Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent 3, Light Fixture or Chandelier, Preached by Archdeacon Sluss at St. John's Tower Grove.

A little old lady from a tiny rural Episcopal Church in Nebraska passed away.

She decided to leave her meager wealth to the church for a brand new chandelier.

Her lawyer contacted the vestry about the wishes set in her will.

And the vestry meets and deliberates, and has discussions about her wishes.

They eventually draft a letter to send to the lawyer.

They say that though they are very thankful for her gift, they find that they are unable to accept the gift, for three reasons:

1. No one can spell chandelier.

2. Even if we had one, we’re sure the organist wouldn’t know how to play it.

And 3, what we really need is new light fixtures.

Now if you like that joke feel free to use it. If you do not, don’t blame me I got it from the Canon Precenter of the Cathedral Pat Partridge.

A gift given, even though we don’t know that it is exactly what we needed.

In hindsight I tend to see the truth of god’s blessings in the events in my life, after they have occurred.

I wish I could recognize those grace filled moments while they were happening, Instead of always understanding the grace given to me after the fact.

My perception is too narrow at times. I cannot it seems, see the grace because I am too involved in the aspects of my life.

I have not, though I wish to, given my all aspects of my whole life to God.
I still try to hold on to some things. Try to take control.

Thinking that perhaps that I shouldn’t have God worry about such petty things in my life, like I only have a few favors to ask of God.

That is why God gives us the gift of the community.

The gift of the church, to be with each other to have others to point out to us those grace filled moments.

When I lost my job last year, I for once allowed my self to be prayed for, allowed myself and my predicament to be open to the cathedral community, heck to the entire diocese.

It was this act of allowing those who knew my needs to pray for me, to raise me up. That sustained me in those times of doubt.

My family in Christ were the ones who helped me realize that God’s gift to me in the situation was having me lose my job. I was in a job I hated, and it was only in losing that job was I ready to make the move. Ready to trust that I would be cared for.

Ready to change my point of reference my perspective in what was going on in my life. From being so self perceptive, to community perceptive.

Seeing that one sure gift of God’s grace to me was my church family, and the realization earlier rather than in hindsight, of the grace of god working in my life.

God often has different things in mind for us. Better things than what we believe we need.

That is the promise of belief in God and a belief in the Savior gives us. God will give us better things than we can imagine.

You see sometimes what we get we don’t realize it’s just what we need.

That is what some in ancient Judea saw with Jesus.

Their Messiah was supposed to be this great warrior.
Who would kick out the Romans, restore the lineage of David.
Bring in a new era, of power and grace, to exceed Solomon’s reign.

And what did they get in Jesus, a poor, mendicant preacher. Roaming the countryside, eating with the unclean and outcasts.

This guy while preaching the good news of the kingdom of god, isn’t giving them what they expect.

For the past few weeks we have John the Baptist in the wilderness proclaiming that Jesus is this Messiah the one whom he says he’s unworthy to hold his shoes! The one he and his followers have longed for the messiah to return Israel to the favored people of God.

Only here is Jesus, he hasn’t raised an army. He’s preaching peace! He’s speaking of the kingdom as already being here, or near. How can that be, we still have the Romans with us.
And what’s more now he (John) is in jail! About to die.
So John’s question “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

He wants light fixtures, but gets a chandelier! He doesn’t understand what it is he’s gotten. So Jesus’ answer reminds him.

“The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”

You will notice that Jesus doesn’t answer John’s question, “are you the one?” with a yes or a no. Instead he tells John’s disciples, “tell John what you hear and see”

The proof of who the messiah is, is not in some definitive, proclamation of Jesus or in some preconceived expectation that we have, but in the fruits of what Jesus has done.

“The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”

In our baptism we vow to follow Christ as our savior to put our whole trust in his grace and love. We put our faith in this kind of a Messiah.

You want the Messiah? this is what you get with the messiah. All of Israel, (all of the world), made whole, in the sight of God. Not just one facet of the world saved, but the whole world.

So what is our reaction when people ask us, are you a Christian? What should be our response? The answer is as Jesus’ not a yes or a no, but “look at me, what do you hear and what do you see?”

We are to live our lives into our baptismal covenant. We are to resist evil, and repent, when we sin (and we will sin).
(Deacons call the world to repentence, when we bid and lead the confession)

We are to proclaim the good news, especially to those who have not heard the gospel.
(when we proclaim the gospel we proclaim the gospel, not our interpretation on it)

We are to serve all persons, and we are to strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being.
(the poor, the sick, the lonely all those special population stated in our ordination vows)

All of these we should do, in proclamation that we are Christians.

This is also what we in the order of deacons are called to do. We are to be iconic of the servant Christ at work in the world.

Pointing out to the Church that with Christ as our light, that we together as his body in the world, compose those many lights of that chandelier.

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