Summary: Throuoghout the gospels Jesus treated outsiders like insiders, extending a sense of belonging to people even before they believed. As his followers we befriend people by helping them belong as a first step toward believing.
Title: “Come and See” (Belonging I)
Text: John 1:35-46
Thesis: Throughout the gospels Jesus treated outsiders like insiders, extending a sense of belonging to people even before they believed. As his followers we befriend people by helping them belong as a first step toward believing.
Intro to the New Series: I invite you to journey with us as people who value:
• Belonging to a caring faith community.
• Believing the truth of God’s Word.
• Becoming more like Jesus Christ.
Today the focus will be on our being a people and a faith community that welcomes others... who lovingly open our arms to all-comers and give them a place to belong. Next week the focus will be on what it means for us to belong to a caring faith community.
As I begin this morning I want you to be aware that I am using some extreme examples because sometimes Jesus care about people on the extreme edges of society.
I want to belong to the Red Hat Ladies Society.
Sue Ellen Cooper gave a red bowler hat she had purchased at an antique store to a friend for her birthday along with the first two lines of Jenny Joseph’s poem, Warning. They go like this:
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.
She continued to give red hats to her friends and eventually several ladies bought purple outfits and wore their red hats to a tea party on April 25, 1998. From that initial tea party thousands of Red Hat Society Chapters have sprung up here and around the world and Sue Ellen Cooper continues her reign as the “Exalted Queen Mother.”
The Red Hat Society is about fun, friendship, freedom, fulfillment and fitness. There are two ways to join: You may join as a Queen for annual dues of $39 or as a Member for annual dues of $20. One of the benefits of joining as a Queen entitles you to use the “Queen’s Wave.”
You may be a member of the Red Hat Society at any age but if you are under 50 years old you have to wear a pink hat to Red Hat gatherings until you reach the age of 50.
Red Hatters host and attend tea parties, attend the theater, go on trips and cruises, do crafts and even make music… usually on Kazoos.
There are all kinds of places where we may belong: The Elks. The Gideons. Rotary club. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union. American Legion. VFW, Labor and Craft Unions. Daughters of the American Revolution. Book clubs. Sports clubs. Country Clubs. Optimist club. Political parties. Church… and so on.
I was amused when I read how Groucho Marx responded to a civic organization that was courting his membership. “I sent the club a wire stating, PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER.” Groucho Marx
Despite Groucho’s sensitivities about belonging, most people want to feel like they belong somewhere. Belonging is being part of something where you are accepted.
Belonging can refer to ownership as in, “That dog belongs to me.” But for our purposes today it is relational.
- Belonging is to be and feel included and accepted within a social, religious, political, cultural and economic group.
- Belonging is the term used when the individual becomes involved in something; it is the feeling of security where members may feel included, accepted, related, fit in, conformed and subscribed, which enhance their wellbeing with the feeling of home.
Being a people who create space in our lives and a church that is a place to belong is essential to our desire to become a Healthy Missional church.
• By “Healthy” we mean pursuing Christ.
• By “Missional” we mean pursuing Christ’s priorities in the world.
So my initial approach to “belonging to a caring faith community” is missional. As we noted last week in our discussion of Luke 15, i.e., the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son, God cares about people and so should we.
This morning we will see how Jesus did mission or how Jesus reached people. If we think of Jesus a model to emulate we would see that while he was quite the attraction, his interaction with individual people was very relational. He began relationships by interacting personally with people… he acknowledged them. He talked to them. He ate with them. People felt comfortable with Jesus… he made them feel at home with him. Though socially they may well have been outsiders, Jesus made them feel like insiders.
So in the missional sense, we want to be a people who value belonging to a caring faith community. Those of us who have been around a while understand that but how do we get the people out there to feel like they belong in here?