Speaker: Rev. Doug de Graffenried
Scripture Passage: Colossians 1:15-23
It’s All About Jesus
Our lesson this morning comes from the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Colossians chapter one verses 15 through 23.
He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. for in him, all things in heaven and on Earth were created. things visible and invisible. Whether Thrones or Dominion’s, rulers or powers, all things have been created through him, And for him. he himself is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning. The firstborn from the dead so that he might come to have first place in everything. for in him All the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him, God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things whether on Earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death so as to present you wholly and blameless in irreproachable before him. Provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, I Paul became a servant of this gospel.
Friends, this is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.
A farmer went to the city one weekend, and he decided to go to the Big City Church. and he came home and his wife ask him, Well, how was it? Well, the farmer said, it was good. They did something different, however. they sang praise choruses instead of hymns. Praise Choruses said his wife. What are those? Oh, they’re OK. They’re sort of like hymns only different, said the farmer. What’s the difference? Asked his wife. The farmer said, It’s like this. If I were to say to you, Martha, the cows are in the corn. Well, that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say, Martha, Martha, Martha. Oh, Martha, Martha, Martha. The cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows, the white cows, the black and white cows, the cows, the cows, the cows are in the corn are in the corn are in the corner in the corn, the corn, the corn, the corn. And then if I were to paint the whole thing two or three times, well, that would be a praise chorus.
Hmm. As luck would have it, the exact same Sunday, a young new Christian from the city, attended a small country church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. Well, said the young man, it was good. They did something different, however. they sang hymns instead of regular songs. Hymns said his wife. What are those? All they’re OK. They’re so like regular songs, only different, said the young man. What’s the difference? Said his wife. Well, the young man said, It’s like this. If I were to say to you, Martha, the cows are in the corn, that would be a regular song. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you, Oh, Martha, dear Martha, here thou, my cry. inclinest thy ear to the words of my mouth. Thou turn now thy whole wondrous ear by and by, to the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth for the way of animals who can explain they’re in their heads. No shadow of Sense. Harkness, they in God’s son or his reign, unless for mild, tempting corn, they are fenced. Yay. Those cows and glad bovine rebellious delight have broken free of their shackles. Their warm pens eschewed, then goaded by minions of darkness and night. They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed. So, look to that bright, shining day by day when all foul corruptions of Earth are reborn. There are no vicious animals. Make my soul cry, and I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.
Then if I were to do only verses one, three and four and do a key change on the last verse, that would be a hymn.
And it’s been funny to hear who laughed at what part of that this morning. Yes, it was. I say that because the reading from collections is a song. As a matter of fact, all five readings you will do this week in E-Jesus. That’s a free commercial. The Reading guides are out in the lobby area, and you can also find the readings for this week. Every place we hide stuff. They are all songs in one way or another. The reading from Colossians. The reading from Philippians John in the beginning was the word and the word was God, and the word was with God. It’s a song. Hebrews has parts of the song in it, as does first Peter.
Here’s the theology, you sing it and then you believe it. And the more you sing it, the more it becomes a part of your belief system. Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me So. I have sung that song since I was two or three years old. I had no clue what it meant, but I knew the words. And finally, somebody explained to me. This is what it means for Jesus to love you, and this is what it means for you to have faith in Jesus and to follow him. But we sang it before we believed it. And whether it’s with hymns or the songs we sing in here, the same is true. We sing it and then we believe it.
So, I want to ask you this this first year of 2022 as we start our He Jesus adventure, what songs are you singing? Are you singing the Blues? I mean, is your soul weighed down? Or do you want to jump up and stand and praise God for his love and grace and sustaining us through what is being and the promise he will be with us for what will happen? What songs are you singing in 22? And I want to say three things about creating a new song, creating a new way of approaching our lives and our faith together. And I’m saying there’s more to me than to you. You can listen in on what I’m saying to myself. And you may be benefiting from it.
The first thing is, I want to spend the first part of my day with Jesus. I want to spend the first part of my day with Jesus. The Apostle Paul in Galatians wrote, it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives within me and in a man later in the service. We’re going to do the Wesleyan Covenant Prayer, which Methodists have been praying since 1755 on the first Sunday of the New Year. And the first line of that prayer is “I am no longer my own, but thine.” I belong to you, Jesus. And I want to start each day the first part of the day, acknowledging that it’s not Doug’s day, it’s Jesus’s day. And it’s not Doug’s life, it’s Jesus’s life. And I want to put myself in step with Christ. I want to be who he wants me to be. I want to do the things he wants me to do. I want to live my life for Christ. And that happens when I start my day with him.
When I was in college, so very long ago, disco was prevalent when I was in college. That’s how long ago some of you know and I see you giggling. we’ll show leisure suit pictures of each other. I could go home on the weekend, I could go out on Friday night, and I could be in by my curfew, which was 11:00 because my mother was a taskmaster, and I could go to bed, and I could sleep until 2:00 the next afternoon. It was glorious just to sleep all day. I think it was children. But you lose that gene. That gene just goes. Uh-Huh. You’re 25. You don’t have that gene anymore. And then you turn 30. I’m going to take some other genes away from you. Then you turn 35. You need bigger jeans now, Bubba. And right now, every morning of my life, I am wide awake at 4:00 in the morning. 4:00 a.m… It’s not a matter of spiritual discipline. Whatever goes on in your gene pool, mine wants to get up early to make sure I’m still alive. first movement when I wake up in the morning. Oh good, I have a pulse. The second thing and you do it to reach over my span. Grab that iPhone and see what happened while you were asleep. Why is it? We all want to check Instagram, Tik Tok and Facebook to see what happened while we were asleep. The same three things are happening. That time has become, for me, a sacred time. Get up. Find a cup of coffee, which I’ve made. Tell the dogs, come on dogs. We’re going to the study. We sit in the big red wingback chair, which they don’t make anymore, but I’ve got one. I take the Bible out and I’ll start doing my Jesus readings. And I read a while and I pray a while and I read a while and I pray a while. I’ve got a list of people on my prayer list. I’ve got Bible studies that I’m doing beyond this. And I look up and It’s 6:00. Where did the time go? I was with Jesus.
I want to start each day of my life with Jesus. With him, the first thought. with him, the guiding force for my life, for my day. I want to live out these words were going to make in our covenant. I am no longer mine, but I’m thine. I belong to you, Jesus. Now, look, that takes me a lot more prayer than it takes you. because at the core of its being, I’m not a very spiritual person. God is still trying to work the sinner out in me, and that sinner is hanging on pretty tenaciously. But I want Jesus to be the first part of my day.
second thing, I want Jesus to be the first part of my energy. The first part of my energy. Where do you spend your energy? Where do you spend your emotional energy? Where do you spend your creative energy? Thank God some of your own Facebook being creative. I don’t respond, but I got a list of y’all that I see what you put up there and you’re just funny. You know, one day I’m going to declare a Facebook Sunday, and I’m going to let you put your memes up here on the screen. And we’re going to have a contest to see who has the best one. I’ll even let some dad jokes up there If you insist. But there’s so many things we give our energy to. There are so many things that we pour ourselves into that that it doesn’t matter. I preached a sermon last week in Jonesboro with the radical title, it doesn’t matter as much as you think. And it really doesn’t. The things we get upset about, the things we get hostile about, the things we engage fully in really at the end of the day and at the end of our lives, don’t matter. I want to put my energy where Jesus has his energy. I want to put my energy doing the things that Jesus wants me doing. When he went back to his home synagogue, and in the synagogue, the custom was that the men would be handed a scroll, they would read from the scroll, and if they wanted to preach, they would preach and they handed Jesus a scroll of Isaiah, and this is what he read. The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. I want to make serving Christ a priority for the expenditure of my energy. I want to serve Jesus with my energy.
I want to get you serving Jesus, too, with your energy. And we’ve already seen that with our served eyes, and those were phenomenal. And we’re going to pack Shack and that’s going to be phenomenal. And there just so many things that I think God wants us doing that we can do, building ramps. I want us expanding our energy serving others.
My back door neighbor is Cassie, and Cassie is in her early thirties. Cassie’s daddy died, and Cassie is estranged from her mama. Cassie right now is a guest of the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Department. And when I leave this service today, I’ll go to Minden and go visit Cassie, because that’s what I do on Sunday After church. I asked Cassie a couple of weeks ago, right before Christmas. Said, Cassie, what’s Christmas going to be like here? Is there anything I can get you for Christmas? is there anything I can do for you? And Cassie said, No, I’m good. Couple of days ago, this church came in and they had these boxes for us, and it was boxes of products we need that we usually have to buy the commissary. There were some books for us to read there even some goodies that that they let the church bring in. And Cassie said it meant so much to me to have that church just come in and sit down and talk. because with the exception of me, there’s nobody visiting Cassie. And I thought, what a cool thing to do. I wonder what’s going on in Lincoln Parish. I wonder if there are ways that we can be involved in helping the folks that are incarcerated deal with their loneliness? help them to deal with some of the other issues that we can help them deal with. And no sooner had that sermon got out of my mouth and landed wherever sermon landed, Here comes a church member saying, well, brother Doug, I think we need to do that. I’ll help you had that up. You’re about to be volunteered for jail ministry. And the Methodists are going, uh-oh, and I can tell you, after having been there several weeks, the hard part about jail for us is not getting out. It’s getting in. I want us to be empathetic. I want us to help people in a way where we engage in their lives, where we get to know them, where we empathize with them. Where we point them to Christ and where we stay involved and engaged in their lives as they begin walking a journey with Christ. I want to give my energy to the things that Jesus is giving his energy to.
And then. I want, Christ. I want to give him the first part of my day, I want to give him the first part of my energy and I want to follow Jesus. I want to follow Jesus, Paul said. Something very interesting in this hymn to the Colossians. He says Christ is the head of the body, the church. I’m not worried about the church as the body of Christ is the organic Holy Spirit filled Jesus believing body of Christ. The church is the organized religious mainline denomination, we’ll have another conversation about that another time. But I just to say that the church is a funny place.
Joy Burgess wrote in Reader’s Digest recently about a friend of hers who is professional organist, who was asked to play for a wedding at another church. So, this professional organist friend scheduled a time to get in the sanctuary of the other church. looked at the organ console, sat down, started playing on the organ console, found all the stops and played with the three gas pedals on the organ. Organs are cool, there are gas pedals down there, adding the really fun stuff with them, and she noticed that this particular organ had a very small keyboard with just twelve notes on it between the two registers of the organ. She kind of pulled it out, and she played a little children’s song on it, but she didn’t hear anything come out of the pipes. played a couple of more bars, didn’t hear anything coming out of the pipes. And just then a man came running into the church shouting, who’s playing three blind mice on the church bells? The steeple bells ringing out. Can you imagine three blind mice coming from our bell tower? Mickey Cloud would have to have our hides. but sometimes I wonder if that’s what Ruston hears from Trinity, three blind mice? I don’t mean to sound negative, but I wonder if the world doesn’t perceive of our church in a way that’s different from how we truly are or does the world see us as we really are? Are we really a Christ controlled body? When we come to worship, does love and service and grace flow out of the doors into the community? We have such potential here at Trinity.
There’s an old story about a Broadway legend that tells of a playwright holding an old-fashioned New York City telephone directory, and the director is thumbing through it and he’s seeing all the pages of the Joneses and the Smiths and the Johnsons. And he keeps flipping through it, and he says, I can’t catch on to the plot, but man, there is a cast of characters here. and there is a cast of characters sitting right out there where you are. We can do anything that God leads us to do. We can change the world for Jesus Christ. We can really make a difference. But we’ve got to follow Jesus. We’ve got to realize that Christ is the head of this church. We have to put him as sovereign in our lives, these first readings of E100, take them seriously. He is king of Kings and Lord of Lords. And once you make that leap of faith, once you start living out of that reality, we stop playing three blind mice. And we play and sing the songs and the hymns of faith. We start living. Amazing, Grace.
I just want 2022 to be all about Jesus. There’ve been so many distractions. Even the plans for communion this week got a bit distracted, just to keep everybody safe. But I want this next year in my faith, in my leadership, in my conversations, in everything I do to be about Jesus. Mark tells us the funny detail about the first communion. It says after they, or after Jesus instituted what we know is Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper, they sang a song and went out. So even the disciples, the followers of Jesus, were song singers. and I hope and I pray that in 2022, your song is one of love and one of grace. Remembering that this is the body of Christ broken for you. And this is the blood of Christ shed for you. We’re going to use the Fellowship Cup’s all together. I have to break into that top one before church because I can’t get in it. This is the body of Christ broken for you. Taken eat this in remembrance of him. This is the blood of Christ poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Drink this in remembrance that Christ died for you.