Ready to be Vulnerable to God’s Extravagance?

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A message for the week starting on Sunday 3 April 2022

Lectionary Week: Lent 5

Prescribed Texts: Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalms 126, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-8

Ready to be Vulnerable to God’s Extravagance?

Focus Text:  Isaiah 43:16-21

Isaiah 43:19: “See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

God is aching to work generously in each of us. To bring us restoration. To create something new in each of us. Sometimes it is easier to stick with the old way which has served us well.  He wants us to move on — not to dwell on the past. God wants us to perceive the new. He knows our eyesight is bad and prods us on to look more closely. God’s new work is there, ready to develop in each of us. God often calls us to the new, and He has given us a track record that He’ll live up to His love for us.

God cares about our physical bodies. He rescued the Israelites by raising the waters, supplying water in the wilderness. God rescued the woman caught in adultery from stoning by touching the hearts of her accusers. But God cares about more than just our physical bodies. He also cares for our spiritual and emotional selves. God rescued the Israelites from emptiness by reminding them of the purpose for their creation: not to be God’s scurrying flock here on earth, nor to prove that they are holy, but to proclaim His praise.

Jesus rescued the woman caught in adultery from guilt by verbalizing His own lack of condemnation. He reminded her to leave behind her life of sin and live into God’s purpose, and to grow, empowered by grace, into her truer self. When, in our own lives, do we replace God’s call to grace with the law that requires stoning? When do we condemn or condone instead of choosing a third way: lavishing grace?

In this world with HIV, God’s passion for our well-being endures. We must imitate Christ by extending this grace to all around us. God has done something in each of our lives and identifying God’s faithfulness in the past is a crucial predecessor to gaining the courage to trust Him with new things in the future. What practical action can we take to improve our vision?

Jesus specialized in ‘extravagance’ and honoured it in others, including Mary’s “waste” of a bottle of perfume worth the value a year’s worth of meals, house repairs, and other basic needs. Judas Iscariot used the practical and rational to argue against this fragrant waste. When do we similarly use rational arguments to shield ourselves against God’s dream for us?

To think about: What influences in your life keep you from embracing the new things, the fragrant things, the FREE things? What perfectly good and God-given things in our own lives are no longer compatible with the new things to which God is calling us?

Written by: Ms Rebecca van der Meulen, Executive Director at J.C. Flowers Foundation in New York, trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator