Sermon

Lent 2, Year C

February 24, 2013

 

Lament: noun.  passionate expression of grief; song or poem of mourning or sorrow; verb.  express or feel grief for or about; regret.

Abram laments a legitimate heir, “You have given me no offspring and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.”  Paul laments the lost ones whose minds are set on earthly things instead of on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus laments for Jerusalem.  Definitely a theme for the lessons.

Abram has returned victorious from battle and is blessed by King Melchizedek.  God makes a covenant with Abram promising a great reward.  Abram essentially says, so what.  The heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus.  Eliezer could be the chief steward.  It’s conceivable that Abram is exaggerating for emphasis – Eliezer is not necessarily his legal heir.  But the fact does remain that he has not fathered any children and he’s in his seventies.  This is serious.  In the Book of Numbers, Chapter 27, inheritance order is outlined as follows:  “Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughter.  If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers.  If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers.  If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to be a legal requirement for the Israelites, as the LORD commanded Moses.’ “   Abram is making a personal lament.

Jesus is lamenting for a nation.  Perhaps Jesus uses Jerusalem as a metaphor for the people who live as those who cannot receive the word of God, whose minds are set on earthly things.  And yet, Jesus longs to bring them all to safety, “as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.”  The Pharisees set the stage by trying to get Jesus to give up, go away, hide.  But for the people “Jesus will ‘go forward’ to Jerusalem because it is his prophetic destiny to die there (as we already know) and no human plot can hinder that happening.”

What would our community lament if St. Anne’s was not here tomorrow?  Well, we’ve had Pub Night, so that won’t be missed for a while.  Some of you might be thinking – why would anyone miss this church, we don’t contribute to the community.  We don’t do any outreach.  This is a chance for me to reiterate that indeed St. Anne’s is important to many people in the community of Stockton.  If we weren’t here tomorrow, the following groups would miss our presence:  Mondays – 2 different A/A meetings; Tuesday – Visions in Education, O/A meeting, Al Anon meeting, and once a month Ladies Investment Group and Stockton Pacific Rotary Board; Wednesday – Food Addicts meeting and Boy Scouts; Thursday – O/A meeting, an A/A meeting, the Spanish Group, Visions in Education and Tai-chi; Friday – Tai Chi, Debtor’s Anonymous and an A/A group; Saturday – O/A and St. Charbel Maronite community.  Outreach?  Yes, we do that.

And you.  What is your lament?   What causes you grief?  What do you regret?  Was it anything that you could have prevented?  Some of you may lament the loss of a loved one; a spouse, a child, a parent or even an animal companion.  Some may lament the loss of a job or financial security, a loss of health, a loss of home…when we answer God’s promise with a “so what”?

In such moments, Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem is instructive. It tells us that God’s love is undiminished. It tells us that God is rooting for us. It tells us that God’s help is available to us. It also tells us that God gives us freedom to choose between good and evil, and with the freedom comes accountability.

Are we willing to receive shelter under the wings of the Almighty?  We cherish shelter when the chips are down–when our world is coming unglued.  At times like that, we kneel and pray for help.  When things are good or stable, we go where we want to go and do what we want to do–and resent suggestions that we should do otherwise.  When we move to the shelter under the wings – to accepting God’s love – we accept the covenant God makes with us.

God reassured Abram.  Your own offspring will be your heir; your descendants will be as many as the stars in the sky.  Abram asks God for a sign.  He is given a task, specific instructions to bring a heifer, a female goat, etc. as a sacrifice.  He did exactly as he was told and received the assurance that all God promised him would come to pass.  Then Abram moves from lamenting to the shelter of God’s promise.

Healthy people don’t stay in the lament.  It’s a place we all must pass through but by our relationship as children of God, we cannot stay there.  God has already given us the sign of promise.  THE sign is Jesus.  Jesus is calling to us, come.  With tenderness and infinite patience, Jesus waits for us to come to that safe place under his wings.

Christ calls us–his disciples, his church–to become prophets–to proclaim God’s word.  God calls us to hear God’s word for our lives personally–and to obey God’s word. Then God calls us to proclaim God’s word for our community–and for our nation. God calls us to love as he loves and to care as he cares. He calls us to call the brood to his protective wings.

This week, think about your lament.  What are you holding on to?  What can’t you give up?  What do you regret?  What does your heart long for?  Write a note to God and end with a thanksgiving that the invitation to gather all the children together is eternal.  There’s no curfew, no expiration date, the door is open and the light has been left on. AMEN

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“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
Winston Churchill

Last year I attended Pub Night For the very first time. I had a good time but had no idea of what it takes to put on such a great event. A year later, having been on the planning committee, I now understand. Everyone that participated in putting together the event for 2013 deserves a hearty thanks. This year was not just fun and successful but ran smoothly. The St Anne Family and extended community volunteers came together and out did themselves. Not only are we are going to be making a generous contribution to the Women’s Center / Youth And Family Services and the Emergency Food Bank, we also raised money for St Anne and everyone who attended had a great time. I sat with people that were at their first Pub night this year and they were amazed at the whole experience. This is a unique community experience. As we build on our success get ready because next year will be better than ever.

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