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well good morning friends hey it’s so good to be here with you uh my kids just left that should give you a warning of how boring the next 45 minutes could be if they don’t want to stay maybe nobody does we are so excited to be with uh be here with you this has been the culmination of a journey for us that’s it’s been almost a year long now so I just thought I’d update some of you guys that maybe haven’t seen on just you know what the last few weeks have looked like for us so we arrived and I have to control this now they’re trusting me to control this so there we go we arrived uh to what we expected to look like this this is the Colorado that we had been sold um and then we landed not this Tuesday but the Tuesday before anyone remember what last Tuesday looked like 35 degrees three inches of snow on the ground and then we were told this don’t worry if you don’t like the weather in Colorado it will change in 15 minutes well it did change I wouldn’t have said it improved but it did change because uh this beautiful mountain view that we were sold on became this if you are one of those people that struggles with perception if you can’t see what is missing I drew it in for you um somewhere there was supposed to be mountains that was part of the deal and then suddenly they were gone uh but we just uh we just have been so welcomed by you guys here just the number of ways in which

people have just jumped in and just there were people there to unload for us and then when people turned up when everything was already unloaded then the people that turned up late then helped us unpack everything into our kitchen people have invited us over for dinner have dropped us meals and there are too many of you for us to be able to drop every one of you a card although maybe we’ll try my wife will drop every one of you a card at some point I promise um but it just has just been this joy to be welcomed into this community so thank you uh for everything that you have done uh we realized as well that this for you well it’s been a journey for us it’s been a journey for you too right what a community of faith south is to travel a year without a lead pastor what does that say about the elders that have led you about the staff that have led you about people like Larry that have led you during that time through a pandemic through everything else that has been going on what a community of faith you are and we are so excited to join with you and yet here’s the thing joining a community as a lead pastor is this weird experience because you suddenly are sort of like you have this maybe sense of like remember those old western movies there was the hired gun that came in that was supposed

to clean everything up there was a problem and you were supposed to come and you were supposed to shoot all the bad guys and everything was fine and coming in and being told that you’re doing all the teaching you’re like well I’m an outsider what about the people in the community isn’t there a voice there and so you feel called in from the outside and yet as a pastor and a pastor with a family at the same time your hope and dream is to find a community because that’s what this is it’s a community and so I learned really early on never try and pastor a church that you don’t want to go to try and pastor a church that you want to go to because that you can lead intuitively and yet this community has been around for so long even if we my family and I stayed for 20 years we could never be here as long as some of the people that have already got in 50 40 years some of you have been here since some of the early times of south and so we realized we’re joining this whole bunch of history and so there’s all those dynamics going on you’re looking for a community to join you’re excited to be involved you’re looking for family and friendship and then you also looked to to do some leading and then you have this moment where you’re like wow it’s the first Sunday and now what do I say I’ve got to talk to

people for a while and I don’t know you now fortunately I’ve been a lead pastor before so I’m used to talking a lot in front of people and I remember these times back when I was first invited to teach people when I wasn’t a lead pastor I remember the first time that the lead pastor of a church back in Michigan said to me I’d like you to preach on Sunday morning and I said well am I teaching as part of a series what do you want me to say and he said these really dangerous words he said just be yourself and I looked at him and said this are you sure and he said no but you should definitely just do it anyway just go up and be yourself and then you get to believe pastor and you get to be yourself all the time but still there’s this hope that when you teach you teach into what the church is going through and the truth is I don’t know self I’m getting to know it I’m getting to love it I’ve been wandering up and down this building I’ve got to see the coffee shop as it is right now I’ve got to drop in on these other things I’ve got to meet Rebecca at the ELC I’ve got to meet people running ministry sharing with the food pantry all these different things I’m getting to know it I’ve got to spend time with staff and all these different things but I still don’t really know it and so as I started to go through this process of what do I

say the thing I landed on was I want to say something that that is always true that is always true I want you guys to have a chance to know me I want to drop in some stories about me and my family I want it to be something where we get to know each other but at the same time I was like well what is always true and Larry our outgoing executive pastor touched on it it’s who Jesus is it’s the centrality of this Jesus figure that has drawn us all here and maybe you’re listening and you’re somewhat you’d maybe describe yourself as unchurched or de-churched and you’re not even sure you’re committed to this story yet but there’s something about this Jesus story that is compelling the something that pulls people in there’s so many people all over the world that might say I’m not sure about church but there’s something about Jesus and so we’re going to begin to wander through this series for a few weeks something that I think is always true this idea of did you see that blink and you missed it Jesus moments we’re going to look through this book john if you’re unfamiliar with church and familiar with the new testament john is one of the you might call them biographies of Jesus four people chose to write about Jesus life Matthew mark Luke and john they’re named for the people that we think

may have written them and they all have these different perspectives Matthew writes a lot to to people with a Jewish background and he’s very keen that we know that Jesus is king and his messiah and then mark writes this this book that’s very much directed to people that are maybe in more of the roman world of the time and it’s very sort of very direct and he uses this word immediately over and over again and it feels like you’re on a runaway roller coaster Jesus is always doing something and then Luke writes in this sophisticated prose he’s like an English major Jesus is always doing something and he’s always doing it in a very well-spoken way Jesus went out one day and whilst he was stood there a crowd of children approached him and it goes on and on and on and then john comes last and john is this rich narrative about Jesus life he draws on these sources and these stories that everybody else seems to forgotten and he captivates us with this Jesus who does different slightly different things the main premises of the story are the same but yet there’s these things that appear these things that Jesus does that are magical and yet they’re subtle at the same time and so as we’re going to explore these first four chapters of john we’re going to look at this idea that this Jesus does things that we might

just miss if we’re not watching closely have you ever had that experience I have a friend who was a youth pastor out in bel air we’re more of a friend of a friend but out in bel air in California and as you can imagine when you’re putting on events out in California they have to be good there’s a lot of richer families there a lot of people in Hollywood and things so he has this moment where he calls in a magician and says I want you to do the show that will blow these kids minds and so he does all these tricks and these illusions and then there’s this final moment where he levitates this glass orb off the stage and he waves his hand and this thing disappears in front of you and as my friend or friend of a friend tells this story in that moment everybody claps and then there’s a pause and then from the back of the room there’s this slow clap and he turns around and Mel Gibson the actor is stood at the back of the church clapping for this illusionist and then he says that was amazing you should do that again except it seems like he may have been a little drunk and he threw in some words that are not appropriate for church

that I did not include in my story but there’s this moment have you ever felt like Mel Gibson where something happened to you like I don’t know exactly what happened I had this

experience when I started coaching people I started coaching soccer and suddenly I went from watching it on tv all the time and having the joy of instant replay and then suddenly I was coaching and there was no live tv and something would happen and I’d say oh I’m not sure I saw what I think I saw and we approached these Jesus stories these Jesus moments years after the fact and we can read them over and over again and in some ways they become overly familiar but what I’d love us to do over these next few weeks is to put ourselves in these Jesus moments imagine what it was like for his earliest followers to see him do things that seemed impossible to do things that sort of took old Jewish stories and said no I’m going to make these about me because what I think you’re going to see through these first four chapters of john is Jesus takes everything and says it’s about me we’re going to watch as he looks at really basic things like wine and bricks and water and says these things teach about me we’re gonna look as he takes supernatural big stories like the beginning of time like the temple like spirit these big words that we maybe don’t fully understand and he’ll start to say no these are about me Jesus takes everything and says no this is about me I am central to everything so we’re going to start

in john chapter 1. so if you have a bible in front of you minds upside down I will smoothly turn it the right way around as is appropriate for reading and I’m just going to read it to start with and we’ll look at the text together in a second it begins this way in the beginning was the word and the word was with god and the word was god he was with god in the beginning through him all things were made without him nothing was made that has been made in him was life and that life was the light of all mankind the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it and we’ll pause there and skip down to verse nine the true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world he was in the world and though the world was made through him the world did not recognize him he came to that which was his own but his own did not recognize him now I had this grand hope that we could get all the way down to verse 16 today but I’m suspicious that we might only get down to about verse four or five but let’s pray as we get into this text god we in this group who follow you and that may not be all of us right now and that’s fine we who call you savior lord who chase after you we believe that you breathed on this book and it came alive and we’re asking you now god breathe into us as we

look to you breathe new life into us new possibilities into us new hopes and dreams into us may this thing captivate us may these stories about you change us got to pray for us as a community that this teaching would do what they’re supposed to do that it would comfort the afflicted and it would afflict the comfortable thank you Jesus for change amen john begins with these words in the beginning you may have heard that phrase before somebody somewhere else in the beginning to a Jewish person this certainly would be a very very familiar phrase in the beginning and it got me thinking about this idea of how you start a book it can be quite important like I know usually instantly whether I’m in on a book or out straight away so I had some examples for you here we go when Mr bilbo Baggins of bag end announced that he would surely be celebrating his 11th birthday with a party of special magnificence there was much talk and excitement in hobbiton anyone know the source it’s pretty easy lord of the rings it has this [ __ ] this way of grabbing me instantly I want to know everything about Mr bilbo Baggins and his party I want to know what’s going on in this world how about another one for you it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in one of a

wife a statement that’s as true today as it was when jane Austen wrote it many years ago I’m sure and there’s just I impressed my wife delightfully when we first met by being able to quote the first page of pride and prejudice it’s just this captivating thing like what an interesting statement and then how about this one Mr and Mrs dursley of number four privet drive were happy to say they were perfectly normal thank you very much the beginning of harry potter and the something about it isn’t the some way that she creates this statement that says you know what I’m a little suspicious about Mr and Mrs dursley I’m not quite sure they’re as perfectly normal as they may want me to believe and I want to get into this story and I did accidentally choose all British authors so if you weren’t sure you are getting a dig like a lesson on British made in British literature or something like that um but there’s these ways these stories have of captivating you and then at the same time you can start a story in ways that are truly horrific so one of the things you’ll learn about me as we progress on this delightful journey together is I am unconfessedly a nerd I have so many little nerd things that I’m interested in and I can’t resist sharing with them with you in in person so you just have to get used to it um and so one of my

favorite times of year is this um it is the release of the beulah lighten fiction writing contest award so beulah light and if you’re not sure who that is it’s the guy that crafted the original line it was a dark and stormy night it was a dark and stormy night all the possibilities and this becomes one of these lines that’s completely overused and this award now is designed it’s this award that celebrates the person that can write the worst opening line possible so people from all over the world they get together and they write these lines and they send them in and every year there’s a big winner announced and it’s been going on for 35 years now and I genuinely get excited to see who has won this year who has crafted a piece of literature that is truly awful and this was a winner that I thought I would share with you cassie smiled as she clenched john’s hand on the edge of an abandoned pier while the sun set gracefully over the water as the final rays of light disappeared into the star-filled sky she knew there was one thing left to do to finish off this wonderful evening which was to throw his severed appendage into the ocean’s depths so it could never be found again and maybe get some custard afterwards it’s this ridiculous turn of phrase right it sounds like a romance novel everything’s fine and then you’re like what where

did we get seven appendage from it’s just bizarre and so people have crafted these lines for us and it’s just a joy you get great opening lines and terrible opening lines and on the surface I would say john in the beginning seems like a fantastic opening line it’s captivating and yet from a Jewish perspective putting ourselves back in that first century Jewish position I wonder if it’s not a horrific opening line it might just be the worst opening line you could dream up because think about it Matthew starts with the idea that jew Jesus is a king and we can live with that mark will talk about the idea that he is the son of man he is god’s representative on earth Luke this other writer will talk about how Jesus is the friend of sinners and all of them will share this idea that Jesus is the son of god on earth and that well it might be a stretch we can get on board with maybe but for a Jewish person to put this Jesus person in the beginning to throw this illusion all the way back to genesis chapter one in the beginning god created the heavens and the earth that’s this moment of like what are you saying how far do you want to stretch this Jesus story in the beginning was the word on the surface it’s preposterous what has john heard and seen about this Jesus person that makes him think he can stretch his story to genesis

chapter one Jesus suddenly isn’t someone that appeared in Bethlehem maybe under miraculous circumstances he’s suddenly not a miracle worker or a great teacher suddenly he’s connected to the beginning the beginning of genesis chapter one starts in the beginning god in Hebrew it is. in Greek when they translated it it’s this idea of an archaic it’s the beginning the first chapter of genesis is the first moment in Jewish literature that god is pulled out of time they begin to say something like god is over everything god is bigger than time bigger than this fundamental thing and now john is saying that about this rabbi that he’s followed for a few years because when we think about Jesus story with john it actually doesn’t start off that crazy it’s very normal Jesus is a local rabbi he begins doing what local rabbis have done for many years which is to call for followers and say I’m going to take you and I’m going to train you and I’m going to produce you and I’m going to send you out into the world and sometimes we forget just how every day that was now Jesus does something slightly different Jesus takes the outcasts the misfits generally Jewish education would work like this you would go through education especially as a male child you’d go through education until eleven and then they

would do this kind of like the cut system you know like high school sports they would say no you’re not going to make it and so go and learn a trade go back to your father’s house and do whatever he does and so the worst of the students would go and then you’d keep some others who would get to go through education longer and then there’s another cut and finally the best students would get to go through this education process until 30 and then they might take on rabbis of their own but sometimes we have these pictures of Jesus and his disciples that in reality just make them look old to illustrate this uh what I’d love is is there a couple of uh guys here maybe sort of around the age of 15 16 17 18 anyone there that is brave enough to come up on stage someone anyone just go come on come up here come come come just come up on stage very good very good clap him as he comes well done anyone else have we got a couple more or is that are we limited to that we’ll even take someone like 1920 if that works and stuff like that but we’ll do with just one maybe we’ll have more in the second service who knows but here you can take your mask off for this it’s approved I’m going to stand over here so think about this for a second Jesus and sorry what was your name Christian and we met right

Christian yeah we met outside we were throwing a football you’re a jets fan love it in broncos territory I was told don’t say anything bad about the broncos on Sunday morning I’m a lions fan so I’ve suffered I can say what I want about anyone so Jesus and his followers looked like this Jesus was younger than me when he died and rose again Jesus earliest followers were 14 year olds 15 year olds 16 year olds the oldest of them may have been peter there’s this moment where Jesus has to go and pay temple tax for him and for peter and it seems like peter might have been over the age where you had to do that but for the most part Christian is what we’re talking about when we talk about the earliest followers of Jesus these were young men we see pictures of them with beards down to here and there definitely got some white in them and we think of them as old men yet Jesus goes around and he calls these young men that have been sent back to learn a trade to fish to do tax collecting whatever they are doing and he takes them and he says you guys you 12 will change the world I’m gonna do something I’m gonna set the ball rolling and then you’re gonna take it and you’re gonna run with it and that will be life changing or world changing Christian you can grab a seat thank you very much it wasn’t very

hard I just needed you to stand there and look look disciple like now you realize for this group of people for the rest of their lives when they picture a disciple they’re going to picture you um so you’ve got a lot to live up to my friend but this is this is how it starts and then the ball starts rolling with all these different things all these different things that john will begin to see Jesus do and over the next few weeks we’re going to look as Jesus turns water into wine as he talks about this temple this holy place and says actually it could fall down and it wouldn’t matter too much because everything that was important there is now centered on me he’s going to talk about mysterious spirit about this thing that cannot be seen and say no that’s connected to me too he’s going to talk about giving water to someone and say well water’s fine and we’re in Colorado so we appreciate lack of water there’s not as much water here as I’m used to but water’s fine but no there’s another kind of water that I’m gonna give Jesus will begin to do these things and every single one of them is mysterious it speaks back into something that is old john is amazed that Jesus would take things that are old and talk about them in new ways so amazed is he that he will take the oldest thing and say I’ve decided that is about Jesus too

Jesus is john’s lead story maybe you’re comfortable uh familiar with that term in journalism don’t bury the lead it’s this idea that you can have a story that’s so amazing and you can take the main fact and you can leave it out all together johnny’s convinced that Jesus is his lead story and he won’t bury it he’ll make that the thing all the time and what he’s doing is this wonderful thing again nerd culture is about to come out for you he’s doing this thing that I would call retroactive continuity so if you’re familiar with comic book movies all those kind of things and hopefully you are and if you’re not you’re going to be at some point soon um Jesus is the lead story so let’s get to here so this is spider-man of course retroactive continuity is something that happens in comic books all the time so think about if you remember the early spider-man stories why does spider-man become spider-man he’s bitten by a spider but what kind of spider is he bitten by well in the earlier stories he’s been bitten by a spider that has been affected by radiation by nuclear power because when spider-man came out everything everybody was terrified about nuclear power and then we skip forward to the spider-man movies that come later and suddenly no one’s worried about nuclear power anymore so they need something

else so they go back and they change the story and suddenly the spider that bites him is one that has been through a process of genetic modification that on the surface is what retroactive continuity means it means you go back and you change the story and this is happening delightfully right now for those of you that have seen it in this tv series called cobra kai so I am a child of the 80s unashamedly so I grew up going through the karate kid movies now unfortunately my wife hates them so I never get to watch them anymore but I’ve started to watch them with my kids just so they can see just how wonderful the 80s were and and you guys remember that the moment that the key moment of karate kid is this this moment where in the final scene Daniel Larusso pulls out this kick that nobody has ever achieved in like a competition before he’s learned it from his incredible master Mr miyagi he’s seen him performing it and then suddenly in this moment that looks like defeat there’s this celebration as Daniel Larusso pulls off this kick and wins the competition with the crane kick and we all celebrated we all cheered the inspirational music kicked in and and everything was good so cobra kai is this series set 35 years later as we get to catch up with the characters it’s anyone’s

any movie lovers dream because you always have those moments in movies where you’re like oh I wonder what happened to them all where did they go next and so cobra kai is interested in this whole concept of retroactive continuity that I’m talking about because johnny Lawrence the bad guy in karate kid spends most of the series complaining about how no it didn’t really happen like this or at least it shouldn’t have because he used an illegal kick it shouldn’t have been a victory it should have been a defeat and he watches scenes play and johnny Lawrence and that re-narrates them for you and starts to try and convince the people that are listening to him that no no I was the good guy all along Daniel Larusso pushed me to it he tormented me and I just lashed out as any person might do when pushed to the absolute limits it goes back and it changes the story those are just a couple of examples of what john is doing here on the surface it seems to a Jewish person you’re going back and you’re changing the story because in the beginning god was not about Jesus on the service and john is so convinced it is he’s willing to take that huge risk in the opening of his book to him in the beginning doesn’t just point to god behind the scenes invisible it points to this rabbi that he spent three years chasing around

the Galilean wilderness think about how incredible that is Jesus never did some of the things that might point to fame neville travelled more than a couple of hundred yards miles from his hometown never wrote a book never wrote a song never did any of the things we might think of as significant achievements never painted a work of art never constructed a building he didn’t do any of those things on the surface his ministry was this it was abject failure it was death on a roman cross we tend to think about that as a pinnacle of achievement now and that’s us looking at it with our 21st century eyes because here’s the truth about the roman cross they did that repeatedly to thousands of people and none of them are remembered they’re forgotten they’re done and yet this Jesus figure sticks out amongst all of them and john will take this figure that on the surface died on a cross and then he’ll take this this story of resurrection that is birthed from it and say all of this has convinced me that Jesus story doesn’t start in Bethlehem doesn’t start in Nazareth or any of those places it starts way beyond time and space he was there in the beginning now I wonder when we look at it deeper is that such a push or stretch as we might imagine when you read the old testament the the Jewish bible

there’s all these stories lurking in the service so under the surface that actually they hidden at this kind of thing maybe they’re not explicit but they definitely have hints we can move beyond that if we believe this idea that theo neutus that this this bible is god breed this thing that we read is god breathed we’d expect to find this sort of story that that covers all the different books the 66 of them if you’re unfamiliar and we’d expect to find these common themes in amongst them we’d expect to find that there’s the authors of the books but then there’s what you might call the auteur there’s this god who’s writing the story behind the scenes this god is breathing into it and then incredibly becoming a character in his own story according to john and so you’d expect to find these hints in place and this is a chapter from genesis chapter 18 the lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of mamrie while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby when he saw them he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground now what’s going on here this is this famous character Abraham sitting in a tree and it says it seems on the surface two different things the lord appeared to Abraham and

then he saw three men people read in genesis have wrestled with this for years what does it mean but it seems so comfortable going from this idea that this is the lord this is god who is not seen and suddenly now is seen in three now if you’re familiar with the fact that we have a whole host of brothers and sisters following Jesus all over the world that at times will see things slightly different to us you may have come across something like this this is called an icon it comes from the orthodox church this is ruevlev’s rublev’s trinity and he drew this to picture this scene of the trees of mamrie there’s three that come and visit Abraham and he pictured these three as the trinity this father on the left there’s Jesus sitting in the center and the spirit to the right and you can tell by the way he draws them that the specific you can tell who is who uh the father is all in gold and he doesn’t touch the table at all and Jesus has two fingers on the table and he has a brown robe because he’s deeply connected with earth and then the spirit has a hand on the table because he is the one that is still present and all of those things suggest that that each character has a specific you know we know who each one of them is but rublev drew this to picture the idea that that god was there as trinity three in one way back in the old

testament when john says that Jesus was there in the beginning maybe he’s not making as much of a stretch as we think he is maybe he’s tapping into this story that’s always been lurking under the surface it’s just taken all the things that Jesus has done to convince him that Jesus is a part of this thing the great thing about this scene as we’ll see is we are invited into this scene this story of Jesus when you think about it is about beginnings but because it’s a new story it’s also interested in new beginnings as well if genesis is beginnings and the name genesis just comes simply from this word beginning john is new beginnings and isn’t that an encouraging thought because haven’t each of us walked that journey where we’re like ah I could use a new beginning what is it in your story at the moment that you say oh god if only you would breathe on that part of my life and create it anew perhaps it’s the same struggle that you faced over and over again perhaps it’s a struggle of everything that this pandemic has done the wearing of it the weight of it perhaps it’s a marriage that at one point felt like it was thriving and now begins to struggle perhaps it’s parenting in the sense that like ah I just don’t know if I can do this day after day anymore perhaps it’s loss and mourning and loneliness what is it that needs to be

spoken new over you I would suggest that if genesis is beginning then john is this idea of new beginning and that is a wonderful thing in the beginning was the word the word was with god and the word was god he was with god in the beginning through him all things were made without him nothing was made that has been made in him was life and that life was the light of all mankind that light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it genesis 1 talks about this idea of light and then john in his writing talks about how Jesus comes and he brings light and that life light is life to all men what is it that you need light shined upon in your life think about that experience of someone turning on the light and going from darkness to light and that’s what john says this Jesus story brings it’s this moment of captivating light of captivating newness john sees something unique in Jesus in his ability to do this Jesus centrality is this idea that there is a stage and it’s dark and there’s this spotlight and the spotlight rests on Jesus he is this lead story and john will not bury his lead story all things to john center on this Jesus he brings light life and that life was light to all men the interesting thing about we’ll skip that because I’m running out of time um the interesting thing about this idea that rubler brings

is this when they looked at this picture years later they found they took it down for cleaning and they found there was this gap in it it looked like something had been removed from this picture it was like this weird sort of sense where there was that there’d been glue and that glue was like still there but there was something that was taken off what they discovered after a while of investigating was that the probability was that somewhere there was this mirror that sat at the bottom of the picture the idea was that you would come and you would gaze at it and you would see yourself reflected there’s this beautiful idea that god as trinity is this important concept because it means that god is in constant relationship with himself he is really in relationship as father son and spirit but the incredible joy of rublev’s trinity is this you and I were invited in to that relationship john starts his story with who Jesus is Jesus is part of everything bigger than everything and as we get to look over the next few weeks we’ll look at him turn water into wine we’ll look at him take a building and say no this building speaks about me we’ll look at him as we he takes the idea of spirit this thing that we can’t see and says no this is me too and we’ll look as he talks about water and says no all of these things speak to me

but john is so convinced he says in the beginning it wasn’t just this guard distant and separate it was this god now walking on earth amongst us you are invited in to that story when you think about what it is that you need to be made new that becomes possible when you step into that story for yourself without him we can do nothing yes later after Jesus time Paul the writer will say this in all things that he might have the preeminence Jesus is central to everything I’m going to invite Aaron and the team to come up and lead us in worship again but that is my dream for us as a community to begin at that point Jesus is central there are other things to say other things to celebrate but Jesus is central let’s pray together