Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
315-265-7474

Are We Ashamed?

October 7th:

Are We Ashamed?
October 7, 2012 (World Communion Sunday)
Call:           Hebrews 1: 1-4
Text:           Hebrews 2: 1-12
Read:   W&S #43

                                Are We Ashamed?

After several weeks of scriptures that threw challenges at us,
We took it easy last week
as we sat back and heard the comforting story of Esther
and reflected on the nature and irony of God's justice..

I enjoyed last week.    [small pause]

But rest assured,               our hiatus from challenges              is over.

Today the challenge is thrown down to us
by the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews.
        A letter that begins with the words that called us to worship.

Now we return to the letter at the beginning of the second chapter
        [2: 1-12]

Did you hear that?              Did you hear that?

If you were not moved, touched, and overcome
        Then perhaps you heard the words he said
        But you did not hear what he said.
"The one who sanctifies
And the ones who are sanctified
        All have one Father," one common Godly parent.

And thus,
        Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters.

Jesus the Christ                is not at all ashamed or embarrassed
To call me His brother
Jesus the Christ                is not at all ashamed or embarrassed
        To call flawed, imperfect, sometimes annoying Jim Barnes
                His brother

And that's not all.
I'm not his only brother
I am not one of just a few elite whom He sees as His siblings.

For,
Jesus the Christ        is not at all ashamed or embarrassed
        To call you
        Flawed, imperfect, and perhaps at times even annoying           you
                His brother or His sister.

Now, I would be excited to have Bishop Webb
pass me on the street
and in the presence of others
        say "Hello, Jim."

I would feel exalted and thrilled if President Obama
Or, for that matter, Gov. Romney -
Wandered into this sanctuary and, in your presence
called me by my first name
        Even if he had only learned it by reading the sign out front.
And even if all he really wanted was to use the rest room.

How many times greater than that        is it to have Jesus the Christ
        Totally unashamed to have us as brothers and sisters.

How can we not be moved by that?

So far though, the scripture,   like last week's                is comforting.
The challenge comes when we turn the statement around,
        And ask ourselves,
        "Are we ashamed to call Jesus our brother?"

And we all want to say  "Of course not!!"
And when I ask the question to myself, I want to say
        "Of course not!!  What kind of a stupid question are you asking?

But let's cross examine ourselves
        After all, self examination is a good thing
For example, breast self examination has alerted many a women
                To a cancer     early enough to save her

A self cross examination of our relationship to and with Christ
        May well have the same impact on us.

And so now, having testified on direct examination in no uncertain terms
                That we are not ashamed to call Christ our brother
The cross examination questions begin:
Mr., Mrs., or Miss "Us,"
How many times in the past year have we
        Decided to skip worship (although healthy and with transportation)
                Because we had something better or more important to do
                        During the time we have set aside
                        To give God thanks
                                For and through our brother?
How many?

Mr., Mrs., or Miss "Us,"
Have we ever been so ashamed of our brother
        That we were too uncomfortable to tell others
that we couldn't do something
        because we were going to worship?
Have we?

Mr., Mrs., or Miss "Us,"
How many times this past year,
have we been so excited by our brother
that we have asked someone to go to worship with us?
        or to Bible Study?
Was it more than ten?           More than five?         More than zero?

Mr., Mrs., or Miss "Us,"
How many difficult decisions have we made this past year
        Without consulting him?
How many decisions have we made only after consulting him?

How many?

Mr., Mrs., or Miss "Us,"
How many times this past year,
        Have we mentioned to anyone
                his name or our devotion to him?
Is it as often as we have mentioned our earthly siblings or friends?

Mr., Mrs., or Miss "Us,"        "I ask again,   are we ashamed?"

This is a sanctuary
It is not a court room.

There is no jury sitting here
to hear the answers elicited by our self cross examination?
Or to decide whether we have been telling the truth?

There is, however, one judge:
        The very guy who is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters.

Did we like the answers to our questions?
If each of us was the jury for himself or herself
        Would we believe the testimony we gave when we said,
                "Of course, we are not ashamed to call Christ our brother!"

Would we believe it?

You may have noticed that my text is not exactly as printed in the bulletin
[the bulletin shows it as chapter 2 of Hebrews beginning at verse 5]
but instead when I read, I began at verse 1 of that chapter.

I didn't screw up
Although I can understand why some of you thought I did.
(after all, there is some precedent for such)

Simply, as I prepared,
I came to the conclusion that the first verse was essential

In that verse, the writer tells us,
        "Therefore, we must pay greater attention to what we have heard
        So that we do not drift away from it."

I believe that the gap between our answers
        The bombastic "Of course we are not ashamed1"
And     The heads hung in distress as we answered our own questions

Is that:        the answer on direct is what we really want to say
        And     the answers on cross are what we really have to say.

For our answers on our self cross examination represent
        Not a rejection of Christ as brother and as Lord
        But rather a drifting away

Fortunately, that first verse
Not only informs us as to what has happened
But it also gives us the cure
                And a relatively easy cure at that:

We just need to pay greater attention

And now our question to ourselves is a simple, "Why not?"