Journeying Together is Healing

1254520_81286112On Sunday we looked at the story of Ruth, and the power of committing to someone’s journey. The book of Ruth begins with Naomi her mother-in-law in a deeply dark place. She moves to a foreign country, and her husband and her two sons die. This leaves her alone in a foreign land, without support, without care, and with two foreign daughters-in-law.

She is hurt, spiteful towards God, and bitterness oozes out from her. She decides to journey back home. She is so bitter that when she arrives home and people say, “Is that Naomi” (which means pleasant in Hebrew)? She responds with, “No, call me Mara now” (which means bitter). So she has gone from being pleasant to bitter. She now totally identifies with loss, bitterness, and hurt as her companions. She says God sent her away full and brought her back empty.

This is the hard place that she is in. Yet in the midst of this difficult, and this Plan B, things change for her. Things change for Naomi because of her daughter-in-law Ruth.

Ruth commits to being with Naomi no matter what. Naomi seeks to push Ruth away, to say she can’t be helped, to say there is nothing that can be done (Ruth 1:11-13). But Ruth refuses to give up on Naomi. She commits to her that she will be with her no matter what. She says “Where you go, I’ll go, where you live I’ll live, your God will be my God. We will be together”.

And it is this commitment to journeying together that begins to change not only Naomi but also Ruth. Through a series of amazing events, God begins to restore to Naomi some of what she has lost. God begins to heal her. And this only happens though because Ruth committed to journeying with Naomi for the long haul.

The story ends with Naomi being happy and full of joy as she cuddles with Ruth’s new baby, her grandson. Her life moves from Plan B back to God’s promises.

From this story we landed on the main idea that we need each other. Not in the clichéd, hallmark, or sentimental way. But in a real – deep life – can’t get through life without one another. I need you, you need me, we need each other.

So we ended with a challenge. That for some of us we need to go be a “Ruth” to someone else. We need to commit to journey with them, to care for them, and to love them like Ruth did. And while we can’t be a Ruth to everyone in need, that is not an excuse not to be there for someone in need. That was our challenge.

We also challenged those of us who are in Naomi’s place to reach out to a “Ruth”. To not refuse the help that a “Ruth” can bring. To not push away that relationship.

Because the truth is the only way we get through life is with one another. This is the beautiful thing about the church ~ Naomi’s and Ruth’s commit to journeying together and both find a new hope in the process.

 

 

Teaching Notes

Big Idea: We need each other; we need to journey together.

Teaching Points:

  • Here’s the truth and this one is thoroughly biblical: throughout life you will face one situation after another that will be completely beyond what you can handle. Pete Wilson
  • We need one another to get through Plan B times.
  • Naomi means “Pleasant” in Hebrew; Mara means “Bitter”.
  • No longer are these emotions that afflict us, they are emotions that define us.
  • Ruth commits to journeying with Naomi.
  • People who are in a deep place of hurt often push away the only people who can help
  • When you are in Plan B, you need community more than ever. Yet because of the pain that comes along with Plan B, it’s easy to miss the God-given gift of community.  Pete Wilson
  • We need one another.
  • “I will go where you go. I will live where you live.”  Ruth
  • Just because you can’t help everyone does not give you an excuse to not help someone
  • We can’t benefit from the power of community until we dare to face who we are.  Pete Wilson

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

Have you ever been like Naomi, so consumed by hurt, that it defines you? How did it happen? How did you move out of it? Have you ever had someone “be a Ruth to you”? What was that like? How did they commit to journeying with you? Why do you think it’s hard to be a “Ruth” to someone? Why do you think it’s hard to allow others to be a “Ruth” to us? Who is God calling you to jouney with? Is God asking you to allow someone to journey with you?

Discussion Question for Families:

Talk to your kids about the importance of caring for one another. Talk to them about how Ruth helped Naomi by being there for her. Ask your kids if there is anyone they know that needs someone to be there for them. Ask them about ideas for helping them, and then use their ideas.

Challenge for the Week: Be a Ruth to Someone; Invite a Ruth to Journey with You

Lent and the Seven Deadly Sins

 

 

 

 

On Sunday we are opening up a brand new series, looking at the Seven Deadly Sins for Lent. Yep that’s right a perfect series to invite your friends to…

 

 

Well actually I do think it will be really important and really helpful and here is why. So often when sin is discussed, especially in church, it’s accompanied with judgment, shame, and guilt. So because of this we don’t talk about it. And instead then we end up coping with sin, struggling with sin, and hiding sin. What if instead of talking about sin in this way – we approached it through grace, life, and freedom? What if rather than hiding and struggling with our sin – we could actually be free from it?

 

That’s the perspective of this series to discover how through Jesus’ transformation we might be freed from some stuff in our lives we’ve been carrying along far too long.

 

What if we approach sin not from a guilt or shame perspective – but from a healing and freedom perspective?

 

I think to be honest this is the only way to deal with this important, but misunderstood topic. In the gospels we see tax collectors, prostitutes, and broken people flocking to Jesus. These are “notorious sinners” as the Pharisees point out. But this was because Jesus didn’t condone sin or condemn those struggling with sin – he freed them from it.

 

What if over the next seven weeks we could have the same experience from Jesus? Where we go to him with our baggage and sin – our pride, envy, greed, and anger and find freedom?

 

That’s the whole point and goal of this series. To, for Lent, do some personal introspection and experience Jesus’ transformation as we come to him.

 

So even though it may sound funny – I’m excited about this series because I’m always excited when people find freedom and transformation from baggage they’ve been holding for years. And that’s what this series is all about, so maybe it is something worth being excited about…

Seven Deadly Sins

Failing Communities = Failing Churches

Here is a general rule I live by:

If your church is doing well and your town isn’t; your church is not doing well.

The point is that the church can’t grow and thrive as the community that surrounds it and supports it fails. If the church is growing but your neighbors are drowning in debt, depression and difficulty, the church isn’t really growing.

  • The church cannot be doing well, if our neighbors are struggling.
  • The church cannot be doing well, if the youth of the town aren’t valued.
  • The church cannot be doing well, if single mothers across the street aren’t loved.
  • The church cannot be doing well, if people don’t know one another’s name…

The point for me is to change our perspective. My goal isn’t to have our church grow massive; but to have a deep impact in the people and places that we are a part of. My goal isn’t for the church to be the biggest church in the area but to truly be the church to the area; meaning that we bring life, love, and grace to people needing it.

I think this is what Jesus gets at when he calls the church salt. Salt is supposed to change things. It’s supposed to preserve good things, enhance flavor, and bring out great taste. This is what the church is to do too. So today why not bring a little flavor and life to your community. Help a neighbour, start a conversation, invite someone over for coffee…

Because I think the reverse of my rule is true too. If your community is being filled with grace, life, God’s love, and is doing well…then your church is doing well too…