Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sermon 1 John 3

         Sometimes it hurts just to open the newspaper, or turn on the TV, or even ask a neighbor or relative or friend how they are doing…
-       A convergence of countries fighting and meddling in Syria with unclear goals and objectives the likes of which we have not seen since the Crimean War.
-       Chemical attacks in Syria, the likes of which we have not seen since the First World War.
-       The greatest refugee crisis since the end of the 2nd world war, yet last year less than 30,000 refugees were resettled here in America… Half the population of Syria, the center of the refugee crisis, currently displaced, yet we’ve only taken in 11 Syrian refugees in the first 4 months of this year.
-       Tensions rising between global nuclear powers, the United States and Russia raddling saber as would suit a new cold war or God forbid a Hot War of annihilation.
And were it only wars and rumors of war, that would be one thing, but we humans… we contain multitudes.
-Social media, intended to connect people all across the world, being used to create suspicion between neighbors and sew fear among friends.
-Slashed safety nets,
-isolation and mourning,
-Intergenerational antagonism,
-unaddressed griefs and grievances,
-Deeply damaging miscommunication,
-The anxiety of stepping into an unknown future…

it is enough to make you feel like you are on your own, and out of luck, and that the other guy is out to get you…
or at least someone is…

         Sometimes, I just wish I could be like the Apostles! I wish I could heal like the Apostles. I wish I could proclaim like the Apostles.
-Reconnect the severed fibers of our national life,
-re-introduce relatives and neighbors and friends to each other,
-beat swords into plowshares, tanks into tractors, guns into gardens and bullets into seeds to feed the world…
-use the chlorine they gassed folk with to clean up a giant pool where we can hold a swim party in Syria and everyone involved can just talk their problems out.

… I wish I could be like the Apostles, saying “Silver and gold have I none, but I can heal you in the name of Jesus”
and then tell everyone about Jesus and the wonders of his love
—tell his whole story, tell the gospel and have it accompany healing like we see in the Acts of the Apostles today…

… or maybe…
maybe I don’t want to be like the Apostles…
heal and proclaim like them…
after all, there are consequences for their actions
—they are rejected by their religious leaders,
kicked out of where they worship,
jailed, beaten, stoned, killed…
all for healing and proclaiming that Jesus is Lord…
If I was to be like the apostles…
-I suppose I’d be gassed just the same as anyone else,
-Called too political or naïve or a dupe or a traitor if I spoke for peace,
-Branded a meddler or hypocrite for trying to mend broken relationships.
… yes there are consequences for healing in Jesus name and proclaiming that Jesus is Lord
living out the faith, following after Jesus… has consequences…

         And that shouldn’t surprise us, as 1st John says, “The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
          Look where our Lord ended up for healing, forgiving sins, and proclaiming that the Kingdom of God has come near…
-he was called a law breaker and a drunken glutton,
-chased out of his home town,
-abandoned, betrayed, arrested, killed
no, the world could not know Jesus as the Messiah—the Christ—the Kingdom of God come near
—and neither can it know Jesus’ disciples, those who work in the Kingdom even as they reside in the world
—the Children of God are hidden from the World, even, perhaps, from themselves…

         And yet… and yet we will be known, we will be revealed.
As we read in 1st John: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.”
         When the world does see Christ, we will be revealed as like Christ, as Children of God.
         Oh, we are so often blinded by the world ourselves, so much a part of the world, that it is the Spirit alone who can give us glimpses of what God is up to in our lives…
but we anticipate a much greater revealing
—that what once was seen in a mirror darkly,
what once we had to squint to see
—shall be revealed as Jesus was, is, and will be revealed, as Christ.
         I think that’s what holds it all together for us—this hope.
         I think that’s what held it all together for those disciples as they healed and preached—this hope!
Sure, the good works of Christ and the Spirit
—the Resurrection and the New Life we find in our Risen Lord
—all of that is shrouded, unknown to the world… the world which operates with rules of its own that run roughshod over the calling of Christ…
Sure, it is far from obvious,
those echoes of Easter still among us
Sure, in black and white the newspaper bleeds red
Surebut the Goodness of Christ will be revealed!

-Jesus Christ, who was born to a lowly and frightened peasant girl
—gives us a hope that the Lowly will be lifted up and we will “Be not afraid.”

-Jesus Christ, who healed the sick even when it meant sacrifice on his part
—gives us a hope that all sickness, all suffering, ailments of any sort, will be healed!

-Jesus Christ, who forgave sins, even when religious folk said, “stop it”
—gives us a hope that there truly is forgiveness of all our sins, and with it redemption and life!

-Jesus Christ, who proclaimed the Kingdom of God in his very presence
—gives us the hope that God’s Children will be revealed, and that the Kingdom will come.

         It is with this hope that we follow after Jesus, as did those Apostles.
         It is with this hope that we heal in Jesus name and proclaim him Lord of all
—despite consequences, in the face of a tense, torn up, war-like world that does not know him and cannot see God’s work and will in the lives of God’s Children.
         In the face of all that,
still hope!
Always hope!