Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sermon from June 5, 2011; 1 Peter 4:12-5:11

Rev. George Miller
1 Peter 4:12-5:11
“We are the Church”
June 5, 2011

Sometimes, life is not so pleasant.

We go through fiery ordeals.

We get bogged down in watery chaos.

We discover our neighbors
are not so neighborly

and our family…
well our family is sometimes
not what we would choose

more like what we got
and who we are stuck with.

But through it all
We have this place.

A place called CHURCH.

A place where we gather
a place where we worship
not ourselves

But we worship God.
And we give thanks
and we learn
and we wrestle
and we wonder

And for at least one hour a week
we let go of worries
and we just…be

-Out there/beyond these walls
it may seem like we have little control
over what happens

who likes us

how we are treated

who speaks to us or not

But in here
we gather
we shake hands
we sing
we share
we give
we eat

We unite
As One

As the living, breathing

Shepherded by God

Surrounded by the Spirit’s sustaining breath

So that we-
can go back
out into the world
to hopefully do some of God’s work
to maybe reflect the light of Christ

But basically…
to survive
another heartbreak
another storm
another flood…

Let me share with you something interesting that deals with watery chaos and acting as

You know fire ants, those creatures we worry about here in FL?

It turns out that they can survive the heavy storms of life. Know why?

They can float.

A colony of fire ants can actually turn into a life raft that allows them to withstand flooding and enables them to float to a new land, even for months at a time.

Engineers have been studying this phenonema for some time now.

When a single ant is dropped into water, it struggles and flails. But, as it turns out, the ant will produce a thin layer of air around it.

However- when a group of fire ants are dropped into water, something amazing happens.

First, the ant colony becomes a sphere. The ants on top crawl down into the water and grab a hold onto their companions.

The next layer of ants crawl to the edge, then the next layer of ants crawl out, then the next layer until within 2 minutes that sphere has flattened out into a raft shape.

The ants cling to each other any way possible: legs on legs, jaws on jaws.

In doing so each ant’s personal air bubble pushes against the other air bubbles, and these bubbles join as one, connecting and protecting the raft.

They become a “super-organism” in which their teamwork prevents any water from coming into contact with them.

These floating rafts become so buoyant they can be pushed underwater 8 inches before any water leaks through.

And if for some reason they become submerged? The ants pull even closer, working to maintain their “communal craft”.

A lesson we can learn? Sometimes it’s good to be full of hot air!

But on a more serious note, they can teach us that when ordeals occur and our livelihood is threatened, it is better to work together and to find a way to endure.

I believe the earliest Christians would have understood this illustration; after all, it wasn’t easy being the new faith in town.

Some called them pagans, others thought they were cannibals, and others accused them of civil disobedience.

Soon they were faced with threats and arrests; eventually some would be tortured, others given death sentences.

Yet somehow the earliest Christians held on, defying the chaos by pulling closer together

They found a way to create their own family

A family of God’s choosing
Formed in Christ
Surrounded by the Holy Spirit

They met in homes
They broke bread
They told stories

They did the work they had been called to

How they managed, I’m amazed.

But today’s reading gives us some insight into how they found that strength.

One way was through group imagery.

The author tells them that they are to work
as one.

The elders to humbly watch over
and tend to the members.

Not in a way that’s selfish, or a chore.

And the younger members;
those who are new to the faith-
they are to listen and to show respect.

No one is to be better
or more important then the other,
but equals

who keep alert
who stay disciplined

And by working together as one?

What will the end result be?

That when all of life’s floods
permanently subside

the big picture will be revealed
and together we will be in glory

and we will see,

with our own eyes

how Christ is right there

to restore us
to support us
and to strengthen us.

Yes, trials will come

yes we will feel like we are
being flooded by the waters of chaos

but in Christ
formed by God
and breathed upon by the Holy Spirit

we as the church can hold on
work together
and in the end find salvation.

For that we should all give a big “Amen!”

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