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Does Christ Rule?

(a sermon for November 26, 2017, the 25th Sunday after Pentecost and “Reign of Christ” Sunday; based on John 18:33-37 and Revelation 1:4-8)

Here’s a question for you on which to ponder this morning:  when you think of Christ, what kind of image comes to mind?  How do you “see” Jesus in your own mind’s eye?

I suspect that many of us, for instance, would see Jesus as a brother or a friend, as one who walks the journey of life with us; sometimes beside us, other times walking ahead, but always talking with us and giving us counsel as we go (that’s always been the kind of  image that comes to my mind). But then again, there are those among us who will always turn to the biblical picture of the good shepherd: Jesus as the gentle savior who seeks out the lost and the injured sheep, carrying the wounded and the lame to safety upon his own shoulders.  I also know quite a few who prefer the image of Jesus as divine rebel, challenging the authorities of his and every time; who turns the world upside down with his righteous anger and redeeming love, and who calls us to follow him he does so.

There’s Jesus the teacher; Jesus the healer; Jesus who sits with little children gathered around him; and Jesus who himself was this tiny babe wrapped in rags and is sleeping in a manger: so many “personas” of Christ, if you will; so many pictures that help define our relationship with him.

But I wonder… when we think about Jesus, how many of us will come up with the image of a King?  It’s not that we’re unfamiliar with the image – after all, before long we’ll all be singing of herald angels giving “glory to the newborn King” – it’s just that given our modern sensibilities, this is one persona with which we might feel a bit uncomfortable.  These days, the word “king” conjures up images of childhood fairy tales, on the one hand; or the latest gossip surrounding latter day “royals,” on the other!  Moreover, in modern parlance the word “king” often suggests a patriarchal kind of absolute rule: a man of immense power who is unafraid of issuing orders and compelling obedience, which is most definitely not the picture we have of Jesus!

Yet, here it is, a day on the Christian calendar in which we celebrate the Christian confession that Christ is King!  Granted, these days we tend toward the more inclusive label of “Reign of Christ” Sunday, but historically and traditionally, this has always been “Christ the King Sunday,” in which the image of Jesus as king is front and center;  and not simply king, either, but Jesus as King of the church, King of the nations, “ruler of the kings of the earth,” the name that is above every name: King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  Make no mistake here, friends; scripture takes this idea of kingship very seriously; in fact, it can well be argued that a large part of the Biblical story tells of how God answered the cries of his people Israel for a King who would rule them with justice and wisdom, and who would lead them from exile to all glory.  But more than just a bit of ancient history, this is about how God answered those cries, and that in the end makes the difference, and it’s why we celebrate.  For when the Gospels announce to us that God finally did give Israel, and us, a King, it turns out that this was not the King they expected or wanted, but it was the King they needed.

Jesus, you see, was a different kind of king.  This king, writes Roy Berkenbosch, was born of peasant stock and held no claims to a royal pedigree or a legacy of social or military power; but in fact lived with an affection for and an identification with the poor, the least and the lost.  “He teaches people to love their enemies, not destroy them,” says Berkenbosch, “to seek endless forgiveness, not endless vengeance.  He introduces the law of unconditional love [and] he redefines power by humbly washing the feet of his followers.”  He is Jesus the Christ, “and he comes with the announcement that in him, the Kingdom of God has come near, in the midst of us to be received as a gift.”

I will say it again:  Jesus comes to us as a King of another kind; the ruler not of a territory, nor of a particular race of people, but a ruler, a sovereign of truth.  He is Christ the King, the Messiah, given authority, glory and sovereign power through the God of the Universe;  in the eloquent words of Revelation, He “is the Alpha and the Omega,” the beginning and the end, the one “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty,” the one who will reign forever and ever; the one in whom all divided hearts will one day see the truth of the One true and living God.

Or, to put it still another way, Christ rules!

Our gospel reading for this morning, I realize, might feel a little bit out of place this time of year.  The passion narrative, from which this passage from John is drawn, seems to be better suited for Lent or Holy Week than right now when we’re just about to embark on the journey of Advent and Christmas!  But in fact, this little exchange between Pontius Pilate and Jesus strikes to the very heart of what we’re talking about today.  As we pick up today’s passage Jesus, of course, has already been despised and rejected by the authorities, betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and abandoned by his disciples; and now he stands before Pilate, whose job as a regional governor for Caesar is to keep the peace in the area and figure out what to do about this man Jesus.  The truth, however, is that Pilate couldn’t really find any grounds for the charges made against Jesus; so he starts asking questions, perhaps to find a legitimate reason for a death sentence, or perhaps at the very least to find a loophole to get himself neatly out of this situation!

And so he asks, “Are you King of the Jews?”  In other words, who are you really, Jesus?  Are you a threat?  Are you the leader of some kind of movement that’s going to overthrow our government and mess up the status quo?  One thing that I find wonderful about this passage is that Jesus responds to Pilate while not ever really answering his questions:  “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me… my kingdom is not from this world.  If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”  And then Pilate, no doubt exasperated by a conversation that was seemingly going nowhere, asks, “So you are a king?”  To which Jesus says again, “You say that I am a king.  For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  And even then, you’ll notice, Pilate doesn’t get what Jesus is saying to him:  in the verse that immediately follows where we read today, Pilate can only respond by saying, “But what is truth?”

What Pilate could not understand, and truly, what we so often fail to see is that Jesus’ kingship can’t be judged by worldly standards; on the contrary, the standards and practices of the world end up being judged by the truth of love that Jesus brings!  Everything about our lives – our loyalties and allegiances, our set priorities and the choices we make for ourselves, all the many “empires” of life and the world of which we are a part – all end up coming under the intense scrutiny of this one who is the King of kings!  As such he the Lord of life; each and every day of it, with all of its mystery, its wonder and its challenge. His kingdom is one of justice, even when that justice is costly; it is one of love, even and especially when that love is sacrificial; it is one of peace, always and ever standing in opposition usual patterns of power in this world;  and it is one of true servanthood, in which taking up the cross is the means to real leadership.  It is radical, upside-down, inside out thinking, to be sure, but that’s who Christ is:  and he is Christ the King of our present reality, yours and mine.

So the only question that remains, beloved, is this:  does Christ rule?   Or, let me make this more personal, when it’s all said and done, when it all comes down for you and me, who’s really in charge?  Is Jesus Christ the Lord of our lives?

It’s a good and valid question for us to ask; because the truth is that so many of us make the claim that Christ has dominion over our lives even as it’s very clear that our allegiance, not to mention our attention, is somewhere else altogether!  I recently read of a Gallup poll done a few years back that reported that while 86% of all Americans consider themselves to be Christian, less than half of those knew who preached the Sermon on the Mount.  Likewise, it was reported that while 60% of the country was in church on Easter Sunday that particular year, one out of four people who were in church were unable to say what Easter actually celebrates!  Amazing!  Have that many of us really let our faith so fade into the background of our lives to have it become little more than yearly tradition and the occasional pomp and circumstance?  Is it true that we are so divided by all the many allegiances of daily lives – social, political, economic,  even spiritual – that we’ve ignored the one allegiance that really matters?

I pray that we not allow this to happen!  The Rev. Wiley Stephens, a Methodist pastor and writer, says that the true challenge of the kingdom  is  “to let God be God… in you; to let God be God… in your church; to let God be God… in your neighborhood; to let God be God… in your job, in your family, and… in your world.”  For our lives to have true meaning and purpose; indeed, for our world to garner the love and peace that it so hungers for, we need to acknowledge just exactly who’s really in charge; who truly and wholly rules our lives!  We need to be asking ourselves what God wants us to do – with our days, with our lives, with our families, with our community, with our church, with our world – and we need to be listening to Jesus, who the Lord of our very lives, for the answers.  For it is in the power of his rule that we experience his kingdom in our midst.

Friends, this seems to me to be of particular importance now as we come to the close of this year’s celebration of Thanksgiving Day and run headlong into the Advent and Christmas seasons.  After all, what does this time of the year seek to bring to us if not an increased awareness of God’s abundance through the ages, a sense of his power and presence in this moment, and the declaration that God will also be with us in the future that has yet to unfold.  Holiday traditions and family gatherings make us nostalgic about past blessings, but, ideally they should also raise in us a great sense expectation of God’s loving activity in what’s to come.  Pontius Pilate, for all his power and prestige, could not begin to see that; even as God’s greatest activity, the gift of his Son and our Savior, stood helplessly before him, Pilate could he could not see the greater truth of God’s plan.

My prayer for all of us today in the busy season that’s unfolding before us is that we not miss that truth – God’s truth – and that in all the comings and goings of our lives, in and through the celebrations and the sorrows, today and in all of our tomorrows, we will recognize and affirm by our very lives that Christ rules over us and over all.

Rejoice, dear friends!  The Lord is King!

And for this and so much more, thanks be to God.

AMEN and AMEN!

c. 2017  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

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Posted by on November 26, 2017 in Jesus, Sermon, Spiritual Truths

 

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Ready at the Right Time

(a sermon for November 12, 2017, the 23rd Sunday After Pentecost, based on Matthew 25:1-13)

I would suspect that most, if not all of us in this room can vouch for this particular undeniable truth of life: that there are consequences for being unprepared!

I learned this truth back in school; although admittedly it took me quite a while!  After all, you can’t not read the assigned chapters in “Moby Dick” and expect to come even close to correctly answering the teacher’s questions about Captain Ahab the next day in class; and they’re called “pop quizzes” for a reason, and so not doing your homework is almost certainly a recipe for academic disaster!

And then there were the great many “all-nighters” I pulled in college, at least until eventually I discovered that I could not wait to study for exams or write my term papers at the last minute and expect to do well.  I remember one paper in particular; it was one of the very first I ever wrote for a seminary class, in fact. All these years later, I’m still not sure it was because of the work load from all my other courses or if it were just pure procrastination on my part, but I do remember that as I cranked out the final pages of that paper – due the very next day – that new day was actually dawning (!); and also that I was convinced that what I had written was brilliant, cutting edge theology!

But a few days later, when the professor invited me to his office and graciously allowed me the chance for a rewrite (!), I realized that what I’d passed in what was basically a 20 page-long run-on sentence, pretty much lacking any of the insights that should have come from a semester’s worth of study (the professor was kind, however: “Well, Michael,” he said, “this paper does have a great deal of vitality!”  Probably more like the effects of a great deal of caffeine, but I was grateful nonetheless).

In retrospect, I could never have hoped to have been ready with that paper at the last minute, any more than I could ever do well on a final exam without first having studied for that exam!  And therein lies the undeniable truth:  that in whatever opportunity, or challenge, or crisis comes our way, most often we cannot hope to have the tools, or the skills, or, for that matter, the character to face what’s coming unless that skill or that part of our character has been previously and sufficiently nurtured over time and with concerted effort.  In the end, you see, preparedness is not about what is done at the last minute, but everything else that’s been done in anticipation of that last minute.

Our gospel reading for this morning tells us that this is especially true for that which is the most important thing of all: the coming of God’s Kingdom into the world.  Jesus actually speaks a fair amount about this in Matthew’s gospel; the gist of the message being, “you… must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” (24:44) But in order to illustrate the consequences for not being ready, Jesus goes on to tell the story of ten bridesmaids waiting with lamps burning for the arrival of the bridegroom and the beginning of a wedding feast.

It would have been a familiar scenario for those of Jesus’ time: it was customary in those days for a groom to escort his bride from her father’s house to his own home, followed by a grand procession of attendants, guests, musicians and townspeople.  Once they arrived – and sometimes this arrival would happen well into the evening, especially if the groom was bringing his bride from a neighboring village – they’d be met there by the bridesmaids waiting outside his door, the light of their lamps glowing in the night.  And then together the whole group would then go inside, so that the wedding celebration could start in earnest.  It was also a custom – and this is important – that once everyone had entered and the festivities had begun, the doors would be locked and no one admitted late.

So here, according to Jesus, according to proper wedding tradition and etiquette are these ten bridesmaids; except that Jesus also makes a point of telling us that “five of them were foolish, and five were wise.”  It’s an interesting distinction, because just like members of a wedding party today, they were probably identical in appearance and all dressed to the nines; they were certainly all friends and family of the bride; and each one of them had been invited to be there and equally desirous of celebrating this marriage!  And if we’re looking for a lack of etiquette, it wasn’t the fact that they fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom, who we’re told was delayed in his arrival; because all ten of them did that!

No, the only difference, the only thing that sets apart the foolish from the wise, turns out to be a lack of preparedness; specifically, five of the ten who did not bring along an extra flask of oil, and thus did not have enough fuel to keep their lamps burning through the night.  Asking the other bridesmaids to share their oil was no solution, since then none of them would have had enough fuel; so the only solution, they reasoned at this last minute, was to go out and buy some extra, and so off they went… and wouldn’t you know it; while they’re gone the wedding party arrives, the party begins, the doors are locked and those five bridesmaids miss it all.  And the story ends rather harshly, with the groom refusing to even recognize them, much less let them come to the reception.  But, suggests Jesus, sad as it is, it was the bridesmaids’ own fault because they weren’t ready when that crucial moment came; they were unprepared for the bridegroom’s coming!

And to this Jesus says, “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

It turns out that this parable of Jesus is all about spiritual readiness; about the faith necessary for this and every day until God’s kingdom comes in its fullness. We’re told by biblical scholars that this particular parable was Jesus’ way of saying (and by extension, Matthew’s reminder to the early church) that the kingdom might not come immediately but it will come; so we’d best be attentively and actively waiting on it.  Jesus is telling you and me that we need to be prepared; ready for the time that is the right time.  Because it’s important to note that while those five “foolish bridesmaids” (and understand, by the way, that they could have just as easily been five foolish groomsmen; this is not gender related at all!); that this “foolish five,” shall we say, may well have had good intentions to keep their lamps well-lit, the bottom line is that they ran out of time.

There are things in life that cannot be endlessly deferred; there are opportunities that come to us that do not come again.  There are moments in this life for decision, for commitment, for pronouncing the verdict of our very lives; and what the gospel tells us today is that there will be that moment, in the eloquent words of Will Willimon, “when God arrives on tiptoes, or comes rushing in, or surprises us with light, or flirts, or speaks.”  We’d better be watching for it, and we’d better be ready.

I recognize, of course, that when we’re here in worship or engaged in some faith-related activity, or perhaps about now when we approach the “holy seasons” of advent and Christmas, and later on with Lent and Easter; perhaps then our senses are more attuned to this kind of spiritual readiness. However, if we’re being honest, that kind of expectant spirit is hard for us to sustain over time, when the need is for that spirit to imbue all the other experiences on all the other days of our lives!  I love what M. Eugene Boring of Bright Divinity School has written about this; he says that “living the life of the kingdom” can be done relatively easily for the short term. But “when the kingdom is delayed, the problems arise… being a peacemaker for a day is not as demanding as being a peacemaker year after hostile year; being merciful for an evening can be a pleasant experience, but being merciful for a lifetime requires [true] spiritual preparedness.”

My point is that it is not easy to live the Christian life day in and day out; it is rarely a smooth road to travel when our own life’s journey is defined by our walk with Jesus Christ; when we’re imitating Christ and keeping the values of Christ as our own until Christ himself returns.  But it is crucial that we stay on that journey, and always be about this work of spiritual readiness, lest the kingdom of God comes and we be found asleep and unprepared.  Simply put, we need “oil in our lamps to keep them burning, burning, burning,” (!) the kind of spiritual fuel that gives light and direction to the standards of devotion and behavior we apply to our day to day lives; to the ways we nurture relationships with one another; in how we make real in our own lives the prayers we pray for peace, for justice and an end to hatred and all manner of abuse. And friends, make no mistake; ours is a lamp that needs to burn, and brightly; for in a time and place when there’s so much to be done for the sake of God’s kingdom, we would not want to be floundering in the darkness!  We need to be ready… and now is the right time. 

I’ve always loved the writings of Bill Bryson; as you might know he’s a mid-westerner who immigrated to England for a good many years and then returned to live with his family here in New Hampshire (up near Hanover, I believe), and from that perspective he writes these marvelous essays about American life and our history.  In his book Made in America, Bryson speaks rather frankly about the Pilgrims of the first Thanksgiving, saying that as much as we revere them, they were basically ill-suited for a life in the New England wilderness!

Consider how they packed for the trip:  historical records tell us they found room on the Mayflower for “sundials and candle snuffers, a drum and a trumpet, even a complete history of the country of Turkey.  One man named William Mullins packed 126 pairs of shoes and thirteen pairs of boots.  Yet the Pilgrims failed to bring a single cow or horse, plow or fishing line.”  With the uncertain exception of Miles Standish (who, by the way, was not a Pilgrim per se but something of a soldier of fortune who got hired on for security purpose!), probably very few of these pilgrims had ever even tried to hunt a wild animal! Bryson writes that these pilgrims “were, in short, dangerously unprepared for the rigors ahead, and they demonstrated their incompetence in the most dramatic possible way:  by dying in droves.”  In fact, by the time spring arrived, only about 54 of them (nearly half of them children) remained; but these were the survivors who turned Plymouth into a self-sustaining colony and the ones who hosted the first Thanksgiving.

Think of that as a parable, friends; for while we may never find ourselves in the dire straits of our Pilgrim Fathers and Mothers, we do know what it is to be unprepared for what life thrusts upon us.  We also tend to carry unnecessary baggage through our lives and then find ourselves lacking that which we really need to survive the storms of tough times and unforeseen crises.  Better in the here and now to be preparing ourselves spiritually for all that awaits us; looking to Jesus for the skills and the grace we need to embody God’s love, his forgiveness, his joy and hope in how we live and in how we relate to one another.

Better to be ready… at the right time!

For our Lord makes it clear, beloved; this… this time and place… is not all there is or will be.  We are, in fact, on the verge of a moment in which this transient life we lead will be transformed into a kingdom of feasting and celebration.  It’s coming; so let us keep awake – let’s pay attention and get ready – for that time soon, and very soon, when the bridegroom arrives… for what a celebration that will be!

Thanks be to God!

AMEN and AMEN!

c. 2017  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2017 in Discipleship, Jesus, Life, Sermon, Spiritual Truths

 

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What We Are, What We Will Be

(a sermon for November 5, 2017, the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, based on 1 John 3:1-3)

I remember his words as though it was yesterday:  “I realize,” he said, “that a lot of people look at me and think I’m nothing but a loser; and I know I’m considered by some to be the black sheep of the family.”

This sad but painfully honest assessment of things came in the midst of a late night phone conversation a number of years ago with an old friend of mine from high school (this guy was always calling me in the middle of the night!); and though, as that old friend and as that old friend who happened to be a pastor (!), I immediately sought to assure him that neither God nor the people who loved him thought of him that way, truth be told I understood what he was talking about.

For you see, though my friend was a good and fun-loving guy, and one who was always determined to put his best foot forward no matter what, he’d also had a very rough life, starting with the father who walked out on him when he was a little boy and continuing on from there.  Even as an adult it always seemed as though trouble and heartache were following close behind him at every junction of life.  Several failed marriages combined with some often bitter custody issues with his kids, moving around from place to place trying to eke out a living while dealing with a long series of medical problems that cost him a great many jobs over the years: this kind of thing just seemed to go on and on with him.  And yes, to be fair, some of the problems were of his own making, or at least were complicated by some very bad choices made along the way; in fact, it could probably be safely asserted that for most of his life, this man was “a day late and a dollar short,” in every sense of the expression!  And so, to the casual observer, it might have indeed seemed as though my friend was something of a loser and a black sheep; but interestingly enough, when my friend made this confession to me in the wee hours of that morning, it turned out that he wasn’t done speaking!

“I know I’m considered by some to be the black sheep of the family,” he did say; but then he added, “but you know what?  I’ve come a long way!  I’ve grown, I’ve learned a lot, and I’m a much better person than used to be; and despite everything, I managed to help raise three good kids who love me.  What’s better than that?” And as he went on, it became clear to me that he understood something that a whole lot of people never come to grips with: that while his life had been hard in so many ways, it was also good in others; and the best part is it wasn’t over yet!  That’s the reason he called me at four in the morning, you see; he was excited to let me know that he was going back to school; that he was going to get his degree; that he wanted to teach, to help young people in need; and now he was determined to show his now adult children, and everybody else (!) that “if the old man can reach his dream, then so can they.”  And as his friend, I wished him well; after all, life is not supposed to be something that we’re resigned to live out, but rather an adventure to be experienced: an evocation of a work in progress inspired by God’s own movement in our lives.

I still remember after hanging up the phone with him thinking of an old, admittedly lesser-known John Denver song that my friend and I knew well back in those days:

“Come, dance with the west wind and touch all the mountain tops,
Sail o’er the canyons, and up to the stars.
And reach for the heavens, and hope for the future,
For all that we can be, not just what we are.”
(from “The Eagle and the Hawk” by John Denver)

For all that we can be, not just what we are:  life is so often an intermingling of what is and what might be, of the actual and the potential, of the realized and unrealized parts of ourselves.   In other words, there’s always more to us than what meets the eye, more than others can see, more than we can even see in ourselves; our “true identity” might well be veiled by the challenges that life thrusts upon us, as well as by our own fears and self-doubts.   The hope for all of us is that over time and experience, by learning and through grace, each of us eventually comes to recognize and understand who he or she truly is, and thus embrace the whole meaning of life.

This also pretty much encapsulates our journeys of faith as well, does it not?

It’s there in our text for this morning:  “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.”  Basic to our understanding of the Christian faith is the truth that in God’s love, revealed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are identified before all creation as God’s own children, holy and beloved; and what that means is that whoever else we are considered to be in this life, or whatever other label has been placed upon us and we carry around with us as we go, who we are, first and foremost and forever, are children of God!   But the best part is that that’s not even the end of the story; for if we read on in this passage from the 1st Epistle of John you find there’s a twist to this incredible affirmation:  “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.”  It turns out that you and I, who have this sure identity as children of God, still have much to discover about who we are and what we are yet to become; and that is also good news indeed!

As Linda Johnson Seyenkulo, a Lutheran pastor and writer from Chicago, explains it, “What you are now is not the end.  You are a work in progress.  And the exciting part is, you don’t know what is possible until you open up to God’s possibilities.”  Faith, Seyenkulo goes on to say, is all about God-inspired and God-led possibility, “and so the Christian life is [by definition] a life of possibility, waiting to be revealed.”

And there’s great precedent for this: think of the disciples of Jesus who knew themselves to be his followers, but until that resurrection experience began to reveal itself and the Holy Spirit began to move in and through the reality of their lives they could not possibly imagine themselves to be the purveyors of his good news in the world.  Or think about the people who heard that good news from those disciples: I’m thinking of a story, for instance, from the 3rd chapter of Acts about a man regarded by everyone around as a beggar; a nameless, faceless indigent.  But upon being healed by Peter and John in the name of Christ, this beggar became something different, quite literally “walking and leaping and praising God” (3:8) as he went first into the temple, and then out to a new future… full of possibility!

For that matter, think about someone like my old friend; someone you know whose faith has so profoundly affected his or her life that who that person is now stands in sharp contrast to the person was before.  Maybe you can even see yourself in that regard; the point is that this love of God is the catalyst for true and ongoing transformation; it creates unlimited possibilities as to what can come as God’s own future unfolds.

What we will be is not yet revealed… all we know for now is that when Christ is revealed, that is, when the kingdom is come and all of Christ’s promises are fulfilled, then “we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.   And…” – here’s a key verse (!) – “all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”  Or, in the beautifully rendered words of The Message, we will have “the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.”

For what comes between what we are and what we will be is the journey; and how along live on the way.  Think of it as a journey of self-discovery on a divine scale. On the way from who we already are as God’s children to what we will be by God’s intent and purpose, we are being called to grow; spiritually, and by extension ethically, morally and socially.  We are being called to turn around from worn pathways and old ways of thinking and being; so that we might truly walk in newness of life after the manner of Jesus.

I love the story that Juanita Austin tells about her brother, who works as an accountant, and who is, as one might expect, up to his eyeballs in tax returns every April. Ordinarily, Austin writes, this would be a sure cause for stress and strain, but this year when she asked her brother how he was doing, he replied with great enthusiasm, “Great!  I’m doing just great!  I love this!”  Though her first instinct was to call a doctor and find out if her brother was in fact seriously sleep deprived (!), she asked him why he was so visibly excited by his job.  And he explained that on that particular day he’d been able to help this widow on a pension to increase her monthly income, “so that instead of barely scraping by she would be reasonably comfortable.  What her brother had as a gift – a knowledge about taxes combined with a [new, faith centered] compassion and desire for justice – he [was now able to give] to her.”

I love this story because like all of us who are children of God, what this man, this tax accountant (!), will be is yet to be revealed—and yet by the movement of his life we can begin to see a hint of what’s to come, a glimpse of the very purity of Jesus’ life in his own life. Well, my question for each of us today is what people might see in the movement of our lives here on Mountain Road; as Christians dwelling within a decidedly non-Christian culture; as persons and a people of faith dealing with the very real challenges of life here and now, yet on a journey full of possibilities for the sake of Christ and his kingdom.

It seems to me that in faith, you and I are ever to be giving thanks for “who we are” as children of God; but we also must never lose sight of “what we will be” by God’s own intent and purpose.  For between here and there, now and then, lay all the wonderful and heretofore unimagined possibilities that God is setting before each of us.  It’s ultimately what will help us to soar as the eagle and the hawk, to “reach for the heavens, and hope for the future.”  And it will be that which will reveal to us some of the “glistening purity of Jesus’ life” in everything we are and seek to be in this life.

Where we will go and what we will be; that is yet to be revealed. But we do know who we are, beloved; and as children of God, I hope and pray that we are ready for journey of faith and discovery they lay before us.  Because the possibilities… they’re endless!

May we be blessed on the journey… and may our thanks be to God!

AMEN and AMEN!

c.2017  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2017 in Epistles, Faith, Life, Sermon, Spiritual Truths

 

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