A Royal Priesthood

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are God's own possession.  You have become this people so that you may speak of the wonderful acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light.  Once you weren't a people, but now you are God's people.  Once you hadn't received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9-10 CEB
 
When we heard God’s call to begin a new worshiping community, we weren't sure what it would look like but we were determined to see what God was out ahead of us doing. And we were determined to join God in whatever that was.
This word from 1 Peter gives us some good clues on why we should join God and how we should join God.   Peter is writing this letter “To those who are elect exiles in various regions of the Roman Empire. They are called “elect pilgrims.” The world “Elect” means selected or chosen and is speaking here about their position before God. They are God’s chosen people. The world “Pilgrim” often means traveler or wanderer and has to do with their position in the world;  they are strangers in this world without a real place.
As we prepare to follow God into the world and join him in the work he is doing, I want to ask you to focus on who God says we are through Jesus – and what makes us qualified to do this particular work. The Scripture says we are a royal priesthood. All of us are actually priests. It is saying ordinary you and ordinary me are priests – and what has made us priests is our faith in Jesus.  
Peter is talking to ordinary, people who don’t even quite fit in, people who were on the fringes of society – and telling them You are priest.  And not just priest but a royal priesthood!  He is revealing their value before God and making it clear that everyone has a part to play in worship & in the life of church. Each one of us has something to give, something to offer.
The Bible is full of pages on the duties of priest but for our purposes, I want to narrow it down: priest minister in a particular place. And place is important because that particular place has a particular people. Eugene Peterson says in his book, The Contemplative Pastor that we are to ask “who are these particular people and how can we be with them in a way that they can become what God is making them."  The name of our church is Altadena Free Methodist Church – and that is because we have felt called to explore what God is doing in that particular place with that particular people. This exploring assumes a couple of things: 1) God is already at work, 2)we don’t have all the answers, 3) we are responsible for paying attention to the Word of God and the Work of God as we explore, being careful to watch and listen, not striking out on our own – because if we do, we could possible get in the way of what the Spirit is doing in this place with these people. Our work is to become aware of what God is already doing out ahead of us and to  "respond to it, participate in it and delight in it."
Peter tells these exiles in Rome that though they were rejected by people, they are accepted by God. That is our same message. It is the message to us and it is the message to the people of Altadena and to the world. Peter tells them that they are a chosen people and a holy nation. That is our same message. Anyone who has ever been rejected can know the joy of being accepted just as these spiritual pilgrims were accepted by God!  
This is the message to all of you who are reading these words. You are accepted!  And this acceptance is built on one thing alone: faith in Jesus makes us acceptable to God.  We only have to accept Jesus into our hearts and lives.  This is God's message to us all:
We are accepted!