March 25, Pruning Our Physical Space
March 22, 2012
Written by Pastor Mark
In the season of Lent we are focusing on God’s work of pruning. Pruning is a growth activity, a focusing activity. This Sunday we are talking about physical space. Now this does not mean that we will be bringing out the sledge hammers and taking out walls (although . . . .) Our church needs to make some very difficult decisions about how we use our space.
We could also look at this theme from a personal perspective. The size of the average house in the United States has doubled since 1970. That 1970’s house was twice the size of the average house in the 1950’s. In fact the personal family debt to square foot of house ratio has remained surprisingly constant when adjusted for inflation. And of course we have these much, much larger houses because we have so many more children now, right? No, we have so much larger houses because we have so much more stuff. There is a terrible pattern of more stuff, more debt, larger houses to hold more stuff, more debt, longer hours of work, less time to enjoy that stuff . . .
In the church we have a space problem. Our rooms (especially in the older building) are almost all in constant use. We demand a great deal of our building which is beginning to show it’s age (especially the utilities like plumbing and electric.) The leadership of the church is trying to figure out how to best use our facilities to reflect our mission and vision. At some point this will mean that we will have to say no to some things, in order to make space for others. The problem is that we do not like to say no to anybody. Its so much easier to just go with the flow. Why should we go out and cut back that beautiful growth on our rose bushes? You just know you’re going to get cut by one of those thorns in the process. Why? Because we want new, healthy growth, we want beautiful flowers, we want healthy fruit.
Jesus words in the Gospel today seem like a mixed up jumble of images that do not fit together. Life comes through dying. Glory comes through suffering and humiliation, glorification comes by taking on the role of a servant. This is God’s kingdom work, where the smallest, most insignificant act is of extreme importance. It’s a realm where those who have faced humiliation are glorified, and suffering and death are transformed into a new wonderful life. Jesus says if we hold on to our life we loose it, and if we give up our lives we find them again. What activities, programs, and building usage may need to be pruned in this congregation? May Jeremiah’s promise come to full fruition today, and may we all have the answers to these questions written on our hearts as we seek to live into this new, strange covenant that Jesus life death and resurrection have instituted.
Quotes for the Week
“In the spring at the end of the day you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood
The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it.” Steven Jobs
Major points of “The Apple Marketing Philosophy”. The first was empathy, an intimate connection with the feelings of the customer “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company.” The second was focus: “In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.” Mike Markkura, CEO of Apple
In this life I started out with nothing at all, and in fact I still have most of it. Anonymous
1st Lesson Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NRSV)
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israeland the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt– a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Gospel Lesson John 12:20-33 (NRSV)
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. 27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say– ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
Questions for the Week
What are the most important activities that take place at this church each week?
How much of your living space is taken up by stuff that you rarely use?
How might God transform what you think of as your greatest humiliation into God’s greatest glory?