HISTORIC FIRST LUTHERAN CHURCH
808 N Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104
Christ and My Clutter
April 3, 2022
The History: Just over 2 years ago, COVID-19 became a daily household word when our society was locked down
“for two weeks.” I began writing two emailed devotions every week – one on Sunday and one on Wednesday. When
we were allowed to reopen for in-person worship three months later, I continued writing these devotions, even with
leading up to three in-person worship services on Sundays, and sometimes one on Wednesdays.
The Present & Future: As things are returning to “normal” and my “regular” work load is increasing, these Sunday devotions will be discontinued after next Sunday April 3, 2022. We would like to think most of us are back to in-person worship on a regular basis. Wednesday devotions will resume after Easter (for the time being).
Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:1-11
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” [Revelation 22:21]
When I first moved into my home in June of 1995, I literally owned two pieces of furniture: a bed and a hide-a-bed sofa, both of which I had purchased the previous year during the time I had lived in my Pasadena apartment. I also owned a 13 inch television and a stereo (typical important guy stuff). Everything else that I moved into my house was either temporarily borrowed or had been given to me. I literally owned nothing else. Now remember that, for the previous 9 years (during college and seminary), I had moved at least twice a year every year. Everything had to fit into my 1989 Dodge Omni.
When I first moved into my home in June of 1995, most of the rooms literally contained one or two pieces of furniture (and that’s if you can call cement blocks and wood slats “furniture”). Fast forward 27 years and I admittedly own way too much! My house is fairly full (some would say cluttered). And, on top of furnishing this house, I’ve also furnished my mountain cabin with excess furniture from the house. But for two boxes of Christmas decorations, I proudly have nothing in the attics at either the house or the cabin, but the interiors – including all the closets – are fairly packed. I honestly have good intentions – like when I bought new shoes about a year ago I kept the three sturdy shoe boxes to do some sorting and reorganizing, but they’ve now become part of the decor in my home office, sitting in the corner with my weekly promise that I should just throw them out.
Now I am not going to ask you about your home and any potential clutter, hidden or obvious, admitted or unadmitted. But, as your pastor, I am going to ask you about your life. What “clutter” have you allowed into your life? What issues is that “clutter” causing you?
St. Paul had a lot of “clutter” in his life and he was able to admit it. He had collected an impressive hoard through the years: his parents had followed Jewish law and had him circumcised on the 8th day after birth; he was proudly part of Israel, the chosen people of God; he was of the tribe of Benjamin, meaning he was a direct descendant of Abraham, through whom God had promised to bless the entire world; he was a Pharisee, one of the chief enforcers of Jewish religious law; he had been given carte blanche orders to persecute the early followers of Jesus Christ; no one could lodge any charge against him (“faultless as to righteousness”).
Paul’s life was pretty “cluttered” with lots of stuff that he really didn’t need – but that he had convinced himself was important.
One day, as Paul was on the Damascus Road [Acts 9], Jesus changed all that. There were no 1-800-GOT-JUNK trucks, but there might as well have been. That day, Jesus told Paul what was most important. And Paul listened and was able to grow to the point of calling all that life clutter “loss” and “rubbish” – worthless junk compared with knowing Jesus Christ and the power of His Resurrection, that Jesus had suffered and died and rose again for Paul and wanted Paul in His life as a dearly loved son. And that was dependent upon nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
When our lives get so cluttered, we kind of need a similar Damascus Road experience to remind us what is truly important in our earthly life as a child of God and to let go of the stuff that we have come to believe is important.
Many years ago now, I bumped into one of our church members at a local store. We chatted for a few minutes and, as we were going our separate ways, the church member waved and said to me “Well, I’ll see you Sunday,” to which I responded “Yes, I THINK I will be there.” I received a very puzzled look in response. The look could be summarized as “Well, you’d better be there!” It reminded me of the look God must have given to Paul that day on the Damascus Road as Paul proudly showed off his clutter. It reminded me of the look God must give each of us sometimes when we allow our clutter to be more valuable in our lives than knowing Christ and the power of His Resurrection and daily living in that power.
My friends, Paul has some important words for you and for me today.
As we stand at the start of yet another Holy Week and Easter, know that I am praying for you and for me – that we will declutter our daily and spiritual lives and come to better know Jesus Christ and His love for us and the power of His Resurrection in our daily lives.
Personally I am off to a good start! It’s 0515 Sunday Morning 3 April. My two devotions for today are now complete and I’ve just come in from finally throwing out those three shoe boxes. And, mysteriously, I found a fourth shoe box tucked behind them, which has also been thrown away. I’ll be off to church soon to spend some time with Christ and Him crucified and risen and with each of you, my sisters and brothers in Christ.
Grace and peace to you!
Pastor Christopher Schaar