Sunday, August 4, 2013

Focus on Above and Beyond Ecclesiastes 1:1-14, 2:18-23 Colossians 3:1-11 Luke 12:13-21 Peace and Grace to you all from our risen Lord and Savior, As I prepared to preach on our readings this week a certain quote from one of my favorite contemporary spiritual writers kept popping in my head. This Trappist monk actually spent the last two and a half decades of his life at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Bardstown Kentucky no more than 120 miles from here. Thomas Merton who spent much of his faith journey peeling away layers of complexity wrote that, We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have - for their usefulness. Think about that for a while, try to recall a moment in the past week or so where our hamster wheel tendencies were very real to you. What does it look like in your day to day life? Why do we do the things we do? I think that is the question that confronts us with our readings for today. What motivates us? Or to put it in words that might sound familiar in our politically charged world; what is our agenda? Because brothers and sisters, all of today’s readings remind us that the only agenda that really matters is God’s. St. Augustine once prayed Grant that we might seek never, never to bend the straight to the crooked. That is, your will to ours. But help us to bend the crooked to the straight. That is, our will to yours. Part of the disciple’s struggle is to learn to distinguish our will from God’s will, and then to begin to desire God’s will in place of our own. That is when the Holy Spirit will begin to transform our wills. And this transformation is a process, it doesn’t happen overnight and this process won’t be finished for anyone on this side of eternity, our faith isn’t perfected until we find ourselves fully in God’s glory. Solomon, Paul, and Jesus as he told today’s parable all knew that this process is hard. No matter how much effort we put into being a faithful disciple, no matter how many reminders we have that God sits on the throne, we still keep finding ourselves evaluating ourselves and others with a rubric given to us by the world, we keep compiling accomplishments, and titles that we think the world may value, we find more things to do to pad our resumes, and it seems that people begin to create those resumes at younger and younger ages. If we were to be honest with ourselves we are not all that different than the rich man in Jesus’ parable today. Brothers and sisters God’s agenda is what we should be spending our life pursuing, for God alone knows what tomorrow is going to bring and even our best-laid plans are bound to fall apart. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Colossians that our life is hidden; we don’t know what lies ahead. There are a few things we do know; we know that load of groceries we just put in our refrigerators will be gone by the end of the week, we know that paycheck we just deposited was probably mostly gone before we deposited it, we know our health we work so hard to maintain (some of us more than others, Sorry Heather I’m working on it) is fleeting and we know even our best and closest friends will let us down, promises will go unkept and the sting of hurtful words will linger. How do we know these things? Because we know all too well the affects of sin in our lives. As Solomon reminds us in the reading from Ecclesiastes, vanity of vanities all is vanities. But we know a few other things too. We know that each and every one of us was created in God’s image. As we live out our lives in a world where things perish and fail we know that we were made for so much more. And we know that in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are claimed as daughters and sons of God. Remember my quote this morning; it’s before you on the screens or the bulletin. We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have - for their usefulness. Who you are as God’s own beloved child, bought back from sin, death, and the devil by Jesus on the cross of Calvary, will always be so much more valuable than anything you can ever own or do. And anything you can ever do or have will never make who you are as God’s child less valuable. Whose agenda is looking better now? You see in the end we don’t have to be like the rich man hoarding treasures in some barn; because God has already given us treasures beyond our greatest imagination. Those treasures begin with the assurance of his presence and the promise of eternal life. But there is even more than that, I am sure a quick look at your life can reveal those treasures to you. He has blessed me with a loving wife and healthy son, an amazing new community to call home, and supportive friends who no matter how many times we let each other down will be there for me when I need them the most. We are about to sing my favorite hymn. It was the hymn of the day for my ordination so it is really amazing that it is the hymn of the day my first Sunday as your Pastor, as we sing it I want you to listen to the words and I encourage you to make those words your prayer for the rest of the week. Because when we seek first God and His kingdom everything else just falls into place. Glory be to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.