Sermon

Lent 2, Year A 2014

There are so many stories in the news this past week that are continuing sagas.  The Malaysian airliner just disappearing off the radar.  What is happening on the Google barge?  But the one that caught my attention was echoed by an op-ed piece in the paper Friday morning – “Template for how not to raise a child” by Ruben Navarrette.  He referred to the story of Rachel Canning suing her parents for support – as she deems it – not necessarily as we would define it.  I thought about how she is looking for her parents to give so she can receive; how Rachel is not taking responsibility for or paying the price for her own needs and desires. 

Made me think about parents and children.  My dad taught me unconditional love, but that didn’t mean he didn’t let us fail.  It meant that he was there to help us when we asked, to affirm that trying our best was all he needed to be proud of us, and to let us know that he always loved us even when we messed up and had to face the consequences.  I’ve tried to be that kind of parent to my daughters. 

If we take a look at the God of the Old Testament, we get a God who would be obeyed or else.  God’s covenant with the people in the Old Testament was that they would faithfully obey God’s commands and God would deliver the blessing of a land of their own and innumerable offspring.  God would give to the people what they needed to prosper.  It’s no wonder that people today can’t identify with a God to be feared.  If you had a parent like that, you don’t want to have anything to do with God or church.

As Christians we put our faith in the loving God.  The one who’s covenant was to give his son to redeem creation once and for all.  A God who waits patiently for us to turn back when we wander off and forget to stay in touch.  Nicodemus didn’t quite know about that God.  He was familiar with the concrete God of acts and consequence.  He couldn’t understand a God that could love him so completely that God would send the only son to save us and not condemn the world. 

I used these lessons yesterday morning for the baptism of an infant, Malia Villanueva.  I talked to those gathered about the concept of being born again.  Yes, we are born through the Holy Spirit at our baptism, but it struck me that we are born again every time we make a major life change. 

It’s a new life when we get our driver’s license and savor independence, which comes with increased responsibility.  It’s a new life when we first leave home and have to support ourselves.  It’s a new life when we get married or find our life partner.  It’s a new life when we become a parent.  It’s a new life when we become a grandparent.  We are the same person and we are not the same.  Growth should happen at each of these stages.  We learn to be responsible for ourselves, for our relationships, for someone who depends on us.  More maturity is required to successfully fulfill each of these roles.  Knowing that we are loved unconditionally by God, assures us that we can learn from our mistakes without fear of never getting another chance.  That’s how much God loves us.  

          So what does God ask of us?  Simply, to do the work that helps to heal our hurting world.  As a community which stage are we in – teen, just starting to support ourselves, ready to take care of each other, ready to expand the family?  I think we’re getting close.  We need individuals volunteering to participate in at least one ministry and we need to be involved in activities that are taking place (like the First Friday concerts) to build our own sense of community.  Are we ready to go out and do that work? 

Almost.  It will happen because the Holy Spirit is active within this congregation.  We have been born again, through our baptism in the spirit, and anointed as Christ’s own forever.  We know that God promises good things to those who believe, who have faith.  God was willing to give his son for the healing of the creation, so we who believe can receive eternal life.  And the son willing gave his life so that we might receive that promise. 

What are we willing to do?  Can we continue to grow in this faith together until we are able to go out into the community and do God’s work?  This week take time and consider these questions.  We don’t have to make any decisions right away.  We just have to try to be a little better each day.   AMEN.

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