Thursday, April 2, 2015



Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Sermon by The Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles

Psalm 107:1-3; John 6:68-71


Jesus asks an important question.

Who does the choosing?

Do we choose to follow Jesus?

Or does Jesus choose us?


Follow the line of thinking in the Bible passage today and we tend to lean toward the answer


Jesus Chooses Us.


But we know our own thoughts, heart and mind.  Just like we know our own features. 

Or at least we THINK we know our own features.

But do we?

You know years ago, before there was photography, we did not really see ourselves as others see us. 

That was the point of an old poem by Robert Burns

Would the porw full gift …

The gift e gee us to

See ourselves as other see us…

Back then, before photography, we saw ourselves in a mirror, which is what:

A mirror image.

A kind of a likeness, but totally flipped from left to right from what everyone else saw.  And so a distorted view.  Recognizable.  But not right. 

Now you understand this is an illustration of a larger point.  That we really do not know everything about ourselves. 

But we know enough to get by from day to day.

We become used to our thoughts and our feelings and our likes and dislikes and our point of view on the world, and we suppose that it is a true likeness. 

Just as in the way that …

We become used to the way we look in the mirror, and we suppose that it is a true likeness.  But it is only true so far.  If you had a mirror image of a dollar bill, you would see at once it is not right, and if you took it to Bells or Target, trust me, you could not spend it. 

The same – to some extent – is true of us.



That is not to say that we are not obsessed with how we look.

We do have photography now, and we are more accustomed to looking at ourselves as we are.  But I have heard many people say that’s not me.

Not only do we have photography, but with cell phones we have this other phenomenon called the Selfie.

We are the Selfie Generation.

We take photos of ourselves in almost every imaginable situation.

I have seen selfies of people bungee jumping and sky diving.  Selfies of people on tops of buildings and at the bottom of the ocean, selfies of people with famous people and selfies of people at splashy events.  We want to record ourselves with it all.

Some of you may even have selfie-poles, so that you can get more into the frame of the picture.  A Selfie of you with the Grand Canyon. The great Plaines, the entire Golden Gate bridge, and so forth.


It is good in its way.  But here’s the thing about the selfie generation.


All this Posing And Posting has a tendency to turn us all into narcissists.

-         Where the world and everything in it revolves around us. 

-         As if it is all about us.

If we come to Jesus from that point of view it is literally deadly.

What do I mean?

When we become so fixated upon ourselves; we leave no room for the Lord.

So we think to ourselves:

“I chose Jesus, Jesus did not choose me.” 

This mistaken notion makes perfect sense to us; because we have filled our frame with ourselves, and there isn’t any place for the LORD OF LIFE.   Jesus is somewhere outside the frame.  We are the big picture.

It is as I say deadly.

As deadly as what happened in Colorado not long ago.  To members of the Selfie Generation.

DENVER— A pilot who lost control while taking selfies was likely the cause of a small plane crash that killed two men this past spring, according to federal investigators.

Pilot Amritpal Singh, 29, and his passenger were killed instantly when Singh's Cessna 150K crashed into a wheat field shortly after midnight May 31. The wreckage was discovered around 7:30 MT that morning.

A GoPro camera mounted to the plane's windshield recorded Singh and several other passengers taking selfies on their cell phones during a series of short flights before the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board found. While the GoPro didn't record the flight where Singh crashed, investigators portrayed a pattern of the pilot taking selfies and possibly texting while giving rides to passengers above Front Range Airport, about 30 miles east of Denver.

Singh's plane was about 740 feet above the ground when it descended rapidly and hit the ground.”

It is horrible to think that by focusing so much one one’s self, one can actually die. 

But there is a whole long sad list of similar situations.

Last year – all over the world –

-         A woman in Spain – fell from bridge – while talking a selfie.

-         A Polish man and woman taking selfies at the cliffs of Cabo Da Roca in Portugal on August 11th, fell to their deaths, as their children watched in horror.

Now these sad events point to a theological truth.

The point is not be careful when you take a selfie.

The point is Be Careful Who You Are Focusing On In The First Place.

 If we are spending all of our time focusing on ourselves, then sooner or later, it is not going to end well.

Jesus says, “Haven’t I chosen you?”

We need that sense of chosen-ness.

To know that we belong to him, because He wants it that way,

Jesus wants us to be in the framework of the world he is creating, which is so much bigger than the Selfie world.

The letter to the Ephesians reminds us that “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy ...”

We respond, and this is the point in which we say, we have chosen to follow Jesus.  But before that, the holy spirit was acting in our lives to bring us so the point of saying we want to follow.  God is always the prime mover, the first to choose the first to invite the first to make a place for us.  We are the ones whose calling it is to answer yes, to respond we will follow Jesus, to commit ourselves to the way of Christ.

If we were to ask ourselves what the strategy of the church of Jesus Christ is in the 21st century.  The answer is this.  The strategy of the church in the 21st century is the same as it has been since day one for 20 amazing centuries.  The strategy of the church is very simple, and very wonderful, and very powerful and very profound.  It is to tell the story of what Christ means to you, and to welcome otters to join with you in the journey of faith.

So draw the circle wider than a Selfie.  Draw it wider that you have imagined it till now.  It is just as Jesus says.  Jesus does the choosing.  We are called to invite people in the firm conviction that they are chosen to be among his followers.

You see there is another place in John’s Gospel where Jesus makes this point clear.  It is in John Chapter 15.  It goes like this:


You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.


Do you know why God loves you the way God does? It’s not what you think. It’s more than you think. It’s because whatever we are, or whatever we are not, God welcomes all that we are, loves all that we are, and invites us in.

Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I have called you friends.”


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