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Tansformed in Christ - Resume revisited - Lent 5c

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lass=MsoNormal>Lord may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our lord and our Saviour – Amen 

If you are like me, then you have had a few jobs in your day.

            Especially if you look back on the whole of your life…

·        My first job at 12 - was as a paperboy for the Toronto Star

·        I was a farm hand on weekends and babysitter in the evening

·        a dishwasher

·        a cook

·        I have mowed a lot of grass

·        loaded boxes

·        worked in a daycare

·        was a janitor

·        Then a highlight, my longest job ever - 6 years - at the Beer store…

·        I worked in sales - first selling trash compactors

·        Then inside sales for a couple of distributors

·        then in outside sales for - not one - but three computer dealers

·        and finally here as a Pastor

            Bet you didn’t know it was “get to know your clergy day”…

All these jobs have shaped me

            Have helped to form me - to who I am

                        And in many ways, to what I know

For nearly all of these jobs I had to apply and submit a resume

            In applications and resumes we tell the story of who we are and what we are

                        We look into our own personal history and present a picture based on the past

                                    Sure we pick the high lights

                                                Take our accomplishments and make them look as pretty as we can

I heard once that 30% people write completely false information on resumes - not merely creative license                                         

But complete lies - they do this because they know that people often don’t check up on them

Many of you are employers and I imagine that you have had countless times when you were on the other end of the story – when you have reviewed other people’s histories

You are faced with the task of determining what in one person past will be suitable for the position that you need to fill

Much of how we start out in jobs and roles is proving our past is a suitable fit for our future

            In today’s job market most people will change careers or at least employers - multiple times

                        And therefore, we keep needing to prove ourselves ….Or justify ourselves worthy…

And that is precisely where we meet up with our New Testament reading today

            Our passage from Philippians 3 is a memorable passage where we hear all about St. Paul

Paul addressing one of the reoccurring problems that he had as an evangelist for this new movement - this movement of followers of Jesus

Paul was addressing the Philippians people - who were being             influenced by the Judiazers

The Judiazers were those that made claims that people needed to first practice Jewish traditions before becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ

            So St. Paul lays it all out

                        Tells us about all his credentials

                                    Circumcised on the eighth day,

                                    A member of the people of Israel,

                                                Of the tribe of Benjamin no less

                                                            A Hebrew born of Hebrews;

                                    As to the law,

                                                A Pharisee;

                                    As to zeal,

                                                A persecutor of the church;

                                    As to righteousness under the law,


As an Aside - I know that this is a helpful rhetorical device - a technique of speech to proving his case - but I have always found Paul to be bragging a bit

            I mean it’s hard to boast about your own humility

But this boasting builds up the moment

            Paul looks at the claims of the Judiazers and ups the auntie

                        And takes the wind out of their sails

                                    - By seeing their claims and raising them

                                    - placing his credentials out and presenting himself as Super Jew

Like our own resumes - prettied up to make us look as good possible

            To make us as worthy as possible

                        To justify our cause…

Then comes the incredible flip flop,

            The inside out twist in St. Paul’s life

                        And the twist in our passage today

Paul is called by the very one in whom he is persecuting…And he is transformed

            His zeal is converted from one direction to another

                        This is about as close a definition of repentance that we can see

Not merely saying your sorry – but saying your sorry so dramatically that you turn from one way and turn towards God – repentance means to turn & change

St. Paul realizes that all his efforts towards self-made righteousness are -…nothing

            All his credentials are nothing towards true righteousness

And he sees and shows the Philippian people… ‘and us today’… that his self-made righteousness - his efforts can only be viewed as loss

                                    Loss - which is worse then nothing

Loss … a detriment … as rubbish – a euphemism for what we would now-a-days we consider a swear word

And I share this detail, precisely because it is shocking – and that is what St. Paul intended

He used shocking language to convey passionately how all these worldly credentials, all his Super Jew qualifications meant less than nothing, were rubbish, when contrasted with what is really important

what his true identity – his true credentials really are

In the end to be justified to the ways of the world or the standards of humanity is not true righteousness

                                                            These privileges have no saving power…

                                                                        It’s facing the wrong way

                                                                                    That is why it is …Rubbish

                                    He realized that God is the one that justifies

His eyes were opened to the truth

            And he recognized Jesus of Nazareth - as the Christ

                        Emmanuel - God amongst us - God in the Flesh

                                    And he changed directions and faced God instead of trying to justify himself

We modern day followers of Christ need to take a page out of our apostolic fathers and mothers

We call ourselves Christians – and the word is viewed like a title and used as a noun

                        Because the term ‘Christian’ has developed with a certain connotation

                                    Like, we have arrived - that we are already complete – but that needs revisiting

Christian could rightfully be understood as a verb

The first ‘Christians’ were know as ‘people of the way

            People on a journey - or - if you like ‘a pilgrimage’

                        Being discipled - taught - following – learning

                                    That is why we have programs here at Farringdon, like two Bible study groups

And that is why we are offering the Alpha course, and when this session is over – we will run it again and again

And that is why this past Thursday I was away, up at Heritage Bible College in Cambridge, for a one day conference in leadership development

Christian Education doesn’t end at Sunday school

            We are all on a journey of being a disciple


And that brings us to the final point that Paul drives home in our reading today

            A point that is made with two elements

                        He writes:

Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

God provides us with a ‘reset button’

            We forget the past

When our resumes show the pretty parts of our life - we know that there are unmentioned failures there too

                                    And we are to forget

                                                Turn from facing back … to straining forward

                                                            Toward the goal

                                                                        The prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus

Pulsing through these verses are the ideas of growth and progress in Christ

            Jesus was victor over death.

                        That power of the resurrection both energizes the life and sets its hope


This the 5th Sunday in Lent

And with the promises of new life just around the corner, with Easter only two weeks away

and also specially for us here at Farringdon, this year and this time – with our construction nearly complete and the hope that lies ahead – the ministry and the celebration that is just around the corner

Where we can shed this heavy coat of construction and transition and move towards the vision that we have set out for ourselves

            The vision that we developed in January were we stated that we:

By 2013, we will build a more:           - Inclusive

- Committed

- And caring church

That :

§         engages our intergenerational communities

§         shares our story

§         demonstrates a Christ-like way of living

§         and facilitates spiritual growth

Alone – of course, none of us can achieve this vision… but together… we can – collectively we have the gifts

            And we can do it for our common benefit

When I consider the sample of people that represented Farringdon on our retreat in January

When I remember the deep collective desire to share our gifts to glory of God and God’s church – I am thankful

And I am reminded that we are all under construction – not only our building… but our lives

                                    We are being transformed by God, as we are in the process of being Christians

                                    We are forgetting what is past, our former ‘resumes’ – and striving forward

Toward the goal - The prize of the heavenly call of God

All of our readings today have a reoccurring message – and it is One of THE prime messages of all scripture

The prophet Isaiah message tells us of God’s promise ‘to do a new thing’ - ‘springing forth’ - that God ‘will make a way in the wildernesses’

                        He is referring both to the triumphant return from Egypt and the return from exile

He declares that God is making ‘The ‘way’’

and it is in the midst of - the ‘wilderness’

            Then we have our Psalmist telling us that “those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy”


                        And finally we have our Gospel story

                                    Of Mary’s costly exuberance for Jesus

                                                A year’s salary spread on his feet

                                                            Foreshadowing his death with an embalming oil

Today in this Lenten time of reflection and preparation for the suffering of Good Friday and the hope that is Easter – we have this reoccurring message of the Bible

            Found not only in the New Testament with the teaching of Christ

                        But in each message of scriptures

                                    The consistent - reoccurring – heartbeat

It is the message of transformation

That God makes new

                        God turns us from our ways - to him

Don’t store up earthly treasures or tell God about your ‘spiritual resume’

            …let the Power of the resurrection of Christ - God defeating sin and death for us                                      Energize your life and feed your hope

                                    Let God Turn you from facing back - forgetting

And May peace of God, which passes all understanding, transform your hearts and minds, transform them in the knowledge and love of God,

And may you know His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord - Amen

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