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“Be the Gospel” “Be the Gospel”

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“Be the Gospel”

Posted on Sun, Aug 11, 2013

Luke 12:32-40

August 11, 2013 12th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Gospel Text: Luke 12:32-40 – “Be the Gospel

 

32 ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Watchful Slaves

35 ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36be 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. 37Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

39 ‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’

 

 

Do you ever make plans, and then for some unknown reason, you plans are eclipsed by something way beyond your dreams and you are just blown way, or left speechless by the way things actually worked out? This is what happened to Abram… all Abram and Sarai wanted was a baby, but God had other plans for them, these two seniors would not only give birth to a baby, but according to “God’s plans,” Abraham would become the ‘Father of a Nation.”

 

Abram knew the order of things. He understood the birds and the bees…

 

If you do one thing, it will “beget” another… As human beings, according to our plans and actions, if we do one thing, we can expect something predictable to happen in response.

 

Abram was very disappointed BEFORE GOD, that he and Sarai had not been able to produce a child of their own, even though they had tried all their lives. There was no “begetting” going on for them…

 

Abram and Sarai’s “disappointment” in that they could not produce their own child was a “problem” for them, but it is also common problem among some couples even to this day. We make plans to get married, have children, make a home, and live a long life according to our plans and wishes. But, because of unexpected biological problems, Abram and Sarai could not produce a child according to their hopes and dreams. God understood their disappointment, but more than that, God ALSO had big plans for Abram and Sarai that not only involved the blessing of a child, but God intended to create a nation out of the multitude of their “children” creating generations numbering more than the stars we can see in the heavens! We may have plans, but God has AMBITIONS!

 

Abram understood the normal order of life and the normal results from normal activities and expectations… but more often than not, our God has plans that are so much bigger and grander than anything we could expect.

 

I often call these events, “God things.” Not a very theological description, but they are surprising events that I have seen and experienced almost everyday in my vocation. And I know that I am not the only one… ask a Stephen Minister! We make plans, but God loves to surprise us with events beyond our plans!

 

(There is a traditional way to preach today’s Gospel text… I’m not going that way.)

 

In today’s text, Jesus talking about living our life completely through eyes and ears of faith always looking and listening for God’s direction and calling; not just living according to our own wishes and expectations.

 

He is actually talking about a holistic way of living our faith, not a life when we think we can compartmentalize the events of our day. Jesus is telling us that we are not to separate our faith, and the commands to love God and neighbor from any part of our daily life.  

 

Sometimes, western minds don’t like this concept, we like to divide thoughts, activities, our dreams and expectations and even our time into neat tidy increments that we deem necessary to determine and decide or our lives would fly off into some sort of chaotic swirling cloud in the cosmos… One definition for the word, “secular” is: “Worldly rather than spiritual.” Or: Denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis: "secular buildings". For me personally, the concept of ‘secularism’ doesn't compute in my mind. I cannot comprehend our world without a spiritual element. For many peoples and cultures, the very thought of dividing our life, faith, time, and even our experiences into category’s is unthinkable, or even unimaginable. For people of these cultures, all things are eternally connected and filled with meaning.

 

This is one of the amazing cultural conflicts depicted in the Bible, especially through the birth, life and death of Jesus. It is a conflict between Greek-Western thinking and Semitic/Hebrew-Eastern thinking.

 

Greek thinkers like to divide everything up neatly and evenly, oftentimes defining one thing by describing its opposite. We understand white, because we understand black; we understand what is good because we know there is evil, we understand life because we can observe death; Spiritual stuff is good and pure, while fleshy stuff is evil and considered dirty or unclean.

 

For the Jewish-Semitic thinker, there is very little separation or categorization between physical and spiritual. Things just are. Life is not “good” and death is not “bad,” they just “are.” The “spiritual world” and the “physical world” can live side by side and often interact with one another, one isn’t good and the other bad, they “just are.”

 

The greatest example of these two cultures slamming into one another comes in the simple New Testament text found in John 1:14: And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

 

“The Word” is the perfect promise of salvation only attainable by God; it is a Western/Greek concept of perfect and pure spirituality, unattainable by humans, only attainable by the gods. But John says, this perfect spiritual Word became “flesh;” this perfect spiritual promise somehow takes on this dirty fleshy substance called flesh and blood and begins to live in this dirty, rebellious and broken world!!! For the Greek and the Hebrew this simple text blew their minds!

 

But isn’t that what Jesus was best at, taking our human expectations and turning them upside down?

 

Can you feel the tension in the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel? “Don’t be afraid, sell your possessions, make purses (meaning make a rucksack that can be easily carried filled only with the essentials for today or quick travel), be dressed for action, keep your lamps lit, be like the expectant slave waiting for the master to arrive at any time, particularly an unexpected time! Blessed are you that the master finds alert and even awake at night when the burglars are prowling.

 

We think Luke put together many sayings of Jesus to help the church as it awaited and seemed to be growing anxious about how long it seemed for Jesus to return to them as he promised. 

 

Well, Jesus did promise to return someday, and we will never know the time or place… but as people of faith, the time and place of Jesus physical return doesn't really matter. Jesus sent to us the Holy Spirit. When we look at the Cross of Christ, we as a church, believe that Jesus is Risen from the dead and through the Holy Spirit there is no waiting for Jesus… Jesus is here now! There is no waiting to see, hear and experience Jesus. You can see Jesus in your neighbor! Jesus is seen in all those who are hungry, thirsty, alone, naked, sick or in prison. In Matthew Jesus says, “35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

 

Luke is clearly telling us that faith is not something we can turn on, and then turn off when it seems inconvenient. Luke is telling the church to be ready to welcome Jesus IN THE WORLD at any time! We are to be ready to respond to the Call of Jesus and the needs of God’s people.

 

The world is increasingly becoming a more troubled place and the church cannot become afraid to respond to the suffering and needs in our world hidden behind our theology and comfortable hymnody. Our focus is first to hear that Gospel and know first and foremost that through the death and resurrection of Christ, we are now and forevermore connected to the God of the universe. Our worship is a time of renewal, inspiration, words and music that challenge us to act and prayer for all those in need. As a Body of Christ, we are to stand up and speak words of justice. As a people following Jesus, we are to respond to the hungry and the homeless and most importantly of all, let our lives be the Gospel that the world is so craving to hear, see and experience. Jesus never sat in the synagogue studying the scripture; his life became the scripture for all to see.

 

The churches that don’t open their eyes to the needs of their neighborhood and don’t specifically invite those people into their faith community, they soon become irrelevant and fade away.

 

I love the feeling we get when we read Exodus 12:11 talking about the Passover: 11This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord.

 

There is urgency in the scene telling us that the People of God may be called to move, act, serve, worship, comfort and adapt at any moment. They look like firefighters eating in full emergency gear!

 

There is enough cynicism, despair, greed, selfishness and pain in this world. Through the Cross of Christ, and the promise of your baptism, you have been Re-Created to be the Daughters and Sons of God, equipped to be Jesus for the world. Did you hear that? Through forgiveness and the Holy Spirit, you have been equipped to be Jesus for someone, somewhere in the world. As you can’t stop the world, even if you WANT to get off, there is no turning off our faith!’

 

As people of faith, don’t just be human, be the Gospel in a world so in need of God’s light, truth, grace, mercy and hope!

 

Amen

 

Ty: I like you, Betty.

Danny: It's Danny, sir.

Ty: Danny. Danny, I'm going to give you a little advice. There's a force in the universe that makes things happen; all you have to do is get in touch with it. Stop thinking...let things happen...and be...the ball.

 

 

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