“Our Personal Walk with Jesus Christ”

Sermon – 04-09-23 – Easter Sunday – Cycle A
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:1-6; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 28:1-10; John 14:27-15:10
Sermon Title: “Our Personal Walk with Jesus Christ”

Picture yourself walking with Jesus in the sand. We have this story in our popular Christian culture of a person walking with “the Lord.” The name “Lord” most commonly refers to Jesus. There are two sets of footprints as the person walks beside Jesus on the beach in the sand. As this story goes, the one set of footprints disappears. It is easy to think that Jesus leaves the scene and the person is walking alone but Jesus explains that the one set of footprints is his while he carries the person through tough times.

The story ends with these words: “Lord, you told me when I decided to follow you, you would walk and talk with me all the way. But I’m aware that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don’t understand why, when I need you most, you leave me.” Jesus whispers, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, . . . . When you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I am carrying you.”

Many people claim to have written this story. It is still in dispute. If you go to the internet and type “Footprints in the Sand,” you will find the names of the people who claim to be the author. But, while we may be thankful for whomever is the real author, we know this Lord personally. We walk and talk with Jesus all day. You may have noticed that I used the title Jesus Christ in the title of this sermon: “Our Personal Walk with Jesus Christ.” Isn’t Jesus a sufficient name by itself?

Surely, when I start a prayer saying, “Dear Jesus,” Jesus is fine with that. Jesus is our friend as we sing in “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” But Jesus is much more. Jesus is the head of the church! Jesus is one of the three persons of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is the son person of Jesus – s-o-n. Jesus was involved in the creation of the world. Jesus is the Messiah, prophesied by the major prophets of the Old Testament! Jesus not only was, but is! He lives! He is resurrected! We are resurrection people when we believe that his death on the cross was for us. Just as Jesus was given life after death so we are given life after death. That is what today is all about!

When we say, “Dear Jesus,” Jesus is real; he is active; whether it be carrying us in hard times, or motivating us to our full potential in good times, Jesus is real! It may be good if we found ourselves saying “Praise the Lord” a bunch of times during a day. Maybe you do. Some of you find yourselves singing aloud in your good relationship with Jesus.

I find that I either am saying in a whisper, “Help me, Jesus” or “Thank you, Jesus.” When I say “Thank you, Jesus” I also feel like dancing. I did not always have a close prayer relationship with Jesus and the Father. But my sister caught on to this “prayer thing” before I did. She influenced me. Praying can produce healing so we are negligent if we fail to pray for healing for others and for ourselves. Prayers of thanksgiving and praise can take us to new heights. How about thanking God while we are in trouble such as physical pain or relationship pain between ourselves and someone else? Or we are in pain because someone else is hurting? Thanking and praising Jesus and the Father in hurting times? Well, perhaps we should try it more often. Maybe you have already claimed this habit. It is in the praising that Jesus and the Father can do their work. When we are at our lowest points, Jesus carries us whether we can feel it or not. We are praising in anticipation of coming to the bright end of the tunnel into abundant life. Not necessarily heaven, but abundant life here on earth.

I bring to our mindfulness the invitation to be part of Jesus as The Vine. “I am the vine, you are the branches” from John15. Not only walking with Jesus but being part of Jesus. How much better can it be!

Jesus says to his disciples and therefore to us, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

My friends, you may be very attached to this vine and can be wonderful examples for me. I am picturing all of us as part of this same vine. During this year, we are adjusting to being one congregation. In the passage about Jesus being the vine, Jesus says that the Father needs to remove some of Jesus’ branches and even the good branches of Jesus, himself, need to be pruned to make them better. How powerful this is!

Let us think of ourselves needing to lose some of our ways completely – each one of us. None of us is a perfect Christian. Then let us expect some pruning of the branches that are good but can be better. Instead of being Christians by ourselves just hovering near each other, let us think of ourselves as being dependent on each other to become better Christians; Christians who realize that it takes all of us thinking and talking and taking action toward being supportive of this huge vine of which our new congregation is a part.

Each of us could think of ourselves as a separate branch making noises. Or we can choose to think of each other forming this larger vine together. Of course, this larger vine will wither unless it is attached and growing with Jesus as the center trunk. We are part of the church of Jesus Christ, all nourished from the same roots of love, not to be blown apart by the winds of selfishness but instead growing together in selflessness; in genuine love for each other.

May it be so by praying together and having the word “love” imprinted on our foreheads. Please consider joining me for monthly prayer as we pray for each other, for loved ones, and for our congregation as we become one in Jesus Christ. The first opportunity will be this Thursday, April 13, at 1:30 p.m. here at the church.

And may it be so, as we drink of the fruit of the vine together.

Jesus says to us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” Amen

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