Sunday, June 17, 2018

4 Pentecost B, 2018: This is what is biblical

Lectionary: 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13; Psalm 20; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10,[11-13],14-17; Mark 4:26-34

Note: If the above player doesn't work on your device, click HERE for an alternative audio format.

Love changes lives. Love changes the world.

For the last two weeks, I have been drenched in an ocean of love whose name is Emerson Patrick. The love this little person generates just by his very being is at once fulfilling and disorienting.

It is a strange and wonderful experience to feel so full of love that it feels like you might explode apart. It’s a constant motion from grounded-ness to absolute lost-ness; from wholeness to nothing-ness; from self to non-self.

I can stare at him for hours. Seriously. And he does little else than sleep, stretch, and dream while I hold him. This love has changed my life. It has changed my world and it will continue to change my world in ways I can’t even imagine right now.

In a little while, we will celebrate that Austin and Maleah have entered into a sacred and eternal union: the bond of marriage. In the marriage ceremony, we affirm that the marriage of two people is intended to bear fruit. We pray that the fulfillment of their mutual affection will be in their reaching out in love and concern for others.(BCP, 429) Austin and Maleah’s love has changed their lives, and it will change the world.

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: Jesus’ love changed all our lives. Jesus’ love changed the world. Now we live in the love of Christ who gave himself up for us so that we could continue his work in the world so that his love could continue to change the world through us.

Living in the love of Christ is the fulfillment of our divine purpose and each of us does that in the way God whispers to us to do just as God whispered to Samuel how to address the mess Saul created by stepping off the path God had set before him, a path which benefitted Saul and the people, onto a path of self-centeredness which benefitted only Saul.

Saul failed in his divine purpose so God changed God’s mind about Saul and removed him from his place of authority. There would be no fruit from Saul’s reign as king.

Even though Saul left the people of Israel in a state of confusion and lost-ness God was already at work forming new life for them bringing order and peace to their chaos. They couldn’t see the work God was doing beyond their sight and knowledge. Even Samuel couldn’t see it. But Samuel prayerfully heard and responded to the whisper of God and went o Jesse the Behlehemite from whose sons God would choose a king.

As Jesse presents son after Son, God cautions Samuel against making judgments
from a human perspective reminding us all that our sight and knowledge are limited. We can’t always see the work God is doing beyond our seeing. We must simply trust that God is doing it.

Finally, God confirms the unlikeliest candidate: David, the youngest (and, therefore, least respected and honored) of Jesse’s sons. David was a shepherd – not a warrior or a judge or any kind of leader of people. His resume for the job of king was awful. He was completely unqualified and inexperienced. But God had chosen David, so Samuel anointed him and all of Israel accepted him as their king trusting in this choice as God’s love and active care for them. And David, by the grace of God, led the nation of Israel into the most prosperous and peaceful period in its history.

This story reminds us that when things don’t seem to be going well (as they weren’t when Saul betrayed his divine purpose) we can be confident that God is already at work bringing about new life for us - even when we can’t see that happening.

And God’s path for us may not be what we expect but it will be perfect, greater than anything we can imagine because God is love, and Love changes lives. Love changes the world.

This is what Jesus is describing in his parables in today’s Gospel. Jesus tell us that we are in heaven, that is, we are in harmony with the plan of God, when we scatter seeds of love into the world.

In this parable, we are the first step in God’s action plan. Our role is to scatter the seeds, to literally let them go. To throw love out there and let God do God’s work with them – work which happens beyond our ability to see. By scattering our particular seeds of love, the seeds God has given us, by the way, we also are letting go the potential outcomes we want or expect in favor of the outcomes God has in mind.

In the meantime, we can spend our time worrying about what’s happening or we can judge our seeds as inadequate, or…we can trust God… and wait… and watch as the new life God has been preparing for us emerges into our awareness.

Then comes our part again: we tend that new life until it comes to its fullness. Working cooperatively with God in this way is how we fulfill our divine purpose and it’s the only way we will know when it’s time to use the tools given to us to collect the harvest. By the grace of God, our tiny seeds of love, like the mustard seed, become the greatest shrubs on earth offering safe shelter and comforting shade to all.

And so, as Paul teaches us in his epistle, we are always confident, because we are willing to walk by faith, not by sight; faith that Love changes lives. Love changes the world.

We are confident that that God is always at work on God’s plan of love, no matter how it may appear in any particular earthly moment, and we are urged on by the love of Christ as St. Paul says, a love which recognizes that the Spirit of Christ is in everyone. Every. One.

As we say each week in the Nicene Creed, we believe that Jesus is the one through whom ALL things were made. All things. All people.

Therefore, we are urged on by the love of Christ to proclaim the truth boldly and minister justice with compassion. That means, when someone is hungry, we feed them. When someone is homeless, we shelter them. When someone is afraid, we stand with them and protect them. When someone is exiled, we welcome them.

That is how love changes lives. That is how love changes the world. And this is what is biblical.

So we can – no, we must - be bold in our proclamation of the truth and steadfast in faith as we scatter our seeds of love, ministering justice with compassion in the name of our Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

No comments: