Sermons on bearing witness
Here we are “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And you shall speak whatever I command you, Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. In the name of God who is Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, Amen. Well… look at us! Here we are. Our Sunday morning worship looks a little different than usual, doesn’t it? We are…
We can know that God loves us enough to want us to accept this gift of the Kingdom without fear, we can long to fill our hearts with true treasure, but first let’s be honest-this is a hard, hard thing to do. It can be profoundly difficult to let go of the familiar to embrace gifts we cannot yet see, allowing our lives to be a tunnel for these things to pass through on their way to bless others. If you have ever felt this way, I hear your heart. It takes commitment to the hard and good work of transformation to understand that the only treasures really worth keeping are the ones we should also give away-things which last forever and cannot be stolen or destroyed- gifts such as love and honor, righteousness and obedience, faithfulness and courage, joy and peace.
To be “rich toward God”, is to be in balance, where our breathing in of God’s goodness includes our tending to our relationship with God, and our breathing out includes an exhale into our world of truth, love, righteousness, and care for God’s creation and God’s people.
This story becomes real for each one of us when we make that mark of the sign of the cross on our hearts and faithfully follow Jesus into the places that no rational person would traverse. That’s how we find Easter in our lives. Amen.
People were saying all kinds of things about Jesus. People always have, and will continue to say all sorts of things about Jesus. The disciples report on the word from the street. “Some say you’re John the Baptist, come back to life. Others think you’re the great prophet Elijah, returned. And some others think you are another in the line of our great prophets.” All their answers suggest that most Galileans think Jesus is the forerunner of the Messiah. That’s a safe bet. It’s easier to believe a Messiah will come, than to believe one has come. A Messiah yet to come makes no demands, calls for no change. Jesus listens, just taking in the disciples’ report. Then he looks at them and says, “But who do you say that I am?” Can’t you just see it? The disciples’ heads all drop, eyes to the ground, and they intently begin to study their feet. No one wants to be the first to make eye contact with Jesus. Well, there always comes a time when what other people think and say is just not enough. It’s Peter who finds his voice. He has allowed God to show him in his soul who Jesus is, so he breaks the awkward silence and speaks his truth: “You are the Messiah”.
“God is love. God is good. Let us thank God for our food. By innumerable hands we all are fed. Give us, Lord, our daily bread.
Sometimes I ask God to break my heart with all that breaks his in the hope that I may see with God’s eyes and feel with God’s heart— at least as much as any human can. On those rare occasions when I am able to muster the courage to draw nearer to God’s own broken-hearted compassion— in the face of profound suffering— it guts me, empties me out, and if I endure through this refiner’s fire of love, it ultimately transforms my heart. You know. This is part of the path all of us here walk when confronted with suffering that brings us to our knees.
“Look within yourself,” Jesus implores them. But they don’t. What we would have hoped would have been the turning point in the story– the disciples’ transformation into a living and breathing faith — doesn’t happen. When the seas calm and Jesus begs them to go into the dark and foreign places within their own souls, to examine why their fear has overridden their faith, they don’t. Instead, they focus their attention on understanding Jesus, rather than understanding the difference Jesus makes in their lives of faith.
It was a hot summer day, the sun beating down on our shoulders tinged with pink, the heat shimmering up from the pavement to meet us, as I stood before this young woman, who had such a perplexed and incredulous look in her attentive and piercing eyes. She asked me, “Why?” “Why would you do this?” Her question to me was in response to something I had recently done for her, a generous act of kindness. Instantly and without thought,…
God gives us the opportunity and ability to bear God’s grace to each other, to be God’s love and grace to each other. It’s a huge responsibility and a gift. It’s something of a miracle each time it happens.