Sunday, November 13, 2016

Work to be Done

It's been quite a while since I last posted.  I've so very busy with my family and the churches.  I've just kept my focus there but today, I thought I would share this morning's sermon with you.  The Scripture references are Isaiah 65:17:25, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, and Luke 21:5-19.  The commentaries I read are from the UMC Discipleship page and also Adventurous Lectionary.

“There is Work To Be Done”

Wednesday was a very quiet morning for me.  I spent a lot of time in prayer and quiet contemplation.  There were a few tears too.  I found myself wanting to sit and cry, not because of who won or lost the election but because of the hurt I was seeing, the meanness,  the fear.  I asked my mom how I was supposed to write a sermon now.  She said she didn’t know.  Later I asked Susan the same question and replied, “I don’t know, but you have to address this.”  But that’s hard!  I know we have folks on both sides here today.  We have some feeling relief and some are hurting.  It’s very real.  On social media this week… well, it’s been hard.  It’s hard to read about the hurt of many of friends, LGBTQ friends, immigrant friends, young people who voted for the very first time.  I saw some of my friends gloating, boasting and spewing some awful stuff at those on the losing side and like wise I saw some on the losing side doing the same to the winning side.  Even STILL! 

And then I saw friends, who I love more today on both sides of the table offering love, understanding and encouragement.  That was beautiful and it comforted me.  Eventually, like many of my friends, I put Facebook away.  I just could take the pain anymore.

I began to try to focus on my sermon and try to remember what it was that I had planned to say and that’s when I realized that I still wanted to share the same message I had planned.  See when I first read the scriptures a week ago, I though how perfect it was for an after election message and now that it IS after the election, I think I was right so, bare with me this morning as we work to begin healing our community by uniting to answer God’s call and continue his work.

Let us pray, May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen.

I love our scripture from Isaiah this morning.  It’s filled with such hope!  And, well, we can sure use some hope right now right?  Every day!  These verses offer us just that.  A light at the end of the tunnel, a beacon of light on a rough sea.

It says, there will be no more weeping, living long lives, and peace.  Peace.  He says the wolf and the lamb will eat together.  That’s hope.  He will answer before we even call.  Hope – light – and we should rejoice! God has great vision for the future.  God is creating new possibilities and the energy to achieve them even when things are not exactly how we want them.  Today we can dream this future with God if we so choose. (Living a Holy Adventure)

Here’s a thing though.  2 Thessalonians tells us that WE have work to do.  Now, a lot times when people read these verses, they think of them as a way of saying they don’t have to help those who aren’t working but I don’t think so and the commentary I read didn’t either.  Here is what it said.
This was no critique of those who were poor and could not physically work to support themselves for whatever reasons. Of course, the community cared for these people and provided them with daily bread. Rather, Paul’s admonition appears to be aimed more at some of the wealthier members of the community who actually did not need to work to support themselves and so could choose lives of “idleness,” becoming “mere busybodies” (verse 11). Very likely, too, it was intended to stave off Christians deciding to cease regular labors in expectation of Christ’s second coming, the major theme of this whole letter.”

I think Paul was telling us as Christians we still had work to do.  Our Bible study on Hunger told us this, “that the idle ones in Thessalonica were failing to practice real love. They not only had stopped working to feed themselves, but they had also stopped working to help others.”

See we all need to do our part.  We need to be there for one another.  We need to work together to make the world a better place.  We need to help those in need, protect those who need us to and we need to stop judging each other and just simply LOVE more.  WE need to be more like Christ.  We have to love through the hate, we have to stop hate in it’s tracks and the best way to do this is to LOVE.  Last week, I told you love is the answer – well, this week, it’s still the answer.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  In fact in our reading from Luke today, Jesus tells us it won’t be.  He tells us it will be hard.  He tells the disciple they will arrested, persecuted.  It’s not easy to be a follower of Christ.  Oh, it seems easy enough to come to church on Sunday morning  and sing a few hymns, listen to a few scriptures being read and put a few dollars in the offering plate, but you KNOW Jesus calls us to do MUCH more than that.  He calls us to stand up for him and his people.  He calls us to love his people – ALL OF THEM.  Trump supporters, Hillary supporters, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, immigrants, Muslims, women, the LGBTQ+ community, children, the poor, the elderly, EVEN our ENEMIES.  He calls us to love and care for each one – each and every person whether we like them, agree with them or not.  We are to love them – all.  WE are to care for them, stand up for them, fight for them.  We are all ONE in Christ and it’s time for us to remember this and to live it every day in every way.

It’s not easy, in fact, sometimes it can be downright hard, scary even, but in Luke Jesus tells us not to be afraid.  Think of what Jesus endured for loving his people – all God’s people.  Through out the Bible we are told not to be afraid for God is with us.
We had an extra reading in Isaiah in our lectionary reading.  It was chapter 12.  In verses two and three it says, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.  With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

He is our strength and our might, he is with us and he loves us and he wants us to love even when it’s hard.  He wants us to help his people all of his people even when it’s hard.  He wants us to follow the example of his son and trust him even when it’s hard. 

I want to close this morning with a couple of quotes from The Lord Of The Rings.  Thank you, Michaela for pointing them out.

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil.

We all have to decide what to with the time give to us.  What will we do with this time?  This question brings us to our next quote.  Sam is talking to Frodo this time.

Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

So that is what we need to do with our time here.  Be the good in the world, be the light, be the love and know that it is worth fighting for.  Amen.