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2019-08-26 04:38

Sermon:    

“Any Final Thoughts?”

Hebrews 13:7-17

January 13, 2019

 

     As you can see, I’m dressed differently today. I can assure you that it feels funny not to be in a robe or wearing a tie. It’s like the time twenty-one years ago when, after wearing a clergy collar all my ministry, I put on a tie for Sunday worship for the only time other than Father’s Day. I’ve been wearing ties ever since.

 

     Now I’m heading for a situation where there aren’t going to be robes – and probably not ties. So I’m having to try on new options in order to adjust to that new reality.

 

     Many of us in the ministry have gone through this kind of change. Most of us have gone through it more than once. It’s just a part of being a Teaching Elder. You do your part. And more often than not, you don’t get to stay in one place. You have to move on to where the Lord leads.

 

     As I sat at the desk in the office last week thinking about today, I looked up to my left on the wall. There hung the portrait of the Rev. Alexander Bartus. Just looking at his likeness reminded me of the fact that change is something that happens in the Church. It happens whether we’re here a few months, nine years, forty-seven years or an entire lifetime.

 

     The challenge with change is that we must deal with it. We have to adapt to it. And where we can, we seek things or people who can anchor us down during such times. We look for the things or people who stand firm, who hold up when everything else slips away. We seek those foundational things and people who remain rock solid through it all.

 

     Today, I’m at that point in my ministry with you where, like T.V. shows, I get the chance answer the question, “Any final thoughts?” before the show is over. My mind turns to a text that I’ve often used on my last Sundays at churches. It comes from the last chapter of the letter to the Hebrews. It deals with change.

 

     It turns out that the Christians to whom Hebrews is addressed are having difficulty adjusting to the new reality in Christ.

 

     Their frustrations with the faith are such that they’re considering a return to Judaism. They’re thinking about giving up on their commitment to Christ Jesus.

 

     Hebrews is intended to remind them of why they’re followers of Jesus, the Son of God. He’s greater than all the prophets. He’s higher than any angel. He fulfills the intent of the Hebrew covenant in a way that no human ever can.

 

     Having gone on at length about Christ’s supremacy in the universal order of things, the author of this letter closes with admonitions. Admonitions are urgings of how to live as Christians in light of what Christ Jesus has done for them.

 

     In the final chapter of the letter, the author concludes by challenging his audience to hold firm to the faith.

 

     Our reading begins with a reminder to remember those who have led the Church. It’s like urging you to remember the leaders who have influenced you over the years of your Christian walk. Remember your leaders. Remember Alexander Bartus. Remember Vernis Wolfe. Remember Margo Posey. And so on.

 

     Consider the outcome of their faith. Imitate what’s best about them!

 

     At the end of our reading, the author reminds the readers to obey the leaders who currently shepherd the Church. Trust them. Submit to them. Remember that they have your best spiritual interest in mind as they keep watch over your souls.

 

     In a few minutes, you’ll have an opportunity to practice this admonition in real time. As we install the new class of Elders to the Session, you’ll be putting your trust in them. You’ll be committing yourselves to stand with them and to follow their lead.

 

     They in turn are going to be reminded that their role as Elders is to shepherd you. Their primary job now and always is to watch out for your best interests as children of God and heirs with Christ Jesus.

 

     And in the midst of discussing Jesus’ sacrifice and how it affects his followers, the author sums it all up in a single, simple statement:

 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!”

 

     The world and modern thinking are wrong about one thing. There are some constants in this world. There are some things and people who stand the test of time. They always remain relevant. They’re firmly in place even when surrounded by a sea of change.

 

     One of those constants in this life is Christ Jesus.

 

     In the movie, “City Slickers”, Billy Crystal’s character is alone with Curly, the foreman of a cattle drive. As they finally talk a get to know one another, Curly points out to him that in life, it all comes down to one thing. One thing is all that matters.

 

     When he asks Curly what that one thing is, Curly replies, “That’s what YOU have to figure out.”

 

     An anonymous author figured out that one thing a long time ago. And he shared it with Christians who were dazed, confused and afraid. That one thing was Christ Jesus, the same yesterday, today and forever.

 

     No matter what the world thinks about Jesus, no matter what the world throws at the Church or its members, no matter what pressures are brought to bear on us as believers, no matter how much the Church changes, one thing doesn’t change. One person never changes. One person is always there for us.

 

     It’s Christ Jesus. Because of him, we can stand up to anything or anyone. We can face any shift in the reality that we know. We can leave the settled certainly of the life we know and jump off the map into the unknown.

 

     We can because yesterday, today and forever because he remains the same.