Monday, October 14, 2013

Seeing is believing.

October 13, 2013
21st Sunday After Pentecost
2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
Psalm 111
Luke 17:11-19

Please pray with me,

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

Seeing is believing….

A few weeks ago while I was on the elliptical at the gym, I was chatting with the woman next to me.  We exchanged niceties, found out what each other ‘did for work’ and the like.  When she found out I was a pastor, she said, “Good for you.  We need people like you.  The world would be a much better place with more God in it.” 

Hm, I thought, isn’t God already in the world?  So, what’s keeping us from seeing God in our world and at work in our lives?  What leads us to think that we need more God?  Maybe we’re just not seeing where God is already busy at work in our homes, our communities and our world. 

In the story “The Point” the main character Oblio is traveling through to the Pointless Forest.  Along his journey, he meets the Rockman (yup, you guessed it, a man made of rocks) and asks him if he’s seen the forest. 

The Rockman says, “You see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear.” 

The Rockman asks, “Did you ever see Paris?” Oblio says, “No.” 
The Rockman asks, “Did you ever see New Dehli?”  Oblio says, “No.”

Well, says the Rock Man, “You see want you want to see and you hear what you want to hear.” 

You have to open your mind as well as your eyes…

You may wonder what seeing has to do with believing with today’s lesson…but it’s there.  You see faith, is not a matter of believing only, but also of seeing. 

All the lepers were healed; one however, saw, noticed, let what happened sink in…and it made all the difference. 

Because he sees what has happened, the leper recognizes Jesus, his reign and his power.
Because he sees what has happened, the leper has something for which to be thankful, praising God with a loud voice.
Because he sees what has happened, the leper changes direction, veering from his course toward a priest to first return to Jesus.

Thinking about the role of seeing as it pertains to believing…this story serves as an invitation to believers…both in Jesus time, and now, to recognize how and when we see God at work in the world. 

In the face of adversity, do we see danger or opportunity?

In the face of human need, do we see demand or gift? For example, as people line up for the food pantry do we see people in need or do we see the crew of volunteers handing out an abundance of food. 

In the face of the stranger, so we see the differences between us that could separate us or do we see a potential new best friend? 

And it goes further. When we look to God, do we see stern judge or loving parent?

When we look to ourselves, do we see failure or beloved child?

When we look to the future, do we see fearful uncertainty or an open horizon?

There is, of course, no right answer to any of these questions. How we answer depends upon what we see. Yet how we answer dramatically shapes both our outlook and our behavior.

Perhaps this is the key to living our lives as followers of Jesus that in seeing the world, we see God at work in the details. 

AND, when we see God at work in the details, we point that out to others.  We know that God is at work in the world and we know that we have been blessed abundantly with life, friends, family and a supportive community.  It is good for us to see that….for what it is…God at work in the world. 

Before we are called to believe or confess or help or do we are called simply to see...and to help others do the same. We are called, that is, to point out blessing, to claim mercy, to name grace wherever we are and with all the courage we can muster.

At the outset of this story, ten men are stuck. They live "between regions" in a "no-man's" land of being socially, religiously, and physically unclean. By the end of the story, all ten are made well. But one has something more. He has seen Jesus, recognized his blessing and rejoiced in it, and changed his course of action and behavior. And because he sees what has happened, the leper is not just healed, but is made whole, restored, drawn back into relationship with God and humanity. In all these ways he has been, if we must choose a single word, saved.

Because here’s the good news….God doesn’t wait for us to have enough faith….God acts first.  Phew, right? 

Because truth is….after that comment from the woman on the elliptical about needing more God in the world I was silent.  I wasn’t really sure how to react…and I’m a pastor….I talk about God, it’s what I do….

So thank God that God is not waiting for us to have the perfect faith to use us in the spreading of the gospel message….because we may not always get it right. 

But that’s okay, because God doesn’t wait for us to have enough faith…God acts first. 

God is already at work in your life and your world.  

God is already loving you, saving you and blessing you. 

So, stop…and look. 

Last week, while in New Orleans, we traveled either by foot, or by the city’s public transportation.  So often when on the bus or streetcar, when an older person got on, a younger person would stand up and offer their seat.  It happened more often than not. 

One day a woman entered the front of the street car and began looking for her friends.  A man got up, offered his seat and she sat down.  She called back to her friends wondering why they got on in the back and why they were separated and then stopped mid-sentence.  She looked at the man who offered his seat and she said, “I’m sorry.  I forgot to say thank you.” 

You see, these moments of grace and thankfulness are all around us. 

We are constantly reminded of living in community with others who see and react based on the needs of others. 

It’s that easy….to see these moments. 

 See where God is at work in your home, at school, at work….at the gym on the elliptical….wherever you may find yourself, you are in a prime spot to see God at work in the world. 

Then take that next step and tell someone else about, your pastor, your friend, your mom or your dad, your neighbor…whoever you want!  You may not have the words in the midst of that moment…but that’s okay, because God acts first. 

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.