Archive for November, 2020
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence– as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil– to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed. We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people. [NRSA: Isaiah 64:1-9]
We begin Advent as a spiritual Journey
Our starting point is our current condition. Looking around and within ourselves. Things are not perfect. We are not perfect, but we have hope. Our hope is in Christ!
• We have been blinded by enormous data,
• we have been swallowed up by conformity,
• we are already investing beyond our control,
• we have the demons that test, tease, and torment us.
• We feel grip of grief. We know the repetition of confinement.
• We think what is evil; we do what is evil.
• We welcome evil into our hearts, minds, and souls.
• We watch what is sinful round the world,
• we grow a custom to brokenness and violence in the news,
• we are desensitized in the entertainment we consume. It’s ok, it’s not real, it has no effect on me.
• And yet it does. It all make evil more normal and digestible
How do we break through?
We come at Advent and recognize we are but a lump of clay before God. But we are not just any lump of clay. We are the lump of clay that God loves, molds, and patiently reworks. God has unfinished business with each of us, as with all of us.
Advent begins a spiritual journey that starts our knowing or remembering that we are the clay and not the Potter.
Here is our prayer for this first week: . Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.
• Knowing Christ in our hearts and out hearts in Gods is our destination,
• we need to acknowledge we have a way to go.
• But we have been given, The Way. Out, the Way through, and the Way home
Thankfully, while God has every right to be furious with us, God loves us more than we can imagine.
The journey is one of yielding to potters hand, vision, and will for us.
Packed for the journey
Every trip, even in unknown adventures needs resources. Has in the tank, snacks for nourishment, and. Map if we lose out way. The counterparts for our spiritual journey as the same. We find direction, energy, and nourishment from our Christian fellowship, worship, study, and service.
These are the tools, activities, and necessities for us to gather, trust and use.
Our first steps are
1. to confess,
2. repent, and
3. remember we ARE plagued with the struggle of sin and weariness.
4. And we are taking first steps back to the heart of worship, heart of faith, to the heart of God.
Step one: Remember “I am not the potter. I am the clay.”
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.
Prayers of confession: (portions from various UMBoW prayers)
Almighty and merciful God,
we know that when we offend another, we offend you.
[We choose other paths, we move away from you.]
We are aware that we have often allowed the shadow of hate
to cloud our souls, hiding the light from our [weary and disinterested] eyes.
We have said unpleasant and hurtful things to our brothers and sisters
when they failed to live up to our expectations.
[We have said things that are pleasant to ourselves and others, but in so doing we have said and done hurtful things to you]
Grant that we might find that spark of love that ever burns within us,
[Fan the flame of your Spirit]
[We long for the grace we know in Jesus Christ]
the love that you have shown to us even when we failed you.
Fan the embers of that love until it roars again
in flames of love, peace, and reconciliation.
Forgive us our sin and help us to forgive those who have sinned against us.
Lead us into new life through your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for the sins of all. Amen.
[Based on (MICHAEL J. O’DONNELL, U.S.A., 20TH CENT.) but with additions]
The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! [NRSA 2 Corinthians 9:6-15]
This thanksgiving, little will be different for all the hype and warnings. People will find ways to share a meal of some size and flavor, People will talk about
- football, and the
People will experience both the joys of traditions and the pangs of conflict.
The first Thanksgiving was a three-day celebration, developed out of a) conflict, b) theft, c) survival, and d) giving thanks to God for 1. forgiveness, 2. learning to work together with our enemies, 3. relationship building and 4. celebration around sharing food, and milestone for looking back< and >looking forward.
Even if we are separated by distance this year, we will find ways
- to remember,
- to hope,
- to fuss, and
- to love one another.
Paul writes these words to the churches around the of Corinth and in this passage is speaking about two matters. First, Paul is asking all the churches around the Mediterranean where the gospel is being preached and churches are springing up, to contribute to the needs of the church members experiencing a famine in Jerusalem.
For nearly 10 years, Paul goes about calling churches to see the needs beyond themselves and to help feed those who are physically hungry as Jesus had commanded his disciples to do.
This passage speaks to why we support foreign mission ministries that are outside of our own community. We who know Christ, know that God will provide for us both. Sometimes we are in the midst of a pandemic, famine, or storm and God will send others to us, and other times we are those called to help those who are.
Paul reminds us all that God is generous and calls us to be generous.
God is praised when we show our gratitude by sharing our love, devotion, obedience, and giving.
- We show our love to God by caring for those God calls us to serve.
- One of Paul’s affirmations for the church is to LIVE as GENEROUS PEOPLE.
- Be known for being gracious, generous, and obedient to God.
Secondly, There are series of truths we need to remember about God
- God is generous – giving us earth, water, air, spirit, live, AND that most special gift.
- God love us – God doesn’t need us, but God chooses to work through our work and words.
- God is praised when we love generously – loving both God and all others.
This Thanksgiving, the thing that I hope you will choose to make different is not about protocols or travel plans.
- This is the year that we make Thanksgiving about God rather than just a meal.
- This is the year that we make time to Praise and honor God with appreciation.
- This is the year that we focus more on the present need for Christ in our lives than traditions past.
Verse 15. What do we do this year that’s different than the rest?
Have the food, call the family and friends, watch the games and tell the family stories… but first deal with verse 15 of 2 Corinthians
- Thanks Be to God.
- God’s Indescribable Work.
- God’s gift of Christ for the world around me to know through me.
- Make God the focus on Thanksgiving.
- Typically, we say “I am thankful for my relationships, my home, our food, and work, or our belongings…. But where is God in this list?
- The power words in our affirmation of gratitude most often include “I” and “my”.
- Paul is challenging us to turn our thanks toward God first:
- God its because of you I have my family
- It is because of your I have a home
- It is your work that is my life’s purpose
- It is you that guides me at work, at school, in life.
- Every bite I eat, may it be for your work,
- I belong to you, do with me what you will, for your work, I am yours.
- In this way, The appreciation is not for what is ours or is mine, but that we are Gods., Hear the difference?
- We are most thankful for the gift that there are not enough words to describe, be we commit the rest of our lives to live out our appreciation.
- We are saying not only with our words “Thank you”, we are also putting our daily life into God’s hand, our work, our money, our time, our school, our worries, our sins, our success, our opportunities —- at God’s guiding spirit.
- Finally, is the gift: The gift is our grace, hope, salvation, and life that is paid by Christ, wrapped in the church as the body of Christ, and given to us.
Paul is calling the church to :
- Praise God with our words
- Preach God with our thoughts and actions
- Trust God’s gift as truth, power, and purpose for us, our family and friends, strangers, enemies and all people.
There is a difference between saying a prayer, cutting a turkey, complaining about politics, watching the game and taking a nap. — that stuff never changes.. the change we MUST make is to
- Shift the ideas of our heads and words to God’s heart & God’s word.
- See and Trust God to use our lives, relationships, and opportunities to share the wonderful “Gift of Christ” in our circles of influence.
- To experience the up wrapping and applying of the gift Christ is as God works to transform the world, through us.
- Say Thank You by Sharing Christ…
- See and Trust God to use our lives, relationships, and opportunities to share the wonderful “Gift of Christ” in our circles of influence.
Tonight we will have our church family Zoom meeting! No, it’s not ideal but we will not be gathering to share a meal at these tables, but we will begin at the table, sofa, or tv tray at our own home.
Share your email address, log on to zoom, the meeting ID will be in the comments. We want everyone to gather, even if you are not joining us online, pick up the phone and call someone and share this time with some in the church, in your family, a neighbor, make some connection to share the holy time of giving Thanks to God.
Your homework between now and 5pm is to make a list of what GOD has done, what has God provided, What has God opened in your life?
What doors has God help close?
Are you grateful, are you relieved, are you sad? Grieving? Are you appreciative? Are you scared? We gather as the body of Christ to give our whole self to honor God, to trust God, to find a new God’s save grace and loving gift unfolding in our spirit.
- a) How has God been working in your life and
- b) what do you want God to know?
Prayer of Thanks, asking for accountability, Offering praise, and Thanksgiving. Lord have mercy on us, your people.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.” For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night. You sweep them away; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning; in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. For we are consumed by your anger; by your wrath we are overwhelmed. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your countenance. For all our days pass away under your wrath; our years come to an end like a sigh. The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; even then their span is only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger? Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you. So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart. Turn, O Lord! How long? Have compassion on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be manifest to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands— O prosper the work of our hands!. [Psalm 90:1-17: NRSA]
- Who are we to you who is ageless, all mighty, all powerful? We must be light the grass.
- Anger and Wrath –
- You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
- Not only are we speck, no a fly, on a frog, on a knot, on a log, in the bottom of the see, but you know our fears, our failures, and weaknesses.
- What do we matter? What is our value to God?
- Who are we to ask anything of God, Who are we to the Almighty, What does God need from us?
- Not only is God Mighty, Aware of our sin, God has no reason to be patient with us.
- Our prayer is for compassion.
- We cry out to God because even though God could crush us, ignore us, and eliminate us, God loves us.
- The Prayer request of Ps 90 is for God to start tomorrow fresh in God’s steadfast love.
- That we might start anew
- This is possible by seeing our sins, acknowledging our fear, confession our pride, owning up to our
Greed, Shame, weakness, failures, etc..all that tries to separate us from the Love of God.
- Let the rest of our days count more than the days of sin that have past.
- God’s accounting is “graceful forgetting.” God chooses to blot out what has been broken, evil, destructive, abused, all of the prizes any victim might grasp-to, God’s desire is to start fresh, make us knew as the new day, as the new grass, and the new life in Christ that we celebrate today!
- Goal of having a wise and faithful heart with God
- Let the world see your transforming work in our lives. Let the world hear you in the words we speak, and the ideas we share, and the work we produce.
This Psalm is laying our what life with God is like:
Being near God is like standing on the edge of an active volcano, feel the heat, the steam, the molten rock, the consuming power and threating explosion of power. Just standing that close to mouth we could not stand and yet, God is calling us to him.
Being near God is like standing next to a two story electrical generator, sitting at the base of a nuclear reactor. The awesome power to create also has the power to destroy.
There is a fascinating new computer program called gpt-3 and it understand the English language and generates results in various languages, including different computer codes, it can write an essay in the style of Abraham Lincoln, it can construct a novel with all the dialogue of all the random characters that it needs to tell its story. It is not available to the public because it can write essays, college acceptance letters, and legal briefs, medical diagnosis, that would challenge the legitimate work of students, attorneys, authors, and doctors. And it generates these types of products as quickly as you might do a Google search for something. It simulates conversations with historical figures, renders photos of people who do not exist. It draws on nearly 2 trillion records a data sources and generates what it ‘creates’ with enormous speed and accuracy.
I find is fascination and terrifying. A portion of the debate about using this machine is who holds the copyrights of what it produces and who gets the credit or blame for its answers. I do not marvel at it as something that could replace us, but something that could easily cause many people to stop thinking and working for themselves if a computer can generate a product with no effort but to enter a few words of a request. Its access is limited because the threat of misuse is too great.
And it no way comes close to the knowledge of God, but some would give us their own minds to save the labor and reduce the risk of failure, and the easy of not having to strive, grow, fail, and figure out solutions.
God is not a virtual mind, God is the author of creation, the builder of plants and stars, the architect of physics and mathematic and all that the world’s claims is science discoveries, not scientific creations.
Who wants to be around a God that is all power, all knowledge… it’s too much to bear/stand.
God is more than strength and knowledge, God has made us and desires to be with us.
- God is
- transparent yet revealed,
- and most of all, God cares for us, gives us grace, because God loves us.
God who is the source of all the universe, is concerned without relationship.
God knows our sins, failures, fears, weakness, shortcomings, excuses, meanness, jealousies, our greed, shame, selfishness, misuse of gifts, powers, time, life, faith, and all that God has called good that we have used from some other reason than God’s reasons.
If God didn’t care about us, then sin would not be a ‘thing’ in our lives.
Sin is the measure of how close we are to the heart of God.
Hopefully, we stay close and face in the God directions
- We do this through the Means of Grace/ Wesley’s understanding.
- Preventative Grace that helps before we know better
- Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that saves keeps the door open to God for us to return
- Sanctifying Grace includes all the ways we work to keep heading in a God direction
- Toward, Perfecting Grace that is finding ourselves at the feet, in the arms, at the heart of God
The Psalmist doesn’t know Christ, but knows Christ through God’s gracious willing to start new.
That is the reason we know to pray and cry out to God, SAVE US. HEAL US. BLESS US. RENEW US. RESTORE US.
We are able to call out to God, because God wants to help, hear, and bless us.
Why? Because God loves us.
- In this particular song, the writer wants God who looks at our sins, laid out on the table before God, to not be the measure of our life, the fruit of the time, resources, talents that God has entrusted to us.
Just as in the parable of the vineyard owner who gives out the talents while he is away, to one 5, one 2, and the other 1.
When the owner returns the first two have invested and use wisely what has been entrusted, the other buries the talent because he only see the fear, wrath, anger.. there is not relationship of grace that knows, even if we mess up trying God is wise, patient, gracious, and loving enough to see how we use the fruitfulness of God’s love in our lives.
- In this particular song, the writer wants us to remember that God would rather have us make our days count, our use of God’s time, space, and resources for God rather than fear God, love God in return
The wise choice for our life: Choose for the God who knows our sin, to hear our repentance and desire to try again.
- The wisdom to know when to scramble the eggs so that they are not cold
- When to you start the coals so they are ready so we are not waiting on the chicken to get down,
- Know where to spend the nest egg of savings, knowing when to invest in a volatile market.
- Knowing when to plant and when to harvest, when to water and when to fertilize
- The wisdom to confess and see that God would rather we learn from our mistakes than be spiritual or physical dead in our sins and failures.
Our Goal is having a wise and faithful heart working with God’s grace.
- Let the world see your transforming work in our lives.
- Let the world hear you in the words we speak, and
- the ideas we share, and
- the work we produce
- The Test? Ask someone Do you hear God in what im saying?
- Do you see God in my work?
- Do you know God is working through my thoughts?
- Do you sense God has given me another chance?
- Do you hear Jesus in my words
- Do you know the Spirit is guiding my decision?
If not, here is our prayer: Lord have mercy on me a sinner, renew me like the leaves on the tree, grass on the lawn, flowers in the ground, let me be connected to your grace anew, that the world might see, hear, and know your love through my love for you.
Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord! Why do you want the day of the Lord? It is darkness, not light; as if someone fled from a lion, and was met by a bear; or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall, and was bitten by a snake. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. [NRSA: Amos 5:18-24]
The prophet Amos served God’s people as an obnoxious alarm clock, giving the people a much-needed wake-up call from God through Amos’s words to the people. And he was faithful to his job, but he was not known for being a a fun guy at the party.
This chapter starts with Lamentation. To lament is to be passionate about expressing grief or sorrow. In the biblical culture, there were even people who had the job of being in charge of lamenting at a funeral, a team of people who would weep, wail, and lament. We usually settle for a team that will prepare a ham luncheon after the graveside. For the most part we see lamenting as a negative. People will say, “Don’t cry our I will give you something to cry about.”
Amos is one who is passionate about reminding God’s people that they are going to have something to cry about if they don’t change their ways.
The message is about a nation being corrupted from within. The people had forgotten God’s ways and expectations and Amos was reminding that we pay a price for NOT living in a relationship with God individually and collectively.
Amos probably had billboard all over town and ads on social media that read:
- “All if lost, we will be forsaken, with no one to raise her up.”
- The city of many will become only a few.”
- “Justice has been turned to wormwood [or bitterness.]”
At other times he had Meme and commercials that said:
- Trust God! Not King or the neighboring Kings.
- Seek the Lord and live.
His marketing plan didn’t win any awards, but he got some people’s attention and God touched some people’s hearts.
But most ended up in exile, enslaved, and far from home, even though they were warned repeatedly.
Amos made an important case that is worth remembering:
God who made the universe, the sun, the earth, the season, day and night, has given us all things for God’s purpose and not our own purpose. All life is the Lord’s and is intended for the Lord’s glory and praise.
Amos reminds the people that God see the evil of those who sin
- Those who profane justice will receive none.
- Those who speak evil will be consumed by evil.
- Those who trust lies, will not recognize the truth.
- Those who use the weak and oppressed will become weak and oppressed.
- Those who think they have built strong buildings, incomes, portfolios, and see the fruit of God’s work as their own, will end up with nothing.
- Those who have taken bribes will be pushed aside for those who love integrity.
- The destruction will come to those who seek, trust, and do what is evil
The People would ask then, as we would now:
What can we do? How do we make things right?
- Be prudent
- keep silent
- Seek and love what is good, Godly
- Avoid evil and all sin.
- Protect life,
- Establish justice at the gate,
- Trust the Lord, The God of all creation, God will be gracious to those who remain faithful.
Amos reminds the people that God hears the oppressed
- God hears the cries of the cities
- God knows the fear in the streets,
- God sees our failure to trust God instead of trusting our goods, services, and worldly wealth…
- God promises I will pass through the midst of you….
God’s Answer: The Day of the Lord?
Have you heard people say, “It would be good if Jesus would just come on and return and take us home. We are tired of all this crazy.” I know I’ve said that myself
But Amos asks us are we sure about that?
The Day of the Lord’s return will be darkness for the majority and light only to a few.
The title of my sermon is “If 2020 were a bible verse” It will be like 2020, as if you were running from a lion and met a bear, you run into the house and a bitten by a snake lying in wait.
Amos reminds: Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?
Amos tells the people that God has no interest in our festivals, celebrations, world series, super bowls, and championships, tailgates, parties, and showers.
- I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
- God is not impressed by our being polite and forsaking what is Godly.
- God doesn’t need our burnt offerings,
- God doesn’t need our holidays and decorations.
- God doesn’t need to be entertained or soothed.
God is about justice… God is about loving and hoping for love in return and when we use God’s good gifts and we see our very lives our successes, our wealth, our victories, our trophies, our rewards, our power, our accomplishments, our wealth, our life… we are unjust before God.
God does not need kings and false gods and graven images, — those of our creation for our pleasure.
WE ARE GOD’s CREATION for GOD’s PURPOSE AND PLEASURE
The Day of the Lord is about Justice rolling down like the crimson tide, and God’s Goodness and What God has determined is righteousness flows like an ever-flowing mighty river.
The day of the Lord for Amos is God’s accounting for God’s Righteousness being reflected through us, those who seek, teach, practice, promote, sell-out, or trade for God’s righteousness will find them selves in exile.
Exile is being outside the garden, not at home, not free to live, worship, work, and thrive, but to be captive of others who don’t love us, but see our conquest, property, victims, etc. [NRSV: Amos 5:13-27, Key 18-24]
So is Amos speaking to us, or just to those old testament people?
Here is the measure. When Christ returns, he is wanting to see the fruit of our faithfulness and not the fruit of our ledgers.
- God is wanting to see that we speak the truth and expect the truth from others.
- God is anticipating finding people singing God’s praise that they learned from our witness at worship, and at home, at work, at school, everywhere.
- God is expecting to see how we have learn to love our enemies
- God is returning to find the investment bearing interest in grace God has extended to us, through us.
Amos is sounding harsh, but he is showing Grace.
Do you want Christ to return this moment or do you need a little more time to get your spiritual room cleaned up, your witness sharpened and honed.
Do you want Christ to come save us from the crazy 2020, but what God finds is us worried about politics, stock markets, building, worldly values and selfishness, pride, greed, being non-offensive and protected from germs.
- Oh for the day that we were as committed to wearing the Gospel as some wear a mask.
- Oh for the day that we were is eager to chastise someone speaking in hate or hiding in fear, as if we might for not wearing a mask
- Oh for the day that we hear the words of Amos, not just for Israel long ago, but for my very own life and for your very lives.
And claim the grace that Christ has not yet come and repent,
- Be prudent about God’s goodness and rightiousness
- keep silent, about our opinions and acheivments
- Seek and love what is good, Godly
- Avoid evil and all sin.
- Protect all life, all who are forgotten, pushed aside, rejected and aborted
- Establish justice at the gate for all people and not just a few.
- Trust the Lord, The God of all creation, God will be gracious to those who remain faithful.
If Jesus is coming today, I hope its this afternoon so I can begin to make these changes right now!
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [NRSA: Matthew 5:1-12]
The Roman Catholic tradition of honoring and venerating persons as Saints is to recognize that there are some persons who’s lives, and witnesses reveal God’s work and actions in concrete and remarkable ways. The added tradition of asking these persons to pray for them is similar to the practice we have when we ask our family, friends, and pray warriors add their prayers to our own.
There are ways that their tradition elevates these Saints above all the rest of us is one of the differences that are not helpful to us, but I ask you to look at what we share in common about the first two points: 1) recognizing God’s works in the lives of others, and 2) relying on others to share the burden of our spiritual journey.
The familiar selection from Jesus’s sermon on the mount, was shared on a hillside because no one building could contain the gathering of thousands, in the norther edge of this was a singular place that this enormous crowd could gather to hear Jesus without being in direct view of those who in the government or establishment would not initially come to interrupt or stop. In this very open, yet secluded spot, Jesus paints images of what the saints, the disciples, the followers, the church was to be known for doing with their lives.
The saints are all those who do things like those Jesus describes:
- The poor in spirit
- The lost in sadness
- the simple,
- those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
- the merciful,
- the pure in heart,
- the peacemakers,
- those persecuted for doing what is Godly,
- those reviled, persecuted, or defamed, for the purpose defaming Christ in your witness.
If the example of saint living is not for the exceptional example, but for all who followship Christ. The veneration of Saints by the Rom. Cath. Might be the ‘excuse-factor’ for us to not take this list seriously.
The Yoke of Christ is easy, when we share the faithful work with Christ who is ALWAYS faithful.
Think of poor example: imaging a sports team, let us say it’s a high school team, but one of the team members is a current member of the professional all-star legion hero of the sport, is playing on their team. If you take field or court and that caliber of player is on your team do you want them to help your team? Do you want to learn from their experience? Do you want to model their skills of preparation and planning for the game plan, or would you rather they sit the bench?
It would not be fair would it, but would it be helpful if your team continued to slip up, show up ill prepared, or failed to execute the plan as practiced and hoped? Sure, it would, but that is what it means to be on Christ’s team. Alone I would fail, continually; with Christ, is my only hope.
But Jesus is not taking the field with us in the way an athlete might, but there are those who are showing up in our daily lives that we have something great examples to both learn from and lean on in being the church. We rely on other Saints, and in the process, we are the Saints that others will turn in at other times.
The best news of the nine examples in the Sermon on the Mount are not a check list. We do not have to master the who list. Each of us, firming committed to know Christ is with us, working together as a collective pool, team, or church can do all things, for Christ is our strength. Do you see how these fits?
In preparing to cease the day for Christ we have cloud of witnesses both on our team, and those in training in the grapefruit league.
The saints are all those who do things like those Jesus describes:
- The poor in spirit — those who know they have more to learn, give, and trust in Christ.
- The lost in sadness – those who have compassion and will be compassionate
- the simple, — those who know our greatest wealth is nothing that world calls value
- those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, — not just the hunger, but desire with passion to know and love Christ.
- the merciful, — those willing to step in and bridge with kindness without praise or glory
- the pure in heart, — those who are not using God for their own power not to please others
- the peacemakers, — those willing to see options, look for the doors in the wall, those with hope.
- those persecuted for doing what is Godly, — know all this is not easy, but willing to trust with it is inconvenient or we are not rewards nor respected by the world for our trusting God.
- those reviled, persecuted, or defamed, for the purpose defaming Christ in your witness. – basically the same as the one before.
Here is where we need to see Christ at work in others. It inspires our faith and journey. Witnesses for us
It reminds us that we are called to inspire others with our faith and journey. Witnesses for others.
Today we remember those who have died this year, members, non-members, who have been spiritual role models for our faith, and for our world..
Today we remember that we are not waiting to be seen and names as witnesses, we are on Christ’s team and need to know that all this is not only possible, but is the fulfillment of what it means to be the church. We are on the same team. We don’t have time nor energy to listen to a world that would divide us. We are called to be at Christ’s table, on Christ’s team, in Christ’s fellowship, we are living body of Christ for the sake of the world.
As we look around all the fruit of 2020, we can see that we have not been faithful to the task. We need to 1) Repent , admit we have not been faith 2) Affirm/Reaffirm Christ in us, 3) come to the table and quench the hunger and thirst of our spirit. 4) hear the words of Jesus and the witness of the saints and get back to being, FOR THE WORLD, the presence of Christ! That will turn the world right side up!
Will you come to the table.