Monday, October 24, 2011

Pentecost A 19 2011

Face to Face


 Have you ever thought about what it would be like to meet God?

There was a song I really liked last year by the band, the Fray; it was called “You Found Me”. There have been a lot of songs lately where God has crept into the secular music on the radio – but this one was really intriguing, here is how it starts:

I found God
On the corner of First and Amistad
Where the west
Was all but won
All alone
Smoking his last cigarette
I said, "Where you been?"
He said, "Ask anything".

Where were you
When everything was falling apart?
All my days
Were spent by the telephone
That never rang
And all I needed was a call
That never came
To the corner of First and Amistad

Now, the Fray are not a Christian band, they do not even seem all that religious as people by a standard definition. But this song is really deep, about how lost and alone we feel and how we all have questions we would ask God.

A Prophet like Moses

The Bible records that there has never arisen another prophet the likes of Moses – why? Because Moses spoke to God face to face; Moses actually knew God.

There are a couple of times when Moses goes up a mountain to have a chat with God and comes down all glowing and translucent; which is pretty much what is said about Jesus when he goes up the mountain and talks to God.

Moses was 120 years old – but his sight was not dim, he had all his faculties, nothing about him was aging… he simply had finished what he was set out to do by God, and so he died. It might have happened when he was 20 or 220 – it would not have mattered.

It didn’t matter because he was so in tune with God that his life was merely a reflection of God’s plans for us.

With the Kids – Keeping in Tune

The tin whistle played incorrectly causes cats to run in fear and dogs to howl in pain…
What is the difference between being in tune and out of tune?
What does it mean to be in tune with God?

Second Hand Paul

Paul once referred to himself in a very Shakespearean way as a man born out of time, a man born too late for the place he was supposed to be. He said this because more than anything else Paul felt he was born to be an apostle of Jesus.
Along the road to Damascus one day he had a vision of Jesus – he “saw” Jesus. And perhaps this did not make up for spending three years out doing ministry with him, but it changed Paul forever. In a sense, he felt he had seen God face to face.

Now, vision is another word for dream… we really don’t know what Paul saw – whether it was a conversation with Jesus, or God pointing a finger at him and like the Ghost of Marley in A Christmas Carol – but it changed Paul forever.

Before that time Paul was an arrogant religious official who persecuted people he did not agree with. After that time he wrote things like we read today – things about how much he cared for people, things that seemed genuinely humble… he really was a changed man.

The thing is this – he did not see God face to face. At least, not ion the way we are told Moses did. Paul had a different experience of God, one very like you or I do. He saw God in a dream.

I have had moments where I thought God was speaking to me; sometimes inside of me, sometimes in a dream, sometimes through circumstances or the people who are speaking to me.

I also read the stories of the faith, I go to church services, I sing hymns, I hang out with people who are religious and want to talk about their faith…

And through it all I find that I don`t actually have to meet God face to face or converse on a mountain to ‘hear’ God.

There are just moments where God shows through the ordinary things – moments that make me aware of how I should live and how much I am loved. Moments that change everything much as Paul was changed that morning on the way to Damascus.

So what is it all about?

I know we hear it a number of times – but it bears repeating. There is a simple answer as to what God would say to us if speaking face to face… In fact, Jesus summarized it:

Love God, Love neighbour, Love self.

Back in Moses day God tried a more complex set of rules – we heard them a little while ago – the Ten Commandments – which in fact were followed up by over 1000 sub clauses.

It’s a little like being a parent. When you start out you think if you regulate everything – if you create a rule for everything – you will keep them safe. Then later on you come to realize that the best you can do is hope you instilled in them the right values so that when they make their own choices, they do it in tune.

Well –here is a more mature statement from God – following all the rules will keep you safe – but so will concentrating on the basics… and at its most basic level life is about loving God enough to treat the world the way God would – it is about loving your neighbour enough to always be looking out for them and placing their needs high on a list of priorities, and it is about loving yourself in such a way that you would always try to be in tune with God’s way of living.

This is what our faith hinges on …

I have been very inspired lately by the “Occupy” movement. It seems to me in a grass roots sort of way that they are taking the more mature approach of not focusing on one demand – but of saying, life isn’t being lived the way it should be… we don’t have a society where the very basic principles Jesus talked about are honoured… so how do we get there….


That is for us to figure out… there are no easy answers as to how to live a mature faith – but the thing is, we have been given all we need to go out there and do it on our own.

We don’t need to see God face to face in order to get our lives lined up with God. We don’t need Jesus speaking to us at the foot of the bed in order to know what is right and good…

We just need to remember what we already know, and live it beyond these walls…

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