What’s worth wanting?

What’s worth wanting?

Life Worth Living Sermon Series ~ June 4 through July 2, 2023

Matthew 28:16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Will you pray with me and for me? May the words of our mouths, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

            Friends, we are in finale season. For me, this week, that meant watching the finales of Succession and Ted Lasso, two shows that were wildly popular but offered very different visions for what humanity wants in life. In Succession, the characters see life as a winner take all cage match, and you take people down to end up on top and family is just fall out. In Ted Lasso, characters see life as a team sport, with relationships that take a ton of exercise and heart and guts and when something is torn, it can be repaired, and family is ever expanding. Between those two, there’s no question I’m on Team Lasso.

            And if that weren’t going on, there would still be commencement addresses and slideshows and so many final things that life in June feels like a Hallmark store. Everyone trying to proffer the perfect advice about what matters, what success looks like, how to find happiness.

            Meanwhile this week, here at BPC, we hosted a large funeral for John Westfall, a beloved bass in the choir, who seemed to have transcended all the ladder climbing to reach a true mountaintop life, where love wasn’t just attained, it was poured back out again on others. There was a question though. No one could quite remember what brought John to the church originally. He was older, retired, had already won most of what people want in life: Great family, great career, perfect porch for bird watching. His brother told me, “You know, he faced some health stuff, and he told me once, I need something.” And then, something happened to him. Something happened in him. John felt like the uber-Presbyterian spirit of his father led him to this place, and from what I can tell, he never left.

            Jesus was in finale season by the 28th chapter of Matthew. His disciples made it to the mountain, all the way in Galilee. They had all the excitement and doubt of any graduating class, and very mixed report cards, resumes of faithfulness that were inflated at best, and no clue what they were doing next, and to them, Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

            And that was enough. They were sent into the world not because of their merits, but because of God’s goodness. They were sent into the world to teach and baptize not because of their prowess but as vessels of God’s presence. They were sent out not with a fancy diploma or a fat wallet or a bunch of magic beans, but with a view from the tippety top place that humans don’t always reach, that mountain where it’s you and God and the golden ticket to give it all away for others. They needed something, and Christ gave them everything. CS Lewis said it this way, “Nothing you have not given away will ever really be yours.”

            Today, you could hear that just from me. But you’ll also hear it from others… what happens when people actually do take Jesus up on the invitation? How are they changed? What does this church really grow, when all is said and done?

            I’ll start:


Missing my mother (and part of myself) / Finding new strength and call (and friends) (Becca Messman)

?? Stuck… knowing I was calling to something new, ??? but what??? / A path is revealed… with room to flourish… middle-ager + middle-schoolers = Heart with solid fill (Kim Marin)

Work uprooted my family, dislocation into the “wilderness”! / Found a new home, a new family here! (James Munthali)

Always criticized myself / LOVED just as I am (Elizabeth Reece)

Feeling untethered / Grounded in community and love (Teresa Weaver)

Longing / Community – Friends – IMPACT (Eli Weaver)

Nothing was familiar when I moved to VA / Found comfort in songs & worship and hugs at BPC (Carol Ann Cunningham)

Looking to make a difference / Mission opportunities changed my life (Janet Smith)

            And I changed other people’s lives with my work

My Ordination Inspired Me / To serve God with greater commitment (Craig Postlewaite)

Questioning / Rooted in Faith (Greg Diggs)

Grew up, Moved Away, Something was missing / This community was the missing piece (Lauren Falkenstein)

Searching / Friends, Church-Home, Community (Jim Weaver)

Major Life Losses… Father, Mother, Husband / This church was constant Strength and Support (Amy Stidham)

Transitioning / Supportive Community (Dan Weaver)

Angry and scared in a world consumed by gun violence and hatred / God is holding me (Mara Ashby)

Hungry for meaningful service to others / Community Table fills me UP (Susan Ariale)

Spiritually going through the motions / Joyfully living in faith (John Ariale)

Worried about meeting new friends / Finding a family (Maddy Bailey)

Military family – new to the area / Baptized today (Charlotte Cook)

Mourning loss of my former church / Energized by new ways to serve at BPC (Anita Pesses)

Drowning in Grief / Rescued by Community (Lucinda Sexton)

Learning my ABC’s / All aBout Christ (Julia Key)

My parents brought me here / Now my own connections and relationship to God bring me back (Carly Shannon!)

Missing my old church / Finding community here (Jessie Doll)

Feeling… lonely in a new place, frustrated, aimless, lost on my faith journey / Found at BPC * Friendship * Ways to contribute my time, talents and resources * Hope & Joy * Connections (Jennifer Butler)

Struggling to make sense of church in the world / Changed us vs. them to Us for All (Marc Childress)

** BY VIDEO ** Always on the move / Anchored to a faithful loving community and always welcomed home! (Renee Colligan)

Went through what we all went through / Generously given a sabbatical (thank you!!) (Adam Ogg)