NOTE: While Pastor Charlie is on a trip out of the country through June 5, he has chosen some of his favorite blog posts from his weblog from 2020 to 2021 to share.
From March 3, 2021-My Prized Possession
17 As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
Someone put together a collection of signs that take on different meanings when one tries to translate into English for the tourists who are visiting there. One that he came across was at the entrance to a hotel swimming pool on the French Riviera. The sign reads like this: “Swimming is forbidden in the absence of a savior.”
Maybe the person who put up that sign knew English better than we may suppose. Not only swimming but life itself should not be lived in the absence of a Savior.
A true story. Back in 1971, my family took a vacation to Switzerland. We were able to take such a trip because my Dad had connections for travel as a long-time sales representative for Eastern Airlines (we got cheap flights) and because my grandmother had a friend who happened to own a chalet in Interlaken, Switzerland (cheap rent).
We spent our days hiking around the beautiful countryside. I was just nine years old, and pretty oblivious to the wonder of what I was experiencing. Together with my three older brothers and two cousins, we spent several days getting to know the town.
Mom and Dad treated us each to one item from the toy store. I spent my money on a soccer ball. Not a very fancy one, but it was mine. Soccer was not as popular as it is today, and this was the first one I ever had. I LOVED that soccer ball and took it with me every time we went out hiking.
One day, I was kicking the ball along the gravel path, and the ball spun out of control, went down an incline and ended up in the canal that ran through town.
I panicked! My ball was floating away with the swift current of the canal.
I didn’t stop to think. I simply did what my nine-year-old brain thought was best – go save the ball! I didn’t kick off my shoes or take off my shirt. I simply jumped in the canal and grabbed my ball.
Don’t worry, it was safe. The ball was going to be just fine.
But the current was pretty strong. Now I was raised in the pool at the YMCA – I knew how to swim. But I wasn’t used to the current!
I will be honest with you. I didn’t realize I was in danger. It was water. It was a ball. I could swim and get the ball.
It wasn’t until my oldest brother, Rich, jumped in the water and dragged me to the shore of the canal that I started to understand what had just happened, and what could have happened if my brother hadn’t jumped in to save me.
I needed a savior. A lifeguard. Someone who cared about me enough to jump into the mess I was in and pull me out.
Now my brother soon informed me how stupid I was to jump in after a stupid soccer ball. But that’s okay. He saved me… and my ball.
The good news is that we have a savior, who has ventured into the same waters that we swim in each day. He has battled the currents - fought the foes - and shown that he is able and shown that we - when we swim with him - are able as well.
Our savior remembers who we are - and he loves us - and seeks the best for us. He knows that we are weak swimmers - that we from time to time we will flounder and thrash - and sink. He knows the waters we are in, and that is why he has been appointed the judge of the living and the dead.
The good news is that we have been given a wonderful gift in the waters of baptism. In this action of God, we celebrate the relationship, and the promise given to this child. As these children are baptized, may we remember that we are baptized children of God. Trusting in God’s promises of forgiveness, and life and life forever as His child, our relationship with God is not about IF God is. Instead, it changes the statement to BECAUSE God is.
Because you are the son of God, we have life. Because you win the battle over sin and death, Satan does not have the final word. Because you forgive me, I am not defined by my failures, but by your victory.
Let us pray: Almighty God, how foolish we are for holding on to our prize possessions while letting go of your loving hand. Save us when we are drowning in our stuff. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen