Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16; Luke 12:32-40
We spend a whole lot of time getting ready for things don’t we?
We put a lot of hours, days, weeks, months sometimes, to be sure everything is just right… maybe it’s a special family gathering, an event for work, a community celebration, or a special church gathering for a wedding, a baptism, a funeral…
Those are the big things we spend a lot of time getting ready for…and even though we may prepare and plan, and think we have covered all the bases, there seems to be unexpected things that arise…more often than not.
Then there’s the everyday things that we think we are ready for…we’ve done it every day…we could do the work with our eyes closed…things seem to be going along smoothly…no stress…no worry…we got this, we tell ourselves…I’ve been a parent for several years now, I know how to handle this teenager…I’ve been at this job for twenty years…I know what I’m doing…I eat healthy, and exercise everyday…my health is good…
Then…out of the blue…we are stopped in our tracks…the unexpected happens, and throws us for a loop…we lose our job, someone we love is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, a family member or friend is slipping away into a world of drug and alcohol addiction, a loved one dies…
These things aren’t supposed to happen, we tell ourselves… we find ourselves unprepared to accept these unexpected intrusions in our perfectly planned out life…we become acutely aware of the uncertainties of life….we were sure we were ready for anything that came our way…we pray, we meditate, we exercise, we take care of ourselves… yet, still…we become anxious, stressed, worried, disappointed, sad, and sometimes angry….at others, and ourselves.
And we become tired…very tired…weary…very weary…ready to give up hope, losing our faith, one day at a time…wondering how many more unexpected things will come up in our daily lives that will cause such sorrow, how many more tragedies can one family possibly endure…how many more senseless acts of violence, will end a person’s life too soon….how many more times, will we close the door, on the people that God so loves…the people God is so ready to love and bless…all of us…all of God’s beloved people…
God is always ready to love and bless us…do you and I believe that? In times of unknowing and uncertainty, are we standing ready to open the door of our hearts to receive his love and blessing? Do we rest, assured that there is One, a holy and mysterious One…who is always ready to love and bless us?
I wonder if we believed that, if it would change the way we react and respond to the unexpected things that interrupt our day…and the uncertainties that lay ahead of us, in our future….I wonder if we believed that, it would help us through those days when we are wearied and worried about all the changes and chances of this life…I wonder how our lives would be transformed by the love and blessing of God, if we were found ready to welcome Jesus into our homes and into our hearts?
All I can think of at the moment, is the beautiful passage, in our gospel reading today, "Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.
This sounds like another call to be ready…be dressed for action and have your lamps lit…Haven’t we are already been working extra hard on being ready…to show up and face the ups and downs of our daily lives? What else could we possibly do?
Maybe there’s nothing else we can “do”…maybe it’s considering that there’s another way of being ready that grounds us, even in the uncertainties and unexpected things that come our way… Maybe, it’s about being ready, dressed for action, with faith…Maybe it’s about being ready, by keeping our lamps lit with God’s inextinguishable light of love and blessing for us, burning in our hearts…
By Faith. Be Ready. For God’s love and blessing.
How might we do that: I would say that we begin with a decision to say yes, to God’s love and blessing…believing that God is always standing ready to love and bless us… I would say that we also begin, by acknowledging, that this isn’t something we can do all on our own…we are born into a world, filled with other people, we are born into a world, that we are called to share with one another, we are born into a world, in which God calls upon each one of us to love and care for each other, and all of creation. We are meant to live in relationship and community with one another.
And…It has always been God’s good pleasure, from the time we were born, to give us the kingdom…all of us…It has always been God’s good pleasure, to entrust it all, into our care…It has always been about the love of God in our hearts affirming in us….the treasures that cannot be stolen, or destroyed…. when we put our faith and trust in God’s love and blessing… For even if it seems as though, the things of this world are passing away and being taken from us, it is our faith and trust in God’s promises that we can continue to hope in…
I believe faith…is the game changer…in what it means to be ready…ready for anything that comes our way…sorrow and joys….expected or unexpected…for faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…I believe faith is the game changer, that makes us ready to believe and to receive the love and blessings that God is always ready to lavish upon us…And I believe that faith is what enables us to take the next step…trusting that God is with us, every step of the way…
BY FAITH. BE READY. For God's love and blessing.
We already have an idea what this looks like…We’ve seen it before… We can look to the examples of those in the scriptures who have taught us about the long, long journey of hope and faith, rooted in the love and blessings of God. In our reading from Hebrews today, we heard about Abraham’s faith…. By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to received as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.
We can also draw inspiration from the long line of saints and loved ones who have gone on before us, in our families, in our churches, and in our communities…who have taught us, through their words, and actions, how to remain in hope…and how to live a life rooted in faith and trust in the One who loves and blesses us today, and holds us all together, in His love…for the life yet to come…
We may not know how we will get through this day of troubles, we may not understand why bad things happen to good people, we may not be able to see a solution to the end of violence and suffering in our lifetimes…But, there is One who does hold this vision for us…there is One whose faithfulness is great and who has provided us, all we have ever needed…whose mercies are new every morning…There is One whom we can put our trust, and faith and hope in…Jesus Christ…the One who has died, who is risen, and through the Holy Spirit, lives among us now, and who will come again…
Until then, and while we wait…we are to be ready…
By Faith. Be Ready. For God’s love and blessing.
Prayer/instrumental hymn after sermon: Great is thy faithfulness (H 189)
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with thee;
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not,
As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.
Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
Rev. Julie Platson
St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church