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Explorer articles from from our Pastoral Team and associate contributers.

 

Walking Into The Ocean

by Rev. John Weston, Senior Pastor on July 10, 2019

Walking into the Ocean

by John Weston

 

Genesis 1:9-13 9 And God said, "Let the waters beneath the sky be gathered into one place so dry ground may appear." And so it was. 10 God named the dry ground "land" and the water "seas." And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, "Let the land burst forth with every sort of grass and seed-bearing plant. And let there be trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. The seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came." And so it was. 12 The land was filled with seed-bearing plants and trees, and their seeds produced plants and trees of like kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 This all happened on the third day.

 

Over the Fourth of July holiday this past week, Jennifer, the kids, and I got to spend a few nights at the beach. Dear friends in Christ gathered for us to baptize two of their children. Claire will be starting eighth grade this fall, and Jonathan will be starting 4th. They reside in a small native village in northwestern Alaska. One of their grandparents had some water from the Jordan River that we started with and then finished with full immersion in the Pacific Ocean.

 

I love going to the ocean. For all of humanity's technological advances, oceans still serve as a firm boundary. No matter how much we want to explore and settle and build and construct and settle, when you hit the beach, it's over. I've read about current and even future designs for living on the water, but really, people were created for land. I love that when I go to the beach, everything comes to an end. Even in Warrenton, Oregon, where we stayed, you can drive on the beach, but no one was plowing into the waves to conquer the horizon.

 

Maybe what I am experiencing is this: just as civilization stops at the ocean, so do our lives run up against another kind of boundary that keeps us nestled and tucked into our lives: death. For people without Jesus, death fills them with anxiety or even terror. For Christians, death is a firm boundary, yes, but it is also a gateway; a portal to new shores that we can only begin to imagine from here. Paul wistfully describes this final reality like this:

 

Romans 6:3-5 3 Or have you forgotten that when we became Christians and were baptized to become one with Christ Jesus, we died with him? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. 5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised as he was.

 

1 Corinthians 15:50-52 50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These perishable bodies of ours are not able to live forever. 51 But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown.

 

In C. S. Lewis' fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Edmund, Lucy, Caspian, and the crew of a Narnian ship sail to the end of the world, and in the closing scene, one of the heroes, a rather large talking mouse named Reepicheep is given the opportunity by Aslan the Lion to take his small boat beyond the world's edge into Aslan's Country. The warrior mouse fears no living creature, and in the end, gratefully receives permission to explore this new place knowing he will never be able to return. Reepicheep boldly and humbly moves into what from the perspective of his friends and family seems to be death, but for him is the beginning of a new life.

 

Claire and Jonathan stepped into the water and let the breakers come in and gently cover them as I lowered them each underneath the surface. I carefully surveyed incoming waves as each of them went down, feeling the power of the water moving around us. One day many years from now they will each once more go underneath the water and emerge to find a completely new world they have never seen, and to see a face they have been longing for since before they could remember.
 

How big is the love of God?

 

Bigger than the ocean.

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