When [the apostles] had come together, they asked [Jesus], “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
After Jesus had spoken these words [to his disciples], he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength & our redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
This week I spent 4 days of continuing education were I heard from some of the best preachers and teachers in the world preach and talk about the topic of HOPE and why it needs to be preached all the time. Also this week the other night I was watching a show on TV, I think it was a documentary because I’m in to these now, and they were talking about the US as a “melting pot.”
This is not the first time I’ve heard the “melting pot” illustration, and if I’m honest I have used it myself a time or two. But when I heard it said this week it got me thinking…do we want to be a melting pot? Do we really what we want and hope to be a melting pot?
As I was asking myself these questions and was reading our Scripture for this weekend I ran across these few lines in Acts: “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I thought to myself ‘ok, we are to go out and WITNESS in all the world.’ But witness what? God is good; Jesus died to save us; God loves us even at our worst; Jesus shows us a better way to live…all the above?
Then I came across the end of our Gospel reading where Jesus ends his prayer before his ascension saying: “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
It was then that this midwestern boy born and raised thought we in the US shouldn’t HOPE to be a melting pot…no, we in the US should HOPE to be more like CHILI!
Now hear my out! We need to be more like chili because our HOPE in the US since the beginning has been to be a free nation. A Melting Pot, from the best I can tell, is where you put everything in a pot together and melt it all together making a nice new thing where it has all come together. But, by coming together in that way everything looks the same, acts the same, it is something new but it is all the same. Well, when I describe it like that it sounds pretty nice…maybe we do HOPE to become a melting pot.
I believe the texts are telling us something different to HOPE for. I believe we are all called to go and witness in the world, at that God wants us to be one as God and Jesus…but I also think we can’t do that if we all do the same thing the same way.
I believe we were created different…different races, different sexes, different abilities, etc but that our differences are not something we should just tolerate but see as a blessing. Again, our differences are not something we should just tolerate but see as a blessing. If that sounds familiar, it’s similar to part of our liturgy for Holy Communion every other week.
That’s why I believe a better idea of what to HOPE to be in the US is Chili! Chili starts with a good base, the foundation of it all. That would be the Holy Trinity (God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit) and from that foundation the fun begins.
After that we add the hamburger, onions, kidney beans, noddles (at least that’s how my mom makes it don’t judge) and then you added the spices and sauces and other things to get the desired spiciness, taste, aroma that is food for the soul (at least my soul.)
The point of chili is that ingredients come together to make this marvelous meal, but the ingredients stay the way they are. Hamburger is still hamburger; sauce is still sauce; kidney beans are still kidney beans, etc.
We can be the same way in the US. We come together with our own God-given gifts and abilities to make this world a better place, but not at the risk of our uniqueness. We can still be the hamburger, the beans, the onion, the noodle, the spices, the sauce and come together with our gifts to compliment one another and show this world God’s love in so many way. The problem is we all want to be the main ingredient…but we are not called to be that. God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit are the main ingredients already and they don’t need anymore company! We are called to be extra ingredients to complete the flavor for this hungry and thirsty world. And when we come together as one, in different amounts here and there, then we are able to go out to all corners of the world and not only talk about God’s love and introduce them to Jesus, but do it with all of our different ingredients we bring to the table of Grace.
And speaking of ingredients, we are adding another one to God’s family this weekend when Adelaide is welcomed into God’s Kingdom in her baptism. It may be awhile before we see what her gifts are but I assure you she has gifts. We all are not only gifts in and of ourselves, but we are blessed with other gifts God has given us to add to the betterment of this world.
But just because God has given them to us doesn’t mean we know of them or how to use them to further the Kingdom. It takes work to pray, listen (to God and other people for us hard-headed folks like myself), to practice, to remember that we all bring ingredients to the table.
A famous theologian, and country artist, Kenny Chesney, sings a song called “Everybody Wants To Go Heaven.” The refrain in the song is “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go now.” The song is about how much this man is enjoying life, sometimes good and sometimes bad, and he tells his preacher after service he through some extra money in the plate for him to pray to the ‘man upstairs’ for him because he’s having a really good time, but still wants to go to heaven EVENTUALLY!
Maybe it’s just because I’m a pastor but I hear and see how people want other people to do the work for them. Being a disciple of Jesus isn’t easy but it is worthwhile. And like anything else worth while it takes work. And I’m not making Martin Luther roll over in his grave because I said works. I don’t mean we have to work to earn our salvation, that was taken care of with Christ on the cross, but we do have to work on being better people and treating others better…especially when we don’t agree with them.
Well that sounds great pastor, but what does that mean? For instance: Habitat For Humanity is an organization that builds homes for people. I’ve participated in a few builds myself on college trips and with the Dayton Conference. Part of that time the family who will be living in that house, and often times help with other people’s homes also, put in what is called “sweat equity.” Some might call it personal investment, or paying it forward; the point is you get to know the family who is moving in or has moved into another Habitat house.
You can learn about their hopes and dreams over lunch, or putting up a wall, or putting up sheet rock; but in doing that you don’t just learn a the future occupants…you learn about people. And not only do we learn about the families but we learn about other people from all life, creeds, and colors that have come together to help out someone in need. We get clear picture of coming together as one to spread the love of God to a hurting world.
So I don’t know if the melting pot metaphor works for me anymore, but I do think that chili might be a good place to start. Because we are all in this together, and we all bring different ingredients, and there is always room for more ingredients in the Kingdom of God!