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Reformation Sunday: "No Mask Required" Reformation Sunday: "No Mask Required"

Just be yourself!
Just be yourself!
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Reformation Sunday: "No Mask Required"

Posted on Thu, Oct 30, 2014

John 8:31-36

October 26, 2014 Reformation Day!

"No Mask Required"

Gospel Text: John 8:31-36

True Disciples

31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ 33 They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’

34 Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.


(John 8.37-59: I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.’)



Halloween is quickly approaching! I have some friends that still think this is the greatest event of the year…


But, do you remember as a kid the costumes you chose? I remember wanting to always dress up as my favorite super hero, or just regular hero. My friends were the same. Just like today, the stores obliged and supplied all kinds of character costumes with cheap masks that made it almost impossible to breath or see. We weren’t much into safety in those days. But I remember always wanting to be “Space Ghost!” but the store never had that costume. “Aquaman” was another favorite, but wearing tights when on most of our Halloween nights it was snowing, this idea just didn't seem right. So I would go and get a John Glenn or Major Matt Mason Astronaut costume and put it over layers of clothing. I looked like the Michelin Man getting ready for blast off. One year I was also a great football player, and my last year I dressed as a bum… how appropriate. But we would go out and make believe we were super heroes for a couple of hours, until it was too late and we just came home as ourselves, tired, dirty, loaded with candy but ready for bed. It was a time of make-believe. The real me woke up the next day, ready for school in the clothes that felt natural to me, and I was no longer playing, “make-believe.” 


The gift of Baptism makes us real. It proclaims to ourselves and to the rest of the world our true identity, through the Water and the Word; we are today and forever more, CHILDREN OF GOD!!


Our true identity given to us through forgiveness and Baptism is not a costume; it is an identity that was given to us so that we can be the true people God has Created us to be! And it wasn't cheap; it cost the life of God’s one and only Son, Jesus the Christ! This is an identity that reaches to our core, and we truly can’t take it of… however, through the Freedom God gives us, we can bury this true identity deep down into our psyche to the point we can’t even see or acknowledges it exists.


In today’s Gospel, Jesus is in and around the temple, and he is talking with “Jews who HAD believed in him.” We don’t know if they had been following Jesus for long, or where they came from, but at one time before this day, they were believers of Jesus and might have even been, “followers,” or “disciples,” meaning ones that walked in the discipline of Jesus… But now, after they had arrived in the magnificent city of Jerusalem, the religious Disneyland, their ‘faith,’ or ability to believe in Jesus, has dissolved. Or, with all the distraction of the temple, they have turned their back on Jesus, and went back to their old selves. In fact, if you open you look to the following texts from verse 37, you will see that is in fact these so-called followers, or believers, will be the ones who on one day welcome Jesus as a king, and in the next few hours will be crying out that Jesus be crucified.


(John 8.37-59: I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.’)


Some would say that this group was fascinated with the teaching of Jesus because it was so new compared what they were hearing from the traditional teachers, and it was amazing at how Jesus’ words and actions helped them SEE the scriptures and EXPERIENCE their meaning! God is truly Love, and we experience God when we pay attention to the needs of the widow, orphan and the stranger, JUST AS THE SCRIPTURES HAVE CALLED US TO DO! But as they got closer to the magnificent temple and all the buzz and activity that went with it, I wonder if they began to recognize Jesus for what he truly was, a major threat to the status quo of the business of the temple, and therefore someone who should be done away with before he disrupts the system that has guided them and paid off for them for so long? But they do seem like the seed that fell one rocky soil. When they were in a safe place to see and hear Jesus, they believed, but when they were in a place that called them back to their old safe lives, their faith and belief withered away.


Jesus says to them, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’


Continue in my Word,” translates to more like, “abide” or “remain,” in my word.


This means that a person should find their purpose in the revelation of God in Christ Jesus. Through the words and actions, and the death and resurrection of Christ we find our true purpose as Disciples of Christ, Children of God, those following in the discipline of Jesus.


To “know” the Truth, has more of a sense of relationship with the truth, rather than just some kind of cognitive head knowledge of truth. And Truth is John’s label for the content, meaning and significance of what God has revealed through the ministry of Jesus Christ. There was a good reason Jesus, after giving thanks, fed thousands of people with a fish and loaves; there is a good reason Jesus raised so many people from the dead in a public and open manner; there is very good reason Jesus took his most trusted disciples up the mountain to witness Jesus standing with Moses and Elijah, there is very good reason Jesus returned to the temple to be questioned by the chief priests, scribes, lawyers and all those who felt threatened by Jesus’ words and actions.


And what is most significant about “knowing” that what Jesus is saying and doing brings the true light of God into the world. Living according to the promise of forgiveness and eternal life gives us a new way of seeing, hearing and participating in bringing in the Kingdom of God through love, grace and mercy.


In Jewish thought, the Law FREED you from the yoke of the world and the yoke of the kingdoms of this world, and allowed you to live according to the Law given to Moses; but for John, and he didn't use the word “Free” very often, it meant living in the promise of salvation and eternal life. For John, freedom meant we are free to be the people God intends humanity to be; therefore it involves liberation from all oppressive powers! This is so because God’s redemptive revelation is opposed to all that prevents a full humanization of God’s creatures. To be fully human is to live in the promise of the redemptive promise given to us through the death and resurrection of Christ. To “be free” is the same as making God’s love and mercy known in the world through our words and actions.


The response of the people listening to Jesus is their bondage to their pride of heritage. The sad thing is that these individuals at one time seemed to believe and have faith in Jesus, but they became blinded to what Jesus had taught them through their fear of the religious leaders they were surrounded by now that they were in Jerusalem.


Jesus makes it clear, that a new age had dawned. John is proclaiming that our new inheritance of salvation will only be found in Christ, not in us putting on a mask and trying proving our faith according to the works of the Law. This was a powerful message for John’s young church made up mostly of Jewish hearts and minds. The days of the Law were over, and the time of faith and making our faith real through worship, prayer, service and simply living with a heart of gratitude for all the things God will provide through forgiveness and the cross had now begun. God was no longer living in a temple building; God was alive and now living through us! Amen 


Micah 6:8


He has shown these (echo),


O man (echo),

 A G D

What is good, and what the Lord requires of thee;



But to do justice (echo),


And to love mercy (echo),

 A G D

And to walk humbly with thy God.


©1978, 1980, Maranatha!

Words and Music by Bob Skiar




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