Fixings for Faith

“Fixings For Faith”

Romans 8:26-28

Matthew 13 (selected verses)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev. Dr. Frederick A. Young

Pastor of Youth, Education and Outreach

 

 

 

 

 

129Your decrees are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.

130The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

131With open mouth I pant, because I long for your commandments.

132Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your custom toward those who love your name.

133Keep my steps steady according to your promise, and never let   iniquity have dominion over me.

134Redeem me from human oppression, that I may keep you precepts.

135Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.

136My eyes shed streams of tears because your law is not kept.                                                                                                                                                                     Psalm 119

 

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            If it is true that God is in all things and all things are within God, then we do not have to wait to meet our Creator in heaven, because our Creator is all around us right here.  The word from the ancient text read today all point to our relationship with God.  Not just mere communication, but transforming conversations.  They also invite us to consider how we might be in conversation with others of our own community of faith about the nature of God and how God is identified in the world.

 

            Paul invites the Roman Christians into a hope of a way of life that

they do not yet see or understand but will acquire if they are patient.  All creation is connected and we are heirs to its beauty, and when we live our lives in prayer to God, such beauty is acquired even in the midst of encompassing oppression.  Jesus, in Matthew’s remembrance, promotes the hope attained through a unity, which happens through diversity.

            I started this message reading the timeless and beautiful words of the ancient Psalmist and now I invite you to listen to the excluded verses of the Gospel lesson read earlier. 

Matthew 13:36-40

36Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.

 

            Nestled within Matthew’s parable describing God’s Realm, the writer reminds the reader of the rest of the world.  Even though at times it may seem the world around us excludes the church and her principles, God encourages us to look with eyes full of hope.  Not much has changed in this respect for thousands of years.  Our ancestors struggled to see God in the midst of the oppressive dominate culture.  As they struggled to build a church and their faith, they did so, engulfed by immoral seed sown by powers at odds with God’s vision for the world. 

            The message I want us to take home today is the reality that throughout our own lives, there are moments when we are the wheat and when we are indeed the weeds of discontent.  Contention not meant to separate but to draw us closer together as children of God.  Christ’s words are an assurance that we are in this life together, that God is a God of every living thing.

 

         Listen to this beautiful poem written by a young teenager from Canada,  Daniela Luna.     

 

Uprooted

I was a young but strong tree in my home,

growing sturdy.

Taking the vitamins from the dark rich soil

to bear fruit of the sweetest type.

Until I was transplanted,

told to leave.

I grabbed the soil harder with my roots

saying this is my home,

my only home.

But even a strong tree like me can be moved.

I took one last look at the place I knew so well,

getting farther away every second

until I was no longer home.

I wanted to stay,

I had no choice,

I was uprooted.

 

            These words remind me of the picture on this morning’s bulletin cover.  I remember when Kara painted it, still grieving the passing of her Father, and my Mother.  It depicted for her, the words of the hymn, “In the Bulb, There Is a Flower”, which we sang at my Mother’s funeral and have sung together here at Christ Church on many occasions.  Today, it becomes a visual for our imaginations.  It depicts possibilities that lie within each one us.  The rich and warm hues, tell our story.  Portray how with every turn of life, we too can be uprooted, misplaced, yet with

patience, faith and hope, can continue to flourish no matter where our roots take hold. 

 

            Think of all of the different ways in which Jesus described God’s Realm… The mustard seed, the yeast mixed with wheat, treasure hidden in a field, pearls in the ocean and caught fish of many kinds in a net.  All were common elements of the ancient world’s daily routine.  All of these parable stories are used to speak of a faith so real, and so full of possibility. 

 

         As a child I remember thinking that parables were a bit strange. Looking back, I realize that it was probably because I did not understand the makeup and culture of Jesus’ time.  Parables are mysterious...left alone, they can teach us something different every time we hear them, speaking across great distances of time and place and understanding.  If we think, we understand the parable we are probably mistaken.  However, if hearing what Jesus tells in this story makes us a little uncomfortable or challenges us to transform our norm, then ,maybe we are getting closer to the owning the truth. 

 

            Theologian and friend, Bruce Epperly once claimed:

“Life is ambiguous and so are we.  We are holy, but also wholly ambivalent at times.  We are saints who also are sinners. Faith stems from recognizing the interdependence of life, and seeking to embrace the whole of our lives in light of God’s grace.” 

 

            We are the seed of God.  At times, this is the mantle we wear proudly around our necks, other times we brush it under something large hoping others will turn a blind eye.  But no matter the circumstance, God is in that place and it is sacred.  This is our hope whether we own it or not. 

 

            Have you ever been on a hike in the woods and come upon a pile of rocks along the path?  Rocks, obviously carefully selected stacked one on another.  These rock piles are referred to as, Cairns.  Mostly used as markers along our journey.  But they can also be used as temporary markers of Thanksgiving to God.  Tributes erected with the intent to be added to and if you stumble upon one that has fallen, makers to be rebuilt.  All throughout the Bible, we hear about piles of rock that are used to exemplify the presence of a focused God.  A prime example is when the Israelites were instructed by Joshua to pick up a stone as they left the Jordan River and then instructed them to make a pile as the passed into the Promised Land.  This was their thanksgiving altar to the Lord upon the end of their dessert wandering. 

 

            Worship Team C has been talking a lot about Cairns.  It is our intention to use these rock markers to represent our various life journeys throughout the church and in the sanctuary beginning in September.  One has already appeared in my office.  As I look at, I am reminded of the many possibilities that continue to turn into ministries here at Christ Church. 

 

            The pile of rocks with flowing water outside my office window may not be an altar built to God, but it is a place of remembrance and of envisioning new hope.  Many stand gazing upon our church’s Memorial Garden throughout the week.  People will park their car and enter the garden or walk in off the street.  I will forever remember one little boy who told his mother, “Wow, this is pretty.  I like all the bubbles, but where are the free coins?” 

 

            All of God’s children need our care.  Some ask questions about what they want… while others seek solutions to having their needs met.  Whether it be coins or food or even weed or wheat, our power and wisdom comes from embracing the whole, not denying the parts.  In what way is God revealed to you?  How do you experience the Creator’s presence?  What image speaks to you about God’s realm?

 

            God is in this place, at this moment.  Our faith is built on this hope.   God is in the mixture of wheat and tares; flowers and weeds.  The Divine appears in the ordinary. Wherever we are, God is present.  This is what our texts tells us today, and our prayers should come from this truth.    

 

130The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

131With open mouth I pant, because I long for your commandments.

132Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your custom toward those who love your name.

 

I grabbed the soil harder with my roots

saying this is my home,

my only home.

But even a strong tree like me can be moved.

 

“Wow, this is pretty.  I like all the bubbles, but where are the free coins?”                                                                                                              Amen!