Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wednesday's Noontime Homily

A reading from the gospel of John, the 12th chapter:
36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.37Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him.38This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”39And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,40“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they might not look with their eyes, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.”41Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him.  42Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;43for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

Midweek Lenten Service
March 7, 2012
John 12:36-43

 Please pray with me,

Lord God, you kept Abraham and Sarah in safety throughout the days of their pilgrimage, you led the children of Israel through the midst of the sea, and by a star you led the Wise Men to the infant Jesus.  Protect and guide us now in this time as we travel through the season of Lent.  Make our ways safe and our homecomings joyful, and bring us at last to our heavenly home where you dwell in glory with your son and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.  Amen. 

Growing up I remember listening to the story called The Point.  Back in the day, we would listen to it on a record….now, it’s on my iPod.  Well, the story is about a boy named Oblio and he is the only round headed person who lives in the land of Point, everyone else has points on their heads, so he is banished to the pointless forest, but here’s the thing….all the trees have points on them….and all the branches on the trees have points….so Oblio is confused….how can this be the pointless forest if there are points all around us? 

Luckily, he runs into the rockman, who, in his infinite wisdom says, “You see what you wanna see.  And you hear what you wanna hear.” 

He asks Oblio, “Did you ever see Paris?”
“Well, did you ever see New Dehli?” 
"Well that’s it….You see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear…."

How true is that in our lives today?  That we see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear?

As we heard in our gospel passage today, that people were able to see Jesus in their midst, to see the healing, hear his teaching….and have their hearts and eyes opened to see Jesus as the Messiah….yet, they struggled with believing or telling others about it because of the laws of the land and the synagogue. 

The passage quoted from Isaiah says their hearts were hardened…

What hardens our hearts…

When we see God at work in our midst and in the world around us, what keeps us from seeing those amazing moments? 
Is it the sin in our hearts, that turns us in on ourselves? 
Is it the self-centeredness that causes us just to focus on our own selves? 
Is it the worry of what friends or neighbors will say if we talk about our congregation or our faith? 
Is it our quest for human glory?  For our own needs and desires…?  For our own glory? 

God is constantly at work in the world around us….in the joys and celebrations and in the struggles, sickness and pain that we face. 

How are we being turned this season…turned away from ourselves to see God at work in our world here and now. 

How are we being turned from living in fear, sickness, and scarcity, so see the abundant love, hope and trust in our midst here and now? 

Listen to something I read this week:

“The good news involves both the transformation of the mind and the healing
of the body. It also involves the leaving behind of some cherished traditions;
often the greatest force of opposition to renewal is not the evils of this world
but a clinging to past goods. It has been said that the good is often the worst
enemy of the best, and it is so in this case.” [Witherington, The Gospel of Mark, pp. 250-1]

Now, where we go from here?

Do we allow ourselves to get caught up in the ways things have always been
Do we fall into the trap of sin and focus just on our individual needs?

Or are we turned…even just for the moment…outside of ourselves, to see the
needs of others, to see that the mission of God is at work in the world…and
that we are all connected and dependent upon one another…?

Or are we able to see the transformation of our minds and the healing of our bodies…as the presence of God in our world and in our lives? 

I pray that this Lent is a time for us all to be turned away from ourselves and towards others. To see the freedom we have from sin and death…to love and serve our neighbors. And to claim the cross…not as our own burden, but as the way God has shown and continues to show and unending love and forgiveness for each and every one of us.

May our eyes be opened to see that transformation.

May we see Christ in our midst here and now.

May we share this abundant love and grace with others as it has already been shared with us.
And now may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.

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