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You Are Included

Read John 15:9-17 – Some of the best and some of the worst moments of my life have to do with being chosen…(or not chosen–as the case may be)

 I wsn’t much of an athlete during my days in grade school (or any of my other days for that matter).  I was always the last to be chosen in kickball – sometimes I was never chosen. 

 I remember my first crush in Middle School.  She was a beautiful young lady named Kim.  She always wanted to “just be friends.”  I was never chosen for anything more.

It was pretty ego bruising thing to not be chosen… to be left out, to be considered the least valuable person…

What a difference it makes to be among the chosen.

I remember making application to attend Stetson University.  I was chosen – included in the freshman class of (I am not going to say).

 I was included in the ______ pledge class of my college fraternity—Alpha Tau Omega.

 In seminary I was selected to receive a Middle East Travel Award—chosen and included in a nearly all expense paid trip throughout Jordon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Greece. 

 It took some convincing, but Jeana eventually gave in and chose to be my wife.  She included me as her husband. 

 What a wonderful experience it is to be chosen – to be included!  How fantastic to know that we are important to someone, that we are valued, that we are desirable.

Being chosen is important stuff.

That’s what makes today’s gospel reading so wonderful.  Today we hear that our Triune God has chosen us to enter into fellowship through the grace mediate in Jesus Christ.  God has chosen us – included us – not as servants, but as friends.   

And he chooses us without us ever seeking him, without us even choosing him.  He picked me before I picked him.  An old hymn says, “Jesus Included Me, Yes, He Included Me.”

I find that incredible.

I am of value, of worth, to Jesus.  He included me.

You are valuable and have worth to God.  He included you, too.

Think about what this means.

Hear this message of grace today: You are chosen! You are included.

Jesus wants you on his team — not for what you can do, not for your abilities, but simply because he loves you and wants to show his love to you and – through you – to others.

He knows who you are – and you are included. 

He knows what you have done – and you are included.

He knows what you will do – and you are still included.

 He has chosen you – not to be his servant, not to be his slave – but to be his friend.  He has chosen you to enter into the Divine Dance of the Triune God.  He has chosen you to be a part of the eternal relationship that exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

That’s what it says in today’s gospel reading!  

“I do not call you slaves or servants any longer.”  he says, “but I have called you friends”

Do you know what this means?

It means that we do not need to gaze longingly at God from afar off.

It means that we are not slaves who have no right to enter the master’s presence.

It means that we are not like onlookers in a crowd hoping to see the passing King.

Christ offers an intimacy.  You are chosen and included.

So we are able to come bolding before the throne of grace.

So we are able to speak to God and hear God in the most intimate of terms.

So we are able to see God’s heart and share God’s joys and life.

As you go through today – go knowing that God has chosen you, that God has included you and has offered friendship to you.   Rejoice in that truth and resolved to share it with others.  Go about your day ready to make friends of others, no matter who they are, or what they are about, or what they have or have not done.  That’s what it means to have been appointed by Christ to be fruitful!  It means to choose others for love the same way they (and you) we have been chosen and included in God’s grace.

 May the grace of Almighty God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be with you.

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