given new wonder and joy?

Here are a couple of ways to do this better:

  • Refrain from posting an article or a link without sharing how it is impacting you first.
  • Pay attention to your post history – what kind of story have you been telling on social media since June? Since the New Year? Over the last 12 months? Is it a good story? Is it a true story?
  • Is your story holistic? What are you inviting others to see? Do you appear simple or complex? Which is more accurate?

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: spiritual.practices@annarborvineyard.org.

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