August 18 2019
Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:1-2, 8-18; Hebrews 11:29-12:2; Luke 12: 49-56
We just listened to some pretty harsh sounding and difficult scripture readings this morning.
I can tell you, upon my first reading of the scriptures on this Sunday’s lectionary, my immediate thought was, “there is no way I am going to include those readings at the 10am, special family service”. I was thankful that I had already been working on a special back to school/blessing of the backpacks service for several weeks now, so I was already exploring alternative readings, as I was putting the service together. Kids were already lined up to do the readings, all the music was picked with the kids in mind – songs they could sing and use the shakers and tambourines with – songs that speak of Jesus’ love for them, and for all of God’s children…and for all of creation. If you were to attend the 10am service today, there would be no way of missing the good news of God’s love and presence, proclaimed joyfully through the lives of the children.
But, here in this service, and in the readings we just heard…it may take a little more of digging deeper, or opening our minds and hearts a whole lot wider…to hear the good news of God’s love, in this present time together.
Perhaps, that’s precisely, one of the gifts of hearing these difficult passages…they have the power to wake us up from our complacency, and to face the truth, the difficult truth, of what is happening right here, and now… in our own lives, in our communities…and in the wider world…
Perhaps, that is the good news…that God won’t let us rest until the good news of his love, reconciles us all together, all of us, in this life…and the life yet to come…God won’t let us be satisfied, with the ways things are…which is so far removed from the vision of God’s dream for his beloved children… His love will persevere in finding a way into our hearts, inviting us to turn our hearts back to him… in this moment, right now…in this moment, of considering some very difficult teachings…
What caused me, and perhaps you, to shake our heads, and cringe upon hearing these scriptures this morning?
More importantly, in our gospel reading today, why was Jesus reacting with such passion and perhaps exasperation and do I dare say anger? All those exclamation points in the Luke gospel today… seems to me, that Jesus was not speaking calmly, at the time…
Do you remember a little bit about our gospel reading last week…about being ready, by faith…to receive God’s love and blessing, because God is always standing ready to love and bless us…all of us…all of God’s beloved children…Do you remember the last verse of our gospel reading last week: You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour…
I have a feeling that this lesson picks up where Jesus speaks of his unexpected return, and finds the people are still not ready...they are still living in fear of one another, and of their own lives…fearing that they don’t have enough… There are still people who are stealing from one another…hating one another…there is still division, and actions taking place that are separating people from one another, placing people in categories of worthy, and unworthy; trustworthy, and untrustworthy; rich and poor, loved and unloved…
Jesus is surely angry…Some of God’s beloved children are still being exploited…some of God’s beloved children…are still not being loved and cared for….some of God’s people are going hungry… some of God’s children, still have not known the power of God’s love, to transform their lives, and to be welcomed into the family of God…where all are loved, where all lives are worthy, where all, by faith…can continue to hope and dream with God, for a day when this beloved community, this dream of God, for all his people….will come true.
If Jesus, were to return to earth this morning, he would still be angry about some things. Too many of God’s children, are still suffering. Too many of God’s children are being separated from those they love, and those who love them.
The good news, though, is there are lots and lots of people doing all in their power to care for the children among us, children of all ages…and there have been many examples of people, throughout history, and in our own lives, who have persevered in their faith, giving us an example to follow…by looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith…to show us the way, to love and care for one another…and inspiring us…to act and love and work together…for the well-being of all God’s family…
But, the kingdom building work is not done….we are not yet there…the beloved community is still on the horizon….and we are all still called to bring the Good news of God’s love to this moment now…to this moment and present time in history.
We, the adults, have been entrusted to care for the most vulnerable people among us – the children. They are growing up in an unsteady and confusing world…They are looking to us, to ensure them that they are loved; they are looking to us, to see what it means to love others; they are looking to us, to assure them, that this world in which we live in now, is their world, too…and that each of us, young and old, has a part in caring for this world and each other.
Most of all, they are looking to you and I to see how we will deal with the most difficult questions and uncertainties in life. How do we react when someone dies? How do react when we feel like we have been wronged by someone? Do we forgive freely? How do we treat those who are not like us? How do we speak about others who do not believe the same things that we do?
Children are always watching us and are eager to learn and know what is right and true.
What are we doing in our lives, that shows the children…that their lives and the lives of other people matter, too…whoever they are?
What are we teaching them about trusting in the love of God, made known to us, through his Son, Jesus Christ?
What are we teaching them, about being ready, by faith…to receive the love and blessings that God so wants to lavish on them?
Prayer/Hymn after sermon: Children of the Heavenly Father (L213)
Children of the heav’nly Father Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in heaven, Such a refuge e’er was given.
God His own doth tend and nourish, In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them, In His mighty arms He bears them.
Neither life nor death shall ever From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth, And their sorrows all He knoweth.
Praise the Lord in joyful numbers, Your protector never slumbers;
At the will of your defender Every person must surrender.
Though He giveth or He taketh, God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely To preserve them pure and holy.
Rev. Julie Platson
St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church