Monday, November 14, 2011

Pentecost 22 -A 2011

A Brand New Day


As Children of the day we are called to walk in the light, trusting God and supporting one another. There are moments when we feel like our lives are being destroyed, as if a thief came in the middle of the night and stole it away from us.

You have all been there – an unexpected death, a layoff from a job that you were not expecting, a sudden diagnosis of illness…

There are moments of despair, difficult devastating issues and circumstances arise that knock the wind out of us.

We all of a sudden realize we are living a dead end job, or we remember some half-forgotten moment of trauma from our childhood…

And the thing is, we can choose to respond in one of two ways, as children of the day or children of the night…

These are Paul’s words not mine, but in the end, it is about recognizing the light and hope and possibility, trusting that we will get strength from the divine.

Today we are going to hear some passages from the Bible that on the surface seem pretty harsh – but as we explore them deeper, you can see that the good news for us is about recognizing how God is already active in our lives.

Flashlight People (with kids)

Ever used a flashlight? Why? What do they help us to do?
-         Have you ever been lost? Ever been afraid in the dark?
-          Didn’t know what to do
-         A long, long time ago there was group of people who felt lost… and they were afraid and there was this big bully being mean to them... They went and talked to this wise woman, named Deborah.
-          She was a leader of all the people around – and she helped them to find their way.
-          She sent someone, like her Big Brother, who was he and strong, to talk some sense into the bully…
-          Sometimes in our lives there are people like Deborah – people who help us to see the right thing to do, or where we need to go… I like to call them Flashlight People… cause they are just like a flashlight, a light in the dark…

The Light of Day

Do you remember the story of the Chilean miners? I remember thinking when I heard how long it was going to take to dig down to them, that they would certainly be dead by the time they got there… how long was it… like 2 months trapped underground, trapped in the dark… If they had not died they would surely have gone insane… right? Imagine spending that time alone with just a few people, not able to move very far, never knowing just what was going to happen next… wondering if the rest of the mine was going to collapse and kill you.

But they made a choice. They chose to live. One of them jogged the narrow, darkened mine passages, one prayed, others thought of family to give them strength…. They could easily have chosen the other way, despair, darkness, death.

It may sound harsh, but Paul says to this bunch of Christians, in a brand new church, facing oppression from both sides, that they have that simple choice to make…

You don’t know what will happen next, none of us ever do, death waits like a thief in the night, there are going to be a lot of hurdles to overcome, but we should live in hope… we should always act in a way that brings strength not only to us, but to those around us.

Ever tried to actively make people happy around you? Smile at people you walk by, tell a joke really loud on a bus full of unhappy looking people? Compliment a person who is on their feet for their eighth hour behind the cash register… what happens? Everything changes… Not only for them, but for you…

Living in the light is not denying that life is hard, it is a choice. It is waking up and saying, a lot can happen in a day…

 Ostriches and other Cowards

I saw a movie last night, “In Time” it was a really interesting movie, sort of science fiction like, about a time in the future when everybody is given 25 years to live – and there is a clock on your arm, like a watch, ticking down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the end.

Life, in this world, becomes currency. You can trade minutes for a cup of coffee, hours for a night in a hotel, years for a brand new car.

What the movie pointed out is the huge divide between the rich and the poor. For us, not being able to pay our bills means a lot of stress and a lot of hardship – but for the people in this story, debt means death.
The rich in this world had hundreds, perhaps thousands of years on their arms. No one aged after 25 anyway, so you could technically live forever – unless you fell down a flight of stairs, or ate some bad chicken, or drowned… or died of any of what we might call “accidental” causes.

So no one drove, no one swam; no one took any risks of any type, for fear of losing their immortality.
In other words, fear kept them from living life.

Jesus parable is terribly harsh. It is not fair by any stretch of the imagination. We feel sorry for the slave who does what he thinks is the safe thing, and buries his money.

But what if Jesus is really talking about being afraid? What if he is saying that if we choose to live without taking those risks, stepping out, or living the day fully as God intends, we risk losing everything; what if we are therefore choosing to live in the darkness.

Fear closes the door tightly on God’s love, you can’t feel it, you can’t let it in, you can’t see what is possible; all hope disappears.

And fear is something we all deal with. It can be subtle, like the fear of saying the wrong thing that stops us from talking to people. Or it can be extreme, like the fear of disappointing parents that causes us to choose to be a doctor even though we hate everything about it.

It comes in all shapes and sizes, like the fear that no one loves us that causes us to be a bully or the fear of being different that causes us to dress like everyone else.

Over and over Jesus said he came that we might have life, abundant life, hope filled life… do you think you can have that if you are crippled by fear?

It is a daily choice. Perhaps it is a daily struggle, but we are given the talents, the moments of our lives, and asked what are we going to do with them – so are you going to bury them and play it safe, or risk it abundantly and live in hope?


When was the last time you stopped to watch the sun rise?

I actually managed to do that the morning of the Pancake breakfast. It is a lot easier in the winter… but to see the pinks, then orange, blossom across the sky into light, into the pale blue dawn is kind of magical….
Sunrises are one of those experiences of nature that can move people to tears, we stand in awe as if God is standing in front of our very eyes.

But, it is not a very special event, it is not a once in a lifetime thing, we could watch it every single day of our lives…

So why do we find it so captivating and emotional? Perhaps it is because it is the beginning of a brand new day… a day filled with possibilities and hope, with new beginnings and new light.

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