Forest Roots: A Bonus Episode

Originally preached on 11/15/2020 at Liberty Baptist Church in Tipton, In

Title: Forest Roots: A Bonus Episode
Theme: KNOW YOUR ROOTS
Season: ORDINARY
Main Text: Judges 4:1-7
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:14-30
RCL Scripture: Judges 4:1-7; Psalm 123; Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18; Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30
Focus:  Israel forgets the dependable character of God.
Function:  To be a Christian requires us to know the history of our faith and our community.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 25:14-30 14“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was leaving on a trip. He called his servants and handed his possessions over to them. 15To one he gave five valuable coins, and to another he gave two, and to another he gave one. He gave to each servant according to that servant’s ability. Then he left on his journey. 16“After the man left, the servant who had five valuable coins took them and went to work doing business with them. He gained five more. 17In the same way, the one who had two valuable coins gained two more. 18But the servant who had received the one valuable coin dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. 19“Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The one who had received five valuable coins came forward with five additional coins. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained five more.’ 21“His master replied, ‘Excellent! You are a good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’ 22“The second servant also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained two more.’ 23“His master replied, ‘Well done! You are a good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’ 24“Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed. 25So I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’ 26“His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! You knew that I harvest grain where I haven’t sown and that I gather crops where I haven’t spread seed? 27In that case, you should have turned my money over to the bankers so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest. 28Therefore, take from him the valuable coin and give it to the one who has ten coins. 29Those who have much will receive more, and they will have more than they need. But as for those who don’t have much, even the little bit they have will be taken away from them. 30Now take the worthless servant and throw him out into the farthest darkness.’ “People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.
LORD’S PRAYER

Intro: I have good news and bad news—The bad news, you may have noticed already, our guest speaker had to return to Miami, Fl and won’t be with us today.  Good news? You get a bonus ROOTS! Who’s excited?

OUR ROOTS:  Apostles’ Creed We have explored our covenant for three weeks, now I want to introduce another document that is foundational to Christian belief.

  1. The Apostles’ Creed:
    1. Sources say this popped up around 390 AD (Wiki)
      1. Church tradition says that each of the 12 disciples helped form part of this creed, though history/anthropology doesn’t back up that claim. (wiki)
    2. Most basic summary of Christian tenants
      1. Historically used to teach early converts about Christianity
      2. A source of unity for believers
  2. Read the Creed: I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.
  3. Baptists & The Creed: What is fascinating is thatBaptists haven’t always been big on the Apostles’ Creed because of the phrase “the holy Catholic Church” and assuming we’re talking about Roman Catholics. The reformation era really made Baptists skeptical of anything Catholic. If only we were able to acknowledge that “catholic” little “c” means unified or whole.
    1. Baptists have actually had a tradition of rejecting “tradition”… Well, as long as “tradition” points to Catholicism…We love the tradition of hymns or pews or our specific order of service or celebrations.
    2. But our tradition of rejecting tradition has become the greatest weakness for Baptists. Our habit to disassociate with the bigger picture of the church leads us to forget where we came from or where we’re going.
  4. TRANSITION: In our text for today we will see that the Israelites have lost sight of their roots and have become vulnerable to other kingdoms.What could they have learned from their own history? How could that have prevented these atrocities from happening?

SCRIPTURE: Judges 4:1-7

  1. Context: Era of Judges PHOTO
    1. After Joshua is Othniel (40 years) à Ehud (80 years)à Deborah (40 years)
    2. Sprinkled in with outside influences between each judge.
    3. Judges = Balance of law enforcer and pastor

After Ehud had died, the Israelites again did things that the Lord saw as evil. 2So the Lord gave them over to King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, and he was stationed in Harosheth-ha-goiim. 3The Israelites cried out to the Lord because Sisera had nine hundred iron chariots and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly for twenty years. 4Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was a leader of Israel at that time. 5She would sit under Deborah’s palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in the Ephraim highlands, and the Israelites would come to her to settle disputes. 6She sent word to Barak, Abinoam’s son, from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “Hasn’t the Lord, Israel’s God, issued you a command? ‘Go and assemble at Mount Tabor, taking ten thousand men from the people of Naphtali and Zebulun with you. 7I’ll lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, to assemble with his chariots and troops against you at the Kishon River, and then I’ll help you overpower him.’”

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Israel’s cycle of unfaithfulness: Remember how I said that the people would be faithful during the lifetime of Joshua & the leaders just after Joshua? Yeah that’s over now. Israel is now in a cycle of:
    1. Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord
    2. The Lord gave them over to their desires
    3. Consequences of their desires (usually being oppressed by another nation)
    4. They call out to God for help
    5. God rescues them
    6. They are faithful… for a while
    7. Rinse, repeat
  2. The Judge: Deborah, a married woman and judge over Israel
    1. Prophet and wise council
  3. Her Message: God will team up with you to overthrow Israel’s enemy.
  4. Post-Script:
    1. Barak is scared to go on his own, so he asks Deobrah to go with him.
    2. She agrees but says the defeat of Sisera will be by the hands of a woman
    3. Cue Metal Bible story: Jael and her tent peg. She defeats the enemy with hospitality and household objects.
    4. For this brief moment in time, Israel was faithful to God after being rescued, yet again, but they did not learn from their past. It wouldn’t be long before their ears would clog again and they would need rescuing.

INTERPRETATION: Knowing our history impacts our future

  1. Israel was stuck in a cycle of unfaithfulness. We’re only a few Judges into the Post-Joshua era but Israel has already forgotten that God is dependable. They became cowards and bent to the instructions of threatening outside nations.
    1. Imagine how their behavior would have changed if they remembered the God of their ancestors.
      1. We need to listen & learn from their story
  2. The importance of knowing our church covenant but also the heritage of Christianity, like the Apostles’ Creed, is the root system of support we have to move be faithful to the life God calls us to live. We have bravery to get up and serve God each day, knowing God is faithful. We can see it through the centuries of church history. God’s people may continue the cycle of Israel from Judges 4, but God keeps showing up.
  3. Part of being a follower of Christ is being connected to a church community. Community enables us to be faithful.
    1. Think about it, if Barak had KNOWN the stories of the God of Israel, he would have gone into battle with confidence: “I know the God who provides for God’s people! This God says he’s with me, I don’t need to fear!”
  4. Being faithful and holding onto belief isn’t easy. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has had days where I think “ Is this really true? Is it really worth the struggle? Is there an easier way?”
    1. There is nothing wrong with questions, especially when you have a community to support you through the questions.
  5. Nadia & The Creed: Nadia Bolz-Weber is an ELCA pastor and rather untraditional in her appearance & expression as a Christian but her words are rooted in scripture and tradition:
    1. She was interviewed by Krista Tippet for the On Being special for NPR. Nearing the end of their interview she talked about faith and the significance of a church working together to remain faithful.
      1. Let me paraphrase:
        1. “Faith is not given in sufficient quantity to individuals, faith is given in sufficient quantity to communities. God will not give you more than a COMMUNITY can bear.
        2. Nadia Plays out a conversation:
          1. I can’t say the Apostles’ Creed because I don’t believe every line of it…
          2. Oh My God, nobody believes every line of the creed. But in a room of people, each line of the creed, somebody believes it, so we’re covered, Right?
        3. Nadia believes that the Apostles’ Creed is not your individual creed that you believe 100% of the time all on your own. She believe the creed is given to a community to believe together.
    2. For Nadia, church is about continuing the actions of faithful living, even when we don’t mean it because God can transform our hearts. We support each other through the questions, doubts, or dry spells, and lean on the history that God is faithful and will show up. We help each other remember that.
  6. Tree System: Nadia’s image of church reminds me of an amazing natural phenomenon.There is a “forest” that is considered one of the oldest “TREEs” on earth. Yes, a forest = 1 tree.
    1. The Pando tree system is Aspen tree “forest” that is actually one whole tree & root system. It is not separate trees but a single root system that has continued to sprout fresh shoots in different places.
    2. The trees look separate but are connected.

APPLICATION: To be a Christian requires us to know the history of our faith and our community.

  1. Consider your place in the church:
    1. Who did you inherit your faith from? Who taught you about Jesus?
    2. What is the history or heritage of this church?
    3. Is this a community you can walk with?
  2. Ways of making commitment:
    1. A traditional church way: Baptism – a public declaration that you believe in Jesus and a commitment to continue to grow in your faith with a community.
    2. Some traditional Liberty ways: Getting involved and contributing time or resources to the missions of the church.
      1. Liberty people can correct me if they disagree. The way I’ve seen commitment recognized the most in this community is rolling up your sleeves to volunteer.
      2. Actions where your beliefs are.

CONCLUSION: I cannot guarantee tomorrow will come but I can guarantee that God will be faithful tomorrow. I cannot guarantee how long we will be fighting COVID and adapting our services but I can say that God hasn’t given up. God’s still here with us. Scripture, history, tradition tells me so.

In this midst of uncertainty, let’s remember the God we follow.

Recite the Apostles’ creed together.

I believe in God the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ,
his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen

PRAY & Blessed be the tie & Benediction

Resources:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m09UpBIzD7c
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostles%27_Creed
  3. https://vimeo.com/73913123 Interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber (Great interview! 1:08:50-1:11:55 for the relevant part to our passage today)
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pando_(tree)
  5. https://apsari.com/the-pando-tree-system-is-the-oldest-living-organism-in-the-world

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