We're sorry, the full text for this sermon is not available at this time.
We're sorry, the text for this sermon is not available at this time.
In elementary school I had a good friend who was a Roman Catholic. While our friendship was tolerated by our parents, I certainly couldn’t attend church with her or she with me. If she were a boy, our friendship would not have been tolerated because the potential of dating would be an intolerable thought. But Mary Miller and I talked about church and God and Jesus because those were important elements in our lives. I wore a plain gold cross around my neck and Mary wore a crucifix. In our conversations, we realized her church did not have a cross without Christ crucified and in my church there was not a crucifix to be found. I asked my grandfather about this and he replied simply: “They are more into the suffering and we are more into the saving.”
That answer satisfied me then, mainly because whenever my quiet grandfather answered my questions, I listened. Now I know there is much more to the issue of suffering and salvation than an either-or answer. Much of Jesus’ life and teaching rests on paradox. Jesus challenges us to live in tension: the first will be last, lose your life to gain it, the burden is light, those who come late will be paid the same as those who worked hard all day. His very human death was no different: Suffering is a way to salvation.
The cross symbolizes suffering and salvation. Today we embrace the suffering. And although we know the end of the story, today we sit at the foot of Christ being crucified. As a child it may have felt good to have the clean cross of victory and salvation, but I learned you cannot live without the flip side of the crucifixion. This very emotional day tells us precisely that: we cannot have one without the other. It is something to contemplate. In pursuit of that, I give you two questions to ponder.
The first question is: Why are you here? The second is: What is saving you today?
Why are you here? What brings you to this place on this black Friday they call Good Friday? Are you here out of habit because this is simply what you do during Holy Week? Is it because Fr. Christopher told you to go for a home run? Is it for an emotional high or low?
Are you here because you, too, are feeling crucified and want company? Or is it because you simply wonder about this day and are trying to understand what the Gospeler John meant when he wrote: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…” What kind of God do we have anyway?
Is there a more subtle reason? Do you have this nagging feeling that perhaps you have not been able to hold your ground in this post-Christian era and too many times you were guilty of shouting “crucify him” without saying the words out loud. Perhaps your actions didn’t reflect your heart. Perhaps it was just easier to keep your mouth shut than to open it and reflect the heart of Christ. Perhaps you are here to just say to God that you are sorry.
Well, there are as many reasons for being here as there are persons in this place. Times haven’t changed. In the 4th century there was a pilgrim named Etheria (or Egeria or Sylvia…we are not sure or her name) who travelled from Spain to Jerusalem and kept an extensive diary which included the events of Holy Week in the Holy City.
In her account of Good Friday, she relates that when it came time to venerate the cross, the Bishop seated himself at a table behind the large crossbeam, holding the beam firmly in both hands. Two hefty deacons stationed themselves at either end of the beam as the faithful came by to kiss the cross in memory of Jesus’ sufferings. Etheria writes that this precaution resulted from an incident several years earlier when a pious pilgrim, anxious for a relic, took a bite out of the cross instead of kissing it.
I agree with the commentator who says this story holds a warning for us. As we gather here to remember Jesus’ death, we must guard against becoming that ancient pilgrim with strong teeth and splinters in his gums. We could say, “Look! I was there! I can tell you about the emotions, the music, the words, the silences.” I showed up.
Whatever brings us here, Jesus on the cross is our common ground. Why are you here? Are you a pilgrim looking for a relic? Are you a casual visitor searching for answers? There are answers at the foot of the cross. But how does one sort out the intense suffering and the resulting salvation? Here is one analogy: Think of yourself as parents who are bedside of their very sick child and are praying to God to let them bear the pain instead of their child, not because they are masochistic or guilty, but simply because they love the one who is suffering.
Today’s Good Friday Liturgy invites us to embrace the suffering of Jesus on the cross as we would the pain of a family member or friend we love deeply. (Read quote from Nouwen’s Road to Daybreak) And through our prayers in this service we are invited to embrace not only Jesus’ suffering, but the suffering of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. A commentator continues, “The cross is raised before us, not as a souvenir taken down from the shelf and dusted off for our admiration, but as the bed of our suffering brother, who incarnates and bears the world’s pain.”
“Like all the events of his life, the death of Jesus stands as our judgment. We can respond to it like curious tourists, who look and then move on, little changed except for some painful splinters. Or we can recognize the face of the one we love, though ‘marred beyond human appearance,’ and embrace his pain as ours, In that embrace, we find our own pain enfolded in God’s love, united with the world’s pain and healed because Christ first loved us and embraced our pain.” (Author unknown. Excerpt beginning with story Etheria comes from Homily Service: An Ecumenical Resource for Sharing the Word, Vol.20, No.1, April 1987,pp. 27-28)
Why are you here today? My second question folds into the first: What is saving you now? I was away from the parish for most of Lent. As a Lenten study, many here read Barbara Brown Taylor’s book An Altar in the World. I read it a couple of years ago when it first came out and frankly had not reread it for our communal study. But when I picked up the book last week, I found I had highlighted the story in the introduction where Ms Taylor relates that she was invited to preach on the topic of “what is saving your life now.” BBT writes, “It was as if he(the priest)had swept his arm across a dusty table and brushed all the formal china to the ground. I did not have to try to say correct things that were true for everyone. I did not have to use theological language that conformed to the historical teachings of the church. All I had to do was figure out what my life depended on. All I had to do was figure out how I stayed as close to that reality as I could, and then find some way to talk about is that helped my listeners figure those same things for themselves. The answers I gave all those years ago are not the same answers I would give today—that is the beauty of the question….the principle is the same. What is saving my life now is the conviction that there is no spiritual treasure to be found apart from the bodily experiences of human life on earth.” (unquote,p.xv)
No spiritual treasure exists apart from the bodily experiences of human life on earth. That is precisely what Jesus taught by his life and death. We say: Jesus is my Lord and Savior. Jesus saved me. What does that mean? How is Jesus your Savior? How is Jesus your Salvation? What does he teach? What does Jesus say to you? What does his suffering on the cross and death do to save you?
What, indeed, is saving you now? Now, this moment. The answer can and will change. Here are only a few things I have discovered for myself. It isn’t a job that saves me. For years I depended on my various job identities in church work to explain to the world who I was. It isn’t my good looks. I still have a great smile that has blasted me through and saved me a lot of times. But I am, friends, growing older and am shaped differently and I have a decided limp. Good looks aren’t going to save me. Alcohol saved me from reality for many years. It helped me to get away from inner pain, to go somewhere else. It no longer saves me, it will in fact kill me if I abuse it.
I say Jesus is my Savior. What do I mean? I mean just that. Jesus teaches me how to live in paradox, how to live mindfully each moment in this world if I simply pay attention. It’s pretty simple because it’s about embracing the suffering in a circle of love that reflects God’s love to me and to the world. It is about relationships. It is living out the great commandment to love God with all your heart and mind and soul. And if you love God, you must surely love God’s creation, this earth, our planet home. I felt it more than ironic that during this Holy Week we remembered the first anniversary of the Gulf spill, that we continue to read of the impact of nuclear power uncontrolled in Japan, and today is in fact Earth Day. I find it hard to believe that my husband Fred as a reporter covered the first Earth Day in 1970 in Bloomington,Indiana.
Another sermon might be: Are we crucifying the earth which is, in fact, the same as crucifying God? More simply, sitting at the foot of the cross, we might ask ourselves if we are playing any part in causing the earth’s suffering. Are we, in fact, connected to everyone and everything, by the arms of Jesus stretched out on the cross? That is connected, of course, to the rest of the great commandment. Jesus says, to love the Lord your God with all you heart and mind and soul. The second is like unto it: love your neighbor as you love yourself. Can you love your neighbor, can you love God if you don’t love yourself?
Can you embrace the suffering? Can you prepare yourself to walk from the foot of the cross and through the cross knowing you are not alone? Can you wear a two sided cross of suffering and salvation on your chest and in your heart?
Why are you here? What is saving you now? Amen
LENT II: John 3:1-17
Deacon Janice Bales
March 20, 2011
Here we are on the Second Sunday of Lent. Some of us have given things up, some of us have taken things on, some of us have done both. Some of us are seeking ways to deepen our relationship with God and some of us are blithely ignoring the opportunity. Four weeks to go before Palm Sunday and the holiest of weeks as we make our way to the cross and burst through it to Easter morn. Death and resurrection: that’s what life in Christ is all about. We like the resurrection part. It’s the dying part we often don’t want to deal with, letting go of little things and big things. Abraham had o let go of a lot. He was 75 years old, rich, big family, ready to retire no doubt and God comes along and says, “Leave your country, your family and your father’s home for a land that I will show you.” I might have responded, “Whoa! Wait a minute, God.” In a New Yorker cartoon, two sophisticated couples are having cocktails. One of the men says, “I’m in the market for an easier religion.” Well, I can identify with that sentiment.
Today’s gospel had been rattling around in my head for a few weeks as I was thinking about Nicodemus and what he was seeking. I thought I had the sermon worked out. But as happens so many times when I think I am in control, everything changes. The disaster in Japan these past days changed my perspective. As if the natural catastrophe caused by the earthquake and tsunami were not enough, there is the unfolding drama of potential nuclear harm. How ironic that while the Japanese had been deeply wounded by the use of atom bombs ending WWII, they saw the potential for the peaceful use of that same energy to fuel 30% of their national needs. The events in Japan have almost totally overshadowed the developments in the Middle East which have moved from a euphoric victory from oppression in Egypt to the relentless elimination of the same wave of freedom in Libya, Bahrain and elsewhere. On top of that, news from Afghanistan tells us we can’t seem to dominate a war in spite of our technology and good intentions.
Reading the Nicodemus story anew, all I could think was “it’s the old control issue.” The earthquake and tsunami are proof that we humans do not control nature. The development of nuclear fusion is something we thought we controlled since we invented it, as it were. But it seems we are not totally in control of that which we have unleashed. And as to wars, well, wars have always been about control: control of land, control of power, control of resources, control of freedom and control of ideology. Perhaps one the hardest lessons for Americans the past 60 years is that we do not control the world and our ambiguous diplomatic and military efforts since WWII have been proof of that.
Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the middle of the night, a seeker from the old religion looking for answers from this young rabbi called Jesus. To tell you the truth, this gospel story repelled me for many years. As chaplain at the Grant’s women’s prison this lesson often felt like a thorn in my side. The majority of my well- meaning and faithful volunteers came from religious traditions that are more literal and fundamental in scriptural understanding than mine.
I do not know how many times I was asked if I was born again. It was one too many, for sure. Probably because of my spiritual immaturity, I went on the defensive. A control issue, I suppose. The question implied that because I was baptized as an infant, I could not be saved since I could not have made a conscious decision to be baptized. And while that little voice kept telling me I was “sealed as Christ’s own forever” the constant badgering made me wish I could say something like “on 4:22 pm, December 13, 1968 I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.” But lacking spiritual maturity (I’m not there yet, folks), I waged my own silent passive aggressive wars against the volunteers who were bent on baptizing the women inmates for the 2nd, 3rd, and maybe 4th time. Thus, every time you converted, turned back to Christ, or decided that one church might offer you more salvation than another, you needed to be baptized again. I think you see where this line of thought goes. Once you have been saved, you don’t have room for mistakes, or changing your mind. This is not a helpful outlook for inmates in a prison or anyone else as far as I can tell. But now I see aspects of anxiety as a control issue. Although I didn’t pretend to have the “right” answer to many scriptural issues, I didn’t like feeling spiritually inadequate because I wasn’t meeting someone else’s standards.
Now, of course, I realize that I have been born again and again and again and there is nothing wrong with that. It accepts the wonderful grace of God, not a cheap grace that I can abuse, but understanding that in my humanness, I will commit mistakes, I will sin and I am going to fail in attempting to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. My prayerful intent is to grow into my relationship with God. I have to let go of a lot of stuff, dying in many ways in the process. Perhaps Nicodemus was trying to do this. Grow.
But what do we know about Nicodemus? He appears three times in the Gospel of John. This is interesting. Besides those men and women in Jesus’ inner circle of disciples and historical figures of the time, few others are mentioned by name in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But of the many who encountered Jesus in life-changing situations, few are named: Baritmeus, Zaacheus, Simon the leper, Simon the Pharisee, Simon of Cyrene, Malcus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus. One could infer that their names survived because they became disciples of Jesus and leaders in the early church. What happened to the women? What was the name of the woman at the well? The woman with the bent back? That’s another sermon.
We first encounter Nicodemus today in Chapter 3, coming to see Jesus at night; again in Chapter 7 unsuccessfully defending Jesus at a Sanhedrin meeting; and lastly in Chapter 19 helping Joseph of Arimathea take and prepare Jesus’ body for burial.
From these passages we can derive some interesting things about Nicodemus. He is a Pharisee and on the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus is a Greek name, used by the Jews, meaning ‘conqueror’ or ‘ruler’ of the people. He belongs to the controlling religious group in Jewish circles. Of course, they are under the control of Rome and have to tread cautiously at times. Aside from the dark and light symbolism, it is possible Nicodemus comes to see Jesus at night because he likes his position and doesn’t want to be seen by others. We next encounter Nicodemus, in Chapter 7. Jesus has been teaching in the Temple and stirring up the crowds divided between those who believe Jesus is the Messiah and those who don’t. The police report to the Sanhedrin that trouble is brewing. The Pharisees retort that only the rabble believe in Jesus. Nicodemus speaks up. “Does our Law decide about a man’s guilt without first listening to him and finding out what he is doing?” But his cohorts cut him off. “Are you also campaigning for the Galilean? Examine the evidence. See if any prophet ever comes from Galilee.” Nicodemus is silenced. The text says, “Then they all went home.” So, Nicodemus may be part of a powerful group, but not in control of it. We last hear of Nicodemus in Chapter 19: Joseph of Arimathea has petitioned Pilate to take the body of Jesus from the cross. Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus at night, comes now in broad daylight carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds, to help prepare Jesus body for burial. So Nicodemus controlled of a lot of wealth because this is a lavish amount of spices.
And this time he doesn’t seem to mind being seen in broad daylight. Some speculate that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were secret disciples. Not secret now. What did Jesus say in that initial encounter that moved Nicodemus from darkness to light. Let’s go back to that first encounter. Nicodemus acknowledges that he believes Jesus to be from God because of the God-revealing acts performed by Jesus. Quoting Eugene Peterson’s version, Jesus affirms his observation saying, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to---to God’s kingdom.” “What?” Nicodemus asks, “How can anyone be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with the ‘born-from-above’ talk?” Nicodemus has to be delivered from the literal: the things he can control, the things he can grasp. Jesus helps him along the way, saying, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation –the wind-hovering-over-the-water creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life –it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit. So don’t be surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’ –out of this world so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” Boy, I wish I had this down to earth rendition of the text before I started work in prison.
Nicodemus enjoys control over many things but has come to Jesus seeking something more. Jesus has given him images of two uncontrollable things: the experience of being born and the experience of being windswept. Jesus seems to be inviting this powerful executive to allow faith in God to enter his life, not so that Nicodemus will relinquish control, but so that he can entrust control to the source of grace, and allow the void in his life to be filled. (O’Driscoll, God with Us, p.39)
Although for some being born again may have a date and place attached, for others like me it may happen time and time again in moments of relinquishing control to God’s grace. Last week the writer in Forward Day by Day commenting on being born again said: “God has dismantled and reconstructed me and my faith several times….. Moreover, I doubt that God’s finished. For all I know, God will continue to work on me in the next life. In fact, I hope so. I wouldn’t care for a life—on earth, in heaven, or anywhere—that’s always the same, with nothing new to learn, no cutting edges, no challenges to face, no new revelations of the goodness of God.” I would add, I would care for a life with no mystery.
Indeed, the Spirit of God is beyond our control and blows where it will. It may just blow us over at times as at the death of our best friend. Or it may gently waft around us, causing us to look up to Sandia’s crest at sunset. However it comes, it will deliver us from the literal, cut the cord and like a baby we can start life anew. Are you born again? Are you ready? Bring it on! Amen.
ADVENT 1 – 11/28/10
Happy New Year! Here we are. The first Sunday of Advent. Does it take your breath away as it does mine? Or is shortness of breath just a fact of aging? Time flies faster each year. Reminders surround me. Among the comic strips I keep posted on my refrigerator is a Non Sequitur frame from 2002. It shows two identical looking street prophets with long beards, shaggy tunics and sandals carrying placards and meeting face to face at a street corner. The placard of one reads: “Rejoice! Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The placard of the second reads: “Repent! This could be your last day!”
I never tire of that strip because it sums up the tension in my life. Here we are: The first Sunday of Advent marking the beginning of a new year for us, a chance for another new start as we begin our walk to Bethlehem and the coming of the Christ Child once more in our lives. I love the phrase “being on the tiptoes of anticipation” to describe our journey during Advent. It recalls my childish anticipation for Christmas morning. It took a bit more maturity for me to claim I stood on the tiptoes of anticipation for the second coming of Christ – the end times, the apocalypse.
But here we are. These pesky Advent readings reminding us that as Christians we live these next few days not only in anticipation of the coming of the Christ child, the babe in the manger for whom angels sing, but also in anticipation of the second coming of Christ: the apocalypse. Well, that could put a damper on things. End times. Life as we know it on this planet blown to smithereens, as it were….particles of matter blowing out into the universe and meeting God face to face.
Have any of you experienced a time when you thought the world was coming to an end? For me, that time was early 1968. Fred and I had returned from two great years as Peace Corps volunteers in Chile. Being apolitical was no longer an option in my life. So, it was hard resettling in our U.S. culture with its seeming non-interest in other cultures. While the threat of nuclear holocaust had abated since the early ‘60’s, the war in Viet Nam dragged on. The Civil Rights movement was churning things up everywhere, including our new home city of Louisville. Close by, coal miners in Appalachia were struggling for reform. The women’s movement was turning some apple pie and mother myths on their heads. University administration buildings were under physical attack. The world as I knew it had turned upside-down in the two years we were gone. It was necessarily a bad thing, just very unsettling. Then in a short time, MLK and RFK were assassinated. That did it for me. I believed the end was near. It was frightening and overwhelming. I felt apocalypse now. I went into hibernation.
Then a wonderful thing happened. On the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels in 1968 our daughter Katie was born. I was given a God-graced lesson in hope in a time of darkness. Talk about putting on the armor of light. That is what I did. It was not as if the darkness did not exist either in the world or in me. But I understood once and for all that darkness will never, never overcome the light. That is the promise of Advent. We sing the hopefulness in our Advent hymns. I love Charles Wesley’s lyrics in #66: “Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. Born thy people to deliver, born a child, and yet a king. Born to reign in us for ever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit raise us to thy glorious throne.” And every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we remember the !st coming and proclaim our belief in the 2nd: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
We are promised that every day offers a new beginning through God‘s mercy, love, grace and forgiveness. We need to listen to and learn our stories from Adam and Eve to the present. And while we are to learn from the past, we are not to dwell there. We are not to dwell in the future either.
Today’s readings reflect the place where those 1st century Christians found themselves. They believed that Christ was going to come again immediately. But as the apostles and the first generation of followers began dying off, what Jesus meant by his second coming had to be reconsidered. Matthew is writing to a community that apparently was stuck in looking to the future and not living their discipleship in Christ in the present. And before Matthew’s Gospel was written down, Paul was writing to the church in Thessalonica whose members by 55 CE were engrossed in the idea of the second coming as well. They had given up their regular work and lives and were waiting around for the second coming of Christ. Paul certainly anticipated the second coming, but knew there was life in Christ in the present and much work to be done. In his last letter to the Romans which we heard today, he writes: “The night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Put on the Lord Jesus Christ indeed.
The phrase “lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” appears in our collect, our gathering prayer for the first Sunday of Advent: “Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal.” This prayer was composed for the 1549 Prayer Book and from 1662 until our 1972 PB revision it was ordered to read daily during Advent. Not a bad idea to resurrect.
It seems we Christians have always found it too easy to live in suspended animation between the first and second coming of Christ as opposed to living Christ like lives in the present and seeing Jesus as one who comes to us not once in the past and once in the future, but time and time again, day after day in the very ordinary events of our everyday lives.
As for the 1st coming, we all know how hard it can be in our commercial culture to keep the Christ in Christmas, remember the reason for the season, and so on. As for the second coming, although Jesus says many times not to worry about what the ‘morrow will bring, many Christians have spent a great deal of time speculating and indeed announcing the date of the end of the world. “Rapture” literature has made a lot of money for a lot of writers and a lot of preachers. Frankly, I like the bumper sticker that reads, “When the rapture comes, can I have your car?” Its tongue in cheek humity cracks me up. I do believe in the second coming of Christ, I just find it ironic that so many who demand a literal rendition of scripture use the word “rapture” as if it occurs in scripture, which it doesn not.
Be as that may be, what do we learn in today’s lessons? Today Jesus says that God alone knows the time. To speculate about the time of the second coming is a spectacular waste of time. To be prepared, to watch, is the order of the day. Jesus’ reference to Noah is a reminder to never become so immersed in kronos, clock time that we forget kairos, God’s time. Worldly affairs are necessary. We have families as well as strangers to feed and nurture now, but we must never forget life eternal. We must never forget that we have a God who loves us, a God who came and lived among us and thus showed us how to live. And we need to live that life as best we are able with God’s gracious help.
Today’s lessons also tell us that to live without watchfulness, mindfulness, invites disaster. Today’s parable of the house owner is not an admonition to put in a new security system or build a higher fence to protect all that precious material stuff we have accumulated but can’t take with us anyway. Nor is the parable an admonition to live a life in fear of the thief who comes in the night. It is simply a lesson reminding us to live life mindfully, to be aware of God’s presence all around, to be prepared but at the same time to hold on to our things lightly. Because, what we have comes from God. Every Sunday we say at the offertory “of thine own have we given thee.” We need to believe that, live it. We need to remember that we are stewards, not owners. It is in our community as in healthy families, we learn to use the pronoun “ours” not “mine.”
Then there is a final lesson. One of the plagues of my life is my ability to procrastinate. A tattered and faded sign hangs over my work desk. It reads: “If not today, then when?” Still I am a master of procrastination. Believe me, I know that an addiction to just about anything – alcohol, money, TV, sex, eating, you name it –allows procrastination, encourages it. Scarlet’s oft quoted line, “tomorrow is another day” is any addict’s mantra.
Today’s lesson says, the spirit that leads to disaster is the spirit that says there is plenty of time. There is the old story of the three apprentice devils who are completing their training. They are chatting with Satan about their temptation plans. The first says, “I will whisper in their ears that there is no God.” Satan replies, “That won’t delude many because many believe there is some sort of God.” The second says, “I will tell them there is no hell.” Satan replies, “That’s not going to fool many since many sense there will be hell to pay for certain actions.” The third devil says, “I will tell people there’s no hurry.” “Go,” says Satan, “for that will be the ruin of thousands.” Amen. That would be me.
Paul reminds us to put on the light of Christ but not just when we think we need it. Darkness always resides in the world and in us. But this light of Christ arms us, allows us to live each minute in the present. Our life is not a philosophical showdown in a comic strip. Each day is indeed a new day and should be lived as if it were our last. It is a way of life, a rule of life. It is living life today to the fullest in Christ Jesus: It is not being bogged down with self recriminations over the past; Nor is it worrying obsessively about what tomorrow will bring.
Perhaps our most formidable challenge as disciples is to relieve that tension between Christ’s first and second coming. Our task is to be Christ to others and to see Christ in others here and now in our often very ordinary daily lives. This is indeed the season when the days are becoming shorter. It can seem as if darkness is overcoming the world. It is the season when store clerks are worn out and cranky, when the homeless are colder, when the poor are more vulnerable, when strangers are more harassed, when the widowed and orphan are more alone and isolated. It is the season when we are most tempted to give in to our personal demons. And so it is the best time to practice being Christ and to intentionally seek Christ in others. Let’s try it. Repent! This could be your last day! Rejoice! Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Put on the light of Christ! With God’s grace, repent and rejoice, indeed! Amen
We're sorry, the full text for this sermon is not available at this time.
We're sorry, the full text of this sermon is not available at this time.
We're sorry, the full text for this sermon is not available at this time.