The New Room – Kensington & First Meriden UMCs – 19 March 2023

John 8:21-36  “Addition and Subtraction – March Maskness” by Ric Hanse

The Feast Of Tabernacles
Festive music is playing. The decorations are up. People are enjoying holiday feasts. It was beginning to look a lot like…the Feast of Tabernacles! In Jesus’ day there was no happier holiday than when Israelites gathered in Jerusalem for a seven-day festival celebrating the harvest and remembering how God cared for the Israelites during their forty years in desert under Moses’ leadership. That “Feast of Tabernacles” spirit was in the air. People were talking about how they wished the sense of goodwill and cheer would last all year as they built their special shelters (called Tabernacles) out of palm branches to camp in during the seven-day festival.
Jesus is in Jerusalem for the big celebration too. Jesus even does some teaching, and lots of religious people are saying, “This rabbi is really good. I think I’ll join his movement.” 
You’re In Bad Shape
But during this happiest season of all Jesus says to these good religious people who decided to believe in Him, “Being free takes more than saying you believe in me. It takes depending on me and doing what I teach. You will only be free when your belief in me leads you to realize you need me.” “But we are free,” the people say to Jesus. “You only think you’re free,” Jesus replies. “But you’re not. Only God can free you to love your enemies and do good to those who hurt you.” Suddenly these good religious people are angry. “We don’t need you! We are Abraham’s descendants. We are good faithful religious people.” 
Stubbornly Dishonest
Like the religious people of Jesus’ day, we can deceive ourselves into believing we don’t have to depend on Jesus. I sing the church songs, I say my prayers, I work on church and community committees, I give money to the church, I live a good life, I’m basically honest. I don’t have to depend on Jesus.

And Jesus comes to us saying, “I cannot be your hobby. I need to be your way of life. You need me to free you from everything that keeps you captive. You need me to free you from anger, hatred, fear, sin, loneliness, death. You need me to set you free. But I cannot set you free until you depend on me.


March Maskness
Our culture teaches us to put on masks. “How are you?” “I’m fine”. We fool ourselves into believing that we are fine, that we don’t need help, that we don’t need rescuing. We fool ourselves into believing that we have it all together – even when we’re falling apart on the inside.
So many people at the Feast of Tabernacles were only happy on the surface. Jesus feels their pain and offers them freedom. But Jesus has no room for masks.
The Day For Honesty
It is time to take off our masks. It is time for us to be honest about our condition. Some of life is great. But some of life is not, and we need help. We need Jesus to heal us, forgive us, free us.

We need to confess to Jesus that there are places in our lives that we don’t want him messing with. We need to be completely real with Jesus. It’s time to remove our masks.

Over the years I have learned that if I want to enjoy God’s love, enjoy God’s forgiveness, and be filled with Jesus’ joy and strength I need to be completely real with Jesus.
Today hear Jesus saying, “Be real with me, be honest about your needs, your failures, your hurts, your hopes. Let me into every part of your life, and I will set you free!”

No more March maskness!