Apprentices of Christ

June 25, 2017


Two years ago, a friend of ours by the name of Hilde from the Oppland area of Norway came to Oslo and visited us. As Pastor Joel and I were still very new to Oslo, Hilde shared all things Norwegian with us. We started talking about the 17th of May and Hilde shared in detail about the day and more importantly to her, about her bunad and how proud she was that her mother made it, by hand. She received it when she was confirmed and wears it with pride whenever she has the chance. She went on to share that in the small town where she lives, her mother has been making bunads for the last 50 years and has owned a bunad shop, providing the surrounding community with their important national dress. Hilde then shared with us about the work that goes into making a bunad, specifically, the time, money, and attentive detail and what it means when they are hand sewn. After we learned a great deal about bunads she said, “Now, I am a bit worried because my mother is 75 years old. For years, our family has been telling her to find an apprentice, someone who can watch and learn how she makes them, but she always said it was too much work to teach someone else how to do it. She didn’t have the time to do that because she was too busy, but, my whole family kept telling her how important it was for her to find someone, because who will know how to do create the bunads with such care and craft after her? And during her years of work, she could have had extra help, even though it would have been harder in the beginning. My mother is the only one who hand sews them from my specific area and everyone buys them from her. Now, my mother must figure out what she will do with her shop because she wants to retire. She is trying to now find someone who can take over, but we will have to see what happens.”

Hilde recognized that her mother is a master of an art form that is very important to her community’s identity and the place where she and many others come from. An apprenticed bunad maker would be required to watch, learn, and mimick the craft, so they could become good at it. When one spends time with the master, they learn more and more each and every day, focusing with a clear picture of where they are going and what they are trying to do. For both the master and apprentice, the work can be exhausting and tiring and I’m sure there are days in which both would want to give up. But, the master would encourage and give space for failure and opportunity to try and try again. The mission of the bunad master is to pass on their community’s history, identity, and to tell the story of where their people come from through their dress.

Today’s story from Matthew has good news about Jesus, who is, the master of the disciples lives. This story is following the call to the disciples and continues to explain and show us what it means to follow him. Think about Jesus’s disciples, they were apprentices, meaning that they would need to watch, learn, and mimic Jesus as they followed him. They wanted to learn from him. But, the disciples were also utterly broken and human. Nevertheless, Jesus was their master and teacher and as we read in scripture, the disciples spent all their time with him, walked with him, learned from him, doubted him, had faith in him, ate with him, failed him, listened to him, watched him heal others, and witnessed his ministry of love to EVERYONE. It wasn’t easy and I’m sure that Jesus was exhausted and tired, as were his disciples. But, even so, Jesus gave space for failure and even welcomed it, gracing them over and over and over, with new opportunities to try and try again. Why did Jesus do this? Because he loved them and he wanted them to know their identity in him. He also did this because his story was God’s unfolding story in the life of all humanity. And fortunately, God’s story through scripture has been passed on through us generation after generation.

We are products of faith that has been passed on. We are also named as disciples and apprentices of Jesus. But following Jesus requires great things. The words from today’s scripture probably make you want to ask, really, this is what it will be like when I follow you? You haven’t come to bring peace, but a sword and there will be all these divisions between my family and that’s just my family, not even the world that I interact with each and every day? It doesn’t even sound pleasant! And yet, just like the disciples and apprentices of the past, we too, are required to watch, learn, and mimic Jesus, the master, who shows us how to live out lives of faith and incredible love. Yeah, we will have to sacrifice some things. Yeah, we are going to fail. Yeah, we will struggle. Yeah, family members will disagree with us and we will disagree with them. Yeah, people from the church will fail us and we will fail them. Yeah, we will struggle and be tired and wonder what we are doing as we continue forward. But as we commit and recommit ourselves to Jesus and the mission of love he calls us into, we get better at it and Jesus continues to use us.

When I think back on my journey of life, there have been significant people of faith, disciples and apprentices of Jesus, whom I have watched, listened to, and mimicked. I learned from them because I wanted to be like them, because I saw the fruits of their love in Jesus. There was my 5th grade Sunday School teacher, Gail Berger showed me how to rely on God’s word, and to seek him every day. She was someone who experienced great loss in her life and yet, she held onto God’s Word, which gave her strength and hope. Then there was my swimming coach, Kate Lundsten, who taught me not to take life so seriously and laughed a lot, encouraged, and prayed for me. There were my pastors, but there were also other adults in my congregation, who acknowledged and talked to me when they saw me. All of these important people have been an important part of shaping me in my walk with Jesus. These are the people who have reminded me of my identity in Jesus, shown me the history of my biblical roots, and have helped me to know that I am a part of a church community that loves, cares for, supports, and encourages all of us. They have also shown me that it is okay to be broken, because we all are. And in and through our brokenness, grace abounds, everyone is welcome and important, and forgiveness and love are the keys to Christian faith and life.

In the same way, many of you also have had people who have been significant disciples and apprentices of Jesus, who have shaped, loved, and have helped you to know him better. Here is a radical thought…..for many of us adults in this congregation, we are those significant disciples that our children are watching, learning from, and mimicking. When you see a child here, running around, eating waffles during the fellowship hour, playing outside, sitting with their families during worship, go up and say hello, see them, and most importantly, acknowledge them as vital part of this place called ALC. As spiritual leaders, it is our job to remind each other of our identity in Jesus, learn and plant ourselves in our biblical roots, and hold onto each other in this church community.

Back to the bunad….the Norwegian bunad is a physical identity that someone is Norwegian and based on colors, patterns, and appearance, show us specifically where in Norway that person comes from. It is worn on special occasions, weddings, funerals, confirmations, graduations, and so forth. But, it made me think, what physically identifies us as Christians in everyday life? How do people know who and more importantly whose we are? What would it look like if we put on Christ’s love? The cool thing is that we can all wear Jesus’ love, no matter where we are from, our backgrounds, brokenness, financial situation, ethnicity, language, culture or gender. Everyone can wear it every day! Jesus, the master of our lives, gives us the fundamental love that we need to identify ourselves in Him. Jesus, the master of our lives, continues to work through us in the world today and others will know him by the ways we treat and show them Christ’s love. Jesus, the master of our lives, blesses us through our church, so that we can know that we are not alone, but are a part of this community, as messy and broken as it can be. We are just required to do our best and follow him. C.S. Lewis said it beautifully, “The church exists for nothing else but to draw people into Christ and make them little Christs.” (say again)

This week, I’d like to challenge you as you get up in the morning to clothe yourselves with Christ’s love. So, when you step out the door and walk the streets, go on holiday, play at the park, buy your food, interact with your brothers and sisters here at church or whatever it is you will do, people will see whose you are, what your identity is, and experience Jesus, who is the master of love in all of our lives. Amen.

Bible References

  • Romans 6:1b - 11
  • Matthew 10:24 - 39



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